As yogis, whether we are teaching or taking a class, we get to know up close and personal a flowing series of postures known as “Sun Salutations” or “Surya Namaskar” because it is in our regular practice. Sun Salutations are part of our regular practice because collectively these exercises lengthen and strengthen, flex and extend many major muscles in our bodies which then also distributes “Prana” throughout it. Regardless of the variation, the Sun Salutations are a perfect collection of exercises and they can be practiced alone.
However, did you know that there is another flowing series of postures known as “Moon Salutations” or “Chandranamaskara.” Well they exist and you may not be quite as familiar with these exercises because in Yoga Teacher Trainings, these are often introduced later in trainings so depending on how far you have taken your training or your teacher’s experience, this may be a reason why you aren’t as familiar with this flow. And just like Sun Salutations, there are numerous flow expressions.
So a little behind the scenes details:
1. The moon is a very powerful entity on earth! It has a huge influence on the ocean tides. And many believe it also affects animals and people especially emotionally. I know you’ve heard the expression “it must be the moon” when people talk about people’s behavior.
2. Just a little FYI…The moon has phases:
a. New Moon, Waning Phase has the Third Quarter, Full Moon
b. Full Moon, Waxing Phase has the First Quarter, New Moon
3. The moon is very symbolic in that it’s phases represent growth, maturation, and death, just like life. Additionally, each phase has a personality that is also expressed in people.
a. New Moon to Full Moon: Growth
b. Full Moon to New Moon: Flowering, fruiting, and dying
4. You’ve heard of Hatha yoga right: “Ha” means sun and “Tha” means moon.
A. The sun salutation heats up the body, uses masculine-oriented and external energies and it emphasizes “pingala,” or the right nostril.
B. The moon salutations acknowledges our inner self, the lunar, cooling, female energies that are associated with the left nostril. To alternate between the two salutations helps to balance us out.
You can Google “Moon Salutation” and find a few versions online.
***This one is super easy to remember since there are only 6 poses.***
1. Inhale – 5 Pointed Star (arms reaching overhead outward 45 degrees)
2. Exhale – ‘Static’ Moonflowers (AKA Horse Stance or a Plié Squat with elbows pulled in towards rib cage)
Pivot to your right / Pivot to your left
3. Inhale – Crescent Lunge, Exhale – sink deeper into the lunge (3-5 breaths)
4. Inhale – Pyramid (3-5 breaths)
5. Inhale – Half Moon, Exhale sink into the pose. Inhale back into the 5 Pointed Star.
6. Exhale – Prayer Squat sometimes I cue it as “Public Restroom” (this is a higher squat than that of Garland pose and who hasn’t perfected the hovering over the toilet pose) then return to step one but pivoting to your left. Try holding the squat for a few breaths to really target those thighs and butt then revisit step one.
Repeat 5-8 times. You can also pursue more of a vinyasa flow meaning one breath, one movement, always allowing our breath to guide our movement. I like to insert this flow in my standing series portion of class as you need to be warmed up.
So change it up and try something different. Google different Moon Salutation flows also as there are a couple of versions out there. If you practice twice a day, maybe do the sun salutes in the morning and the moon salutes in the evening. Or maybe honor the full moon. Enjoy!