Yoga by Moonlight – Chandra Namaskara

MoonCreative Commons License photo credit: Andrew Choy

Anyone who practices yoga is familiar with Sun Salutations. Somewhat less known are Moon Salutations. The Moon Salutation is a series of postures (asanas) done in sequence in honor of the moon and its special energies.

The moon has long captivated our imaginations and is rich with symbolism. It seemed nothing short of  miraculous when the first astronaut actually walk on the surface of the moon. During the full moon phase, moon energy is at its strongest and thought to be magical. The full moon has been brilliantly gorgeous these past couple of evenings. While looking out my back window last night, I could easily feel mysticism in the air! It was like the cool fantasy land you imagine as a kid where wizards and dragons hang out.

The moon represents the mother and the feminine (yin) principle.  It is  connected to the cyclic nature and rhythms of life and is associated with intuition, shadow, balance and influence. Moon Salutations are less invigorating than Sun Salutations tend to turn our focus inward, nurturing a sense of calm.

There are many versions of the Moon Salutation. The version illustrated below is a beautiful sequence I learned from my yoga mentor and comes from the Kripalu tradition. It is a series of lateral bends. Side bends are great for opening and stretching the muscles along the side of the torso, massaging the intestines, opening the pelvis and increasing mobility in the spine.

During this full moon phase, why not give the Moon Salutation a try? You can practice it in a flowing manner,  following your breath or hold each posture for a number of breaths (3-5).

* Note: Coming into each pose, focus on lengthening the spine first in order to create space between the vertebrae, making it easier to side bend without compressing the intervertebral discs.

Moon Salutation - Chandra Namaskar

Comments

  1. KarunaPeglar says:

    Hi Charlotte
    Thanks for the lovely Chandra sequence – the series of side bends. I am going to try it with my classes of children this week. However, I think I note an error….. position 17 should surely read Trikonasana to the left instead of to the right. Also, as customary with any Chandra sequences, shouldn’t the practice start with the left side? I’d be interested to know if it is usually taught this way. Thanks again :)
    Cheers
    Karuna

  2. Charlotte Bradley says:

    Hi Karuna,

    Yes – you are right! Thanks for pointing that out. Position 17 should be Trikoasana to the left. I have just corrected it and uploaded a revised version.

    There are lots of great versions of Chandra Namaskara. The one I have posted here is the version I was taught and we started to the right. But it is not something I have done in many different classes. I just checked and there is a different version in my Kripalu Yoga book by Richard Faulds and it also starts to the right. Very interesting – I didn’t realize it was customary to start Chandra sequences to the left. I wonder if this is because of the Nadis and Ida (the left channel) being related to the moon?

    So, sorry I don’t really have an answer to your question…. I don’t see why you couldn’t start to the left but I’m not sure if it is predominantly taught one way or the other.

    Let me know how it goes with your kids classes. Seems like a sequence that would be well suited to little guys.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your ideas!
    Charlotte

  3. Bellatrix Orionis says:

    As a Tantra practitioner and energy worker, we start on the left side when working with female energy, and the right side if working with male energy. So yes, in channeling Moon energy, it would be appropriate to start on the left (Ida side) when doing these alternating poses.

  4. Charlotte Bradley says:

    Bellatrix,
    Thanks for your input. I was wondering about that and it makes sense. I haven’t practiced a moon salutation in some time. Maybe I will focus on it this weekend and switch it up by starting with the left side.
    Warmly,
    Charlotte

  5. Hi,
    I am very new to yoga and am confused. All of the other moon salutations I’ve seen look really different to me– more downward dogs and no “chandrasana” side bends which comes up as a pose with one hand and one foot planted on the ground. What am I missing?
    Thanks.

  6. Charlotte Bradley says:

    Hi Jessica,
    It is kind of confusing… There are a number of versions of the Moon Salutation (just like the Sun Salutation has a several variations). This is the version that I learned and it is based on the Kripalu tradition. I have also seen Moon Salutations that incorporate some of the poses you mention and have less of a focus on lateral bends. I think the thing they probably all share in common is the intention of turning your focus inwards. Moon Salutations tend to be less stimulating than Sun Salutations and affect your energy differently. I am sure you will discover benefits no matter which variation you practice. Let me know how it goes!
    Warmly,
    Charlotte

  7. thanks for sent me this.
    Warmly,
    Clivia

  8. Charlotte Bradley says:

    You are most welcome Clivia!

  9. I have been hunting for the Moon Salutation sequence and finally I have found it. I learned from a Kripalu teacher and loved it. No one seems to teach it anywhere except for that one teacher. The one thing I remember that she taught us was #11……she taught us a squat at that point…not sure of the sanskrit name, sorry. Nonetheless, this looks like a great sequence and I gave it to our Hatha yoga teacher for her to (hopefully) use in class.
    Thanks!!!

  10. Charlotte Bradley says:

    Hi Andee – I am glad you found the sequence! There do seem to be different variations. My yoga teacher trainer taught me this version. She has also done lots of Kripalu training. I have not done this sequence in some time. Thanks for the reminder, perhaps I will do it this weekend!

  11. Amy Frasard says:

    I know this is an older page so I’m not sure if you are even checking comments anymore, but here goes…I am a new teacher and have been asked to lead a series of Moon Salutations for the upcoming Full Moon. I am going to use your sequence but I wanted to know, do you use this same sequence throughout the entire class or do you change at all? I’m really not all that familiar with moon salutations and want to make sure I give my students the best experience possible. Any hints, tips and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

  12. I have only been teaching yoga since June 2011. During a special class I used this salutation with slight additions to the series. I cannot explain this, but it was the most energy filled class I have lead to date. Miraculuos is the only word for it!! I highly reccomend this flow.

  13. meera narayan says:

    Hi, This is a wonderful series..thanks

  14. Charlotte Bradley says:

    You’re welcome Meera. Enjoy!

  15. Adorable!!! Love it! Thank YOU!!!

  16. Is there possibly a video that you’ve made, or seen from someone else, that demonstrates how to do this properly? I have the poses and try to flow through them, but can’t seem to go smoothly. Could you recommend a video to watch? It would be greatly appreciated.

  17. Traditional yoga starts with the left side. I believe the moon in traditional yoga is male. By traditional I am referring to the origins of yoga in India.

  18. I am a male yoga person. I want to try chandranamaskar. Is it ok to do for male? . How many rounds we have to do daily. Can we do in all the days. Can we do in morning and evening

  19. I got this site from my pal who informed me concerning this web
    site and at the moment this time I am browsing this web page and reading very informative content at this place.

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  1. [...] Yoga by Moonlight – Moon Salutation (Chandra Namaskar), Series of Side Bends | Yoga Flavored L…. 0 people like this post. Like  Tweet This!Share this on FacebookShare this on [...]

  2. [...] kundalini even through a nasty flu.  I am very interested in learning more about the moon salutations too.  Anyone have any insights or advice in this [...]

  3. [...] Check out these links for the sequence: here and here [...]

  4. [...] energy in my yoga class yesterday evening, we worked through a yin-style yoga that incorporated Chandra Namasraka (or Moon Salutations), an introspective flow that includes Utkata Konasana (or Goddess Posture). [...]

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