Get Over the Hump! How to Build Your Way to Camel
If flexibility in your spine isn’t something that comes easy to you| then just looking at this pose is enough to cause back pain. The good news is that it is possible to increase your flexibility over time| and aside from being able to master a backbend like this| a more mobile spine will also help relieve lower-back pain| will prevent running and other fitness-related injuries| and u2014 get this u2014 can even make your time under the sheets more enjoyable! Yep| flexibility makes everything better.
This eight-pose sequence will slowly begin to open up the muscles in the front of the body while getting your spine used to arching. Do as much of the sequence as you can| gradually working your way to Camel as you’re ready.
| Half Wheel
- Begin lying flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body and your palms facing down.
- Bend your knees| and place your feet flat on the floor. Walk your heels as close as you can to your butt.
- With your palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground| lift your hips up| keeping your thighs parallel.
- Bring the hands underneath the hips for support. Rock your weight from side to side so you can bring your elbows underneath the wrists and shoulder blades closer together.
- Stay here for five deep breaths| actively pressing your feet into the floor to lift up your hips and increase the stretch in your torso and neck.
| Fish Modification
- From Half Wheel| release your hands and lower your spine to the mat.
- Sit up| and straighten the legs. Bring the hands behind you| fingers facing away.
- Release the head behind you as you actively press into the palms| arching back and stretching through the shoulders and chest.
- Enjoy this pose for five breaths.
| Shoulder-Opening Hero Pose
- From the Fish Modification| sit up| bend the knees| and sit on the heels with the thighs together. If this causes pain| place a block or a large| rolled-up towel between the heels| and sit on that.
- Bend your left elbow behind your back. Lift your right arm straight up above your head. Bend your right elbow| and if you can| clasp your hands together. If your fingers aren’t touching| hold a strap or small towel with both hands to encourage your hands to move closer together.
- Keep the spine straight| pulling the ribs and tailbone in. Gaze forward for five breaths.
- Release the arms| and switch sides so the left elbow is on top| holding for another five.
| Reclining Hero
- Release the arms and separate the feet so you can sit in between the heels.
- Stay here| resting the palms on the thighs| or if it feels OK on your knees| lie down.
- Extend the arms overhead| stretching the quads for five breaths.
| Seated Heart Opener
- Lift the torso from the previous reclined position| draw the thighs and feet together| and sit on the heels.
- Lean back| and place your palms flat on the floor about eight to 10 inches behind you so your fingertips are pointing away.
- Press your hands firmly into the ground to lift the chest high| arching your back and pushing your hips into your heels. To increase the stretch| lower your head behind you| stretching through your throat and the front of your chest even more.
- Stay for five deep breaths.
| One-Legged Camel
- From the Seated Heart Opener| lift the torso and come to stand on the shins.
- Extend the right leg out to the side| arch back| and rest the left hand on the left heel.
- Reach the right arm overhead| pressing the hips forward to increase the stretch.
- Hold like this for five breaths| and then switch sides.
| One-Armed Camel
- From One-Legged Camel| lift the torso and stand on both shins with the knees underneath the hips.
- Reach your left hand back| placing it on your left heel. Extend your right arm in the air.
- Shift weight forward onto your knees to increase the stretch in your quads| belly| and chest.
- Lower your head behind you| and stay here for five breaths. Then switch sides| holding for another five breaths.
- From One-Armed Camel| lift the torso and continue standing on the shins.
- Reach your right hand back toward your right heel| and then your left toward your left heel. Your hands are there for balancing support| so don’t lean all your weight into them. As mentioned earlier| shift weight forward into your knees to increase the stretch in your belly and chest.
- Lower your head behind you| and stay here for five breaths.
- Come up slowly| and sit on your heels. Lean forward| releasing your lower back into Child’s Pose.