Ustrasana Camel

Ustra means "camel," and ustrasana (pronounced oohs-TRAH-sah-nah) imitates the hump of a camel. Your shoulders and chest become more open and mobile through the camel pose. Your abdomen is stretched, digestion is improved, rib muscles are strengthened, and the pose can also help sciatica (a painful condition felt in the hip or thigh, resulting from inflammation of the sciatic nerve—a long nerve that starts in the hip and runs down the back of the leg).

When practicing the camel pose, pretend there is a wall in front of you and you are pressing your thighs toward it. Bend only as far backward as you can while keeping your neck properly supported by your neck muscles.

1. Begin on your knees with your feet behind you, legs and feet together or slightly apart.

2. Stretch your hips and thighs forward as you reach behind you with your arms. Pretend there is a wall in front of you and your thighs stay pressed against the wall. The spine extends and lifts up as you lean back.

3. Let your body bend backward and your head tilt back. Look up. If you can't reach your heels, eventually you will. Take it gradually.

Whenever a particular pose opens a chakra, concentrate on that area while holding the pose. Feel the energy flowing through and from the target chakra. Your mind can help open your chakras even further. See Chapter 20 for an introduction to chakras.

Wise Yogi Tells Us

Whenever a particular pose opens a chakra, concentrate on that area while holding the pose. Feel the energy flowing through and from the target chakra. Your mind can help open your chakras even further. See Chapter 20 for an introduction to chakras.

The camel pose. ^

4. Take several deep breaths in the pose, then exhale as you release and come forward to the beginning position.

5. Getting Started: If this pose is too difficult, you can place a chair or a footstool behind you and use it to support your elbows or hands (depending on the height of your support) behind you. Remember not to let your head hang loosely, but to support it with your neck muscles as you look up.

The Chakra Checklist

The Chakra Checklist

The chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the back to the top of the head. New Age practices frequently associate each chakra with a particular color.

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