Common Misalignments In Camel Pose and How To Correct Them

Camel Pose, or Ustrasana, is an amazing heart opener and super deep backbend. It stretches the front of the body, from the thighs to the hip flexors, to the abdominals, to the pec muscles in the chest. It’s a fantastic way to work into the notoriously difficult-to-access space between the shoulder blades and the thoracic spine.

It stimulates digestion and circulation, increases flexibility of the spine, and opens the chest. It is said to reduce fat in the thighs, increase energy, and lower blood pressure.

Ustrasana, although initially a challenging pose, is a vulnerable position that benefits the mind, body, and soul. As you hold the pose, your attention shifts from physical discomfort into a slight emotional discomfort and finally to an intense mental cleansing and emotional clarity.

This pose can cause division. Others dread the pose, while others love it. This could be due to some common alignment issues that can cause discomfort.

Camel may not be as feared in your next class.

Crunching Lower Back

This is one of the most common misalignments. Camel Pose aims to move the spine from top to bottom through its entire range of motion. In this pose, we often slump into our lower back, causing unnecessary pain.

How can you avoid it? Imagine extending and bringing your upper body to your lower body while simultaneously rooting down your lower body. Then, arch your back down. Imagine two continents pulling apart from each other. Imagine your tailbone, hips, and knees rooted into the ground while your shoulders, chest, and ribs reach upwards and outwards and curve down towards the ankles.

How can you tell if you are crunching your lower back? Look at your glutes. Do they look relaxed or tightened up? Are you clenching the bottom? If you answered yes to these questions, then your lower back is probably collapsing.

Hips shifting too far back or forward.

When the hips and knees do not line up, this can also be a cause for concern. This is due to two factors.

First, ensure that your knees are properly spaced during the setup. When moving into the position, keep your hips directly over the knees and rotate your inner thighs inwards. This will help prevent the first common misalignment and lower back pain.

This is an easy and common misalignment. I like to deliberately move my hips forward while sending my heart up to the sky. I also arch my back into the posture. It works because my hips are always trying to move back. If you are the same as me, then try this and see if that helps you align them perfectly with your legs so your foundation is strong.

Buddha Belly

It’s easy to overlook the abdominals in this pose. Instead, you may end up with a sagging belly.

Instead, when you are setting up the pose or foundation, engage your transverse abs by pulling your front hip bones together. It will also protect your lower spine.

Leading with your lower back

We often begin the arch by crunching our lower backs. Start with your heart to avoid this.

Once you’ve set up your lower body properly and you’re ready to begin the arch portion of the pose, bring your awareness to your heart/breastbone/sternum. Close your eyes and visualize the motion you need to perform first. Move your sternum forward ever so slightly and then upwards. Start the arch from here.

You can arch your spine up and back as your flexibility increases. You can even rest your hands on your heels. Imagine spreading your spine in a rainbow shape, with your hands and knees on one end and your heart and lower part of your spine at the top.

These tips and tricks will hopefully help you transform your Ustrasana from a posture that is dreaded in class into a posture that is energizing and cleansing. Move gently and with caution. Listen to your body. Don’t force yourself if you feel any pain.

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