“Between the moon and sun
This life is never done” -- Trevor Hall
Two years ago my family moved out of the city, to a quiet little village in the Mohawk Valley of Western Oregon. Each day, as my children and I grow and change, we wake up to bird chatter, and, after the Spring rains come, at night we fall asleep to frogsong. It’s the slowest pace of life I’ve known in some time. It’s given me new eyes on the passage of time, and on the challenges of daily life. In Sanskrit, the term for a meditative vision of sublime light in moments of intense beauty is “darshana;” to see; to have insight.
After years of moving through [life and] yoga poses with a kind of ferocity, my mind in the books, biomechanics and philosophy of it all... a return to a closer relationship with Nature has given me new eyes on reasons for Hatha Yoga practice.
How many Sun Salutations have I done? What do they give to my being? Have I remembered to remember that traditionally, we face east to greet the mystical-normal-yet-daily rising of the Star closest to our planet?
This past winter, we ran outside to catch the last of the sunlight on the shortest day of the year, watching the sun paint the sky fuchsia, asking, What kind of awareness arises with this darshana, these eyes on the sun?
Then, with my back to the east, one of the kids shouted, “Mommy! Look at that big beautiful moon!!” We all turned around at the moment and saw a colossal full moon rising above the cloud forest, bringing forward the reflected light, ushering us into the darkness and inner work of night and winter. Asking again, what kind of awareness comes from darshana on the moon?
And what of moon salutations? How do these sequences of postures offer an opportunity to play out the celestial narrative within?
The workshop I’ll offer at Yoga Yoga in June, 2019, represents a focus on this deeper relationship to the stories and poetry of the language of Hatha Yoga, and to the movement of sun and moon within the matrix of philosophy, asana, mantra and the breath.
Here is a brief excerpt from the course material:
“In order to understand the purpose of practicing Chandra Namaskara, that is, the energetic and physiological benefits, let’s first compare and contrast the philosophical and metaphorical ideas of Sun and Moon in Yoga, subtle body anatomy, and later, in Indian mythology.
The sun is an embodied, living entity/energy/myth within the physiological practice of yoga asana. Heat represents the sun’s energy in the body. Much mythology refers to the Sun as a masculine-encoded energy. Awakening, in terms of solar energy, means movement toward the idea of enlightenment as an “up and out” model. The sun mimics the outward flowing energy of the heart. Or, rather the heart mimics the sun. Sun dominates the upper body, chest and arms.
The moon is also an embodied, living entity/energy/myth within the physiological practice of yoga asana. Cooling represents the moon’s energy in the body, and is feminine-encoded. Moonlight is the reflected light of the sun. As above, so below -- lunar energy dominates the lower body, the lower back, the “pit of the belly” (reproductive organs, womb), the legs and feet. Lunar practices move slowly, and in broad arcs, cycles or circles (mandala.)”