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The Sanskrit word for chandra means ‘moon’, and namaskara translates to ‘salutation.’ Therefore the practice of Chandra Namaskara is commonly known as ‘salutations to the moon.’

Just as the moon has no light of its own but reflects the light of the sun, Chandra Namaskara reflects that of Surya Namaskara or the Sun Salutation. Where the Sun Salutation brings heat and energy into the body, the Moon Salutation promotes cooling, creativity and calmness.

Chandra Namaskara is a series of fourteen physical postures. It adopts the same 12 poses of Surya Namaskar with the addition of the Half moon pose (ardha chandrasana). This pose significantly changes the sequence by promoting balance, concentration and slower breathing.

The alternating backward and forward folding postures bend and flex the spinal column through its maximum range, giving a profound stretch to the whole body. It is a powerful sequence which also massages the internal organs and regulates all the body systems, especially the reproductive, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. The transition from posture to posture is facilitated with a specific breathing pattern. The inhalation is used to lift, open and extend, the exhalation to fold forward, soften and release. The breath is also held in and out for particular asanas to increases introversion and relaxation.

One round of Chandra Namaskara consists of two sequences, the first leading with the right foot in positions 4 and 10, the second leading with the left. The hands are kept in one place from positions 3 to 12, and co-ordinated with the movements with the breath.

Once familiarized with the physical postures and breathing technique, one can deepen the practice by focusing on different aspects. Each posture relates to a specific trigger point and psychic centre within the body. Concentration on these locations develops a more subtle inner awareness. Specialised mantras associated with each position may also be used. These mantras are a combination of syllables and sounds, and through their vibration have a powerful effect on the body and mind.

Chandra Namaskara is to be followed by Corpse Pose (Shavasana). This relaxation period is very important as it allows the body time to adjust and absorb the benefits of the practice.

Moon salutations engage all the muscles, lubricate the joints and regulate the various systems. The relaxation period following the practice returns the body to a balanced, harmonious state.

As with all yoga practices, it is important to always listen to the body, honour it’s needs and practice safely. Discontinue Chandra Namaskara immediately if any discomfort or sickness is felt. It is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, coronary artery diseases, hernia, or those who have had a stroke. Consulting with an experienced yoga teacher or a medical expert is advised for people with back conditions, as these may be better managed through an alternative asana program.

Positions 15 – 28
This completes half a round. In the second half, the positions are repeated practicing to the left side. This changes the equestrian pose. In position 18, instead of stretching the right foot back, stretch the left foot back and in position 24, instead of bringing the left foot between the hands first, bring the right foot between the hands first.

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Position 14 – Exhale

Prayer Pose

Pranamasana

  • Join the palms together above the head.
  • Bend the elbows and bring the hands down to rest in front of the sternum.

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Position 13 – Inhale

Raised arms pose

Hasta Utthanasana

  • Align the spine and neck.
  • Keep the arms and back straight, engage the core muscles, rotate from the hips and raise the head and torso upright.
  • Simultaneously extend the arms out to the sides to form a large circle, symbolizing the full moon.
  • Stretch all the way up then arch the arms, head and torso back.

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Position 12 – Exhale

Hand to foot pose

Padahastanana

  • Bring the right foot forward, next to the left foot.
  • Straighten both legs.
  • Bring the abdomen in contact with the thighs and draw the head toward the shins.

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Position 11 – Retain in

Half moon pose

Ardha Chandrasana

  • Raise the hands from the ground and join the palms together in front of the sternum.
  • Once balanced lift the arms above the head and simultaneously, arch the back and gaze up.
  • Hold for a few seconds then extend the arms out to the sides of the body and lower the hands to the floor beside the front foot.

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Position 10 – Inhale

Equestrian Pose

Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  • Step forward with the left foot, bend the knee and position the foot between the hands.
  • Simultaneously lower the right knee to the floor.
  • Keep the left foot between the hands and lunge forward.
  • Press the pelvis down and extend the body up and back as far as is comfortable.
  • Lift the palms from the floor and come up onto the fingertips.
  • Draw the shoulder blades together slightly to open in the chest.
  • Engage the neck muscles and lift the chin and gaze up.

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Position 9 – Exhale

Mountain pose

Parvatasana

  • Keep the hands and feet in the same position.
  • Push down through the hands and toes.
  • Raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms so that the body forms a triangle.
  • Lift the tail bone up, lengthen and straighten the arms and spine.
  • Keep the knees soft and relax the heels towards the floor.

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Position 8 – Inhale

Cobra pose

Bhujangasana

  • Keep the hands and feet in the same position.
  • Slide the chest forward and raise the head.
  • Simultaneously lower the hips and pelvis to the floor.
  • Keep the pubic bone on the floor and straighten the arms to a comfortable position.
  • Lengthen and stretch the spine into a backwards curve, directing the gaze upward.

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Position 7 – Retain out

Eight point salute

Ashtanga Namaskara

  • Keep the hands and feet in the same position.
  • Lower the knees chest and chin simultaneously to the floor, allow the heels to rise, the balls of the toes remain in contact with the floor.
  • Keeping the chest between the hands tuck the elbows into the sides of the body.

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Position 6 – Exhale

Mountain pose

Parvatasana

  • Lower the palms to the floor.
  • Keep the right foot still and step the left foot back to beside the right.
  • Simultaneously, raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms so that the body forms a triangle.
  • Lift the tail bone upwards, lengthen and straighten the arms and spine.
  • Keep the knees soft and relax the heels towards the floor.

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Position 5 – Retain in

Half moon pose

Ardha Chandrasana

  • Raise the hands from the ground and join the palms together in front of the sternum.
  • Once balanced lift the arms above the head and simultaneously, arch the back and gaze up.
  • Hold for a few seconds then extend the arms out to the sides of the body and lower the hands to the floor beside the front foot.

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Position 4 – Inhale

Equestrian Pose

Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  • Extend the right leg back and lower the knee to the floor.
  • Keep the left foot between the hands, ensure the left shin is at a 90 degree angle with the floor.
  • Press the pelvis down and lengthen the spine.
  • Draw the shoulder blades together slightly to open the chest.
  • Keep the head in line with the spine and direct the gaze ahead.

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Position 3 – Exhale

Hand to foot pose

Padahastanana

  • Straighten the back, head and arms and bend forward from the hips.
  • As the body folds forward, simultaneously stretch the arms out to the sides to form a large circle, symbolizing the full moon.
  • Bring the abdomen in contact with the thighs, draw the head toward the shins and position the hands on the floor either sides of the feet.

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Position 2 – Inhale

Raised arms pose

Hasta Utthanasana

  • Raise the arms, separate the palms and position the hands forward, shoulder width apart.
  • Arch the arms, head and torso upwards and back.

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Position 1 – Exhale

Prayer Pose

Pranamasana

  • Stand with the feet together at the front of your space.
  • Bend the elbows and join the palms in front of the sternum.

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