Salute the Moon

Posted by on Oct 29, 2012

In honor of the full moon tonight, we wanted to share this Chandra Namaskara or Moon Salutation. The Moon Salutation helps to develop balance, flexibility and strength as you move through postures that lengthen the muscles along the sides of the body, open the hips and engage the legs. There are many versions and variations of the moon salutation and the series presented here can be adapted for your comfort. If you are not able to touch the hand to the floor in some of the postures, they can be done with the support of a block. While moving through the sequence stay aware of the breath letting it set the rhythm of your flow.

Begin in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Take a few breath here to center, making sure that your weight is distributed evenly between the feet, pelvis tucked under, shoulders relaxed down, hands to heart center. As you move through the following postures, time your movement with the breath, holding the individual positions for a few breath if you like, before transitioning into the next pose. This sequence can also move fluidly, without the holds.
Moving as you inhale extend the arms upward, as you exhale stretch to the left, lengthening along the right side of the body. Keep the face soft and stretch only as far as you find comfortable making sure the breath moves with ease.
Inhale back to center, with the spine nice and long, then exhale to the right to lengthen the left side of the body.
Inhale back to center, as you exhale step the feet apart, bending the knees into a variation of Temple pose with the arms at shoulder level with elbows bent, fingertips pointing up.
Inhale turning the left toes away a variation of Star pose in order to prepare for Extended Triangle with the crown of the head lifting up, the arms at shoulder level and fingertips reaching away from the body.
Exhale stretching forward over your left leg and then relaxing down into Extended Triangle pose. Rest the hand to a block if reaching the mat is uncomfortable or brings the body out of alignment.
Exhale releasing the right arm down as the torso relaxes over the leg for Intense Side Stretch, resting the arms wherever you find comfortable along the leg, mat or on top of the block.
Roll the back right heel off the mat and transition into a Crescent lunge position, bending the left knee so it aligns over the ankle. As you inhale reach the arms up and lift the heart looking up into a back bend. You can lower the back knee to the mat for additional support.
From Crescent, exhale lowering the arms, hands rest to the floor. Straighten the left leg and then turn the toes to face forward, feet parallel, hands walk around to the mat below the face.
Walk the hands to the right, turning the right toes away and bend the right knee as you roll the left heel off the mat. Inhale the arms up into Crescent lunge, bringing the back knee down if you like.
Lower the left heel to the floor, toes pointing forward and straighten the right leg. Exhale as you relax the body forward for Intense Side Stretch, resting the arms wherever you like and using the block if needed.
Moving as you inhale, sweep the left arm up opening the chest for Extended Triangle. Check your alignment, upper-body over the hip and leg.
Inhale lifting to the Star Pose variation, right toes pointing away.
Exhale, bending the knees and transitioning back into Temple pose, elbow bent, fingertips up.
Inhale, step the feet together for Mountain pose with the arms extended up. Exhale to the right for the side stretch.
Inhale to center, exhale to the left.
Inhale to center, exhale release the hands to heart center and take a few deep breath. Repeat, leading with the right side, to evenly balance the body.

Traditionally, the Moon Salutation is practiced in the afternoon or evening as the moon is ascending. It should also be noted that Ashtanga style cautions against practicing on the full and new moons due to the influence of the lunar cycle and the strong pull that occurs at the beginning and end of the cycle.

by Ashley Freeman RYT

Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on


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