Anatomy of an Asana: Ushtrasana (Camel pose)

The asana named Ushtrasana means camel and the pose gets its name from the overall shape that the body makes, arching backwards whilst kneeling and holding the ankles. As with any of the astanas each one uses different parts of the body and both excercises them as well as having therapeutic properties. In the case of ushtrasana a lot of stress is on the back, the knees and the neck and so care has to be taken in preparing and carrying out this manouver. Firstly, people with known problems associated with the lower back such as sciatica and lumbar injuries should refrain from doing this unless under careful supervision. Likewise, any injuries to the neck must be considerd before taking this on. Having said that the pose does provide a number of physical benefits and these are:

1. Increasing flexibility of the spine – helping to avoid spinal and spinal nerve conditions through gentle exercise

2. Increasing lung capacity through gentle flexing of the chest muscles – itself helping in conditions related to the lung and the repiratory system

3. Stimulation of the abdominal organs which can help in conditions such as constipation and digestive disorders

4. Generally improving posture associated with the back,  shoulders and the neck

5. It has also been noted to aid in the regulation of the thyroid and hyperthyroid gland in the throat area

6. Improves blood flow to the cerebellum and medulla oblongata

The ushtrasana is an elegant pose and has many benefits as described. However, it should be approached slowly and gently building up from other poses such as Cobra which is a more gentle position but also one that stretches some or all of the joints and muscles associated with the Camel pose.