Yoga practice for the First Quarter Moon

Do you ever feel disconnected? Like the days are passing, but without realising where the time has gone? Consciously tapping into the phase and energy of the Moon can help us to feel more connected and in sync with the natural energies around us. This hatha yoga practice is perfect for practising under the First Quarter Moon.


This phase of the Moon symbolises a period of growth, strength, determination, concentration and decision-making. It's an ideal time for channelling your emotional distractions into creative passion to achieve your goals.


Here, Chaja shares a practice that she has been following recently during the phase of the First Quarter Moon. It’s an alternation between strength and challenge and a deeper inward connection.


Remember this practice is just a guide - if anything feels uncomfortable or painful please come out of the pose. Contraindications for each pose are listed with the explanation, but if you have any concerns, please talk to a health professional before starting a new exercise regime.


A yoga practice for the First Quarter Moon


Regardless of which path of yoga you practice, it’s good to start with a Kaya Stairyham - a moment to turn inwards. This moment of observation helps you to connect to your body, observe your mind and deepen the connection to your breath. In her teachings, Chaja always emphasises using the ujjayi breath to stimulate a deeper connection and more energy.


If you feel safe and happy to, try this with your eyes closed. Alternatively, a low, soft gaze may feel better.


This inward awareness and sensitivity can help us to tune more into the subtle energetic changes that the First Quarter Moon offers. Instilling a deeper awareness will give bigger opportunities to work with the energy of the upcoming Full Moon.


Below you’ll find an outline of the sequence – click the link on each pose for a full explanation of each.


Yogamudrasana (a psychic union)


This posture offers a very deep inward connection and it touches upon a form of submission. As you are in a neutral observation, the idea of submission is to the experience of life. You are open to and have full faith in the experience.


Paschimottanasana (forward folding back stretch)


When you get beyond the rigidity in your legs and back, this posture deeply stimulates your digestive fire and gives a long stretch to your whole nervous system. Paschimottanasana stimulates nerve impulses and pranic energy to the superior centres/chakras.


Setu asana (bridge pose)


This posture demands a lot of effort to be held, but at the same time it gives a lot of strength (giving and taking). Setu asana gives an effective stretch to the whole body. It opens and stretches three important spaces: the belly, the chest and the throat.

Shashank Bhujangasana (striking cobra pose)


A beautiful alternation between inward and outward connection. As you go into child’s pose, all the (preparation) work is inside. You are completely with yourself, allowing a deep silence and feeling centred. Then you open up into the cobra, you are meeting the outside world in full strength and without any fear.


Shalabhasana (locust pose)


This back-bending asana opens the throat area and strengthens the back of the body. It encourages you to contract the perineum or more specifically Moola Bandha, the root lock.

The posture stimulates a sense of grounding and to feel inner strength while releasing stress.


Parvatasana & Ardha Chandrasana (mountain & half-moon pose)


Chaja always starts including the half-moon pose during the phase between the half and full Moon to stimulate her connection with the Moon. This means a deep balance, reinforcing the root lock, feeling grace and subtle sensations.


Trikonasana


All the variations of this triangle posture stimulate the nervous system, alleviate nervous depression and improve digestion. It also strengthens the pelvic area.


Bandha Hasta Utthanasana (locked hand raising pose)


Grab the opportunity to go for ultimate length during the stretch upwards and sideways. It’s very impressive how this asana so quickly supplies a lot of oxygen into your body and in particular into the brain.


Garudasana (eagle pose)


Just like an eagle I rise higher and higher without losing my focus and then I go for my (new) aim.


Garudasana improves concentration, strengthens the muscles and mobilises the joints of the shoulders, arms and legs.


Nadi Shodhana


This pranayama purifies ida and pingala nadi, respectively lunar/feminine and solar/masculine energy. It has calming effects, relieves anxiety, takes tiredness away and improves concentration.


Each pose in more detail


Yogamudrasana

  1. Sit in a comfortable meditation posture, body released and breathing normally. Become aware of the flow of breath through your right and left side. Hold one wrist behind your back.

