We have divided the eight-limbed yoga pose practice into four phases: preparation, steps, posture tips, and counter postures.
These detailed phases will help you understand Ashtanga Namaskara pose better and enjoy its significant health benefits.
Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Ashtanga Namaskara
The Eight-Limbed yoga pose is a practice from Sun Salutation flow. Below listed are a few yoga asanas that are done before Ashtanga Namaskara to activate the spine, arms, legs, and core muscles:
1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) - Bend into a Standing Forward Fold, place your hands on the ground, and walk your four limbs through, creating a triangular space within your hands and feet.
Keep your core tight, feet flat on the ground, and flex your spine like a dog stretches its body while yawning. Hold this pose here for a few seconds, and then get into the next pose.
2. Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana (High Plank Pose) - Move your spine in a neutral pose by holding your body on a high plank for a few seconds.
Keep your glutes, tailbone, neck, and head in one straight line. Make sure your core muscles are super engaged, and your gaze is between your palms.
Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Ashtanga Namaskara
The following are the steps to get into the Ashtanga Namaskara or Caterpillar Pose:
Step 1- Begin with a high plank pose or a tabletop position.
Step 2- From the starting position, inhale and gently drop your elbows and knees onto the ground.
Step 3- Lower your chest and chin, and completely get in touch with all your eight limbs on the ground.
Step 4- Make sure you are breathing gently and your core is engaged as you balance your body weight on your eight touchpoints. Hold this pose here.
Step 5- If you are only practicing the Ashtanga Namaskara alone, then inhale as you lift your chest gently from the ground and get into Thunderbolt Pose.
Or, if this pose is a part of sun salutation flow, then follow it up with a low cobra or full cobra pose.
Inhale while dropping your elbows, knees, chest, and chin on the ground.
Exhale as you release the pose or transition into the next pose.
Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the Ashtanga Namaskara for 30-60 seconds.
Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the Ashtanga Namaskara for 1 to 3 minutes.
Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind
If you are performing this modified yoga asana for the very first time, try to keep the following tips in mind:
Keep your core engaged: The name Ashtanga Namaskara translates into Eight-Limbed Pose in English, which literally means you have to balance this pose on eight body parts.
For a strong and stable Ashtanga Namaskara hold, you need a strong foundation – that emerges from a tight core in alignment with focused breathwork.
Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Ashtanga Namaskara
Below is a list of counter-postures that you can relax in after performing the Eight-Limbed Pose:
1. Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose) - Continue the caterpillar stance and flex your upper back by extending your arms in front. You can also ground your legs flat on the mat to extend your tailbone and feel a deeper stretch in your chest.
Hold this pose for as long as you feel comfortable, and then gently release the pose by sitting back into a Child's pose.
2. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) - This pose comes after the Eight-Limb Pose in the Surya Namaskar flow. Simply counter-flex your spine and push your core muscles deep into the ground to execute the cobra stance.
Hold this posture like a raised hood of a cobra snake for a few seconds and allow your tailbone, shoulders, and chest muscles to release all the tension.
3. Advasana (Reverse Corpse Pose) - This pose can be done after the whole Sun Salutation flow, or it is best done when you are practicing the Eight-Limbed Pose alone. Simply exhale as you release your balance from all your eight limbs and loosen your core muscles.
Drop your body completely flat onto the mat and relax here. You can focus on your breath for a few minutes until all the stress is released from your spine.