Day 14: Camel

It’s Day 14, and today we’re talking about Camel or Ustrasana.  It’s a backbend AND a chest opener.  If you spend all day sitting at a desk, THIS is the pose for you.

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I am modifying the pose by being on my toes instead of laying the tops of my feet flat on the ground. If you can’t reach your heels here, you can put your fists at your sacrum and lean back from there. If your shoulders are too tight to do that, you can try making your arms into “goal posts” (or some people call it cactus arms) to practice pushing your shoulder blades together onto your back.

When I first started yoga, I would sometimes feel faint or very anxious in this pose.  It’s a common experience.  Some people say that it’s because the pose is a “heart opener” and I was releasing some built up emotion.  I think it’s probably more likely that my chest muscles were very tight which was constricting my breath, and when you can’t breathe, you pass out or hyperventilate.  Maybe I just felt awkward about bending backward because it wasn’t something I did that often.

The first time I got a little panicky when I was in Camel, I almost considered leaving class I was so ashamed.  I just kept wondering, “What kind of weirdo has a near panic attack from YOGA?!”  Well, many people experience these emotions.  Regardless of the reason of whatever you are feeling, take care of yourself.  Judging or shaming yourself just makes matters worse.  If you feel lightheaded, try an easier variation of the pose.  Investigate any anxious feelings, but try not to be too attached to finding out a why or a reason it’s happening.  Oh, and don’t forget to BREATHE.

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