In the Ashtanga lineage, moon days are like little mini-holidays. We don’t practice and instead, take rest. It’s kind of like a PA day for Ashtangis. A free day to rest, rejuvenate, and really do whatever you want.
But taking rest on Moon Days isn’t random, and there’s a reason why we these rest days have been built into the traditional Ashtanga system.
Guruji used to say, “two ‘planets’ [grahas] one place, very dangerous.”
On the days of the full and new moon, the sun and moon are aligned in such a manner that they exert a greater gravitational force on the planet. This energetic force affects us as human beings and can impact our practice both mentally and physically, which is why we take rest.
As human beings, we are comprised of about 70% water. And all things water are affected by the phases of the moon.
So how do these phases have an effect on us?
According to Tim Miller, the full moon corresponds to the inhalation force of prana.
“This is an expansive, upward moving force that makes us feel energetic and emotional, but not well grounded. The Upanishads state that the main prana lives in the head. During the full moon, we tend to be more headstrong.”
During the days leading up to the full moon, I personally feel my own energy building up. My practice usually feels really intense, and I feel the urge to challenge myself more in my asana’s. But I also feel like my energy is all over the place. It’s like a can’t fully reign it in.
It’s also been speculated that the likelihood of injuring yourself during a full moon is increased as a result of this intense energy.
New moon energy, as Tim Miller states, “corresponds with the end of exhalation when the force of Apana is greatest. Apana is a contracting, downward moving force that makes us feel calm and grounded, but dense and disinclined toward physical movement.”
Have you ever noticed that around the new moon you might feel more sluggish, tired, and lethargic?
I sure do. On some new moons, you might feel introspective, reflective, and calm. While during other new moons you may feel completely disengaged.
Whenever I feel myself getting lazy and tired, I look to my AYCT moon day calendar, and low and behold a new moon is on the horizon. And whenever I feel myself getting overly emotional, ungrounded, and a little cray-cray, sure enough, a full moon is comin’!
I think what’s really interesting about honoring these energetic forces as Ashtangis, is that you get to observe how they directly affect you.
“Practicing Ashtanga Yoga over time makes us more attuned to natural cycles. Observing moon days is one way to recognize and honor the rhythms of nature so we can live in greater harmony with it.” – Tim Miller
I think that honoring these moon days is a beautiful ritual, and I’ve experienced first hand the effect that the full and new moons have on my body and mind.
But all the energetic stuff aside, when you practice 6 days a week, having an extra rest day is pretty friggin’ awesome! It gives you an opportunity to stay up a little bit later. To eat that (obviously vegan) pizza you’ve been craving. And maybe, just maybe have a beer (or 3).
As a write this there is a new moon around the corner. So tell me, how do you celebrate your moon days? Share in the comments section below! And of course, have a happy Moon Day 🙂