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Sun Salutations vs. Moon Salutations: Balancing Energies and Practice



In the realm of yoga, the practice of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) and Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar) holds a special place, offering practitioners a chance to harmonize their energies, find balance, and connect with the rhythms of the day and night. These two sequences each hold unique qualities and benefits that cater to different aspects of our being.


In this blog, we'll explore the differences between Sun Salutations and Moon Salutations, their respective benefits, instructions for practice, when to practice each, contraindications, and other relevant information.



Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar): Invigorating and Uplifting


Benefits:

Sun Salutations are known for their invigorating and energizing effects. They are usually practiced in the morning, hence the name, to greet the rising sun and awaken the body and mind. Traditionally, Sun Salutations are practiced facing the East, the rising sun. This sequence helps build strength, improve flexibility, and increase blood circulation. It also engages the solar plexus chakra, promoting self-confidence and vitality.



Instructions:


  1. Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) at the top of your mat, hands by your sides.

  2. Inhale, raise your arms overhead in Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana).

  3. Exhale, fold forward into Forward Fold (Uttanasana).

  4. Inhale, lift your chest and elongate your spine in Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana).

  5. Exhale, step back into Plank Pose.

  6. Lower down halfway in Chaturanga Dandasana.

  7. Inhale, lift your chest into Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana).

  8. Exhale, lift your hips into Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Hold for a few breaths.

  9. On no breath, step or jump your feet between your hands.

  10. Inhale, lift your chest in Half Forward Fold.

  11. Exhale, fold forward.

  12. Inhale, rise to standing, extending your arms in Upward Salute.

  13. Exhale, return to Mountain Pose with your hands by your sides.

  14. Repeat the sequence for the desired number of rounds.


When to Practice Sun Salutations:

Sun Salutations are ideally practiced in the morning to greet the new day, boost energy levels, and set a positive tone for the day ahead.


Contraindications:

Individuals with wrist, shoulder, or back injuries should approach Sun Salutations with caution. Pregnant women might need to modify the practice as their pregnancy progresses.




Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar): Calming and Reflective


Benefits:

Moon Salutations offer a more calming and reflective practice. They are often practiced in the evening or during the full moon, harnessing the soothing qualities of lunar energy. This sequence helps release tension, improves flexibility, and cultivates inner awareness. Moon Salutations focus on the sacral chakra, nurturing creativity and emotional balance.


Instructions:


  1. Begin in Mountain Pose.

  2. Inhale, raise your arms overhead in Upward Salute. Then take Kali Mudra by interlacing your fingers, leaving the index fingers out and pointing upwards.

  3. Exhale side bend to the right into Standing Crescent Moon. Inhale return to center, and exhale repeat Standing Crescent Moon on the left. Inhale return to center.

  4. Exhale, step your right foot towards the back of the mat. Turn toes out, and bend your knees deeply into Goddess Pose.

  5. Inhale, straighten your legs and extend your arms out to the sides into Star Pose.

  6. Exhale, into Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana) by rotating toes toward the front of the mat, reach left arm forward and place left hand on left shin. Extend your right arm up toward the sky.

  7. Inhale, adjust your feet for Pyramid Pose. Level your hips and rest hands on either side of the front leg then reach your chest forward. Exhale fold forward over your front leg.

  8. Lower your back knee down into Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana). Inhale and reach your arms up.

  9. Inhale, transition into Ninja Lunge (Skandasana) by tucking your back toes under and bending your back knee. Exhale, Straighten your front leg and place your hands at heart.

  10. Inhale, set your hands down and prepare to move into Yogi Squat (Malasana). Exhale step your back foot forward to the top of the mat so that you’re squatting with both knees bent and feet hip width distance apart. Place your hands at your heart.

  11. Repeat the sequence backwards by first moving into Ninja Lunge (Skandasana) with your left foot at the back of the mat and left knee bent.

  12. Then transition through Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), Pyramid Pose, Triangle Pose, Star Pose, and Goddess Pose.

  13. From Goddess Pose, step your back foot to the top of the mat and repeat Standing Crescent Moon pose.

  14. Repeat the sequence for the desired number of rounds.

  15. After your final round, return your hands to your sides in Mountain Pose (Tadasana).


When to Practice Moon Salutations:

Moon Salutations are best practiced in the evening or during times when you seek to wind down, relax, and connect with your inner self. Full moon nights are particularly suitable for this practice. Moon Salutations are a safer option for those further in pregnancy as they do not require you to lay on your belly.


Contraindications:

Individuals with knee, hip, or ankle issues should be mindful during the lunging phases of Moon Salutations. It's essential to practice within your comfortable range of motion. When practicing Moon Salutations during pregnancy, be mindful not to overstretch your hips as the body is producing more elastin than usual.




Balancing Your Practice:

Sun Salutations and Moon Salutations offer a beautiful balance when practiced together. By integrating the invigorating energy of the sun and the calming energy of the moon, you can achieve equilibrium within your body and mind.


Remember that yoga is a deeply personal practice, and it's crucial to listen to your body. Whether you're drawn to the fiery energy of the sun or the gentle embrace of the moon, incorporating these sequences into your routine can help you tap into the natural rhythms of life and find harmony within.


As with any physical practice, if you have existing health conditions or concerns, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting a new yoga routine. Enjoy your journey of self-discovery and balance through Sun Salutations and Moon Salutations!




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