Benefits of Camel Pose, How to Do & Form Tips

There is no shortage of yoga postures that offer major benefits: down dog, savasana, and cat-cow pose, to name a few. Another pose to add to your next yoga flow? Ustrasana, also known as camel pose. This heart-opening backbend is as delicious as it looks, and it’s especially delicious after spending the day hunched over a desk or computer, says Sabrina Washington, a Core Power Yoga instructor in Sacramento, CA, making this a great transition exercise as you prepare to wind down for the evening. Read on to learn more about the benefits of camel pose, along with step-by-step instructions on how to do it and precautions to keep in mind.

Benefits of Ustrasana or Camel Pose

1. Stretches and strengthens

Along with providing a really good stretch, Washington says the camel pose also helps strengthen your abs, thighs, back, hamstrings, and glutes.

2. Corrects rounded shoulders

Many of us spend too much time slouching over something (computer screen, laptop telephone, steering wheel, etc.). “Unfortunately, our shoulders, upper back, spine, and neck take the toll,” Washington says. “Camel pose counteracts this by literally opening our chest and maneuvering our spine in the opposite direction to correct rounded shoulders, relieve pain that has built up in our neck and upper back, and strengthen our spine. “

3. Helps relieve back pain

In addition to correcting rounded shoulders, this pose can also help prevent back pain. “Often back pain can stem from poor posture, which can be the result of a weak core or a hunched upper body,” Washington says. “When done correctly, the camel pose engages the back and abdominal muscles, which can help prevent future problems.”

4. May Relieve Constipation

If you’ve gone a few days without pooping, you might want to add this pose to your yoga flow. “Yoga has been [shown] to help with digestion,” says Washington. “Camel pose, in particular, stretches your abs, stomach, and intestines, which are essential for healthy digestion and relieve constipation.

5. Open your chest

“The Camel Pose is a backbend that opens your heart chakra to give and receive joy, love, and compassion,” says Washington, adding that it can also make breathing easier as it increases your capacity. respiratory. With heart-opening poses like this, some people may feel vulnerable or emotional during or after the pose. Washington advises to be gentle with yourself and take it at your own pace if this happens.

6. Cultivates a sense of inner harmony

Overall, most people feel calm, empowered, and strong when doing Ustrasana. “Some people also find this pose very relaxing, which can reduce overall levels of stress and anxiety to help create feelings of inner peace,” Washington says.

How to Do Ustrasana or Camel Pose

The key with the camel pose is to not overdo it with the backbend. “The priorities are to find a backbend that you don’t want to run away from and find a shape where you can breathe deeply for about 30 seconds,” says Washington.

Start by kneeling in the center of your mat with your knees directly below your hips. Place your hands on your lower back with fingers pointing down. As you inhale, lift your chest toward the ceiling, starting at your core, to create a C-curve with your back. Take a moment here to check out how this sensation feels. You can hold here for 30-60 seconds. Or, take this pose deeper by engaging your thighs and glutes (this helps protect your lower back) and bring your hands to your heels. Make sure your hips stay stacked on your knees and keep your chin pointed towards your chest. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.

To come out of the pose, place your hands on your hips. Engage your abs by slowly raising your chest to an upright position. Finally, with your hands on your thighs, take a few breaths to calm your heartbeat and ground yourself if you feel disoriented.

Pro tip: “Always listen to your body and make sure you take the time to come out of the pose safely,” says Washington.

Ustrasana Precautions

While the camel pose is a great move for most people, Washington advises skipping it if you’re injured, recovering from surgery, or have chronic knee, shoulder, or knee pain. , neck or back. “This is an intermediate, more intense pose that can agitate pre-existing muscle pain or joint issues in these areas,” she warns. “Be sure to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns before practicing yoga.”

Washington also notes that some people get headaches after doing backbends. To prevent this from happening, she suggests adding camel pose towards the end of a yoga sequence rather than at the beginning. “That way our bodies are properly warmed up, stretched and prepared for the opening,” she says. Or, at least, do some cat-cow stretches to activate your abs and back first.

Involuntarily holding your breath while bending over in the pose or holding a blindfold can also lead to headaches. So, “use your breath as a guide for your movement,” says Washington. “For example, let your inhale create a lift in your chest and use your exhale to discover depth.” Again, the important thing with Ustrasana is not to overwork yourself. “Find a backbend where you can consciously breathe for the duration of the pose.”

Practice your camel pose, along with other chest openers, in this 10-minute stretch video:

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Richard V. Johnson