Much like the Moon, all life on Earth is cyclical. Human physiology is affected by seasonal and circadian rhythms, and by the lunar cycles.
As cyclical creatures, we are inherently affected by day and night, the seasons and months. However, light-interfering technology, stress, and inadequate sleep associated with modern life disrupt our healthy natural cycles.
Practicing “Moon Yoga”- aligning our practice with the Moon’s cyclical energy – is one way to honor the natural rising and falling of our energy levels and tune into our internal tides.
Hatha Yoga and many cultures consider the Moon feminine, but its energy affects both women and men. Practicing Moon Yoga can help maximize the benefits of everyone’s practice while increasing awareness of our energy and mood.
Read on to learn about:
- energies of the Moon cycle phases
- working with the Moon’s cyclical energy: Moon Yoga and Moon journalling
- The Moon and menstruation
- Moon Yoga for women
- Moon Yoga for men
Energies of the 4 Moon cycle phases
The Moon cycle has four main phases: New, Waxing, Full and Waning.
The energy of each phase is reflected in nature and our own energy. We can associate each phase with different emotions, needs or concepts.
#1 New Moon:
The Moon is barely visible, the earth is dark and the energy is low. We may be pensive and feel sad, or even heavy. At the same time, the starkness of the new Moon symbolizes a clean slate, so we associate this phase with new beginnings.
#2 Waxing Moon:
The Moon is growing, becoming more visible and its energy is increasing. We may be creative and feel excited, or even anxious. While this phase invites playfulness and experimentation, we are reminded to stay grounded within our physical and emotional boundaries.
#3 Full Moon:
The Moon is at its fullest and brightest: its energetic peak. We may feel strong, confident and capable of anything.
This phase is associated with action and fun, but also intensity and chaos. It also offers an opportunity to take stock; the full Moon shines a light on our shadows, revealing mindsets and behaviors that haven’t served us during the previous phases.
#4 Waning Moon:
The Moon becomes dimmer as its energy decreases. We may be introspective and feel irritable, sad or overwhelmed.
This phase is associated with self-care through rest and recovery. As we release between the full and waning Moon phases, it is also a time for expressing heart-felt gratitude for all that blossomed from the seeds sown at the New Moon.
Working with the Moon’s cyclical energy
Moon Yoga – aligning your yoga practice with the cyclical phases of the Moon- helps to cultivate cyclical awareness, self-compassion and acceptance.Our modern lifestyles of rigid routines and repetition can cause us to become estranged from the cycles existing within us, and in nature. Reflecting on the Moon reminds us to reconnect with our cyclical nature.
Practicing Moon Yoga encourages acceptance; recognizing that your body might require something different from your usual routine or what your mind desires.
Synching our yoga practice with the rising and falling energies of the Moon involves choosing energetically appropriate styles, postures, and sequences to maximize its benefits.
Energy focus: nourishment, restoration, introspection
Yoga style: Nidra, Restorative, Yin
#2 Gomukhasana arms
#1 Bound Angle
Introspective forward folds:
#1 Child’s Pose
Energy focus: playfulness, creativity, grounding
Yoga style: energetic and flowing Vinyasa, playful Rocket sequences. A good time to experiment with new, challenging poses.
Balancing and strengthening poses:
#3 High Lunge
#2 Chin Stand
Energy focus: extroversion, releasing, grounding.
Yoga style: strong or moderate Hatha, Vinyasa flows with grounding postures and cleansing pranayama practices.
Strengthening and grounding poses:
#2 Standing Bow
Energy focus: introspection, restoration, gratitude
Yoga style: Hatha, gentle Vinyasa, Yin, meditation and calming pranayama.
#2 Reclined Bound Angle
Gentle back bends:
Weight-bearing and balancing poses:
#2 Half Moon
#4 Side Plank
#1 Bumblebee breath
#2 Cooling breath
Another way to work with the Moon’s cyclical energy is by incorporating journalling into your yoga practice.
The New Moon and Full Moon phases are particularly poignant moments for reflection.
Following your physical practice, try a Chakra meditation before allowing some time to note your thoughts, emotions and reflections.
New Moon: A time for intention-setting
The darkness invites us to draw attention inward and connect with inner desires. The New Moon is like a blank canvas, making it the best phase for setting new intentions and recognizing the energy we want to attract in the upcoming cycle.
Meditation focus: the Crown Chakra, Sahasara, which develops wisdom and helps us discover our purpose.
#1 I would like to bring more…. into my life
#2 This month, I will work on…
#3 The 3 steps I will take to achieve my goal are…
Full Moon: A time for gratitude, forgiving and releasing
The Full Moon invites action. However, the energetic build-up of the month can result in burn-out, so it’s important to pause and do shadow work by releasing what no longer serves us and it’s good practice to show gratitude for the fruits in our professional and personal lives.
#1 I no longer need to hold onto…
#2 I am grateful for…
#3 I am proud of…
The Moon and menstruation
Just like a woman can experience the cyclical energies of her menstrual cycle, the Moon’s energy rises and falls throughout its 4-phase cycle.
The Moon takes 29.53 days to orbit the sun and 27.32 days to orbit the earth, mirroring the average 28-day menstrual cycle.
Not coincidentally, the words “Moon” and “menstruation” can be traced back to the same etymological roots in many languages; both the Sanskrit word masah and the Proto-Indo-European root mehns (derived from meh [to measure]) mean Moon and month.
A 2021 study suggests that women’s menstrual cycles may once have been synchronized with the lunar cycle, but this relationship has been disrupted by modern lifestyles and artificial light.
Moon Yoga for women
Those who menstruate (whether identifying as a woman or otherwise), should first align their yoga practice with their own menstrual cycle; opting for more energetic or demanding vinyasas during the follicular and ovulation phases and for more restorative poses with relaxation and meditation during the luteal and menstruation phases.
Women may experience irregular or no menstrual cycles at different stages of their lives (perimenopause, menopause, pregnancy) and due to a variety of underlying health reasons (Endometriosis, PCOS, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea etc.)
When a woman experiences irregular or no cycles, she can work with the cyclical energy of the Moon phases.
Moon Yoga for men
A study has shown that in the days before and during a full Moon, levels of melatonin and testosterone are lower than during a new Moon. Biologically speaking, males have higher concentrations of testosterone in the body, making them more prone to experiencing the plummet in this hormone.
Possible side-effects of lower levels of testosterone may include mood-swings, aggressive behavior, depression and withdrawal.
It has also been shown that cortisol levels in young males tend to rise during the Full Moon, which could explain why men report feeling more stressed at this time of the month.
A sleep study also concluded that the Moon phases had a greater impact on the duration and quality men’s sleep. The results suggest that men sleep approximately 10-20 minutes less than women during both Waxing and Waning Moon phases.
Yoga offers multiple benefits for men and, during a Full Moon, they can choose poses for stress-relief such as Seated Forward Bend and Legs up the Wall, and coherent breathing to help release anxiety and improve mood.
During the Waxing and Waning phases, men may benefit from a restorative practice, Yin Yoga or Yoga Nidra to improve the quality of sleep.