Moon Salutation 101: Sequence, Theory & Benefits

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The Moon Salutation sequence, Chandra Namaskar is a set series of yoga poses designed to connect you to the energy of the Moon in more ways than one.

In this article we will explore:

  • Chandra, the Moon
  • What is a Moon Salutation?
  • The poses in the Moon Salutation sequence
  • Benefits of Moon Salutations
  • How to practice moon salutations
  • Moon vs Sun Salutations

Read on to learn more.

the moon in the sky in different stages of the cycle

Chandra, the Moon

In the yogic tradition, Chandra refers to the Moon, which is associated with the feminine principle and has a reflective, receptive, and nurturing energy.

Chandra governs the mind and emotions and is often associated with the element of water or jala.

The lunar cycle affects various aspects of our lives, scientifically speaking, through its gravitational pull and the cyclical changes it brings to Earth’s environment. Here are some ways the lunar cycle relates to our lives:

  • Tides – The gravitational pull of the moon causes tides. During the full moon and new moon phases, the gravitational pull of the moon combines with that of the sun, resulting in higher tides known as spring tides. During the first and third quarters, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun act against each other, resulting in lower tides known as neap tides.
  • FertilityStudies have shown that the menstrual cycle of some women syncs with the lunar cycle, with ovulation occurring during the full moon or new moon. This may be due to the moon’s influence on the Earth’s magnetic fields, which can affect hormonal levels.
  • Sleep – Research has found a correlation between lunar phases and sleep quality. People tend to sleep less deeply during the full moon phase and experience more restlessness.
  • Weather – The moon’s gravitational pull can affect the Earth’s atmosphere, causing fluctuations in atmospheric pressure and affecting weather patterns.
  • Plant and animal behavior – Many animals and plants have evolved to follow lunar cycles, with some species using the moon’s light to navigate and others timing their breeding or flowering with the lunar phases, which is pretty cool!

Overall, the lunar cycle’s influence on the Earth’s environment impacts many aspects of our daily lives, both directly and indirectly, and here is where the exploration of Moon Salutations and the energy of the Moon comes in.

a woman embracing the moon on a beach

What is a Moon Salutation?

In yoga, practices that cultivate a calm, cool, and receptive mind and cultivate inner harmony and balance, such as meditation and pranayama, slow flow, and Hatha yoga can be particularly beneficial for balancing and harnessing the energy of Chandra.

The Moon Salutation sequence is a yoga practice that is often done during the full or new moon, but can be practiced any time that you want to feel more connected to Chandra, or moon energy.

It is a sequence of yoga poses performed in a flowing, smooth manner, emphasizing both breath and movement.

Moon salutations are typically gentle and calming, and they can help balance and calm the mind and body, especially during times of stress or emotional turmoil.

The Poses in the Moon Salutation Sequence

Chandra Namaskar features yoga poses that are traditionally considered more low impact, hence being a bit more accessible to practitioners than the Sun Salutation counterparts.

Chandra Namaskar is composed of 9 asanas or yoga poses, and they are the following:

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute Pose)
  3. Parsva Urdhva Hastasana (Standing Half Moon)
  4. Utthita Tadasana (Five-pointed star)
  5. Utkatakonasana (Goddess Pose)
  6. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
  7. Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose)
  8. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)
  9. Skandasana (Side Lunge)

Each pose is often held for several breaths before moving on to the next one.

Some yogic traditions and practices also include Malasana in their Chandra Namaskar sequence.

  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing mountain pose on a sunny terrace
  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing standing side bend on a sunny terrace
  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing five pointed star pose on a sunny terrace
  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing goddess pose on a sunny terrace
  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing triangle pose on a sunny terrace
  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing pyramid pose on a sunny terrace
  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing low lunge pose on a sunny terrace
  • a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing side lunge pose on a sunny terrace

Benefits of Moon Salutations

Moon salutations can be a great way to connect with the lunar cycle, promote a sense of peace and balance, and reap many physical and mental health benefits:

Physical Benefits of the Moon Salutation Sequence:

  • Improves flexibility and mobility of the spine, hips, and shoulders.
  • Enhances circulation and oxygenation of the body.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Relaxes tight muscles and reduces chronic pain and stiffness.
  • Alleviates menstrual cramps.
  • Stimulates and tones the digestive organs and helps relieve constipation.

Mental Benefits of Chandra Namaskar:

  • Induces a sense of calmness and relaxation.
  • Reduces anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Improves focus, concentration, and memory.
  • Enhances creativity and self-expression.
  • Cultivates a sense of inner peace and contentment.
  • Improves overall mental well-being.

How to practice moon salutations

If you’d like to practice Moon salutations, here are the basic steps to start exploring this calming yoga sequence.

