What is Ekadasi?

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Alternate Names: Ekadashi, Ekādaśī, Ekādaśi


Ekadasi is a Sanskrit word in the Hindu culture that refers to the number eleven.

Ekadasi is also important since it depicts a spiritual day or Hindu holiday that occurs twice each lunar month. The holiday is observed by followers practicing fasting or partial fasting.

the moon cycle in the sky, representing ekadasi

Ekadasi Deep Dive

Ekadasi is a Hindu holiday that breaks a lunar month into two 14-day periods, which represent two different cycles of the moon. During one of these periods, Shukla Pakṣa, the moon is in its waxing phase, and during the other period, Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa, the moon is in its waning phase. The eleventh day of each period in these lunar phases is referred to as Ekadasi.

It is a common practice during Ekadasi for followers to implement a fasting regime that varies based on different cultures. For example, some choose to avoid food altogether during Ekadasi, while others will avoid any beans or grains.

The fast for Ekadasi usually begins at sunrise on the eleventh day, continuing until sunrise the next day. Based on your religion or practice during this time period, you are not allowed to eat or not allowed to eat certain items.

It is important to note, however, that if you are sick or pregnant, you should only observe fasting as long as it will not jeopardize your health. People in any of these conditions are encouraged to eat light meals to maintain their strength and health.

a depiction of lord krishna playing a flute to celebrate ekadasi

Ekadasi In Your Life

The purpose of Ekadasi and fasting on the eleventh day is to open up your mind, body, and spirit to receive spiritual insight and guidance. When you fast during Ekadasi, you are eliminating distraction and allowing yourself to focus on spiritual discipline through prayer, chanting, and meditation.

The theory involves the pursuit of filling your mind. At the same time, the stomach remains empty in order to connect with the soul on a deeper level.

Another observation of Ekadasi is that some yogis believe that this time period is utilized to remove any sin or negative energies built up inside the body. Since Ekadasi works to remove any negativity, it will enable you to become in a better emotional and mental alignment.

This, in turn, allows you to move forward in your practice and strengthen your spirituality. This state of being is referred to as Moksha, which involves complete liberation from one’s mortal self. You are able to rise above the remedial cycle of life and death as you have reached the pinnacle of peace and neutrality within your life.

During the period of Ekadasi, you may practice some yoga poses and holds that will encourage and focus the mind on its pursuit of spiritual discipline.

Meditation during Ekadasi fasting will also maximize your efforts. Focusing on breath work is also a powerful way to connect more deeply with one’s self.

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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John McDonald is a writer and creative. He enjoys spending his time out in nature, staying active, learning about the unknown, and laughing.

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