Chandra Namaskar: An Introduction to Moon Salutations
Moon Salutation- Chandra Namaskar
This is a cooling series of poses. Like a sun salutation, each movement is coordinated with your breath. Inhale to extend, exhale to bend. Unlike vigorous sun salutations which are heating and stimulating, moon salutations are cooling and quieting.
We practice moon salutations to calm the mind and draw awareness inward.
Moon salutations are a nice practice when energy or temperatures are high and calming is required.
Moon salutations can also be beneficial for pregnant women and women in menstruation. Moon salutations may not be recommended if you struggle with sciatica, back problems, or if triangle pose is an uncomfortable posture for you.
Before we introduce moon salutations, consider what we know about the moon.
The ocean and sea are kneaded by the moon. The moon soothes, bringing dew it soothes the fiery excesses of the sun.
The moon reflects, transforms the light, remains dark on one side, is discriminating in what it illuminates and what is concealed in shadow.
The moon is associated with the divine feminine and with the menstrual cycle.
A few personal notes…
For me, moon salutations are like a beautiful piece of jewelry- not something for ever day use, but once in a while, when I have the time to take special care, I carefully pull out the special piece and allow myself to sparkle.
I prefer to practice moon salutations in my home practice. Because moon salutations are a bit complicated, I feel more comfortable practicing moon salutations in the comfort of my own home. Lastly, it takes me a while to get through a moon salutation. I like to breathe and embody each posture. I take my tiiiiiime and move slowly and with intention. It’s a beautiful thing to practice at home in a dimly lit room with some candles, or out on my deck at dusk in the summer. Because this is a slower, yin-based practice, I like to reserve time for reflection and journaling before or after this practice.
*If you are already familiar with this flow, skip to the end of to find another ritual and a writing exercise.
When practicing Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar), rather than moving quickly as in sun salutations, move slowly as if through water or honey.
As always, move with the breath.
We begin on the left, which is associated with feminine energy, and move through one full salutation and then repeat the sequence on the right.
Rather than facing the front of your yoga mat, we stand in the middle of the mat.
Some other practices related to the lunar cycle that we love:
You may wish to supplement your moon salutations with this practice. Friend and shaman Sarah Seidelmann offers a ritual to celebrate the lunar cycle that we enjoy here: How to Make a Visual Prayer to Leverage the Power of a New Moon, Full Moon, or Eclipse.
Another practice we love is setting a sankalpa during the new moon. Bryana wrote a helpful blog on setting a sankalpa you can read here.
We also love this Moon Deck. We were taught that it’s best not to buy your own Oracle Cards, that they should find their way to you. (We occasionally cheat this system by giving them to each other as gifts!)
Opportunties for Further Exploration
I learned about Moon Salutations during my 200 RYT through The House of the Gathering Yoga School in Duluth. One of our lead teachers, Erika Fryklepak, led the session on moon salutations. It was one of my favorite sessions from the entire RYT. Erika is passionate about moon salutations, a wonderful and gentle yoga instructor, and someone I’m fortunate to call a mentor and friend.
Erika teaches gentle Hatha at the Gneson Community Center on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-7:35pm. (The address is 6356 Howard Gnesen Rd, Duluth, MN 55803). Luckily for us, her Tuesday sessions in October will be leading up to, and deepening wisdom of, moon salutations. (I will be at as many as I can attend! Hope to see some of you there!)
Joella also frequently teaches special full moon flows and sound baths at her studio in Duluth (JEM Yoga & Massage).
Writing Exercise to conclude your practice:
Write a list of words you associate with the sun and the moon. A starting point is provided below. Once your list is complete, write a few sentences or a short poem using words from your lists.
Nourishes, feeds, scorches
Conception, pregnancy, birth, seasons, reaping
Less experienced than sun because we are often asleep
Selective in revealments and concealments
Photography: Jack Pine + Thyme
Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon, and Daniel DiTuro. 2006. Hatha Yoga Illustrated.
Turabian (6th ed.) Ronnberg, Ami, and Kathleen Martin. 2010.The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images.
House of the Gathering Yoga School