Why I Love Ashtanga Yoga Moon Days.

Sometimes my Yoga practice leaves me feeling not unlike the energizer bunny. I wake up at 5 am every day, head down to my studio, Namaste Pacific Yoga in San Diego, roll out my mat and begin my yoga practice. A few hours later, I roll up my Yoga mat and head off to labor lovingly at my other job, ScheduleBliss.com where I provide software to awesome Yoga teachers from around the world to manage their studios. I do this every day for 6 days and then I take one day of rest – A twenty four hour respite of sorts from the rigors of Yoga asana practice, before I prepare to do it all over again for the next 6 days.

But, twice a month on the days of the full moon and new moon, something of unspeakable wonderfulness happens: The Ashtanga Yoga Moon Days. An additional two bonus rest days per month, that sometimes feel like a personal “Thank you for practicing Ashtanga Yoga!” gift from Guru Pattabhi Jois himself.

I love these rest days because they fall on random days (depending on which days the full and new moons fall that particular month). It makes my practice feel more organic, it breaks up the machine-like nature of my regular 6 days on / 1 day off yoga practice ritual. As hokey as it may sound, it really helps me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than just myself, a part of planet Earth with its cycles and seasons. It gives me pause to surrender my Yoga practice to a higher power, the unseen incredible force that animates the world and everything around me.

Now you might be wondering, just how do I spend these two auspicious days of rest every month? Well, I invest these hours both wisely and partially wisely, depending on how saintly or mis-behaved I feel on any given particular moon day.

And, to that end, it thrills me to present to you these exciting ideas and activities to explore on your Ashtanga Yoga Moon Day – off:

  • Get more than 5 hours sleep a night – You’ve earned it, set your alarm later and enjoy a few extra hours of sleep (unless you’re like me and so used to getting up early that… ding! Come 5 am alarm or no alarm, you’re bright eyed and bushy tailed unable to sleep anymore)
  • Finally do that Pranayama practice you’ve been thinking about doing all week
  • Do your bank reconciliation and tax returns: Yogis might be unaffected by the laws of gravity, but the IRS is a stronger power
  • Cook / prepare all your own meals for the day – A good habit to get into and Moon Days are great time to start
  • Broadening your cultural horizons! This may mean organizing a water balloon fight or attending an opera, depending on which way your own personal pendulum swings. Personal growth has always been a pet passion of mine and Moon Days are a good day to devote time to it
  • Take 24 hours to stop obsessing over Kapotasana and ever more elaborate Yoga handstands and arm-balances. The sun is still shining and the people in your life still love you and need your love. That is what is truly important

Learning to let go.

For the past week, I’ve found myself hovering above the trash clutching various objects of questionable, but apparently still tangible value to myself; Sternly but lovingly goading myself to finally let go of an otherwise useless item that seems to excert so much power over me.

I’ve decided to let go of one thing every day, a practice in non-attachment if you will and so far I am loving the experience.

However, some days are harder than others. On some days it takes me a few minutes to finally pluck up the courage to throw something away that I know I’ll never use again, and I also know is of no use to anyone else.

There are so many ideas and ways to let go:

  • Sell unused / unwanted items on craigslist or ebay or just give them away
  • Delete those random files on your computer that you downloaded and are somehow attached to for no good earthly reason, that are just cluttering up your Downloads folder or Desktop
  • Donate clothes which you feel are no longer definitive of your current fashion statement to charity
  • If you’ve been holding on to an unneeded gift for more than two years, with the hopes of re-gifting it to someone who could use it, maybe it’s time to face the fact that it’s probably of use to no one and you should just throw it away
  • Prune your Facebook account of relationships with people that are just going nowhere
  • Let go of your pride and call a loved one / friend who you’ve fallen out with and who you believe should call you first to apologize

I struck up a random conversation this week with someone who lives in my apartment complex (or maybe just sneaks in to use the pool area) and they said that if they had not used something in the past 4 months, they get rid of it.

I’d say that the exact amount of time that should pass before getting rid of an unused item is definitely up for debate, probably dependent on the individual person and possibly also dependent on the item in question. But for me, I think there is definitely something there. Personally, I think I often hang on to useless items for north of 4 years before feeling that it’s probably time to at least consider getting rid of it. So, I think I can improve.

I think that without us knowing it, these things that we hold on to weigh our conscious and subconscious minds down. In fact, I think our brains keep and manage a list of these useless items. And our minds waste valuable time and energy pondering what we might finally do with these items, feeling, if not guilty then at least silly for holding on to them. Ultimately just stealing our focus that could be directed somewhere better for us.

So far, this has been a very valuable journey to me, there is something liberating about finally letting go and freeing up my mind from ever needing to be concerned or waste my focus on these items / things ever again. Things that might have once been important but have long since ceased to be so.

#FunFacts ! Until this week I had no idea that goad can be used as a noun, but I’m thankful to wiktionary.org for enlightening me on the subject!

“Noun: goad (plural goads)
A long, pointed stick used to prod animals.

Verb: goad (third-person singular simple present goads, present participle goading, simple past and past participle goaded)

  1. To prod with a goad.
  2. To encourage or stimulate.
  3. To incite or provoke.”