Out of many asanas described in the ancient scriptures, Ustrasana (Ustra Asana) or Camel Posture is one of the effective yoga asana postures for exercise of Spine, ankles, toes and feet. It is of two types- Ardha (Half) and Purna (Full) . Ardha Ustrasana is generally recommended for those who are not able to do the Purna Ustrasana in beginning.
Benefits of Ustrasana
This is one of the versatile poses, which offers the following benefits-
1. This asana intensely bends the sacral spinal cord and facilitates opening of the thigh muscles and the ankles by stretching them.
2. This allows prominent stretch of the hip-region and allows opening of shoulders and corrects the hunched back shoulders.
Contraindications Of Ustrasana
Ustra Asana shall be performed with following precautions-
1. People belonging to old age, hernia and those who are less flexible should try this pose with proper medical guidance.
2. People having spinal injury can take this asana under expert guidance.
3. If there is no adequate support, the spine may spasm and hence it should be done with a lighter posture with a little variation of this particular asana.
4. People having neck injury, whiplash, etc. must not drop their head back and keep should keep in neutral, close to their chest while practicing this posture.
How to start Ustra Asana?
1. Make yourself sit on the heels in a comfortable position and stand on your knees.
2. Place the hands behind the floor and gradually lift the hips outwards. The back and the spine will arch with gradual pushing of the hip.
Optional alternative arrangements
1. Standing on the knees and putting your hands as a support to your hips can also achieve this position. As there is little support on the back in such a position, people having back injuries may avoid and try the first method described. This is also a form of the Ardha Ustra Asana (Half Camel Pose).
2. Poorna Ustra Asana posture can be achieved by walking with the hands towards the bent foot. This results in more pressure on the knees and should be avoided in case of pronounced pain.
3. For less flexible people, the hands can be rested on the back of the heels or lower back.
4. For more flexible people hands can be tucked within the legs and on the floor gradually bringing it towards the knees.
5. If you need more pressure on your back, you may try lengthening the neck and allow your head to fall back towards the foot.
How to revert to normal and the Counter Poses
1. In one method you can walk on your hands backward towards your heel and sit on your heel. Then cross your hands on your chest and lean forward to child’s pose.
2. In another way you can come back by standing on your knees. Gradually bring your head over your shoulder and move the head forward gradually coming on to child’s pose.
It shall be noted that the Child’s Pose, as mentioned above, is the counter pose to Camel Pose.
Which part and organs of the body are affected?
1. The intense pressure on the lumber and sacrum spine stimulates the glands and muscles of the urinary bladder. This also stimulates the kidney, bladder and stomach meridians helps in bowel movement and renal functions.
2. With the stretch of arms, and shoulders the heart and lungs along with the ribs are stretched, which offers an exercise to these vital organs.
3. With the neck movement, the thyroid glands are also stimulated with this effort.
Joints affected directly by Ustrasana
This asana directly stretches your shoulders, ankles, knees and spine.
Recommended stretch of time
Ideally this asana should be practices for about one to two minute at maximum. Try as per your comfort level but never allow stiff pain or intense stimulations.