Happy International Women’s Day!
In yoga, we frequently practice sun salutations. Sun salutes are great to warm up the body and build strength through lots of forward folds, back bends, and core work.
Today, I invite you to practice moon salutations which are a great complement to sun salutes with side stretching and squats. Plus, they tap into the feminine energy of the moon.
The chart below shows doing these with one breath and one movement, but you can hold each pose for several breaths until the flow comes more naturally.
1. Mountain Pose: Start at one end of your mat facing the long edge. Stand with feet parallel, knees soft, thighs active, spine long, and chin parallel to the floor.
2. & 4. Upward Salute: From mountain, raise the arms overhead on an inhale, keeping the spine long and lower rib cage pulled back to avoid a sway in the back. Fingers can be interlaced or hands can be shoulder-width or wider apart.
3. & 5. Crescent Moon: Exhale as you side bend.
6. 5-Pointed Star: Step the feet wide and turn the feet out. Reach the arms straight out at shoulder height with the palms forward.
7. Goddess: From 5-pointed star, exhale as you bend the elbows and bend the arms to 90 degrees. Knees should be opening toward the outside edges of the feet.
8. Triangle: For these instructions, let’s say we’re starting to the right but you’ll want to make sure to do both sides. Turn the feet to set up for triangle, with the right foot turn at 90 degrees from your hips and your left foot turned in slightly. Let the hips tilt as you reach the right arm as far to the right as you can go; pivot from that point so the right hand comes down to your leg/ankle/the floor and your left hand reaches up toward the ceiling. Both legs should remain straight.
9. Pyramid: From triangle, bring the left arm down to the floor/a block/your shin, letting the chest turn toward the floor and your hips and feet turn toward the short edge of your mat. Your legs should stay straight and your heals should be down (you may have to step the back foot forward for this).
10. High Lunge: Bend the right knee as you step the left foot back for high lunge. The front knee should be at 90 degrees with the knee directly over the ankle. Hands are framing the foot.
11. Extended Leg Squat: Bring the right hand inside the right foot and begin to walk the hands toward your midline. Your right leg will be deeply bent and your left leg will be extended out.
12. Yogi Squat or Wide-Legged Forward Fold. Traditionally, I have been taught to transition to a full yogi squat with both knees deeply bent and hands at the heart center. Heels may be on or off the floor and the toes turned out in the same direction as the knees. But if your knees don’t like doing a full squat, you can come into a wide-legged forward fold. Here feet are parallel to each other with the weight moving toward the pinky toe side of the foot, hands on the floor or blocks.
Then you do the whole sequence in reverse order to the other side.
Just like with sun salutations, there are many different variations of moon salutations. I hope you’ll give this one a try and see if you like it.