We are just coming off the thrill of the Super Blue Blood Moon, so let’s get lunar.
Super Blue Blood Snow Moon. As spectacular as that sounds, “blue” has nothing to do with color. It’s called “blue” because we ended up with two full moons in a single calendar month which happens every 2-3 years. It’s called “super” because the full moon hits when it’s at perigee (the closest point in the moon’s orbit about the earth), which tends to happen every year or so. It’s called “blood” because this full moon went into full eclipse, giving it a reddish hue. It’s also called the “Snow Moon” because each full moon has a monthly name and “snow moon” is the second one of the year (the one we had on January 2nd–also a super moon–was the Wolf Moon).
I was up at 4:30am to catch of glimpse of the lunar event. I didn’t have much hope. It’s been raining non-stop all month, but there it was, slowly dwindling in the shadow of the earth. I watched it through the thin screen of clouds as it pared its way down to a sliver, and then… vanished. The reddish light of the eclipsed moon lacked the luminosity to pierce the layer of stratus. Ah, well, just getting the glimpse was worth it.
The moon figures prominently in yogic symbolism. Together with the sun and the earth, it’s an external representation of the self: earth as the body or material self, moon as the emotional (changeable) self, the sun as the immortal (unchangeable) self. When practicing pranayama (breathing techniques) the left nostril is said to be governed by the moon, while the right is governed by the sun.
I discovered Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar) as an alternative to Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) when I was researching asanas I could use for a Svadhishthana-themed class. Svadhishthana literally means “one’s own place/abode” and is the title for the second or sacral charka. In the chakra system popular in the west, it’s associated with water, emotions, sensuality and the moon. Moon symbolism tends to lean toward the Yin side of things. As much as I enjoy getting my Yin on, I was looking for a vinyasa-type way to honor the moon.
You can find numerous Moon Salutations here on the internet, but of all the Chandra Namaskar, this flow is my favorite. The ebb and flow of the breath and movement parallels that of the tides. Symbolically, the moon is associated with the hips and this flow moves through asanas that strength and open them. The full flow is balanced along the long side of the mat in a sequence known as a “mandala”, which corresponds to the light of the moon waxing and waning with its shadow (it also makes it a nice flow for narrow balconies). In this version, there are 40 breath cycles: 20 cycles from one side of the mat to the other, 20 to get back to the start.
This sequence can be used as a warm up for most levels. Absolute beginners might have trouble keeping up with the transitions. If you have an idea as to how to do trikonasana (triangle pose) you should be okay. It can also be used as the foundation of a full class (stay tuned to this blog for that video, by the way). It’s nice to coincide it with the new or full phase of the moon, if for no other reason than calling attention to the moon phases adds another layer of awareness of and appreciation for the world we inhabit.