How to Do Wild Thing Pose (Camatkarasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman on yoga mat doing wild thing pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Flipping the Dog, Flip Dog

Targets: Chest opener

Level: Advanced

Wild Thing Pose is a newer addition to the yoga canon, having been introduced and widely taught in Anusara Yoga. The pose has evolved to being taught in a much more flexible way that fits more practices and body types. This version, which is sometimes called Flipping Your Dog, calls for keeping both legs bent to carry your weight more equally and for keeping the supporting arm more perpendicular to the floor. In yoga classes, Flipping Your Dog is completely optional. There is a lot of room for interpretation in this pose so do what makes sense for your body, including bypassing it altogether.

Benefits

This pose improves spinal mobility and strengthens the arms. It opens the hips and stretches the hip flexors and thighs. It's meant to be a joyous pose to express positive emotion, and as such it might help break you out of the blues. It is said to stimulate the heart chakra.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. From Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), lift the right leg, coming into Down Dog Split.
  2.  Open the right hip towards the ceiling and bend the right knee.
  3. Continue opening the hip and begin pivoting on the ball of the left foot shift your toes to face the back of the room as you come into position for a backbend.
  4. As the hips come to face the ceiling, bring the right foot to the floor on the outside of your left foot. Your right foot will land off your mat.
  5. The right arm lifts off the floor and stretches toward the front of the room.
  6. To come out, pivot on the ball of the left foot to return the toes to face the front of the room and drop the right arm to return to Down Dog Split.
  7. Repeat on the other side.

Common Mistakes

The biggest error to avoid is doing this pose if you are a beginner or you feel any discomfort in the pose. As it is a deep backbend you can risk injury if you are not suitably advanced and flexible.

Modifications and Variations

This pose can be done in different ways, depending on the level of your practice and your abilities.

Need a Modification?

This advanced backbend is best avoided by beginners. If you come across this pose in class, the Down Dog Spilt with open hips (step 2) is a great place to stop. 

Listen to your body. If you feel discomfort in this pose, it's best to skip over it. There are plenty of other ways to get your back-bending in.

Some recommend that it is easier to enter the pose from Side Plank, bringing the top leg behind you and pushing into the bottom hand to arch the back.

Up for a Challenge?

If you have a very deep back-bending practice, it's possible to transition to a Full Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana). The right palm has to reach all the way to the floor with the finger turned toward your feet. If you can do this, transfer your weight to that hand, lift the left hand and flip it so that your left fingers also point toward your feet and then replacing the left hand to the floor.

Safety and Precautions

If you have a tendency toward shoulder injuries, you may want to avoid this pose completely as a precaution. If you have an existing injury to the back, shoulder, rotator cuff, or have carpal tunnel syndrome it is best to avoid this pose.

This pose has generated controversy in the yoga world. At issue is whether it's possible to do Wild Thing in a way that doesn't place your shoulders in a position that almost guarantees injury. The way the pose is taught in Anusara relies upon the practitioner being comfortable with a very open style of back-bending, which is a hallmark of Anusara. This 2007 Yoga Journal article, A Fine Balance, written by senior Anusara teacher Desiree Rumbaugh, illustrates this approach. However, since this time, the pose is being taught in a much more flexible way.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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