Friday, November 9, 2012

Ustrasana or "Camel Pose"

Sanskrit: Ustrasana                                                                Western Term: Camel Pose

Origin of Word
Ustra = camel

Type of Asana: backbend

How To:
1.     Kneel with thighs perpendicular, knees and feet together, and keeping the upper body upright. Make sure the knees stay in line with both sides of the body parallel. Slip the hands on the lower back, as if scooping your hands into back jean pockets.
2.     Move the top of the thighs and hips forward. Exhale to arch the upper back but keep the hands pushing your lower back and pelvis forward (as to not get into the lower back). The movement and backbend comes from the upper back. Extend the neck without straining it.
3.     Release the hands, stretching the arms down, and hold the heels with the palms on the soles of the feet. Take the head back and look back. Continue to increase the curve of the upper back, staying for 15 to 30 seconds and breathing. Inhale to come up, leading from the heart.

Body Points:
*Press the shins down and stretch the feet back
*Turn the arms outward and lock the elbows
*Press the lower back firmly forward and the back ribs up. Extend the front of the body over the arch of the back

 Emphasized Body Parts: shoulders, thighs, upper back, glutes

Mental Achievements: uplifting and energizing which opens the throat and heart chakra

Maybe even as energized as el Presidente Obama as he gave his victory speech on Tuesday night

An aid for beginners: kramas or levels of a pose give us yogis with various levels options. For any given pose, there are various levels of difficulty. This krama that I offer is for beginners to the pose:

-keep hands on lower back and push pelvis forward focusing on upward back arching and opening. Stay here (rather than dropping hands down towards ankles) for about 30-45 seconds, keep pelvis pushing forward as you open upper back. 

Chakra: 4th chakra, Anahata symbolizing love, empathy, selflessness and devotion. It encourages people to remain compassionate and accept the things that happen in a divine way. It is the ability to love and be loved. Connect to your fourth chakra and open your heart to love. This chakra is positioned in the central channel behind the spine at the heart region.
The twelve-petaled green lotus is the symbol for the anahata chakra.
The “seed sound” or bija mantra of the 4th chakra is “yam.” Repeat this word and feel the power of love.

Ancient Sanskirt Proverb: “It is called friendship, when seeing someone, or touching them, or hearing them, or talking to them, touches your heart. Otherwise it is just and acquaintance…”

Element: air

*Your body must be rather warm to get into this pose. It is best practiced towards the end or middle of a class/practice.

Mira, Sylva & Mehta, Shyam. “Yoga the Iyengar Way: the new definitive illustrated guide.” Forwarded by B.K.S. Iyengar. US, New York: 2010. Page 134.

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