So first, yes, this pose is considered a backbend. How does that sound? It may sound scary, but don’t worry I promise to keep you safe. Feeling scared is AWESOME. It is a gift to start right where you are, with full, loving acceptance. Even better you’ll get the chance, with practice, to make progress.
I must admit back bending, and heart openers like this one can trigger an “I am not so good at yoga” voice in me, even after so many years. Like you, I do a lot of sitting hunched over my computer. That position is the exact opposite of what happens in camel pose. So OF COURSE, it is one of the more challenging poses. I can stick with the ” I stink at this pose” attitude or I can instead frame it as a creative question “Why do I love heart opener poses?”
I love heart openers because I need them to balance things out. I love heart openers because even if I don’t look like that woman in the yoga magazine, it feels good. (I selected the photo above because her toes are tucked, and she does not look like she is a super bendy US Olympic gymnast, but more like me. Well, except for the green tie.)
As a heart opener, this is a perfect pose to practice during the holiday season. When I find my way into the version of camel that works for me, I savor my breaths here. I call to mind the abundance that I am grateful for in my life and imagine that I am expanding my heart and its capacity to receive more abundance.
So much of life presses us to shut down, cut off, resist and separate from others and ourselves. This shape is about remembering my belief that when I am open and connected to myself and others, I already have all that I need.
Camel can be done on the mat and also standing. The secret of this pose is that it is not about the back bending but about more of an up and over action. What does that mean? It means you don’t want to crunch the low back. Adriene’s video will warm you up and help lift the chest first before you go for the bending back. Also, as someone with short arms, I love the variation with the yoga blocks. If you don’t have yoga blocks, add them to your wish list for the holidays. Here are the blocks I recommend.
When we were considering the design for our Prasada yoga card and were thinking about camels, their spitting came to mind.
That was before I did a google search and watched a few videos.
What they actually do is not what I had imagined.
I’ll leave it at that.
You decide if you want to explore that or not.