Backbends – Camel Pose – Ustrasana
Back ward bending asana turn the body out to face the world. They stimulate and invigorate and can rid the body of stagnation. Backbends also move the centre of gravity and therefore need strength and energy to preform.
Camel pose is a great backbending pose appropriate for all levels. It turns your chest into a hump like on a camel’s back, hense the name!
It opens up the whole front of the body and allows deep breathing, stimulates the internal organs and neck as well as giving the mid back (a place a lot of us are quite stiff) a release.
To practise it, kneel on the floor with knees about hip width apart.
You can have the feet flat on the floor or to lessen the intensity of the backbend you can bring the heels higher by curling the toes and raising the heels.
Allow the thighs to role slightly in towards each other while drawing the sitting bones down. Keep the buttocks relaxed.
On an inhale lift the heart and firm the shoulder blades into the back.
Lean back and place the palms of the hands firmly onto the heels. Point the fingers back towards the toes.
Do not let the lower ribs protrude forward. Relax the neck and allow the head to fall back but make sure there is no sense of compressions in the cervical spine.
Hold the pose for between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
To come out of the pose bring the hands onto the hips and on an inhale lift the head and torso while pushing the hip points down towards the floor.
Camel pose is great for stretching the deep hip flexors/ psoas muscles and strengthening the back muscles.