Camel is a physical and emotional experience.
When you get to camel your spine is warm and strengthened and ready to bend back with all the openness and vulnerability it demands. Your mind is open and receptive. Camel builds deep courage and trust.
Physically Camel Pose creates maximum compression of the spine which stimulates the nervous system. It also improves flexibility of the neck and spine, relieves backache and helps degenerative spinal problems such as kyphoscoliotic deformities and cervical spondylosis. Camel works to stimulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands. It flushes blood through the kidneys, regulating blood pressure and reducing excess stress hormones
How to set up Camel
Knees and feet 6 inches apart so you have a good solid base. In the beginning it may hurt even to stand on your knees, you’re getting used to this in the yoga though! Over time we promise that discomfort will pass.
Hands are at back of your hips with fingers facing down and thumbs out. This might feel a little tight in the beginning, because you are gently stretching deltoids and pecs, opening your shoulders.
The teacher will tell you to take a deep breath, push your hips forward and drop your head back. Take that breath! It lifts your chest as you bend back and push forward.
Now pause for a second with hands on hips. Then go for your heels, one hand at a time. In the beginning leaning back to try and search for your heels may feel a little scary. Always do one hand at a time. Thumbs out, fingers inside your foot.
Keep the left hand on your back till you find your right heel. When you grab your heel then you can lean into the left heel and grab it with your left hand.
If you tried but you can’t grab yet, stay in the first part of the posture with both hands on your back. Head dropped back and pushing hips forward. By staying here you get maximum benefits until you can grab your heels. Try to get your heels every time you go to class though.
When you do grab your heels for the first time it’s a great feeling. Now the hard work starts!
Constantly pushing your stomach, legs and hips forward to the mirror rather than leaning back on the heels will work to create 360 degree back bending. This creates strength and mobility in your spine. It will massage the organs in your abdominal area and begin to stretch the muscles across the hips.
Squeezing your bum – your glute muscles – is the key to get your stomach, legs and hips forward.
Keep your neck and head relaxed and eyes looking back, even into your forehead to encourage maximum opening in the throat.
The dizziness you might experience as a beginner is completely normal so try not to get anxious. Keep pushing your hips forward and breathing. The dizziness will pass.
Challenging as it might be, try to stay in the posture for the full duration.
Coming out the Posture
Although it’s tempting to rush, don’t! How you come out of the posture is just as important. One hand at a time back to the spine, ease yourself up – head up last. Don’t fling your head up.
Coming out of a deep back-bend, don’t be surprised if you experience a flood of emotions, possibly teariness, relief, disorientation, euphoria, peace. Camel is a huge heart opener, so be warned – you might just burst into tears although you don’t feel unhappy.
After Camel you move into Rabbit to create the most perfect spinal balance.