The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is a vital part of most Yoga practices and traditions, especially as a warm-up or a morning stretch.
As its title suggests, it is extremely warming, not just to the physical body, but also to all the major body systems. However, stimulating the body systems isn’t something we need on a daily basis, and, on a personal level, I have recognized that I am much more “moon-based” than “sun-based,” so as a counter-flow to the sun salutations, I regularly practice the Moon Salutations.
Chandra Namaskar (the traditional term) certainly doesn’t receive the hype that its solar variant, Surya Namaskar, does, but when practiced together they individually help to maintain internal and external body balance. The sun couldn’t shine without the moon and vice versa, so why choose to limit our sadana (our practice) to just one form? Benefits gained from a regular Moon Salutation practice:
- Helps to cool and calm the body systems.
- Postures included in the Moon Salutation are particularly beneficial during menstruation, pregnancy, and the menopause, but this doesn’t restrict their practice to just women.
- A wonderful stretch occurs in all the major muscle groups, encouraging an increase in flexibility.
- Strengthens the internal organs.
- The Sun Salutation assists in increasing our energy whereas the Moon Salutation gives us the opportunity to reconnect with our creative flow.
- Tones the body and enhances well-being.
Here’s how to have a full cycle yoga practice:
4. Exhale. Step out with right foot into lion stretch. The toes are turned slightly out, legs wide. Drop the hips to create a deep stretch. The eyes are wide and the tip of the tongue stretches down to the chin. I love to roll the eyes for added stretch.
6. Exhale. Turn the right foot out and left toes slightly in so that the front heel is opposite the back instep. There should be a leg’s length distance between the feet for triangle pose. In this posture, stretch and hold. Keep lengthening into the top arm, allowing the heart center to open.
9. Inhale. Turn to the front, hands rest at the heart in prayer. (Smile! This really works deep into the hips.) Right leg stays bent, with the knee to the side, and left leg stays straight with toes pointing upwards.
Repeat in reverse from step eight to step one, turning towards the left leg.
Repeat the sequence three times on each side. After each repetition, rest the hands in prayer at the heart center and take three long, slow, deep breaths.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Pamela Mooman/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: Flickr; courtesy of author