What on earth are you talking about… moon salutations? That was my reaction when I first heard of Moon salutations (also known as Chandra Namaskara).
Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskara are a staple in many yoga sequences, being used to warm up the body, particularly in morning practices. Although the Moon salutations are less well heard of, they complement the sun salutations perfectly and have their place in a well-balanced yoga practice as they are derived from and honour the moon and provide a cooling and healing balance to the warming and energizing elements of the sun salutations.
In our hectic society, which can often feel draining and depleting, this lesser-known sister to the Surya Namaskara can be just what is needed to feel rejuvenated and replenished.
Chandra Namaskar sequences are usually practiced in the evening or at night when the moon has risen and is practiced in a much slower, relaxed manner than the sun salutations. It also tends to be practiced using the long edge of the mat rather than the short edge.
The word ‘chandra’ means moon, and the word ‘namaskar’ means salutation. The sequence of the poses/asanas is very similar to the Surya Namaskar however where the Surya Namaskar has 12 key poses relating to the 12 zodiac or lunar phases of the year, whereas the Chandra Namaskar has 14 which relate to the 14 lunar phases.
Similarly to the more well-known sun salutations, they have numerous mental and physical benefits including stretching and lengthening the thigh muscles, calves, pelvis and ankles, helping to strengthen the lower part of the body and grounding you as you work through the sequence.
Other benefits include:
- Promoting balance both physically and mentally
- Aiding digestion
- Toning your spinal muscles
- Improving spinal health
- Regulating the function of the adrenal glands
- Helping to improve confidence and poise
It is also a very beneficial sequence if you feeling stressed as it helps to balance your mind; often starting with a meditation both at the beginning and the end of your yoga session. The slower pace, combined with a focus on breath, help to ground and calm the mind.
So, if you feel in need of a little ‘self-care’ or a place to escape to, to focus on you for a while. Book to join my class on Wednesday 3rd March at 6pm as we celebrate the full moon on 27th February with a slow- paced, restorative class based on the Chandra Namaskara.