Anything that can survive the scorching desert and cold Arabian nights, hustle two hydration kegs on its back and have eyelashes women worldwide go bonkers for deserves a yoga pose to its name.
The Camel, or Ushtrasana (combining the Sankrit words for camel and posture) is one of the 26 postures of Bikram Yoga, an intense backbend and a great “heart opener”, suitable for experienced yoga students or the more flexible of beginners.
The Camel Pose
From a kneeling position with your knees shoulder-width apart, lower your butt in between your heels, and then place your hands on your heels, pressing your palms against them. As you inhale, slowly lift your butt; pushing your hips forward and pulling your shoulders back to open your chest. Exhale and curve your back carefully, turning your head up towards the sky. Hold this pose for five breaths.
A more challenging way to get into the camel pose is to skip the butt descent and go straight for holding your heels, continuing with the hip push, shoulders pull, back arch and head angle as described above. Advanced students wanting a deeper stretch may begin with a wider space between your knees, or try taking hold of opposite ankles.
Beginners who are hesitant about this pose can try curling your toes under your heels for easier reach or use thick blocks on either side of your feet to hold on to instead.
Why The Camel Is Good For You
The camel compresses the spine through its arch, stimulating the nervous system and increases flexibility of the neck and spine, relieving mild backaches and improving back posture. Through the abdominal stretch, your reproductive and digestive systems are improved, good for problems such as constipation and menstrual cramps.
As your rib cage expands from the pose, your lung capacity increases as you are in a position to inhale more oxygen into your body, whilst your “opened” chest promotes lymph drainage. It doesn’t stop there, your heart chakra is also opened up which causes a stimulation and release of your emotions. As a physical workout, the camel helps to tone and strengthen your thighs, waist, hips, arms, shoulders and knees.
According to LexiYoga, with the gravity pull from the camel pose, blood circulation to the head is increased, helping with concentration, stress, anxiety, headaches and even hair loss. The hormonal function is also stimulated, balancing pineal, thyroid and adrenal glands.
The camel pose is a great trigger to release endorphins throughout your body, and although it may be difficult to assume for beginners and those who are wary of the strength of their back, it’s a great pose to work towards for the many benefits it provides.
If the perks of the Camel pose are already getting you dizzy with its desert heat, tomorrow we’re going to yoga our way upside-down… with the Headstand!