The Moon salutation or Chandra Namaskar is a series of poses performed sequentially. Find all poses and steps in this guide to practice this calming flow!
The Tradition Of Moon Salutation/Chandra Namaskar
One of the main purposes of Yoga is to help people achieve balance in every aspect of their lives. While some yoga practices energize and invigorate you, others soothe and relax you. In fact, the Sanskrit word "Hatha" comprises the two opposing powers. "Ha" the warming energy of the sun or the Yang practice; and "Tha" the cooling and healing tones of the moon or the Yin practice. Most of us are only familiar with the Sun Salutations or the Surya Namaskar. Moon Salutations or Chandra Namaskara is the other side of the coin. While Surya Namaskars help us warm up and generate energy, Chandra Namaskars cool us down. Both these sequences balance each other out and are equally important for a holistic yoga practice.
Chandra Namaskars revolve around the lunar energies of cool and calm. They can be performed any time of the day including afternoons. However, it is advisable to do them at the end of a workout/yoga session as they help us relax. Practicing Moon Salutations in late evenings and at night helps people tap into the lunar energy for enhancing the flow.
Why We Do The Moon Salutation?
As mentioned above, Chandra Namaskaras or Moon Salutations are a part of the YinYoga practice which mainly involves soothing, healing and calming. Thus, we perform Moon Salutations to help us soothe our mind, heal our body and calm our heart. Moon Salutations help us with a lot of inner work and help us balance our Chakras. The answer to Why we do the Moon Salutations is simple. While Sun salutations and other heating practices are more popular owing to their role in helping people become physically fit, Moon Salutations help with a much more profound function. They help us connect with our inner self and me us more self-aware and mindful of our mental, emotional and physical status. This in turn helps us have a realistic self-image and build a sustainable and healthy Yoga practice.
The 12 Positions Of The Moon Salutation
Step 1 - Tadasana + Urdhva Hastasana/Standing Crescent Pose: Stand in the center of your mat facing the long side of the mat. Inhale and extend your arms outwards and upwards, interlacing your fingers such that your palms are facing the sky. Exhale and gently bend your upper body on the right side while keeping your torso engaged. Inhale to center and exhale and bend to your left. Inhale back to the center.
Step 2 - Utkata Konasana/ Goddess Pose: Exhale, keeping your toes outwards, step in such a way that you have distance between your feet. Unlock your knees and do a sumo-squat such that your knees are in line with the ankles. Keep your back straight, bend your arms at the elbows to a 90-degree angle while keeping the fingers in Anjali mudra (thumb and forefinger touching).
Step 3 - Trikonasana / Triangle Pose: Inhale as you turn both your feet to the right, keep your arms stretched out and parallel to the ground. Exhale as you bend forward and reach for the right foot with your right hand. Extend the left arm to the sky while you turn your chest to the sky.
Step 4 - Parsvottanasana / Pyramid Pose: Exhale as you move your left arm down to the floor such that your right heel is between your arms. Rotate your back foot even further and turn your hips towards the right side. Bend forward such that your right leg remains straight.
Step 5 - Anjaneyasana / Low lunge: Inhale as you move the left foot back and bend the right knee so you come into a lunge position. Make sure the knee stays in line with the ankle and push the left thigh up and back. Elongate and raise your arms, brush your ears as you bring your palms together over your head.
Step 6 - Skandasana / Wide-legged Side Squat: Exhale as you bring both hands to the floor on either side of your right foot. Turn inwards on the ball of the right foot and fold your right knee. Rotate your body such that you turn to face the long side of the mat. The left leg is extended, toes point to the ceiling. If possible, bring your hands together in Anjuli Mudra or prayer position. Inhale and hold this position for a moment.
After reaching Step 6, we just have to reverse engineer these 6 steps on the left leg side. Thus.....
Step 7 - Skandasana / Wide-legged Side Squat: Exhale and shift your body weight to the left side of the body. Straighten your right leg keeping your right toe turn towards the sky and balance your on your right toe keeping your right knee bent.
Step 8 - Anjaneyasana / Low lunge: Inhale and place both your palms on either side of the left foot to get into Low Lunge. Bend your left knee and raise your arms over your head with your palms touching each other.
Step 9 - Parsvottanasana / Pyramid Pose: Exhale and bend forward on your left side such that your palms touch the floor on either side of your left foot while keeping the left leg straight.
Step 10 - Trikonasana / Triangle Pose: Inhale and raise your right arm such that your fingertips are pointing towards the sky. Gaze upwards while keeping both your legs straight.
Step 11 - Utkata Konasana/ Goddess Pose: Gently rise as you exhale keeping your arms parallel to the ground. Inhale and turn to face the long side of the mat. Keeping your toes pointed outwards, take a step to keep your feet apart. Exhale and gently go down into a sumo-squat with your elbows bent and palms in the Anjali mudra.
Step 12 - Tadasana + Urdhva Hastasana/Standing Crescent Pose: Inhale, bring your feet together. Join your arms overhead such that your palms are facing the sky. Bend towards your right and felt sides. Gently come back to the center and release your arms.
To finish a complete cycle of the Chandra Namaskar repeat these steps but starting on the left side and ending with the right side.
Benefits of Moon Salutation/ Chandra Namaskar
Opening up the Heart - the side twists and backbends done during the Chandra Namaskar flow helps one expand the chest region opening up the heart
Improving Hip Mobility - The practice of Moon Salutation / Chandra Namaskar helps open up the hips increasing the flexibility of the hamstrings, quadriceps, pelvis, and butt muscles.
Balancing the Chakras - The poses in the Moon Salutation involve stimulation of all the Chakras. Thus there is a flow of the life force energy through the entire body. This balances out the energies in each part of the body. The stretches and twists involved also stimulate the various systems like - the respiratory system, digestive system, endocrine system, and excretory system to facilitate their optimum functioning.
Helps combat Stress and Anxiety - Since the practice of Moon Salutation is about cooling and soothing various systems in the body, it helps to ease and comfort the stress levels on the mind as well thereby reducing the anxiety levels. Hence, it can also be practiced as part of Yoga Therapy for Depression
Moon Salutation for Insomnia - It is advised to do Chandra Namaskars/ Moon Salutations usually at the end of the day or at night. The soothing characteristics of this sequence push out intrusive negative thoughts out of our minds and help us get in a relaxed state of mind for our bedtime, helping us prepare for sound sleep.
Special benefits for Women - The practice of Moon Salutation/Chandra Namaskar helps strengthen our connection with the feminine side of our inner self, thus helping women get more comfortable with themselves. Women also benefit from this practice on a physical level by improving their health and fertility as a result of all the stimulation in the pelvis region.
It is important to practice a holistic Yoga practice to ensure reaping maximum benefits. By tapping into the feminine side of yourself, you become kinder to yourself, become more connected to your soul and get better at healing and soothing. One can look at Moon Salutations and other Yin Yoga practices as a "Self-Care" day Yoga routine. It's almost as if the Moon Goddess gives your an embrace with her Lunar energy encouraging you to take on low maintenance but fulfilling Yoga routine for the day.