Sanskrit: Chandra Namaskar
Photos of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
The Moon Salutation invites us to bow to and cultivate lunar energy for each soothing pose. (Click on the image to the right to see larger in a higher resolution.) This is a great sequence for when you are feeling more depleted or in the evening when you are ready to rest and unwind under the Moon. The Moon Salutation complements a yin yoga practice. You may, also, find it a great way to prepare the hips for a yin session targeting the liver.
The sun is yang relative to the moon. But, the moon is yang relative to the earth. Just as there are dozens of variations of Sun Salutations, there are many versions of Moon Salutations. The offering here is based on the Kripalu tradition as adapted by the Ra-Hoor-Khuit Network.
“When you can, practice Chandra Namaskar in the evening. Surya Namaskar is traditionally practiced at sunrise as a way to pay homage to the sun and to warm up the body for the coming day. It makes sense, then, to practice Chandra Namaskar in the evening when the moon is out. Not only is it a great way to prepare yourself for sleep, as yoga teacher and Yoga Journal contributing editor Richard Rosen points out, sunrise and sunset have always been considered powerful times for practicing hatha yoga. “During these times, there’s a balance between light and dark. It’s not day. It’s not night. You’re at a junction between the two,” he says. “This reflects internally in your body: Your hot and cold energies are also in balance. It’s a natural time to do the practice.” The idea of looking to the moon for rejuvenation is certainly not new. In fact, the Shiva Samhita, a 500-year-old Tantric text, regarded the moon as the source of immortality. Practitioners of Tantra (a form of yoga that preceded hatha yoga) believed that the “sun” was located in the solar plexus; the “moon,” in the crown of the head.”
Directions on how to come into this sequence:
Please, also, click on the image above to follow along visually how to come into this pose. For full text directions read below. Also, click on the individual pose links for a deeper look and direction into each pose:
1. Anjali Mudra Mountain: Stand in Tadasana. Root your feet, hug your thighs together, and lift your crown to the moon. Press palms together at elbow level in Anjali Mudra (prayer).
2. Half Moon Side Bends: Lift arms overhead, interlacing fingers, and pointing index fingers upward in temple mudra position. Root left foot and left hip, extending torso and bend to the right. Root right foot and right hip and, extending the torso, come back through center – bending to the left. Root left foot, return to center.
3. Goddess: Step to the right and point toes slightly outward. Soften knees and squat, lowering your sitting bones and your bent elbows downward. Either raise your hands and fingertips upward or flip the palms up toward the ceiling.
4. Five-Pointed Star: Root feet and straighten legs, keeping feet wide apart parallel to each other. Hug thighs to the middle and lift your crown skyward. Extend fingertips and arms at shoulder level. Extend the energy out the five points.
5. Triangle: Turn right toes to right. Extend your arms and torso over the right leg, going as far as you can go–reach, reach, reach. And then begin to cartwheel arms, right arm flow down and left flow upward. Elongate the spine.
6. Pyramid: Lower both hands toward right foot, folding over the right leg. Rest your hands on leg, foot, or on the floor. Root your feet and tighten your thighs, lifting your kneecaps. Spine is straight.
7. Lunge: Bend the forward (right) knee, bringing hands to floor on either side of front foot, and lower your back knee to floor (or optionally, keep the knee raised for more challenge). Root the right foot and top of the left foot into the floor.
8. Side Lunge/Wide Leg Squat: Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot, and lower your tailbone as you pivot the right foot to face forward, rotating the left leg so that toes point upward (more challenging is to point left foot forward). Bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra. If that is too challenging, keep the palms on the floor.
9. Squat: Bring the right leg toward center. Root your feet, lowering your tailbone. If flexibility allows, bring palms together at your heart. If your heels are lifted, don’t worry about it; you could try keeping the feet a little wider apart. Keep the knees and feet pointing in the same direction.
10. Side Lunge/Wide Leg Squat: With hands once again on the floor, extend the left leg to the left. Slide your torso toward the left foot. Bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra. If that is too challenging, keep the palms on the floor.
11. Lunge: Pivot to face the left knee, with hands on either side of the left foot, rotating the right leg and bringing the right knee to floor (or optionally, keep the knee raised for more challenge). Root the left foot and top of the right foot into the floor.
12. Pyramid: This time fold over the straightening left leg. Rest your hands on leg, foot, or the floor. Root your feet and tighten your thighs, lifting your kneecaps. Elongate the spine.
13. Triangle: Sweep right arm upward and back, sliding left hand along the left leg toward the ground. Spine straight. If necessary, take your hands up on your shin, thigh or a block in order to maintain a straight spine. Straight line from left to right hands.
14. Five-Pointed Star: Bring both arms to shoulder level, both feet parallel to each other. Root feet and straighten legs, keeping feet wide apart. Hug thighs to the middle and lift your crown skyward. Extend fingertips and arms at shoulder level.
15. Goddess: Turn toes slightly outward. Soften knees and squat, lowering your sitting bones and bend your elbows downward. Either raise your hands and fingertips upward or flip the palms up toward the ceiling.
16. Half Moon Side Bends: Straighten the legs and turn the toes forward. Step the left foot toward the right foot as you lift arms overhead, interlacing fingers and pointing index fingers upward in temple mudra position. Root right foot and right hip, extending torso, and bend to the left. Root left foot and left hip, extending torso, come back through center – bending to the right. Root right foot, returning to center.
17. Anjali Mudra Mountain: Complete the cycle by coming back to Tadasana. Root your feet, hug your thighs together, and lift your crown to the moon. Press palms together at elbow level in Anjali Mudra. Repeat the moon salutation as many times as you feel necessary.
When not to do this sequence or to modify/Contraindications:
Contraindications and modifications for each individual pose within the Moon Salutation sequence can be found on the individual pose pages (as linked above).
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