October 29, 2020
A Moon Day Practice

In the traditional approach to the Ashtanga Yoga practice, we take a rest day once a week and additionally on moon days (new and full moons). Physically and psychologically it can be useful to take advantage of these moon days to refrain from practising asana altogether. If you have a rigorous asana practice, of whatever flavour, your body may well benefit from this extra day of rest, and it is a simple luxury to have some extra free time where you would normally be practising.

From a psychological perspective it can help to put the asana practice into perspective; have you noticed that maybe you’re overly attached to asana practice, do you feel guilty if you’re not practising, are you imposing your practice on yourself out of some sense of ‘duty’ or other external perspective?

From another viewpoint, taking the extra day off may just help to increase your enthusiasm for your next practice days. I’ve experienced all of these underlying feelings and attitudes towards my asana practice, that’s for sure!

Alternatively, taking the moon day as an opportunity to work on a different sequence might provide some insights that could inform your usual practice. On this note, I was introduced to Matthew Sweeney’s moon day sequence some years ago and often practise a shortened version of it on moon days. In this sequence, much less emphasis is placed on the upper body in terms of the weight bearing on the hands that you find in the Ashtanga Primary Series or other common vinyasa sequences, providing a way of practising with less pressure being placed on the wrists and shoulders, and with more focus on the hips, lower back, and in opening the front of the body.

I’ve found that this sequence really complements my Ashtanga practice, notably in the Primary Series, both by giving me an alternative framework to explore slightly different aspects of my physicality, and in helping me to deepen my appreciation and my skills in moving and remaining in asana with awareness and sensitivity. That’s not to say we don’t try to foster these attributes in our usual practice, but the slight ‘novelty’ of taking this different sequence with different timings can provide a way of reminding us of this attitude; an attitude that we can re-invite into our usual practice routine.

Finally, taking the moon days as an opportunity to deviate from my usual routine, whether or not I practise asana, is also a way for me to recognise and honour this rhythm of nature.

You can explore A Moon Day Practice with Joe Peate on Sunday 15th November 4pm-5.30pm. For more details please click here