Living in a society which encourages intense physical activity, we seem to miss the point in yoga about slowing down and making time for inner reflection. We focus on sun salutations, which heat up our bodies and give us an invigorating energy boost. Yet we tend to forget that this passionate fire we create must also be cooled down with a calmer, more meditative sequence. When we regularly do both a sun salutation and a moon salutation we become connected to both sides of our polar energies making us more in tune with our inner selves.
The Chandra Namaskar, or moon salutation, is a slower-paced sequence that focuses on our divine feminine energy instead of concentrating on masculine principles like in sun salutations. In moon salutations we are cultivating the intuitive lunar power of the moon and looking within us. This cultivation of lunar energy also helps to restore the fiery energy of the sun we create and renew ourselves. We become more creative, more receptive to change and better able to listen to our bodies’ needs.
Below is a variation of a moon salutation. Practice this at night and preferably in an area where you can see the moon. It is best to practice this sequence during the new moon, full moon or waning phases of the moon when our energies are lower. Make sure to move slowly through each movement as if you are moving through gentle ocean waves. This practice is also a calming restorative sequence for women who are menstruating.
Begin seated cross-legged and chant a moon mantra such as “Om Shrim Som Somaya Namah” which helps you connect to the deity powers of the moon. Shrim is pronounced shreem.
For your salutation, start standing in mountain pose (tadasana), with feet hip-width apart and arms extended out to your sides. Close your eyes and visualize a glowing full moon at the center of your brow. Imagine it slowly rising to the crown of your head and then flowing throughout your entire body, illuminating you in its captivating glow. Open your eyes gently and keep a soft gaze throughout your salutation.
From mountain lift your arms up to sky and clasp them together in prayer for standing crescent pose. Exhale and stretch your arms over to the left for a few breaths. Inhale as you come back to center. Repeat on the other side.
Fold your torso over into standing forward bend. Lift your chest up to your thighs. Touch your hands to the floor and turn your palms upward.
Exhale and step your left foot back into high lunge pose, with your right knee bent and left leg straight. Make sure both hands are on either side of your right foot. When you have your balance, lift your hands over your head into prayer.
From high lunge go into wide leg squat. Move your hands to the inner side of the right foot. Turn your right foot inward and pivot your left leg up so that your toes point upward. Bring your hands into prayer or leave them on the floor.
Press your left foot to the ground and raise your body up as you turn both feet outward. Bend your knees and come into goddess pose (Utkata Konasana) with tailbone downward and arms bent with hands facing forward.
Fold over from goddess and bend your left knee and turning your left foot inward. Straighten your right leg and point toes upward to come into wide leg squat on the other side.
Step your left foot back into plank pose with your torso lifted and hands directly below your shoulders.
From plank come into child’s pose with your knees on the floor and torso folded over your thighs. Rest here for a few breaths.
Slide into cobra pose (bhujangasana) from child’s pose, with hands under your shoulders and elbows bent back. Lift your chest off the floor. Twist your spine slowly to the left and right.
Press up into downward facing dog with hips stretching up.
Lift your right left foot up and place it in between your palms for high lunge on the other side. Raise your arms above your head and fold your hands into prayer.
Release your arms and step back into standing forward bend.
Lift your torso up and extend your arms up to the sky for standing crescent pose again.
Release your arms down to your heart and breathe here for a moment.
Finish the cycle in mountain pose.
Come back to your awareness as you stand in mountain and imagine the full moon moving back to the center of your brow. Repeat the salutation if you wish.
Related: Morning Yoga Sequence for Energy
Photo: Jessica Renae