Last night at the Upstage Theatre we dedicated the practice to the New Moon, lighting the room with many candles making the environment peaceful and tranquil. A new moon is a celebration of the cycles of life, and our constant shedding and letting go in order to grow and transform and come into balance. The moon is the closest heavenly body to earth and the orbit of the Moon has a very profound effective on our earthly and monthly cycles. 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, inhalation and exhalation.
Tim Miller, student of Pattabhi Jois suggests that ‘the new moon is when the apana, downwards energy/prana is a contracting, downward moving force that can make us feel calm and grounded but disinclined towards physical exertion. This corresponds to the end of exhalation. Comparatively when there is a full moon energy/prana is moving upwards and is expansive which can make us feel energetic, headstrong and emotional but not well grounded, corresponding to the inhalation.
It is recommended in the Ashtanga tradition that yoga is not to be practised on either a full or new moon, letting the body completely rest from a six day a week practice. Because this style of yoga is extremely physical the body is more vulnerable to injury due to either a lack of energy or tiredness, on a new moon, or too much energy on a full moon therefore risk of over-exertion.
Even though the Wednesday night class, at the Upstage Theatre is not an Ashtanga practice it is still a strong flowing Vinyasa practice. By respecting the cycle of the moon the students had an opportunity to practice a soothing sequence to help balance emotions and replenish our vital energy in a sacred environment. Instead of starting the class in a traditional manner of Suyra Namaskara, sun salutations, bowing to the sun we started with the sister sequence of Chandra Namaskara, Moon salutations, allowing soothing and cooling of the body. We continued the class with a restorative flow by using circular movements representing the moon cycle.
In relaxation I spoke about how the new Moon is renewal, starting on a new cycle and what that means for us is to look inside and see what it is within ourselves that we can renew. We can use the different phases of the moon to support the different phases of our own life. So this is a great time to work on new projects, new ideas, or developing new and/or old relationships. It can open to that possibility of change and the possibility of new beginnings of letting our old selves go and letting new selves emerge.
One new student commented ‘I like a practice that helps me be reflective’. In my opinion if that one hour of yoga helps winding down from the go, go, go culture where we are serving family life and work, which can have profound stresses on the energy body then we have more opportunity to heal the body both physically and mentally.