Sit in front of a computer all day?  Try Camel Pose to open up!

Yoga Pose: Camel (Ustrasana)

Difficulty level: Easy/Moderate

Benefits

  • Stretches the entire front body…thighs, torso, chest, shoulders
  • Strengthens the legs, pelvis
  • Improves spine flexibility and posture

Begin in a kneeling position.  Root down through your thighs, knees, shins, and toes as you inhale and lengthen through your spine.  As you exhale, roll your shoulders up and behind you, firming the shoulder blades on your back.  Bend your arms and place your hands, fingertips down, on your low back (as though you were going to slide your hands into pants pockets).  Keep the thighs perpendicular to the ground as you curl from the thoracic spine (above the bra line, Ladies), extending through the spine and rolling your shoulders behind you.

Keep your neck in a neutral position–neither throwing your head back nor tucking your chin.

As you continue to breathe, lift your spine up from your pelvis seeking length in the side body.  Curl the upper spine until your gaze is skyward (with the neck still in neutral).  Release your hands towards your heels.

Remember to keep your thighs as perpendicular to the ground as possible, hips moving forward.  The backbend comes from the upper spine in Camel, not the low back!  Curl from the upper (thoracic) spine and firm the abdomen to support the back.

Hold this pose for several breaths, then walk your hands back to your hips.  Inhale, lift through your spine and roll your shoulders forward bringing your body back perpendicular to the earth.

If there is any discomfort in your low back (Camel can be intense), counter this pose with Child’s Pose.

Honor your body with variations on Camel Pose:

*Sore knees?  Place a folded blanket under your knees for support and cusioning.

*Hips dropping back?  Practice with your thighs and low belly pressing towards a wall.

*Arms not quite not reaching your heels?  Place blocks outside of your ankles.  Reach back, pressing your hands into the blocks.

*Back compressing and causing pain?  Place a bolster across blocks placed outside your ankles.  Press your hands into the bolster to provide a foundation from which to lift your chest.