How To : Camel

As you may have noticed, I LOVE backbends! However, they didn't always love me. (sad face)

But with a lot of practice, and even more patience, my body began to open up in ways I could never have even imagined for myself (happy face!!!) 

Camel, or Ustrasana, is a great backbend, that has so many options and modifications, so that you can begin to deepen your backbends no matter what level you are at. Follow along...

   Begin with the knees hip distance apart. Hands to the low back, gaze forward. OPTION : Toes can be tucked. PROPS : you can use a block between your knees to help keep thighs engaged. 

 

Begin with the knees hip distance apart. Hands to the low back, gaze forward. OPTION : Toes can be tucked. PROPS : you can use a block between your knees to help keep thighs engaged. 

   Focus on finding more of a LIFT from your sternum rather than just leaning back and thrusting the hips forward. OPTION : STAY HERE IF THIS FEELS GOOD!!! Maybe play with dropping the head back slowly, or closing the eyes.

 

Focus on finding more of a LIFT from your sternum rather than just leaning back and thrusting the hips forward. OPTION : STAY HERE IF THIS FEELS GOOD!!! Maybe play with dropping the head back slowly, or closing the eyes.

   Maybe you go a little further and drop one hand back to your heel, alternating arms, keeping the low back long, and the core engaged. OPTION : Tuck the toes under so the heels are lifted for a little extra height. 

 

Maybe you go a little further and drop one hand back to your heel, alternating arms, keeping the low back long, and the core engaged. OPTION : Tuck the toes under so the heels are lifted for a little extra height. 

   Maybe... just maybe... BOTH hands reach for the feet! Focus on breathing evenly, and not closing up the throat. Heart lifts higher and higher as the head reaches back. Yummy

 

Maybe... just maybe... BOTH hands reach for the feet! Focus on breathing evenly, and not closing up the throat. Heart lifts higher and higher as the head reaches back. Yummy

   Last but not least... SMILE!!! 

 

Last but not least... SMILE!!! 

Holidaze

Stuffed on stuffing? Here are a few moves to help you feel gravy after that 2nd... Or 3rd serving of holiday ham.

Start lying on your back in corpse pose (which should feel really nice after all of Santa's cookies). Allow your body to completely relax, from your toes up to through the crown of your head. 

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Whenever you feel ready, and feel free to take your time, draw both knees into your chest, open your arms out to the side, palms face up, take an inhale, and let your knees drop over to one side as you exhale, coming into a supine twist. Inhale to bring your knees back to center and exhale to twist over to the other side. Twisting helps to aid digestion which might need a little boost after a food induced coma. 

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Bring your knees back to center and grab the backs of your thighs. Use a little momentum to roll back and forth along your spine until you come all the way up to seated. Cross your legs, lift your spine up tall and reach your arms overhead as you inhale deeply. On your exhale hinge forward at your hips and fold over your crossed legs. Let your neck relax here. As you inhale sit back up, place your hands in front of you and rock forward into a tabletop position. 

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Set your hands up so they're stacked directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. As you inhale, tilt your tailbone up as you shift your gaze up towards the ceiling stretching your belly. As you exhale curl your tailbone down, press the ground away as you look in towards that beautiful belly button. Repeat this cat/cow stretch moving with your breathe for however many rounds feels good. 

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When you are ready, curl your toes under, straighten your legs and lift your hips up towards the sky for downward facing dog. Feel free to wiggle a little here, but then straighten your arms keeping your shoulders away from your ears and pressing your whole palm down. 

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Lift your right leg up on an inhale, and as you exhale, step your foot closer to your right hand. Set your left knee down. Walk both hands up to your right knee and once you've found balance, inhale to reach your arms overhead. Bring your hands together in front of your heart, and as you exhale twist, trying to hook your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh. Breathe deeply here. Set both hands down around your right foot and step back to downdog. Repeat on the left side, taking the same amount of time as you did on the right. 

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From downdog, walk your hands towards your feet, until you're hanging in a forward fold. Grab hold of your opposite elbows, and let your head hang heavy. Try swaying from side to side. Release your elbows, and separate your feet about as wide as the your mat, turning your toes slightly outward. Bend your knees until you are in a squat position. Bring your hands to your heart on the insides of your knees pressing your knees apart with your elbows and pushing your knees back into your elbows, creating a little resistance. Keep your belly button reaching towards your spine to engage your core and try to hold for a few steady breaths. Release onto your bum. Straighten your legs out in front of you, reach your arms forward, and as slow as possible keeping your chest lifted, lower all the way onto your back.

Lying on your back, bring your right ankle over your left knee. Reach your right arm through the triangle that you've created, either grabbing the back of the left thigh or the front of the left shin. Keep your right foot flexed, and your right knee reaching away from you, targeting a stretch in the outer right hip. Release and switch sides. 

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After stretching both hips, hug your knees into your chest, wrapping your arms tightly around your legs. As you inhale bring your forehead up to meet your knees holding your breath and squeezing everything from your toes to your legs to your arms to your nose. On a deep exhale out though your mouth release everything completely, and find yourself right back where you started, but hopefully feeling a little bit lighter than before. Rest in savasana for as long as you like, saying bye bye to those holiday belly blues.