Try these unique Camel Pose variations to liven up your yoga practice.
Camel Pose is a basic yoga pose with which most yogis are already familiar. But, if you are ever bored with the traditional pose, there are some variations you can do to make it more interesting. The short sequence below includes Camel Pose variations that warm up your shoulders, quads, and back. This, in turn, promotes the safer practice of the pose so you are less susceptible to injuries. For extra cushioning in the following pose variations, use a blanket on your mat under your knees and use another mat over your chair. Try to stay in each variation for several breaths.
By Carrie Owerko
Camel Pose with feet on a bolster
This variation will help you reach your feet without crunching your lower back. Kneel with knees and feet hip-width apart and your toes tucked under, pressing into a bolster. Move the backs of your thighs forward, so they are perpendicular to the floor. Inhale; lift your side ribs and chest. Revolve your upper arms, palms facing forward, as you press your shoulder blades into your back ribs. Exhale; reach for the bottoms of your feet. If it’s comfortable, exhale to take your head back. Inhale; keep pressing through your toes, and lift to come up.
Camel Pose with a shoulder strap
This time, use a long belt (or two belts buckled together) to open your chest and shoulders. Place the belt across the middle of your shoulder blades and pull the straps under your armpits. Then, take the ends of the belt over the tops of your shoulders and cross the straps over your uppermost back. Hold the ends of the belt in each hand and keep your elbows bent at first, so the belt feels tight. With a bolster on your calves, pull down on the ends of the belt as you move into Ustrasana. Inhale to come back up, then experiment without the bolster.
Ustrasana against the wall
To bring even more awareness to maintaining a lift in your upper back, kneel facing a wall. Place the top of a folding chair at the bottom of your shoulder blades, with the chair angled so that it presses into your upper back, helping to move your back ribs and shoulder blades deep into your body, which will feel like it’s pinned between the chair and the wall. From this place of stability, lift your chest and look up, if it’s comfortable. Revolve your shoulders back and down as you walk your hands down the side of the chair. Inhale to come up.
Next, fold the chair and press its legs into the base of the wall. From kneeling, place the uppermost part of the chair at the following areas as you repeat Ustrasana: a) The bottoms of your shoulder blades, b) The ribs beneath your shoulder blades, c) Your tailbone or lower sacral region, d) The backs of your thighs, e) The backs of your knees.
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All images courtesy of Carrie Owerko.