If you are reading this, you are probably trying to decide if the camel pose is right. You are most likely a beginner and just trying to see if this move is helpful.
If you are new to yoga, you may have encountered the Ustrasana position, commonly known as the camel pose. The English name of the pose is a direct translation of its Sanskrit name. Ustra in Sanskrit means camel and asana refer to pose. It may be hard for you to believe how an over-glorified gymnastic move could be beneficial, but that could not be further from the truth. There are many proven benefits of this beginner move. Here is some information about the benefits of the camel pose.
Physical Benefits of Camel Pose
Yoga is not inherently spiritual and can be a very demanding form of exercise. Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that there are some pretty impressive physical benefits. The camel pose helps your body by.
The camel pose stretches your core, back, neck, hip flexors and legs. But why is this helpful? Not only can this prepare you for a long day, but it may help you shake some of that nagging lower back pain. Overall, stretching helps with your flexibility and can even help people who have arthritis. It also keeps fatigue at bay and helps you to relax your body.
Improving Your Circulation
Movements that open and stretch your body will improve your blood flow. Circulation is vital to having a healthy life. It not only ensures that you are getting oxygenated blood where you need it, but it also takes the unnecessary strain off your heart.
Opening and Stretching Your Pelvic Area
This part is beneficial if you were assigned the female gender at birth. The camel pose helps with menstrual pain and other symptoms along with periods. Most cramping is because of a lack of oxygen supply to a particular area. So, when you stretch, the flood of oxygenated blood rushes to the area where you feel the cramp. This helps to relieve the pain.
Strengthening Your Body
Did you know that doing yoga builds up muscle tone? When doing the camel pose, you build the muscle up all over the body, including (but not limited to) your core, back, legs, and neck. It also relieves back pain and strengthens hamstrings and glutes. Apart from the camel pose, these are some other yoga poses for back pain.
The camel pose helps with the endurance and strength that you need in your day-to-day life.
Fixing Hunched Posture
In this day and age, nearly everyone walks around with horrible posture. It can cause neck and back pain, along with lasting damage to the nerves in your spine. The camel pose corrects this bad habit as it straightens out your back. It increases the flexibility in your spine and can also release energy pockets in the same stretch.
One of the most recognized benefits of the camel pose is to open your chest and help you breathe more freely. As you breathe better, more oxygen reaches parts of your body, thereby strengthening the overall bodily function.
Raising your Energy Levels
You have heard how movement creates energy, and yoga is no different. Yoga is known to increase your energy, strength, and endurance. It will not only make your day-to-day life better but also your overall health.
Your body will show all these benefits and hard work within a month. The camel pose will burn fat in your core, waist, and thighs due to the stretching mentioned earlier.
Improving Bodily Functions
Due to the camel pose being a whole-body stretch, there are a lot of bodily functions that benefit from it. Digestion improves due to the expansion of the abdominal cavity, the endocrine glands are stimulated, and many other organs like the liver and kidneys are helped along with this pose. Among other health benefits, the pose stimulates the thyroid and also helps you to digest your food better.
Improving reproductive health
The camel pose helps to ease tension in the ovaries and thus improves reproductive health.
Pretty neat, right? But that is not all that this yoga pose has to offer.
Mental and Emotional Benefits Of Camel Pose
There are more than just physical benefits to the camel pose. You could have mental and emotional benefits like the following:
One of the main points of yoga is to focus on breathing. When you actively focus on taking deep and even breaths, it naturally lowers stress levels. Doing the camel pose regularly will decrease your anxiety and amount of stress. This has also been concluded by a study conducted on teachers. Well, teaching is one of the professions that involve high amounts of stress and if yoga can help relieve that, it can work wonders for you too.
Not to mention you are usually focused on bettering yourself while doing any yoga exercise. Doing this distracts your mind from what it tells you to be anxious over and can lead to a general state of calmness.
When you lean back into the camel pose, it puts you into an upside-down state, quite literally making you change your perspective. Seeing things in a new way or in a new light is associated with an increase in creativity and problem-solving skills. This pose can also lead to a type of mental clarity because of this.
As mentioned above, there is a type of mental clarity when you successfully do the camel pose. This space is full of body awareness and healing. Due solely to the fact that you are trying to better yourself, you can achieve a higher level of focus and concentration.
