Honor the nurturing energy of the divine feminine with this meditative moon salutation.
By Karina Ayn Mirsky
By Karina Ayn Mirsky
Society typically encourages our solar, more masculine impulses, making it easy to pursue worldly achievement rather than inner awareness. Although the aim of hatha yoga is to balance our lunar and solar energies, even our asana practice tends to reflect a bias for the solar, often emphasizing sun salutations and heating practices in the interest of 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.
We can invoke and pay homage to the lunar energy in nature and within by practicing chandra namaskara, or moon salutation. The 15 steps in the sequence below represent 15 tithis, or lunar days; a 16th step honors the tantric goddess Shodashi, who presides over all the phases of the moon, as well as all that is perfect, complete, and beautiful. When practiced with devotion and gratitude for the divine feminine, this version of chandra namaskara can become a full body prayer.
An inward-moving and mildly calming practice, chandra namaskara is appropriate for any time of day, including late afternoon and evening. To bring an element of ritual into your practice, try it during the new and full moon phases, or outside anytime under the moon itself. The sequence is safe to explore for anyone who practices sun salutations, and many women find it soothing during menstruation or pregnancy.
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.
1. Stand tall in tadasana (mountain pose) and take a few moments to establish chandra bhavana. (Abhavana is a subtle feeling created through the practice of visualization.) Close your eyes and relax your jaw. Imagine that the full moon is in your mouth like a large, soft “moon lozenge.” Picture it slowly rising through the roof of your mouth just past the center of the brain, then drifting to the back of your head, where it rests steadily at a point called the bindu. Hold your awareness of the full moon resting at the bindu throughout the practice; open your eyes two-thirds of the way and maintain a soft gaze.
You may feel complete after just one round of chandra namaskara, or you can choose to do four rounds, remembering all four seasons. If you have a large practice space, do one round facing in each of the four directions, beginning by facing east and moving clockwise. To complete the practice return to face east and allow yourself to linger in step 16.