The Camel Pose, or Ustranasa, is not one we tend to gravitate towards on a regular basis – but is such a great posture!!! So why should we do this posture?
Ustrasana, as you can see from the picture, works very strongly with the area of the abdomen, and heart – in a way it forces these two areas to be very open energetically… and if we are simply not really for this kind of exposure – not matter weather or not we can do the posture physically, we find we ‘prefer’ other poses.
Just below the navel is the area that relates to the Swadistana chakra or the sacral centre. This area of the abdomen and lower back is closely associated with our relationships and interactions with other people, especially our loved ones. It’s about attachments and desires. How we use the energy of the swadistana is up to us – do we use it to yearn for the newest model of the ipad, or do we use it to create a successful communicative relationship with our partner, children and family?
Once the energy is this area has been activated, and anything not so helpful is released by the back bend of the camel, we then need to make that excess energy work for us by encouraging the it to flow upward towards the heart. In Dru Yoga we often talk about the energy of the heart centre as being a ‘safe’ place. It is the place where we can rest in balance between the often turbulent emotions from the base centres and the thoughts and abstract expressions of the upper centres. The heart is where all of our emotions, thoughts and feelings are transmuted into love and gratitude – an energy we can use to help us, our immediate family and friends, and the world around us.
Ustrasana – the Camel Pose Please remember to warm up your body thoroughly and stretch out the quad muscles before attempting this posture.
Stage 1: From a lower kneeling position, come up onto your knees. Place a blanket under your knees if they are sensitive. Place your hands in the lower back with the fingers pointing down. Engage the core muscles and come gently back pushing onto the hands, tightening the gluteals and lifting through the sternum. Draw your elbows closer together and open your chest. To come out, roll the shoulders forward and sit back onto your heels. As a counter posture you can drop the head to floor to round the back in the opposite direction – in Pindasana, or the child pose.
Stage 2: If the first stage was fine for you, come up onto the knees and tuck the toes under. With the hands on the thighs, lift the right arm and bring it over the head (like back stroke) and place the right hand onto your right heel – do the same with the left arm. When both hands are resting on the heels push forwards with the abdomen, bringing the hips above the knees and stretching the quad muscles. Then lift up towards the ceiling with the sternum. Keep the chin tucked in as you look forward. To come out of the posture release the right arm, and lift it up and over the head, then roll the body to the left and lift the left arm up and over and back to the thighs. Roll the body forward and rest in pindasana for a few breaths.
Stage 3: As in stage 2 – but keep the toes flat onto the floor. Caution – that extra inch makes a HUGE difference!!! If its too much to get there easily – stick with stage 2 for now! If your neck feels strong and comfortable you can also lift the chin up towards the ceiling to open the front of the throat. To come out of the posture release the right arm, and lift it up and over the head, then roll the body to the left and lift the left arm up and over and back to the thighs. Roll the body forward and rest in pindasana for a few breaths.