Hello and happy Thursday fruity friends! How is life treating you?
This weeks posture of the week comes to you courtesy of my friend Kay-Tay. I was talking to her at our place of work, and she asked if I would do Ustrasana, or camel posture, for this week. Kay-Tay, your wish is my command.
Ustrasana is a heart opener. Heart openers are awesome for those of us who hunch over a computer all day, or who constantly carry a back pack. (yes, I constantly carry a back pack. As in all the time. Deal) It opens up the chest, relieves the over tightened muscles there, as well as strengthening the back muscles, which tend to be chronically over stretched. Heart openers are also postures that ask us to open up, to reveal our hearts, so to speak, and this can be daunting for some. As Kay-Tay reminded me to remind you, that you are in a safe place, and that all is well with the world. If some emotions come up for you during some intense back bends, know that is totally normal and just roll with it! Also, it is against our survival mechanism to allow ourselves to “fall backwards” so if you struggle with this at first, that is also normal on the normal scale. It is also physically impossible to feel strong emotions and be collapsing your chest at the same time, so opening it up may have a strong emotional effect if you are resisting a lot of emotional things!
So! For camel posture, I recommend that you do a practice to warm up before you attempt this posture. I know you will do your sun salutations, standing postures and maybe even some inversions. You can also do some back bend warm ups. I like locust;
As well as corbra!
You can also open your shoulders with a nice shoulder opener;
Now, when you are all warm and ready, to come into camel posture you are going to start by standing on your knees. They will be hip distance apart, your shins are in line with your knees, and your toes tucked under. Push your hips forward, and roll the shoulders down and back. Place your hands on your lower back, with your thumbs touching your hips, finger tips touching your upper buttocks.
Start to open your chest more, as you begin yo move your shoulders back, lifting your chest, your breast bone, up towards the sky. As you do this, press your hands strongly into your lower back, and bring your hips and thighs as far forward as you can. In your mind, pretend that you are pressing your hips and thighs against a wall. Or you can do it for real! (Pressing your hips into a wall when you do this will give you a real thigh burn!)
Next, if you feel that this is enough, stay here. Breath, as you look in front of you to the place where the wall and the ceiling meet. If you feel ready to keep going, continue to lift your chest as you press your hips and thighs forward, and begin to reach your hands back to grasp your heels.
From here, if you feel good, you can un-tuck your toes, and lay the tops of your feet along the mat in line with your shins and your knees. You can allow your head to lightly and with control drop back here too. And you are there!
You can play with a fun, deeper version of this back bend called kapotasana, or king pigeon posture. From your camel pose, lift your arms up and over your head, like you would if you were standing and going to drop back into upward facing bow posture;
Then just place your hands down on the mat behind you, lift your chest, and walk your hands in to meet your feet, with your palms touching the bottoms of your feet, and your forearms lying flat along the mat. You are working to get the top of your head in between the soles of your feet.
To come out, just place your hands back on your low back, where they were at the beginning, and roll your spine up one vertebra at a time, head is the last thing to come up. Then sit back on your heels and rest.
I hope you give camel or king pigeon a try next time you practice! It is awesome to open your heart.