There are times when we need a more restorative, quieting and soothing practice. Moon Salutation invites you to calm the nervous system, go inward and cultivate introspection. Combine it with pranayama, and follow by meditation to help you wind down at the end of the day. This version of Moon Salutation comes from the Kripalu tradition.
Start in Mountain Pose, with palms together in Anjali Mudra (Prayer Pose). Ground through the feet, hip-width apart. Connect to your breath. Inhale and sweep the arms out and overhead, in the shape of an imaginary full moon. Bring the palms together, hands in steeple position by interlacing the fingers and pointing the index fingers up. Reach the index fingers towards the sky and lengthen the spine.
Exhale and press the left hip to the left, arching the torso to the right into Standing Half Moon. Inhale back to center, elongate the spine, then press the right hip out to the side and arch to the left. Inhale back to center.
Exhale as you step the left foot to the left and lift arms out to shoulder height into Five Pointed Star, turning the feet out about 45 degrees. Reach up through the crown of the head, out through arms and fingers, and down through the legs and feet.
Inhale, as you exhale bend the knees and elbows into Goddess Pose, with palms facing each other, elbows shoulder height. Press the tailbone down, extend up through the crown.
Return to Five Pointed Star by pressing through the feet, straightening arms and legs. Turn the left foot out, the right foot in, right heel pointing away. Arms in T position. Lengthen the spine, then cartwheel the arms into Triangle Pose, left hand down, the right arm toward the sky.
Release the right arm down, rotate the hips and torso toward the left leg to Standing Runner Stretch/Pyramid Pose. Hands are on either side of the front foot. Elongate the spine.
Inhale, as you exhale bend the front knee and lift the right heel coming into High Lunge. Reach the right heel away, the sternum forward.
Rotate the torso, left knee and left foot to the right, facing the long side of the mat, with hands on either side of the left foot, coming into Extended Leg Squat/Side Lunge. The right leg is extended, right knee and toes facing up.
Bring the extended leg in to Prayer Squat. Separate the feet a little wider than hip-width, bring the heels to the floor if possible. Raise the hands into prayer position. Use the elbows to open the knees wide. Extend through the crown to elongate the spine.
Release the hands to the floor, lift the hips as you straighten the legs and bring the feet parallel to Standing Forward Bend. Press into the feet, inhale and rise up to standing in Mountain Pose, sweeping the arms out and up overhead, scribing the circumference of an imaginary full moon.
Repeat the sequence on the other side, this time stepping the right foot to the right.
Modifications: If you have knee concerns, substitute Extended Leg Squat with Warrior II and modify the Prayer Squat Pose using blocks to create a seat.
Variations: Add Balancing Half Moon after Triangle Pose. Then step into High Lunge before Standing Runner Stretch.