Boosts creativity and problem-solving skills
When you focus better and are at peace emotionally and mentally, you are in a better position to think and ideate. The camel pose thus helps to enhance your creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
Physical and mental benefits are not enough to sell you? Here is one more way that the camel pose may be helpful.
Spiritual Benefits of Camel Pose
For many people who practice yoga, the most important thing is the spiritual aspect behind it. Yoga can take you on a wonderful journey of self-discovery and people have said that they had the following effects from the camel pose.
The camel pose involves relaxing and stretching the neck muscles. This reveals what is known as your Throat Chakra, 5th out of the 7 main chakras. Opening your throat chakra will not only help with clear and concise communication but with anxiety around public speaking. This chakra is also known to help you realize your life’s purpose. This benefit might only be relatable if you believe in Chakras.
The position that the camel puts you in opens up your chest cavity. This means that the 4th chakra, also known as the heart chakra (in Sanskrit Anahata), is opened. As expected, the heart chakra is connected with feelings of love, kindness, and empathy, as well as happiness. While this sounds well on its own, it may not be for the spiritually inclined.
People who were stricken with grief may find this pose more emotionally demanding than physically challenging, but this does have an upside. If you can work through the pain and grief that troubles you, then you will lead a happier life.
Another chakra that this pose helps open is what is known as the Solar Plexus Chakra. The 4th Chakra is opened due to the stretch in your core. This chakra is in charge of many things, but the most important is your image and self-esteem. Opening up this chakra allows you to begin healing.
With a bit of work with your unbalanced chakras, you will lead a happier and healthier life.
How to do the camel pose and maximize the benefits?
- Spread your yoga mat on the floor and kneel on it
- Ensure that your body is upright and the hips are stacked over the knees
- Remember that your knees are sensitive. If your mat doesn’t offer adequate cushioning, either add a blanket as padding or fold the mat to increase the thickness
- Take your hands up the sides of your body and place your palms on the side of your rib cage. The right way to hold is to keep the thumb resting at the back of the ribs and the rest of the fingers wrapping around the sides and front of the rib cage. Your elbows will point out.
- Now use the grip in the step above to lift the rib cage and start opening the chest toward the ceiling
- Keep the chest in the same position and take your hands one at a time to grasp the heels. You can either keep the feet flat on the floor or tuck the toes under them to increase the height a bit.
- Move the hips forward to maintain their position over the knees
- Based on your comfort, you can either bring the head back and open the throat or keep the chin tucked
Exiting camel pose:
Striking the right form when you are releasing the camel pose is as important as when you are getting in the pose. To release the pose, first bring the chin towards the chest and move hands to the hips. Firm the abs, use your hands to support the lower back and get into an upright kneeling position.
Common Mistakes while doing the camel pose:
- Not Keeping the thighs fully vertical: In the beginning, most yoga practitioners find it hard to keep the thighs upright while doing the camel pose. The thighs must stay fully vertical and not slant as you take your chest back. A good way to keep this in check is to set the front of the thighs and hip points toward a wall. As you reach back to strike the pose, ensure that the thighs and hip points do not lose touch with the wall.
- Not Reaching Your Heels: As you ensure that your thighs don’t follow your chest and slant, you may find it difficult to reach the heels. You can use a heel variation to adjust your grip. For this, use blocks on either side of the feet and get some more height for your hands. If that doesn’t work, you can keep your hands on the lower back. Using these modifications for the camel pose can help you achieve the right form without stressing yourself.
Tips for Mastering Camel Yoga Pose
As a beginner, do not be in a hurry to grab the heels. Keep the hands at the lower back for support and aim to stretch the chest and shoulders further. Tuck the toes under heels to bring heels closer to the hands. Take the tailbone towards the ground. The back bend will get support only if the core is engaged. Focus on your breath and start again if you feel you have been holding it. Once you release the pose, sit on your heels with eyes closed and take 3-5 deep breaths. Use this time to observe your sensations and emotions.
Camel pose tips for beginners: Those who are new to yoga or the camel pose, often find it difficult to touch their feet with their hands. If they do, they often end up straining their back or neck. Here is a tip that can eliminate pain from the equation. Elevate your heels by folding the toes to make it easier to touch them. If that doesn’t work, place blocks outside each heel in a standing position. If this is tough too, place a chair behind you in a way that the front edge of the seat touches your buttocks and the calves and feet are below the seat. Now lean back and take the hand to the sides of the seat or on the chair legs.
