Back Bend – Camel Pose
Camel Pose known as Ustrasana in Sanskrit is a wonderful back bend pose in Yoga. People of all ages enjoy this pose since it is a fun pose! Why practice Camel Pose on the mat when you can practice on a warm sandy beach!
How to do this pose
Begin in thunderbolt pose; sitting on the heels with knees together. Slow the breathing and relax. When ready come up on to the knees so the head, torso, hips and thighs are in a vertical position. Knee should be hip distance apart. Keep the mind on the breath as Camel pose opens and expands across the chest allowing the ribs to expand more freely. Place hands on the hips to feel that they are in a neutral position. Drop the hands to hang either side ready to reach for the heels when arching backwards with the torso. Reserve energy to drive the pubic bone forward, this helps keep the thighs vertical in Camel Pose. With this in mind, on the inhalation elongate the spine up as you arch back, power in the legs support the free movement of the torso. Reach with the hands until they clasp the heels. With slight turn on the spine reach with the right hand, then the left. Relax and breathe slowly. While in Camel Pose front of the hips move forward, the chest rises and widens across itself, the spine arches back yet the energy is on lengthening the spine. Fill out the space you are in. Scan the body in Camel Pose for 3-5 breaths. To break the pose, let go of the heels, align the head with the spine and use the legs and abdominal muscles to bring the torso up until you are standing vertical on the knees. Repeat Camel Pose 2-3 times. Consider a counter pose after Camel Pose such as Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana), this will stretch the opposite side of the body.
Benefits of Camel Pose
Camel Pose engages the whole body; even the calves are active. The calves monitor balance and act as a lever to allow the thighs and torso to lower and rise at will. Throughout this pose the paraspinal muscles are engaged; this assists with proper vertebral alignment. The small intrinsic muscles of the vertebral column are activated so that there is an increased awareness of fine motor movement for better control in daily activities and sports. The anterior longitudinal ligament of the spine is stretched helping to keep spinal mobility supple. The spinal nerves are toned and the thyroid and parathyroid glands in the neck are stimulated. The chest is expanded to full capacity, allowing more oxygen in to the body. Camel Pose is particularly beneficial for reducing lung issues, especially for those suffering with asthma, reoccurring bronchitis and fluid on the lungs. The abdomen contents are massaged in Camel Pose, alleviating constipation and digestive disturbances. In the hips sexual energy is elevated and rejuvenated so there is a feeling of restoration. Camel Pose is an excellent pose to bring dropping shoulders, and offers much relief for the body after deskwork.
Cautions and Variations
If Camel pose is difficult for you at this time, do not strain, try Half Camel Pose or try using a folding chair behind you. As you come into Camel pose you may rest the elbows on the seat of the folding char or reach back and take hold of the sides of the chair. With practice some freedom of movement can be gained in Camel Pose in a relaxed manner. There should be no pain or strain in the pose.
Camel Pose is contraindicated for those with neck issues, sciatica, prolapsed or herniated discs, spinal fusion or knee problems. However if the knees are simply uncomfortable on the mat, try a blanket to soften the base of your pose.