Hello, Sun! Hello, Moon! - Guide to Yoga Salutations
You may be familiar with yoga sun salutations, an energizing series of movements done at the start of a yoga class, but have you heard of moon salutations?
Moon salutations are designed to calm your mind and body? Today, we are going to tell you how to do both so you can regulate your own energy without having to step foot in a studio. In our busy lives, sometimes it’s easier to do some yoga at home in between the many other things you want to get done.
New moons and full moons are days when yogis say it’s best to ground and center instead of doing exercises that increase energy. On those days, moon salutations can help you get in tune with your inner emotions so you can use the moon energy in meditation. Sun salutations are great for most of us most of the time because who doesn’t want more energy, right? They work well because they involve back-bends that release energy in your nervous system. Additionally, sometimes we just need something to calm us down after a stressful day or before a big event - this is where moon salutations can come to the rescue.
Whether you are just dipping your toes into yoga or are well into your practice, these sequences can lay the foundation of your wellness living. Start practicing them daily and you’ll notice how great you feel! They improve your overall health, build strength, stretch you out, and help you detox. Being mindful when you move helps practice being in your body and breathing when you’re out in the ‘real world.’ You can find slight variations of each of these sequences but we have simplified each of them into easy to follow moves.
The moon activates our feminine energy and our intuition. It is considered yin energy and cools the energy in us. Moon salutations stretch the left and right sides of the body, equally stimulating our logic mind and our intuitive mind. These are safer for those with back or shoulder or wrist problems than sun salutations as well.
- Mountain Pose - Stand tall with your feet together with your toes at the front of your mat. Inhale reach your arms up to the sky. Exhale.
- Side Bend - Interlace fingers above your head with your pointer fingers straight up and thumbs crossed. Exhale. Inhale elongate the spine and exhale bend to the right. Take a few breaths and come back to center.
- Goddess Squat - As you inhale, step your right foot behind you and turn to face the side with your feet three to four feet apart and toes turned slightly out. Exhale and squat so your thighs are in line with your knees. Raise your arms like goal posts with bent elbows and bring your pointer finger and thumb together. Take a few breaths in this position.
- Triangle Pose - Inhale and straighten your legs. Exhale turn your right foot towards the back of your mat and your left foot in slightly. Bring your arms up straight in line with your ears. Stretch over your right leg so your torso and arms are parallel to the ground as you face to the side. Reach your top arm up and your bottom arm to the ground. Take a few breaths.
- Pyramid Pose - Spin your left hip down so it’s in line with the right and straighten your spine over your right leg reaching with straight arms towards the floor. Inhale lengthen your spine and exhale stretch a little deeper. Stay in this position breathing slowly and deeply for a few breaths.
- Low Crescent Lunge - Bend your right leg placing your hands on either side of your leg and drop your left knee to the floor tucking your left foot’s toes under. Stay in this lunge for a few breaths keeping your chest up.
- Flying Monkey Pose - Turn your right foot in and face the side keeping your right leg bent and point the right knee up. The left leg is straight and your left foot is flexed. You can place fingertips on the ground for balance as you take a few deep breaths.
- Garland Pose - Inhale, stepping the left foot in so you come into a deep squat. Lift your chest and bring palms together in prayer pose. Exhale pushing your elbows into your knees to stretch your hips open. Take a few breaths in this position.
- Flying Monkey Pose - Straighten the right leg to the side and flex your right foot pointing your left knee up with the left leg still bent. Fingertips can come to the ground for balance. Take a few breaths here.
- Low Lunge - Inhale and turn your right knee to the ground facing over your left toes. Keep the back knee on the ground and hands on either side of your left leg as you take a few deep breaths.
- Pyramid Pose - Continue facing the front of your mat as you straighten both legs and keep your right hip spinning down. Your left foot points forward and the right foot is turned in. Reach your straight arms towards the ground. Inhale straighten your spine and exhale fold a little deeper over the left leg. Take a few breaths in this position.
- Extended Triangle Pose - As you inhale, lift your torso with your arms straight and by your ears. Bring your arms and torso parallel to the ground facing to the side with your hips open to the side. Bring your top arm straight up and bottom arm towards the floor. Breathe here for a few breaths.
- Star Pose - Inhale, reach your arms up to a V shape and with both legs straight, turn the toes slightly out. Take a few breaths in this position.
- Goddess Squat - Squat so your thighs are parallel to the ground and as you inhale bring your arms up like goal posts with bent elbows bringing your thumb and pointer finger together. Breathe here for a little while.
- Side Bend - Inhale and step both feet to the top of your mat bringing your arms straight above your head. Interlace fingers crossing the thumbs and straightening the pointer fingers. Lift your spine up as you bend to the left. Take a few breaths in this position.
- Mountain Pose - Inhale, lift both hands straight up with palms facing each other. Exhale bring your palms together in prayer pose in front of your heart.
The sun is considered masculine or yang energy and creates heat within us. It’s considered yang energy and is outgoing. Sun salutations stretch the front and back sides of the body equally reminding us to seek balance. You can start with 10 sun salutations breathing deeply through your nose slowly. Take your time as you move between poses.
- Mountain Pose - Stand with your feet together and your toes at the front of your mat. Inhale lift your arms above your head bringing your arms in line with your ears. Take a few breaths here.
- Forward Fold - As you exhale, lean forward bringing your nose towards your knees. Inhale come up half way so your back looks like a flat table and then exhale fold back down.
- Chaturanga - Inhale lift your head and exhale step one foot back at a time coming into a high plank. Inhale pulling your front ribs in and exhale bend your arms to come into a push-up position with elbows touching your sides.
- Upward Facing Dog - Inhale and straighten your arms pulling your shoulders down away from your ears. As you come up untuck the toes coming onto the tops of your feet. Take a few breaths here pulling your lower belly in to protect the lumbar spine.
- Downward Facing Dog - Inhale and lift your hips as you straighten your legs and keep your arms straight. Exhale pressing your heart towards your knees and your heels towards the ground. Take a few breaths in this position.
- Forward Fold - Inhale looking forward and exhale step one foot and then the other to the front of your mat with your feet together. Inhale lift up half way and exhale fold forward.
- Mountain Pose - Inhale slowly, lift your arms and torso up reaching for the sky with your palms facing. Exhale bring your palms together in front of your heart in prayer pose.
If you want stimulating energy that activates your energy towards the upper chakras, you would want to do sun salutations. The Heart, Solar Plexus, Throat, Third Eye, and Crown chakras are targeted with these. This can help you feel a spiritual connection and increase mental energy as well as cognitive function. It stimulates ‘prana’ or upward movement of energy.
Alternatively, ‘apana,’ or downward movement of energy is stimulated by moon salutations. If you want to focus, improve digestion, ground yourself, reduce scattered thinking, improve sleep, connect to creative energy or stretch your legs and hips more than your arms and spine, this is for you. Don’t think you have to do one or the other. Ultimately, working towards having a balance in energy moving up and down is ideal.
If you feel intimated by a yoga class, these basic poses will give you enough familiarity to be able to keep up in most classes. Also, most poses are built around these poses and the stability and flexibility they create make the more ‘advanced’ poses much easier.
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