Today’s our full moon day, which happens to be the Harvest Moon. Time of. (I think folks in Australia are taking it tomorrow.) So maybe sit quietly, or try a pranayama practice or read a book or check out some art to get your creative brain brewing.
In addition to Steve’s disturbing Moon Day poem, I spotted these two videos posted on the Facebook by William Wilson as I tooled around with my extra Moon Day time. I met the wonderful William at an Adjustment Workshop Nancy did here in Los Angeles. Although just a week long, I never practice without thinking of Nancy and bringing something she taught me into play. “I can’t hear you breathing,” she announced one day, “They should be able to hear you outside!” One day, I’m going to go to Maui.
So on this Moon Day, kick back and watch Nancy’s Led Primary at the last Confluence. Thanks once again to SACTV8 for posting.
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.
There’s really no other way around it. Despite — really because of — Monday’s moon day, it’s been a rough week on the mat (not to mention a pretty busy one off of it).
And tomorrow morning is Friday. So you know what that means.
I’ve more or less settled into a five-day-a-week practice. It seems about right; I get an extra day to sleep in, along with Saturday, and Sunday isn’t too bad. I’m probably at the shala an hour and a half later than during the week.
The past month or so, I’ve been getting even a little more rest, thanks to going to one of Bobbie’s classes at 6:30 p.m. This week, and I suspect the weeks ahead, that won’t be happening. So 5 a.m. mornings, it is.
Not that I’m whining. Well, I am — just to the wrong crowd. None of you will feel for me; you’ll probably wonder why I’m not on the mat at 5 a.m.
There are a few reasons, though, that I’m not on the mat any earlier — or more often. There’s that point where practicing stops being restorative and starts being destructive. (I pushed that in the weeks leading up to my trip to Tulum, pictured to the left. I had to be ready.) I think other things going on in life have a huge impact on what that is — although not always in the same way.
Some busyness — my work this week — just drains, and while Ashtanga can buffer against that, at a certain point there’s a balance you have to find. You have to let go, I guess, and realize that getting up that next morning isn’t the best thing for you.
Other busyness, perhaps that brings with it more straight-on stress, might demand an extra practice, or at least some extra attempts at yoga with everything around you. You know those times when you need those focused moments, just you and your body and the practice.
I try to listen to how I’m feeling. And that’s certainly one of the benefits, or effects anyway, of a dedicated yoga practice, right? You can hear your body better. (Or maybe it’s just that your body learns to yell louder and more persuasively.) I try to put my ego aside and agree that maybe tomorrow does need to be a rest day, when my body is arguing that.
But it’s difficult, to let go of the desire to do the practice. It’s hard to … detach. I’ve already had a day off, for one thing. And I even did a light practice, of sorts, today. (Really, I should have slept in. That’s the obvious truth.)
And without that detachment, it’s tough to determine just what’s too much yoga, and what isn’t enough. All I know is: I’m on the dividing line.
That said, I’m sure I’m getting up and going to the Led class tomorrow. And then there’s the yoga class on Saturday for our local Thank You Mother India event.
I’ve still got plenty to learn, in other words, and a lot more listening to do to my body.
For Ashtangis, today of course is a Moon Day — a day off of practice. To boot, it falls on a Sunday, one of the best of all Moon Days, along with Friday. (Why? Because it combines with the usual Saturday day of rest to produce a “weekend of rest.”)
Bobbie is teaching one of her three Intro classes today, as usual. According to our teacher, Jörgen Christiansson, Guruji said that Moon Days only applied to people with a regular (i.e. six-day-a-week) practice. Thus, theoretically, newer students aren’t yet under the “Moon Day” rule.
So she’ll be off to Omkar at 10:30 a.m. (Join if you are around LA.) I’ll be with her, not because I don’t have a regular practice, but because for a variety of reasons, I had to miss the Friday Led class. I like to think I just moved my Moon Day around a little.
Because Moon Days seem so special, a lot of the Ashtangis I know tend to do something in relative celebration of the day. Maybe 82% of those “somethings” are going out the night before since the alarm clock isn’t going to go off at 5 a.m. or so.
But perhaps you have a more creative or even more meaningful way you celebrate Moon Days?