WHAT ARE MOON DAYS?
In traditional Ashtanga yoga, we don’t practice on ‘moon days’. Here are some frequently asked questions:
A: A day when the moon is either a full moon or a new moon.
A: Check out this moon calendar which shows today’s moon:
To see future dates for the rest of the year, visit: Moon Connection
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.’
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.
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.
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. .
WHAT IS MYSORE?
Here are some frequently asked questions about Mysore Practice:
A: Mysore is a city in South India. Pattabhi Jois, the first student of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, and later the principal teacher of this style, began his school in Mysore. His style of teaching has become known as ‘Mysore style Asthanga yoga’. ‘Mysore style’ implies a one-on-one relationship between teacher and student, while students are practising in a group.
A: Students can drop in at any time to suit them. Each person works through the Ashtanga series - a flowing sequence of asanas (poses) – at their own pace. I move around the room helping individuals verbally and with hands-on adjustments. The best way to understand how it works is to come and observe.
A: No. Mysore sessions are suitable for everyone, from total beginners to experienced yoga practitioners. First, if you like, you can come and observe a class. You’ll be able to see how it works, meet me and see if the practice is for you. If you’re ready to get started, I’ll teach you the series, one move at a time. If you find it easy, you’ll progress more quickly; if you’re new to breath and movement or need to develop your strength and flexibility, we’ll progress more slowly. Your practice will increase from 20 minutes to the full practice which takes around 75-90 minutes.
If you’d like to learn the sequence more quickly, take my Level 1 and 2 beginners’ courses.
A: ‘Asthanga’ means ‘eight limbs’ in Sanskit. Ashtanga yoga is an ‘eight-limbed’ path of self-realisation. In classes, we practice asanas, or poses/postures which is one ‘limb’ of the path – this helps us understand the other seven limbs.
‘Yoga’ means ‘union’, in particular of the mind and body. All the eight limbs are a method for bringing the mind and body into union, but in classes, we achieve this union by practising the asanas. Basically, because we’re concentrating on what our body is doing, our mind is ‘in’ our body rather than roaming around thinking about other things, so yoga functions as a sort of moving meditation.
Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic, breath-focused, and systematic style of yoga. All students learn to work with consistency, a balance of discipline, patience and dedication to better understanding themselves.
If you want to learn more about yoga, including the other seven limbs, I can recommend books for you.
A: I run Mysore sessions in Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington. See the Timetable for full information. Hope to see you there!