Ardha Ushtrasana (half camel pose)
1. Sit in vajrasana with the knees apart and the ankles at the side of the buttocks.
2. Stand up on the knees with the arms at the sides. Keep the feet flat behind the body.
3. While inhaling, stretch the arms sideways and raise them to shoulder level.
4. Then, while exhaling, twist to the right, reach back with the right hand and try to hold the left heel or ankle.
5. Simultaneously, stretch the left arm in front of the head so that the hand is at eyebrow level. The head should be slightly back with the eyes gazing at the raised hand.
6. Push the abdomen forward in the final position and try to keep the thighs vertical.
7. Hold this position while holding the breath for a few seconds and retaining the gaze on the left hand.
8. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side to complete one round, holding the right heel with the left hand.
Practice 3 to 5 rounds. Do not strain in any way.
Variation I: The final position may be held for 1 to 2 minutes whilst breathing normally, as long as there is no strain experienced.
Variation 2: This is the same as the basic asana except the breathing changes. Inhale and come into the final position, hold the internal breath retention for a few seconds and then exhale while returning to the upright position. This is repeated in the same manner on the other side. This variation accentuates the effect on the abdomen whereas the basic asana accentuates the effect on the spine.
Variation 3: A simpler variation for beginners is to place the right hand on the right heel and the left hand on the left heel. This posture also becomes easier if the heels are raised.
Variation 4: After twisting, the outstretched arm may be raised above the head to a vertical position. The head should be held back with the eyes gazing at the raised hand.
Note: While holding, maintain normal breathing.
Breathing: Normal in the final position. Do not try to breathe deeply because the chest is already stretched.
Physical - on the stretch in the back and neck, or on the normal breath if holding longer.
Spiritual - on anahata or vishuddhi chakra.
Benefits: As given for ushtrasana but at a reduced level.