Pose Name Basics

Sanskrit: Ustrasana

Pose Type: Backbend

Target Areas:  Core

Why We Love It: After a long day hunched over my laptop, I come into Camel to stretch the front of my body and counter the effects of slouching. But that’s not the only release: The pose is also like an emotional valve, because it opens the heart chakra, which is associated with love and compassion. I also tend to curl my toes under in the pose. Not only does this make reaching my heels more accessible, but it’s also a great way to practice toe squat, a posture I struggle with.—Tracy Middleton, Brand Director

Pose Benefits

Camel Pose can help build confidence and empowerment. It improves your posture and counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting, slouching, and kyphosis (abnormal curvature of the spine). It may also help relieve back pain. Camel Pose stretches your abdomen, chest, shoulders, the front of your hips (hip flexors), and the front of your thighs (quadriceps). It also strengthens your back muscles, the back of your thighs (hamstrings), and buttocks (glutes).

Camel Pose Step-by-Step Instructions

(Photo: Christopher Dougherty) Model: Kady Lafferty

  1. Begin kneeling with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your knees and feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Extend your big toes straight back, pressing down with all 10 toenails and firming your outer ankles into your midline.
  3. Spin your inner thighs back, and gently release the flesh of your buttocks toward the backs of your knees.
  4. Your pelvis is neutral, neither spilling forward nor spilling back, and stacks directly over your knees.
  5. Root down from the tops of your feet to your knees; rebound up with your chest.
  6. Bring your palms together in front of your sternum, and drop your chin toward your sternum.
  7. Take an inhalation to emphasize the lift of your chest, then create Savasana (Corpse Pose) arms (palms facing forward).
  8. With the next exhalation, keeping your chin dropping and your pelvis over your knees, take your hands to your heels.
  9. Immediately press your shoulder blades forward and up, and coil your thoracic spine to lift your chest any amount more.
  10. Having created more space/extension in your upper back, your head can now drop back and hang freely.
  11. Continue pressing down with your feet and lower legs in order to lift up with your thoracic spine and chest.
  12. Hold for 5–10 breaths, then, leading with your sternum, use an inhalation to come up (head is the last part of the body to exit).

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Teaching Camel Pose

  • Shins and feet hip distance, toes reach straight back
  • Tops of feet, ankles, shins, and knees root down
  • Thighs perpendicular to the floor
  • Inner thighs spin back
  • Pelvis neutral, stacking above the knees
  • Shoulder blades press up into the chest, chest lifts
  • Neck arches evenly back
  • Frontal ribs release toward the hip bones

Camel Pose Variation

Camel Pose with Hands on Hips

  1. Bring your hands to your low back with your fingers facing downward and your elbows pointing back.
  2. Gently arch your back into a backbend.
  3. Lift your chin slightly, and press your chest forward and up.
  4. Stay for several deep breaths.

Preparatory Poses

Counter Poses

Reference Article

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