NO PRACTICE ON MOON DAYS
Both full and new moon days are observed as yoga holidays in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition. What is the reasoning behind this?
Like all things of a watery nature (human beings are about 70% water), we are affected by the phases of the moon. These phases are determined by the moon’s relative position to the sun. Full moons occur when they are in opposition and new moons when they are in conjunction.
Both sun and moon exert a gravitational pull on the earth. Their relative positions create different energetic experiences that can be compared to the breath cycle.
The Moon and its effect on the Body
The full moon energy corresponds to the end of inhalation when the force of prana is greatest. This is an expansive, upward moving force that makes us feel energetic and emotional, but not well grounded. The Upanishads state that the main prana lives in the head. During the full moon we tend to be more headstrong.
The new moon energy corresponds to the end of exhalation when the force of apana is greatest. Apana is a contracting, downward moving force that makes us feel calm and grounded, but dense and disinclined towards physical exertion.
The Old Farmers Almanac recommends planting seeds at the new moon when the rooting force is strongest and transplanting at the full moon when the flowering force is strongest.
Practicing Ashtanga Yoga over time makes us more attuned to natural cycles. Observing moon days is one way to recognize and honor the rhythms of nature so we can live in greater harmony with it.
Ashtanga Yoga was originally taught by late yoga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and his family in their home city of Mysore, India. This method of teaching the Ashtanga system, with its unique sequence of dynamic yoga postures, was discovered in an ancient text by his teacher, Sri T. Krishnamacharya and developed by Jois so that each student can learn it at ANY level of experience, beginner through advanced.
In the Mysore class, each student memorizes the Ashtanga Yoga sequence and comes to develop a daily personal practice with the one-on-one guidance of a teacher. No prior knowledge of the ashtanga sequence is required. The entire Ashtanga sequence is taught in class in detail over a series of classes. Since each student is taught individually, each progresses at his or her own comfort level. This method allows for a meditative approach to yoga practice, frequent adjustments in postures, and the fostering of a strong student-teacher relationship.
To observe the cumulative effects of your Mysore practice:
An initial one month commitment after orientation is required. (No drop-ins are accepted, except for visiting students with an established Mysore practice.)
You should attend at least 3 classes per week. You may arrive anytime during the first hour of class.
Beginners to Ashtanga, regardless of general yoga experience, must observe a Mysore Ashtanga class for 30 minutes prior to their first practice. See schedule for regular class times.
If you have an established Mysore Ashtanga practice, you may skip both Observation and Orientation and attend your first session anytime.
A Steady Practice Produces the Best Results.
A full-time Ashtanga student practices 6 days per week, with a Saturday holiday. However, a minimum of 3 days per week (i.e. every other day) initially is enough to retain the energy of class. By sustaining your Mysore practice, you will feel the physical and mental effects of the sequence with each visit, rather than having to re-learn the poses leading up to your last pose. Moving forward through the sequence becomes an organic process.
Additional poses will be given to you when the teacher and your body deem appropriate. For your safety, PLEASE do not attempt postures on your own beyond what you are taught each day in class, and do not ask for more asanas. It is important to learn every pose, as well as how to get into and out of them correctly, by an experienced teacher. Postures will be taught one by one, within the context of your overall practice. Ashtanga is a lifelong practice; in fact, it is in the Mysore method of study that you may eventually progress beyond the Primary Series. So stay focused, have patience, and enjoy the journey.