Beginners must also hold the pose for a maximum of 20 seconds to avoid strain.
Camel pose variations
All yoga poses are about breathing, motion, and body flexibility and the camel pose is no different. You can adapt it to suit you if you are finding difficulty in getting it right or wish to take it to an advanced level.
Here are some variations to the camel pose to sync it with your fitness goals
Make it simple by adding blocks: Ustrasana requires extensive bending and beginners can use blocks while working up the pose. Just place them behind the back, between the legs. This will helps you to find a surface to place your hands if reaching the heels seems impossible.
Half-camel pose or Ushtrasana: Here is another easy pose for beginners who are unable to achieve the right pose. It can help to transition to a full camel pose later. Start on your knees. The distance between legs should be similar to your hip width. Place your hands on your hips in a way that your thumbs rest on the base of the spine. Now raise up to align your hips above the knees. Inhale and bring your elbows together. Also, engage your core. Take one hand back so that it rests on the foot on the same side. Now inhale again, and take the other hand to the back wall. Let the head follow the hand. Allow the head to fall and hold for 3-6 breaths. Take the hands back to the base of the spine and let the head and torso come forward. Hold for a moment and repeat the process with the other hand.
Cat and Camel Pose or Marjariasana: The cat and camel yoga pose can be the right step towards perfecting your Camel pose. Start on your hands and knees. Your palms must rest on the floor, wrists must align under your shoulders, and knees beneath the hips. Inhale and raise the tailbone by tilting the pelvis. You will feel your stomach lowering itself. Feel the ripple effect in your spine from tailbone to neck. Now lift your head and take care to not strain your neck. Hold the pose for a moment. Exhale and tilt the tailbone in the other direction and feel the spine ripple. Move the abs up towards the spine and press the shoulder blades toward the ceiling. Bring your head down and tuck your chin into the chest. Slowly oscillate between these two positions.
Advanced modification of Camel Pose to Wheel Pose:
If you are an advanced yogi, this could be a fun modification for you. However, the flow isn’t easy. Ensure that you are confident with both the poses and have practised the form well.
To get into the wheel pose, start on your back. Flex the knee in a way that your foot soles are flat next to the butt. Ensure the feet are parallel to each other and hip-width apart. Flex the elbows to rest the palms on the floor beneath the shoulders. Inhale and lift your hips and shoulders off the floor as you press down. Rest the top of your head against the floor and continue to push. However, make sure that there is no weight on your neck. Now tuck in the elbows and push to raise your chest towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for a moment before exiting.
To exit the wheel pose, tuck the head moving the chin towards the chest. Lower your arms and legs slowly and bring the knees together. Rest.
Safety and Precautions while doing the Camel yoga pose
You must stay clear of the Camel pose if you are struggling with an injury or chronic problem concerning the knees, neck, back, or shoulders. Take it slow, do not strain yourself to achieve the pose. Only practice can help to slowly build flexibility and strike the pose. Do not overburden the lower back and make the ribs, shoulders and chest do the hard work. Engage your abs or you’d be putting too much pressure on your lower back.
Camel pose variations for kids: The benefits of the camel pose for kids are that it supports their sensory integration, instils an awareness of where the body is in space and improves proprioception. Children should take their time to learn the pose. They can face a wall to ensure the hips stay up as they reach back. Their thighs must keep touching the wall. They must practice stretching the neck by keeping one hand at the lower back or heel and stretching the other hand up. They must inhale every time they raise an arm and exhale when they bring it down.
Yoga poses that can help you get ready for the camel pose:
Bhujangasana and bridge pose is perfect to prepare you for the camel pose.
Yoga poses to do after the camel pose:
You can perform the child’s pose and staff pose after the camel pose.
Wondering why you should bother with camel yoga pose?
It’s a fairly common question to ask. “Why should I even bother with this?” However, have you wondered why not? Why not take a chance on something that a lot of people say will drastically help you? Why not actively try to better yourself physically and emotionally? Just remember, if you feel any discomfort or pain, stop immediately or readjust your position for optimal results.
We hope this article has helped you understand why the camel pose is very beneficial, whether in a physical, mental, or spiritual sense, and that you learned something new today. If so, then great! Regardless of the answer, good luck on your path to your best and most aligned self.