Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some musings about polls, moon days, and a little moon music

Greetings, fellow Ashtangis, yogis, yoginis, and assorted friends! If you are an Ashtangi, you are probably observing the full moon either today or tomorrow; I am aware that, depending on where in the world you live and how you calculate the moon cycle, there is some variation as to when the moon day is observed. I am observing the moon day today. In any case, Happy Moon Day!

First, a word or two about my polls. It appears that two more people have voted on my coffee and practice poll today, bringing the total number of voters to 58 in the closing hours of this poll. Once again, thank you for voting! (Gosh, do I sound self-important, or what?)

I also just looked at the results so far of my new desert-island-coffee-tea poll (if you haven't already done so, please take a moment to vote :-)). It appears that one person has the siddhi of creating potable water out of thin air. Yeah, that's really my purpose for conducting this poll: I have long been curious as to whether there is a person existing in this world today who possesses such a siddhi. I would like to learn from this person how to acquire such a siddhi. Well, if you happen to be this person, and wouldn't mind imparting this siddhi to one more person, please feel free to email me at siegfried23 at hotmail dot com. I promise I won't abuse this great power :-)

Since today (or tomorrow) is a moon day, I guess I'll say a few things about the tradition of observing moon days in Ashtanga as well. Many Ashtangis observe the moon day in one way or another; some do not practice altogether; others do a shorter or lighter practice. I personally think it is a good idea to observe it in some form or other; Ashtanga is such a physically demanding practice, it's good to be able to take a little break and allow the body to rest and "reset" now and then :-)

There have also been many different views as to the exact significance of moon days. Many believe that because our bodies are 70 percent water, the phases of the moon have a direct effect on the condition of our bodies and minds, and that it would therefore be a good idea not to practice (or at least do a lighter practice) on moon days. Others do not ascribe the same significance to moon days. If I remember correctly, Eddie Stern wrote somewhere that the tradition of not practicing on moon days came about simply because many rituals were performed on moon days, and the time required for their performance made asana practice simply unfeasible on those days.

Matthew Sweeney has some interesting things to say about moon days as well. He writes: 

"It is traditional not to practice asana on the full moon or the new moon. The days preceding the full moon cause an increase in fluid in the body, an internal tide, and generally an increase in energy. As this tends to cause overstimulation, intense practice is not recommended. The days preceding the new moon (sometimes called the dark moon) cause a decrease in fluids in the body. As a tendency there will be less energy, the joints more dry and so an increased chance of injury. Of the two it is less problematic to practice on the full moon rather than the new moon. The twenty four hours preceding the exact time that the moon is at its peak (brightest or darkest) is the day not to practice. That is, if the moon is full at 2:04 a.m. on Monday, do not practice on the Sunday before. At 2:05 a.m. the moon is already waning and so practice after 2:04 a.m. on Monday is advisable." (Sweeney, page 22)

Hmm... I wonder if there is somebody out there who sets their alarm clock for 2:05 a.m., so they can jump out of bed and practice after the moon is at its peak :-) Sweeney continues:

"The waning of the moon (becoming darker) is a reducing, eliminating, apanic process. The peak of the dark moon is a time to start new ventures and it is renewing. The waxing of the moon (becoming brighter) is an increasing, accumulating, pranic process. It is a time for activity and consolidation. Pay attention to the phases of the moon and become aware of these effects on your body. This should be real rather than imagined! Do not pretend that the moon has no influence on you, whether you are male or female." (Sweeney, page 23)

I hope you find these words useful. I'll leave you here with some music about the moon. Here's Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Enjoy!


  1. i also read somewhere - can't remember where - that the monks believed that if they passed on knowledge on the moon days they would lose it so they were never teaching on those days ;-) ivana

  2. Very interesting, Ivana. I have never heard that one. I have heard something similar, though: A few months ago, Grimmly posted a newsletter by Ramaswami, in which the latter relates that for students of the Vedas, new knowledge is never imparted on moon days, although it is okay for students to study and revise things that they have already learnt.