Full (Super)Moon Practice

by Milissa on March 19, 2011

in Breath,Nature,Uncategorized,Yoga

I’m posting a day early, because I’m so inspired and energized by the full moon today. This Saturday we are experiencing the “largest” full moon in 18 years. Because the moon is at the perigee—the part of the elliptical orbit that brings it closest to earth—this full moon will appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter. Cool!

I love the moon in all its phases. The tiniest sliver of new moon my mother-in-law calls a “Mary moon”—because it looks like the arc the Virgin Mary stands upon in traditional paintings. I grin, thinking of voluptuous Venus depicted in Botticelli’s painting surfing to shore on a half shell. I figured out many years ago, when gazing up at a statue in the Basilica during a family funeral, that Mary is a form of the goddess—her curves obscured by those heavy robes. The Universal Mother—in all her names and forms—is symbolized by Luna, the moon.

In gentle yoga classes I teach poses that are grounded in the feminine. Instead of Sun Salutations, Surya Namaskar—the ubiquitous vinyasa in fitness yoga studios—my students and I move and breathe through Half Moon Salutations, Arda Chandra Namaskar. This feminine flow moves side to side, rather than forward and back. It takes us inward rather than outward. It reflects the cycles of the waxing and waning moon, rather than taking a linear trajectory. Under the graceful canopy of Clio—the grand red oak visible through the studio’s skylight—we carry on a time-honored tradition of honoring the feminine energy, which gives us life and nourishes us.

Here’s one variation we use at Tree of Life Yoga for Moon Salutations:

  1. Stand in Mountain pose, Tadasana, hands in prayer position, Anjali mudra. Take a breath in.
  2. Exhaling, bring hands down and bow slightly to the earth.
  3. Inhaling, sweep the hands overhead, palms together.
  4. Exhaling, bring hands back to the mudra in front of the heart center.
  5. Inhaling, take the hands up the midline into a steeple.
  6. Exhaling, bend to the right, engaging the core and stretching the side body, in Half Moon, Arda Chandrasana 1. Keep the fingertips pointing above the crown as you go to the side.
  7. Inhaling, return to center.
  8. Exhaling, bend to the left in Half Moon, Arda Chandrasana 1.
  9. Inhaling, return to center.
  10. Exhaling, bring hands back down to Anjali mudra.
  11. Inhaling, take a big step to the right into 6-Pointed Star, with limbs, crown and tailbone radiating outward from the navel.
  12. Exhaling, bend to the right with arms still outstretched and left palm up.
  13. Exhaling, bend to the left with right palm up.
  14. Inhaling, return to center.
  15. Turn toes outward slightly and bend the knees over the toes into Goddess, Kaliasana.
  16. Bring feet back to parallel and, inhaling, return to Tadasana with hands in Anjali mudra.

Repeat the flow, starting to the left.

This vinyasa is soothing and calming, and promotes a meditative state. Especially if you feel a little wired from the full moon, give it a try. It’s a practice that can even be done before bed–though I personally love to start the day with it, as it gets the kinks out of my spine.

If you’d like guidance with this posture flow and other gentle yoga sequences please join us for Mindful Body on Friday afternoons. The next session begins April 1.

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