We may all have dog days from time to time. But what about Moon Days?
Some dedicated yoga practitioners, in styles such as Ashtanga, have a day off on full and new moon days each month. They believe the moon has such a strong effect on our energies, it is best to rest.
They even link it to the breath cycle. Full moon energy they say corresponds to the end of inhalation when the force of prana (or energy flow) is greatest. This is an expansive, upward moving force that makes us feel energetic and emotional, but not well grounded.
The new moon energy corresponds to the end of exhalation when the opposite force of apana is greatest, with energy draining out on the out breath. Apana is a contracting, downward moving force that makes us feel calm and grounded.
In India, the full moon is referred to as the ‘Guru Purnima’, the Guru Moon, and is believed to be a profound source of wisdom. Over time, many lunar associations have evolved: intuition, creativity, our feminine side and water for example. The Buddha is said to have been born, gained Enlightenment and died all on a full moon. The word ‘Hatha’ in Sanskrit is made up of ‘ha’ meaning sun, ‘tha’ meaning moon.
Certainly the breath underpins our health and well being, and I reflect this in my teaching. We can think of the energies flowing too - prana and upana - with the lunar cycle. But very yoga practitioner is different, and personally I prefer to think of things in a symbolic way. Another example of this in class this week is Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, where we likened our standing pose to strength and stability at the ground and the lightness at the peak.
The sketch below aim to act as a reminder of some of what we practised in class. And you can find many moon salutations (gentle and strong) online, such as this stronger version from Ekhart Yoga. Don’t forget to do some gentle warm up sequences, before attempting the more intense… stretches of the Moon Salutation. It is nice to finish off with some lying twists and relaxation, using the Mountain image as a visualisation.
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