Last updated: Mar 30, 2009
Spring is finally here! Do a little spring cleaning on your body with camel pose, or ustrasana—it clears out the lungs, increases circulation, and opens the heart. And it will help tighten your belly and back muscles just in time for bathing suit season!

Since the pose is somewhat strenuous, start with a gentle warm up—like taking a short walk—before you begin. Kneel on your shins with your knees hips distance apart.  If your knees are sensitive, kneel on a folded blanket or towel.  Draw the belly in and up while tucking the tailbone down towards the floor.  This action will stabilize the lower back to aim the movement into the upper back.  Place your hands on your hips, fingers pointing up.  Lean back and lift the chest up to the ceiling.  This may already be enough of a backbend for you.

If you feel you are ready for more, take your hands back onto your heels.  Press the hands down onto the heels and watch the chest expand.  You may also allow the head to release back in line with the spine, but you can keep the chin tucked slightly forward if that's more comfortable.  Breathe smoothly and hold for 5-15 breaths.  Repeat up to 3 times.