Different yoga poses require practitioners to bend their bodies in different ways. This article seeks to examine one particular yoga backbend that is called Ustrasana.
What is Ustrasana?
The Sanskrit term Ustrasana is made up of two words, “ustra” and “asana” which mean “camel” and “pose” respectively. This camel posture is an intermediate level yoga posture that requires the yogi to bend backwards. It is understood to help open the heart chakra (or Anahata). Yogis who practice this posture on a regular basis have greater flexibility and acquire strength over time. This yoga technique has been found to improve digestion.
Types of Ustrasana
In addition to the classic Ustrasana pose, there exist the following variations and modifications.
This position translates to “half camel pose” in English. It is ideal for those who are new to yoga and lack the flexibility needed to perform Ustrasana. Here, practitioners bend backwards and attempt to hold their left ankle with their right hand (or vice versa) as opposed to holding both ankles with both hands.
Practitioners can place blocks on either side of their feet, if they feel they need additional height in order to reach their ankles.
In the event that a practitioner is unable to reach back and hold his feet, he can place his hands on his lower back with his fingers pointing downwards. He must squeeze his elbows towards one another as this helps maintain this position.
Benefits of Ustrasana
As Ustrasana benefits your body in several ways it should come as no surprise that yogis are often eager to perform this position. Listed below are some of the more pronounced benefits associated with this pose.
This pose helps stretch the front portion of the body including the quadriceps, chest and abdomen.
Camel pose improves a person’s spinal mobility and improves their posture as it requires them to flex their body in the opposite direction.
This yoga backbend is believed to open the heart chakra which is tethered to feelings of love, care and compassion.
Ustrasana helps strengthen your back muscles, buttocks and the back of your thighs.
How to Practise Ustrasana?
Read the steps mentioned below in order to understand how this yoga pose is practised-
Step 1: Kneel down on your yoga mat. Make sure that your knees are aligned with your shoulders and that the soles of your feet face the ceiling.
Step 2: Now, place your hands such that they are positioned on the sides of your rib cage. Your thumbs can rest at the back of your ribs while your fingers should be wrapped around the front and sides of your rib cage. Your elbows should point outwards.
Step 3: As you maintain this stance, use your hands to lift your rib cage up for support as you begin to open your chest and position it such that it faces the ceiling.
Step 4: Continue to open your chest towards the ceiling as you slowly begin to move your hands behind you one at a time such that they grasp your heels. In case you feel a strain, you can tuck in your toes. Else, the tops of your feet can lie flat on the floor.
Step 5: Move your hips forward such that they are positioned over your knees.
Step 6: Provided you are comfortable you can move your head backwards such that you open your throat. However, if this is not a comfortable stance, you can keep your chin tucked in.
Step 7: Release this position by bringing your chin towards your chest and moving your hands to your hips. Support your abdomen and your lower back by using your hands to slowly bring your body back to an upright kneeling position.
Beginner’s Tip for Ustrasana
Beginners may have a hard time keeping their thighs upright while they maintain this position. In order to master this, beginners can first attempt to try out camel pose against a wall. Here, beginners must position themselves such that the front of their thighs touch the wall. As they reach back, they must ensure that their thighs - and also their hips - stay in contact with the wall the entire time.
How Often Should I Do Ustrasana?
While there is no set number of times Ustrasana should be performed, practitioners can perform it 2 to 4 times wherein they hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds each time. Ustrasana can be performed on a daily basis. It is important to ensure that you don’t overexert yourself while performing Ustrasana.
Precautions to Take to Perform Ustrasana
Before attempting to practice this yoga pose, it is recommended that you take into account the following considerations.
Do not attempt Ustrasana if you have sustained an injury to your knee, back, shoulders or neck. If you suffer from chronic pain in any of these regions, you must not attempt to do this pose.
While you might be eager to practice this pose, if you lack the flexibility needed to do it, you must not attempt it as it can cause a strain on your body.
Only bend as far back as is comfortable for you to do so. Over time, as you continue to practise, you will build your flexibility and will be able to master the Camel Pose.
Yoga enthusiasts are often eager to perform Ustrasana as it helps them stretch their body and enhances their muscles. Yoga practices, in fact, are often incorporated into one’s daily life in an effort to maintain healthy habits. However, regardless of how healthy we may attempt to be, we can still end up falling sick or injuring ourselves in an accident. Owing to this very fact it is prudent that we all purchase a good health insurance policy. This is because such a policy can provide coverage in the event that we injure ourselves in an accident or fall sick.