  1. Bring yourself to the top of your mat, and face the long side.
  2. Stand in mountain pose and take a few breaths here to ground and center.
  3. Inhale, lift your arms up into Urdvha Hastasana, ground down into the feet and legs, finding length through the sides of your body, all the way up to your fingertips.
  4. Exhale, send your hips to the right, and your arms to the left, into a side bend, notice the opening on the right side of your body.
  5. Inhale back through center.
  6. Exhale, now take your hips to the left and your arms to the right and open up through the left side body.
  7. Inhale, back through the center, and start to ground into your right foot. Maybe bring your hands to your hips for more stability, and lift your left foot up.
  8. Step wide to the left, and land softly into your Goddess pose. Stay here for a few breaths if you’d like. Bring your hands into gyan mudra to invoke even more focus and presence.
  9. Inhale, extend your arms and legs into five-pointed star.
  10. Exhale, turn your toes toward the back of the room, hinge at your left hip, and tilt toward your left leg, lowering into Trikonasana.
  11. Breathe in the pose for a while.
  12. On an exhale, lower your hands down toward your left leg or blocks, into pyramid pose,., squaring your hips a bit more.
  13. Inhale lift your chest
  14. Exhale, square your hips toward the back of the mat, lower your right knee to the floor, and frame your left foot with your hands.
  15. Inhale, lift your arms up for Anjaneyasana.
  16. Exhale, lower your hands to the inside of your left foot, turn toward the side, and find your variation of Skandasana.
  17. Stay there for a breath and then shift to Skandasana toward the other side.
  18. Inhale in the pose.
  19. Exhale, turn toward your right foot, toward the top of the mat, and lower your left knee to the floor.
  20. Inhale lift your arms up for Anjaneyasana. Stay for a few breaths.
  21. Exhale to frame the right foot, lift your left knee, and take a moment to find Pyramid pose.
  22. Inhale here and exhale here.
  23. Plant your right hand on your right thigh or shin, and on an inhalation, lift your left arm up, finding your trikonasana on the other side.
  24. Breathe.
  25. On an inhale, utilize your core to lift yourself up.
  26. Exhale to bend both knees and find a Goddess pose again.
  27. Bring your hands to your hips, and one ready, step to the back of your mat and find Tadasana again.
  28. Inhale, arms up to Urdhva hastasana.
  29. Exhale to tip the hips to the left and your arms to the right.
  30. Inhale through the center
  31. Exhale to take it to the other side
  32. Inhale back to the center
  33. Exhale to Tadasana.

You’ve finished one round of Chandra Namaskar! Now repeat it all starting on the other side, to get back to the top of your mat.

If you want to practice with some guidance; check out this free class on Youtube:

Moon vs Sun Salutations

We could say that Sun and Moon salutations are intrinsically opposite.

One of the main differences between sun salutations (Surya Namaskar) and moon salutations (Chandra Namaskar) is that Sun salutations are often performed at the beginning of a practice to energize and awaken the body, while moon salutations are typically done towards the end of a practice, or when the teacher or practitioner wants to promote calmness and relaxation.

Sun salutations involve dynamic movements such as forward bends, backbends, and strengthening postures, while moon salutations involve slower movements and focus more on stretching the spine, hips, and legs.

Another difference is that in Sun Salutations, the breath is often paired with movement, using inhales to lengthen and exhales to contract. In moon salutations, breathing is deeper, slower, and focused on calming the body and mind.

Sun salutations can be more intense and physically demanding than moon salutations, which are generally more gentle and less vigorous.

Lastly, Sun salutations are associated with the solar energy of heat, light, and intensity, while moon salutations are associated with the lunar energy of coolness, calmness, and receptivity.

To Close

The Moon Salutation yoga sequence is a grounding and centering practice that can help promote relaxation and inner peace.

For more ways to make these postures, sequences, and your yoga practice more accessible and adaptable to your needs, check out this section on our website next.

Photo of author
Laia is an Afro-Catalan accessible and inclusive yoga & meditation teacher. She has trained in hatha, vinyasa, trauma-informed yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga and holds E-RYT 500 and YACEP accreditations with the Yoga Alliance. Additionally, she is a freelance writer and translator, publishing in Catalan, English, and Spanish. As a former professional athlete who lives with a chronic illness, Laia has gained valuable insights into the benefits of self-care and the importance of pausing and slowing down. She is dedicated to sharing accessible and sustainable practices of yoga and meditation to help people create a more harmonious life. Being a black and chronically ill individual, her mission is to empower non-normative yoga teachers to find their unique voices and develop tools to make wellness practices accessible to the communities they serve, thereby taking up space and creating a more inclusive and diverse yoga industry. Furthermore, as a writer and creative, she is passionate about supporting other creatives and innovators. She fosters a genuine community dedicated to finding balance while staying productive and inspired. Laia has developed unique techniques that intertwine yoga and meditation with writing, journaling, and other accessible methods to help each other stay creative and mindful.

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