How to Do a Camel Yoga Pose

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on July 21, 2022
5 min read

Yoga is a practice of movement, breathing, and meditation that was developed in India thousands of years ago. While some people do use yoga as part of their spiritual practice, it is not part of any religion, and anyone can practice yoga, whether they are spiritual or not. Camel pose is one "asana," Sanskrit for posture or pose, you might come across in your yoga practice.

Ushtrasana, meaning camel pose in Sanskrit, is a back bend posture in yoga. As with many yoga asanas, you don't need any equipment to do it. But some people like to use a yoga mat or yoga blanket to make the posture more comfortable. You can do this posture on its own as a stretch before or after working out, as part of a yoga class, or as part of your own personal yoga practice at home. 

What's great about many yoga poses, including camel, is that beginners and experts alike can do them to their own ability. Even if you're not able to achieve the fullest expression of the pose, you will still receive the benefits. If you keep practicing camel pose in a safe way, your flexibility and strength can improve, allowing you to do the full pose eventually.

Camel pose does not work muscles so much as it stretches them.

Hip flexors. Your hip flexors are important muscles in the front of your leg that help lift up your leg and bend your knee. It's rare that you get a chance to stretch your hip flexors. If you sit a lot, your hip flexors may become tight. Camel pose gives you a good opportunity to stretch them out.

Abdominal muscles. When you arch your back, you also stretch your ab muscles. It can feel like a good stretch after doing ab exercises.

Back muscles. While you are in this pose, the muscles in your back get a good workout. It can help improve your posture.

Follow these steps to do a camel pose. If you've never done it before, you may want to first practice with a yoga instructor to make sure you have the proper technique. This can help you to avoid injury. Make sure to keep your core engaged for the entire pose.

Step 1. Start with your knees on the ground, kneeling with your backside off your feet. Your knees should be about hip-width distance apart. You can use a yoga mat to make it more comfortable for your knees.

Step 2. Place the palms of your hands on each side of your sacrum (tailbone), with your thumbs facing out.

Step 3. Press your hips and glute muscles forward.

Step 4. Raise your sternum and bring your elbows close together behind your back, causing your back to arch more.

Step 5. If you can reach, remove your hands from your back and place the heels of your hands on the heels of your feet, with your palms and fingers grasping your feet.

Step 6. Lower your head and neck back gently. Keep your gaze focused on the tip of your nose.

Step 7. Now it's time to come out of the pose. Start by tucking your chin toward your chest. Use your core strength to remove your hands from your feet and place them back on your hips. Return to a kneeling position.

As previously mentioned, you don't need to go all the way back to touch your feet to get the benefits of this pose. Yoga is a practice, so even if you can't reach today, maybe you will tomorrow, next month, or next year. Here are some adaptations that can help:

  • Tuck your toes to make your heels higher and easier to grab onto.
  • Place a yoga block outside of each foot. Put your hands on that instead of onto your feet if they're too hard to reach.

Some experienced yogis may want to make camel pose even harder by:

  • Squeezing a yoga block between your thighs during the posture
  • Crossing your forearms behind your back and grabbing for opposite ankles for an even deeper stretch

Camel pose has many potential benefits. In this position, your lungs can expand more, so you may be able to take an even deeper breath than usual. It may also relieve lower back pain and improve your posture.

As with any yoga pose, never go further than your limits. If you feel any pain, back off from the pose and consider trying a variation that might make it easier.

Do not attempt camel pose if you have any of the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine headache
  • A slipped disc
  • Any back or neck injury
  • Abdominal inflammation or pain
  • Ulcers

Here are some other tips to perform camel pose safely:

  • Lift your sternum toward the ceiling to prevent compression of the spine.
  • Tighten the front of your thighs when you push your tailbone forward.
  • Perform camel pose in front of a wall. Press your thighs into the wall to feel how to tighten them to support yourself properly.

If camel pose is too challenging for you and you want to try some easier backbends, try these:

  • Easy backbend: Stand in mountain pose (standing straight with your hands up in the air). Make a basket grip behind your head. Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your upper back, shoulders, and possibly your mid- and lower back, depending on how far back you go.
  • Fan pose: Sit on the edge of a chair. Reach your arms back to grab the back of the chair. Jut your chest forward and push your shoulder blades together. Feel the stretch in your chest, arms, and upper back.
  • Cobra pose: Lay face down on the floor or your yoga mat. Put your hands underneath your shoulders. Press your hands, lifting your torso up off the ground. Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears. Look forward or up, whichever is most comfortable for you.

Show Sources


The Art of Living: “Cobra Pose: Easy Asana For Flexibility And Chest Expanding.”

Australian School of Meditation and Yoga: “Camel Pose – Ustrasana.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Energizing Yoga Poses to Start Your Day Right.”

Intermountain Healthcare: “Hip Flexor Tendinopathy.”

Ministry of External Affairs Government of India: “Yoga: Its Origin, History and Development.”

Yoga Bear: “Camel Pose Yoga (Ustrasana Pose): 7 Steps to Mastery.”

The Yoga Institute: “Ushtrasana - The Camel Posture.”

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