The camel Pose – also called Ustrasana – is a great stretch to do if you require an energy boost or to counteract the effects of slouching.
It helps relieve any lower back pain you may be experiencing and provides you with a generous heart-opening stretch, which is a perfect addition to your daily practice.
It targets the chest, abdominals, and quadriceps and if you’re struggling with reaching a full backbend in yoga, this is a great pose to help you prepare for it.
As most of the strength needed for a full backbend comes from your arms, the camel pose allows you to experience a deep spinal extension of a backbend without having to support your body weight.
It’s an incredible stretch for the front of the body and helps to improve spinal mobility which is perfect if you spend most of your day sitting in front of a computer, slouched in your chair.
With this pose, practice really does make perfect, so take the time to ease into it. The steps below will help you achieve the correct position.
Camel Pose: Step-by-step Instructions
For this pose, you will need a yoga mat and potentially 2 yoga blocks, depending on your flexibility.
1. On your mat, come to your knees with your legs hip-width apart. Engage your inner thighs by squeezing them towards each other.
2. Take a deep breath in and engage your core. Try to tuck your tailbone towards your knees to create space between your lower vertebrae.
3.As you exhale, lengthen your body towards the ceiling and roll your shoulders back.
4.Inhale and draw your elbows back towards each other, allowing your rib cage to expand.
5. On an exhale, drop your hands towards your heels and tuck your chin and shoulders back so you maintain a lengthened spine and an engaged core.
6. You should be aiming to press the heel of your hands into the heels of your feet. If you don’t yet have the flexibility for a full camel pose, you can use your yoga blocks instead of your feet. Place the blocks on the outside of each ankle and aim to rest your hands on these instead.
7. Once you are comfortable in this position, inhale and lift your shoulders. This movement will allow the trapezius muscles to rise up and cushion your spine.
8. Exhale and allow your head and neck to extend backward, releasing any tension you may be holding. To focus, try and gaze at the tip of your nose.
9. You can stay in this pose for up to one minute, making sure that you breathe deeply and relax into the position.
10. To exit this pose, slowly bring your chin into your chest and place your hands on your hips. Make sure that your thumbs are on your sacrum for extra support. Engage your core and slowly return to your starting position of kneeling.
What to Look Out For
There’s a lot of opportunity with this pose for tension to be placed on the lower back. This typically happens by squeezing the buttocks and not engaging your core so keep this in mind when practicing this position.
Tension is also usually reported in the neck area. To avoid this, keep your chin tucked in so the back of your neck remains lengthened and relaxed.
With this pose, you should try and keep your inner thighs activated throughout. A clever way to guarantee this happens is to place a yoga block between your thighs and hold it there throughout your practice.
You can also try this pose against a wall to find out more about the alignment of your hips, thighs, and pubic bone. Place the front of your body against the wall and as you backbend, keep pressing your thighs against it.
You may not reach a full backbend to begin with, but understanding if your hips are over your knees will guarantee perfect results in the long run.
Camel Pose: Benefits
This pose is said to open up the heart chakra, which is considered the energy center for love and compassion. So not only is this pose great for your body, but it also has a profound effect on your mind and spirit.
- This pose helps stretch and strengthen the shoulders, creating a strong shape and providing support to the spine.
- Even though it improves the flexibility of the spine, it also helps to create that all-important tightness required for stability and strength.
- Camel pose improves respiration by opening the chest and toning the muscles around it.
- This pose is great for opening the hips. By doing so it helps strengthen them to provide the spine with the support that it needs.
- It also helps to strengthen weak knees. If you are working with weak knees, you can place a blanket under them for comfort when practicing this pose.
- Thanks to the engagement of your core muscles in this position, the camel pose helps to tone your abdominal muscles while also helping to reduce fat on your thighs, arms, and hips.
- This pose is great for relieving any tension which may be stored in the ovaries. It’s also a great pose to help bring balance to your menstrual cycle and reproductive system.
- Camel pose helps to expand the abdominal region while also improving digestion and helping to cure constipation.
- If you suffer from thyroid gland issues, this pose is a great way to help balance any issues.
- By relaxing the entire spine when in this position, you can improve your nervous system which has a direct effect on your mental wellbeing.
- By opening your heart chakra, you allow your energy to flow freely and from a place of love. This can be quite emotionally intense as typically we protect this area with our rounded shoulders.
- You may feel incredibly vulnerable when in this position as the openness of it can bring up some deep-seated emotions and memories you may have buried. Remember to breathe, relax into it and enjoy whatever emotions you may feel.