Wild Thing Yoga Pose (Camatkarasana)

Woman doing yoga pose called wild thing.
Nicole Wagenstetter / Getty Images

Also Known As: Flipping the Dog, Flip Dog

Type of Pose: Backbend

Benefits: Improves spinal mobility, strengthens the arms.

Wild thing is a pretty new addition to the yoga canon, having been introduced and widely taught by John Friend via Anusara Yoga. This pose has generated almost as much controversy in the yoga world as Friend himself. 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. Let's take a closer look.

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, and particularly since Friend's departure from Anusara, the pose is being taught in a much more flexible way that fits more practices and body types. Our 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 (as is every other pose the instructor suggests). There is a lot of room for interpretation in this pose so do what makes sense for your body, including bypassing it altogether. If you have a tendency toward shoulder injuries, you may want to avoid it completely as a precaution. 


  1. From downward facing dog, 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.

Beginners' Tips

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. 

Advanced Tips

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. 

If you have a very deep back-bending practice, it's possible to transition to a full wheel pose. 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. 

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