By Noa Glow
Why are certain postures in the Bikram Yoga series are named after animals? BYV Teacher Laurie tells us her theory on how Camel Pose got its name – and it’s likely not what you thought!
Most people assume that Camel Pose got its name from the backbend, which resembles a camel’s hump. When I was providing health care in Kenya last year, however, I spent some time at the beach where you can go for camel rides along the coast. As I watched the animals sit down so people could climb on their backs, I realized that the posture is likely named so more for the setup than the backbend.
Sure, bending backward makes your body resemble a camel’s hump, but when a camel sits down it does so by first bending its knees and then folding its legs beneath its body. When it’s ready to get back up it does the same thing: bends its knees before standing up. In the setup for Camel Pose you “stand” on your knees before bending backward. You do the same at the end of the posture – just like a camel!
Other Camel Posture Comparisons
Besides the kneeling setup and backward bend/“hump,” we think camels would make pretty good Bikram Yoga practitioners:
- Camels are notorious for being able to survive in very hot climates, like the desert (or the hot room)
- Camels can withstand long periods of time without any external water source
- Camels can drink large amounts of water quickly; according to Wikipedia, a 600 kg camel can drink 200 L of water in just three minutes (sounds like some yogis we know!)
- When a camel exhales, water vapour is trapped in the nostrils and reabsorbed into the body as a means of conserving water
- Camels that eat green herbage can ingest enough moisture in milder conditions to maintain their bodies’ hydrated state without the need for drinking
- A camel’s internal temperature can fluctuate according to conditions – this helps camels conserve water by not sweating as the external temperature rises
- Camels protect their brain tissue from heat spikes by selectively cooling their brains while leaving the core temperature in the rest of their body unchanged
- Camels can kick in all four directions with each of their legs (now THAT’S flexible!)
Benefits of Camel Pose:
- Creates maximum compression of the spine, which stimulates the nervous system.
- Improves flexibility of the neck and spine, relieves backache and helps degenerative spinal problems such as kyphoscoliotic deformities and cervical spondylosis.
- Stretches the abdominal organs, helping constipation.
- Stretches the throat, as well as the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
We’re taking questions from students! If you have a question about Bikram Yoga that you’d like us to answer, just leave a comment below this post or on Facebook. You can also email us or ask your question on Twitter!