Science offers a good reason not to practice Ashtanga on a Moon Day

We all know there are a variety of rationales behind the Ashtanga “no practice on Moon Days” rule.

Here’s a link to Tim Miller on the topic. (Quite a few online sites send you to that link.) Here’s Richard Freeman.

Well, now science has come along to give us another good reason not to practice, at least on the full moon: You maybe didn’t sleep so well. Take a gander:

Scientists, led by Christian Cajochen, analyzed the sleep of 17 volunteers ages 20 to 31 and 16 volunteers ages 57 to 74 in a laboratory, looking at brain patterns, eye movements and hormone secretions. They set up conditions so that light and time cues, and the potential for biased beliefs about the moon and sleep were not factors. The participants did not know the researchers were looking at the effect of lunar cycles on sleep.


What they found was that in the four days around the full moon people took five minutes longer to fall asleep and they slept 20 minutes less. The participants said they felt as though their sleep had been poorer, and they had lower levels of the hormone that regulates sleep, melatonin.

This is 100% anecdotal, but when I was in my 20s, I at some point realized that I slept really poorly on both the full and new moon nights. (Perhaps that was the sign I should start Ashtanga; I didn’t take it.) Those nights were pronounced. The difference was painfully clear. (At what point it was a self-fulfilling state, I don’t know.)

But I’m definitely inclined to believe this study. And inclined to sleep in even more the next time a Moon Day comes our way.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “Science offers a good reason not to practice Ashtanga on a Moon Day”

  1. i have found that my sensitivity to the moon phases have drastically increased after years of daily practice. “all IS coming” – most things don’t need explanation because it all just “feels” right, but it’s cool to have the scientific backup-especially when trying to explain this to those who don’t believe in any connection to the universe. that’s a LOT of people.

  2. You know what’s fucking awesome? That’s MY university (Basel) that did the research 🙂

    I actually always believed in the moon cycle affecting people… everything is interconnected 🙂

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