Many yoga traditions observe full and new moon as a rest day from physical practice. For a long time I had no idea why, then one day my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to look at it in some detail.
Interestingly humans contain 45 – 73 % water with babies having higher water content. Similarly around 71% of the earth is covered by water. During the full moon (sun and moon in opposition) and new moon (sun and moon in conjunction) the gravitational forces are combined resulting in a higher than normal gravitational force being applied to the earth, this gives greater extremes in the ocean tides.
Although many scientific studies suggest that the gravitational force only acts on open bodies of water, and not the closed system that is our body, many people still believe that the full moon does make us a little crazy.
A number of scientific studies have found links to the moon cycles and human/animal behaviour although there seems to be much debate as to whether it is a true scientific phenomenon or just a placebo affect.
Regardless here are some interesting findings from published studies:
The 29.5 day moon cycle is also in accord with the average human menstrual cycle. It's said that this is the best-known example of the way our bodies (over millions of years of evolution) have synchronised with the rhythms of the moon.
Image Source: www.timeanddate.com
The yogis didn't base their moon day rest period on any current western science, as far as I understand it the practice was carried over by Pattabhi Jois (the founder of Ashtanga Yoga) who was a student and later a professor at the Sanskrit College in Mysore. At this college they did not teach students on the full moon and new moon days, it was believed that the children simply didn't learn well on these days, particularly new concepts. When Pattabhi Jois began teaching yoga he carried over this rest period which has since been adopted by many other teachers and yoga lineages.
Like all things it's completely subjective, the best way to draw a conclusion, look objectively at your own personal experiences and see if you have any correlations with the moon cycle.
In general it's said that during the full moon we can feel more energised, have more stamina – this can lead to injury. Our emotions are amplified, a little anger can escalate to a lot of anger and a little happiness can easily increase to extreme happiness. We can become more sensitive to details.
The full moon is a great time for manifesting and making progress toward our goals.
The new moon is said to bring a sense of calmness and it's a time where we can feel quite grounded and low on energy. The new moon with its darkness is like a blank canvas, a time that feels more void/empty, a great time for clearing house and setting intentions.
Through my own personal experience I have no doubt that certain phases of the moon have a tangible impact on me. I’m full of energy around the full moon. Looking back over the last 3 years, I’ve been injured twice around the full moon from simply overdoing it. This has been a great lesson for me, I now follow the moon cycle and either take full rest on the moon days or do a more gentle flow or yin class.
My sleep is also impacted by the full moon, the last full moon here in India was no exception. It was an extreme case with lots of restlessness and around 2 hours less sleep than normal, despite following my usual routine.
During the new moon I have a tendency to become more reflective and withdrawn. This is a time where I generally like to be alone and spend more time sitting, reading, reflecting, and journaling.
Are you curious as to whether the moon cycle plays a role in your life?
Why not add the moon cycle to your calendar/journal and take note how you feel on days of the full and new moon, you might be surprised to see some common themes. It' said that their energetic influence extends a few days before and after the moon.
If you use Google calendar there is a cool add on in 'Other Calendars' called 'Phases of the Moon' that you can overlay.
If you have any interesting revelations then please feel free to share.
Mandy Habener (Dumas)