Although, Chandra Namaskar or the moon salutation is not as popular as Surya Namaskar, it has wonderful benefits of its own. Chandra Namaskar is a series of 17 yogasanas, which form a good w
arm up session, before beginning yoga practice, or can help you in unwinding after a long day at work, and can be practic
ed as your evening restorative yoga session.
In Hatha yoga, the first half of the word hatha i.e, ‘ha’, refers to the
sun or fiery energies, while ‘tha’ refers to the moon or cooling energies.
Best time to practice Chandra Namaskar or Moon salutation
Although, the Chandra Namaskar can be done at any time of the day, the best time to practice this asana is in the evening, around sunset, when the moon is up. Just as mornings are good time for sun salutations, evenings are best for moon salutations.
Different phases of moon have different effects on earth and its inhabitants. The Siva Samhita, an ancient Indian text mentions the moon as source of immortality. The moon phase affects everyt
hing on earth and its inhabitants. The moon phase affects everything that contains two elements salt and water. Hence, people with chronic diseases may experience an aggravation of their complaints during full moon, particularly those suffering from asthma.
Steps for Chandra Namaskar:
There are several variations of the moon salutation, each very different from the other. Mentioned here are the steps for a traditional Chandra Namaskara:
- Tadasana: Stand with your feet together, body aligned with breath. Bring the palms together like joining them during prayer, stretch the hands over the head and lengthen the spine. Remain in this position and take a few breaths before proceeding to the next asana.
- Chandrasana: Inhale deeply and bend to the left side, exhale as you bend. However, be careful to only tilt sideways and not forward or back.
- Utkatakonasana: Return to the centre, step the feet apart and turn slightly out. Inhale, and as you exhale, bend your knees, with thighs parallel to the ground. Keep forearm at 90 degrees to the arms, and palms facing you.
- Uthita tadasana: Raise yourself from the squatting position and straighten the elbows. Keep hands parallel to the ground, while relaxing chest and shoulders.
- Trikonasana: Step the left foot out and slide down to the left side. Extend the right hand up. This improves the spine flexibility and rectifies mis-alignment of shoulders.
- Parsvottanasana: Bring the head to touch the left knee, relax both hands down on the left foot. This asana helps improve posture and sense of balance. It also improves digestion and lengthens the muscles on calves of the leg.
- Left side lunge: Bend both knees and move into lunge on the left side, while looking to your left.
- Forward facing lunge: Straighten the right knee, do forward facing lunge, and bring both hands in front on the floor.
- Malasana: Squat with feet placed firmly on the floor and palms jo
ined in front of you.
- Forward facing lunge: Repeat step 8, but, bend right knee and straighten the left, and place palms on the floor.
- Right side lunge: Lunge to the right side, and look to your right.
- Parvottanasana: Straighten both knees and bring your head to rest on the right knee, with both hands near the right foot.
- Trikonasana: Move up into triangle pose.
- Uthita tadasana: Straighten knees and elbows.
- Utkata konasana: Repeat step 3
- Tiryaka tadasana: Join hands in prayer position, extended overhead, bend to your right side
- Tadasana: Conclude one sequence, and return to original position, with hands in prayer position and extended overhead.
Benefits of the pose
Practise of moon salutation on full moon days can help in balancing fiery
energies and helps in calming down, if you feel stressed, hyper-excited or over-stimulated. It helps channelize creative energies. Moon salutation is best practiced outdoors on moonlit night.
The physical benefits of the pose include stretching and strengthening of the thigh muscles, calves, pelvis, and ankles, mainly the lower body. It also helps activate root chakra.
Moon salutation is beneficial to people under any form of stress. It helps balance your energy before you reach a point of exhaustion, as it is a quieting practice. In School of Yoga, it is practiced with a meditation at the beginning and at the end, and offers the option of chanting a different mantra related to lunar energy for each
Among the specific health benefits of the pose are, it promotes balance, digestion, tones the spine, expands lungs and opens the Heart Chakra. It improves good blood circulation, keeps abdominal tract well regulated and healthy, stimulates spinal nerves, stretches leg muscles and back, cures sexual ailments and improves flexibility pri
or to childbirth. It also relaxes sciatic nerves, improves confidence, tones pelvic muscles, regulates functioning of adrenal glands, relieves constipation, anger, sciatica, helps in maintaining balance on both sides of the body, and helps develop a healthy sense of poise and respect for mind and body.
Difference between Surya Namaskar and Chandra Namaskar
One of the major differences in the sun and moon salutations is that the later is always performed in a rather slow and relaxed manner, while the former is done in several dozens and are a complete work-out by themselves. The Chandra Namaskar is done only 4 to 5 times and not more than that.
The Chandra Namaskara begins on the left side and then continues on the right, as the left side represents the ‘ida nadi’ or the moon, while the right side represents the ‘pingala nadi’ or the sun.
On days when you feel depleted, overheated or over-stimulated, Surya Namaskar has a soothing sequence, while the Chandra Namaskar, as the name suggests, invites you to bow to and cultivate the moon’s soothing lunar energy.
Surya Namaskar triggers the yogic process by heating our bodies and giving us the internal fire, while Chandra Namaskar gives us a method for cooling the body and helps to replenish our vital energy.
Therefore, get ready for performing Chandrasana the next full moon night, play a soothing music or begin with a few minutes of candle-light gazing, meditation, followed by 4 to 5 rounds of the moon salutation and complete with Shavasana.