Chandra Namaskara Moon Salutation

This vinyasa restores vitality, strength, and flexibility to the entire body. It also improves digestion through the continual compression of the intestinal tract. Chandra means "moon," and just as the sun salutation greets and honors the sun, so chandra-namaskara (pronounced SHAHN-drah-nah-MAHS-kah-rah) greets and honors the moon. Try practicing this vinyasa outside on a clear evening when the moon is in full view. Serenity!

Quite an energetic sequence of poses! The moon is a lunar/emotional/yin symbol. The strong physical movements in a moon salutation help to balance our emotional side with our physical side.

Ouch!

When performing the sun salutation, keep your awareness focused. If you go too fast, your mind may stray from attending to the body, breath, and devotion to the sun. You should go fast enough to keep the movements flowing and get your body warm, but not so fast that you don't feel in control of your movements or breath.

Namaste (pronounced nah-MAHS-tay) is a mudra (hand position) in which the palms and fingers come together in the prayer position. Hands are held with your thumbs against the chest in an attitude of focused devotion. Namaste can also be held loosely behind the back with the fingers pointed up. Namaste means "Obeisance to you" or "I salute the divine light within you."

Know Your Sanskrit

Namaste (pronounced nah-MAHS-tay) is a mudra (hand position) in which the palms and fingers come together in the prayer position. Hands are held with your thumbs against the chest in an attitude of focused devotion. Namaste can also be held loosely behind the back with the fingers pointed up. Namaste means "Obeisance to you" or "I salute the divine light within you."

1. Begin in the mountain pose with your hands in namaste, or prayer position. Center yourself and concentrate on a devotional attitude.

2. Inhale. Raise your arms up over your head and tilt them slightly back, as if you were encompassing the sun with love.

3. Exhale. Bring your hands straight down to the floor. Bend your knees to protect your lower back. Eventually, you may straighten your legs. Bring your palms alongside your feet. This position is a symbol of thanking the earth, where our feet are firmly planted.

4. Keeping your hands down, inhale and step your right foot back behind you. Stay low to the ground and look up. This represents that we are on the earth through the strength of the sun.

5. Exhale. Bring both legs back behind you and balance in the plank pose, as if you were about to lower yourself into a pushup. Push out at the heels for strength. This represents finding a balance between the sun and the earth. Pause.

6. Exhale further. Bring your knees, chest, and chin to the floor. Keep your tailbone up off the ground. You are thanking the earth.

Chandra NamaskarChandra Namaskara Sequence
13.

Inhale into the upward facing dog pose and look up. Let the sun's warmth strengthen you.

Exhale and push up into the downward facing dog pose, lengthening your spine. Let the strength of the sun enter your spine.

Inhale as you bring your right foot forward. Look up and thank the sun as you proceed on your journey.

Exhale and bring both legs together. With your palms alongside your feet, humbly devote yourself to the sun. Open your moon chakra (located at the back of your head) to the sun's kind and steady energy. Inhale as you bring your arms and body up, tilting into a slight backbend, again embracing the sun with love. Exhale as you bring your hands back into the prayer position, standing in tadasana, the mountain pose.

Repeat the entire sequence again for a complete round. For the second half-round, bring your left leg back first to create a balance.

1. Stand in the mountain pose with hands in na-maste, or the prayer position. Inhale and bring your arms over your head in a slight backbend, keeping your palms together. You are greeting the moon.

2. Exhale and bring your palms to the floor. You are thanking the earth for allowing you to stand on it.

3. Inhale and step your left foot back. Touch the side of your ankle to the floor. Your right leg is lunged forward with the weight of your body on your toes.

4. Exhale and switch the position of your feet. Keep your left knee at a right angle to the floor with your right knee touching the floor. Your weight is now supported by your left foot and right knee. Inhale and lift your arms straight up overhead toward the moon.

5. Then exhale into the child's pose (see Chapter 18), a symbol of turning inward.

6. Now inhale and step your right foot back with the side of your ankle touching the floor. Your left leg is lunged forward with the weight of your body on your toes. Exhale and switch the position of your feet as before. Your right knee is at a right angle to the floor and your left knee is touching the floor. Your weight is now supported by your right foot and left knee.

Chandra Namaskara

7. Inhale and lift your arms straight up overhead. Thank you, moon!

8. Then exhale and bring your hands back to the floor. Inhale into the upward facing dog pose. Strong and steady, the moon circles us.

9. Exhale into the child's pose again—the moon chakra at the back of your head will open for healing energy.

10. Inhale, bring your hands straight up overhead, and look up.

11. Exhale and bring your hands back to the floor. Inhale, push your hands against the floor, and stand up into the mountain pose.

12. Namaste.

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