3 New Moon yoga rituals plus a beautiful yoga sequence
Nature has its own cycles, with the wheel of the year turning through the seasons, as well as the Sun and the Moon moving through their rhythms. We are part of this magic universe, and to live in harmony with our magnificent Mother Nature is to recognise, appreciate and connect with her rhythms — especially the New Moon.
The Moon symbolises the divine feminine energy of the universe, which has been revered by a multitude of ancient cultures including Babylon, China, India, Israel and the Arabian Peninsula. These cultures recognised the potent influence of the Moon on planet Earth, incorporating it into their lunar calendars, which are believed to have preceded the solar ones.
Aligning our routines to the seasons and lunar rhythms has been practised for many moons and is bound to cultivate a deeper connection to the natural laws and lunar energy.
“The New and Full Moons represent to the month roughly what the solstices mean to the year, for during one synodic month the Moon covers the same 360 degrees of sky that the Sun covers during one sidereal year,” elucidates Hart de Fouw, a master of Vedic traditions, and Dr Robert Svoboda in their book, Light on Life — An Introduction to the Astrology of India.
Aligning our routines to the seasons and lunar rhythms has been practised for many moons and is bound to cultivate a deeper connection to the natural laws and lunar energy that you, being a part of the universe, are deeply affected by.
Influence of the New Moon
A New Moon marks the beginning phase of the monthly lunar cycle, when the Moon and the Sun are in divine alignment. This energy is potent; you may feel weary and low in vitality as energies of change and transformation boil up. Be gentle with yourself in the way you move, expend your energy, communicate or think, allowing time for ritual, meditation and relaxation during this New Moon phase.
This article celebrates the New Moon and will help you align with its energy, along with offering comprehensive holistic practices to enhance your connection to the bigger cosmos, empower you to release patterns in your life that no longer serve you and inspire new beginnings, leaving you feeling grounded and nurtured.
New Moon rituals
Practise these transformative and healing rituals, particularly intention setting, on the New Moon or within 3–4 days after the beginning of its phase (depending on the length of the lunar cycles), as well as any time you need to reset, restore and begin anew.
First, create a safe, sacred space for yourself. Play some soft meditative music, light candles and surround yourself with objects of deep meaning to you (eg photos of your loved ones, pictures from your vision board, your journal, essential oils, crystals or inspiration cards).
Nurture with a healing self-massage (abhyanga)
As spiritual teacher Acharya Shunya notes, “Ayurveda recommends self-massage with warm, soothing oils before bed, the application of essential oils and, of course, meditation and prayer, which act as moon-blessed treasures on the way to the heaven of sleep.”
A nourishing, regular practice of abhyanga (self-massage with oil) not only promotes softness of the skin, but also enhances the functions of the internal organs, supports hormonal balance and aids sleep, along with soothing the nerves, enhancing lymphatic flow and assisting in detoxification.
How to perform abhyanga
Choose non-refined, non-perfumed organic oil, opting for coconut and olive oil during the warmer seasons and almond or sesame oils in colder weather.
- Warm 1/3–1/2 cup of your selected oil and, optionally, add a few drops of essential oil. Use lavender, vetiver and ylang ylang for their calming properties, wood oils for grounding and citrus oils to boost your energy.
- Pour a small amount of oil into your hands and massage it into your scalp first and then the entire body, always moving towards the heart. Use long strokes on your arms and legs, and circular clockwise strokes on your chest, abdomen and joints.
- Leave the oil on for 10–20 minutes to allow absorption before showering. You can use this waiting time for your meditation and journaling.
Ground with a New Moon meditation
In yoga tradition, the energy of the New Moon relates to the end of your exhalation, corresponding to the force of apana, which is the downward and outward movement of air, governing elimination (inclusive of menstrual fluids) reproduction and immune function.
Swami Hariharananda Aranya, a yogi, Samkhya philosopher and author of one of the most respected and reliable commentaries on the yoga sutras, Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali with Bhasvati, further suggests, “Apana is so called, as it carries the wastes away and acts down to the soles of the feet.”
“On a deeper level apana rules the elimination of negative sensory and emotional experiences,” explains David Frawley, founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies and a renowned author of multiple books on yoga and Ayurveda.
Apana is active in the pelvic floor and lower abdominal region, corresponding to the first chakra, which helps us stay safe and grounded. To increase apana, try this grounding meditation exercise:
Stage 1: Grounding
- Begin in a comfortable seated position, cross-legged on a cushion or sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and keep your spine straight.
- Inhale deeply through the nose, drawing your energy down to the base of the spine. Hold the breath, feeling expansive at the base of the spine, until the natural need to exhale arises. Do not force breath retention.
- As you exhale, feel your energy flow downward through your feet into the earth. Feel grounded and supported by the earth and allow any tension to dissolve.
Stage 2: Apana mudra
- Join the tips of your middle and ring fingers with the top of your thumbs, keeping your index and little fingers extended. Relax your elbows.
- Hold this mudra for a minimum of five minutes while you meditate on your breath.
Yoga teacher Swami Saradananda states, “[This mudra] enables you to eliminate stale air from your lungs and expel impurities in all forms, facilitating not only [the] release of urine, solid waste, sweat and menses, but emotional ‘baggage’, too,” making this mudra a suiting addition to your New Moon ritual.
