The “Ashtanga Yoga Moon Days” and why we rest is a question that often comes up during my weekly philosophy lectures.
The foundation of the Ashtanga Yoga method is daily (6 days a week) asana practice.
We also take rest from practice on the days of full and new moon.
There are many interpretations on why it is that we take rest in such days.
Any Hatha yoga practice, such as the Ashtanga method, works with seemingly opposing energies that eventually over a long period of sustained practice begin to balance each other out bringing stability and harmony in our own body-mind-consciousness systems.
As we become more balanced and integrated in our own selves we begin to discover the interrelation, not only within our Selves, but also with all other systems in the planet and eventually the universe, thus coming to the realisation that there is no separation either between all the components of our own Self or between our our own individual self and any other aspect of the planet or the universe.
The main pattern that we utilize to balance opposites in this method is the movement of Prana or life force in our bodies through the breath.
As we inhale, Prana moves in what is called a Pranic pattern moving energy up and outwards in an expansive way stimulating, creativity and expression.
With the exhale, Prana changes it’s direction moving down and inwards, this movement is experienced as more introspective and maybe contractive force.
In the Ashtanga Yoga method, we use the breath to guide our movements and so we connect with these patterns as we move through all the Vinyasa that compose each asana.
Eventually we find that in between each movement and in between each inhale and/or exhale as we come to the end of every vinyasa we encounter a tiny moment of silence. The inhale and exhale merge into each other, movement stops and even the mind becomes quiet for a fraction of a second.
If we are observant of nature we might find similar movements and experience all through nature: In the change of seasons, the tidal movements of the ocean and even in our bodies in the waking and sleeping patterns and as we feel the gravitational pull of the earth interacting with the intelligence of our body to lifting up and keeping us erect and preventing us from squashing in to the ground and many others.
Maybe the most evident and powerful of such cycles in our planet is the moon phases.
As the moon moves from it’s darkest to its fullest, the effects on all water objects in our planet are more than evident as the gravitational pull of both the Earth and the Moon interact with each other, we could say in a Praninc pattern.
The same opposite effect can be felt as the Moon changes from its brightest to its darkest expression, an Apanic pattern. This is exactly what happens within ourselves right at the top of the inhale and right at the bottom of the exhale.
One of the most essential parts of any spiritual practice is the study of the self. On the days of full and new moon the opposing energies of the moon can be felt at their maximum. With our asana practice, we work daily in a very powerful way with the pranic and apanic patterns too. So, it is best to allow ourselves to just rest observe and experience this most powerful extremes of prana and apana interaction between the Earth and Moon.
The Ashtanga Yoga Moon Days are not just a day of rest but an essential part of this method to study ourselves and the interaction between the energies inside ourselves and the rest of the universe.
Love and Happiness,