Sat Nam Ji
The Moon Salutation was created by a group of senior female teachers at the Kripalu Center in the late 1980s. Their goal was to honor women's bodies and women's rhythms while also complementing the Sun Salutation. For some women during menstruation and menopause, the more familiar Sun Salutation is too stimulating for the nervous system, and should be practiced gently or not at all. During pregnancy, several of its postures are contraindicated, as they could injure either fetus or mother. In contrast, the Moon Salutation cools and calms the nervous system, and includes several of the most beneficial postures for menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
Men also love practicing the Moon Salutation because it is such a powerful psychological and spiritual counterbalance to the Sun Salutation. While the Sun Salutation enacts the hero's journey-stepping forward to face life's challenges--the Moon Salutation enacts the journey of descent--sinking into the depths to discover one's creativity, the process of literal or metaphoric birth.
Just as the moon goes through dark phases and returns to its full brilliance, so the Moon Salutation drops into the depths of lunging and squatting, returning to triangle, star, and half moon poses with radiant joy and openness. Further, because it is oriented to the side it is perfectly suited to practicing in a circle or facing a partner, opening us to relationship and community in our Yoga practice. Its earthy squats help us to feel grounded and open to emotions.It is helpful to learn the Moon Salutation under the guidance of a teacher so that you can learn to adapt it to any special needs your body might have, such as tight hips or a vulnerable knee. Alternately, Laura's book on the Moon Salutation provides directions for practice and variations that are appropriate for a variety of skill levels.
Once you are familiar with its movements, you can experiment with practicing it at different times of the day, such as during a morning stretch break (instead of a coffee break!), before bedtime as a way to quiet and center yourself, or even as a way of celebrating the full moon. You can teach the Moon Salutation to a friend or family member, and practice it while mirroring each other, enjoying its balance and completeness. The Moon Salutation has both ancient and modern roots. The recovery of the Moon Salutation is part of the recovery of the divine feminine at this time in history.