HOW TO: Half Camel Pose (Ardha Ustrasana)

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Backbends can provide an incredible stretch for the front body and can improve mobility in the spine. However, they also should only be entered into when the body, specifically the spine, is warmed up.  Before jumping into Half Camel Pose I recommended warming up with a sequence of Cat/Cow poses, Cobra Pose, Downward Facing Dog, and Twisted Forward Fold.  Repeat these poses at least two to three times each to really warm up the spine and prepare for this backbend.

Instructions:

After warming up come into a kneeling position sitting back on your heels.

Spread your knees out hip distance apart and lift your hips stacking your hips on top of your knees.

Press your palms on your low back with your fingers pointing towards your heels.

On an exhale gently press your hips forward and lift your chest to come into a slight backbend with your hands supporting your low back.

Stay here or come deeper into the backbend by reaching your right hand to your right heel.

Reach your left arm up towards the sky or reach it back behind you.

Let your head fall back if comfortable for your neck or keep your head lifted.

Remain in the pose for about 30 seconds or as long as is comfortable.

To come out of the pose, bring both hands to the low back and gently bring your self upright with your neck and head coming up lastly.

Repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

Stretches the entire front of the body including the ankles, thighs, groin, abdomen, chest, and throat

Stretches the hip flexors

Strengthens the back muscles

Improves posture

Stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid.

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