Camel

Benefits:
  • Deeply arches the sacral/lumbar spine and opens the top of the thighs; provides some opening in the ankles
  • Stretches the hip flexors and opens the shoulders; excellent for drooping shoulders or hunched backs [1]

Contra-indications:
  • Elderly and those with spinal injuries can do this pose. [2] However, seek medical advice if you fit either category.
  • Without support, the back can spasm, so those with weak backs may want to do only the gentle versions (see below);
  • If you have any neck issues, do not drop head back; keep the chin to the chest.

Getting Into the Pose:
  • The easiest way to come into Camel is to sit on your heels, place your hands behind you on the floor, and lift your hips forward. As the hips move forward, your back will arch.

Alternatives & Options:
  • You may also come into this pose by standing on your knees and holding your hands on your hips. Keeping the hips forward, arch your back. (This may be unsuitable for people with back problems, because there is little support from the hands in this version. Instead, do the hands-on-the-floor version.)
  • Walking the hands on the floor toward the feet may be unsuitable for people with knee problems because there is more pressure in the knees in the early stages of this variation
  • If you're very flexible you may wish to bring your hands to the floor between the feet or move the hands toward the knees. If you're less flexible, the toes can be tucked under and the hands rested on the heels or on a block between the feet.
  • If the neck is okay, you may lengthen the neck and allow the head to drop back.

Coming Out of the Pose:
  • There are two ways to come out of this pose: The easy way is to walk your hands backward until you are sitting on your heels again. If your head was dropped back, keep it back while you bring your chest forward and fold into Child's Pose. The second way is to come back up to standing on your knees. If your head was back, lift the chest forward, allowing the head to remain dropped back until the shoulders are over the hips. Then bring the head forward and sit back into Child's Pose.

Counter poses:
  • Child's Pose ... Coming out slowly, lift chest forward, allowing the head to remain dropped back until the shoulders are over the hips, then bring the head forward and sit back into Child's Pose.

Meridians & Organs Affected:
  • The deep compression in the sacrum and lumbar spine stimulates the Urinary Bladder and Kidney meridians, while any feeling of stretch in the top of the thighs and stomach stimulates the Spleen and Stomach meridians.
  • Sometimes the upper arms and shoulders are stressed, which stimulates the Heart and Lung meridians.
  • If the neck is dropped back, the thyroid will be stimulated.

Joints Affected:
  • The spine, shoulders and ankles.

Recommended Hold Times:
  • One to two minutes at most. [3]

Similar Yang Asanas:
  • Ustrasana (ustra means camel).



1 -- Iyengar, Light on Yoga.
2 -- Ibid
3 -- This is a very yang-like pose and requires a lot of leg strength in the full posture, or if your hands are on your hips or lower back. In the supported pose, with the hands on the floor or on your legs or feet, you may stay longer, as you can rest on your arms.


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