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Benefits of Ardha Ushtrasana and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht 

By Dr. Himani Bisht +2 more

Introduction: 

Yoga is a type of body-mind exercise that combines physical effort with a mindful interior emphasis. The practice of yoga helps us become more aware of our mind, body, and breath by witnessing the processes in the mind and body. Yoga, a 3000-year-old tradition, has now gained limelight in the western world as a holistic approach towards health. This mind-body yoga practice consists of asanas (physical postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques) and meditation. Everyone can perform yoga under the trainer’s guidance, from children to adults. In this article, we will explore the health benefits of ardha ushtrasana.1 

What is Ardha Ushtrasana? 

The asana comes from the Sanskrit words “ardha”, which means half; “ustra”, meaning camel; and “asana” means yoga posture. So, the ardha ushtrasana in English is half camel pose.2 This asana is a front-body stretch and backbend, which prepares the body to enter the ushtrasana. The posture starts with a simple sitting pose yoga (Vajrasana) and involves stretching one arm over the head and placing the other hand on the heel. 

Ardha Ushtrasana

How to do it? 

Let us learn how to do ardha ushtrasana: 

  • First, sit in Vajrasana with your knees apart and ankles to the side.   
  • Now, slowly stand on your knees with your arms on the sides. 
  • Place the feet flat behind the body. 
  • Stretch your arms sideways and raise them to shoulder level. Do not strain your arms while stretching. 
  • Slightly twist to your right and try to hold the right heel or ankle with your left hand. 
  • Simultaneously, stretch your left hand over your head so that the hand is at eyebrow level. 
  • Your head must be slightly back with the eyes gazing at the raised hand. 
  • Hips are pushed forward in the final step and thighs in vertical position. 
  • Maintain this position for as long as comfortable and retaining the gaze on the left hand.  
  • Go back to the initial position and repeat with another side to finish one round. 
  • Repeat this procedure up to 3-5 rounds. 

Breathing pattern: Take a deep breath while stretching your arms sideways. Breathe while twisting, hold your breath in the final position and then breathe normally while returning to the original position.3 

Note- It is best to perform any asana with an empty stomach, and the best time to perform ardha ushtrasana is early morning as the body is active and fresh. 

Researchers believe that regular practice of Ardha Ushtrasana and its variations may enhance lung capacity. Ardha Ushtrasana is beneficial for opening up your shoulders and chest that may increase lung capacity as well as boost self-esteem and posture.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Do you know? 

  • The ardha ushtrasana may activate the Anahata chakra, which opens the chest. 
  • Ardha ushtrasana described in the book “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha” by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. 
  • The main pose (ushtrasana) was first described in the 19th century in an ancient text Sritattvanidhi. 

Benefits of Ardha Ushtrasana:  

Keeping the origin and history in mind, let us now discuss the benefits of ardha ushtrasana, which will make this asana worth trying. A few health benefits of ardha ushtrasana are: 

Benefit of Ardha Ushtrasana in Obesity 

It is evident that physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle increase our body fat, making us overweight and obese. Literature studies support that performing exercises and yoga may reduce body fat, reduce body weight, and help manage obesity. A study by Chauhan et al. in 2017 explained that ardha ushtrasana, along with other asanas, may reduce obesity and maintain optimal BMI (an indicator of body fat). This indicates that ardha ushtrasana may have the potential to manage obesity. However, you should not consider the practice of ardha ushtrasana as an alternative to modern medicine. You should consult your doctor for proper management of obesity.4 

Benefit of Ardha Ushtrasana on Blood Pressure 

Literature studies show that yogasanas may positively impact blood pressure. Chauhan et al. conducted a study in 2017 to evaluate the effect of asanas on health. This study showed that the ardha ushtrasana might help reduce blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) and thus help manage hypertension. However, we need more studies and proof to claim these effects with greater reliability. Therefore, it is advised to consult your doctor for the proper treatment and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, the practice of ardha ushtrasana should be strictly done under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of Ardha Ushtrasana in Syncope 

In simple terms, syncope refers to an episode of fainting or sudden loss of consciousness. Shenthar et al., in 2016, conducted a study that showed that the performing yogasanas like ardha ushtrasana may be effective in managing syncope and may help reduce its recurrence. Thus, the approach of Ardha Ushtrasana may avoid syncope, but the practice of this asana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. So, consult your doctor for proper treatment and do not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, one should practice ardha ushtrasana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.5 

Benefit of Ardha Ushtrasana on the Thyroid Gland 

The thyroid gland, a vital hormone, plays an essential role in the body’s metabolism, growth, and development. Literature shows that performing yoga may positively impact the thyroid gland. Mali et al., 2020 conducted a survey and demonstrated that the yogasanas like ardha ushtrasana may offer an excellent stretch to the thyroid gland and may improve its functioning. However, consult a doctor for proper treatment for any thyroid abnormality. Additionally, it is best to perform ardha ushtrasana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.6 

Other benefits of Ardha Ushtrasana: 

  • The practice of ardha ushtrasana, a preparatory pose for ushtrasana, may help in managing hunch back2 and may reduce depression.7  
  • Ushtrasana may positively impact women’s health during menstruation and menopause; thus, ardha ushtrasana, the entering pose for ushtrasana, may also exert similar effects.8 

Note- The benefits of ardha ushtrasana are studied in a limited human population. Still, more studies and research is needed to claim the positive effects of ardha ushtrasana. 

