Yoga Pose of the Month: Camel Pose
Aliza Strock (@shaktifresh) is a Boston based vegan lifestyle blogger. She is also a RYT200HR, and has taught in Australia, Bali, Mexico and the United States. When she’s not recipe testing, traveling, or practicing yoga, you can find Aliza spending time with her family and friends, binge watching a Netflix series or scoping out the best new vegan spots in town.
“Camel pose (ustrasana) is one of my favorite asanas for opening through the heart and throat. So often we are bent over throughout our day, whether that is over our cell phones or computers at our desks. We rarely get the opportunity to fully open through the front of our body. It can feel difficult or vulnerable at first, but once you work through the asana with your breath, it is incredibly liberating.”
To warm up for this posture, you’ll want to get the spine loose and moving. I suggest moving through some cat-cows and a gentle spinal twist. Camel is typically done towards the end of a yoga practice, a pose that culminates all the work of the last hour or so. Allow the pose to take you backwards, open and shine through your heart and throat, and build strength throughout the mental and physical body.
1. Sit on your knees so that your bottom is resting on your heels in the middle of your mat. If you need extra padding, place a folded towel underneath your knees.
2. Lift your hips off of your feet so that you are kneeling, hips over knees.
3. Place your hands on your lower back so that your fingers are pointing downwards, and your thumbs are pointing towards the sides away from your body.
4. From here, take a deep breath in through the nose, and as you do so elongate the spine as if the top of your head is being pulled upwards.
5. As you exhale, slowly start to lean the body backwards, keep the chin tucked in towards the chest. You may only move slightly back, and that is completely fine. We all have different mobility and flexibility, so starting small is a smart idea.
6. As you begin to feel more comfortable, you can gently drop the head back so your throat is open, and eventually you can reach with your hands to grab onto your heels. This is the full expression of ustrasana.
7. While you’re in the posture, don’t forget to breathe! Inhale and exhale through the nose. As you advance in this posture, you’ll want to continue to press the hips forward and relax the shoulders down away from the ears.
8. To release from the posture, slowly (very slowly!) release the grip from the heels one at a time, placing your hands back onto the hips. Gently bring the chin to the chest, and lift the body back up.
9. It is common to feel lightheaded or dizzy after camel, so please rest afterwards either sitting on the knees and heels again, palms on top of the thighs with your eyes open, or finding balasana (child’s pose).
Try ustrasana for yourself! Take a picture and share it with us on Instagram. While you’re there, leave a comment about what your favourite pose is, it may just be the one we focus on next month!