Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Benefits: Camel pose can help to correct posture while also improving lung capacity and blood circulation throughout the body. This stretch also helps tone the muscles supporting the back and spine, allowing for relief of the muscles in the shoulders, back and abdomen.
As with all exercise, you need to listen to your body, keep the back of the neck and spine lengthened and the rib cage lifted. Remember to breathe as you work with the different exercises.
Kneel on the floor on your yoga mat, with your knees hip width apart and your buttocks raised off the floor so your thighs are perpendicular to the ground. Rest with the top of your feet against the floor with your toes pointing towards the back.
Place your hands on the back of your pelvis with your palms on the top of you buttocks and your fingers pointed down. Push your thighs forward and pull them up into your groin, while also gently pushing your spine into your body. Slowly bend your back, while at the same time extending your ribcage and chest.
Push your shoulders back and move your hands from your pelvis to your feet. Grab hold of both heels, while continuing to make sure your thighs remain perpendicular to the floor. (Note: for beginners, you can grab hold of one heel at a time by twisting slightly in the shoulders)
Push your feet flat against the floor while at the same time pressing down on the soles of your feet with your palms, your fingers pointing towards your toes. Keep your buttocks tight and push your shoulders back. Your head should be bent back as far as comfortably possible, taking care not to put undue strain on your throat.
Breathe and hold the pose for 30-60 seconds. To exit the pose lead upwards from your chest, taking care not to jerk your head forward. Bring your hands back up onto your pelvis and straighten your back, before returning to child’s pose.