Suryanamaskara is a very popular yoga sequence and is one of the first sequences that you will start learning as you start yoga. It can be practiced by a yoga novice and also be taken a notch up by advanced practitioners too.
‘Surya‘ means Sun and ‘namaskara‘ translate to salute (or a traditional Indian way of honoring and respecting another person). So suryanamaskara means honoring the sun. It also has amazing benefits for our body and mind.
Suryanamaskara helps boost confidence, brings light, warmth and energizes your being and Chandranamaskara comprises of different postures for the right side and left side, making a complete cycle. While Surya Namaskar has 12 postures, Chandra Namaskar has 14 positions correlating to the lunar phases.
What Is Chandranamaskara?
The Moon Salutation or Chandranamaskara is a moving meditation linked with the breath. Its balancing sequence honors the moon, balances feminine energy and is dark, cool in nature. It helps warm the body yet provides an overall cooling effect and is wonderful to practice in the evening or night before going to bed.
Physical Benefits Of Chandranamaskara
Chandranamaskara is a series of physical postures, performed in a single, graceful flow so that one pose flows into the next. Through their maximum range, they give a profound stretch to the whole body. Through the combination of inhaling as you extend or stretch, and exhaling as you fold or contract connects your body, mind, and soul.
The Moon Salutation helps channel the cool, relaxing, and creative qualities of lunar energy, but it also stretches the spine, hamstrings, and the back of the legs. It strengthens leg, arm, back, and stomach muscles.
Chandranamaskara includes the Ardha Chandra asana as a part of it and involves the ‘Ida Nadi’, which is cooling and relaxing. Breathing is more demanding when it comes to performing Chandra namaskara. This includes puraka (inhalation), kumbhaka (retention) and rechaka (exhalation). There are some practitioners who also include the Balasana and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana too.
Benefits Of Chandranamaskara
-Enhances the lunar energy in our body.
-Calms and restores the chakra centers of the body.
-Deepens connection with the breath and oneself.
-Relieves tension and stress.
-Purifies and release any unsteadiness in the body.
-Connects us to divine energy.
-Provides spiritual upliftment.
-Gives peace and relaxation, and helps recuperate.
-Particularly useful for men and women with Pitta and Vata constitution.
-Beneficial for those who have suffered a nervous breakdown or under stress.
– Brings mental clarity by oxygenating the blood more effectively.
– Benefits all the visceral organs.
-Just like Surya Namaskar, it stretches your spine, works on your hamstrings and strengthens your arms, and stomach muscles.
Best Time To Practice Chandranamaskara
Just like Suryanamaskara is best practiced in the early morning, Chandranamaskara is best practiced at night, during winter cold nights and calm, peaceful occasions. It can be practiced after dusk on an empty stomach. Ideally, a full moon chandranamaskara practice will be powerful, but there is some debate regarding this. The same goes with ‘amavasya’, the new moon (no moon) day practice of this asana.
How To Practice Chandranamaskara?
Just like Suryanamaskara includes yoga poses in a particular sequence, Chandranamaskar also has a certain sequence. There may be variations, but this is the basic one.
Preparing for Chandranamaskara
-It is essential that you prepare your mind and body before you begin. Stand straight and keep your feet together.
-Your hands should be by your side and you should breathe gently, focusing on your inhalation and exhalation. Bring your awareness to the pattern of your breathing.
-All the yoga positions should be in sync with your breath. Avoid any kind of discord between your breathing and the asana.
-Gradually bring your awareness to the point between the eyebrows, at the level of Ajna chakra. Visualize the moon and its soft, gentle light there.
-Slowly, let the awareness fade away and gradually bring your focus to the body.
Beginning the sequence
1. Begin the sequence standing in Mountain Pose – Tadasana.
2. Inhale – Hook the thumbs of your outstretched arms as you raise them up over the head. This variation of Raised Arms Pose –Urdhva Hastasana is a backbend, so reach the arms toward the wall behind you.
3. Exhale – Fold forward into a variation of Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana. As you exhale, let the arms swing down behind your back. Interlace your fingers behind the back and bring your hands over your head as you fold forward.
4. Inhale – Release your interlaced hands as you swing the arms up next to your ears and step the right foot back to the end of your mat coming into a High Lunge.
5. Exhale – Drop the hands to the front of your mat as you step the left foot to the back of the mat coming into Downward Facing Dog.
6. Inhale – Come forward into Plank Pose.
7. Exhale – Lower down to Knees, Chest, Chin. Inhale – Come forward into Cobra Pose Or Exhale – Lower down to Chaturanga. Inhale – Come forward to Upward Facing Dog.
8. Exhale – Push back to Downward Facing Dog.
9. Inhale – Step the right foot to the front of your mat as you bring the arms up next to your ears coming into a High Lunge Pose.
10. Exhale – Step the left foot forward to meet the right foot as you swing the arms down and interlace the fingers behind your back coming into a variation of Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana.
11. Inhale – Release the hands from behind your back and hook the thumbs in front of you as you come up to stand. In a continuous movement, take the arms up and back behind you coming into Raised Arms Pose –Urdhva Hastasana.
12. Exhale – Bring the arms back along the side of the body as you come back into Mountain Pose – Tadasana.
13. After completing the Chandra namaskara do the Shavasana or the corpse posture for some time.
Who Should Not Perform Chandranamaskara?
Those with hernia, high blood pressure, with a history of stroke, back problems, lumbago, sciatica, fever, heart disease etc. should avoid these asanas.