Contortionist Camel Pose
I have a love/hate relationship with backbends. I love the way they feel, but like most of my joints, my spine doesn’t always know when to stop and I live in fear of hyperextending my spine and crushing something that wasn’t supposed to be that compressed. So, in general, I proceed with caution and often don’t go as deep as I know I potentially could.
Last week, Yvette (my fav bikram teacher) told me she’d noticed recently that my backbends were opening up a lot more. She was actually the first person that helped me lift from my upper back when I go back in camel pose. Overtime, I have worked really hard to make sure that my backbends are coming from my entire spine, not just one section.
Recently I read an article in Yoga Journal about backbends. In it, the author stressed the importance of “tucking your tailbone” before you go back. As much as this seems counterintuitive, its actually extremely helpful. By slightly tilting your pelvis, you’re lengthening your lower back and preventing it from compressing in the backbend.
So this morning, thinking about Yvette’s comment, I made a conscious effort to tuck my tailbone under and really lift my back as I arched into my camel. To my surprise, I easily went all the way back into the pose with my hands still on my lower back. And when I put my hands on heels, I suddenly realized I could go a lot further. Problem was, my arms were in the way…
So I decided to experiment. I slid my hands to my calves…and then to my knees…and then up to my hamstrings. Literally, my face was parallel with the ground. WHOA.
It felt a bit contortionist, not gonna lie ;)
After class I asked my teacher where my arms should actually go, and she explained that I could do “full camel” and lay my forearms/elbows on the ground…and eventually the top of my head! So now I have a new goal for tomorrow =)
ps - my back feels AWESOME today.