Kneel down on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inside gradually, narrow your hip points, and firm but do not harden your buttocks. Visualize that you are drawing your sitting bones up, into your torso. Keep your outer hips as pulpy as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet strongly into the floor.
Hold your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to expand the back pelvis and amplify it down through your tailbone. Then slowly firm the tail forward, toward the pubis. Make sure though that your front groins do not “puff” forward. To prevent this, press your front thighs back, countering the forward action of your tail. Breathe in and raise your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
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Now lean back against the perseverance of the tailbone and shoulder blades. For the time being keep your hands on the pelvis, chin near the sternum and your head up. Beginners probably will not be able to drop straight back into this pose, touching your hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. If you need to, tilt the ham back a little from the perpendicular and minimally rotate to one side to get one hand on the same side foot. Then press your thighs back to perpendicular, turn your torso back to neutral, and touch the other hand to its foot. If you are not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and raise your heels.
See that your lower front ribs are not protruding quickly toward the ceiling, which compresses the lower back and hardens the belly. Release the front ribs and raise the front of the pelvis up, toward the ribs. Then raise the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Press your palms strongly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwards so the elbow wrinkles face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a comparatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to stretch your neck and harden your throat.
Stay in this pose anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute. To exit, bring your hands to the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Breathe in and raise the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, to the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the deck and leading with your brain. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
|Contraindications and Cautions|
|Modifications and Props|
|Ustrasana can be a slightly difficult pose for the neck, especially if your shoulders are tight. You can use a wall as a prop to defend your neck. Prepare for the pose with your back to a wall, with your toes bent under and your soles as close to the wall as possible. Breathe out and lean back, as described in step three in the main description above. Press the crown of your head into the wall and, against this pressure, raise the shoulder blades deeper into your back. Keep your hands on your pelvis or vacillate them back to press your palms against the wall.|
|Deepen the Pose|
|You can amplify the challenge of Ustrasana by performing the pose with your calves, thighs, and inner feet touching.|
|Beginners very often are not able to touch their hands to their feet without pressuring their neck or back. First, try to turn your toes under and raise your heels. If this does not work, the next thing to do is to put each hand on a block. Position the blocks just outside each heel, and stand them at their highest height (usually about nine inches). If you are still having the snag, get a chair. Kneel for the pose with your back to the chair, with your calves and feet below the seat and the front edge of the seat touching your buttocks. Then lean back and bring your hands to the sides of the seat or high up on the front chair legs.|
|A partner can also help you work with your head and neck in this pose. Your partner should stand directly behind you as you perform Camel. Bring your head into a neutral position; that is, align your neck so it’s neither inflection nor extension. Have your partner support the back of your head with one hand, and press his other hand on your upper back, between the shoulder blades. He should pull the foundation of your skull away from the back of your neck and push your shoulder blades in the opposite direction, down the back. Let your neck grow between these two actions. Then, if you feel comfortable, have your partner carefully eliminate his/her hands and, maintaining the length in the back of your neck, drop your head back.|