Tonight, sees a full moon in the sky and according to the Farmer’s Almanac this is known as the Full Strawberry Moon. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? While the sight of the full moon can indeed be mesmerising, it also brings a wealth of changes and upheavals to many people. Ask any educator and they will tell you that their charges become ‘livelier’ during this phase of the moon. But the changes don’t just affect children, they can have a profound influence on all of us.
Hatha is a type of yoga, one of the oldest forms of the practise, and it translates as ‘ha’ meaning sun and ‘tha’ meaning moon. This form of yoga linked the sun and moon energies on a deep level, honouring the changes of the seasons, the shift of light throughout the day and giving us the opportunity work in-sync with the world we live in. Hatha yoga suggests a balanced practice of heating postures to honour the sun – think Sun Salutations and multiple vinyasas; and cooling practises to acknowledge the lunar influence – think Moon Salutations, pranayama and meditation.
For Ashtanga Yoga practitioners the phases of the moon are very important as the correspond with days when we do not practise the sequence. It is believed that during a full moon energy levels are too high, which could result in a more vigorous yoga session, potentially leading to injury. Conversely when the moon is new, energy is at its lowest ebb, and we may find it a struggle to drag ourselves onto our mats. As in most areas, the best answer is the middle path, where we dial down our yoga on these days, take some rest and ensure we can enjoy the practise the next day.
Theory into real- life
Christian Cajochen, a sleep researcher, found that sleep was deeply affected by the lunar cycle, even if the subject was unaware of the phase of the moon. His studies found that human sleep was affected as it took longer for people to fall asleep during a full moon, resulting in most people getting an average of 20 minutes less sleep on full moon nights. Over the last week I have noticed my own sleep being a little off, particularly the last few nights. Sleep is vital for restoring the body, sorting through memories and processing the day’s events. It is a natural way for the body to repair itself and offers an opportunity to ensure we face the new day fresh and prepared for whatever comes our way.
How’s your mood been?
I also noticed a change in my mood and energy levels. I have wanted to throw myself around on my yoga mat and my practise has been very energetic and flowing. But I’ve needed to create balance, by bringing more yin into my routine. The slow and considered approach of a yin yoga class is the ideal antidote to energy levels which are flying all over the place. It also gives me time to think, to breathe and to let go. All of which are important in any yoga practise but most of all during a full moon.
It’s not just on my mat that I’ve noticed the shift, I have managed to clear out a lot of paperwork I have been meaning to do for a while. I even spent yesterday sorting out my kitchen cupboards. All of this can be attributed to a lunar energy boost and focusing on tidying and sorting is keeping me more grounded, which is stopping my thoughts from running away from me.
Don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself how your energy, mood and sleep are around the different phases of the moon. Maybe you could structure those big tasks around a full moon when energy is a little higher and you may feel the motivation to complete tasks. Whereas keeping the binge watching of Netflix and resting up to the new moon and its lower energy. Just remember that it’s all about balance, honouring how you feel and putting into place practises and routines that will help you feel at your very best. This is what yoga is all about, and this is why it’s nice to learn a few bits and pieces to help your journey.