Many people who are familiar with yoga, know Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutations. It is a very energizing, stretching and heat-generating sequence of asanas that can be quite a strenuous practise on its own, if, for example, completed at least 5 times, especially those variants of Sun Salutations in Ashtanga tradition. It is best practiced in the mornings.
Chandra Namaskara, which is translated from Sanskrit as Salutations to the Moon, is less known, perhaps, due to the specifics of our current society which is active, quite competitive and fast-moving. This sequence has the opposite effect to Sun Salutions, very relaxing, cooling and calming, and is recommended to practise:
Timewise: In the evening or at night, before you go to bed. (When practicing at night, ensure the stomach is empty).
Daywise: Can be practise any day, but is especially recommended on the days of full moon and new moon, when the energy can be quite low.
This sequence has been developed in the late 20th century. There are quite a few variations of it. Here we are presenting the classical sequence, first published by the Bihar School in Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha in 1969.
Whereas the twelve positions of a classical Surya Namaskara relate to the 12 zodiac or solar phases of the year, the 14 positions of Chandra Namaskara relate to the 14 lunar phases. Its practice helps to keep and replenish the our vital energy.
General notes for Chandra Namaskara:
The sequence of asanas is similar to classical Surya Namaskara except for one extra pose: ardha chandrasana (the half moon pose). Also, the Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) is replaced by Parvatasana (mountain pose). It is a very similar asana, but the feet are together.
Left side to begin with:
Chandra Namaskara begins on the left side and then continues on the right, as the left side represents the “ida nadi”, which is the introverted, feminine or mental force which is responsible for consciousness.
Practice 3 to 7 times maximum.
Attention shall be paid to the quality of each movement and connection of movement with the breath. Instead of moving quickly, jumping into and out of poses as you would in Sun Salutations, it is recommended to move slowly.
Before the practice, a few moments are recommended to be given to prepare the body and mind.
Stand in the upright position with the feet together, keep the eyes closed and the arms at the sides. Distribute the weight of the body evenly on both feet. Bring your awareness to the natural flow of the breath and observe the body as it relaxes.
Here is a suggested meditation that was published with the sequence:
“Slowly withdraw the awareness from the breath and become aware of the space between the eyebrows. Within this space, visualize the full moon in a clear night sky, shining brightly upon the waves of the ocean. Thus full reflection of the moon penetrates the deep waters and the cool shade pf moonlight catches the tops of the waves as they dance. See the image clearly and develop awareness of any feelings or sensation that are created in the mind body.
Slowly let the visualization fade and again become aware of the whole body in the standing position.”
Here is the downloadable 1-pager pdf version of the Chandra Namaskara: Chandra Namaskara
P.S. Thanks to Emma for demonstrating the asanas.
1. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati