What do you know about the moon?
It waxes and wanes, and it is sometimes visible during the day. It pulls at the ocean, causing the tides to ebb and flow. You have been seeing it all your life, but have you ever given it your attention? Here’s a quick list of questions to contemplate:
- As you read this, is the moon waxing or waning?
- If the sky were clear would it be visible now? Would you know where in the sky to look?
- Where does does the moon rise and where does it set?
- If the moon rose around 9:30 last night, when will it rise tonight?
- When you see a crescent moon just before sunrise, is it waxing or waning? What if you see it after sunset?
- When a gibbous moon sets before midnight, is it waxing or waning? (What is a gibbous moon, anyway?)
If you’re stumped for answers, avoid the temptation to ask someone or Google the answers. Instead, simply look up. Watch the moon and watch what feelings watching it evokes. As it reveals its secrets, you’ll feel connected to the natural world even if you are dwelling in a glass and concrete canyon.
And if you're ever feeling lonely, just look at the moon. Someone, somewhere is looking right at it too.
Most often, people practice Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation. Sun salutations are literally a "salute to the sun." This sequence is ideally performed at sunrise to get the body and mind energized, and is flow-worship for masculine energy, light, and warmth. Chandra Namaskar, or Moon Salutation is the opposite; celebrating female energy, darkness, and coolness. Moon salutation is best practiced outdoors on moonlit night.
Each phase of the moon brings with it a special energy for that lunar cycle. Everyone knows the moon affects the tides of the oceans. We, as human beings are also made of water, and the same phases that affect the tides also have a deep impact on our bodies and minds.
The full moon energy corresponds to the end of inhalation when the force of prana is greatest. Take a deep breath in, hold it, and feel the prana (energy) in your body. This is an expansive, upward moving force that makes us feel energetic and emotional, but not well grounded. During the full moon we tend to be more headstrong. The new moon energy corresponds to the end of exhalation when the force of apana is greatest. Take a moment to exhale completely, feeling your energy drain with the breath. Apana is a contracting, downward moving force that makes us feel calm and grounded, but dense and disinclined towards physical exertion.
When we view our lives through this interactive lunar lens, we are empowered to explore ourselves in a very natural and powerful way.
Tap into the Power of Lunar Energy with Moon Salutation
An inward-moving and mildly calming practice, this sequence starts with some mellow lunges and side stretches to open up the body (staying close to the ground) and ends with lots of sweet stretches, twists and forward folds to get you ready for a good night’s sleep. The sequence is safe to explore for anyone who practices sun salutations, and many women find it soothing during menstruation or pregnancy.
Stretch and connect with yourself before bed!
- Move through chandra namaskara slowly and mindfully, maintaining a smooth, deep, diaphragmatic breath. (Avoid using ujjayi breathing, which is heating).
- Tune into a sense of devotion as you honor all the phases of the moon and the cycles of your life.
- Perform the entire sequence 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11 times based on your capability and energy levels.
- Consult a health professional if you have recently had any back, hip, shoulders or knee injury.
- Practice of moon salutation on full moon days can help in balancing fiery energies and helps in calming down, if you feel stressed, hyper-excited or over-stimulated. It helps channelize creative energies.
- The physical benefits of the pose include stretching and strengthening of the thigh muscles, calves, pelvis, and ankles, mainly the lower body. It also helps activate root chakra.
- Moon salutation is beneficial to people under any form of stress. It helps balance your energy before you reach a point of exhaustion, as it is a quieting practice. Recommended for persons with Pitta as their dominant Dosha.
In our competitive, anxious mind, we beat ourselves up when we're not doing what we believe to be "difficult" or "strenuous."
- For women with a menstrual cycle, Chandra Namaskar can be a balm for low-energy days.
Difference between Surya Namaskar and Chandra Namaskar
- One of the major differences in the sun and moon salutations is that the later is always performed in a rather slow and relaxed manner, while the former is done in several dozens and are a complete work-out by themselves. The Chandra Namaskar is done only 4 to 5 times and not more than that.
- The Chandra Namaskara begins on the left side and then continues on the right, as the left side represents the ‘ida nadi’ or the moon, while the right side represents the ‘pingala nadi’ or the sun.
- Surya Namaskar triggers the yogic process by heating our bodies and giving us the internal fire, while Chandra Namaskar gives us a method for cooling the body and helps to replenish our vital energy.
The aim of hatha yoga is to balance our lunar and solar energies, but our asana practice tends to reflect a bias for the solar, because we often emphasize sun salutations and heating practices in the quest for physical fitness. If the divine lunar force could speak, she might lovingly remind us to “chill out before we burn out.” Like a mother, the moon can teach us to slow down, listen to our own needs, and be receptive to change.
Day is over, night has come. Today is gone, what's done is done. Embrace your dreams, through the night. Tomorrow comes with a whole new light.