Ustrasana (pronounced oosh-TRAHS-ana) will be valuable to you as a preparation for more difficult backbends later in your yoga session, or later in your yoga practice in general. It creates flexibility in the shoulders and lower back — both areas that carry stress. The term “ustra” means camel.

How to Practice

Kneel on the floor, supported by a blanket if necessary. Your feet should be soles up with toes pointed back. The rest of your body should be erect and hands on the hips. At this juncture, you are assessing the whole of your body for proper positioning.

Feel tall and lengthened upward, with knees together and thighs stretched. Feel tall in the torso, shoulders open. Feel the mobility of your lower back with a slight stretch backwards and side to side.

Gravity will help you move into the final position, but be mindful of your neck muscles so that the head is supported into position as well. At the same time, move your hands off your hips and place them on the upturned soles of your feet. Arch backward into the gravity. Feel the sternum of the chest lifted up. Feel the spine move into the body. Feel the quads stretched out.

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