Create opening in the chest and shoulders and receive the numerous benefits of a backbend in Camel Pose, Ustrasana. The benefits include stretching and strengthening the entire front line of the body including the chest, abdomen, thighs, and hip flexors. It also helps to create a supple and strong spine.
As a preparatory pose to warm up the spine before going straight into camel, practice a few rounds of sun salutations. Option to also practice Upward Facing Dog, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Cobra pose, Bhujangasana in order to prepare the spine. See previous blogs at Clairemont Central or enter Cobra Pose or Sun Salutations for description of Upward Facing Dog in the search box at the blog site. Do the poses a few times using the breath, starting easy and gently building as the body begins to open and feel more expansive.
To do Camel Pose: Option to use props for camel. Blocks or even two identical-sized water bottles could potentially work, if stable. Bring the props to the outside edges of the ankles to prepare. Make sure the props feel stable. Come to the hands and knees on the floor and then begin to stand on the knees. Pad the knees using a yoga mat or perhaps a folded towel or blanket. Bring the knees hip-width distance apart. Measure two fists lined-up side-by-side in between the knees for accuracy. If new to the posture, tuck the toes under to create a little extra height in the pose.
Bring the palms to the base of the spine, facing downward, as if you had your hands in your back pockets. On an inhale breath, begin to lift the chest towards the ceiling and on an exhale, release the shoulders down the back. Feel the expansion in the chest and the entire torso and core become active. Feel the backline of the body as it extends upwards, no crunching in the low back. If you feel pain in the back, gently back off or come out of the pose.
Option to stay lifting here, pressing the hips slightly forward and lifting through the chest or begin walking the palms back one hand at a time towards the heels or towards the blocks. Grab onto the heels, one at a time, with the elbows facing forward. Slightly rotate the thighs inward and soften through the glutes. The neck can stay extended or if comfortable and safe, you can release the neck back, moving mindfully and with care.
Stay here and smooth out the breath. Notice if you feel uncomfortable or perhaps even a feeling of panic. Notice the feelings without judgement and continue breathing, creating smooth and even inhales and exhales. After 3-5 rounds of breath or when you have had enough, gently come out the same way that you came in. Begin to lift through the chest and activate through the core and spine to come back up, releasing the grasp at the heels or props, and again, being careful with the neck.
Come into Child’s Pose, Balanasana. Bring the big toes to touch and spread the knees wide or keep them together, whichever best serves your body. Allow the forehead to release downward towards the floor. Arms can extend forward or simply release the arms to the sides. Allow the back to relax and breathe. Notice how you feel after the pose and come back to a state of natural breathing.
Camel pose has the ability to bring up emotions, like fear and uncomfortableness. Bringing awareness to the feelings, without judgement, allows us to carry this practice into our daily lives, allowing us to be open and vulnerable in our relationships.
When we put ourselves in challenging postures on our yoga mats, we allow ourselves to practice vulnerability, working through challenging situations, and how to accept change and transition in our lives. If we can find a relaxed state in the challenging postures, we become more aware of how we will react when challenging events come up into our daily lives. We can then approach them with more clarity, determination and ease.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If
a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, In Rhythms Yoga
Christi is a certified yoga instructor that focuses on teaching adults, small group and private lessons, kids and family yoga. She has an intimate space in Clairemont, San Diego, located in the Mount streets. Christi has experienced many positive transformations from her regular yoga practice. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. Christi believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, she carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve your body. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the class schedule and instructors.