By B.K.S. Iyengar June 1999 USTRASANA ‘Ustra‘ means a camel. As the name suggests, this asana is so called because the pose resembles a camel. Technique 1. Kneel on the floor, knees and thighs together and toenails resting on the floor. Extend the toes backward. 2. Rest palms on buttocks so that the fingers point towards the feet. The elbows should point backward and you should feel the sternum bone lifted to the front. 3. Stretch the thighs and curve the spine backwards, extending the ribs. 4. Exhale. Lower the left palm on the left heel and the right palm on the right heel. Try to rest the palms on the soles of your feet. press feet with the palms. Keep your ankles in touch with the floor. Throw your head back and push the spine towards your thighs, which should be perpendicular to the floor. 5. Contract buttocks and stretch the spine further, keeping the neck stretched back. 6. Remain in this position for half a minute, breathing normally. 7. Release your hands one by one and rest them on the buttocks. Then sit on the floor and relax. Special InstructionsInitially, if it is difficult to touch the heels, keep knees slightly apart. This gives better movement to the spine and there is no pain in the thighs. Benefits• People with drooping shoulders and hunched backs specially benefit, since the whole spine is stretched back. • This pose is useful for elderly people and those suffering from spinal injuries. URDHVA MUKHA SVANASANA ‘Urdhva Mukha‘ means facing upwards. ‘Svana‘ means a dog. The pose resembles a dog stretching itself with its head up. Technique 1. Lie flat on your stomach. 2. Keep both feet a foot apart, toes pointing backward. Keep elbows raised. Place palms on the floor by the sides of the waist, the fingers pointing to the front. 3. Inhale. Raise the head and trunk and let the palms bear your body weight. Stretch the arms completely and push the head and trunk as far back as possible, lifting knees off the floor. 4. Keep legs straight. Tighten the knees without resting them on the floor. The weight of your body should rest on the palms and toes. 5. While contracting buttocks, stretch the spine, thighs and calves to their full extent. Push the chest forward, stretch your neck and throw the head as far back as possible. 6. Stay in this pose for about a minute, breathing deeply. 7. Exhale. Bend elbows and rest your thighs and knees on the floor. Lower the head and the trunk and lie flat. Benefits• This asana rejuvenates the spine and is specially recommended for people suffering from a stiff back. • It is also good for people with lumbago, sciatica, slipped and prolapsed discs.• The lungs gain elasticity due to chest expansion. • Blood circulates in the pelvic region, keeping it healthy.
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