Ustrasana can be a very difficult pose for the neck, especially if your shoulders are tight. You can use a wall as a prop to protect your neck. Prepare for the pose with your back to a wall, with your toes turned under and your soles as close to the wall as possible. Exhale and lean back, as described in step 3 in the main description above. Press the crown of your head into the wall and, against this pressure, lift the shoulder blades deeper into your back. Keep your hands on your pelvis or swing them back to press your palms against the wall.
Deepen the Pose
You can increase the challenge of Ustrasana by performing the pose with your thighs, calves, and inner feet touching.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Beginners very often aren't able to touch their hands to their feet without straining their back or neck. First, try to turn your toes under and elevate your heels. If this doesn't work, the next thing to do is to rest each hand on a block. Position the blocks just outside each heel, and stand them at their highest height (usually about 9 inches). If you're still having difficulty, get a chair. Kneel for the pose with your back to the chair, with your calves and feet below the seat and the front edge of the seat touching your buttocks. Then lean back and bring your hands to the sides of the seat or high up on the front chair legs.
Stretches the entire front of the body, the ankles, thighs and groins,
Abdomen and chest, and throat
Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas)
Strengthens back muscles
Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck
A partner can also help you work with your neck and head in this pose. Your partner should stand directly behind you as you perform Camel. Bring your head into a neutral position; that is, align your neck so it's neither in flexion nor extension. Have your partner support the back of your head with one hand, and press his other hand on your upper back, between the shoulder blades. He should pull the base of your skull away from the back of your neck and push your shoulder blades in the opposite direction, down the back. Let your neck grow between these two actions. Then, if you feel comfortable, have your partner carefully remove his hands and, maintaining the length in the back of your neck, drop your head back.