One morning during my allotted time slot of 3:30 a.m. I showed up for my regular class at the shala. It was my second trip to India and my first time studying under Shri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. As I sat down on the front steps of the school, I could not figure out why no one else had come. I certainly was not the only eager student.
By this time, it was closer to 4 a.m. Because I was alone and it was so early in the morning, I started to imagine the worse when I began hearing ruffling noises. I immediately went flying out of my sitting position only to see a bull-frog gracefully land near me. For the next few minutes, I watched him (or her) jump around. Back then it was just not uncommon to walk to class, hitch a ride or head out at godly hours like 3:00 a.m. to get a rickshaw to class. Today, it’s a totally different scene and I would not recommend it. Not that I recommended it then either but there wasn’t any other way to get to class. Watching the frog gradually made me realize, I would head back to my hotel.
I was also surprised about not practicing during the new or full moon cycles. But because the body is made up of 70% water, the moon naturally has a strong impact on both the human body and mind. The full and new moon cycles symbolize completion and celebration. In one year, there are about 24 to 25 new and full moons. According to the lunar cycles, the moon also has a large impact on ocean tides.
During a full moon the sun and the moon are in opposition to each another while in the new moon cycle they are in conjunction. These differing positions are related to the cycles of our breath. The full moon relates to the end of the inhalation; the rising of prana (energy). This is the vital life source that expands and increases energy both physically and mentally. A common characteristic during full moons is that of becoming head strong. Conversely, the new moon relates to the end of the exhalation; the emerging apana (downward energy). This is said to be associated with feelings of physical weightiness.
By not practicing the physical postures on these cycles, it honors the planetary forces that govern our existence. In Ashtanga yoga, the practice is not taken on either of these days. In classical Hatha yoga, meditation is recommended instead on the moon cycles. This is thought to be an especially auspicious time to tune inward and toward the cosmos.
Still walking back to my hotel and it nearing now 5 a.m. in the morning, I remember something else. Something , yes, about taking rest.
“No practice, you take rest. New moon.”
I took rest that day.
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