How to Do Camel Pose in Yoga (Guide to Ustrasana)

Camel Pose is an excellent posture that opens the heart and relieves back pain in no time. Our modern lifestyles have led us to become exceedingly hunched over and slouched, leading to a tightening of the chest and a range of back issues. With Camel Pose, you can directly reverse this process and relieve the harmful effects of long-term computer use on the body.

“Camel Pose is more than just a back-bending pose; it is an opportunity to open the energetic heart space and move deeper into the layers of the subtle body,” says Yoga Answered contributor Isabella Koepf. “By using your breath to tune into your body throughout this posture, you can gain a deeper awareness of the subtle sensations within you and find the alignment that feels most comfortable for your needs.”

Camel Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Ustrasana
Pose Type: Chest-Opening Yoga Poses, Yoga Backbend Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: chest, spine, abdomen, glutes, thighs, shoulders, and hip flexors
Benefits: Stretches the chest, spine, abdomen, shoulders, and hip flexors, strengthens the glutes, thighs, back, and abdomen, improves posture and counteracts slouching, relieves back pain, increases confidence and inner strength, opens the heart chakra
Preparatory Poses: Cobra Pose, Upward-Facing Dog Pose, Locust Pose, Thunderbolt Pose, Bow Pose

How to Do Camel Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Set up your foundation for this pose by coming onto your knees with your legs hip-distance apart. Tuck your toes underneath you so that your heels are pointing upwards.
  2. Lengthen your upper body by straightening your spine and extending the crown of your head upwards to create more space between the vertebrae in your back and neck.
  3. Bring your hands onto your lower back with your fingers pointing downwards.
  4. Lift up through your chest, tuck in your chin, and drop your shoulders backward.
  5. Squeeze your thighs towards each other and activate your abdomen as you push your tailbone forward and lean backward.
  6. Reach your hands towards your heels, and if you can, you can rest your hands on the top of your heels. If this is not accessible to you, you can also keep your hands on your lower back.
  7. Continue to lift through the chest and avoid crunching into your lower back.
  8. Allow your head to gently fall backward and lift your chin upwards.
  9. To exit the pose, slowly lift your hands back onto your lower back one at a time, bring your chin towards your chest, and engage your abdomen to lift back up to your starting position. 

Beginner’s Tip

Make sure to continue to press your tailbone forward to keep your hips in line with your knees. To remain balanced in this pose, it is also important to ensure your knees are not wider or narrower than your hips.

Depending on where you choose to begin the backbend, this pose can target either the thoracic or lumbar spine. If you are looking for a thoracic or upper backbend, then keep your lower back stable, place your hands on your hips, and start the backbend from your midback while you curve your upper back downwards. If you are looking for a lumbar or lower backbend, then keep your upper back more stable and lean backward, as described in the steps above.

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