Moon Salutations are a valuable addition to any yoga routine. Also called Chandra Namaskara, these are similar to Sun Salutations in that they are a cyclic pattern of movement where one pose flows into the next until returning to the first pose. Unlike warming, energizing Sun Salutations, Chandra Namaskara are made up of calming, cooling poses. The overall effect is less stimulating than Sun Salutations, making Chandra Namaskara an ideal series of poses to perform in the evening.
One cornerstone of successful yoga practice is balance. Much as certain poses follow others to compensate and keep the body in balance, Sun Salutations and Moon Salutations represent the active and the passive, warming and the cooling, stimulating and calming, yang and yin energy. Though the energies they embody are complementary, these series of poses can also be used completely independently whenever their specific effects are needed.
There are several variations of Chandra Namaskara, and some are longer than others. All start with Tadasana, Mountain Pose, and use the practitioner’s breathing as a guide t move through the other poses. A breath should begin before each transition begins, with extending movements accompanied by inhalations and bending movements by exhalations. It is not necessary to hold one’s breath while holding poses.
One variation has the practitioner begin in Tadasana before moving into Indudalasana, the Crescent Pose. The Crescent Pose moves to the right, back to the center, and then to the left before the practitioner transitions to Goddess Pose, Utkata Konasana. At this point, some practitioners keep fingertips pointed upward while others place hands in Anjali Mudra. The practitioner flows into Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana, before lowering his or her arm and rotating hips forward into Pyramid Pose. From Pyramid Pose, or Parsvottanasana, the practitioner moves into Anjaneyasana, or Low Lunge. From Anjaneyasana, the practitioner goes into Skandasana before returning to Utkata Konasana.
Once the sequence of poses has been followed through up to this point, the poses are then performed “in reverse” to return the practitioner to Mountain Pose. Where the practitioner posed or leaned to the right, he or she will now pose or lean to the left. This gives both sides of the body equal benefit of this relaxing, cooling, serenity-inducing series of poses, and reduces the risk of overuse or compression of specific joints and muscle groups.
Physically, Chandra Namaskara focuses heavily on the lower body. It is a good series of poses for those who have difficulty with inversions or other poses that make serious demands on upper-body strength. In terms of kundalini energy, this series of poses opens the Root Chakra and assists with opening the Sacral and Solar Plexus Chakras. This helps with feeling grounded, confident, and able to accept new experiences.
Yoga has the potential to be a healing and strengthening practice for the body and mind. By adding Chandra Namaskara to their regular yoga routine, practitioners can benefit from the relaxing, grounding energy of these poses and have a complement to the heating, stimulating energy of Sun Salutations.
Here is a Moon Salutation Video to get you started.
Moon Salutations with Christian Breitschmid
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/