Emotional Speedbump – Ustrasana (Camel Pose)


I love backbending. Wasn’t born with one of those super flexi spines, but the exhilaration that rises when I’m in wheel  is unmatched. Yoga has opened my tight right shoulder and chaturanga has given my back strength.

When I draw my shoulder blades down in a pose like salabhasana interlock my fingers behind me and glue my hands together I can lift my chest almost a foot higher.

I feel invincible. I feel strong.

Oddly enough this love of backbends and strength means nothing when I do ustrasana. To me, Camel is elusive and confounding.

Ustrasana amplifies my subconscious, stress that I work so hard to tamp rises hot and aware. The first time this happened I was caught off-guard and tears rolled down the sides of my eyes. In child’s pose I had to tell myself not to cry my eyes out on the mat. When the teacher mentioned that Camel Pose can bring up emotions I grumbled, now you tell me.

It was the first step to healing an emotional wound and I’ve been using it as medicine ever since.

There are plenty of times these days that opening up in Camel leaves me elated. When this happens I have to breathe in and out to prevent a spontaneous dance party in the middle of class.

Happy, sad, angry or glad – Camel pose will not leave you feeling neutral.

I’ve read that the opening of the heart chakra is what facilitates this opening of the emotional floodgates. But when I looked at the illustration below- it seems that when you do Camel properly aligned (hips forward, heart lifted) you can push on almost every chakra.

It seems that you get a chance to unblock or at least stir up anything that needs to come up.

Camel pose makes the body say- slow down mama and take it all in. I just want to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

And while I get a little annoyed when I am forced to deal with a feeling that I’ve been avoiding- it’s so nice to get it out of the way. This is part of the journey I guess.

This is yoga. And I embrace feeling all of it.

Namasté y’all.

camel chakra

9 thoughts on “Emotional Speedbump – Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

  1. Hi Oneika, I trust you are well. I’ll get staight to the point. I love the way you write, how you write and what you write about. Its as simple as that. I look forward to reading your blogs or tweets. To have such imagination and ceativity is a gift. To spark someone to look just a little deeper within themselves can only be a good thing. I am across the atlantic here in the UK, but we have so many similiarities. Gosh I don’t know where to start!! But if nothing else I will share with you that I am just about to complete my first 200 hour yoga teacher training, but feel that I have to go on to study something else just so that I can ‘match’ my white female (and bony) counterparts!!, (needless to say i am the exact opposite- thankfully ) I have always wanted to write and reading your blogs inspires me to share my story and do something different. I share your passion for Yoga and I want to teach others too. Such a privilige. It’s just knowing where to start. Oh and where an earth do you find the time???? Your blogs are just great, awash with ideas, tips, personal stories and the like. Yoga life in full bloom. Thank you so much for sharing your life with such honesty and humour. Much love. PS: I feel so embarrassed that you are following me om twitter. I haven’t tweeted a single thing…..YET! Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2013 15:01:34 +0000 To: lynettegreenaway@hotmail.com

    1. Oh Lynette, I can’t thank you enough for your kind, kind words! Congrats on working toward your 200 cert!! I’m just elated to be doing something that I’m so passionate about.

      Too bad we are separated by an ocean, I’d love to check out your class when you start teaching.

      As far as the body thing goes I try to embrace my size 8 curves. I don’t think that you have to be a size 2 to be a teacher. I love teachers like Gigi Yogini- have you checked her out? She celebrates her body and has a great video on Bakasana for a big booty- it’s fantastic.

      I’m humbled and honored to know that you think what I write can be inspiring. I’m so hopeful that more people embrace yoga and all that it can do for them. It has certainly changed my life.

      I like to write on my iphone lately. I’ll write a post in the notepad and email it. WordPress has pretty cool app too- but I’m too nervous that I’d post something before I was done- which happened the other day anyway. I write daily but spend a day editing and scheduling posts. I think because I’m focused on writing about yoga and food- it keeps me focused.

      Thanks again for comments. Keep me posted on the YTT and let me know when you set up your blog so I can follow:)




  2. Right now this pose is my bane. When it is time for camel pose lately I’m pretty much spent energy and strength wise. Using the muscles in your back to let yourself flow downwards till your hands can cup your heels really requires a large amount of strength. Once you get there the heart and chest open up and it is a great benefit. Used to take an Iyengar class and there was a lady there who was the Chest opener. Most of the poses were chest openers including the camel. What I really felt was a few days after that my chest just the expansion of it or increased circulation. I asked her later why she was such a chest opener person. She told me one of her favorite yogi’s had a heart attack and this was his way fighting off more heart attacks. To increase that blood flow in the chest area. Since then she was of that mind set. I never had emotions with Yoga yet but like you I find the Camel is elusive and confounding. One that I have to confront. Thank you Oneika.

    Þú ert góður.Megi sólin brosa yfir yður.

  3. Thank you so much for this piece of wisdom! I’ve been practicing hot yoga for many years now but today in Camel I nearly sobbed in front of everyone. I usually have a hard time with it anyways as it always leaves me feeling a kaleidoscope of emotions but reading this helped put it in perspective.

    1. Hi Anca. I have a teacher who says, “I don’t feel bad for the people who don’t cry in yoga, I feel bad for the people who don’t.” It gets me every time she says it. It’s amazing how scary and helpful certain poses can be. ‘Kaleidoscope of emotions’ brilliantly articulates what I was trying to say in three words,so thank you. Thanks for your comments. Namaste.

  4. Excellent post. I started doing this pose about a year ago. I suffer from severe depression and anxiety. I find that it has effected me in more ways than I can list. I stopped for a few months, but iI I’m at it again. I have a lot of hurts and traumas that I am trying to release. I find that this pose is most effective.

    I forgot to mention that I believe this pose healed my problems that I had in my reproductive area.

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