How to Do Knees, Chest, and Chin Pose (Ashtanga Namaskara) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Knees Chest Chin (Ashtanga Namaskara)
Ann Pizer

Also Known As: Eight-Limbed Salutation, Salute With Eight Parts, Caterpillar Pose

Targets: Arms

Level: Beginner

Knees, Chest, and Chin Pose (Ashtanga Namaskara) is often taught as a beginner's alternative to Chaturanga Dandasana in a sun salutation sequence. You are prone with your back arched and chin, chest, hands, knees, and feet touching the mat. It's a great way for beginners to work on building the arm strength needed for Chaturanga Dandasana. It also acts as a warm-up for the backbends you'll likely get to later in your practice session. In the sun salutations, it is the sixth pose. This pose has a lot to offer more advanced yoga students as well.

Benefits

This pose improves the mobility of the back and increases arm strength while opening up the chest. It is like a half push-up, so it helps build the muscles necessary to do Chaturanga safely. This pose prepares you for other poses requiring arm-balancing. In daily life, you may need to get into and out of this prone position and the pose will strengthen you for that task.

This pose is also known as the Salute with Eight Limbs. In Sanskrit, ashta means eight and anga means part while namaskara means salutation. This name comes from the body touching the ground in eight locations during the pose. You touch the ground with your feet, knees, palms, chest, and chin. This pose is used to bow to deities when paying homage in Indian temples.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. From Plank position, drop your knees to the floor. Breathe smoothly throughout the pose.
  2. Lower your chest and chin down to the floor, landing your shoulders right over your hands. Keep your elbows hugging into your sides. Your butt stays high and your toes stay tucked under. You'll be scrunched up like an inchworm.
  3. Hold the pose for one to 10 breaths.
  4. To exit the pose, lift your chin and slide your chest through your hands as you untuck your toes and straighten your legs to arrive in a Low Cobra, which is the next pose of the sun salutations.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors so you get the most from this pose.

Entering Pose Too Fast

Take this pose slowly and don't let your body fall into it. Your back muscles will be engaged while lowering your body. You shouldn't have pain or discomfort. If you feel any, take your chest down only as far as you can without pain.

Elbows Flared

Don't let your elbows stick out, concentrate on keeping them hugged to your sides and pointed towards your heels.

Modifications and Variations

As with most yoga poses, there are ways to make this pose more accessible for beginners or to deepen them as you progress with your practice.

Need a Modification?

Practice this pose while you build your arm and core strength. Try to resist the urge to skip this pose in a rush to get to the more challenging Chaturanga. Over time, the wear and tear of doing Chaturanga before you are ready can result in serious shoulder damage.

Up for a Challenge?

The pose will be deeper the more you arch your back. However, do not arch your back so much that you experience any back pain.

If you have perfected this pose, include it in your first few vinyasas as you warm up.

Safety and Precautions

You should avoid this pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, a wrist injury, or any recent injuries to your neck, shoulder, or elbow. If you are pregnant, avoid this pose after the first trimester. If you feel any pain, ease out of the pose.

Try It Out

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

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