Backward Bends

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Camel Pose
Level: Intermediate

Ushtra = a camel.

If you have trouble getting the hands down to the feet in the pose modify in one of these ways: curl the toes under to left the heels; put the feet on a bolster or folded blankets to lift them; put blocks beside the feet and bring the hands to the blocks.

Organizing the Pose

  1. Sit in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose).
  2. Press the shins down and lift the hips up.
  3. For the full pose, keep the legs together. For greater ease, separate the knees and feet to hip width.
  4. Bring the hands to the hips.
  5. Reach the thighs and shins down and lift though the waist and sides of the chest.
  6. Keeping the chin into the chest, roll the shoulders back and turn the chest up towards the ceiling.
  7. Reach the back up and over the hips and, keeping the pelvis moving forward, bring the hands back to the ankles or soles of the feet.
  8. Bring the head back last thing of all, and only if you can do it without crunching the neck.
  9. Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
  10. Press the hinds down and the his forward and roll up out of the pose.
  11. Sit back in Vajrasana.

Practice Points

  • Soften and widen the buttocks and the backs of the thighs.
  • Go down through the inner thighs and shins.
  • Lengthen the tailbone towards the knees.
  • Narrow and lift the sides of the waist.
  • Widen and lift the back ribs.
  • Widen the collarbones and shoulder blades.
  • Reach the arms down.
  • Roll the armpits up and over the collarbones towards the head.
  • Soften and widen the back of the neck.