Camel

Photo by Nesha Thich on Unsplash

You might be wondering where I am going with this post. My mind is thinking all sorts of amusing things about being in a hump, hump days, humping and…well…other things. It wasn’t inspired by any of those thoughts though…It is the yoga pose ‘Camel’ (Ustrasana). I have never managed it before but I did it this week and I am definitely not in a hump about this achievement.

Why is it called Camel pose?

Who knows for sure! But apparently it is so called because of the resemblance to the camel’s hump (yes I still giggle a little every time I say hump). Or possibly because of the way they fold their legs to sit (it is a sort of seated pose). No matter the name, I have always found this a hard pose to get into mainly due to my tight quads, hip flexors and shoulders / chest. Never mind the feeling that I won’t breath properly with my head tilted back.

The prep poses

Lots of things that involve you grabbing your feet behind and stretching out the quads. Some nice gentle back bends to prepare in very some very ungentle high lunges and chest openers thrown into the mix.

So poses like cobra in the vinyasa, sphinx and even bow were involved in my class. I managed to catch my feet in a low lunge to quad stretch. I usually have to lasso my feet with a yoga strap to catch them and get the quad stretch. However I caught them both much to the surprise of me and, I am convinced, my yoga teacher. To be honest when I managed bow I could have stopped right there and went home happy (its the grabbing feet difficulty). But Camel was the one we were heading to and it would have been slightly awkward if I left early. My progress in feet grabbing? I am convinced this is because I am spending time trying to sort my posture with chest openers and keeping my shoulders back. It might just also mean that my quads are starting to stretch a bit more. My Thai massage lady who led me through a torture session yesterday may disagree with me being more stretchy…but she didn’t know me a year ago.

Anyway…more poses like pigeon and triangle helped before we headed into a few camel variations.

Getting there

Camel can be tough for people but it is a really good stretch for pretty much the whole of the front of your body and also for the upper back. So blocks at the ready we did a little bit of dancing camel (my feet were not flat down but up resting on balls of feet so I could transition from the blocks to my heels). Dancing camel is pretty much just doing half camel pose (Ardha Ustrasana) and moving from side to side. This may even look quite graceful.

In camel both hands (externally rotated to help to lift the chest and not press your shoulders into your neck) rest on either the heels or on the back of the feet if you aren’t up on the balls of your feet. The easiest variation is hands to lower back, moving to blocks and then to the heels.

I can’t get further than my heels but for me this is pretty bloody good. As said, I am definitely not in a hump about achieving this. My facial expression, however, may have resembled the lovely photo above.

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