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Breaking Down Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and How to Safely Practice It

Katherine Smith
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Mastering Camel Pose can be magical and mystifying. For some, it will come easily and, for others, it will take some practice. There are an estimated 8.4 million recorded yoga poses, and so many yoga styles out there, that becoming acquainted with them can feel overwhelming.

Thankfully you’ve stumbled across this article! A reliable resource for exploring Camel Pose in depth, that delivers a detailed review of the posture in a practical and easy-to-understand way that will elevate your knowledge to the next level and unlock the potential of your practice.

Here you will find all the facts about Camel Pose without the fluff.
 

Breaking Down Camel Pose

What’s in a name? Ustrasana is part of a series of postures named after animals. Ustra is Sanskrit for “Camel,” and asana is Sanskrit for “seat” or “pose.” So, Ustrasana is “Camel Pose.”
 
This backbend is named after a Camel because it makes your body resemble a camel hump. It is also thought the name may derive from the way a camel bends its knees and folds its legs beneath its body to sit.
 
Pronunciation: Ooh-stra-sun-aa
 
Description: Ustrasana is a backbend performed in a kneeling position. It strengthens and builds flexibility in the back and opens the front of the body – the abdomen, chest, and throat. With time and practice, the hands connect with the feet.
 
Not only is it a potent and powerful posture on its own, it helps to pave the way for doing deeper backbends because it teaches us crucial alignment and activation techniques.
 

How to Master Camel Pose and Practice it Safely

 
camel pose ustrasana

  • Kneel on your mat with the knees and thighs parallel, but slightly apart
  • Press the tops of your feet into the mat beneath you, to begin to activate the legs
  • Tuck the tailbone under as you tilt the pelvis forward. Feel the inner thighs begin to internally rotate as you begin to extend the deep hip flexors, the psoas, and the abdominals
  • On an exhale, activate Mula Bandha by lifting the pelvic floor and Uddiyana Bandha by drawing the navel backwards and upwards. This will help to protect the lumbar spine and stabilize the SI joint. Begin to lift and elevate the ribs and the chest as you extend the thoracic and cervical spine (upper back and neck)
  • On an inhale, draw the shoulder blades down the back, opening the chest and bring the hands to the hips, elbows behind you (rather than out to the sides)
  • On an exhale, begin to reach back to take hold of the feet or ankles, if you have the flexibility. Press the hands into the feet and elevate the chest further
  • Finally, begin to let the head tilt back with control IF it’s comfortable. Remain for up to 5 breaths
  • To come out, bring the hands back to the hips and lift to straighten on an inhale
  • Take Childs pose to release the sacrum and recover the breath

 

 
How to Modify Camel Pose:

  • Try a blanket beneath the ankles and/or knees if it feels like you need more padding between you and the floor
  • Bring a block between the thighs or use a strap to bind the thighs just above the knees. Both will help keep the legs active and prevent them from floating apart
  • Keep the hands on the hips and work on opening the chest and telescoping the abdomen open and upward to work on spinal flexibility
  • Don’t drop the neck back until/unless it feels comfortable in the cervical spine. Begin doing it first with the mouth open to release and relax the jaw and keep your gaze steady and on a fixed point to help maintain your focus

 
How to Prep for Camel Pose:
If Ustrasana isn’t for you yet, work on these postures first:

  • Hero Pose/Virasana
  • Reclined Hero Pose/Supta Virasana
  • Cobra Pose/Bhujangasana
  • Gate Pose/Parighasana

 
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this video.
 

 

Benefits of Camel Pose:

  • Strengthens the back and shoulders, supporting spinal comfort and flexibility and promoting improved postures
  • Relieves lower back pain that is the result of too much hunching, sitting and forward bending
  • Energizes the vital systems in the body (circulatory, nervous, endocrine and respiratory)
  • Eases menstrual discomfort
  • Helps release stagnant emotions
  • Prepares the body for deeper backbends
  • Stretches the Psoas

 
Key Anatomical Insights:

 
Energetics and Emotional Benefits:
While Camel Pose stimulates the first five chakras, Ustrasana has the most impact on Anahata, the Heart Chakra (which is why it’s often deemed a classic “heart opening pose”). This will help you move past fear by clearing stagnation and trauma from the heart, and will help lead to your personal transformation and healing.
 
This pose also works with Vishuddha, the Throat Chakra. This will help to increase our self-confidence, empower us to have our own voice, and improve communication.
 

A Word of Wisdom

The lesson Ustrasana has to teach us is one of surrender as it demands we search and open our hearts. To do this, we must let go of fear and self-doubt and embrace our own vulnerability on the path to empowerment.
 

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Katherine Smith

I am a yoga teacher and writer filled with wanderlust. I have a finely tuned appetite for adventure and a healthy thirst for cocktails and coffee. I am inspired by simple pleasures. I am passionate about all things wellbeing, making people happy and standing on my hands. I love shoes, feeding friends and snuggles. I host yoga retreats across the globe intended to uplift, nourish and stir the soul.

katherinesmithyoga.com

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