Happy Holidays! Let the festivities begin.
The sixth posture in Surya Namaskar is the eight-point salute or the ashtanga namaskar.
• Posture: From the four limb stick pose, slowly lower the knees to the floor. Then keeping the pelvis up and the hip in some flexion, lower the mid-point of upper chest (the top of sternum or manubrium sterni) to the floor, with the arms close to the torso. Next rest the chin on the floor while fixing gaze straight ahead. In this position, you are making an eight point contact with the floor/ground- the ball of feet(2), the knees(2), the two hands on floor(2), the top of chest(1) and the chin (1).
• Muscles: The ankle dorsiflexors are already active with the peroneii for ankle stability as it bears weight. As you lower the knees from chaturanga dandasana, the hip and knee flexors (psoas, and rectus femoris at the hip, hamstrings and gastrocnemius at the knee) facilitate the movement, while the spine is kept in neutral by the spinal stabilizers ( transverse abdominus and multifidi). An important contribution comes from the popliteus which unlocks the knee to initiate flexion. Also, to keep the trunk in neutral rotation the obliques work symmetrically. Once the knees are resting on the floor in weight bearing position, major leg muscle groups co-contract in agonist-antagonist synergistic pattern to firm up the thigh like a pillar. The shoulder blades are drawn to the midline and stabilized by rhomboids, middle trapezius and serratus anterior as it pulls the scapula towards the ribs. The rotator cuff is active for shoulder joint stability, biceps/triceps synergize as the pronators and wrist extensors contract to allow the palm to contact the floor for weight bearing.
• Breathing: As you transition from the four-limb stick pose to eight point salutation, breathe out gently and slowly. At end of posture, hold the breath out.
Ami Gandhi is a licensed physical therapist in the state of California. She is the owner of StableMovement Physical Therapy, a small boutique practice in San Jose that offers patient centered, one-on-one, hands-on physical therapy.