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ustrasana
Photography by jasper johal

ustrasana

by Molly Nourmand molly nourmand
Practice Yoga | Hatha Yoga | | Inverted asanas


asana, pose to blast the heart open

How to: USTRASANA Pose

Begin by coming on to the knees and place a folded blanket under the knees if the floor is unforgiving. Knees should be hip width apart and thighs and torso perpendicular to the floor.

Press the tops of the feet and shins into the earth. Rotate your thighs slightly inward and move the pelvis forward as you scoop the tail under.
Lengthen up through the crown, keeping the cervical spine long, so that the low back does not crunch.



Bring your hands to the low back with the fingertips pointing up or down. Move the back of your heart towards the front of your heart, so that your shoulder blades are drawing towards each other.



If it feels appropriate to go deeper, then move your palms to your heels; for a modification, tuck the toes under.



Make sure that the neck is not collapsed, so that you can breath into the full expression of the pose.



Let your body tell you when to come up, and then drawing the chin towards the chest, bring the hands to the low back and release the sit bones to the heels. Lift the palms to face up, close the eyes, and drink in the juicy after effects.

Who

I felt called to teach yoga even before I really knew the depth and breadth of what it meant. During my teacher training, I had a spiritual awakening and a glimpse of what life could be like if I continued down my path towards self-realization. I felt confident as I began to teach yoga, yet could not foresee all the challenges and rewards that were to come. I was a little fish jumping into the vast ocean of yoga. I quickly learned how to swim and I am reassured each day that teaching is what I am supposed to be doing. I nurture my students so that they feel protected as their hearts begin to open and their vulnerable, authentic selves are revealed. I take pleasure in seeing layers peel away, light bulbs go on, worry lines smooth out, inner bodies brighten-up, and sighs of relief leave the body.

Why

Like all the other muscles in the body, the heart needs to be stretched and strengthened both physically and spiritually. Doing backbends in our practice opens the heart. Off the mat, we can share our hearts with others by practicing compassion, generosity, and empathy. Ustrasana (Camel Pose) is an intermediate asana that is more advanced than Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), but not as challenging as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). Camel is energizing, revivifying, and rejuvenating. This asana stretches the entire front of the body: throat, chest, abdomen, hip flexors, quadriceps, and ankles. Camel pose helps strengthen the back, shoulders, and neck muscles, while increasing spinal flexibility. This pose stimulates the nervous system, helps eliminate toxins, and flushes fresh blood through the kidneys. It compresses the adrenal glands and kidneys, which help reduce excess production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Additionally, it delivers vitality to the lungs, aiding bronchial and respiratory ailments.

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