New Moon release and invite exercise
Just as farmers refer to lunar calendars by planting seeds on a New Moon, you can also use this time of renewal to plant the seeds of your intentions, set goals and reflect on your dreams.
- Journal the answers to the following questions:
– Which of my behaviours, fears and thinking patterns are of no service to me any longer?
– What am I willing to let go of right now?
– What steps can I take to release the above?
- Close your eyes, deeply inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, allowing your body to relax. Repeat three times.
- When you inhale next, feel the energies you would like to release one by one, silently repeating to yourself, “Let.” As you exhale, repeat to yourself, “Go.” Feel those energies, habits and behaviours from your list dissipate with each exhalation.
- Feel the physical and emotional tension evaporate as your body relaxes more deeply. Continue this short meditation until you have gone through your whole “release” list.
- Journal the answers to the following questions:
– What would I like to invite into my life (eg vitality, peace, love, lightness, financial abundance, clarity, joy or achievement of certain goals)?
– What steps can I take to embody the wishes I outlined?
- Close your eyes and take three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. One by one, visualise yourself experiencing the feelings you desire, having your goals achieved and your dreams fulfilled.
Yoga sequence for the New Moon
This yoga sequence invites you to move inwards and get in touch with your femininity, allowing time for self-reflection and to celebrate the new beginnings symbolised by the New Moon.
With its cooling energy, the moon invites you to “chill out” on your yoga mat. Slow your movement through this series of yoga asanas, incorporating smooth and deep diaphragmatic breathing, as well as plenty of rest, if needed.
- Easy pose (sukhasana) with side bend
- Sit on your yoga mat or a cushion and cross your legs, bringing your right shin in front of the left.
- Place the right fingertips beside the right side of your hip.
- Inhale, extend your left arm up and, as you exhale, bend your spine to the right, maintaining the length through the left side of your body. Breathe deeply with your gaze (drishti) up or down.
- Take 5–8 breaths in this pose before coming out on an inhalation.
- Cat pose (marjaryasana)
- Start in a tabletop position with your wrists placed shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart.
- Inhale, lift your chest and sitting bones towards the ceiling, gaze between your eyebrows, arch your back and allow your belly to drop towards the floor.
- Exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling, drawing your chin and tailbone in, and gaze towards the navel.
- Repeat 8 times, connecting your movement with your breath, matching the length of your inhalation to the exhalation.
- Downward-Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana)
- Walk your hands slightly in front of the shoulders. On an exhalation, tuck your toes, raise your hips, extend your legs and straighten your arms into Downward-Facing Dog.
- Extend your heels towards the floor and your tailbone towards the ceiling. Press your palms flat into the floor, grounding evenly through all 10 fingers. Draw your shoulder blades towards the tailbone and relax the neck.
- Now add a flow to this sequence. On an inhalation, lower your knees to the floor, arching your back in Cat pose; on an exhalation, draw the chin in, round the back and lift your knees off the floor, transitioning back into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat 8 times: Inhale into Cat pose, exhale into Downward-Facing Dog. Remain in your last Downward-Facing Dog for an additional 5 breaths.
- Inhale, look between your hands and walk your feet towards the front of your mat. Tuck your chin in and slowly roll all the way up to standing.
- Crescent Moon variation (parsva urdhva hastasana)
- Begin in Mountain pose (tadasana), standing with your feet hip-distance apart, grounded through the balls of the feet and the heels, distributing your weight evenly.
- Inhale, extend your arms up and on an exhalation, hold your left wrist with your right hand and bend to the right side, allowing your hips to draw to the left.
- Stay for 5–8 breaths, with your gaze upwards or down. Repeat on the other side.
- Triangle (trikonasana)
- Step your feet one leg-length apart. Turn your right foot to face forward, your left toes in and left heel slightly out.
- Inhale, extend your arms to the sides, parallel to the floor, and elongate through your torso. Lift the right ribcage and lengthen from the right hip crease.
- Exhale, take the right arm down, left arm up, stacking your right shoulder over your left. Place your right hand wherever comfortable — on the right shin, the right ankle, a prop or the floor.
- Open through the torso; keep your abdominals engaged and both sides of your waist long. Stay in the pose for 5 breaths.
- Bound Angle pose yin variation (baddha konasana)
- Come into a seated position on the floor or a cushion. Bring the soles of your feet together to touch, knees out wide.
- Slide your feet away from your groin and fold forward on an exhalation, resting your hands on your ankles, feet or the floor. Allow your back to round and relax your head towards your heels. Stay for 4–5 minutes.
- To come out of Bound Angle pose, use your hands to lift up and push the floor away from you. Extend your legs and lie down for 1 minute, taking a rebound posture to adjust to the effects of the pose.
- NOTE: When practising Bound Angle pose in a yin variation, please ensure you are not forcing your body into the forward fold. Relax and allow time for your tissues to respond to the healthy stress you are applying to them while holding this pose.
Finally, relax deeply in restorative Legs up the Wall pose (viparita karani), where you lie on the floor with your hips and the backs of your legs against the wall.
To complete your practice, take savasana (Corpse pose) and remain in the resting posture for at least 5 minutes.
A Q&A with John Ogilvie, owner and founder of Byron Yoga Centre
We sit down with John Ogilvie, owner and founder of Byron Yoga Centre, based in Byron Bay, New South Wales.
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