Moon Yoga Salutations (Chandra Namaskara) are the yogic counterpart to the widely popular Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara).
Not many people are familiar with moon salutations, partly because we in the Western world are somewhat obsessed with the fiery, masculine energy that is achieved through sun salutes, but also because the energetically cooling, feminine moon salutes are, by comparison, relatively newer to yogic practice.
The moon salute is not as well-defined as the sun salute, either. There are a variety of moon salutation sequences available from various yoga styles, but there is one predominantly practiced version that lends itself well to all styles of yoga. This version utilizes balancing poses such as five pointed star pose (Trikonasana) and triangle pose (Trikonasana) – yes,you read that right, five pointed star pose and triangle pose both have the same name in sanskrit – and the strengthening deep squats of goddess pose (Utkata Konasana) and garland pose (Malasana).
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The purpose of moon salutations is to invite the divine feminine force (Shakti).
Moon energy is associated with the feminine aspect which is cooling, soothing and receptive. Practicing moon salutations brings feelings of openness, balance, creativity, passion, nurturing, and connection to natural rhythms and cycles.
It is recommended to practice this sequence thirteen (13) times consecutively (one for each lunar cycle in the year – there are 12.37 lunar cycles yearly). Depending on what rate of speed you move through this practice, it should take about 45-min to 1-hr+15-min to complete the sequence 13 times. It’s possible that you may feel compelled to make this practice a ritual to celebrate each new lunar cycle.
Almost anyone who is able to practice sun salutations should be able to practice this moon salutation sequence. Women who are pregnant or menstruating often find this practice soothing as well. Moon salutations are recommended for both men and women as we all are equally feminine and masculine by nature, according to yoga, and our nurturing side is important to both sexes.
In the depiction below of the masculine and feminine energies residing within each of us, the feminine side of the body is on the left and dominated by the creative right brain, while the masculine side is on the right and controlled by the analytical left brain. Balance is necessary to create equilibrium and harmony. Moon salutations help to level out our fiery, masculine-centric world perspectives.
Contraindications for this practice include anyone who has knee problems (you can adjust by not pushing so deeply into squats or skipping them entirely) or people with plantar fasciitis (garland pose brings us onto the ball of the feet, but you can again adjust with a wider stance and place feet flat on the mat or skip this pose).
It is important to keep in mind that this practice stretches and works the torso, so to aid in supporting the lower back (as in all yoga practice) it is crucial to keep the core engaged by drawing the naval back towards the spine. Also, to avoid foot pain in these wide-legged stances, I recommend creating a sense of lift from the inner arches of the feet and pressing deeply into the outer edges of your feet while practicing these postures.
If you are not familiar with moon salutes, practice the first two or three rounds staying in each pose for at least a full round of breath (one full inhale and one full exhale) before moving into the next pose. The transitions can feel a little awkward at first, but practice makes them feel smoother and more natural, so don’t give up right away.
Once you feel comfortable with the poses and transitions between the poses, follow the sequence with your breath, beginning the first posture on the inhale, the next pose on the exhale, the following pose on the inhale, the next one on the exhale and so forth. Unlike Sun Salutations which can be done fast or slow, Moon Salutations are meant to be practiced very slowly and purposely.
As you practice, imagine your energy – your prana – radiating from the sacral chakra (Svadisthana chakra) at the sacrum (lower abdomen, below the navel) and extending out beyond your physical body.
Move gently through your prana, noticing the subtleties of the energetic body, and then, at the end of each moon salute, gather all the prana back together between the palms of your hands as press them together and draw them in at your heart center in prayer position, anjali mudra. Take five deep, slow breaths before beginning the sequence again. It should take roughly an hour to complete all thirteen moon salutations. Be certain to take time for some centering and restful pose (Savasana) at the end of your practice.
To put you in a lunar mood, I have created a Moon Yoga playlist for you to utilize with this practice on Spotify.
Have a happy full moon & Enjoy!
Namaste, lovely lunar beings <3