The Camel Pose in Bikram Hot Yoga Series or Ustrasana is a deep back bending pose that compresses and strengthens the spine. It also opens and stretches the front of the body. Camel Pose is called Ustrasana in Sanskrit and it comes from the words Ustra with the definition of "camel" and Asana meaning "seat" or "posture". It is the deepest back bend in the Bikram Hot Yoga Series that has tremendous health benefits that we will go over in a little bit.
You will hear me say repeatedly this not just a back bend posture so make sure to be always lifting in the pose as well as the back bend. Make sure you never collapse into the lower spine in the Camel Pose. This posture is also a stretching pose when done correctly. You will notice the whole front of the body stretching for the duration of the pose. We are now going to take a closer look and how to do the Camel Pose in the Bikram Hot Yoga Series.
The Camel Pose is a floor pose that is done between Half Tortoise and Rabbit. Stand on your knees and tops of the feet are pressed into the floor. The knees are to be opened up and six inches apart. Another way to look at it is the knees and shoulders are in one line. In the second set of the pose knees open up eight inches apart. You are standing tall on your knees with the spine being elongated. Press your palms into the small of the back with the fingers stretching down.
Lift up out of your waist and drop your head back. When you drop your head back you are doing a back bend. This might be all you can do and your getting the benefits of the Camel Pose. We are going to go deeper into the Camel Pose by dropping the shoulders back and starting to bend the spine backwards. As you start to bend backwards keeping lifting up through the chest. Do not collapse into the lower spine and make sure you are always lifting.
As you go deeper into the Camel Pose grab your heels while maintaining the lift of the pose. The thumbs are placed on the outside of the foot and the fingers are placed on the inside of the foot. When grabbing the heels you should grab the right heel first. if you can not grab your heels just keep your hands on your hip and do your back bend. Do not grab your heels if you need to collapse into the lower back to get the grip. You need to keep the arms straight during the pose as well. You are stretching up towards the ceiling through the chest as you are doing your back bend and dropping the upper body back.
When you go deeper into the Camel Pose you are going to notice a stretch along the front of the body. You should feel a stretch along the thighs, hips, stomach, chest, shoulders and front of the throat. There is an opening of space between the ribcage and the hips. Take a big inhale in and lift up towards the ceiling. On the exhale press the front of your body forward towards the front of the room.
The eyes are open for the duration of the Camel Pose. Fix your eye gaze on one spot on the ceiling or the back wall and see if you can drop the upper body back one more spot. Try and relax while doing the back bend as this will help you go deeper into your Camel Pose. Release the grip on the heels and place the hands back on your hips. Come out of your back bend and lay on your back for Savasana.
The Camel Pose in the Bikram Hot Yoga Series is the deepest back bend you will do in class. It is as much about the stretch and opening of the front of the body as well as the back bend. You need to lift up towards the ceiling while you are doing your back bend. Do not collapse into the lower spine or you are doing the Camel Pose wrong. You are doing two sets of Camel Pose at between ten and twenty seconds each. I hope this post helps you get a better understanding of the Camel Pose. Until next time Namaste.
Come up on your knees
The knees and are six inches apart
The top of the feet are on the floor
You are standing up on your knees
Place the palms on the lower back
The thumbs are on the outside of the hips and the fingers are on the inside of the hips
Drop the head back
Lift up through the chest
Drop the upper body back
Press the shoulders back
Grab your right heel then your left heel
Thumbs are on the outside of the foot and fingers are on the inside of the foot
You are continuously lifting towards the ceiling while dropping the upper body back
Press the front of your body forward
The spine is compressing and strengthening
The front of the body is opening and stretching
Release your grip and bring hands to the lower back
Go to your Savasana
You do two sets at ten to twenty seconds each
In the second set the knees are eight inches apart
Stretches the front of the body
Strengthens and compresses the spine
The pose stretches the hip flexors
Opens up the feet and the ankles
The Camel Pose is good for your posture
Helps assist in strengthening arms
Good for the endocrine system
Opens the shoulders
Massages and stretches the inner organs
Helps heal back pain
Camel Pose is good for your flexibility
Good for the central nervous system
Improves the health of the lungs
Improves movement of the neck
Opens up the throat