A Practice for Moon Season: The Moon SalutationBy:
As the nights get longer and the leaves pale and blush, we are entering into what I like to think of as moon season. With more hours of night in the fall and winter, we see the moon more often as she cycles quietly through her phases.
Moon season is a time to slow down. One way to nourish this pull to dark and quiet is with the Moon Salutation, which gently stretches out the body and calms the nervous system by moving with the breath. The sequence also traces the shape of the phases of the moon--we create a circle in one direction and then go back the way we came, just like the waxing and waning moon. You can do this sequence anytime, including first thing in the morning or right before bed.
You can see a visual of the sequence in this short timelapse video:
The first cycle is the classic Moon Salutation, and the second version is helpful for sensitive knees. To get the breath rhythm, keep to the general rule of inhaling with upwards movement and exhaling with downward movement.
The Moon Salutation
Side Bends: Stand on the left side of your yoga mat facing the long edge. Inhale the arms up and link the fingers, pointing the first finger up. Exhale to side bend to the left, away from your mat. Inhale to center, and exhale to the right.
Goddess Squat: Inhale back to center, and exhale your right foot out onto your mat, feet turned out at about 45 degrees, knees bent, arms in a cactus shape.
Star Pose and Triangle Pose: Inhale to straighten the legs and reach up, turning your right foot out and your left slightly in. Exhale into Triangle pose, reaching your right arm towards your shin, left arm reaching up. Inhale.
Pyramid Pose: Exhale to turn your body down over your straight front leg. Hands can touch the floor or your shin. Inhale.
Low Lunge: Exhale to step your back foot farther back and land the knee to the ground. Reach your arms up as you inhale. For sensitive knees, keep the hands down and the back knee lifted.
Half Squat: Turn to face the long edge of your mat and pick up your right heel so you can sit on it. Extend the left leg out to the left, foot flexed. hands may come up to your heart as you inhale. For sensitive knees, bend your right knee from standing facing the long edge of the mat, toes turned out. Side bend to the right.
Full Squat: Exhale to come to the middle of your mat into a full squat, toes turned out, hips low. Take a full breath here. Inhale again. Alternatively, take wide-legged forward fold with both legs straight.
Half Squat: Exhale to step onto your left heel, extending the right leg out to the right as you did on the other side. Inhale hands to your heart. Repeat the same variations as above for knee pain.
Low Lunge: Exhale to turn towards your left leg and lower your right knee down. Inhale to reach the arms up.
Pyramid: Exhale to bring your hands down and step your back foot to the ground. Full inhale and exhale here.
Triangle: Inhale to reach your right arm up, turning your chest towards the side. Exhale.
Star and Goddess: Inhale to reach both arms up, straightening the legs and turning them out at a 45 degree angle (Star Pose), then exhale to Goddess Squat.
Side Bends: Step to the right edge of the mat. Side bend both ways, then exhale the right foot out onto your mat and repeat the sequence in reverse. You’ll end up back where you started, having waxed and waned in both directions.
Join yoga teacher Julie Peters on an exploration into the real life of yoga—how the philosophies and experiences of the practice can help us learn from our bodies, enrich our relationships, face our deepest shadows, and laugh at ourselves along the way. Julie is the author of the book Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (Turner Publishing). See www.jcpeters.ca for more details.