As I begin to write this, it brings back memories from childhood where I am perched at my bedroom window gazing at the moon. Someone had told my mom that moon-gazing helps improve memory, willpower and vision. Since then she always encouraged me to do so. Luckily for her, it didn’t require much coaxing—I was in love with the moon at first sight. Even today, a glimpse of the illuminating full moon against a starry back drop lifts my spirits sky high.
While the chandra namaskar or moon salutation may not enjoy the worldwide popularity of the surya namaskara [sun salutation], it does offer powerful benefits of its own. A sequence of 17 yoga asanas, the moon salutation is a good warm up before your yoga practice or a cool down for your evening restorative yoga session.
In Hatha yoga, ‘ha’ stands for the sun or yang or fiery energies. ‘Tha’ symbolises the moon or yin or cooling energies. There are several variations of the moon salutation, each very different from the other. What I am sharing below is a traditional form of the chandra namaskara. Read the steps and see the accompanying pose in the illustration, before trying it:
- Tadasana: [Mountain pose] Stand with your feet together, body aligned with breath. Bring the palms into namaskara position, stretch the hands above the head and lengthen the spine. Stay in this position and take a few breaths before you move to the next asana.
- Chandrasana: [Side stretch pose] Inhale deeply and as you exhale bend to the left side. Appreciate the gentle stretch you will feel on the right side. Be careful to not tilt forward or back, only sideways.
- Utkata konasana: [Victory squat] Return to the centre, step the feet apart and turned slightly out. Inhale and as you exhale bend your knees, bringing the thighs parallel to the ground. Keep the forearm at 90 degrees to the arms and palms facing you. This is also called the Goddess pose, but that shouldn’t deter the guys from trying it out. It helps strengthen the back and the thighs.
- Utthita tadasana: [Five pointed star] For this, simply raise yourself from the squatting position and straighten the elbows. Hands parallel to the ground. Relax the shoulders and chest.
- Trikonasana: [Triangle pose] Step the left foot out and slide down to the left side. Extend the right hand up. This helps improve flexibility of the spine and corrects mis-alignment of the shoulders.
- Parsvottanasana: [Head to knee pose] Now, bring the head to touch the left knee. Relax both the hands down on the left foot. This asana helps improve posture and balance. It also improves digestion and lengthens the muscles on the back of the leg.
- Left side lunge: Bend both the knees and move into lunge on the left side. Keep looking to your left.
- Forward facing lunge: Straighten the right knee and do a forward facing lunge. Bring both the hands in front on the floor.
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