Camel Pose  -Ustrasana

Step by step

  • Come onto your knees, place them hip-width apart, and then tuck your toes.
  • Engage your inner thighs, draw your lower belly in and up, and roll your shoulders back 
  • On an inhalation, lengthen through both side waists, lift the chest up, 
  • With the lower body stable, on an exhale start to come into your backbend keeping the chest lifted and without crunching the neck or lower back
  • As you lean back, find your blocks or heels with your hands - or you can do this one side at a time by circling one arm up and behind you
  • Keep your inner thighs engaged, firm the shoulder blades into the back and stay for a couple of breaths 
  • Use your inhalation to help you come back up, then sit on your heels with a neutral spine for a moment. 

Beginners tips

  • If your hands don't comfortably reach your heels use blocks on the side of each foot or place your hands on your hips instead
  • Try placing a block between your thighs and squeeze it to activate your inner thighs
  • Visualise lifting your breast bone to the sky.

Benefits

  • Helps with mobility in the shoulders and upper back
  • Stretches the whole front of the body
  • Strengthens the legs and back. 
  • Improves your posture
  • Energizes body and mind.

Watch out for...

  • If you have any tension or sensitivity in your neck, or if you feel lightheaded, keep your neck in a neutral position or with the chin towards the chest so that the back of the neck stays long and relaxed
  • If you have a back injury, a more gentle backbend like Cobra or Sphinx pose may be more suitable - please check with your medical practitioner for specific advice
  • Use a blanket under your knees or double up your mat to reduce any knee sensitivity Note - this will raise your knees and so may mean your hands have further to reach back to your heels, so use blocks if needed.

Variations

  • You can work on the opening in the chest, lifting your breast bone as you inhale, shoulder blades firm on the back. Keep your hands on the lower back for support and pay attention to keeping length in the lumbar area 
  • Try this pose with the front of your body against a wall. Keep pressing the thighs to the wall as you bend backwards 
  • If you can easily take hold of your heels try pointing your toes back instead of tucking them under