Pose of the Month: Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Ustrasanas is a deep heart opening and invigorating pose. Physically it strengthens our whole front body as well as promoting good posture and a strong spine. Also, it aids in massaging the organs in the belly to break free of toxins. Camel pose is the gateway to our nervous system helping to energize and reset our mood neurologically.
Symbolically it can remind us to lead our lives with our hearts, to truly be seen by others and to love ourselves unconditionally. Ustrasana indefinitely opens our hearts fully, but there is no lack in strength. Love comes from a place of softness, but it also comes from unwavering power within. Camel pose embodies this love, increasing our self-confidence and paving the way to lead life following our authentic hearts opening up into the vastness of love.
To begin, come to the knees about hip width apart to ensure the alignment of the knees is supporting the weight of the hips and shoulders with a tall strong spine. Firm the lower belly and internally rotate thighs towards one another. TIP: squeezing a block between your thighs can help engage the belly and thighs in the proper way.
Inhale, place the heels of your hands on your low back with the fingers pointing down towards the floors fully supporting the lumbar spine. Squeeze the elbows towards one another to help expand through the chest. Visualize reaching the tail bone towards your knees to create even more space in your lower vertebras.
On your next inhale extend your sternum up towards the sky expanding through the rib cage. Continue to internally rotate the thighs to engage the belly to help keep the hips stacked over the knees.
Exhale and explore the back bend by reaching your hands towards your heels one hand at a time keeping the head and neck neutral. The belly and legs stay engaged as you continue to extend your sternum up finding length and expansion. Reach the lower back ribs away from the lumbar spine to facilitate even more length in the spine and more opening in the chest.
MODIFICATION: if reaching your hands towards your heels is not in your practice, you can still reap the benefits of camel pose by supporting your lower back with your hands and exploring the back bend that way.
Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, breathing deeply
To release be mindful and engage the core, slowly draw your hands into your lower back as you lift yourself into a neutral position. Make your way into embryo pose by letting your chest drop onto your knees and your forehead meets the mat. Take a deep inhale and let your exhale relax your chest as it drapes heavily over your knees spreading the shoulder blades away from one another. Your arms come to the side of your body palms facing up each exhale releases your body a little deeper.
In Ustrasana, encourage yourself to find stillness and gratitude. Thank your body for the miracle it is, and take a few deep intentional breaths of pure love for yourself and others. Just like we do in Camel pose by expanding our chest, we can also expand our hearts and light up lives. Let us participate in unconditional love and expand, my friends.
~See you on your mat in the New Year! Namaste.