How to draw from the Moon Energy in our Practicehttp://www.maha-yoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/moon-phases.jpg626626Maha Yoga & WellnessMaha Yoga & Wellnesshttp://www.maha-yoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/moon-phases.jpg
According to Vedic Astrology the New Moon of October 8th falls in the area of sky known as Hasta Nakshatra, which is symbolized by a hand and is said to support and enhance all creative endeavors done by hand – think cooking, music, art, writing, sewing, and knitting.
Although the New Moon is the darkest “phase” of the lunar cycle, leaving the night sky much darker than at full moon, I am always reminded that sometimes it is in the darkest times of our lives that we receive the greatest insights and reconnect to the wisdom that lies deep in the heart of our being. And just as the moon continues to move each day into a new phase, so too do these darker times pass and life naturally moves back towards times of ease, joy and abundance.
Also occurring during this time, from October 6-11, the influence of Saraswati—Hindu goddess of wisdom, arts, and nature will also be felt. An alignment of Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter will form what is known as the “Saraswati Yoga”, a planetary alignment that magnifies creative intelligence and allows us to connect with deep wisdom and understanding.
New Moons are always a good time to turn inwards and reflect on how we want to move forward in our lives, what we want to release and what we want to manifest, drawing from the insight and wisdom that often comes to us through practices such as yoga, meditation and journaling.
INVITING MOON ENERGY INTO OUR YOGA PRACTICE
Yogic texts have long acknowledged that the body has both heating and cooling energies and that yoga asana and pranayama (breathwork) can help bring them into balanced harmony within the gross and energetic bodies.
For many us the heating, dynamic practice of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) are a staple ingredient in many Hatha Vinyasa Flow classes. But the idea of looking to the moon for rejuvenation is not new. The Shiva Samhita, a 500-year-old Tantric text, regarded the moon as the source of immortality. Practitioners of Tantra (a form of yoga that preceded hatha yoga) believed that the “sun” was located in the solar plexus and the “moon,” in the crown of the head. The moon was thought to contain amrita, “the stuff of the macrocosmic moon, the divine nectar of immortality,”
While the fiery sun in the abdomen was important for triggering the purifying heat (tapas) integral in the yogic process, its heat would, over time, cause aging, decay, and death. To reverse this process, yogis did specific practices, such as inversions or mudras (locks, or seals), to both preserve and produce amrita. The act of turning upside down was believed to draw vital fluids from the lower chakras up to the crown, where they would be transformed into amrita (also referred to as soma).
PUTTING IT IN PRACTICE
We can bring this softer, cooler quality into to our practice by starting the practice more slowly, drawing our attention inwards and inviting a sense of receptivity into the practice. We set an intention not to push or strive in any way but rather to receive whatever the body freely offers and be open to all experiences.
Let the warm up movements at the beginning of the practice be more gentle and allow yourself to take pauses between poses to relax and reflect.
Pay special attention to the quality of each movement. Instead of moving quickly, jumping in and out of poses as you would in Sun Salutations, move more slowly, and even perhaps add some spontaneous, more organic movements between and within the traditional forms of the poses. Also avoid coming up and down quickly which is heating.
Allow the transition between poses to be gentle – transitioning with Child’s Pose can feel very different to holding Down Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) for a long time.
For that time put down the stronger more heating poses such as handstands (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) and forearm balance (Pincha Mayurasana) and strong arm balances. Limit the number of standing poses, or hold them for a much shorter time or move into and out of them gently and rhythmically.
Gentle cooling inversions such as Plough Pose (Halasana), supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana), soft forward folds, gentle twists and supported backbends are all wonderful poses to add into the practice.
Enjoy pranayama practices such as Left Nostril Breathing (Chandra Bhedana) which invites the prana to move in the Ida Nadi and the balancing practice of Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodana).
When we come to our mat, we carve out the time in our day not just to move and take care of the body but also to hold space for reflection and insight that then provides intention and direction in our daily lives.
Whether you practice in the morning or evening, the practice usually ends in savasana. Closing our eyes we move into a cocoon of darkness where we take a momentary break from the doing, drawing our senses and attention inwards in order to still the thinking mind. With time we learn to appreciate the balance of stillness, silence, rest and reflection. When our awareness re-emerges back into our body and mind, we feel refreshed and are often presented with insights that were not there when we first laid out our mats.
By taking time to time to move slower, pause and soften we learn to listen to the wisdom deep within and our intuition provides a powerful “light” directing how we live our lives. We also naturally begin to be a source of light and inspiration in the lives of our family, friends and community.
If we remember that the practice of Yoga is about helping us to find balance in our lives, and cultivating both energy and ease in all we do then we can learn from and be inspired by nature – the Sun and the Moon and the beautiful energetic dance that they share with us each and every day.