How to: Ustrasana (Camel)

claire

camel

(oosh-TRAHS-anna)

Fun Facts and Benefits: This pose can be used to help with jet lag by relieving fatigue. It is also used to alleviate anxiety. It is an amazing heart opener and fantastic for people with hunched shoulders! It is also a sweet hip flexor stretch. Ustrasana is great for elderly people and those with spinal injuries as the whole spine is stretched and toned.

Steps: Kneel on the floor with the knees hip distance apart and toes pointing back. You can rest your feet on the shoelace side or tuck your toes under. Place your palms on the hips and stretch the thighs to curve the upper spine backwards. On an exhale reach your right hand to your right heel and your left to your left heel. Elbow creases should be facing forward without squeezing the shoulder blades together. Keep your hips and pelvis over your knees. Rotate your front thighs back. Either keep your head neutral or let it fall back. As you do this, make sure you can still swallow. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds. Release the hands one by one and place them on your hips. If your head is back, start coming forward with your heart first instead of your chin. Imagine being pulled with a string as you slowly come up. Sit in Hero’s pose to let your spine recover.

Variations: The block is an amazing prop. You can place a block between your thighs to keep your legs from splaying out. There are a few options for hand placements. You can place your fists on your lower back and stay right there as you backbend. You can use blocks to bring your feet closer to your hands by placing them on the outside of your feet. You can also reach your hand down to your foot one at a time spending the same amount of time on each side.

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