November 29, 2012

Ustrasana, Camel Pose Modifications

If the Camel Pose is too difficult but practicing Cobra backbends are too easy and you want more, then these modifications for Camel pose may be a good next step for you. I'll be demoing several modifications for Camel Pose in this post.

Ustrasana or Camel Pose can be a very difficult backbend for the neck and back, especially if your shoulders are tight.

* For more details setting up, going into, coming out of and benefits of Camel Pose click on Previous Backbend.
To begin: Knees hip distance apart with the head, torso and thighs perpendicular to the floor. If you need some padding for the knees place a blanket under them. Hands on lower back, fingers pointing down. Inhaling draw shoulder blades in with sternum and chest lifting and simultaneously dropping hand or hands as I describe below.

If you're a beginner it may be to difficult to start by dropping straight back with both hands to the heels. To help come into the pose try turning your head and do a slight twist looking at one heel and place the hand on that heel, then coming up and drop the other hand to opposite heel.

If you're not able to reach your feet or your lower back is being compressed then these next modifications may be for you. For these modifications setup the pose as described above in the previous Camel Pose backbend *.

For the first modification simply come up on your toes and drop back to your heels gaining several inches. If you need a little more height in the feet try putting a folded blanket under the toes and you can feather the height by several inches.

Next we can use blocks. If you have blocks set them on the floor next to your feet to give you the height of the blocks to place your hands on. If you don't have blocks you can use the above modification or the next for similar height.

Next use blankets stacked up to the height that's comfortable for you. As you can see in the video I have several blankets stacked up giving me the height of the blocks or being on our toes, you can add more or less blankets to feather the height that works for you.

And the last modification is using a chair. Place the front of the chair with the front legs next to and at about the top of your ankles. This puts the front of the seat about twelve inches away from the buttocks. You can place your hands a couple different places on the chair. The front legs of the chair giving you options letting the hands slide down the legs of the chair to give you more depth in the backbend or the hands can grab the sides of the seat for the least amount of depth in the backbend.

If you have no problem with the full version of the Camel backbend I've described in the previous post, * try placing your hands on opposite ankles with the tops of the feet on the floor for even more depth in the pose.

Warning: Some of you may experience mental issues in this pose that you may need to overcome. This type of backbend can bring these issues out due to the front body being open and unprotected to the world. Your body, mind and emotions are all connected especially with Yoga.

Happy & Healthy,
Yoga Chuck

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