What is Ashtanga Namaskar pose?
Known as the Eight-limbed pose or the knees, chest and chin pose, Ashtanga Namaskar is the sixth pose in the traditional Surya Namaskar series. The name comes from the body touching the ground at eight points - the feet, knees, palms, chest and chin. It is also the perfect alternative for anyone who finds Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff pose) challenging. This posture helps beginners build arm strength, preparing you for poses like Chaturanga Dandasana. In this pose, you are in the prone position, with your back arched such that the chin, chest, hands, knees and feet are touching the mat. The arch in the back is also gentle, allowing you to prepare for deeper backbends.
Position type: Arm strengthening
Posture type: Balancing
Ideal for: Strength
Targets: Arms, shoulders, core
Pose level: Beginner
How to prepare for Ashtanga Namaskar
As this pose is part of the Surya Namaskar series, the posture itself works as a prep pose for challenging asanas, and for your overall session. To access the pose with ease and the right alignment, work on building arm and core strength to make your way there.
Arm and Core Strength
In this pose, you will need to engage the arms and core. Pressure comes on the arms so keeping them tight is important. Regularly doing push-ups, push-up drills, low plank with knees on the mat, and exercises such as Low Plank to High Plank and Plank to Downward Facing Dog Pose will help you build strength. Practice Surya Namaskars at a medium pace, the Boat Pose, Chair Pose, the Warrior Poses and Triangle Pose to effectively improve core strength. Postures such as the Cobra Pose and Downward Facing Dog are helpful for core strength.
Improving balance will help you hold the pose for longer with strength and ease. Poses such as the Tree Pose, Eagle Pose and Dancer’s Pose help with focus and concentration. Even the Warrior Poses and the Chair Pose will help improve balance.
How to do Ashtanga Namaskar
Getting into the pose
- From the plank pose, slowly drop your knees, chest and chin to the floor. The shoulders should be over the hands.
- Keep breathing through the pose.
- Once comfortable, make adjustments to ensure your elbows are closely hugging the sides and are not pointing outwards.
- The buttocks will be pointing higher up and the toes are tucked in.
- Hold the pose for a few deep breaths.
Getting out of the pose
- To come out of the pose, lift the chin, slide the chest through your hands.
- Untuck the toes, straighten the legs and scoop up to the Cobra pose.
- You can also push back with the hands and come up to Vajrasana and then go into the Child’s pose for a minute or so.
Key alignments in Ashtanga Namaskar
- Ensure your elbows are not sticking out. They should remain close to the body and pointing towards the feet.
- Keep your core and back muscles engaged when lowering your body.
- Attempt the pose slowly to ensure your body does not fall into it, while keeping the shoulders over the hands.
What are the benefits of Ashtanga Namaskar?
Ashtanga Namaskar improves arm and core strength greatly, helping build the necessary strength for challenging postures. It also prepares the body for poses that require arm strength and balance. It opens up the chest while improving back mobility.
What are the contraindications of Ashtanga Namaskar?
Anyone with any shoulder, neck, wrist, knee, back or leg injuries should avoid the pose. In case of back pain also you should ideally avoid this asana. Anyone with carpal tunnel syndrome should also avoid the asana.
What are the counterposes of Ashtanga Namaskar?
Practice Child’s pose or the Cobra pose after doing Ashtanga Namaskar.
Variations of Ashtanga Namaskar
- Once you have been able to access Ashtanga Namaskar with ease, you can try taking it up a notch. Deepen the backbend by arching your back a little more and only as much as comfortable.
- After this, you can slowly start attempting Chaturanga Dandasana.
Advice for beginners
Take your time practicing this pose until you are completely comfortable. Do not rush trying to do a challenging version or Chaturanga Dandasana, as it may lead to wear and tear. If you find it difficult to slide down by putting weight on the hands, start with small steps by simply placing the feet, knees and palms, and bringing the chest only as close as possible.
- Pay attention to key alignments. Ensure your palms and shoulders are in a straight line.
- Focus on building arm and core strength, and gradually work your way towards getting better at this pose.
- Practice under the guidance of an experienced teacher to avoid injuries.
Learn how to practice Ashtanga Namaskar as well as several drills that work towards improving arm, shoulder and core strength LIVE on Shvasa.