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Camel Pose or Ustrasana is an intermediate level back-bending pose, that increases the strength of the whole front part of the body. It stretches the whole front body providing flexibility and mobility to the body.
Ustrasana is one of the 26 poses of Bikram Yoga. This pose boosts up the energy, therefore it is also among the sequence of Vinyasa. Also, it helps to open the Heart Chakra. It brings sensations of joy, happiness, and peace within us.
This asana mainly focuses on the following muscles.
- Neck and shoulders
- Chest and back
- Core and hips
- Thighs and knees
Why Is It Called Camel Pose
The body posture in Ustrasana resembles the hump of a camel, therefore we call it Camel Pose. It also looks similar to a camel bending its back feet to sit [hands as the front feet of camel, feet as back feet of camel, and torso and the back of a camel].
How to Perform Camel Pose
Camel pose is an intermediate exercise, that’s why it needs a greater level stretching then beginner-level exercises. You need to follow the following steps to perform it easily and correctly.
Preparing the Asana
- Firstly come on your knees. Spread the knees hip-width apart. Also, the feet should be shoulder-width apart.
- Now, stand straight on your knees, keeping thighs perpendicular to the floor.
Note- The shins should be flat on the floor and the torso should be straight and erect. The soles should be facing up.
Getting into the Pose
- Now, with inhalation, round your shoulders back and open your chest. Simultaneously, place your palms on the lower back or sacrum, fingers pointing downwards. The elbows should be pointing behind.
- Then, with an exhalation, push your hips forward and slowly bend your spine backward from the waist. Simultaneously, bring your palms to the ankle of your feet, one by one.
Note-Your arms should be straight. You can also place your hands on the soles of your feet only if you can stretch this far. The stretch should be on your thighs and core, pressing the tailbone forwards.
- Now, tilt your head back (if you are comfortable) and relax your neck, raise the chest up and start taking deep breaths.
Hold the position for 30-60 seconds (around 5-8 deep breaths) according to your comfort. You can close your eyes if you want.
Releasing the Pose
- When you are done, inhale and gently bring your hands on the lower back or sacrum.
- Simultaneously, lift your head and torso up and come to the initial position.
- Now, either come to the Child Pose and relax or simply straighten the legs and relax.
In the beginning, placing the instep (upper surface of the foot) flat to the floor feels difficult, so, you can tuck your toes under. This will help to ease your feet and gaining height to place your hands on ankles easily.
Beginners can place a folded blanket under your knees to get comfortable.
In the beginning, you can place yoga blocks under your hands, next to your feet, so that, you can get more height to place your hands.
In the beginning, perform this asana in front of a wall, attaching your knees and thighs to the wall. This will help you a lot in maintaining the correct posture. Also, you can take the help of a partner or yoga teacher to get into this pose.
Precautions and Contraindications
- While performing an asana, the most important thing is understanding the limits of your body. Going beyond the limits of your body can cause injury, so, do not overstretch the body.
- If you are having a recent or deep injury in your spine, core, thighs, knees, shoulders, and feet, do not perform Camel Pose.
- When you are suffering from high or low blood pressure, migraine or insomnia, either avoid this asana or consult to an expert before performing it. Tilting neck and head in this asana can cause adverse effects in such conditions, as it alternates the blood flow.
- Perform Ustrasana slowly and gently. Performing it in hurry can cause an injury.
How does Ustrasana/Camel Pose Works?
The practice of Camel Pose stretches and tones the muscle of our body, especially the front body. Let’s discuss the mechanism or science behind Camel Pose/Ustrasana.
Starting from the beginning, when we bend, the main stretch acts on the muscles of the core and thigh. Then the stretch comes to the muscles of the back, including the spine.
At the same time, because of placing the shins and instep flat on the floor, the muscles of knees, ankles, and feet are also stretched.
After that, when we round our shoulders and place our hands on the ankles or sole, the muscle of shoulders and arms experience a good amount of stretch.
Then when we expand our chest forwards, we stretch the muscles of the chest region. Also, while tilting the head, the muscles of the neck are also stretched.
This is how the practice of Camel Pose stretches the muscles of the body. Now, let’s see its benefits in our life.
Benefits of the Camel Pose
Ustrasana provides overall flexibility and strength to the body. It influences the body muscles providing a good body posture. Here is a list of benefits of Ustrasana.
- It massages all the core muscles and abdominal organs such as the liver, kidney, etc. that helps in improving the digestion.
- Through uniform stretch on the muscles of the back, knees, hips, thighs, and core, Ustrasana improves flexibility and strength of these muscles.
- It tones the muscles of the shoulders, giving them strength and flexibility.
- Camel pose is a good hip opener exercise. It opens the hips and strengthens them. This helps in better support of the spine.
- This pose is like an exercise to the core/abdominal muscles. It tones them and reduces extra fat stored around them. Also, it reduces fat around the thighs and hips, providing them a good shape.
- It reduces the tension from the pelvis area, providing relief to problems related to the reproductory system. It also brings balance to the problems in the mensuration cycle.
- This asana opens the chest area and tones the muscles of the chest. It also helps in a better respiratory system.
- Camel Pose increases blood flow to the spine and tones the spinal columns. Also, this asana stimulates the functions of the central nervous system. This helps in relieving stress, anxiety, and negative emotions.
- Ustrasana is very helpful in stimulating the Heart Chakra. It fills us with a feeling of love, happiness, and kindness. Many believe that this asana also helps in opening Solar Plexus Chakra and Throat Chakra.