Ushtrasana, (oosh-TRAHS-anna) ustra = camel
Goals: abdominal muscle and quads stretch, strengthen back for deeper backbends
How to Get Into it
- You can get into Camel from the Tabletop position. Plant your knees on the mat. If you have sensitive knees – use a blanket or a towel under your knee caps.
- Ensure your knees are under your hips. Ankles are in parallel to each other. You can tuck your toes under or place the top of your feet on the mat.
- Tuck your tailbone and put your palms on the lower back. Elbows are reaching each other actively. Thumbs are on both sides of your spine, supporting it. Fingers face to the sides of your body.
- As you inhale, open your chest and pull your upper body up, stretching the spine. Keeping your palms on the lower back, bend the back, and push your hips forward a bit.
- Gaze in front of you, placing the chin on the chest. If you have no discomfort in the neck – bend your neck and gaze up to the ceiling. Neck is in line with the core.
Prepare your back for the Camel pose with light heart-opening stretches.
Avoid doing this pose if you are pregnant, especially in second and third trimesters – to prevent tears in abdominal muscles.
This posture is not recommended if you have a recent surgery or trauma on the knee, back, neck or shoulders.
Don’t force your back to bend more. Increase the bend gradually as the flexibility grows. Mind that backbend is not a natural position of the vertebrae. So this pose is more about strengthening the back muscles and stretching the front body than about bending deeper.
Thighs not aligned
Often, as you bend deeper your thighs move back. Work to keep your thighs upright and in line with your knees.
Neck hyper flexed
If you choose to gaze up to avoid neck injury, keep your neck extended, but don’t push your head too far. Support the head with neck muscles in line with the core, don’t let it fall on the back.
- An excellent front body stretch for office workers and those who sit all day long;
- Helps loosen quadriceps from the tension and stiffness;
- Prep pose for a Wheel pose;
- Grows back muscles and improves posture.
How to modify?
Beginners: For better thighs’ alignment – try learning this pose next to the wall and keep your quads pressed to the surface. After that, bend the back. Easier if you keep your hands on the lower back or crossed on your chest.
Pro: To go deeper into the pose, grab your heels and shift your thighs forward. Actively push the chest to the ceiling. Use a block to squeeze it with your thighs.