You may have noticed there’s a lot of “knees, chest, and chin down” instructions in yoga classes lately as a lot more teachers have caught on to the awesomeness of Eight-Limbed Pose, and we all agree that Ashtangasana or Eight-Limbed Pose is The New Chaturanga these days.
Named Ashtangasana (ashtanga = ‘eight limbs,’ asana = ‘pose’) for the eight points of contact with the floor—feet, hands, knees, chest, and chin—the pose is a fantastic hip and shoulder opener, as well as a backbend, beautifully opening the front of the chest and lengthening the spine.
Ashtangasana is also a great way to build arm and upper body strength, while bringing awareness to the placement (and mobility) of the shoulder heads, which are commonly misaligned in Chaturanga Dandasana.
However, Ashtangasana isn’t a modification of Plank Pose (for those of you resistant to putting your knees down); it’s a posture in its own right with its own set of benefits, and teachers use it in their sequencing for specific proposes.
In fact, Ashtangasana can be quite challenging, especially for those with tighter chests and shoulders; this pose is nothing to poo-poo at. Shall we give it a try?
- Start in Tabletop position on all fours, center of the wrists in line with the outer shoulders, knees under the hips.
- Shift your shoulders and heart forward beyond your fingertips.
- Lower just your chest and chin to the earth, keeping your elbows in at your side and tailbone lifting toward the ceiling.
- Press down firmly through the palms of the hands, keeping the shoulder heads lifted as you continue to soften the place between the shoulder blades.
- Try holding the pose for a few breaths before pressing back up to all fours and resting back in Child’s Pose.
- *Modification: Place a blanket under the knees.
If you’re new to Ashtangasana, let me know how it felt! The pose can be a bit scary, as lowering your chest and chin to the floor requires certain vulnerability. Remember, to keep pressing down strongly through the hands, and be gentle—slowly allowing the heart to soften.