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Salute to the Moon

May 2, 2011
Salute to the Moon
Sanskrit Name – Chandranamaskar
The moon is not just a pretty light up in the night sky. It has immense power over the earth – right down to ruling the tides of the ocean. If the moon has such influence on the water of the sea just consider what its effect on the human body might be.
In yoga this elegant flow of seven repeated postures linked by breath and movement is in honour of the moon.
1 Stand in the Mountain Posture (Tadasana) and place your hands in the prayer position (Namaste).
2 Inhale and stretch your arms up above your head, and lean backwards, keeping your buttock muscles tight.
3 As you breathe out bend your knees, lower your arms and come into a full squat (Utkatasana). Try to keep your heels flat on the floor.
4 On a half inhalation draw your your right foot back, dropping the right knee to the floor. Keep your hands on either side of your left foot and open your chest.
5 On the second half of the inhalation raise your arms above your head. Sink your hips down towards the ground as you raise your sternum. Gently drop your head backwards. This posture is called the Crescent Moon or Anjaneyasana.

6 Exhale and place your hands on either side of your left foot. Change feet by jumping the right foot forwards between the hands and take the left foot back. Drop the left knee to the floor.

7 Inhale and stretch your arms up above your head as you lean backwards into the Crescent Moon again.

8 As you breathe out lower your arms and step your right foot back, lowering your buttocks to your heels. Place your forehead on the floor. This is called the Puppy Stretch.

9 Inhale, raising your hands, arms, head and chest, lifting yourself into an upright kneeling position, with your buttocks off your heels. This posture is called the Rabbit.

10 Exhale back into the Puppy Stretch.

11 When you breathe in raise your arms, head and chest and come back into the Rabbit. Curl your toes under.

12 Breathe out and lower your arms, coming into a full squat.

13 Inhale and straighten up into a standing posture as you raise your arms forward and above your head and lean backwards.

14 Exhale into the Mountain Posture. Step to the front of your mat. Repeat the sequence taking the left foot back in step 4 and forwards in step 6. This comprises one round of Salute to the Moon.

Try to do five complete rounds of Salute to the Moon. The elegance and comfort of this sequence is closely related to breath control. It is essential to do long, slow yoga (ujjayi) breathing or else you will become breathless and tired and the exercise will not be an enjoyable experience.

Until recently I always wondered why step nine was called the Rabbit. If you look carefully at the full moon on a clear night you can sometimes see an image that looks like a man holding his arms above his head. We call this the ‘man in the moon’. In India the image is known as the rabbit – instead of arms above his head – those appendages are the long ears of the rabbit.

Amber Land completed her yoga teacher’s training at Ananda Kutir Yoga Centre in Cape Town in 1992 and has been teaching yoga ever since. She is trained and teaches in the Sivananda Integral Yoga Style, incorporating what she considers the best aspects of other schools into her teaching. |

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