Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Ushtrasana is a pose or asana in which the doer needs to assume the shape of a camel. Therefore this asana is called as Ustrasana or Camel Pose.
Ushtrasana or Camel Pose
Ushtra = Camel
Asana = Pose, Posture
Preparation for Ushtrasana
- Ushtrasana is an amazing back bend exercise. It is always better to practice this asana early in the morning. Alternatively if you are busy enough to do this asana in the morning schedule, you can schedule it to be done in the evening hours.
- It is good to perform this Asana when your stomach is empty. You can also plan to do it 4-6 hours after taking a meal. By this time your food would have been digested, the stomach emptied and you would have derived energy from the food, good enough to carry on this asana with ease and comfort.
- Equally important is the toileting etiquette. Make sure you have emptied your bowel and urinary bladder before undertaking Ushtrasana.
Method of doing Ushtrasana
Positioning for the Asana
- Kneel down on the floor or on your Yoga mat.
- Place your hands on your hips.
- Make sure that your knees and shoulders are in the same line.
- The soles of your feet should be facing the ceiling.
- Now your pose is in the form of a reverse ‘L’. Your torso and thighs are in a single vertical line forming an angle of 90 degree with your leg at the knees, the legs resting on the floor.
Performing and getting to the Ushtrasana
- After having positioned yourself in the kneeling position, inhale slowly as you draw your tailbone in towards your pubis. You need to experience the upward pull at the navel while doing this.
- While pulling your tailbone up, slowly arch your back.
- Gently extend the arch such that your hands reach your feet.
- Now gently slide your hands over your feet and hold your heels, while straightening your arms.
- Keep your neck in a neutral position such that it is not strained.
- Hold in this position for about 30 seconds to 60 seconds approximately. Now you are in the camel pose.
Release from the asana and coming back to the point of start
- After having kept yourself positioned in the asana for the mentioned period, slowly release by detaching your hands from the soles of your feet.
- Gradually lift your arms away from your legs and come back to finish on your kneeling position, the same position in which you had started the asana.
- You can also finish off this asana by assuming the Balasana or Child’s Pose.
Tips for beginners
When you are starting to do this asana, it can be really difficult to reach your feet with your hands without straining your back and neck. You can re-adjust by turning your toes such that they touch the ground, this elevates your heels and you can try reaching your heels which are comparably at a higher point, easy to reach with your hands.
If you still cannot reach for your legs, use a wooden block and place both your hands on them.
Make sure that you do not hold this pose for more than 20 seconds, especially when you are a beginner and new customer to this bending exercise.
Advanced pose (variation of Ushtrasana)
- To deepen the Ustrasana, try to touch your calves, thighs and feet while walking along them on your hands, while you are in the pose.
Purva and Paschat Asanas
Purva Asanas (Preparatory Asanas)
Before Ushtrasana, you can do one or more of the below mentioned Asanas (preparatory poses) –
- Supta Virasana
- Urdhwa Mukha Shvanasana
Paschat Asanas (Post-Ushtrasana Poses)
After performing Ushtrasana, one can perform –
What time should be spent in the pose while doing Ushtrasana?
One can stay in Ushtrasana for 30 seconds to 60 seconds at a stretch.
Health Benefits of Ushtrasana –
- Ustrasana strengthens the back and the shoulders.
- This asana helps to alleviate the pain in the lower back.
- It makes the spine more flexible.
- Ushtrasana helps in correcting your posture and cures disorders caused due to wrong postures.
- This asana opens up the chest and frontal portions of the torso.
- This asana helps in improving your digestion as it massages the internal organs.
- Ushtrasana is a good remedy for menstrual discomfort and menstrual disorders.
- Ushtrasana is a good remedy for spondylitis, asthma, thyroid and parathyroid diseases, diabetes and bronchitis.
- It is also advised to be practiced by obese and overweight individuals. Thus, Ushtrasana is a good remedy for obesity.
- It is an answer for kidney disorders and disorders of reproductive system.
- It is an effective remedy for dyspepsia, constipation and colitis.
- Camel Pose helps in proper circulation by strengthening the heart functions. This is also possible due to the effect of Ushtrasana in opening up the Anahata Chakra which is concerned with the proper functioning of chest organs mainly the heart.
