To begin building a sequence around Camel Pose it is important to break down the elements of the posture so you can warm your body up adequately.
In Camel Pose you use a deep backbend and front body opener, so therefore we need to ignite your core fully in order to support your back bend and encourage a deeper range of motion from your abdomen. You will also want to use some frontal hip stretches for the same purpose. Camel Pose uses some shoulder and chest flexibility too, so any shoulder and heart openers are a good way to prepare for the pose.
Cooling off and stretching your body out of a pose is just as important as the build up, so make sure you undo the back bend with a twist and then a Forward Fold of some kind. Below is a gentle sequence to help you build towards a more delicious Camel Pose, followed by a simple way to unwind the posture.
How to Sequence Around Camel Pose
Start with a few Sun Salutations. Then when you're nice and warm:
Use a few rounds of Cat/Cow to create some fluidity in your spine and hips.
Try Child's Pose with arms bound behind your back (aka Rabbit Pose). Feel free to use a strap between your hands if you have tight shoulders. This shape will help to open your ankles, spine and shoulders for your Camel Pose.
Move into Down Dog to stretch out your spine, arms, and shoulders.
Plank for 30 seconds (5 breaths) to ignite your shoulder muscles and core. This also acts to warm up your hips for the stretch to come.
Start backbending with Baby Cobra, Cobra, and then Upward Facing Dog. Hold each for 5 breaths to gradually open your entire front plane and bend your spine.
Press your shoulders thoroughly back behind you to open your chest and shoulders.
Come to a seat on your heels and walk your hands back behind you -- use a block if it is a struggle to reach the ground, or your forearms if you feel you could go deeper.
Slowly lift your hips up towards the ceiling keeping your knees down. Hold for 5 breaths.
Thread the Needle from a tabletop position on both sides to twist out all those backbends.
Then take Down Dog to stretch out, before making your way to Chair Pose to increase the heat in your body and to strengthen your back muscles.
Come to your knees for a half version of your Camel Pose. Tuck your toes under for a little extra height. Now place one hand on the same heel and press your hips forward while raising your opposite arm up and back. Do this twice on both sides for two breaths each.
Now you are ready to enter full Camel, with both hands on the feet.
To stretch out after a back bend like Camel Pose you need to reset the spine.
After your Camel Pose take a long Child's Pose. Walk your hands from one side of your mat to the other, and hold for at least 5 breaths on each side. The deeper you went into your Camel Pose, the longer you will want to hold this.
Now take a long twist on both sides. Thread the Needle works well, or you could come to your back and take a relaxed reclined twist.
Next, try compressing your hips and stretching out your lumbar muscles simultaneously by tucking into a small ball, or taking Happy Baby Pose -- perhaps even rocking side to side.
From here, any variation of Pigeon Pose can feel delicious.
End with a gentle forward fold like Pashimottanasana or use Shoulderstand or Plow to dig deeper into your upper back.
Part of enjoying your yoga practice is in feeling open and spacious in the postures you choose. To do that you need to thoroughly warm up and cool down the particular body parts you'll be working on in that pose -- that is what sequencing is all about. Enjoy!
How do you sequence around Camel Pose? Share with us in the comments below!