Waxing and Waning: Yoga for the Moon

Everyone, at some time or another, has felt a personal connection to the moon. Most of us forget about it most of the time, but everyone I know has, at some point, looked out a window or walked down the street and been stuck by how much it feels like the full moon is looking directly at you.
One of those times, for me, was when I was travelling across Canada with my brother. We were camping one night in our little two-person tent (far too little for our long Peters legs) and in the middle of the night I woke suddenly and looked up: the full moon was staring down at me directly from the little mesh opening in the roof of the tent. It was absolutely enchanting, and a little terrifying, too. After that moment, I've always had the feeling that the moon was following me.
The moon affects the tides, and since humans, like most animals, are mostly made of water, it's bound to affect us to some degree. If you work in a veterinary hospital, in social housing, or in a maternity ward, I don't have to convince you that the full moon has an effect.
The full moon is like a burst of energy. There's light in the sky, and gravity is pulling us downward. The full moon is a time to let go, to allow a cycle to be at its pinnacle and accept that the energy is about to change. The full moon is not a time to hold on, which may be part of the reason so many women menstruate or give birth during this powerful time.
I can always tell it's a full moon because strangers start arguing with each other on the bus. My students are either climbing up the walls with energy or feel like slugs in the dirt that just can't get up no matter what they do. During the full moon time, we need to release excess energy, and a powerful yoga practice can be helpful to sweat and release excess hormones, toxins, and energetic crap stuck in your system. This is a good time to backbend, open up the heart, and uncage whatever may have burrowed itself in there.
Less obvious, but still important, is the effect the new moon has on our bodies and minds. The new moon is the beginning of our cycle, traditionally the time to plant seeds. It is a physically darker night, and we feel this especially as we enter into the darker months of the year, in the sun's low light cycle. Now is a time to be quiet, to work a little more softly and be physically closer to the ground. Some people start feeling sad; now is a time to process grief, to remember, to sit alone and experience emotions so that we can move past them and set intentions for the cycle that will soon be waxing toward full again. I highly recommend writing down intentions at this time as a metaphorical planting of seeds.
We live in a world that values productivity highly. We are expected to be exactly the same amount of productive every day no matter what's going on in our lives or the seasons or the moon cycles. Acknowledging that the moon will affect how you feel physically and mentally can be a helpful way of navigating these cycles and making them work for you, rather than cursing them for throwing you off balance. Burning excess, throwing things out, and letting go is a natural reaction to the full moon, while thinking, planning, and quietly building is excellent practice for the new moon.
The moon is, after all, following you. When we listen to its messages and work with it mindfully, it can help us figure out what we need, where we want to go, and what it's time to let go of. What are your moon practices?


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