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Pranamasana- Prayer Pose

Prayer Pose, or Pranamasana, is a foundational yoga position often integrated into Sun Salutation sequences. Serving as both the initial and concluding pose, it helps center the body and mind. In Sanskrit, “Pranamasana” translates to “pay respect pose,” emphasizing the gesture of joining palms at the heart. Whether seated, squatting, or standing, this pose sets the tone for yoga practice, transitioning from a stance of respect to reaching upward in the Sun Salutation sequence.

What Is the Purpose Of Prayer Pose?

The prayer pose in yoga serves various physical and metaphysical purposes. Physically, it strengthens shoulders, tones thigh muscles, and improves backbone health, regardless of the chosen position—seated, standing, or squatting. In sitting or squatting, it aids hip balance, digestion, and posture. Metaphysically, the prayer pose aims to balance the chakra system, fostering a centered state for open thinking and communication with the universe, God, or nature. When integrated into a Sun Salutation, practitioners can silently convey intentions or prayers for manifestation.

Benefits Of Prayer Pose

  1. Enhances Mental Peace
    • Bowing in the prayer pose fosters gratitude, triggering the release of feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins.
    • Contributes to mental peace and well-being.
  2. Improves Muscular Strength
    • Integral to sun salutation, prayer pose, when practiced regularly, enhances muscular strength and endurance.
    • Contributes to improved mobility and control.
  3. Leads in a Spiritual Journey
    • Bows in Pranamasana symbolize humility, marking the initial step on the spiritual path.
    • Facilitates personal growth and extraordinary deeds.
  4. Stimulates Heart Chakra
    • Positioning folded hands in Pranamasana creates a spiritual energy circuit, stimulating the heart chakra.
    • Fosters feelings of love, compassion, and forgiveness.
  5. Strengthens Lower Body
    • Prolonged practice of Pranamasana engages leg and lower back muscles, promoting muscle and bone development.
    • Strengthens the lower body.
  6. Relaxes Thoracic Region
    • Joining hands in Pranamasana reduces stress on the thoracic region.
    • Conscious breathing enhances blood flow, promoting relaxation in the thoracic region and surrounding muscles.

Instructions (Step-by-Step)

  1. Foot Alignment
    • Stand with feet together, ensuring symmetrical alignment.
    • Maintain a firm and stable stance.
  2. Shoulder Broadening
    • Look straight ahead to broaden the shoulders.
    • Maintain a confident and upright posture.
  3. Namaskar Posture
    • Press palms together in Anjali mudra near the heart’s center.
    • Symbolizes homage to the sun, the source of life.
  4. Head Bowing
    • Bow the head slightly, closing the eyes.
    • Focus on conscious breathing for a calming effect.
  5. Repeat in Surya Namaskar
    • Perform this asana at the beginning and end of Surya Namaskar.
    • Integrates seamlessly into the Sun Salutation sequence.

Risk Of Prayer Pose

  1. People with hernia should avoid this posture without professional advice.
  2. Those diagnosed with tuberculosis and undergoing treatment should refrain from it.
  3. Individuals with slip disc or sciatica may experience discomfort, so it’s best avoided.
  4. Patients with high blood pressure or cardiac diseases should consult a doctor before attempting this pose.

Precautions Of Prayer Pose

Avoid Post-Meal Practice

Wait at least two to three hours after a meal before practicing Pranamasana.

Optimal Timing

  • Prefer practicing during sunrise for enhanced benefits.
  • Aligns with the significance of Pranamasana in the Sun Salutation sequence.

Facing the Sun

  • Face towards the sun while practicing.
  • Enhances the connection with the sun’s energy, maximizing the pose’s benefits.

Modifications

  1. Wall Support
    • Utilize a wall for better spine and back support.
    • Helpful for understanding the pose’s requirements, especially for beginners.
  2. Spread Feet
    • If standing with feet or toes together is challenging, start with a wider stance.
    • Gradually reduce the distance as muscles strengthen over time.
  3. Block between Wall and Upper/Middle Back
    • Place a block between the wall and the middle of the back.
    • Alters upper body posture, enhancing confidence during the pose.
  4. Block between Wall and Lower Back
    • If keeping hips and lower back raised is difficult, use a block against the wall.
    • Tones the hips and instills gradual confidence in the pose.
  5. Keep Eyes Open
    • If closing eyes is challenging, practice with eyes open initially.
    • Gain confidence over time or choose to continue with eyes open.
  6. Folded Mat
    • To alleviate discomfort for beginners, place a folded blanket under the feet.
    • Ensure firmness for support during the pose or add an extra mat for comfort.

Variations

  1. Eka Pada Pranamasana (One-legged Prayer Pose):
    1. Begin with feet together and hands by the hips.
    2. Bend the right leg, placing it on the inner left thigh.
    3. Ensure the right heel is near the perineum, and the right knee faces outward.
    4. Find balance and join hands in a prayer pose in front of the chest.
    5. Hold the pose for a few minutes, then switch to the other leg.
  2. Urdhva Pranamasana (Upward Salute Pose):
    1. Stand with feet apart.
    2. Inhale, raising arms toward the sky with palms facing each other.
    3. Engage shoulder blades, keeping the thoracic region active.
    4. Hold for a few breaths, then return to Namaste mudra near the heart.
  3. Paschim Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer Pose):
    1. Sit comfortably in Vajrasana or Sukhasana.
    2. Inhale and exhale, then take hands behind the back in Namaste mudra.
    3. Maintain the posture for about 10 minutes before relaxing.

Prayer Pose For Beginners

Tips For Beginners

  1. Take a yoga block and hold it between your palms, applying pressure.
  2. Stretch fingers outward and spread palms for wider collarbones and sternum.
  3. Relax body and palms to create a dome-shaped structure with folded hands.
  4. Place folded hands in front of the forehead or slightly above the crown of the head.
  5. Practice in sitting or squatting positions for improved digestion and flexibility.
  6. In a standing position, maintain thigh distance, bend knees, and push hips toward the floor.

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