Camel Pose provides a wonderful stretch for the entire front of your body – as well as many other benefits! Here are a few tips for mastering this yoga backbend pose…
Camel Pose (Ustrasana) is a basic backbend pose that stretches the chest, abdomen, quads, and hip flexors, while also improving spinal flexibility and improving posture. This is a great pose for opening up the chest and lungs, and is wonderful for relieving neck, shoulder, and back tension for those who spend a lot of time driving or sitting in front of a computer. Camel pose is also thought to improve digestion, stimulate the kidneys, and reduce anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
Camel can feel a little bit intimidating at first as it is a fairly intense stretch. Take your time, and modify the pose as needed (see tips below) until you feel comfortable moving into the full pose. If you are stiff and afraid of the pose, it will make it more difficult, so just relax and do what you can do – don’t push yourself too hard to achieve the full pose right away!
Those who have high or low blood pressure, lower back or neck injuries, or suffer from frequent migraines should avoid this pose.
Here’s how to do Camel Pose, according to YogaOutlet.com:
- Begin by kneeling upright with your knees hip-distance apart. Rotate your thighs inward and press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. Do not squeeze your buttocks.
- Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, with your fingers pointing to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone down toward the floor and widen the back of your pelvis.
- Lean back, with your chin slightly tucked toward your chest. Beginners can stay here, keeping their hands on their back pelvis.
- If you are comfortable here, you can take the pose even deeper. Reach back and hold onto each heel. Your palms should rest on your heels with your fingers pointing toward your toes and your thumbs holding the outside of each foot.
- Keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor, with your hips directly over your knees. If it is difficult to grasp your heels without feeling compression in your low back, tuck your toes to elevate your heels. You can also rest your hands on yoga blocks placed to the outside of each foot.
- Lift up through your pelvis, keeping your lower spine long. Turn your arms outward without squeezing your shoulder blades. Keep your head in a neutral position, or allow it to drop back without straining or crunching your neck.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds. To release, bring your hands back to your front hips. Inhale, lead with your heart, and lift your torso by pushing your hips down toward the floor. Your head should come up last. Rest in Child’s Pose (Balasana) or Corpse Pose (Savasana).
To Modify Camel Pose:
- If you have trouble reaching your feet when you reach back, you can tuck your toes under to lift your heels, and then hold onto your elevated heels.
- If this is still too intense, you can approximate the pose by clasping your hands behind your buttocks or pressing your hands into the small of your back, or place your hands on yoga blocks outside of your feet.
- To deepen the pose, squeeze a block between your thighs, or simply press your legs together.
- You can also deepen the chest opening stretch by crossing your forearms behind you and grasping the opposite ankles.
- Want to try some other variations? Here are 3 more ways to modify Camel Pose.