Although the practice of Yoga may help in the development of the mind and body; however, you should not consider yoga as an alternative to modern medicine. It is advised not to rely on Yoga alone to treat any condition. Kindly consult a qualified doctor for proper treatment. Additionally, any asana practice should be performed under the supervision of a qualified trainer. 

Researchers believe that regular practice of Ardha Ushtrasana and its modifications, along with other yogasanas may enhance dysphonia (difficulty in speaking). Practice of this yogasana may clear the hoarseness, lowering the severity of pain and effort needed when speaking.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Risks of Ardha Ushtrasana: 

Ardha ushtrasana precautions: 

  • Pregnant women, children and older adults should take proper precautions before performing this asana. Limited data is available regarding the safety of this asana in these particular groups. 

Following are the contraindications of ardha ushtrasana:  

  • In case of any back ailments avoid ardha ushtrasana. 
  • In case of surgery and fractures, performing ardha ushtrasana should be avoided. 
  • In the state of exhaustion or illness, avoid ardha ushtrasana. 
  • In extreme weather conditions like too hot or too cold climate, you should avoid the practice of ardha ushtrasana.9 

Conclusion

Ardha ushtrasana is a front-body stretch and a backbend asana to prepare the body to enter the ustrasana. This pose starts with Vajrasana, a simple sitting pose yoga that involves stretching one arm over the head and placing the other on the heel; this gives a deep backbend. It comes from the Sanskrit words “ardha”, which means half; “ustra”, meaning camel; and “asana”, meaning yoga pose or posture. This translates to half camel pose in English. The practice of this asana may positively impact or reduce syncope, blood pressure, obesity and may increase thyroid function; it may also help in managing kyphosis, depression, and menopausal symptoms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the half camel pose in yoga? 

Ardha ushtrasana is known as the half camel pose in yoga.2 

Is it okay to practice ardha ushtrasana after meals? 

No, it is best to practice any asana, including ardha ushtrasana, with an empty stomach or a minimum of four hours that have elapsed since you had a meal, whichever is sooner. 

Which chakras are activated by ardha ushtrasana? 

Ardha ushtrasana is known to activate the Anahata chakra, which opens the chest.2 

Is it safe to practice ardha ushtrasana during pregnancy? 

There is limited information regarding the safety of ardha ushtrasana in pregnancy. It is therefore advised to consult your doctor for proper guidance. 

Does ardha ushtrasana benefit from obesity? 

Yes, studies have shown that ardha ushtrasana may benefit from obesity. However, you should not rely on this asana alone and consult your doctor to manage obesity properly.4 

Disclaimer: The information or data included on this site is only for educational purposes and should not be considered or counted as a substitute for medical treatment by any healthcare professional or doctor. Based on the individual needs, the reader should consult their physician or doctor to determine the appropriateness of the information provided on this site for the reader’s situation. 

References: 

  1. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International journal of yoga. 2011 Jul;4(2):49. available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/ 
  1. Iyengar BK. Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga… Schocken; 1995 Jan 3. Available at:   https://mantrayogameditation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Light-on-Yoga_-The-Bible-of-Modern-Yoga-PDFDrive.com-.pdf    
  1. Saraswati SS, Hiti JK. Asana pranayama mudra bandha. Bihar, India: Yoga Publications Trust; 1996.201-203.Available at: https://thelonerider.com/pdf/asana_pranayama_mudra_bandha.pdf 
  1. Chauhan A, Semwal DK, Mishra SP, Semwal RB. Yoga practice improves the body mass index and blood pressure: A randomized controlled trial. International journal of yoga. 2017 May;10(2):103. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433109/ 
  1. Shenthar J, Gangwar RS, Banavalikar B, Benditt DG, Lakkireddy D, Padmanabhan D. A randomized study of yoga therapy for the prevention of recurrent reflex vasovagal syncope. EP Europace. 2021 Sep;23(9):1479-86. available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/europace/euab054 
  1. Mali S, Mahgar DS, Sachdeo RA, Morbale TS. Hypothyroidism and Alternative Treatment: An Overview. International Journal of science and research methodology. 2017;6(1):38-52. Available at: https://ijsrm.humanjournals.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/4.-Mr.-Suraj-Narayan-Mali-Dheeraj-Shivaji-Magar-Rahul-Ashok-Sachdeo-Miss-Tejaswini-Sanjay-Morbale.pdf 
  1. Kim SJ, Lee YH. Effectiveness of yoga training programs to reduce depression and improve resilience of single mothers. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation. 2022 Apr;18(2):104. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9081409/#!po=32.1429 
  1. Kulkarni K, Hiremath T, Swamidas S, Kotturshetti IB. An Overview on Yoga alongside Its Benefits in Menarche and Menopause. INTERNATIONAL AYURVEDIC MEDICAL JOURNAL. Available at: http://www.iamj.in/posts/2021/images/upload/2225_2231.pdf 
  1. Ministry, Y.A, Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga practice. Available at: https://yoga.ayush.gov.in/blog?q=58   

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