Ustrasana – Camel Pose
by Joanne Scheurwater, SOYA500 teacher in Ft McMurray, AB
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”  Kahlil Gibran.
The Camel or “Ustrasana” is a chest opening pose which helps us to open our heart chakra.  Jack Kornfield says that when we open our heart and listen as if we are in a temple all kinds of great possibilities awaken.   Even miracles can happen.   Let’s enjoy opening our hearts today in Camel pose.
Kneel with knees directly under hips and legs hip width apart. Feet can be flat with bottom of foot facing upwards or heels up with weight on the ball of the foot.
This should not hurt your lower back or your neck! In yoga we never move into pain! If your back hurts, don’t bend so deeply and be sure you are pressing your pelvis forward. If your neck hurts, be sure you have tucked your chin in. If it still hurts, please come out of the pose right away.
With an exhalation, press the pelvis strongly forward and pull the thighs forward and upward.
Gradually bend your back towards the floor while at the same time lifting the ribcage and broadening the chest.
Now lift your sternum towards the ceiling, pull the shoulders back and stretch your arms from the shoulders towards the feet. If your fingertips or hands touch your heels, you may grasp them while continuing to press the pelvis forward to protect the low back.
Tuck the chin in towards the ears to protect the neck.
Continue to breathe evenly.
Come out of the pose slowly and carefully. Release the heels if you are holding them and inhale, come up evenly without allowing the shoulders to twist. Once you are up, sink down into Child’s Pose, Pranatanasana, and breathe strongly into your back. Take deep breaths, such that your back might rise towards the ceiling with your inhale and your chest sink more onto your thighs with the exhale. Take several breaths here, sending the breath to anywhere in the back that might feel fatigued or stiff.
Increased lung capacity, benefical for the liver, pancreas, kidneys.
Improves blood circulation to organs.
Tones muscles of back and spine.
Removes stiffness in shoulders and back.
Stretches quadriceps and llipsoas muscles, aiding sciatica.
Relieves abdominal cramping.
Do not do if suffering from headache, migraine, or uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Not recommended if recovering from heart attack or hernia.
Do not hold breath, be careful not to compress neck.
Not appropriate if suffering from constipation or diarrhea.
If sore knees, place blanket under knees.
If can’t keep hips forward, don’t grasp heels.
Back Problems: 
Take a very shallow bend and move into and out of pose slowly and cautiously.
Support the back with props or a chair padded with blankets
Take care to breathe evenly while in pose, do not hold breath.
Take care to breath deeply into back in counter pose.
Sit on chair and grasp the outside rings of back of chair, then exhale and press hips forward, lifting ribcage and sternum and moving into pose.
Heart Problems:
Move slowly and carefully into a supported pose, using bolsters, blocks and blankets or a chair padded with blankets.
Be sure to advise the instructor if you feel any discomfort at all.