Yoga by Moonlight – Chandra Namaskara

Moonphoto 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

15 thoughts on “Yoga by Moonlight – Chandra Namaskara”

  1. 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 🙂

    1. Charlotte Bradley

      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!

  2. Charlotte Bradley

    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.

  3. 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?

  4. Charlotte Bradley

    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!

  5. Charlotte Bradley

    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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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