Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Camel Pose, Ustrasana, (Oohs-tra-aa-suh-nuh)

ustra (camel) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Yin Yoga Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Pose Type: Balancing, Backbend, Stretching

Difficulty: Intermediate

woman doing a camel pose

This backbending heart opener is sure to invigorate you, challenge your core stability, and build your confidence.

camel pose Fundamentals

This beautiful heart opener is meant to center and create space in the shoulders, neck, and spine. Practice mindfully coming into this kneeling backbend where a strong foundation is key.

The feeling of coming into an expansive Camel pose is unmatched and how we get there is important. Support yourself in this pose to avoid injury in the neck and low back.

This pose grounds you as much as it lifts and expands you. Practice it to improve posture and strengthen the back body. The yogis believed we are only as young as our spines are flexible. Replenish the spine, activate through the legs, and radiate through the heart chakra (Anahata) in Camel pose!

camel pose Benefits

  • Flexes and lengthens the spine for improved mobility and decreased rigidity.
  • Strengthens the upper back body.
  • Tones the core and cultivates a strong center.
  • Strengthens and tones the quads and inner thighs for a strong foundation.
  • Beneficial for reducing slouching and hunch back (kyphosis) spine.
  • Gives the abdominal organs a massage.

How To Do camel pose: Step-By-Step

gif of a woman doing a camel pose

How To Get There:

1. Grab a blanket to pad the knees and come to kneel on all fours with knees stacked under the hips and hands under the shoulders. Ground into the palms and activate the inner thighs, lift up through the pelvic floor.

2. Mindfully walk the palms back and from your core begin to straighten the spine. Bring the hands to the waist and come all the way up while still on the knees. Hug the shoulder blades together and lengthen through the upper back. Lift up from your heart center. Imagine a line from the crown of your head to the tip of your tailbone. Ground into the tops of the feet and the outer edges of the pinky toe.

3. Take a moment to check for proper alignment here and ensure you feel supported in the knees and strong in your foundation. Hug everything into the mid body.

4. Bring the thumbs to the sacrum and the palms to wrap around the hips, the space right above the tail bone. Imagine taking your heart up and over rather than just coming straight back to avoid dumping into the low back. The bend is in the upper back (thoracic spine).

5. Lift the chin up towards the sky. Pull the elbows back and keep the openness in the chest, think upward facing dog or sphinx pose. Engage the core. Feel a stretch in the hip flexors as you gently push the hips slightly forward. Open through the heart. Imagine knitting the upper ribs like a corset creating an upward tightening effect in the core.

6. If you are new to this pose and building up feel free to stop here but if it’s accessible to you today you might try to reach down and grab your heels starting with fingertips to your heels. Keep a lift through the armpit chest.

7. Energetically squeeze the inner thighs together. Activate in the glutes but try not to squeeze. Release the head back down all the way.

8. Stay here for 1-5 breaths, radiating from the heart. Allow the breath to move you. To come out of the pose, tuck the chin into the chest and bring one hand to the low back followed by the other. Engage your core.

Tips And Tricks:

  • If you have a stiff back, stay with the hands supporting the low back and elbows pulling in without reaching towards the heels. Allow your body to practice opening the chest and creating space in the neck and shoulders.
  • Tuck the toes under for more stability and support.
  • Imagine your hip points are leaning up against a wall for proper stacking of the bones.

camel pose Variation:

Camel Pose Variation: Camel Pose with a blanket under the knees.

Bring a blanket or towel under the legs to support and stabilize the knees.

woman doing camel pose in yoga

Camel Pose Variation: Camel Pose with Blocks

Bring a block in between the ankles and another one in between the thighs to keep the legs from splaying out and integrity in the feet.

Another option is to bring blocks to the outer edges of your heels and reach behind to grab them instead of the heels lifting the ground higher up to meet you and putting less strain on your low back.

Camel Pose with wrists and palms on the low back.

For a deeper sensation in the shoulders and wrists try bringing the heels of the palms to the sacrum and your fingertips pointing down supporting your low back. Try it reverse with fingertips pointing up for more sensation.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Dumping into the low back and neck. Don’t let the neck fall completely back if you feel a lot of tightness between the shoulders and ears.

Sticking the low belly out. Remember to engage your core.

Leaning too far back into the pose (lordosis). Activate the inner thighs and pull into the midline.

Neck or Back Injury

If the neck is dropped do not turn it or you might injure yourself. If you are recovering from any type of neck or low back injury or surgery please do not practice this pose.

Related Poses

Locust Pose

Cobra Pose

Wheel Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Cat-Cow Pose

Sphinx Pose

Hero Pose

Counter Poses:

Child’s Pose

Cat Pose

Seated Forward Bend

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

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Anna Novelo

Anna Novelo

Anna is a freelance lifestyle writer and yoga teacher currently living in sunny San Diego, California. She uses the tools of storytelling and yoga to convey a message of hope and inspiration. Her mission is to make the tools of yoga accessible to as many people as possible especially those in underrepresented communities.

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