Day 3 Ustrasana
Ustra is Sanskrit for 'Camel' – Asana is Sanskrit for 'seat' or 'pose.' So Ustrasana (Ooh-stra-sun-aa) is Camel Pose. This backbend is named after a Camel since it makes our body resemble a camel hump. It is also thought the name may derive from the way acamel bending its knees and folds its legs beneath its body to sit.
Ushtrasana 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. Eventually 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 back bends because it teaches us crucial alignment and activation techniques.
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.
Ustrasana stretches the front of the body, particularly the chest, abdomen, quadriceps, and hip flexors. It improves spinal flexibility, while also strengthening the back muscles and improving posture. This pose creates space in the chest and lungs, increasing breathing capacity and helping to relieve respiratory ailments. Ustrasana also stimulates the kidneys, which improves digestion. This pose energizes the body and helps to reduce anxiety and fatigue.
Known as a “heart opening” yoga pose, Ustrasana stimulates and balances both the fourth and fifth chakras, located at the heart and throat centers, respectively. In many practitioners, the heart and throat centers are often closed off and protected, as evidenced by slouching, lowered chins, and poor posture. For this reason, practicing Ustrasana can sometimes stir up emotions in the practitioner more than other poses. It is important to keep a calm awareness of your feelings when practicing this pose; fear of your emotions can create stiffness in the body and may lead to injury.
Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing high or low blood pressure, insomnia, or a migraine. Also avoid this pose if you have a low back or neck injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.