Ustrasana The Camel

Ustrasana The Camel

1. Kneel on a flat surface, thighs, calves and ankles together, toes pointed behind you and parallel.
 2. Place your hands on your thighs, fingers pointed down.
3. Gradually arch the neck backward to its maximum.
4. Advance the thighs forward to vertical and keep them there.
 5. Extend the lumbar and thoracic spine, and bring first the right hand, then the left hand backward, resting the heel of the hands on the heels, fingers in line with the toes.
6. Raise the upper lumbar spine and lowest ribs upward as far as you can; tighten the buttocks to improve the arch of the entire spine. Breathe quietly for 30-60 seconds.
7. Exit the pose by sitting back down on your heels and simultaneously bringing your hands in your lap.

Entry-Level Ustrasana

1. Place a card chair about 2-3 feet from a wall, and facing away from it. Place another card chair directly in front of the first one, facing toward it.
2. Straddle the chair furthest from the wall as shown.
 3. Holding onto the arms of the chair, hook your legs one by one under the other chair.
4. Slide backward on the chair until your buttocks are almost at the junction of the seat and back of the chair closest to the wall. Your feet should be fl at against the wall.
5. Now raise your hands to grasp the arms or back of the chair that is furthest from the wall. Slowly throw your head back and lift the upper chest still further. Breathe naturally for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Lower your legs together or, if necessary, one at a time. You may use pillows under the ribs and upper lumbar spine as needed also.

Intermediate Ustrasana

1. Slip your legs between the back and seat of a card chair. Be careful not to tip the chair, a common occurrence. If things are unstable or appear to be, place the chair next to a wall and/or use a helper. Fig [1]

Fig [1] 

2. Slide the buttocks forward enough so that when you lie back, only the top halves of the shoulder blades extend off the edge of the seat of the chair. Fig [2]

Fig [2] 

3. Place the feet fl at on the floor, toes facing forward, legs parallel and in line with the hips. Hold the chair back when descending. Fig [3]
Fig [3] 

4. Gradually let your head and neck and upper shoulder region descend further and further,  puffing out the chest and bending the upper thoracic spine around the front edge of the chair. Fig [4]
Fig [4] 

5. After comfortably remaining in the position at least 10 seconds, and possibly for 20-30 seconds, raise your arms over your head, palms upward, allowing the weight of your arms to further open the chest Fig [4].
6. Remain breathing normally for 20-30 seconds.
7. Grasp the seat or side or back of the chair to return to upright on exiting the pose. Be careful of tipping the chair on entering and leaving.

More Advanced Intermediate Ustrasana

Proceed as in the intermediate pose above, but at direction 3, do not slide the buttocks as far between the seat and back of the chair.

1. Allow the entire shoulder blade to hang free beyond the front of the chair seat. Fig [5]
Fig [5] 

2. Raise your arms over your head and behind you, placing palms on the floor. Fig [6]

Fig [6] 

3. Now bring your feet as far beneath the chair as possible.
4. Breathe normally and evenly for 20-30 seconds.
5. To intensify the pose, grasp the chair supports and gently arch still further. Fig [7]


6. Then return your feet to fl at on the floor, calves and thighs parallel.
7. Reach your hands above and in front of you, grasping the back or seat of the chair to help you ascend back to the straddle position.Fig[8]


Vitari Karani

The first example is perhaps the best: a pose of universal scope, providing relief and simultaneously boosting energy in a manner that seems to improve on sleep itself. It is invaluable to beginners and past-masters alike, and is an excellent remedy for headaches of cervical origin. Vitari Karani has already been described in the first part of the previous article, and is repeated here with some differences.

Use a bolster and a blanket folded into thirds so that it is narrower and only supports the spine, and a wall or bed or whatever vertical surface you have. You may use an eye bag and a sandbag to weigh the shoulders down to the floor. In place of a sand bag one can use a five pound bag of flour or sugar. The weight is the same.

Inverting the body with students who have MS seems to allow them to completely and totally refresh and restore their bodies and their nervous systems.

1. Lie down.
2. Lower your elbows to the floor and move your body as close to the wall as possible.

3. Just roll over to the left, keeping your head on the blanket.
4. Now shift your hips into a supine position and then gently bring your legs up on to the wall. The shoulders and chest are supported on the blanket.
5. Arch your back in order to open the chest. Use the sandbags to avoid pitching

your shoulders forward. Press the shoulders down with the weight. This stretches muscles located in the front part of the chest and allows it to relax.
6. Put an eye bag under your eyes, by simply placing it above the eyebrows, pulling the skin gently down toward the nose and then distributing the sand across the eyebrow lines so that the pressure feels comfortable and the weight is not strictly on the eyeball, but is on the tissue surrounding the eye.
7. Place your hands onto the floor again about 30 degrees away from the hips with the thumb dropping more toward the floor in order to facilitate opening the chest and calming the tension in your shoulders.

8. Now let us look at the legs. If there is a problem maintaining the legs in this posture and the legs seem to turn out, then you might want to put a strap around the mid thigh region. You or an instructor or assistant can pull the strap gently in order to raise the legs up away from the pelvis and settle the back of the heels on to the wall. This is essentially the same process we will use in the back bends which come later in this same sequence.

In this posture the effects of gravity on blood flow are gently reversed. Blood flows "northward" back through the pelvis with some possible additional cleansing due to the fact that the liver’s vessels may open more under the increased pressure, All the blood vessels coming up from the intestine, through the hepatic portal system,

 and venous blood flow from the legs are drained more effectively through inversion. Breathing in this position, changing the pressures in the thoracic cavity with every inhalation and exhalation, will massage the heart and brain gently through “waves” in the blood flow through these organs.

Inhalation is through the base of the nostrils; the exhalation is through the tip of the nose. The practitioner feels rather complete and total release. If you follow the practitioner through this series of pictures, you may be able to notice that he becomes even quieter in successive pictures. You can see that his face is very relaxed and very gentle. Five minutes of this a day and if possible twice a day will off er you considerable calm. It is hard to describe how beneficial this is to people with MS.

This posture should never be done after eating; it can be done before going to bed provided that the stomach is empty. Still, to do it early in the morning after the bowel and bladder are empty is perhaps the best. Three to five minutes in this pose is more than enough when you first start out. Remember, you are introducing a very effective tool to your system and it must be taken in very small doses even though you would like to take it more often and for longer. It is better at this stage, the introductory level, to stay only 3 to 5 minutes in this pose, the breath remaining smooth and calm.

After that period of time, once you come out of the pose and remove the eye bag and remove the strap, it is best to roll over onto your right thigh to swing your hips completely off the blanket or pad. Cushion your head in your right arm. Allow your left arm to drop gently onto the floor.

Now remember that your right lung is larger than your left lung, because the heart and stomach are on the left side, taking up a great deal of room. The liver, which is heavy, is now being supported by the floor so the return flow of blood is even and gentle. After you have stayed for at least the same amount of time in the fetal position that you were inverted, then you may sit up, placing your back against the wall. On the bolster or blanket cross your right leg in front your left, put your hands gently on your thigh and allow the total effect of the pose to come to you.

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