PEAK POSTURE BREAKDOWNS

Peak Posture:

Camel pose is an easily modifiable backbend. Much of our day is spent pitched forward. Camel pose is a gentle backbend that allows the body to return to homeostasis and can improve posture.

 

In this pose, we come to our knees and lift our hearts to the Lord. The focus on opening across the front of the body can be intimidating and leave some feeling vulnerable. Slowly surrender yourself in this posture. Keep your breath long and intentional. Imagine offering your heart to your Redeemer.

How to:

  1. Start from a kneeling position keeping your body upright and your hips stacked over knees. (A towel or blanket can be folded to comfort and placed under the knees for extra cushion.)

  2. Come into the posture in layers beginning with your hands on your low ribs or high waist and begin to open your chest toward the ceiling.

  3. Maintaining the position of your chest, step your hands down to your low back/sacrum.

  4. Stay here if you are getting a good stretch. If you'd like to come deeper into the backbend, reach your hands back one at a time to grip your heels. This is a great time to use your blocks. Grip a block instead of your heel or tuck your toes to elevate your heel toward your hand.

  5. Check-in with your hips - they should be pressed forward over your knees. If you notice you are not in alignment, gently come a half step out of the bend to your blocks or back to your sacrum.

  6. When you've found your edge in this posture (the place in which you are in proper alignment with no joint pain), you may choose to lean your head back to open through your front neck/ throat space.

  7. Release by bringing your chin toward your chest and hands to your hips. Firm your abs and support your lower back with your hands as you slowly bring your body to an upright kneeling position.

~ image of full camel pose with info on proper alignment ~

Safety & Precautions

You should not do Camel Pose if you have had an injury or chronic problem with your knees, shoulders, neck, or back. Don't force your body into the pose before it is flexible enough to do so without straining. Bend back only as far as you can naturally. With continued practice, you will gradually build your flexibility to achieve the pose.

Modifications:

  • use a blanket under the knees to protect them from grinding into the floor (a rolled up towel can also be used under the ankles for support)

  • use blocks on either side of your feet - they can be rotated to obtain the leverage you need

  • you can keep your hands on your low back if reaching back for your feet or using blocks isn't comfortable for you - your fingers should be pointed down and you will be squeezing your elbows towards each other

~ image of modified camel pose with info on proper alignment ~

~ image of modified camel pose with info on proper alignment ~

For Prenatal:

The camel pose is a lovely supported backward bend, great for opening up the shoulders, chest, and hips during your pregnant months. Be sure to breath deeply when in this pose, the expansion created through the back bend will allow you to access the base of the lungs, and really stretch the intercostal muscles of your rib cage. 

 

This is an important yoga pose in pregnancy, as it prepares the body and the mind for expansion. It limbers the shoulders, opens the chest, and makes the lower back more flexible. All of these benefits are very useful in the later months of pregnancy when your baby drops down into the pelvis and your body feels heavy and tired. 

 

Please note that when practicing the Camel pose you can support your joints by placing a towel or cushion beneath your knees.

~ image of modified camel pose for prenatal with info on proper alignment ~

Chair Modifications:

A chair can be used to aid and support an individual in camel pose in two distinct ways. Ensure chair is stable and will not slip before proceeding.

  • sit at edge of seat with feet hip-distance apart and maintain knees over ankles

  • grip back sides of seat and press hips up, engaging legs 

  • don't overstretch the abdominal muscles by throwing the chest out

  • exhale up and inhale down, flow in and out of posture for several breaths

 

  • kneel on mat with back of chair at back

  • following the more base pose directive, reach back toward ankles and grip back legs of chair

  • rest base of neck on top back of chair for support (drape a towel over back of chair)

~ image of camel pose with chair variation and info on proper alignment ~

Variations:

  • with one hand on your ankle/block/hip, extend the opposite hand toward the ceiling

  • for a challenge - try gripping opposite ankles!

~ image of camel pose with variation with info on proper alignment ~

Dysfunctions:

  • hips not squared over knees - as you lean back, you may want to sit into your seat; avoid this by keeping your thighs vertical - a good way to feel the proper alignment of this posture is to do this pose with your thighs pressed against a wall

  • hyper-extension of the front body - you may find that you are able to come into the full expression of this posture only to strain and cramp; honor the journey to greater mobility by not doing damage to your muscles in any posture - find the place in the posture where the muscles are stretched to the full extend without cramping or spasms

~ side-by-side images of camel pose with proper alignment vs. dysfunctional alignment ~

Benefits of this Posture:

  • stretches the front of the body

  • opens the heart space

  • improves spinal mobility

Anatomical/ Physiological Focus:

  • heart-opening

  • abdomen strengthening

  • back stretching

  • quadriceps strengthening

Emotional/ Energetic Focus:

  • desperation for completeness

  • quality of surrender

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