At my blessingway with my second son, my mom led us through a moon salutation together outside and then we all entered the blessingway space via a “birth arch” made with the women’s arms (think London Bridge only all in a row making a channel of arms to pass through). This weekend, we had a women’s retreat with the theme of the sacred body and I found this moon salutation from the book She Who Changes for us to do together—seemed fitting that with a theme of the body, we should actually use our bodies! (In addition to the moon salutation below, I also have a handout with a birthing room yoga series available.)
I stand tall, heart open to the world, body full and present in all of its beauty.
(standing with arms in prayer position)
I open my arms wide to bring all of life into my being.
(opening arms and tracing the circle of the moon)
My arms form a temple above me, sheltering and protecting me.
I know that I am on holy ground.
(arms completing the circle extended with palms touching above the head)
Yielding now, softening, my body takes the shape of the crescent moon.
I see visions of women, young and old, helping and loving each other.
(bending to the side with arms still above the head and palms touching)
Rising up and bending to the other side, I know that my softness is my strength. I am tested, but not broken.
(bending to the other side)
Up again, I feel the sweet stillness, always present within me.
(arms above head, palms still touching)
I step wide now into a squat. Mother Earth’s ferocious powers rise up through my strong legs, hips and back. As woman, I give birth to all that is, caring for and protecting life.
(arms bent in priestess pose, legs bent and open in birth pose)
Straightening arms and legs, I am a star. I am the universe. Planets and galaxies whirl within me. I radiate in all directions.
(legs straight and spread widely apart, arms straight out to the sides)
Supple and yielding, I stretch to the side. I open my arms and look up, opening to love and compassion.
I reach, yearning and striving, and yet rest, accepting fully.
Turning to pyramid pose, I become quiet. Head to knee, I sense the inner workings of my own being.
(typical runners’ stretch)
Lunging, I stretch long and feel the glorious length of my body.
As I look up, the moon shines on my path.
Turning now, I touch the earth, hands on the blessed Mother, strong and steady.
Gratefully and tenderly, I bow my head.
(turning and bending to touch the earth)
Coming into a squat, I am connected with all animal and plant life. My body open and close to the earth, I know my body’s ability to give birth, to love, to work, to pray. I resolve to hold all of these activities as sacred.
The Moon Salutation continues with the poses repeated in reverse order to form a complete circle and cycle of the moon with the whole body. The combination of words and yoga movement creates connections between the body and the mind, enabling the meaning of the words to come into the body. The full meaning of the Moon Salutation can be appreciated only in the doing. It celebrates the female body and the earth body, affirming that the female body is sacred, an image of the body of Goddess. It names the connection between women and the moon, positively affirming cycles of change, in contrast to classical theological traditions. In the Moon Salutation, women’s changing bodies and the process of giving birth become images of the divine creativity of the Goddess. The Moon Salutation celebrates strength as supple and yielding, yet ferocious in the protection of life. These are images of strength as power with, not power over. In the Moon Salutation, the female body is not perceived negatively as it is in traditions associating femininity with the “weaker” light of the moon. Still, it might be asked: Does the Moon Salutation limit women to the body or the traditional roles associated with it? I do not find this to be so. In the Moon Salutation the female body is an image of all the creative powers in the universe. It can expand to include planets and galaxies. The female body is celebrated not only for its capacity to give birth, but also for its ability to love, to work, and to pray.
From: Carol P. Christ. She Who Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World, Kindle Edition.