The days of the full and new moons are great opportunities to draw attention to our feminine side and give permission to honor it.
These are some of my favorite times to introduce chandra namaskara to my students, along with some thoughts about the qualities of this mysterious lunar aspect within each of us.
Whereas the sun is actively expressing its warmth and light into the atmosphere, the moon has no light of its own. When it appears ‘full,’ it’s really just reflecting the light of the sun.
When it appears ‘dark’ or what we call a new moon, it is merely shaded by the earth from the sun’s glow. It’s still there but has, in effect, gone underground, is hidden or concealed.
This is a very feminine quality, and I love this mysterious aspect of our nature. It seems exotic, catlike and intriguing.
Each of us—regardless of gender—has this energy within.
It’s very different from the male energy of outwardly expressing in the world, which is beautiful in its own right.
These days most of us don’t acknowledge the need for this feminine inward withdrawal from the limelight, this ebb and flow of our exterior/interior lives.
We’re always “on,” always accessible. We’re connected 24 hours a day to our main lifelines: our phones, computers and televisions. Our lives on social media reinforce this pushing outward, perpetually revealing ourselves to the world.
Although this is not a natural way of being, it’s what IS. Technology is not going away, nor would we want it to.
Therefore it’s important to remember to take moments to curl back inwards towards Source, connection and deep inspiration.
The full and new moon are two times each month that draw our attention to this need for balance and provide the perfect opportunity to give permission to your students to acknowledge the natural tendency to cycle through shining brightly and withdrawing into darkness—to introspect and nurture ourselves.
Offering a chandra namaskara at these moments is the perfect opening for this discussion in your classes.
One of the features of a chandra namaskara sequence is that it moves from side-to-side rather than forward-to-back on the mat. This reflects the mysterious nature of the moon, how it hides and sidesteps and deflects, rather than being ‘obvious.’ It provides a balance to the directness of the sun’s energy.
I like to include goddess pose in my chandra namaskaras sequences to honor this feminine aspect of the moon, and encourage moments where the eyes can close to draw the attention inward.
All these are ways to cultivate an appreciation for the introverted nature of the mysterious feminine.
Here are some other qualities of the sun and the moon to mention to your students.
- outward expression
- direct, forthcoming, bold
- pingala nadi
- inwardly nurturing
- hidden, concealed, secretive, mysterious
- ida nadi
The beauty of hatha yoga is that can help us balance these two aspects within ourselves.
Differences between the full moon and new moon
Each of the phases of the moon offers more nuance for discussion.
The new moon has always felt to me like a time of deep contemplation and thought. It’s the quieter of the moon states. It’s a time for receiving insights into our next monthly cycle and then planting the seeds and setting intentions based on those insights.
The full moon on the other hand, is a time to see how those intentions are coming along, to check in and course correct, if necessary, to take us through to the next time of drawing inward.
This video shows one version of a chandra namaskara that you can use to springboard off to create your own version. Of course you’re always welcome to use this one.
Here’s how to create your own chandra namaskara:
- start with the basic side-to-side formula – face your students sideways on one end of the mat. (You’ll want to move yourself to the side of the room they’re facing to demo.)
- on the in-breathe, raise the arms and include standing ardha chandrasana side stretches. Start by bending to the right to compress the right side of the intestines first, then arch to the left.
- step long ways on the mat, landing with a bent knee and then straightening into five-pointed star. Hold and breathe, sending energy through the legs, tailbone, arms and crown of the head. Hold for a few breaths.
- inhale arms up and angle toes outwards and exhale into goddess pose. Here you can add variations such as goddess lifts or shoulder stretches or eagle arms. Stay several breaths.
- come back into five-pointed star and prep feet for trikonasana, warrior II or any other side facing asana your heart desires, eventually revolving down into a lunge.
- once in a lunge, add devotion pose and a parshvakonasana twist for fun.
- add any additional poses here such as a lift into warrior III or dighasana.
- take the body back around to side facing once again, using deep squats, a modified skandhasana, or prasarita padottanasana.
- reverse out of the sequence on the other side of the mat.
- when you get back to five-pointed star and goddess pose, bend the knee and spring to the opposite side of the lengthwise mat. You’ve now traveled from one end of the mat to the other.
- finish with ardha chandrasana side arches, once again leaning first to the right side.
- lower arms on the exhale into anjali mudra or to sides.
On the return trip to the other side of the mat, try smoothing out the flow and taking only one breath per movement.
Although the theme of male/female balance is perfect to explore during the full and new moon times of the month, you can easily find ways to weave this concept into any class.
The basics of a chandra namaskara sequence takes you side-to-side on the mat, but beyond that, feel free to play with the poses to create something special to offer your students.
Download a FREE cheat sheet below to help you remember how to construct this basic chandra namaskara!
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