A great source for Yoga Postures by Mark Giubarelli.
Yoga Positions – Astangasana
Translation: Eight Limb Pose
This in called Eight limb pose because eight parts of the body touch the mat. The knees, feet, hands, chest and chin. It is a great yoga posture to perform before the Cobra pose (Bhujangasana ).
From Chaturanga Dandasana lower the knees and then the chest to the mat. Keep the legs together and elbows tucked in. Stretch the chin forward and place it on the mat allowing the front of the neck to stretch.
Allow a curve of the lumbar spine and turn the tailbone upwards.
Push down on the hands slightly to activate muscles in the shoulders and to slightly reduce the pressure and weight on the chest.
Unlike the push up pose Adho Mukha Dandasana where the shoulders are separated from the spine in this yoga pose the shoulders are drawn towards the spine.
Tips Be aware when pushing down on the hands. Weight and force has a tendency to fall on the outer edges of the palms. Be playful with the pressure on the hands. Find that place of equilibrium when the hands and fingers touch the mat perfectly.
Forces The toes apply a forward force. They are pushed away from the body slightly to create a forward energy up the back of the legs. This is balanced by the energy caused by the hands pushing down and away from the body. Use both of these forces lightly.
Vinyasa Yoga postures to transition from and to:
Adho Mukha Dandasana Parsva Dandasana Chaturanga Dandasana Salabhasana Bhujangasana Adho Mukha Svanasana Eka Pada Adho Muka Svanasana Cat Flow Balasana
Sun Salutation with Astangasana
Click to Enlarge Pic
Yoga Teacher Tips
A better inhalation can be achieved if this posture is performed before the Cobra pose. This occurs because it is easier to relax towards the end of the exhalation. It is hard to inhale if a tightness remains around the diaphragm after exhalation.
"Pausing for a moment after exhalation can relax the body even further and allow a better inhalation to be experienced. This is the Karma of breathing."