Ustrasana, also known as camel pose, is a back-bending pose which allows the practitioner to increase the flexibility of the spine, stimulate the thyroid gland, stretch the chest muscles, shoulder girdle and hip flexors, improve circulation, aid in digestion, lower blood pressure and increase energy levels.
We often store stress and uncomfortable emotions in areas of our body. Our hips, lower back and neck are some of the more common locations where these energies collect and stagnate, thus making camel pose a favorable asana for alleviating pain and releasing challenging emotions. Often yogis will experience a sensation of nausea or dizziness when first practicing this pose; this could be due to a digestive ailment or the sense of being inverted when dropping ones head backwards and gazing behind your body. Another common sensation is feeling heat around your heart. The lifting of the chest while bending backwards and dropping the head back increases circulation to the upper body.
Although camel pose appears relatively easy, it is wise to take your time when coming into this posture. Come into a kneeling position with your knees hips width apart. Lift your hips so that you are “standing” on your knees and bring your hands to your lower back and hips with your fingers facing upwards and the heels of your hands pressed against your lower back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to open your chest, while drawing your elbows towards one another to stretch your shoulders and support your back. If you would like to advance and deepen this backbend, you can tuck your toes under and bring your hands to your heals. Engage your abdominal muscles and begin to press your hips forward and then drop your head back, opening up your throat. Take 3-5 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.