6 Steps To Teach Camel Pose With A Poet’s Heart + Free Downloadable Handout
Hi, my name is George Watts. I’m a BWY yoga teacher with a hankering for handouts. I absolutely love creating handouts for my yoga students.
I hope the Camel Pose Handout becomes a useful addition to your yoga teacher tool-bag.
Camel Pose Handout | PDF
This is just 1 of 250+ yoga class handouts included as a bonus within the Yoga Teacher Class Handouts Kit.
6 Steps To Teach Camel Pose With A Poet’s Heart
Teach The Sanskrit
Uṣṭra = camel
Asana = posture
Don’t be afraid to teach your students the Sanskrit, but make sure you make it fun to learn. How is that possible you may ask? Well, I do it by using the same memory tricks as the memory champions. All you need to do is associate the Sanskrit name with a bizarre story. Here’s how I ask my students to remember Ustrasana is the Sanskrit for Camel Pose….
“Imagine you’re riding on a camel in a desert. It’s well over 120 degrees and you’re beginning to get heat stroke and are seeing mirages in the distance. You look down at your camel and it’s turned into an ostrich (“ostr” sounds a bit like “ustr”). You get down off your ustrich and perform camel pose which magically turns the ustrich back into a camel.”
The more bizarre you can make the story, the better it is for the memory.
Sprinkle Symbolic Phrases
OK, now it’s time to immerse yourself in camel symbolism, which is nice to bring up while your students are practicing camel pose. It will make your class much more memorable and interesting! Here are some examples I’ve used when teaching camel pose to my yoga classes…
“Call upon the camel for strength, endurance and protection.”
“Camels transport precious cargo. What precious cargo do you have that isn’t being transported to others (e.g. a skill that isn’t being used, your friendship, your love, etc).”
“From a spiritual stand-point, camels are champions of the long-haul journey; when you next find yourself getting frustrated, practice camel in your mind or on your mat and say to yourself: ‘One step at a time. One step at a time. One step at a time’.
“Is there any journey (spiritual or physical) you’ve been meaning to take, but have been putting off?”
“Is there any pilgrimage you’d like to take (e.g. trace your family routes, walk the entire Welsh coast, etc)?”
“If you’ve had an arduous journey today (or recently), perform camel pose and take on the camel’s inspirational endurance.”
“Instead of finding the unknown journey ahead of you “daunting”, become a camel in your mind and take one step at a time…soon y0ur mind will move from fear to peace.”
“If you find yourself rushing around getting stressed, practice camel pose in your mind or on your mat to be mindful of your energy levels.
“The camel never rushes because he/she knows the eternal moment is always in the NOW. Rushing around means you miss the NOW…and miss the beauty and joy of life’s journey.”
“Whenever you feel like you’re running on empty imagine the camel helping you to fill up your energy levels.”
Camels are also known for:
Teach The Benefits
If you simply list out the benefits to your class, you’ll bore the socks off your students (if they had any on)! The way to spice up the benefits is to become a poet and use imagery words and phrases. For example…
The Traditional Way
Practicing camel pose stretches the chest.
The Imagery Way
Imagine a golden thread attached to your chest gently pulling it up towards the ceiling.
The Traditional Way
Practicing camel pose calms the brain.
The Imagery Way
Practicing camel pose allows your busy brain to melt like an ice cube on a sunny day.
OK, now it’s your your turn. Add some imagery to the following 7 ‘benefits’…
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Rejuvenates legs
- Improves digestion
- Helps menopause
- Relieves menstrual discomfort
- Reduces anxiety
- Therapeutic for asthma
Teach The Precautions
If you’ve given each of your students a Student Questionnaire (I’ve included two student questionnaires within Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit) and have taken the time to become familiar with each of your student’s health issues, you can give them modifications as you walk around the class observing your students.
The precautions include:
- High blood pressure
- Low back injury
- Low blood pressure
- Neck injury
I remember the “camel precautions” by creating an acronym (Hill MN) and a memorable story; something like: “My camel is always cautious when climbing Hill MN because of his High Blood Pressure, Insomnia, Low back injury, Low blood pressure, Migraines and Neck injury.”
Teach Camel Pose
Beginners probably won’t be able to drop straight back, touching hands to feet, while keeping thighs perpendicular to floor…so here are some beginner tips.
Tip #1 | Poses To Prepare
Ask your students to warm up with Sphinx pose first. It’s a great preparation pose for camel because it’s a gentler backbend. They could then move onto a slightly deeper backend by practicing Cobra. Camel is one of those “advanced poses” that is best to give your students nearer the end of your class, when their back and shoulder muscles are nice and warm.
Tip #2 | Padding For Knees
Yoga isn’t meant to be torture, so make it as comfortable as possible for your students. Ask them to fold their blanket (or towel) to use as padding for their knees. For students who don’t have blankets or towels, ask them to roll up the front of their mat to use as cushioning.
Tip #3 | Easy Does It
There are some poses you can get away with rushing, but this isn’t one of them! Ask you students to imagine they are performing “camel” in the desert. It’s really, really hot, so you do it really, really slowly.
Tip #4 | Use Your Hands
There will definitely be some students in your class that won’t be able to go all the way into a full camel. So, don’t let them go all the way (reach hands to feet). Simply ask them to press their hands into their lower back.
Tip #5 | Use Yoga Blocks
You’ll have one or two students who want to go deeper into the camel, but aren’t ready to reach their hands to their feet; position blocks just outside each heel.
Tip #6 | Tuck Chin In
Ask your students, “If you find that dropping your head back causes straining around your neck, keep your chin tucked towards your chest.”
Teach Camel Modfications
Camel Modification 1
One Arm Raised With Hand In Mudra
Camel Modification 2
Using A Chair As A Prop
Camel Modification 3
Using 3 Yoga Blocks
Camel Modification 4
Camel At The Wall
Camel Modification 5
For Advanced Yogis
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