Ustrasana/camel pose is one of those poses that I have always dreaded. Of course the most challenging poses are the ones that teach us the most. For a person who had rounded shoulders, a rounded back, and weak legs, this pose felt like a sort of torture.
I like to use the chair leading up to the final pose because it reminds me to fully open the chest and keep the arms aligned. A lot of power in this pose is actually in the shins so if your ankles do not reach the floor then place a folded up mat, towel, or blanket underneath to provide traction. The hands should press into the heels and you can see from the photo, I’m not quite there yet. If the arms are not moving into alignment, and the chair is not an option, then a yoga belt is useful to place around the forearms to keep them aligned.
Basic pose directions:
- Warm up the body… this is not a pose to jump into
- Kneel on floor with shins straight back and all toes touching the floor
- Press down with shins and lift up with the chest
- Reach arms down and then towards the back body placing hands on the lower back with fingers pointing downward
- Reach up again with the chest and arch the upper back while tipping the head back if that is comfortable
- After a few breaths come up by pressing the shins, especially at the ankles, to the floor
- Add a prop on you next try – use a yoga belt, a chair, do something to open the body even further
- Now you are ready to do the full pose
Enjoy all that wonderful back bending!