"Like the moon, the mind is not self-luminous...both receive their ability to shine from another source. Whereas the moon reflects the light of the sun, the mind reflects the light of the soul."
According to the Tradition (as presented to me by my teachers and their teachers before them), after the preparatory stage of strength & purification, the second stage of practice is the Moon. Whereas the preliminary stage primarily addresses the physical body, the primary focus of the Moon is on the mind.
The Moon stage of practice has two distinct orientations: calm and stable. First, establish a calm and tranquil mind. Second, increase your capacity to sustain that calm state in increasingly destabilizing circumstances. The Moon plays a critical role as a bridge to the final stages of practice (Sun & Fire), making it possible to integrate the increasing energetic and spiritual intensity that unfolds as our practice develops. It is critical to first be established in both calm and stability before moving into the practices which aim to increase your access to power.
According to the Yoga Sutras, one of the primary roles of Asana (the physical postures) is to help us reach a mental state in which “the pairs of opposites cease to have impact.” (Yoga Sutras 2:49) What are the "pairs of opposites?" At the core, they are: attachment and aversion; good and bad; desirable and undesirable; pleasant and unpleasant; fear and peace; love and hate. How would your experience of life be altered if these pairs of opposites no longer had an impact on you? If someone cut you off in traffic and you didn't shift into road rage; if your co-worker brought doughnuts to work and you weren't immediately smacked with a craving; maybe you're seated at a dinner party next someone who's political beliefs don't resonate with your own and you were still able to regard them with honor and respect? Or maybe you got a phone call from the doctor with an unfavorable diagnosis and you managed to stay calm rather than spiraling toward devastation? These would all be good signs that your yoga practice was paying off.
Mastery of asana reflects your ability to remain calm in the midst of turbulence; stable in the midst of change. Deepening your practice (in the traditional sense) means slowly, but surely, dissolving your limited sense of self. As you evolve, and the pairs of opposites loosen their grip on you, you will have fewer and fewer ties to what your mind previously held onto for security. Calm and stability are critical safeguards in this process, allowing you to remain steadfast as you engage in the process of dissolving your ego and coming home to your heart.
Steady the MOON
Medicine for the modern mind, Moon practices are deep, challenging and nourishing asana practices with longer holds and an emphasis on creating stability and calm in both body and mind. The asana incorporates both standing postures and floor work with an emphasis on twists, forward bends and longer holds. This approach coupled with a focus on sama vritti and extended exhalations are used to internalize awareness to reconnect you with the pure space of stillness that exists beyond the thinking mind. Moon practice is the foundation of all Tantric Hatha practices that follow. Always take the Moon with you.
Intention To calm, ground and stabilize
Bhav (the theme of the practice)
I am not my thoughts. I am that which experiences the mind thinking.
Moon Practices are ideal if…
You have a busy life or a busy mind
You feel anxious or ungrounded
You want to feel more stable and calm
You are not sleeping or digesting well
You are quick to anger or easily rattled emotionally
You want to improve your concentration and meditation practice
***These teachings are inspired by Yogarupa Rod Stryker, Parayoga & The Himalayan Tradition