Ustrasana

Camel Pose

Begin pose from a kneeling position, knees hip width, with thighs slightly inwardly rotated.  There are many variations on hand placement, but a good start is to place hands on back of the hips, with thumbs pressing down toward tailbone, a reminder to keep moving tailbone toward pubis. Lift thighs and keep them forward, along with the hip bones, inhale and lift heart, take head back as far as your neck is happy, do not crunch and close back of neck. Head and neck continue the extension and alignment of the spine. Keep shoulders down, shoulder blades dropping.  If you have neck issues, keep chin down and lift chest up.  For more advanced work, lift arms up and back, grabbing heels, but maintain lifted, forward hips and thighs, maintaining a long spine. Do not push through hips and shorten lumbar spine. Stay and breathe easily for 5-10 breaths.  This is an inversion, so eyes must remain open.  So often in inversions the desire is to disappear by closing the eyes. Your point of view will never change if you do this.  Be alive to viewing the world up side down. To exit, lift chest first, then the head, come to neutral position and move into hare if you wish.
Health Notes: Ustrasana stretches hip flexors, psoas, strengthens spine, opens chest and lungs,assisting with respiratory imbalances.  It is helpful for mild back issues, menstrual discomfort, and tiredness.