Moon Day Schmoon Day by Matt Ryan

10th May 2017 by Matt Ryan

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So the Full Moon and New Moon days are auspicious times of the month – especially so it seems for practitioners of Ashtanga Yoga. When I first started practicing Ashtanga many moons ago ( insert eyes looking up emoji!) I was told in no uncertain terms that I must not in any circumstances do my practice on Full Moon and New Moon days and that a fate worse than death would be waiting for me if I did. When I delved a little deeper to find out the reasons for this ‘rule’ (a rule which incidentally out of the many, many different yoga practices only affects the Ashtanga Yoga discipline) I found out that the potential of injuring oneself was much higher on the Moon Days apparently and that one should take rest on these days. There were also more esoteric explanations like this one from Tim Miller’s Ashtanga Yoga Center website.

Now let me make this clear at this point  I am not in any way suggesting that these Moon Day explanations are not true , what I am saying is that they are not true for me. I’ve studied the evidence and to be honest the numbers just don’t add up. I guess this might in part be due to the fact that being born a Mancunian part of our DNA is not to believe anything or anybody, well maybe it’s a little more like if it looks like bullshit , walks like bullshit , talks like bullshit then it’s probably bullshit.

My reluctance toward Moon Day Mania started the very first time I went to Mysore nearly 20 years ago. As I remember the Full Moon fell on a Wednesday of my first week, but there was a big sign in the Shala saying that Moon Day ( ie the Shala was going to be closed) was going to be on a Thursday. Wow I thought to myself – the might of Guruji – he has the power to change the lunar cycles. I was then told or should I say someone whispered to me behind closed doors that actually Guruji was off shopping to Bangalore on Thursday as he couldn’t make it over on the Wednesday. I actually thought this was hilarious, maybe Guruji had a bit of Manc ‘blag’ in him too : ) – Me and Sri K Pattabhi Jois cut from the same cloth.

I do think that if you’re hammering the 6 day practice rule (another bloody Ashtanga rule, I just don’t like being told what to do that’s my problem) I think to take an extra rest day ( as well as Sunday) every other week makes absolute sense – just to give your body some time out from the intensity of practice. I just don’t think we have to look too deeply into why we are resting and not rely on some ancient Hindu scripture for Moon Day justification. I’ve read some of these scriptures (insert sleeping emoji) and to quote The Smiths enigmatic (and fellow cynical Mancunian) Stephen Patrick Morrissey ‘it says nothing to me about my life’. I prefer a more plausible  explanation a friend of mine gave me a while back , in the Hindu religion the Moon days are considered to be very auspicious and so there are extra-long ‘Pujas’ (religious services) on these days – no time for throwing a few shapes on a sticky blue / purple / emerald / whatever yoga mat.

Eddie Stern – respected and influential Ashtanga Yoga teacher wrote a very eloquent and informed piece (far more eloquent than the dross that I serve up) about Moon Days – have a butcher’s at it here.

So final point from me is that I think it’s important to listen to our teachers and their advice, teachings and instructions. But it’s also important to have the responsibility to come to your own conclusions and act on that conclusion.  So it’s Full Moon today and normally I would be getting ‘jiggy wit it’ on me mat but as it happens I need some new jeans so I’m making like a Guru and going shopping instead. Laters.

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By Matt Ryan

I have practised Ashtanga Yoga for over 18 years and taught for the last 17. I am based in Manchester, I have also taught in both India and Europe as well as all over the UK. Over the last 18 years I successfully launched…

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