The key is to find a balance between strength and softeness and play with the opposing forces. We forward bend all day, so backbending can be challenging and certainly our animal/emotional brains don't like being this vunerable and exposing our heart and throat – it's normal to want to protect this area.
What are the benefits of Camel?
Full compression of the spine – in a good way! You are strengthening your whole back to make it more pliable and durable for everyday use. You are opening your shoulders and chest, stretching a tight part of the body and couteracting all the hunching we do during the day, especially if you have an office job or commute by car. We hold so much tension in our neck, back and shoulders. It's also an amazing front of body stretch, from the throat to the hip flexors.
Let's start: Camel Pose is a kneeling backbend that requires you to ground down through the knees and push into the shins and tops of the feet, creating a solid foundation to lift your heart towards the ceiling whilst gently taking your head back.
- Make sure your knees and feet are hip width apart.
- Check that your hips are directly above your knees – try to keep them there throughout the posture.
- Lengthen your tail bone down and lift up through the front of your body – feel a lenghtening down your stomach.
- Place your hands on your lowerback, with your fingers pointing downwards. Your hands are their for support and to gently push and keep your hips above your knees.
- Did we mention to keep your hips above your knees?
- Lift your chest to the sky and open your shoulders by squeezing your shoulder blades together and down.
- Look up to the ceiling and slowly, gently, carve a line with your nose along the celing towards the back of the room. Stop if you feel crunching in the neck. Keep your neck engaged at all times, use the muscles in your neck.
- Think about opening your upper middle back – if you are tight through the thoracic spine, this might be as far as your want to go, for now.
- If you are doing a HOT FG or HOT FLOW, tuck your toes and reach one hand at a time down to your heels – touch your fingertips to your heels and hold it. Where are your hips? Still above your knees. Look gently for the back of the room or stay looking at the ceiling, neck muscles engaged.
- If you are doing HOT 26 – keep your toes pointed, don't tuck them, and reach for your heels, grab them and get a full palm grip.
- Notice if you've used your legs to take you back and you are now leaning on your arms and using your quads rather than opening up your back. If you are, lift your chest and push your hips forward.
- The aim is to not crunch into your lower back, so lift your chest constantly and keep your hips above your knees.
If you perserve and maybe stay in the first part of the posture for a few weeks or months, opening the front of the body and upper middle back, you'll start to feel the wonderful benefits of this posture. If you have rounded shoulders, or your neck is protuding too far forward and your upper middle back and shoulders are tight, causing you neck pain, then this is the posture for you.
Start to love it as much as childs pose and just work with what is happening with your body right now.