There is a path from me to you
that I am constantly looking for,
so I try to keep clear and still
as water does with the moon.
Once upon a time the word yoga meant slow and relaxing. And Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) was a Hatha yoga basic. Then, sequences gave way to the sweaty, core building workouts of today’s yoga classes. But sometimes the best workout you can give your body is relaxation. On days when you’re feeling depleted, you may want to hang out with Surya’s calmer, more meditative sister, Chandra.
While Sun Salutation is a fiery, heat building sequence that lengthens and strengthens, Chandra Namaskar, or Moon Salutation helps you channel lunar energy which is cooling, relaxing and creative.
Moon salute is an excellent sequence for warming and releasing the lower back, stretching the spine and back of legs, and lengthening the hamstrings.
Using the moon’s energy to restore and rejuvenate is an old secret. According to the Sanskrit yoga text Shiva Samhita, and earlier Tantric yogis, the moon is a source of amrita, which means immortality in Sanskrit.
Fiery sun energy in the abdomen heats up circulation and burns away the chaff, but also speeds up aging. Inverted poses and mudras were created to counterbalance this effect and send vital fluids from the lower chakras to the crown chakra.
While Surya Namaskar heats our passions and drives our devotion to a yogic practice, Chandra Namaskar gives us a way to cool off and slow down; become still enough to receive the lunar energy that revitalizes us.
Moon Salutation is meant to be done slowly, liquidly. Compared with the fast, almost jerky transitions from pose to pose of Sun Salutation, imagine yourself being the ripples on a lake in the path of the moon’s glow. Be open to how your body wants to move and listen to where it wants to be still.
Chandra Namaskar is best practiced in the evening, when the moon is in the sky. But you can pay homage to the moon any time, day or night. Moon Salute before bedtime can be a wonderful way to harmonize your body’s hot and cold energies and give you a better sleep.
Here’s a video that demonstrates this beautiful sequence:
- Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), taking a few breaths. Close your eyes partway, relax your jaw and imagine the full moon’s image.
- Inhale slowly and raise your arms in prayer position to salute the moon in a standing backbend.
- Exhale and fold forward into Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) putting your palms flat on the floor.
- Step your left foot back, drop your left knee to the floor and bend back into Crescent Moon Pose (Anjaneyasana).
- With your right leg supporting you in the lunge, inhale and raise your arms, in prayer position. Extending backward into a Crescent Moon.
- Come back into Plank Pose (Dandasana).
- Forward bend into Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana).
- Push forward into Plank Pose (Chaturangasana).
- Lower to the mat and rise into Cobra (Nagasana).
- Come back into Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana).
- Step your left foot forward, drop your right knee to the floor and bend back into Crescent Moon Pose.
- With your left leg supporting you in the lunge, inhale and raise your arms, in prayer position. Extending back once again into a Crescent Moon.
- Step forward into Standing Forward Bend.
- Return to Mountain Pose.
- Repeat the sequence as many times as feels good!