📓 If you’d like to teach a full yoga class around the winter solstice and moon salutations, you can find those resources inside the Yoga Sequencing Society.
Prefer videos? You can see the Moon Salutation Sequence in action!
what is the winter solstice
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). The longest night of the year symbolizes the death and rebirth of the sun.
what is a moon salutation
A moon salutation, also called Chandra Namaskar in Sanskrit, refers to a sequence of yoga postures that helps practitioners activate the parasympathetic nervous system and prepares them for rest.
You might be more familiar with sun salutations which focus on building heat and strength, and have more upper body postures like updog and chaturanga.
Moon salutations are the complement to sun salutations. They have cooling and relaxing qualities, use low-impact asanas, and focus on lower body stretching.
👇 Get your free Moon Salutation Yoga Sequence PDF
If you’re already a subscriber you can find the PDF in the sequence library! If you are a new subscriber, the link will be in your welcome email.
BENEFITS OF moon salutations
Like all of yoga, practicing moon salutations regularly has many physical and mental benefits:
- Stretches the lower body
- Increases range of motion in the hips
- Boosts your immune system
- Improves sleep
- Calms the nervous system
- Soothes your mind
- Balances yin and yang energy
how to practice the moon salutation sequence
Also similar to sun salutations, there are many variations you can practice for moon salutations.
Since this flow is designed to bring you into rest and digest mode, practice moon salutations at the end of a heated class, during the full moon, or at night when you need to wind down for sleep.
To complete one cycle of a moon salutation sequence, you work through nine postures on one side, then reverse the sequence on the other side until you return to the first posture.
When practicing moon salutations you can start on either the right or left side. For demonstration purposes, I have started on the right side. As you move through the sequence, remember to breathe deeply and connect into the slow, gentle movements.
Start with your feet hips-width distance apart and your weight even distributed through the soles of your feet. You can bring your hands together at your chest and take several deep breaths.
2. SIDE STRETCH
Inhale and extend your arms overhead. Exhale and lean to the RIGHT, stretching through your side body. Keep your feet grounded and legs engaged. Come back to center.
Step your RIGHT foot out wide to the side, turning your toes out slightly. Exhale and bend your knees. You can extend your arms overhead, bring them into goal posts, or extend them out straight.
4. five-pointed star
Straighten your legs, extending your arms out to your side. Keep weight evenly grounded through the soles of your feet. Lift energetically through your legs, standing strong.
Turn your RIGHT toes to the short side of your mat and windmill your arms around and down. Use a block under your right hand if you need.
Twist and fold at your waist, bringing your left hand down to your RIGHT. You can keep the front knee slightly bent, adjust your back foot, or use a block under your hands.
7. kneeling lunge
Bend your RIGHT knee and drop your left knee to the mat, coming into a runner’s lunge. You can keep your hands on the ground, or lift up and bring them to your knees.
8. side lunge
Keeping your RIGHT knee bent, turn your toes and torso toward the long side of your mat. Then extend your left leg to the side.
Alternative: From kneeling lunge, sit on the mat and come into a half butterfly facing the front side of your mat.
Shift your weight, bending your left leg and coming into a low, wide squat. Hold and breathe deeply for several counts.
Alternative: Practice butterfly instead of garland.
repeat moon salutation sequence
more ways to celebrate winter solstice
If you’re looking for more ways to honor and celebrate the winter solstice, or are curious as to how other cultures recognize this important astronomical event, you can try one (or several) of the following traditions:
#1 Enjoy a winter feast
Many cultures celebrate with with a huge feast, like the ancient Romans during Saturnalia, or the Feast of Juul.
The Saturnalia festival celebrated the end of the planting season and honored the Roman God Saturn who ruled over agriculture. This ancient feast is most closely associated to the modern celebration of Christmas.
The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated in the bonfires associated with the feast of Juul.
#2 Decorate and indoor or outdoor tree
#3 Make a traditional Wassail drink
#4 Have a releasing ritual
#5 DIY winter solstice ornaments.
#6 Take a hot bath with citrus fruits
winter solstice self-care
Whether you choose to practice the moon salutation sequence for the winter solstice or one of the other traditions mentioned, spend some time this season taking care of yourself.
Honor the rhythms of nature in your own life. The plants and trees are dormant so their roots can store energy for the growing stage of spring. Be like the plants and give yourself permission to let this be a season of less work and more rest.
LOOKING FOR MORE SCRIPTS FOR YOUR YOGA CLASSES?
- If you’re a DIYer searching for free resources, check out my Pinterest boards on yoga class scripts.
- For the DIYers who like designing classes but hate the constant hamster wheel of research, you’ll love The Yoga Teacher’s Ultimate Class Planner filled with hundreds of theme ideas, intentions, and quotes.
- Still nervous or burned out from planning yoga classes? Then the Yoga Sequencing Society is for you. Never feel unprepared or overwhelmed again with our library of done-for-you sequences and scripts.