No need to get in a hump when practising Camel Pose – It’s our pose of the week!
In Ustrasana / Camel Pose we can stretch the entire front of our body, especially the abdomen, chest and throat. We can also get a stretch into the deep hip flexors, strengthen the muscles of the back, and strengthen the core to support the lower back. On top of this we improve posture. So why not have a bit of fun and enjoy your time looking up above!
That being said, it’s a deep back bend that requires a lot of strength for support, so take this pose easy. If you suffer from high or low blood pressure, low back or neck injuries, migraines or insomnia I would skip this entirely so as not to aggravate any existing conditions. If you don’t suffer from any of these, but you feel any soreness or dizziness, I would again give this a miss.
Virabhadrasana 2 – Warrior 2
Bhujangasana – Cobra
Salabhasana – Locust
Setu Bandha – Bridge
Step by Step guide
Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees directly below your hips and your thighs vertical. Bring awareness into your inner thighs and rotate them backwards slightly, to create space for the sacral area behind. Then engage your lower abdominal muscles inwards and bring on a lift in your pelvic floor. All of these actions can help to suppport the lower back, so try to keep all of this happening throughout the pose.
If you’re new to this, have the toes tucked under, if you’re feeling confident you can have the tops of the feet pressing to the floor for a shorter Camel Pose.
Bring your hands to the back of your hips with fingers pointing down. You can apply some light downwards pressure with your hands to help lengthen your lower back, you might feel like the tailbone lengthens down. Stay aware of your hips, you still want them directly above the knees. When you take your next inhale, lift your breastbone and draw your shoulderblades towards your back ribs, these actions will help to open the chest.
Stay here with chin to chest if that’s enough. Otherwise, if you’re feeling great and your back agrees with you, keep your thighs vertical as you start to lower your hands towards your heels. If you feel any pinching or soreness in the lower back, back off and bring your hands back to your hips. If your hnds have landed on your heels, keep the support in the abdomen, pelvic floor and keep your inner thighs rolling backwards with the hips above the knees. When you breathe, the inhale inflates the chest and the ribs outwards.
You can extend the head backwards if you like however avoid letting it hang out of the neck socket! If this is sore or tiring, you can keep the chin tucked in slightly instead.
Stay here for 5 or 6 breaths in your Camel Pose, or less if you don’t feel too comfortable here. Then to come out, bring your hands to your hips first (making sure your support structure is still in place with abdomen, pelvic floor etc). Tuck your chin inwards slightly so you have length to the back of the neck and slowly lift yourself up to kneeling upright, keeping the support all the way to protect your back. You can come to Adho Mukha Virasana or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog) to help counterpose a ittle.