As the level of the Yoga pose rises, the difficulty of the pose also increases. One such pose is the Ustrasana or the Camel Pose. Most experienced yoga experts also find it difficult to do the camel pose with perfection. Ustrasana is a very deep backbend pose. The term originates from the Sanskrit word “ Ustra” which means camel, and “asana” means the position of the seat. This came pose will open up the entire front side of the body and activate the chakras associated with the emotions. However, when it is done correctly, the body receives several benefits. Experts can increase the duration of this hold, while for beginners, it is recommended not above 20 seconds.
To start with camel pose, one needs stamina and confidence to lean back. If you are not able to arch your back properly, then you are most likely to injure your neck or shoulder. Breathing in a smooth pattern will balance your emotions and give you the confidence to perform this pose. Exhalations lend a different set of benefits. If one is nervous or locked before this pose, then there is a tendency that you might expose the lower ribs out. Breathing systematically will help you soften the muscles. Let us know about the significance of the camel Pose.
Significance of Ustrasana Pose
Camel Pose is a complete backbend yoga pose. It is significant in many ways. Anatomically it stretches the complete spine and stimulates the nervous system. The opening of the chest increases the blood circulation and helps in the locomotion of toxic agents from the body. During day to day life, you must have bent forwarded several times. This position gives you an alternate way of bending backwards and restoring the balance of the spine’s natural flexibility. Yoga is mostly performed for confidence-building and empowerment. Generally, this came pose will improve the posture, and it counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and doing any desk work. The stiffness in the back can be reversed. Let us get into the instructions of Ustrasana.
How To Perform The Camel Pose Yoga?
Before one starts to perform this pose, one should remember that if anyone is having a spine-related problem, they should not do this pose. Take medical advice. For beginners, it is important to start this pose under the supervision of an expert. Let us begin.
- The initial phase ,or the preparatory phase, inculcates kneeling by keeping the body upright. The hip should rest over the knees. If you are having problems with the hard surface and knees are getting sensitive, then one can use a blanket of soft cushion with double thickness to rest the knees.
- Draw the hands backwards on the backside of the body until the palm reaches the slides of the rib cage. Now that you are comfortable, rest the thumbs on the back of the rib, and the other four fingers cover the side of the ribs.
- After stabilizing, use the hands to lift the rib cage up for support. Start bending the back and open the chest forward towards the ceiling.
- Now slowly extend the one hands back and try to reach the heels of the corresponding leg. Transfer your weight slowly and push your hips forward. This will help in letting your hand touch the knees. Keep this pose stable and try with the other hand.
- Slowly elevate your head and open the throat. Release this by bringing the chin towards the chest and hands to your hips. Reverse the position by firming the abs and support the lower back with your hands. Then slowly unwind by erecting the spine and keeping your body upright in the kneeled position.
Then the main catch in this pose is keeping the thighs upright. The thigh muscles act as shock absorbers and help in giving support to the upper torso. As you are opening up, make sure the centre of gravity does not fall back or else there are chances that there will be an unequal distribution of weight, and you may fall backwards by losing balance. If you find difficulty in performing this position, there are several modifications and variations used for camel pose for beginners.
Modifications And Variations
Initially, the beginners may face problems with the placement of the knee on a hard surface, transferring the weight and maintaining balance. There are a few modifications and variations one can try to ease out the initial glitches.
- Toes Tucked Camel: If you find the surface hard for your knees then place a blanket under the knees, for an extra cushion. Tuck your toes under to add some height before you reach back. The head should be still, and slowly move your chin upwards slightly. Once you achieve this balance, stay calm and take several deep breaths.
- Camel Pose With Hands on Hips: If you are not able to arch back completely and touch the fingers with the toes then you can try these variations. Bring your hands back and rest the fingers on the side of the lower back with the elbow pointing back. Then gently arch back into the backbend. Again lift your chin slightly and press the chest forward and up. Take several deep breaths.
- Camel With Blocks: If the height is the problem, then try blocks at any height to extend your reach. This is useful for people who are having difficulty reaching the floor or experiencing any pain. Be it the modification or the full camel pose yoga, always try it under expert supervision.
Benefits Of The Ustrasana Yoga Pose
Ustrasana is a difficult pose to perform. But the Ustrasana benefits are enormous. Understand the anatomy to know the benefits. It mainly stretched your thorax outwards and the legs and arms backwards. It works holistically to improve the Vatta, Pitta and Kapha dosha. The posture is recommended for people suffering from respiratory complications like asthma, bronchitis or systemic disorders like diabetes or thyroid. Yoga experts may suggest this pose for people suffering from constipation, colitis, dyspepsia and obesity of the thigh muscles. Here is the list of the benefits one gain by performing the camel pose.
- The thigh muscles and the hip muscles are stretched. This helps in burning the thigh fat. Do not think of it as a miracle fat-burner, though. It smoothes and tones the Psoas muscles.
- The archery-like pose helps in strengthening the shoulders and the back muscles.
- When you notice that the thorax is pushed outside, it benefits the abdominal region. It helps in bowel movement, thereby improving digestion.
- The open chest and the Vatta element improves respiration.
- It covers the total spine and helps to remove the stiffness of the spine and helps in smoothing the spinal cord movement.
- Few Physiotherapists also recommend this pose for the treatment of lower back pain.
- It stimulates the endocrine glands, and in females, it helps to remove the tension in the ovaries.
- The ankles, thigh, groin, abdomen, chest and the throat are stretched.
- It said to open the heart chakra, the energy centres for love, caring and compassion.
Now you have learnt about the benefits; you must be tempted to get going with this pose. Call an expert before trying this pose. Know the contraindications when not to try this pose.
Camel Pose Contraindications
Newton’s third law of motion applies everywhere. There is an equal and opposite reaction to every action. Similarly, there are benefits as well as harm if you perform the pose without safety or certain contraindication cases.
- While bending backwards, if you feel any tingling sensation of pain in the lower back or groin area then avoid this pose.
- People suffering from shoulder pain, arthritis or any kind of shoulder injuries should avoid it.
- Avoid or modify the pose if anyone is having any spinal injuries or undergone any surgery.
- It is best not to drop the head back in the pose; this may give rise to a neck injury or even risk a stroke. Instead, the chin should be lifted slightly and use the neck muscle to stabilise the head.
- Pregnancy is must know for any kind of back bending. Few doctors allow you to continue with this pose but strictly ask you to stop during the third trimester.
- The body should not be forced; instead, the movement should be slow and mindful while performing the pose and then getting out of it.
It is always recommended to try the modification and the variations of this pose that will give you benefits equivalent to a complete camel pose. A key component in the Camel pose is to breathe arithmetically. Make sure to breathe in the lower back to keep a sense of spaciousness. This is an advanced level of yoga, and it should be performed under expert supervision. Take the help of an expert before performing this pose. Practice Yoga and reap the health benefits.