Ustrasana “camel pose” is a back-bending position and often used as a counter posture to forward bends sequences of yoga postures.
How to get into the position
This is a challenging position which should only be practiced with an appropriate yoga teacher. Get it wrong and you will force your neck or lower back to take the load of the backbend, causing injury.
From a seated position on your mat, come up on your knees (hip width distance apart) and extend both your arms straight out in front of you. Inhale and following your right hand with your vision, reach your right arm back and grasp your right heal and then repeat on the left hand side (following your left hand with your vision, reach your left arm back and grasp your left heal) and look forwards; chin tucked. Raising your chest high, open your shoulders back and drop your head back, to complete the posture. Finally, ensure your hips are square and do not place your weight too far forward.
As you continue to hold the position for five full breaths: on each inhalation try to breath into the mid-back / thoracic cavity; on every exhalation try to increase the backbend by opening your shoulders back.
Opens the chest and shoulders;
Helps dissolve fat on the thighs;
Boosts mood and energy levels;
Stimulates the thyroid and the nervous system;
Increases circulation, improves digestion and increases blood flow to your face to help improve complexion; and
Helps combat stress and anxiety.
Avoid this posture if you have any chronic lower back or neck injuries or if you have any series blood pressure issues or if you are suffering from insomnia or migraines.
Damian Cadman-Jones is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga™.