How to practice a lunge and Camel Pose combined as a variation on Camel Pose.

5 Creative Versions of Camel Pose

Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Updated: 
August 29, 2022

Camel Pose (Ustrasana) is typically one of those postures that people either love or hate. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground on this one. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

As a deep backbend, Camel Pose can trigger some, but it can feel like a wonderful release for others. But Ustrasana doesn’t have to be practiced in its most traditional form to reap all of its many benefits. 

Whether you’re one of the Camel Pose lovers or haters, there are plenty of creative variations of this asana that you can try to find a version that you do love (or maybe love even more!).

Add These 5 Creative Variations of Camel Pose to Your Practice

Grab a yoga strap and mat to try these Ustrasana variations. You may also wish to have two blocks nearby that you can always use to hold onto in all of these variations (rather than reaching for your feet). 

1. Kneeling Camel PoseCamel Pose or Ustrasana variation shown here.

  1. Start seated on your heels with your toes either tucked under in Broken Toe Pose or pointing back behind you (in Vajrasana). 

  2. Place your hands onto blocks or the floor about one palm’s distance behind your feet with your fingers either pointing forward toward your feet or angled outward toward the sides of your mat.

  3. Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and broaden your chest.

  4. Press firmly into your palms and lift your heart toward the sky. Ground down into your shins to lift your thighs off your calves.

  5. Option to tuck your chin to your chest, lengthen the back of your neck in line with the rest of your spine, or (if it feels comfortable for your neck) release your head back.

  6. Root down into everything that’s in contact with the floor as you simultaneously lift the whole front side of your body up toward the sky.

  7. Hold for about five to 10 deep breaths. For many practitioners, using blocks or bolster is safer and more accessible.

2. Half Revolved Camel Pose (Ardha Parivrtta Ustrasana)Practicing Camel Pose with a twist variation added.

  1. Start kneeling with your knees roughly hips-distance apart. Have your toes tucked under or point your toes back with the tops of your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Gently hug in three-dimensionally around your waistline to feel your core engage.

  3. Root your knees down on the floor and press your pelvis forward slightly.

  4. Twist your torso slightly toward the right side of your mat, and then lean back until you can catch your right heel with your right hand. If this feels too intense, or if you find yourself collapsing backward, come up out of the pose. Then place a block at any height next to your right foot. Repeat steps 1-4, grabbing the block instead of your heel.

  5. Once you catch your foot (or your block), press your hand down into your foot (or block) and use this resistance to lift your chest high.

  6. Again, press your pelvis forward slightly and spin your heart slightly toward the right. Option to reach your left arm toward the sky.

  7. Hold for about five to 10 deep breaths before releasing and switching sides.

3. Strapped Camel PoseAdding props, in this case a yoga strap, is one way to add variation to your Camel Pose

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your knees roughly hips-distance apart. Option to have your toes tucked under or to point your toes back with the tops of your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Grab your strap and wrap it over the top of your chest, just beneath your collarbones. Slide the tail ends of your strap under your armpits and hold each end with your respective hand.

  3. Gently hug in three-dimensionally around your waistline to feel your core engage.

  4. Root your knees down into the floor and bring your hands to rest on the back of your pelvis. Gently press your pelvis forward slightly.

  5. Roll your shoulders down your back and draw your shoulder blades toward each other.

  6. Lean your torso backward as you reach your hands back behind you to catch the insides of your ankles or heels. 

  7. Pull down tautly against the strap and use the resistance of the strap to press your chest up into.

  8. Energetically, draw your hands apart from each other and press them firmly against your inner ankles. Use equal and opposite energy to resist your inner ankles inward.

  9. Hold for about five to 10 deep breaths.

4. Lunging Camel Pose (Anjaneyasana Ustrasana)Image depicts a lunging variation of Camel Pose.

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your knees roughly hips-distance apart. Option to have your toes tucked under or to point your toes back with the tops of your feet flat on the floor. For many practitioners, using blocks or bolsters is safer and more accessible.

  2. Gently hug in three-dimensionally around your waistline to feel your core engage.

  3. Root your left knee into the floor to step your right foot forward in front of you in a narrow Lunge shape. Create roughly a 90-degree angle between your front and back thigh.

  4. Lift and lengthen your spine and then ground down firmly into your right foot and your left knee and shin.

  5. Take your hands to rest at the back of your pelvis and very gently press your pelvis forward slightly. 

  6. Lean your torso back and simultaneously lift your chest up.

  7. Option to leave your hands where they are or reach back to hold your left ankle or heel.

  8. Option to tuck your chin to your chest, lengthen the back of your neck in line with the rest of your spine, or (if it feels comfortable for your neck) release your head back.

  9. Hold for about five to 10 deep breaths before releasing and switching sides.

5. Mermaid Camel PoseA challenging variation of Camel Pose is Camel combined with Mermaid Pose.

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your knees roughly hip distance apart. Option to have your toes tucked under or to point your toes back with the tops of your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Gently hug in three-dimensionally around your waistline to feel your core engage.

  3. Bend your right knee deeply and catch your foot with your strap or your right hand and draw it in toward your seat.

  4. Gently hug in three-dimensionally around your waistline to feel your core engage.

  5. Lift and lengthen your spine and gently press your pelvis forward.

  6. Draw your shoulder blades together and expand your chest open toward the sky.

  7. Lean your torso back and either hold onto your strap or slide your right foot into the crook of your right elbow.

  8. Stretch your left arm toward the sky and either catch hold of your strap or hold onto your right fingers.

  9. Continue to elongate your spine, peel your chest open toward the sky, and press your pelvis forward.

  10. Hold for about five to 10 deep breaths before releasing and switching sides.

Play With Creative Camel Pose Variations in Your Practice

Play with these fun shapes, or try other shapes that appeal to you. If traditional Camel Pose isn’t your favorite, find a variation of Ustrasana that you love. Or if Camel is already your favorite pose, then play around with novel ways to experience it! Adding blocks or a bolster to your variations might help you feel safer and help make Camel Pose more accessible and fun.

There are infinite creative ways that you could practice any given asana, so play around in your practice to find variations of every pose that you love!

 

Barrie Risman, Nina Zolotow, YogaUOnline continuing education, Yoga for anxiety

 

Leah SugermanLeah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied, emphasizing breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.