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March 3, 2014

Moon & Sun: 10 Steps to a Full Cycle Yoga Practice. ~ Indra Singh

Sun salute

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:

  • 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

DSC_00091.  Inhale. Stand with your mat lateral, the feet together or a hip width apart. Lengthen the arms above the head and shoulders. Keep them relaxed, palms together.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00122.  Exhale. Lift up and out of the waist and bend to the right. Apply a slight pressure to the left heel to encourage the stretch. Inhale and come back to the first position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00153.  Exhale. Lift out of the waist and bend to the left. Apply pressure to the right heel to encourage the stretch. inhale back to center and take two to three long, slow, deep breaths.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00194. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00235. Inhale. Stretch to Starfish, arms and legs lengthened. Ground the feet and reach for the stars with the fingertips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00286. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00327.  Inhale. Place palms either side of the front foot and lengthen the body over the leg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00368. Exhale. Bend the front knee, with the fingertips on either side of the front foot. Head and chest lifts to open the heart. Back knee is on the floor, and the back foot is flat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_00389. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_004210. Exhale. Transfer posture to the opposite side, staying low with the hands in prayer.

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.

 

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Editorial Assistant: Pamela Mooman/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photos: Flickr; courtesy of author

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Indra Singh