  2. Inhale deeply and, on an exhalation, lean your chest forward, keeping your spine straight. Move your forehead towards the floor.

  3. Relax the whole body in the final position, breathing slowly and deeply in your belly with ujjayi. Stay here for several breaths, as long as you are comfortable.

  4. Avoid any strain here. Don't force your body to go further down or stay too long in the pose.

  5. Slowly return to the starting posture.

  6. Change the cross of legs and the wrist you are holding and repeat.

  7. Beginners can raise and lower the body a few times instead of staying in the final posture.

Contra-indications

Do not attempt this asana if you have serious eye, back or heart conditions, a high blood pressure or in an early post-operative or post-delivery period.


After the pose, release your legs on the mat and give them a massage to release any tension.


Paschimottanasana

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched, feet together and hands on the knees.

  2. Relax your whole body and listen to your ujjayi breath.

  3. Slowly bend forward from the hips, reaching your chest forward, sliding your hands down your legs.

  4. Put your hands on any part of your legs or feet, without straining. Soften and bend your elbows. Consider Paschimottanasana as a relaxation forward rather than a stretch.

  5. On every exhalation, feel a sense of lengthening through your spine.

  6. Relax your back, elbows and leg muscles.

  7. Stay here for three to eight breaths.

  8. To come back up, gently slide your hands over your legs, rolling your back up straight again.

Contra-indications


Avoid Paschimottanasana if you suffer from a slipped disc, sciatica or hernia.


Setu Asana

  1. Sit with your legs outstretched.

  2. Begin by placing your hand palms on the floor, about 30 cm behind the buttocks with your fingers pointed away from you. Your elbows are straight (without locking them) and your trunk is slightly reclined.

  3. Raise the buttocks and lift your body upward. Take the gaze to where feels comfortable for the neck.

  4. Try to place the soles of your feet on the ground while keeping your legs and arms straight.

  5. Stay connected to deep breathing with ujjayi, taking one to three breaths here.

  6. When you decide to leave the posture, gently lift your head and lower the buttocks on the floor.

  7. This is one round. You can practice up to five times.


Contra-indications


Avoid Setu asana if you have high blood pressure, any heart disease, cervical spondylosis, hernia, stomach ulcers or weak wrists.


Shashank Bhujangasana

  1. Start in vajrasana – kneel on the floor with your knees together, resting the buttocks on the heels. Place your hands on your thighs.

  2. As you inhale, stretch your arms up. As you exhale, hinge forwards to bring your forehead onto the ground and stretch your arms out into child’s pose.

  3. Keeping your hands where they are, slowly move your chest through the opening of your hands as you inhale.

  4. Your nose and chest may brush the surface of the floor as your body moves forward like a snake. Avoid straining to achieve this.

  5. With your hands under your shoulders, gently lift your chest away from the floor into Bhujangasana. Engage the core to protect the lower back. Have your arms gently bend and stay there for one to three breaths.

  6. Lower the chest and slowly push down through the hands to raise the buttocks and move backwards, coming back into Vajrasana with your arms stretched upwards.

  7. This is one round.

  8. Practice five to seven rounds.

Contra-indications


Avoid if you are suffering from vertigo, slipped disc or high blood pressure. Ask for the guidance of a competent teacher when you are suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis or hyperthyroidism.


Shalabasana

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs and feet together, with the soles of your feet facing upwards.

  2. Place your arms down by the sides, palms facing down.

  3. Lower your forehead to the ground.

  4. Close your eyes and relax your body.

  5. On an inhalation, engage your core and slowly lift both of your legs without straining, keeping them together and straight.

  6. Feel your hands pressing against the floor and your lower back muscles contract.

  7. As you exhale, gently lower the legs to the floor.

  8. Return to the starting posture and relax your body. Place one cheek on the ground.

  9. Practice three rounds.

Contra-indications


This posture demands a great deal of physical effort. Avoid if you have a weak heart, coronary thrombosis or high blood pressure. You should also avoid if you are suffering from hernia peptic ulcer or intestinal tbc.


Parvatasana and Ardha Chandr