Winter Solstice marks the middle of winter when the nights are longer and the days are shorter due to the position of the Earth in relation to the sun. This year’s winter solstice occurs on Thursday, December 22nd. After this date, the days will gradually start getting longer.
Various cultures throughout history have celebrated the significance of winter solstice as it represents rebirth: a new cycle of the year. The idea of “rebirth” reminds me of the moon, which cycles every 29.5 days. The moon is connected to the rhythms in life and is a symbol of balance and influence on nature. Why not celebrate the longest night of the year by incorporating the Moon Salutation into an evening yoga practice!
Moon Salutation, or Chandra Namaskar, is the counterbalance to Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar. Traditional Sun Salutations are practiced at dawn and are designed to ignite our inner fire and help us connect to the sun’s powerful energy. Moon Salutations are best practiced in the evenings, especially during a full moon, as these poses can shift energy without creating extra heat in the body, thus restoring balance, calming and relaxing the body and mind. Moon Salutation poses are slow and smooth with deep inhalations and exhalations.
Like many poses or flows, Moon Salutation has a few variations. Here is a variation that I’ve practiced and I like this version as it incorporate gentle side bends and poses that are great hip openers.
Mountain Pose: palms together at heart’s center
Crescent Moon: reaching up and arching over to the left
Goddess Pose: squat like horse pose, arms extend out into an L-shape (football field goal), palms face forward
Star Pose: the body is like a 5-pointed star
Triangle Pose: extending to the left, right arm up
Pyramid Pose: forehead comes down to meet left leg
Side Lunge Left
Crescent Lunge: left leg forward into a 90 degree angle, right leg extended back straight
Garland Pose: deep squat, keeping heels to the floor, hands in prayer position
Crescent Lunge: right leg forward inleft leg extended
Side Lunge Right
Pyramid Pose: forehead comes down to meet the right leg
Triangle Pose: extending to the right, left arm up
Crescent Moon: reaching up and arching over to the right
Return to Mountain Pose.
To try out another variation of Moon Salutation, watch Shiva Rea’s interpretation of the flow, called Soma Mandala Namaksar, which was featured in the December issue of Yoga Journal Magazine. Rea’s flow is rhythmic and graceful. http://www.yogajournal.com/livemag/lmcontent/77
For added ambiance, practice Moon Salutation in candlelight and enjoy the calming effect on your mind and spirit.
Peace. Love. Namaste,