Yoga, at its core, is all about connection. The Sanskrit word that yoga comes from – ‘Yuj’ –means ‘union’ - to join. In fact, it tallies nicely with the English word ‘yoke’, the contraption that attaches the cart to the horse. The horse is the muscle, the power, while the cart contains the precious goods. In this way, we can see ‘yoga’ as being the connection between our physical body and the wealth of spiritual potential in our mind and soul.
I remember when I first learned about the eight limbs of yoga, and the fact that movement – the asanas, the bends, the Lycra leggings – were just a small part of the philosophy of this ancient wisdom. My dad has practiced yoga for over 50 years, and was keen I should have a holistic view, alongside what I learned from the Sweaty Betties and Lulu Lemons of the world. It was then I discovered that breathwork and meditation were as much ‘yoga’ as Downward Dog. Acceptance of circumstances, optimism for the future and self-reflection – some of the Niyamas, the second limb of yoga – are equally important to yogic practice as the Lotus and Warrior poses we strive to master in Hatha Yoga.
For me, moving with the Moon complements the yoga I do on the mat. If the eight limbs help us form a union between our body, mind and soul, then adjusting my mindset by working with the lunar phases is an extension of this connection. Just like the Moon, we exist in phases. Sometimes we are filled with motivation, growing in energy and enthusiasm for what the future holds. Each day, like the waxing moon, our glow increases. We want to share our passions and our loves and our hopes. We are social and content to stand in the spotlight.
Then there are the periods when we feel like retreating. We don’t even need a reason – we simply desire to pull back, to withdraw, to let other stars in the sky enjoy their chance to dazzle. In our waning phase we seek privacy, sanctuary and nurture.
We can learn a lot from the Moon, especially her key phases of New and Full. In the former stage, the Moon disappears from the sky completely. We look up into a vault of inky blackness and the reflected glow of la luna is missing. The night is plunged into darkness and, in this state, our other senses prickle. Deprived of the sensory distraction of light in the sky, we must rely on other sources of innate perception – namely, our intuition. This is one of the reasons we set intentions on a New Moon. We can hear our soul’s whispers more clearly. We can ask ourselves questions such as ‘What do I want in this life? What do I need?’ and receive answers that are not so influenced by the chattering ‘Monkey Mind’ thatso often adheres to societal expectations or judgements based on fear. From thisconnection – this union – to our inherent wisdom, we can then set intentions to help us manifest the kind of life we dream of living. The life that is there for the taking, if we align ourselves with the belief that it can be ours.
Two weeks later, a Full Moon blazes in the heavens, painting the nightscape with silver when the sky is clear. The tips of leaves gleam like sword blades, and dewdrops are transformed into mercury. Now sitting in an opposite zodiac sign to the Moon, the full force of the Sun’s light is reflected onto her surface. So too, do things come to the surface for us. Things we pushed down into the shadows – anxieties, desires, doubts, yearnings – bubble upwards and demand to be addressed. We often feel discombobulated around the lead up to a Full Moon – we might sleep fitfully, or have vivid dreams, or simply feel a disconcerting restlessness. The word ‘lunatic’ comes from the Latin luna for ‘moon’, as it was believed the changes of the Moon caused temporary insanity.
In actual fact, on a Full Moon we are given the opportunity to appraise our current situation and see where we are allowing ourselves to be held back. It’s an invitation to release that which no longer serves. Full Moons are about recognising our limiting beliefs and transforming them. What stories do we hold to be ‘truth’ that are actually hindering our spiritual progress? What attitudes limit us? What chords need to be cut? Working with the Full Moon to recognise our self-imposed limitations, and then converting these restrictions into positive affirmations and supportive beliefs, helps us create new stories that allow our dreams to flourish.
If we plant our intentions in the fertile soil of a New Moon, then on a Full Moon we prune the weeds that seek to strangle our dreams and erect stakes which encourage these intentions to flourish and grow robustly towards the light.
What’s more, we can use the constellation that the Moon sits in to help us connect to the high vibrations to aspire to, and the low vibrations to release. Each zodiac sign encompasses both. Whether it encourages adventure, open-mindedness, vulnerability, courage or a leap from our comfort zone, the energy of the specific constellation that the Moon is found in acts as a compass with which to align our energies.
It is this cosmic connection - this Universal union - that acts as my own ‘yuj’ between spirit, mind and physical presence. I love to keep my body strong and flexible with the Asanas, while meditation and breathwork incorporate the limbs of Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana.
Yet it’s not so easy to break them down and ascribe them to individual actions. Just as yoga is about integration, we can also take a holistic view of our self-care. Moving with the Moon, understanding our own phases of vitality and retreat, then transforming our limiting beliefs, can all illuminate the rest of our yoga practice with the same silvery glow cast by a Full Moon. To me, this is universal unification at its very best.
‘Bex is an Astrologer, cosmic coach, crystal healer + founder of the Moon Child Sorority. She helps people align + shine with their own potential by harnessing the power of cosmic energies. The aim is to use the stars + the lunar flow to tap into your highest vibrations, moving from being the passenger on this star-studded journey to being the driving force!She’s contributed to The Express, Metro, Glamour and Bustle, holds regular moon ceremonies, has an Astro-Guide subscription that helps you move through the month using cosmic energies, and has developed a crystal healing course for beginners.With a Virgo Sun + a Scorpio Moon, Bex has always followed her curiosity to delve into the magical depths of spirituality, delivering her findings in practical + proactive methods we can all use. She’s built her practices on the concept that ‘where attention goes, energy flows’ and has absolutely no doubt that we can all live the life we desire if we focus our attention on being our best self.