[Pose of the Week] 3 Variations on Camel Pose to Liberate & Inspire You

These variations on Camel Pose will help you to find the best way to perform this challenging and heart-opening yoga pose.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana) is a foundational yoga pose that opens your chest area, stretches your abdominal muscles, improves flexibility of your shoulders and spine, and strengthens your arms, shoulders, and core. Some say that Camel also helps to relieve stress, remove creative blocks and alleviate depression.

There are many variations of this expansive pose, and the three below will help to warm up your shoulders, quads, and back, as well as help you to feel safe and stable in this sometimes-vulnerable pose.

Before doing Camel pose, you should make sure that your legs, spine and shoulders are fully warmed up with some standing poses and forward bends.

Try these variations to find a version that is comfortable and safe for you – and then feel free to play and experiment with some of these others when you feel ready!

This variation will help you reach your feet without crunching your lower back. Kneel with knees and feet hip-width apart and your toes tucked under, pressing into a bolster. Move the backs of your thighs forward, so they are perpendicular to the floor. Inhale; lift your side ribs and chest. Revolve your upper arms, palms facing forward, as you press your shoulder blades into your back ribs. Exhale; reach for the bottoms of your feet. If it’s comfortable, exhale to take your head back. Inhale; keep pressing through your toes, and lift to come up.

Stabilize your hips and lower spine with this variation. Place a block on its middle setting between your feet, squeezing it between your ankles to activate your legs and hips, and help bring additional stability to the pose. Curl your toes under and press into the balls of your feet, engaging the backs of your legs and buttocks while lifting your sides and the backs of your lower ribs. Inhale and move your shoulder blades deep into your upper back as you reach for your heels. Exhale. Inhale to lift your upper back and chest even further. Come out of the pose on an inhale.

To bring even more awareness to maintaining a lift in your upper back, kneel facing a wall. Place the top of a folding chair at the bottom of your shoulder blades, with the chair angled so that it presses into your upper back, helping to move your back ribs and shoulder blades deep into your body, which will feel like it’s pinned between the chair and the wall. From this place of stability, lift your chest and look up, if it’s comfortable. Revolve your shoulders back and down as you walk your hands down the side of the chair. Inhale to come up.

Find pictures of these + 5 more camel pose variations at YogaJournal.com


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