If you want to improve your posture with the help of yoga or the circulation of your entire body, Ushtrasana is definitely the asana for you.
Camel pose is one of the beginning yoga asanas. However, the full pose is challenging for most people these days, but thanks to the variations that are offered within this asana, it can be practiced by almost everyone.
A DEEPER INSIGHT
Ushtra in Sanskrit means camel, and asana means pose. The camel pose belongs to the group of back bend asanas. When you perform the camel pose, you are working on activating and balancing your third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chakras.
The elements that are associated with this asana are: thoughts, light, air, fire, and ether.
The first challenge that people may face when practicing this asana is the inability to stay in the pose for a long time due to the pain in the knees when learning this pose. Certainly, if you have recently had an injury or a knee surgery, we advise you not to practice this asana.
If this is not the case, but you simply experience pain or stiffness in your knees while performing this asana due to your general immobility, our recommendation is to place a pillow or blanket under your knees on the yoga mat. In this way, you will be able to stay longer in this asana, easing the pressure that your knees suffer while in this pose.
First, we will explain the steps that are involved in entering a full asana. After that, we will deal with a couple of variations that will definitely be of great use to people who are not currently physically able to do the camel pose fully.
Before we explain the necessary steps for a complete camel pose, we will point out two poses that you can practice before you start practicing the camel pose.
The first pose is the cobra pose. You can practice both the lower and upper cobra. The second pose is the bridge pose. After entering both poses, if you can and if you are comfortable, try to stay for a minimum of one minute and a maximum of three minutes.
In the camel pose:
- Your knees are resting firmly on the yoga mat, and your feet are hip-width apart.
- Your thighs are fully stretched and active the entire time that you are in the pose.
- Your hips are moving forward so that they are above and in line with your knees. You must not allow your hips to go backward.
- Your chest is lifted upward. In this way, you fully open your chest.
- Your back is in line with the yoga mat.
- Your neck is relaxed, and your head is tilted back.
- Your arms are fully extended and you are resting your palms on your ankles or heels.
- Your heels are pointed up, and your toes are completely relaxed.
- You are gazing toward the tip of your nose
If you are in a complete camel pose, your entire body will fully open and strengthen at the same time (thighs, stomach, chest, neck, and arms). Full posture means constant activity throughout your entire body.
The full camel pose can be challenging for beginners. However, there are less challenging variations of the pose.
The first variation of the camel pose certainly implies placing a blanket or pillow under the knees. However, you can practice this variation even if you are performing a full pose.
The second variation involves placing your palms on your lower back if you are unable to place your palms on your ankles or heels.
The third variation is to emphasize your toes, if this will allow you to place your palms on the heels of your feet.
The fourth variation involves not stretching your head back if you’ve had a recent neck injury or surgery. In that case, you will be looking ahead.
While practicing this asana, your gaze should be directed to the tip of your nose. You can keep your eyes open or closed.
As far as breathing is concerned, during the practice of this asana, you should breathe completely in three layers, especially since it is an asana during which there is a complete opening and stretching of your chest and abdomen.
When you enter the full pose or one of the variations, try to stay for ten breaths and exhalations. If you can stay longer in the pose, feel free to extend it to twenty inhalations and exhalations.
After the camel pose, we advise you to do the child pose or rabbit pose. In general, in yoga, after practicing the asanas that create expansion, the asanas that provide contraction should follow which will ensure the relaxation of your entire nervous system.
Since the regular practice of camel pose affects the functioning of your upper chakras, if you aim to improve your spiritual development, this asana must definitely be a part of your daily yoga practice.
In addition to spiritual development, by regularly practicing the camel pose, you will no longer have problems with fatigue or anxiety.
The work of the thyroid, pineal, adrenal, and pituitary glands will improve.
Practicing this pose leads to a complete opening of your chest. Because of which, you will increase the capacity of your lungs and improve the way you breathe.
Thanks to the regular practice of the camel pose, you will strengthen the muscles of the thighs, lower back, neck, and arms. At the same time, there will be a fine stretching of the abdominal and chest muscles.
You should certainly not forget about stretching and opening your entire back and shoulders.
The camel pose increases the mobility of your entire body.
Another fact that is primarily useful for the female population is that the camel pose opens the pelvic area, thus reducing menstrual pain in the stomach and ovaries.
If you have problems with constipation, camel pose can help you regulate problems of that kind.
If you are at the beginning of your yoga practice or simply have a constant uncomfortable feeling from the backbending asana, we advise you to skip this asana for now.
This is especially true for people who have had knee, neck, back, or ankle injuries or surgeries.
Since the camel pose has enough variations, if your body is currently too challenged to do the full pose, feel free to practice one of the variations. This is especially true for people over 60, menstruating women, and pregnant women.
From my many years of experience working with clients, I know that by regularly practicing this asana, you can significantly recover the lost strength of your body in a relatively short period of time.