Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moon day

In the Ashtanga yoga tradition, the only days off from practice are Saturdays, ladies holiday (for women), and days of the new and full moon. Today is a new moon and I am loving the time for sleep, coffee, and reading.

I never used to think about the moon. When working in consulting (9-6 office job), the majority of my days were spent under a roof except for the 15 seconds walking to and from my car. Because of Ashtanga, I now keep track of what the moon is up to (just put moon calendar up on blog on the right).

Two questions I’ve been wondering about:
  1. What is the reason for resting on moon days? I’ve never been able to find a good answer.
  2. Traditionally, are we supposed to fast on moon days? I’ve heard this but am not sure if anyone actually does it.


  1. Two potential reasons I know of why we might rest on moon days:

    1. Since we are made of 70% water, we are affected by the phases of the moon. Our internal tideas, then, are at their extremes at new and full moon. In his "Ashtanga Yoga As It Is", Matthew Sweeney gives more details, including why it's worse to practice on new moon than on full moon. Tim Miller also has a little description about this:

    2. Guruji found that 1 day off per week was not enough to prevent too much fatigue from setting in and/or injury from occuring, so he added moon days to days of rest (of course, this apply when moon days fall on a Saturday).

    3. Guruji wanted 2 extra days off each month.

  2. Yes, it does feel good to have off moon days and to be more aware of the moon in our daily lives. Thanks for the post Christina and your response Frank. Could it also have a spiritual, non-practice meaning?

  3. Oops, I guess I should have said three reasons. Having been a Math major, I should probably know how to count....

    Rob, not sure about the non-practice meaning, but this does exist, arguably, for not adding new poses on Tuesdays. Tuesdays is the "barber's holiday" in India; apparently, many businesses are closed on Tuesdays. Matthew Sweeney mentions Tuesdays being associated with Mars, the god of war (or perhaps the Hindu equivalent?), making it more likely to hurt yourself on Tuesdays. He thus tries to turn it into a practice reason, but I can't say I really buy it. David said he saw Guruji adding poses on Tuesdays for people learning Primary, but never in the later series.

  4. It is also interesting the parallels of ashtanga's moon days and the Jewish calendar's lunar orientation.

  5. I think the reason is that Type A Ashtangis need to be forced to give their body a break every once in a while.