Here’s a lovely yoga sequence for you to try, Moon Salutations. I’ve tried this out in class several times and everyone seems to enjoy it. They are less well know than Sun Salutations although they were developed around the same time and have great benefits for your body and mind. Known as Surya Namaskar in the original Sanscrit, you will find that there is an intense stretch which makes you feel wonderful.
Our bodies and minds have a great affinity for the moon. This is not surprising as we are made up of 50% to 60 % water. As we see from the ebb and flo of sea tides water is pushed and pulled in all directions by the moon. Some of us believe that we are personally affected by the moon phases and have a different level of energy when the moon is new or full. Personally, I love to look at a full moon especially when it is deep and low in the sky and when it reflects into nearby water.
I advise a gentle warm up first but you could just take the first round very slowly if you are already a regular yogi. Remeber to breath through your nose throughout the sequence and to cool down and do a short meditation or breathing practice at the end. My Moon Meditation would be most suitable
When to practice Moon Salutations
Whilst you can practice these at any time they are often used as an evening practice as the moon rises. They are particularly useful if you want a side stretch or to stretch our you hip flexors.
There is a yoga tradition known as Ashtanga which is very physically demanding and is practised most days. At the time of the new moon and the full moon, Ashtanga Yogis have a “rest” and do a moon salutation sequence instead of their normal practice. I suspect this is where they get the reputation for being an easier option than Sun Salutations from.
Do you have an issue with putting weight on your hands, wrists or elbows? This makes sun salutations quite difficult, Moon Salutations are a great alternative for you.
Benefits of Moon Salutations
Sun Salutations are often perceived as more intense than moon salutations and they are supposed to cool the body and calm the mind. They offer an intense stretch at the same time. You will stretch your side waist, thighs and hip flexors deeply. At the same time, there are gentle back and forward bends and twists for your spine. A great all-rounder.
It’s a rhythmical flow which if you practice with your breath becomes almost like a meditative dance. This calms and focuses the mind and leaves you feeling beautifully restored.
For myself, I’ve found the major benefit is having more flexibility in the hip area. I can squat deeper now which makes some everyday tasks such as gardening much easier.
Moon Salutation Sequence
This sequence moves sideways across your mat rather than the front to back flow of a sun salute. Please start in mountain post in the middle of your mat facing outwards to the side.
We work down to the left
- Now lift your arms overhead, hands together and look up.
- Take a standing side bend to the right into Half Moon posture.
- Back to centre and side bend into Half Moon on the left
- Back to centre and step your left foot our wide and come into Star Pose.
- Now, point your toes out to the corners of the mat. Bend your arms like a cactus and lower into Goddess Pose
- Next, its Triangle pose with your left hand down and your right hand high in the air.
- Lower both arms so your hands are either side of your front left foot. Legs are both straight and your nose works towards your shins. This is Pyramid Pose
- Drop your right for a low lunge.
- Lift the arms for a backbend, this is Crescent Moon.
- Place your right hand on the floor close to your left foot and lift your left arm high for a lovely opening stretch
- Now place both hands just above your left knee (not on it) and lift up your back leg into a low side lunge. Place your hands together in Prayer pose and, with legs wide, slowly move your hands across the centre.
- This is a deep low squat with legs wide. Try to keep your back straight and have your hands in Prayer .
Now we come up on the right hand side
- Keep squatting low and gradually bend your right knee and straighten your left as you move to the other side.
- Now place your left knee on the ground for a low lunge.
- Place your left arm next to your right knee and lift your right arm high.
- Come up into Crescent moon pose.
- Your hands go either side of your front foot as you take Pyramid pose
- Now its Triangle with your left-hand high.
- Come up into Star pose
- Now its Goddess pose again, then Star pose before completing in Mountain.
We now repeat the whole sequence
You have now completed half a moon salutation and we now work in the opposite direction. The pose sequence without all the detail given above is:
- Mountain, Hands high and look up.
- Bend to the left – half moon.
- Bend to the right – half moon
- Star, Goddess, Star
- Triangle with left arm high
- Pyramid over right leg
- Low lunge with left knee on ground
- Crescent moon
- Twist with left arm high
- Deep side lunge – right knee bent
- A Deep Squat with legs wide
- Deep side lunge – left knee bent
- Twist with right arm high
- Crescent moon
- Pyramid over left leg
- Star, Goddess, Star, Mountain.
Its advisable to go through the whole sequence on both sides two or three times on each side You can vary the length of time in each pose to suit yourself. Practice this a few times and you will soon get the hang of the sequence without having to refer to this list. The most benefits come once you have it memorized in this way.
Have you tried this sequence? I would love to hear how you got on with it. Please pop a comment below or visit Yoga Ladies on Facebook