Yoga Secrets for Athletes:
Moon Salutation

By Ana Mantica


Go to the Moon Salute slideshow

Opposites attract: Like Yin and Yang, Sun Salutation and Moon Salutation are a match made for your mat. The differences between the two sequences are what make this pair perfectly complementary. “Just like the sun and the moon, the Sun Salutation is viewed as ‘hot’ and considered to be energizing while the Moon Salutation is ‘cooling’ and thought of as calming,” says Sage Rountree, a USA Triathlon coach, yoga teacher and author of “The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga” based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.   

She advocates athletes do the Moon Salute to maximize performance and minimize injury. Because they universally have tight hips, this stretches them out while increasing flexibility.

Whether you’re new to yoga or you’ve been practicing for years, chances are you’ve already got Sun Salutation down pat. Now it’s time to master – Moon Salutation. “Moon Salutation is a nice compliment to your practice, especially if you tend to do a lot of Power Yoga,” Rountree says. “The sequence works your frontal plane (lateral sides), where as Sun Salutation works your sagital plane (front and back). And the side-to-side flow is cooling, calming and nourishing, making it a great way to end your day.” Get ready to unwind and reset your body and your mind.

WHY: Balance is an essential element of yoga – what you do on the left side, you repeat on the right. And there’s no better compliment to your Sun Salutation than Moon Salutation. While Sun Salutation focuses on front-to-back, strength-oriented moves that rev you up, Moon Salutation works you laterally and improves flexibility with calming poses that help that cool your body and your mind.

TIPS: To help protect your knees, keep your knees and toes facing in the same direction, especially in transition poses like squat or lunge, Rountree says. Misaligned knees and ankles can put undue strain on the knees and ankles.  
If you’re more advanced, you can challenge yourself by holding each pose for longer or incorporating twists or binds. Rountree suggests two things:

        To strengthen your core, experiment with the position of your arms in Pyramid by bringing them out in front of you so your arms and spine are parallel to the floor.

        To stretch your spine, try a gentle prayer twist in Knee Down Lunge. (From Knee Down Lunge with left leg forward, bring your right elbow to your left knee and bring palms together in prayer position, while looking up towards the ceiling.)

Go to the Moon Salute slideshow
Watch the Moon Salute video

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