What are moon days
In his book “Ashtanga Yoga As It Is”, Matthew Sweeney introduces moon days in the first paragraph as below (p.22):
“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 over stimulation, 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. [...]“
What I felt vs. What I feel
When I first heard about the idea of energy being affected by the moon in 2008, I found it hard to believe. Back then I could do an intermediate practice about an hour after having a light meal and didn’t feel like throwing up or anything. But after I started practicing Ashtanga yoga and have become committed to the practice, my body has gradually become much more sensitive than before. If I drink less than a mug of coffee in the morning and travel to Manhattan to do my practice, the coffee will still be in my stomach after two or three hours, and making loud noises when I am doing a deep back bend. Now on the moon days I generally feel tired, the leg muscles and lower back are usually quite sore (okay, maybe they’re just signs of me getting old :”( ).
What I do
REST! No Ashtanga yoga or intense practice. I have simple, light meals like cereal bar, fresh fruit, salad, bread, noodles and sushi. I also make sure I drink a lot of liquid. Fresh peppermint tea, jasmine tea, hot chocolate, soy milk and coffee are among my favourites, but water is always the best choice.
Practice on the mat
If I teach a class or want to do some asana on moon days, I will do a slow-paced Vinyasa flow without jumping. Variations on Table Top (or “All-fours”), lunges, squatting and supine poses are on top of my list, because I can keep my body moving gently and repeatedly in these positions in order to keep the body warm. e.g. coming up to Table Top -> extending one leg -> rounding the back, knee to chin -> extending the leg again and lengthening the spine. Repeat this mini sequence as many rounds as you feel comfortable. Usually after moving for five rounds, I will hold in a position for a few breaths and then move on to the next pose or mini sequence. I very much enjoy an occasional gentle practice like this, it brings out the feminine energy and helps me to be more aware of the yin and yang in my regular Ashtanga practice, or generally speaking, my attitude.
Yogi and yogini, what do you experience on moon days?