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    Advantages Of Ustrasana Alternatively Camel Pose In Lumbar Pain, Constipation And Hunched Shoulders

    There’s a wealth of yoga positions that offer substantial benefits: downward dog, savasana, and cat-cow pose, among others. Another stance to incorporate into your following yoga session? Ustrasana, commonly known as camel pose. This chest-expanding backward bend feels delightful and is especially comforting after prolonged periods of bending over a desk or computer, according to Sabrina Washington, an instructor at CorePower Yoga in Sacramento, California. It serves as an excellent transition exercise as you prepare to unwind for the evening. Keep reading to explore more about the advantages of camel pose, along with step-by-step guidelines on executing it and precautions to consider. 

    Advantages of Ustrasana or camel pose

    1. Lengthens and fortifies

    Apart from delivering a fantastic stretch, camel pose also aids in strengthening your core, thighs, lumbar, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles, explains Washington. 

    2. Rectifies hunched shoulders

    Many individuals spend an excessive amount of time slumping over an object (computer screen, mobile device, steering wheel, etc.). “Regrettably, our shoulders, upper back, spine, and neck pay the consequences,” Washington notes. “Camel pose counteracts this by actively expanding our chest and maneuvering our spine in the opposite direction to rectify rounded shoulders, alleviate accumulated pain in our necks and upper backs, and reinforce our spine.”

    3. Aids in lumbar pain relief

    In addition to rectifying hunched shoulders, this pose can also serve as a preventative measure against lumbar pain. “Frequently, lumbar pain stems from improper posture, possibly due to a feeble core or a slouched upper body,” mentions Washington. “When executed correctly, camel pose engages the muscles in your lumbar region and abdominals, which can guard against prospective issues.” 

    4. Potentially alleviates constipation

    If you’ve gone a few days without bowel movements, considering incorporating this pose into your yoga regimen. “Yoga has been [shown] to assist with digestion,” Washington states. “Camel pose, specifically, elongates the muscles in your abdomen, stomach, and intestines, which are crucial for promoting healthy digestion and relieving constipation.” 

    5. Expands your chest area

    “Camel pose is a backward bend that unlocks your heart chakra for embracing and radiating joy, love, and compassion,” Washington describes, pointing out that it can enhance breathing by expanding your respiratory capacity. With heart-opening poses like this, some individuals may feel exposed or emotional during or after the position. Washington recommends being gentle with yourself and proceeding at your own pace if this occurs. 

    6. Fosters a sense of internal balance

    In general, most individuals experience tranquility, empowerment, and resilience when performing Ustrasana. “Certain people also find this pose incredibly comforting, reducing overall stress and anxiety levels to cultivate a sense of inner serenity,” Washington mentions. 

    How to execute the Ustrasana or camel pose

    The crucial aspect of the camel pose is not to exaggerate the backward bend. “The primary goals are to discover a backbend that you are not eager to escape from and to identify a posture where you can breathe deeply for approximately 30 seconds,” says Washington.  

    Commence by kneeling at the center of your mat with your knees directly below your hips. Position your hands on your lower back with fingers pointing downwards towards the floor. While inhaling, elevate your chest towards the ceiling, leading with your heart, forming a C-curve with your back. Pause here momentarily to assess how this sensation feels. You may sustain this for 30-60 seconds. Otherwise, intensify this stance by engaging your thighs and gluteal muscles (this aids in shielding your lumbar region) and bring your hands towards your heels. Ensure your hips stay aligned over your knees and maintain your chin directed towards your chest. Maintain the posture for 30–60 seconds. 

    To exit the pose, relocate your hands to your hips. Contract your abdominals as you gradually raise your chest back to an erect position. Finally, with your hands on your thighs, take a few breaths to calm your heart rate and ground yourself in case you feel disoriented. 

    Pro tip: “Always heed to your body’s signals, and ensure to properly exit the pose,” advises Washington. 

    Ustrasana considerations

    While camel pose is a beneficial maneuver for most individuals, Washington suggests abstaining if you are injured, recuperating from surgery, or have chronic knee, shoulder, neck, or lumbar pain. “This is an intermediate and more demanding pose that can aggravate existing muscle discomfort or joint issues in these areas,” she cautions. “Consult your physician if you harbor any concerns before partaking in yoga.”

    Washington also highlights that some individuals experience headaches following backward bends. To avert this from occurring, she recommends incorporating a camel pose towards the conclusion of a yoga sequence rather than at the onset. “This way, our bodies are adequately warmed up, stretched, and primed for the extension,” she suggests. Alternatively, initiate with some cat-cow stretches to activate your abdominals and back initially. 

    Unintentionally breath-holding while inclining into the pose or maintaining a backward bend may also lead to headaches.  Thus, “utilize your breath as a guide for your motion,” Washington discloses. “For instance, allow your inhalation to elevate your chest, and utilize your exhalation to unearth depth.” Once more, the crucial element with Ustrasana is to avoid overexerting yourself. “Find a backbending posture where you can mindfully respire throughout the entire duration of the stance.”

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