The Moon Salutation in Yoga

The Moon Salutation or Chandra Namaskara may not be as popular as its counterpart the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it in your yoga routine every once in a while. It is a series of poses coordinated with your breathing that helps you to create a cooling flow of movement.
While the Sun Salutation is very stimulating and heating and therefore is usually practiced in the morning, the Moon Salutation and its variations are quieting and cooling. Whenever you feel that a tranquil, quiet presence is needed, it is very useful and help you to calm your mind, restore your balance and draw your awareness inward. Especially in the evening when you have a hard time to relax come to your yoga map and try a few sequences of the Moon Salutation.
But also in the morning it can be a soothing alternative to your Sun Salutation. Just give it a try and find out what’s best for you.
Of course, there are many variations of Moon Salutations. Here’s a simple sequence of nine poses (you will build up to the ninth pose focusing on one side and progress back to the first pose focusing on the other side of the body) . Breathe through your nose, inhale when extending, exhale to bend.

Easy Moon Salutation sequence for all levels

1. Standing Mountain Pose – Tadasana

To start the Moon Salutation come to a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, your palms together in Anjali Mudra (prayer position). Stay for a couple of breaths to prepare yourself for the following sequence.

2. Upward Salute Side Bend or Half Moon – Urdhva Hastasana

Inhale and sweep your arms out to the side and over your head. Bend back a little if you like. Interlace your fingers, the index fingers pointed to the ceiling. Exhale and bend to the right while pressing your left hip to the side. Stay grounded with your thighs firmly engaged. On inhaling come back to center, exhale and bend to the left, inhale back to center and exhale as you release your arms.

3. Goddess Squat – Utkata Konasana

With your next inhalation step your feet wide apart with your toes slightly turned out. When exhaling, bend your knees and come into a squat position. Your knees should be directly over your toes. With your palms facing forward, bring your arms to the sides at the height of your shoulders, bend your elbows. Your upper arms and forearms should be at a 90 degree angle.
If you wish to go even deeper into this position, come onto your toes.

4. Star Pose

Keep your feet as they are, inhale and straighten your legs. Extend your arms at shoulder-height with the palms facing forward, fingers spread.

5. Extended Triangle Pose — Utthita Trikonasana

Rotate your right foot 90 degrees and point the toes to the top of your Yoga mat. The left foot can be turned in slightly. On exhale come to a Triangle Pose: Right hand reaching out to the right foot, left hip shift back, right hand rest on the outside of your shin or ankle. Extend your left hand, reaching up to the ceiling.

6. Pyramid Pose — Parsvottanasana

Find an inhale and lower your left hand, turn and lengthen your upper torso to the right. Draw back your hips to keep them in line, keep your spine long. On your next exhalation fold your torso forward and fold deeply towards your right leg, bringing your fingertips or hands to your lower leg, foot or on the floor.

7. Low Crescent Lunge — Anjaneyasana

Bend your right knee on your next inhalation, lining up your knee over your ankle and place your fingertips shoulder width apart in front of you. Exhale as you step your left foot back. Lower your left knee to the floor, make sure to place it behind your hips. You might slide back your leg a little. Untuck the toes of your left foot to rest the top of your foot on the floor. With your fingertips still on the mat, gaze down between your hands (or inhale, lift your torso upright to come up to a Halfmoon Pose).

8. Low Side Lunge

Inhaling bring both hands to the inside of your right foot. Now rotate your right foot and leg to face forward with your knee still bent. On your next exhalation, turn your left foot, toes pointing to the ceiling with your left leg extended.

9. Garland Pose — Malasana

Inhaling step your right foot in to come into a low squat. Separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso with your upper arms inside of your knee, elbows pressing against it. With your hands in Anjali Mudra exhale fully.

Now the sequence focuses on the left side of your body repeating the poses in reversed order:

10. Low Side Lunge with bent left and extended right foot.
11. Low Crescent Lunge with left foot in front.
12. Pyramid Pose with your torso folded over your left leg.
13. Extended Triangle Pose to the left, opening the torso to the right.
14. Star Pose
15. Goddess Squat
16. Upward Salute Side Bend/Half Moon, bend to the right and to the left.
17. Standing Mountain Pose with your hands in Anjali Mudra, thumbs resting on your sternum. Take several breaths and witness the effect of the previous sequence.
Now start all over again and do as many rounds of the Moon Salutation as you like.

I found this video from http://www.doyouyoga.com/ on YouTube which demonstrates very well the described Moon Salutation sequence. Although, you might find it quite fast. So feel free to slow down to your own pace.

Have fun and Namaste!

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