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Classes will take place at AYRF on moon days, but...

Traditionally we do not practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga on moon days. To engage in this ritual has a special effect on us: We commit to a trustful relationship to Ashtanga, our teacher and deceased teachers. It got its congeniality, as well, following old traditions. As important it is to me to keep it running, at the same time it is important to me, to deliberate and understand as well as scrutinize its history and reasons.

There are many reasons to not practice on moon days. In my opinion there are three main reasons to consider: The energetic effect of the moon, the honoring of the brahmins as well as scientific insights about the training capacities of our bodies in a modern perspective.  

  1. The biggest part of our bodies is made out of water. In the same way as the oceans react to the phases of the moon with the tides, we are connected to it. If we compare a moon cycle to our breath, the full moon equals the end of an inhalation (puraka): The life energy (prana) is at its highest at that moment. We feel energized and tend to be more emotional. We don't feel grounded and loose the natural connection to our body - the emphasis on our mind is instead causing risk for injuries during practice. The new moon can be compared to the end of an exhalation (rechaka), the moment right before something new is arising. We feel calm and relaxed, but at the same time powerless.

    If we don't practice on moon days, we protect ourselves from the higher risk of injury. At the same time we can benefit from the break by using the stillness to feel and learn to understand the power of the moon phases. This can lead to a bigger understanding of the nature surrounding us and to a greater harmony between us and the world around us.

  2. The third verse of the closing mantra is dedicated to the brahmins: go brahmane bhyaha, shubamastu nityam (let good things happen to the saints and scholars). In this passage we honor the brahmins for their lectures and we also do it by resting on moondays. This doesn't have to be a religious act by the way, but simply the respect for an old tradition as well as trust in the teacher. If they are convinced, that it's better for you to skip practice, you could simply just believe them.

    Indeed, there is also an explanation to it, that isn't spiritual at all, but has a very practical background: Sanskrit schools used to be closed on moon days. The brahmins had to perform different rituals and didn't have the time to give classes. The school break didn't happen because of a certain rule to not learn on moon days, but simply because no one had the time to teach. This example shows us that not every ritual is grounded on a fantastic and spiritual explanation (for another example read the story about the cat at the bottom).

  3. Another reason to rest on moon days evolved in the last decades: Out of a scientific training perspective it makes a lot of sense to take a break from time to time. The reason for that is the principle of super compensation, which focuses on the physical phases of fatigue and recovery. There is no direct connection to the moon days, but this gives us a good opportunity to rest and give our body the chance to regenerate without feeling bad for doing it.

All these reasons can work together (and there are far more explanations; it's not possible to show all of them here). Maybe there is no definite explanation - again we remember the importance of questioning and reflecting existing patterns. It gives us the chance to find an own answer and to act in this awareness.

At AYRF I handle it as followed: Those who practice daily, can and in my opinion should set a asana break on moon days. You may concentrate on other steps of Ashtanga Yoga, such as Yamas (self-restraints) and Niyamas (observances),  Pranayama (breathing techniques), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (deeper concentration) or dhyana (meditation). Otherwise I advise you not to practice on high intensity to avoid injuries. If you decide to practice, only practice asanas, which you feel really comfortable in, and avoid difficult and new poses. Watch out for ahimsa, meaning you should avoid being harmful to yourself and follow Aparigraha (don´t hold on, let go).

Following this proposition, classes at AYRF will take place on moon days!

The story of the tied up cat

Once upon a time a teacher was teaching the Bhagavad Gita to his students. Because his cat strolled  his legs permanently, the teacher unceremoniously tied his cat to the tree he was sitting under. At some point one of his student took over his class and tied the cat to the tree as well. As the cat died, he bought another one and tied her to the tree again. The actual reason for this habit was forgotten decades later: Another student someday wrote about the sacred tradition of tying a cat to a tree while teaching the Bhagavad Gita.


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