Half Camel Pose stretches and strengthens both the back and front of the body while challenging balance and stability…
Camel Pose is one of the more popular foundational yoga poses. But Half Camel Pose (Ardha Ustrasana) is not as well-known, even though it provides at least as many benefits as the “full” version.
Despite its name, Half Camel Pose is actually slightly more advanced than the full version, as it offers a greater challenge to strength and stability. As a partially supported backbend, this is an energizing pose that opens the heart center and is thought to relieve depression and fatigue. It also provides a great stretch for the arms, shoulders, back, and chest, strengthens and tones the arms, shoulders, and core muscles, and is believed to stimulate the digestive and respiratory systems as well as the thyroid.
Those with existing back injuries, ankle injuries, or high blood pressure should avoid this pose.
How to Do Half Camel Pose, According to Yogapedia.com:
- Begin seated on the heels.
- Keeping the knees hips-width distance apart, come upright onto both knees.
- Place the hands with the fingers pointed downward onto the lower back.
- Inhaling, press the toes and knees into the mat while extending through the crown of the head.
- Push the hips forward on the exhale.
- Mindfully lower the right hand to the heels.
- Extend the left arm and hand out and up.
- Looking toward the sky, expand through the chest, lengthening the upper back and spine.
- Hold for three to six breaths then release the pose by gently lowering the hips to the feet, coming to a seated posture on your heels.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Make sure that your knees are hip-width apart before you begin to arch backwards. To avoid over-arching the back, rather than trying to bend back as far as you can, imagine a string pulling your chest towards the ceiling. Keep your neck relaxed in the pose and avoid any strain.
If you have knee pain or other knee issues, you may place a folded blanket under your knees for comfort. If you find this pose too challenging, stick with regular Camel Pose until you feel comfortable enough to lift one hand over your head. You can also rest your lower hand on a block. For a greater challenge, try the Raised-Toe version of this pose.