Photo of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
Camel pose is not always a favorite in a yoga class. This pose is a great back bend. We are opening up our heart as well as our throat Chakras. If we have issues here, which many of us do, it is a challenging pose to allow for this opening. But that just means we really need to work on it. It’s a fantastic pose and a pose that I do every day as a part of the Five Tibetan Rites Sequence. For such a seemingly simple pose the Physical and Therapeutic benefits are many:
- Respiratory ailments
- Mild backache
- Menstrual discomfort
- Stretches the entire front of the body, the ankles, thighs and groins,
- Abdomen and chest, and throat
- Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas)
- Strengthens back muscles
- Improves posture
- Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Kneel on the floor with knees hip distance apart and the body erect. (If you have knee issues, you can take a folded blanket or fold up the mat under your knees for more cushion.) Firm your buttocks. Hip bones remain over the knees the entire time. Place your hands on your lower back (hands on the back of pelvis, bases of palms on the tops of buttocks, fingers pointing down) or the backs of your thigh muscles. Chin parallel to floor. For stage one of this pose, have your toes curled under pressing into the toes as you come into this pose. For stage two, come to the tops of your feet and press into your shins and the tops of your feet as you come into this pose.
Next, inhale, allow the head to flow backward as you open the heart more and more open, shoulder blades pressing against your back ribs. Keep pressing hips forward so that hip bones remain over the knees or else you’ll feel this all on the tops of your thighs, your quads and take away from this beautiful backbend. Allow the neck to elongate and go slightly backward, arching the spine. As you arch, you will brace your arms and hands against the lower back or thighs for support. If your neck feels strained keep it lifted, chin near sternum.
For a deeper backbend, you may take your hands down to your heels or the bottoms of your feet (as long as you are pressing on the tops of your feet) opening your heart more, deepening the backbend and allowing your head to drop further back, if accessible. If you’re not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and elevate your heels.
Stay in those from 30 seconds to one minute. Exhale, and return your body to an erect position, if your head is back lead with your heart to come up. Rest in Child’s Pose. Begin the rite all over again.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
When to avoid or modify this pose is if you have high or low blood pressure, a migraine, insomnia and/or serious low back or neck injury.
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