Ashtanga Namaskara, or Eight-Limbed Pose, is a yogasana wherein eight body points, like feet, knees, chest, chin and hands, come in contact with the surface. In Sanskrit, it is called as Ashtanga Namaskara (अष्टाङ्ग नमस्कार). The yoga asana is an important component of Surya Namaskar, also known as Ashtanga Dandavat Pranam or Caterpillar pose or Chest, Knees and Chin pose. Ashtanga Namaskara consists of two words: Asht means ‘eight’ and Anga ‘limb’, whereas Namastar indicates greeting.
Ashtanga Namaskars’s step-by-step instructions
Here are step-by-step instructions to perform Ashtanga Namaskara:
- From the plank position, place your knees on the floor.
- Slowly drop both knees to the floor. Keep your feet together, the toes pointed, an essential and your shins resting on the ground. This position is also known as a modified plank.
- As you breathe smoothly, lower your chest and chin down towards the floor. Your shoulders should be positioned directly over your hands. Keep your elbows close to your sides, almost brushing against your ribcage. Your buttocks should remain elevated, and your toes should stay tucked under.
- Once you’ve lowered your chest and chin, hold the pose for one to five breaths. Maintain awareness of your breath and try to relax as much as possible in this position.
- To exit Ashtanga Namaskara, lift your chin and slide your chest forward through your hands. Simultaneously, untuck your toes and begin to straighten your legs. This transition will naturally lead you into the next pose, often the Low Cobra or Upward Facing Dog in the Sun Salutation sequence.
It is a crucial yoga pose to strengthen the arms, shoulders, triceps and biceps.
It helps improve the flexibility and mobility of the spine.
It works wonders for the feet, knees, chest, chin and hands.
It helps expand the chest, thereby effectively treating respiratory congestion.
It stimulates various systems of the body.
It makes the practitioner physically fit, mentally alert and emotionally balanced.
It shouldn’t be performed in the following conditions
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Injuries to the neck, blocks, shoulder and elbow
High blood pressure
- Ashtanga Namaskara is pronounced as aash-tanh-GAH namah-SKAR-ah.
- Basically, it works on biceps, feet, wrists, quads and hip flexors.
- It comes at the 6th position of Surya Namaskar.
Variations and Modifications
Wooden block can be placed between the thighs to gain the necessary strength to maintain the position.
A soft blanket may be kept under the knees to reduce the inflammation in sensitive knees.
Practitioners having discomfort in placing their chest and chin on the ground can use a piece of soft cloth to avoid injuries.
Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)
Follow Up Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Downward Facing Dog Pose