restorative yoga,  self care,  stress,  Winter

How to embrace the energies of the New Moon

Today is a New Moon, and in yogic terms there are a lot of ideas as to how we conduct ourselves at this time. Ashtanga devotees will skip their practice today, as the force of energy at this time takes a downward motion. Known as apana, this downward flowing energy is often compared with the end of the exhalation and is a time when our energy levels may be a little lower than at other times within the lunar cycle.

When I began my yogic journey it was the Ashtanga tradition I learned and followed, the advice to miss practice on a New or Full Moon intrigued me, so I decided to do some research and additional learning around this subject. We all know how much I love to learn, and deepening my knowledge of the lunar cycle and how it can impact our daily lives, seemed to fit in well with my prior learning related to Traditional Chinese Medicine. All this knowledge seemed to suggest that by living more in tune with the world around us, we can better manage our moods, energy levels, and most-importantly our sleep.

The New Moon is the start of the lunar cycle with the sky at it’s darkest and energy at it’s lowest ebb. Scientifically speaking, the sun, moon and earth are lined up in such a way that the light from the sun illuminates the opposite side of the moon from the earth. This means we can’t see our moon in the sky.

This is a powerful time to set intentions, although we don’t begin working on them until the first sliver of the moon appears in the sky in a few days time. The darkness forces us to look inwards, examining what’s going well and where we would like to improve in many aspects of our lives. This is the time to trust our intuition and to honour how we’re feeling at the present time. By taking time to feel and set intentions at the New Moon we are laying the groundwork for moving forwards.

Today I have two practices for you, depending on what you need at this particular time. For some, moving through a balancing and grounding yoga practice can help to lift our energy levels. This helps to lift us out of the downward spiral associated with the New Moon, leaving us feeling refreshed and clear to focus on our intentions for this lunar cycle. You can practice with me over on my YouTube channel and I would love to hear how you get on.

The second practice is a Restorative Yoga sequence which encourages us to slow down, ground and rest. For these Restorative Yoga poses you will need a few props, including a few blankets, a bolster and 2 yoga blocks. If you don’t have any of these props try improvising with what you have – a couple of firm pillows inside one pillow slip could act as a bolster substitute and rolled blankets work well in many poses.

Start in supported child’s pose, making sure you place cushions under your forearms if they don’t rest comfortably on the floor. The name of the game here is support and comfort!

Next up is a supported butterfly, again use a prop to help the forearms reach the floor. This aids the shoulders and upper back in releasing and relaxing. You could also prop underneath the knees if that feels nice for you too.

Lastly is a face down savasana pose, using the bolster to gently elevate the lower legs. I’ve also wrapped my hands inside my blanket for a little bit of extra snugglyness.

When in these poses find your level of comfort – we’re not going for a stretch we’re aiming for complete support and relaxation. Set a timer to remain for up to 15 minutes per pose (or longer if you’re really enjoying it. I use Insight Timer when I’m practicing at home, but feel free to use whatever works best for you.

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