Updated: Jul 11, 2020
By Allison Ray Jeraci
Photo by Andrea Killam
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
This quote by H. P. Lovecraft reminds me of the emotions stirred up when I practice backbends―camel pose (ustrasana), in particular. In prone and supine backbends, such as cobra, locust, bridge, and even wheel pose, the heart lifts up from the floor (rather than leaning back unsupported). This movement does not evoke the same fear as in ustrasana, which involves the upper back curling into the unknown from a high kneeling position.
One way to overcome the fear of heading into the unexplored in camel is to use props to achieve backbending in the thoracic spine (middle and upper back).