TBH - I have no idea what camels can teach us about back bending. 😂
HOWEVER! I do know what Camel Pose, also known as Ustrasana, can! If you receive my newsletter, you already know some themes we focus on to achieve this fairly intense back bend include:
~Leg Strengthening and Activation
~Activating Mula Bandha ~Strengthening Transverse Abdominis
~Shoulder Opening ~Back Strengthening Alignment
Am I speaking a foreign language? I know, these terms may seem scary, but lemme break em down for ya. We're going to start from the bottom up!
Whenever I teach back bending, I always start with leg strengthening and activation, because it's all connected! Did you know that many of the muscles in your thighs and groin area are actually connected to your spine?? So, keeping those thick thighs strong AF actually allows you to create deeper, safer, and better feeling backbends!
This energy lock is located at the base of the spine. We activate this bandha by contracting the anal sphincter and lifting the pelvic floor - for the ladies this will feel like a kegel exercise, for the gentlemen it's a simple lift of, well, the gentlemen. Activating the Mula Bandha leads us to the activation and strengthening of...
Our core is made up of four main layers of muscle, the transverse abdominis being the inner most layer. This is what we want to get to and activate when creating back bends. This is what keeps us SAFE - and safety is always our main priority in yoga! Strengthening and activating the transverse abdominis during backbends makes sure the spine doesn't crunch on itself and overextend, which is when we tend to see injuries.
If you can't reach your hands over your head, how are you supposed to reach them behind you to catch ya heels? You want to make sure to add in plenty of shoulder and heart openers like humble warrior, urdhva hastasana, updog, downdog, cobra, etc. If you've got the strength, but not the flexibility, are you really using and caring for your body in the best way possible?
Back Strength and Alignment
The irony - this is the very last thing I add to a back bending class. If you're heading into a backbend, you're automatically going to get aligned and the muscles surrounding your spine will instinctually contract (activate). However, if we didn't strengthen the legs, activate the mula bandha and core, and open the shoulders, YOU'RE NOT EVEN GOING TO GET THIS FAR!
So take your time when getting into back bends! It's not about how far, deep, or impressive of a pose you can create - it's all about how it FEEEEEEEELS! Don't be like former me: Striving so hard to achieve the ultimate "perfect pose" (FYI - the perfect pose doesn't exist) that you end up hurting yourself. Focus on what the pose is giving you and keeping yourself safe! Eventually, without even trying, you'll create the deepest extension of Ustrasana your body allows, when it's ready.
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