Effect of Ushtrasana – Ayurveda View:
Effect on Doshas
Effect of Ushtrasana on Doshas and Subtypes
Ushtrasana balances and calms the vitiated Apana Vayu. By doing so, it contributes towards the establishment of health of pelvic cavity and floor and pelvic organs, mainly uterus, urinary bladder and sexual organs. It helps in proper menstruation and wards off the menstrual discomfort in women. It also helps in proper voiding of urine and feces. Since apana vayu dominates the lower parts of the body, Ushtrasana, by correcting the imbalances of Apana Vayu keeps the lower back and lumbar spine and lower limbs strong and healthy. The asana also gives good stretch to the spine and lower back.
Likewise, Ushtrasana balances the Udana Vayu and Vyana Vayu. By establishing a healthy axis between these two subtypes of Vayu along with their integrity with Prana Vayu, Ushtrasana helps in maintaining the heart health and also strengthening the chest organs (by opening up the chest). This in turn helps in proper circulation and distribution of food and air to all corners of the body. This also happens due to the opening of Anahata Chakra following Ushtrasana.
Ushtrasana stimulates Pachaka Pitta and Samana Vayu, helps in proper digestion of food.
Effect on Dhatus
Effect of Camel pose on Dhatus –
Ushtrasana strengthens the mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue) and asthi dhatu (bone tissue). It also strengthens the asthi sandhis i.e. joints especially the joints of the spine, lower back, chest and shoulders.
Ushtrasana also has a good role in rectifying medo dushti or disorders caused due to errors of fat metabolism. Thus it acts on Medo dhatu, prevents its accumulation in the body, mobilizes and metabolizes the fat tissue and prevents the diseases caused by improper metabolism of fat. Ushtrasana is also a good remedy for obesity, high cholesterol and overweight problems.
Effect on Malas
Effect of Ushtrasana on Malas –
Since Ushtrasana balances the apana vayu, it helps in timely elimination of urine and feces and keeps the body detoxified, sterile and healthy.
Ushtrasana, what it promises!
Ushtrasana is a backbend asana of intermediate level. This asana is said to open up the Anahata or heart chakra and increase ones strength, stability and flexibility.
Ushtrasana is an amazing stretch exercise for the body. It helps in opening up the front of your body. It also opens up the pectoral muscles and the flexor muscles of your hip. It also tones up and strengthens your limbs, thighs, chest and abdomen. The entire frontal region and sides of our body are strengthened by this asana.
On regular practice Ushtrasana has positive benefits on your circulatory system, respiratory system, lymphatic circulation, endocrine system and digestive systems. This asana strengthens these systems and balances their functions.
Just as a camel survives in the extremes of the conditions in the desert and hot conditions, Ushtrasana makes you strong and adaptable like a camel. When you practice this asana regularly and religiously, the asana helps you to overcome the extremities of your life, including the toughest conditions to which you are exposed to you. It gives metal to your life and provides endurance and immunity to your body and mind.
Impact on Chakras
Ushtrasana opens up, stimulates and balances the Anahata Chakra or the heart chakra. By doing so it also helps in proper circulation and distribution of essential nutrients, oxygen and building blocks to all the cells, tissues and organs of the body. By doing so, it rejuvenates, nourishes and replenishes the body and mind, provides fresh energy and enables one to carry on the day to day activities with ease and effortlessly.
Contraindications and precautions
Who should not do? (Contraindications and precautions for doing Ushtrasana)
Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Ushtrasana –
- Back injury
- Neck injury
- High blood pressure
- Low blood pressure
Ushtrasana looks as an easy asana but it isn’t an easy pose as it looks to be. It should be practiced under the guidance and supervision of an expert Yoga tutor, until you master it.
Just Before Finish
Ushtrasana is one of the best exercises for your back, neck and torso. It opens up your chest and enables proper functioning of chest organs including breathing and circulation mechanisms by opening up your heart chakra. This is a wholesome exercise for your body-mind health. In this article, I have covered in depth the procedure of doing Ushtrasana, the benefits and contraindications for the asana.
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