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Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Camel Pose, known as Ustrasana in Sanskrit, is a dynamic backbend that opens up the front of your body, stretches your spine, and invigorates your spirit. This pose is not just a physical exercise but a holistic practice that aligns your body, mind, and soul. It's a powerful way to enhance flexibility, strengthen your core, and stimulate your energy centers.

Camel Pose

The term "Ustrasana" comes from two Sanskrit words: "Ustra" meaning camel, and "Asana" meaning pose or posture. This name is inspired by the shape of a camel’s hump, as the pose mimics this rounded, graceful curve with the arching of the back.

The pronunciation of Ustrasana is "Oosh-traa-suh-nuh." Breaking it down:

  • "Ustra" is pronounced as "oosh-tra," with a soft "oo" sound.

  • "Asana" is pronounced as "aa-suh-nuh."

Anatomy of Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Camel Pose engages several key areas of the body:

  • Spine: The deep backbend stretches the entire spine.

  • Chest and Shoulders: Opens the chest and stretches the shoulders.

  • Hip Flexors: Extends and stretches the hip flexors.

  • Thighs: Engages the quadriceps.

  • Neck: Lengthens the front of the neck as the head drops back.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana): Steps or Instructions

  1. Start in a Kneeling Position: Kneel on your mat with your knees hip-width apart. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor.

  2. Place Hands on Hips: Put your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing down, to support your spine.

  3. Engage the Core: Draw your navel in towards your spine to support your lower back.

  4. Lift the Chest: Inhale and lift your chest towards the ceiling, creating a gentle arch in your upper back.

  5. Reach for the Heels: As you exhale, reach your hands back to grasp your heels. If this is too intense, you can keep your hands on your lower back.

  6. Drop the Head Back: Let your head fall back gently, opening your throat and chest.

  7. Hold and Breathe: Stay in the pose for 5-10 breaths, breathing deeply.

  8. Release: To come out of the pose, bring your hands back to your hips, engage your core, and slowly lift your torso back up to a kneeling position.

Camel Pose

When to do it

Camel Pose is best practiced during your yoga session after a thorough warm-up. It's particularly effective towards the end of your practice when your body is fully warmed up and more flexible.

Preparatory Poses

Before diving into Camel Pose, prepare your body with these poses:

  • Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): To warm up the spine.

  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): To open the chest and hip flexors.

  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): To engage and prepare the back muscles.

  • Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana): To stretch the hip flexors.

Follow up Poses

After Camel Pose, it’s important to neutralize your spine with these poses:

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): To gently stretch the back.

  • Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): To release any tension in the spine.

  • Forward Fold (Uttanasana): To stretch the spine and relax.


Camel Pose is associated with the Anahata (Heart) Chakra. This energy center is located in the chest and is linked to love, compassion, and emotional balance. Practicing Camel Pose can help unblock and stimulate the Anahata Chakra, promoting a sense of openness and emotional well-being.

Heart Chakra


Using the mantra during Camel Pose (Ustrasana) can significantly enhance your yoga practice by aligning physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. This mantra, deeply rooted in Buddhist tradition, resonates with the qualities of compassion, love, and transformation, making it particularly fitting for a heart-opening pose like Camel Pose.

"Om Mani Padme Hum"

Alignment Cues

  • Hips over Knees: Ensure your hips are directly above your knees to avoid strain on the lower back.

  • Lengthen the Spine: Keep lifting through the crown of your head and tailbone to create space in your spine.

  • Engage the Core: Draw your navel in to protect your lower back.

  • Open the Chest: Focus on lifting your chest towards the ceiling rather than just bending backward.

  • Relax the Neck: Let your head fall back naturally without forcing it.

Duration of Hold

Hold Camel Pose for 20-30 seconds, gradually increasing the duration as you build strength and flexibility. Ensure you maintain steady, deep breaths throughout the hold.

Drishti (Gaze)

In Camel Pose, your drishti, or gaze, can be either at the tip of your nose or softly into the horizon, depending on your comfort level and neck flexibility.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, Camel Pose enhances your flexibility and strengthens your back muscles. Spiritually, it opens your heart center, promoting feelings of love, compassion, and emotional release. This pose can be a profound experience, connecting you deeply with your inner self.

Beginners’ Tips

  • Start Slow: If reaching your heels is too challenging, place your hands on your lower back or blocks beside your feet.

  • Use Support: Place a rolled-up towel or blanket under your knees for extra cushioning.

  • Focus on Alignment: Prioritize proper alignment over depth to avoid strain and injury.

Who should not do it?

  • Back Issues: Individuals with serious back problems or injuries should avoid this pose.

  • Neck Issues: Those with neck pain or injuries should refrain from letting their head drop back.

  • High Blood Pressure: This pose might not be suitable for those with high blood pressure due to the intense backend.

Who should do it?

  • Desk Workers: If you spend long hours sitting, Camel Pose can help counteract the effects of poor posture and tight hip flexors.

  • Athletes: This pose can enhance flexibility and open up the chest and hip flexors, beneficial for various sports.

  • Anyone Seeking Heart Openness: If you want to cultivate more love and compassion, Camel Pose can help open your heart chakra.

Benefits of Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Physical Benefits

  • Spinal Flexibility: Enhances flexibility in the spine.

  • Chest Opening: Expands the chest and lungs, improving breathing capacity.

  • Posture Improvement: Counteracts the effects of poor posture.

  • Hip Flexor Stretch: Stretches and strengthens hip flexors.

  • Core Strengthening: Engages and strengthens core muscles.

Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Heart Opener: Promotes emotional release and openness.

  • Stress Relief: Reduces stress and anxiety.

  • Boosts Confidence: Energizes and invigorates the mind and body.

Variations of Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

  • Half Camel Pose: Keep one hand on the lower back while the other reaches for the heel.

  • Camel Pose with Blocks: Place blocks beside your feet to make reaching back easier.

  • Full Camel Pose: Deepen the backbend by pressing your hips further forward and lifting your chest higher.

Modifications for Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

  • Hands-on Lower Back: If reaching your heels is too intense, keep your hands on your lower back.

  • Use Props: Place blocks beside your feet or a blanket under your knees for additional support.

  • Wall Support: Practice against a wall to ensure proper alignment and support.

Common Mistakes

  • Forcing the Backbend: Avoid pushing too hard into the backbend, which can cause injury.

  • Dropping the Hips: Ensure your hips stay aligned over your knees.

  • Collapsing the Neck: Let your head fall back naturally without straining.

  • Neglecting the Core: Engage your core throughout the pose to protect your lower back.

Safety and Precautions

  • Warm-Up: Always warm up thoroughly before attempting Camel Pose.

  • Listen to Your Body: Never push beyond your limits; stop if you feel any pain.

  • Use Modifications: Employ props and modifications as needed to ensure a safe practice.

Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face While Doing This Pose and Why

Face east during your practice, traditionally considered a direction of new beginnings and positive energy in yoga.

What to Wear for This Pose

Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows freedom of movement. Avoid overly loose clothing that might get in the way during the backend.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Practice in a quiet, clean space. Enhance the experience with calming essential oils like lavender or invigorating scents like peppermint.

Music for This Pose

Choose soothing, meditative music or nature sounds to create a peaceful atmosphere and help you focus inward.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana) is a beautiful blend of strength, flexibility, and heart-opening energy. Whether you're looking to improve your physical health, connect more deeply with your inner self, or simply find a moment of peace, this pose offers a transformative journey. Embrace it with patience and mindfulness, and let it guide you towards a more open, compassionate, and balanced life.

Happy yoga-ing, everyone!


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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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