I love this time of the year...when the weather gets cooler and shadows fall in the afternoon. The trees are turning beautiful shades of red and orange so that we can enjoy one final show before they go to sleep and everything becomes quite and still in the cold of winter. This is the time of year for wrapping up in an old quilt with new yarn to knit or a good book to read. And, just as summer is the time to embrace the sun, Autumn is made for the Moon.
I have always loved nights when the moon is full and so bright that you don't need a flash light when stepping out after dark. To me, there is a certain electric magic in the air on moonlit nights...a time for fairy tales and intuition...and a time to wonder at the beauty and mystery of the universe.
Most yoga students are familiar with the vinyasa series of asanas (poses) know collectively as the Sun Salutation. Less know, but equally beneficial is a series of poses known as Chandra Namasker or Moon Salutation. While the Sun Salutation expresses stepping forward in life to accept challenge and be strong, the Moon Salutation expresses looking inward to illuminate creativity and joy...to time spent by the fire knitting or drinking tea.
So, embrace each morning and enjoy an invigorating series of Sun Salutations, but take some time, maybe late in the day when the shadows start to inch across the floor and think about the Moon...and all that brings you joy.
Chandra Namasker (Moon Salutation*):
- Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Breathe and bring the arms overhead reaching slightly behind the body. Return to the center and leaning gently to the right side (Half Moon Pose) then to the left. Return to center and exhale to a forward fold.
- Step the right foot back and then walk the body over to the right side so that the body is folded forward and the legs are spread wide apart. If you are comfortable, place the hands on the feet (Head to Feet pose). Inhale, then exhale and roll up the spine to a standing position, legs still wide.
- Inhale and bring the arms overhead. Exhale and fold the body to the right leg (Head to Knee pose). Breathe and lift the arms back to standing and repeat to the left side. Repeat to standing and then return to Head to Feet pose. Breathe. Exhale and walk the torso back around to the front of the mat.
- Bend the left knee and turn the back toe (right leg) coming into Crescent Moon pose (low lunge). With an exhale, step the right leg up into a modified squat or forward fold then repeat Crescent Moon pose on the other side, stepping the left leg back and bending the right knee.
- With an exhale, lift the hips and come to Downward Dog. If you feel comfortable and strong, raise the right leg. Hold to inhale then exhale to lower. Repeat with the left leg.
- Breathe into Plank pose and then lower all the way to the floor. Breathe up into Cobra pose. Exhale to Downward Dog or a low squat. Inhale and move to forward fold. Exhale back to Tadasana (Mountain).
*Please note some transitions might vary from a traditional practice.