Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Practice on Moon Day?

Traditionally, ashtanga practitioners should not practice on moon days.

Today is a moon day, and I just finished my practice.
I wrestled with whether or not to get on my mat for most of the day.

My body has been asking for practice.
These past few weeks have had their share of events and my attention was most definitely needed elsewhere so I climbed onto my mat and snuck away to the shala whenever I could, but that wasn't as often as my body is used to. As I parked my car and walked into my empty house this afternoon my inner-self was literally crying for the calming effect of my breath and the fluidity of the asanas.

My dogs, all THREE of them, found a corner of the room from which to quietly watch and didn't make a sound the entire time I was on the mat. As I rested in Savasana each of them, one at a time, stooped in close to nuzzle my hands and face and took rest with me.

A nice peace settled in as I rolled up my mat.
There are at least 37 (hundred) things I could've done with the time I spent taking practice today, some are things I reserve specifically for a moon day, but none would have been as restorative or as encouraging as allowing myself to take my practice.

The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for yoga practice. Upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is elevated over another in a hierarchical order. Each is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to the divine. Because we are all uniquely individual a person can emphasize one branch and then move on to another as they round out their understanding. (source)
Like Asana and Pranayama, the Yamas and Niyamas are limbs of this framework. These can be looked at as universal morality and personal observances. While my decision to take practice on a moon day could be seen as a breaking of a "rule" or tradition, my experience resonates more with the idea of Tapas - the 3rd Niyama or rule prescribed for personal observance.

Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy 
Tapas refers to the activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without outer show. Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea we can direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union with the Divine. Tapas helps us burn up all the desires that stand in our way of this goal.
My body, feeling disconnected from it's soulful self, directed a disciplined use of energy to remind me that in the midst of all my responsibilities and roles, staying true and connected to myself is an important responsibility and the most important role as well.

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