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Using Moon Days as Rest Days: An Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

Ashtanga moon days are days taken off from our regular Ashtanga practice in observance of the moon cycles. Full Moons occur when the earth is between the Moon and the Sun. A New Moon is when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun. The Sun and Moon exert a gravitational pull to the Earth. Like all things watery, we are affected by this. The alignment of the Sun and Moon is said to make connecting to your higher self easier.


I haven’t always followed the moon days. Especially in the beginning of my yoga journey. I considered it hokey. I no longer feel that way because I’ve been with this practice during all phases of the moon, in different temperatures and weather conditions, different mental states, etc, and there are always correlations with the feel of the practice and the environment in every circumstance, moon days included.


Working for a vet for so many years prior to becoming a full time yoga teacher has shown me that the moon affects us all. Moon days at the vet hospital were always eventful. Mostly everyone wanted to kill us. Even the nicest companions wanted to attack us. The reverse was true too. Some of the pets brought in that normally wanted to murder us would be super sweet and compliant. We too, like our companions, are earthlings. I personally find it pretty likely that we are affected by these alignments just like the rest of the animal kingdom, and of course the ocean, considering we are about 70% water. Or maybe I’ve just become hokey! Whatever the case may be, this year one of my goals is to honor the moon days.

Here’s why:


There have been times in my practice where I didn't take off for large amounts of time. Usually those times in my life were when I was avoiding something. I’d hide on my mat for many, many hours at a time (sometimes up to 11 hours). This was not good for my body or my life outside of my practice. I needed more recovery time to actually absorb the benefits. And I needed to deal with what I was avoiding. Having the moon day off from my regular Ashtanga practice opened time for other types of self care.


The days off can be used to focus on the other limbs of yoga, explore a more restorative practice, work on one of your goals. I personally use the moon days to mess around on my yoga swing, write, draw, organize something, clean hard to reach places (feel free to insert a short person joke here;).


A built in day off for rest motivates me to practice because I know I have a rest day coming. Ashtanga yogis typically practice 6 days a week. I’m less likely to skip my practice because the day off is right around the corner. Having 6 days off a month, 1 day weekly and 2 moon days, is plenty for me! If you are not practicing 6 days a week, that’s completely fine. It takes a while to build up to 6 days. And some people never do and that’s ok! Do what is practical for your situation.

There is a correlation between practicing on moon days and injury. Because during the full moon, which is linked to the inhale (prana), we tend to have more energy and tend to be more headstrong and maybe push ourselves too far. The new moon, linked to the exhale (apana), tends to make us feel grounded, but heavy and run down. I’ve absolutely gotten injured on moon days. Who out there remembers my wrist being in a cast for 8 months? I don’t know if it was related to the moon but it being a moon day made me more cautious with my body on moon days.

Let me clarify that if you decide to practice on a moon day, because that day fits into your schedule, you won’t go to yogi jail. Do it! And try to notice how the practice feels. Some people say they are affected the day before, the day of, or after the moon day. This could also be a matter of how the moon cycle was calculated but this is something you’ll learn about yourself when you develop a consistent practice.


Keep practicing my friends! Your day off is coming.

2023 Moon Dates

January

Friday 6th – full (I know, I'm late)

Saturday 21st -new (Yup, almost late again)

February

Sunday 5th- full

Sunday 19th-new

March

Tuesday 7th -full

Tuesday 21st - new

April

Thursday 6th – full

Thursday 20th – new

May

Friday May 5th – full

Friday 19th - new

June

Saturday 3rd – full

Saturday 17th- new

July

Monday 3rd – full

Monday 17th- new

August

Tuesday 1st - full

Wednesday 16th- new

Wednesday 30th - full

September

Thursday 14th - new

Friday 29th- full

October

Saturday 14th - new

Saturday 28th - full

November

Monday 13th – new

Monday 27th – full

December

Tuesday 12th – new

Tuesday 26th – full

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