Moon Salutation - A Salute To The Moon

The Moon Salutation is based on the Kripalu tradition. It is also known as Chandra Namaskara in Sanskrit. It is a different form of the Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskara. Both Chandra and Surya Namaskaras are not just a practice but a complete spiritual practice when done with utmost devotion and awareness. However, like the moon derives and reflects light of the sun, so is Chandra Namaskara. This Namaskara not only reflects the benefits of Sun Salutation but also adds the additional benefits of chandrasana and mantras related to the moon.

The Moon Salutation was developed by a group of yoga teachers in late 1980s mainly for women. This is because the postures and practices of the Sun Salutation may be strenuous for pregnant women, menstruating women or even for women who have entered their menopause stage. Chandra Namaskara is designed to cool and calm the nervous system and has postures which are less strenuous and benefits all women.

The Chandra Namaskara is practiced usually during summer days to beat off the harsh effects of the sun like irritations, high blood pressure, tensions, itching, etc. This can be practiced on a full moon day, in the late evening or at dawn by chanting the lunar mantras. In yoga, it is believed that the lunar energy has a relaxing, cooling, and creative quality which flows through the whole body. Practicing Chandra Namaskara daily helps to prevent high blood pressure, improves the mental health and prevents problems of the nervous system.

The Moon Salutation is a combination of several positions starting and ending with the prayer pose or the Anjali Mudra. The first five steps are repeated twice to complete one full cycle. The steps in Chandra Namaskara are as follows.

  1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Prayer Pose (Anjali Mudra)- This is the first step, where you stand in a mountain posture with your hands in a prayer position (Namastae).
  2. Raised Arms Pose (Urdhva Hastasana) - In this step, with a deep breathe, you stretch your arms above the head with palms pressed together and lean backward.
  3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) - In this pose, you exhale as you bend forward with your arms behind your back and fingers interlaced.
  4. Lunge Pose - In this pose, you inhale as you release the interlaced hands and stretch the right foot toward the back to form a lunge posture.
  5. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) - In this step, you exhale and with your heels on the floor, you drop down toward the front with your palms touching the floor and your hip arched to form a triangle shape.
  6. Plank Pose - This yoga pose is similar to a push-up pose.
  7. Ashtanga Namaskara - This is done as a part of the Surya Namaskara. In this step, you exhale and the knees are dropped to floor. The chest and chin are brought forward and down while the hips stay high. This is similar to a half push-up pose.
  8. Cobra Pose (Bhujanasana) - This is also done as a part of the Surya Namaskara. In this step, you inhale and roll forward with full support on your toes and palms and with head tilted backward.
  9. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) - In this step, you exhale and push back to the downward facing dog position.
  10. Lunge Pose - From the downward facing dog pose you come back to the lunge pose.
  11. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) - From the lunge pose, you exhale and come back to the standing forward bend pose.
  12. Raised Arms Pose (Urdhva Hastasana) - From Uttanasana, back to the raised arms pose by exhaling.
  13. Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Prayer Pose (Anjali Mudra) - The cycle is completed by coming back to the Mountain Pose with palms pressed together in Anjali Mudra.

Moon Salutation contains some advanced poses with some standing balance sequences, and therefore, it is a part of the intermediate workouts in yoga. For a complete benefit, it is advisable to learn Chandra Namaskara under the guidance of a trained yoga teacher who can understand the special needs of your body. It can be done any time of the day like during a morning break at office and even before bedtime for a complete relaxation of the mind and body.