Q: What is a moon day?
A: A day when the moon is either a full moon or a new moon.
Q: Is it a moon day today? When are this year’s moon days?
A: Check out this moon calendar which shows today’s moon:
To see future dates for the rest of the year, visit: Moon Connection
Q: Why don’t we practice Ashtanga yoga on moon days?
A: We all know that the sea is affected by the gravitational pull of the moon. But humans are 70% water so we too are affected by the phases of the moon.
Tim Miller, the first American to be certified to teach Ashtanga yoga (by Pattabhi Jois), explains how:
‘The phases of the moon are determined by the moon’s relative position to the sun. Full moons occur when they are in opposition and new moons when they are in conjunction. Both sun and moon exert a gravitational pull on the earth. Their relative positions create different energetic experiences that can be compared to the breath cycle.
The full moon energy corresponds to the end of inhalation when the force of prana is greatest. This is an expansive, upward moving force that makes us feel energetic and emotional, but not well grounded. The traditional yoga texts state that the main prana lives in the head. During the full moon we tend to be more headstrong.
The new moon energy corresponds to 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 towards physical exertion.’
Q: But why does that mean we shouldn’t practise yoga?
A: There are several reasons:
- The body’s more vulnerable to injury – either because we’re more tired or lacking energy, or because we have too much energy and might over-exert ourselves.
- In theory, we should be practising yoga every day! Asthanga yoga is a strong, physically-demanding practice so we do need to take rest days and it makes sense to take these on moon days.
- In our modern lives, we can be out of touch with the natural world around us. So observing moon days is a way to respect nature and develop our understanding of how we are affected by and are part of our world.
Q: Who else observes moon days?
A: The influence of the moon is well known to people in diverse occupations. Some farming experts recommend planting seeds at the new moon when the rooting force is strongest and transplanting at the full moon when the flowering force is strongest. Also ask a paramedic – they’ll often tell you they see more accidents on moon days, more ‘medical’ emergencies on new moon days and more psychological problems on full moon days.
Q: How important is it that I observe the rule of not practising on moon days?
A: It’s entirely up to you, of course. Other yoga traditions don’t always observe moon days but they are acknowledged as days when our energy and moods might not be ideal for energetic activities.
Practicing Ashtanga yoga over time makes us more attuned to natural cycles – in our body and in the world around us. Observing moon days is one way to recognise and respect the rhythms of nature so we can live in greater harmony with our world.