The Benefits of Traditional Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar)
If you’ve got some experience of practicing vinyasa, hatha, or ashtanga yoga you’ll be familiar with starting your yoga practice with a series of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar). But what are the benefits of sometimes switching up your practice with a series of traditional Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar)? And when and how can you practice them?
You can find more details in my guided 15 minute Moon Salutation A video.
What Are Traditional Moons Salutations (Chandra Namaskar) and How Do They Compare vs. Sun Salutations?
Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar) are a series of flowing yoga postures that we link together with our breath. The yoga poses that make up the moon salutes are mostly focused on opening the hips and shoulders.
These Moon Salutations are generally practiced towards the start of a slow vinyasa flow or hatha yoga practice as a way to gradually open up the body and help synchronise our movement with our breath.
So how do Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar) compare vs Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)?
The yoga postures that you find in Moon Salutation A tend to be more gentle and quietening compared to those in Sun Salutation A. This makes the Moon Salutation better suited to practice on days that you feel lower on energy and would like to have a softer practice.
Sun Salutations also often feel better suited to practicing in the morning while Moon Salutations lend themselves better to an evening practice.
What Are the Benefits of Practicing Moon Salutations?
Due to these differences, some of the benefits of practicing Moon Salutations are to help you drop into a quieter and softer yoga practice. Giving you more possibilities to focus on smoothing and lengthening your breath, and easing your body into less dynamic yoga postures.
Having said this we still want to approach our Moon Salutations with dynamic and active stretching. Meaning that although we are looking for a more gentle approach in Moon Salutations we still want to focus on our stability and technique in the yoga postures.
Moon Salutation (Chandra Namaskar) Steps
Moon Salutation A or Chandra Namaskar A is made up of a series of eleven yoga postures.
You might start by practicing the first few rounds quite slowly to get familiar with the yoga poses and transitions. You can then over time start to find a steady flow where you move at a slow rhythm through each posture with a regular and extended breath.
(1) Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)
You can start by coming towards the back of your mat. If your knees feel okay, you can come to kneel and sit back on the heels. But if you want a bit of extra support, you could either put a towel or blanket under your knees or place a block or bolster between your feet. So that there's not so much weight on the knees.
From here you can rest your hands on your thighs and take a few slow breaths.
(2) Thunderbolt Pose Variation (Vajrasana with Arms Up)
On your next inhale, you're going to reach your arms up. So arms are coming up and overhead.
(3) Childs Pose (Balasana)
Exhale, you're going to start to lean forward coming towards your Child's Pose.
(4) Tabletop Pose (Barmanasana)
Inhale, from here you're coming forward to your hands and knees.
(5) Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Exhale, start to tuck the toes, lift the hips up and back, and find your way up into a Downward Dog.
(6) Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
Using the inhale to come all the way back down to the hands and knees and start to arch through the spine for your Cow Pose.
(7) Childs Pose (Balasana)
And exhale sinking the hips back down to the heels for your Child's Pose.
(8) Kneeling Pose (Ustrasana Variation)
Now we're using that next inhale to come up to kneeling. So hands coming towards the back of the hips and firm through your belly.
(9) Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Using the exhale to start to lift the chest a little up, lean a little back, and your head can look forward or back.
(10) Kneeling Pose (Ustrasana Variation)
Inhale, come back through a neutral position moving nice and slowly.
(11) Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)
And exhale, slowly sinking the hips back down to your heels.
This is one round that you can repeat for a few rounds.
Once you feel familiar with this sequence of postures you can start to move at your own tempo and start to remember the sequence. If you need you can always check through practicing along with my Moon Salutation video.
For the last round you could choose to hold a few of the key postures like Downward Facing Dog Pose, Cat / Cow, Camel Pose, and Child’s Pose. And then finishing with a longer Child’s Pose, meditation practice or relaxation.
I hope you enjoyed this slightly gentler version of the Moon Salutations.
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