Intermediate Yoga

3 Ways to Modify Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

If you don’t have the spinal flexibility or core strength for full Ustrasana, try these three ways to find safe alignment for your body.

Modify Ustrasana if needed to find safe alignment for your body.

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If you don’t have the spinal flexibility or core strength for full Ustrasana…

Try keeping your thumbs on your sacrum and avoid reaching for your feet. Engage your inner thighs and pelvic floor by pulling your lower belly up and in. Stay here for 5 breaths, focusing on creating space between your vertebrae, opening your chest and shoulders, and building the muscular support needed for a deeper spinal extension. Lengthen with each inhalation, and on each exhalation, keep the space that you have created while engaging the core more.

See also Camel Pose: Nix Neck + Shoulder Pain in this Backbend

If you feel lower-back strain or compression in full Ustrasana…

Try curling your toes under and bringing your fingertips to your heels, lessening the degree of spinal extension. Start by pressing your thumbs into your sacrum, engaging your core, and lengthening the tailbone toward the floor. Then reach your arms symmetrically toward your heels. Remain here for 5 deep breaths, making sure to not drop your head back or attempt the final shoulder position unless you feel completely safe and stable.

See alsoModify Baddha Konasana + Align Your Sacral Chakra

If you can’t keep your hips stacked over your knees, or if your breath is shallow…

Try pressing your thighs against a wall and keeping your chin tucked into your chest. Stack your hips over your knees and bring your thighs to the wall. With your thumbs pressing into your sacrum, inhale to lengthen your spine and lift your sternum. Exhale to engage your lower belly, lengthen your tailbone, and lift your chin. If you feel you can take your backbend farther, drape your arms back and reach for your heels. If you are having trouble breathing, avoid lowering the head all the way back to keep airways fully open. Try not to strain, and hold for 5 deep breaths.

See also Camel Pose (Ustrasana): Pose Instructions + Variations with Blocks