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Ustrasana or Camel Pose
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ustra camel

Overview
Some yoga poses look like their name. For example, Bhujangasana (Cobra), well you look and sometimes feel like a cobra. So what is with The Camel? Instead of thinking about the physical appearance of a camel, consider both a physiological ability and a metaphor. The camel stores water so they are able to access this vital source of life-giving energy at any time. In addition to the translation camel, ustra has also been translated as that which releases knowledge when there is a quest for it. Of course we all have a powerful storehouse of knowledge and intuition which we can tap into to address any issues that face us. This is one important role that Ustrasana can play, allowing us to open up for that which is already inside.

Preparation and Pose Tips
Camel pose or Ustrasana is a pose that should be done after your body has warmed up sufficiently as it provides a rather deep backbend. Sit on your knees, which are hips distance apart. Now push yourself upward so your thighs, back and head create a right angle to your lower legs. Bring your hands to your lower back with finger tips pointing down and elbows moving towards each other. Now press your pelvis forward and lengthen through the spine. Draw your shoulder blades onto your back and slowly let your head tilt backwards. On an inhale, drop your right arm back to rest on the right heel. Repeat with your left arm, resting it on the left heel. If you are having trouble reaching your feet you can place a yoga block in an upright position beside each foot and place your hand on that. Lift through your chest, lengthen through the thoracic spine and let your head move back only to a comfortable position.

Benefits
Ustrasana helps with digestion. It improves flexibility of your spine and opens your throat as it strengthens your neck muscles and increases blood flow to your brain. This can also be good fro asthma and similar respiratory issues. While it may not seem obvious you are also strengthening both your abdomen and rectal muscles. A side benefit here is that it helps your sphincter muscle close, which can prevent hemorrhoids as it maintains bowel moisture. Who can argue with that?

Advanced or Partner
Some schools of yoga believe that you shouldn�t really be doing a full camel pose until you are comfortable moving your head back to the point where you can see the wall behind you. That�s not particularly easy for beginners. However, as you do the pose more often you will be able to increase both the backbend and the neck opening aspects of Camel.

Chakra
Ustrasana is a third chakra pose.

Precautions
If you have any type of neck problem or spinal injury you will want to maintain an upright position on your head and avoid using your head in the back bend.

Timing
Camel is good for a five to eight breath count.

Recovery and Counterpose
To come out of Camel draw your chin forward to chest and slowly straighten your spine as you roll your head and upper body forward. Your arms can float up as you straighten. Because of the back bend, you can counterpose with Balasana (child pose) or by rolling into a ball and bringing your knees toward your chest.

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