The issue of the moon and its effects has long been discussed in both science and yoga communities – and I have to admit I am one of those people who loves the moon!
Science tells us that the moon affects tidal rhythms - influencing the rise and fall of sea water levels with an increase in movement from the gravitaional attraction and pull of the Full Moon. (And if you’re wondering if the new moon also affects tides? It does, but I’ll write more about yoga and the new moon another time.)
Midwifes and childbirth professionals often swear that there is a surge in births during the Full Moon. My friend, an experienced midwife and labour & delivery nurse, says she never wants to work on a Full Moon because “it’s so intense” with expectant mother’s waters breaking and a ridiculously high number of deliveries. Ironically, she was born on a Full Moon herself!
On a Full Moon, you will also often hear people comment that their sleep was disrupted, and some studies have shown a Full Moon does affect the level of melatonin (sleep hormone) we produce, so it seems that the moon may indeed affect our sleep.
Some people feel the Full Moon alters their mood or behaviour saying “they went a bit mad.” The word “lunacy”, meaning madness, does come from the ancient Latin word “luna”, meaning moon. And I have found myself and others on a spontaneous night out in unusually ‘top galavanting form’ on more than one Full Moon night, so maybe there’s something in that too!
The moon is said to have a similar effect on us as it has on the sea, causing movement in our internal tides, thus impacting energy levels, joints, muscles, physical and even our emotional life.
We know that biologically humans are made up of mainly water. In adults the percentage of water in our body ranges from aprox. 60% to 70%, and in infants it’s even higher.
Simply put, on a Full Moon there is motion in the ocean, and in ourselves!
So what does any of this have to do with Yoga?
This Full Moon motion happening within our bodies and in ourselves, whether it is felt physically, emotionally or in some other way offers us a rich opportunity.
Yoga posture practice (asana) invites the balance between ‘opposites’, sun and moon, male and female, right and left, and so on. This is expressed in the Sanskrit word “hatha.” All physical aspects of yoga, or yoga posture practice, is a form of ‘ha-tha.’ Translated from Sanskrit, ‘ha’ means “sun”, and ‘tha’ means “moon.” This alone gives us an indication on the yogic connection to the moon, to our environment, as well as the relevance of and our relationship to the movement in the sky.
The Full Moon, and moon cycles, create different energetic experiences that can be compared to the breathe cycle. The Full Moon energy corresponds to the end of inhalation when the energy or life-force (prana) is greatest. We can tap into this energy in our practice to deepen our understanding of the dimensions of the breathe (pranayama) and of our experience of life – after all ‘Breathe is Life!’
A Full Moon naturally occurs during a specific month, time of year and season. So, each moon also holds an individual energy that is in synchronicity with one or more of the five yogic elements of earth, water, air, fire and space. We can reap more benefits from a Full Moon yoga practice that includes consideration and focus on this elemental resonance.
In my own life, I feel a personal influence and connection with the cycles of the moon, both on and off the mat. I have enjoyed cultivating, sharing and guiding practices and techniques that empower a direct experience and embodiment of the benefits of doing moon practices – and it is something that has become a valuable tool and useful part of my own life rhythm.
With Full Moon Yoga practices we can understand and honour each moon and its corresponding, unique energy so that we can connect, deepen and invigorate ourselves in body, in mind and in spirit to feel good, to be present and ultimately enrich our experience, our resilience and our openness to the ever-changing rhythms of life.
Moon-ing never felt so good!
NOTE: There are some practices that would not be suitable to do on moon days (such as ashtanga yoga, power yoga and some pranayama practices.) If practicing on your own, I would advise you choose to not to do these stronger physical practices on Full Moon & New Moon days. If in doubt ask an experienced yoga teacher for their advice or you can always just take the moon day off.