Knees, Chest, and Chin Pose—Ashtanga Namaskara

How to Preform the Salute With Eight Limbs

Knees Chest Chin (Ashtanga Namaskara)
Ann Pizer

Ashtanga namaskara, the knees, chest, and chin pose, is usually done as part of the sun salutation sequence. It is often taught as a beginner's alternative to chaturanga in a sun salutation sequence. It's a great way for beginners to work on building the arm strength you need for chaturanga dandasana. It also acts as a warm-up for the backbends you'll likely get to later in your practice session. This pose has a lot to offer more advanced yoga students as well.

Basics of the Knees, Chest, and Chin Pose

  • Type of pose: Backbend
  • Benefits: This pose improves the mobility of the back and increases arm strength. It opens up the chest. It prepares you for other poses requiring arm-balancing.
  • 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.

Instructions for Knees, Chest, and Chin Pose

  1. From plank position, drop your knees to the floor.
  2. Lower your chest and chin down to the floor, landing your shoulders right over your hands.
  3. Keep your elbows hugging into your sides.
  4. Your butt stays high and your toes stay tucked under. You'll be scrunched up like an inchworm.
  5. Hold the pose for one to 10 breaths.
  6. 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.

    Beginners' Tips

    This pose is like a half push-up, so it helps build the muscles necessary to do chaturanga safely. Try to resist the urge to skip this pose in a rush to get to the more challenging (and thereby better, right?) chaturanga. Over time, the wear and tear of doing chaturanga before you are ready can result in serious shoulder damage.

    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.

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

    Be sure to breathe smoothly throughout the pose.

    Advanced Tips

    Include knees, chest, and chin in your first few vinyasas as you warm up.

    History of the Pose

    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. 

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