A yogi’s guide to working with the Full Moon

written by Mascha Coetzee

A yogi’s guide to working with the Full Moon to restore energy

Credit: Jacob Postuma

Have you ever been mesmerised by a Full Moon in the sky as it exudes beautiful, cooling light? What are the forces that draw you in? Going a little deeper, are you aware of the influences the moon has on your physiology, energetic body and mind?

A Full Moon occurs when the sun and moon are opposite from each other, gravitationally influencing the earth. With its pull, it changes the tides of the ocean, signifying fulfilment and completion. It also calls for reflection and gratitude for the abundance in your life.

“Full” is the term describing the moon as it reflects light from the sun. It denotes an abundance of acquired goodness, heightened energy, receptivity and strength, but this fullness can also manifest in the overflow of emotions, erratic behaviour and overheated conversations, bringing with them physical and emotional tension.

This article honours the Full Moon and offers practices to align with its energy, enhance your connection to the lunar cycle, release tension and restore yourself, leaving you feeling grounded, rejuvenated and fulfilled.

Influence of the Full Moon: Ayurveda & yoga

Ayurveda (the healing system of India and sister science of yoga) observes the healing forces of the universe and has a deep connection with its cycles. This is practised by aligning with its natural rhythms, adapting seasonal diets, adjusting to the cycles of the sun by modifying eating and sleeping patterns (eg waking up at sunrise) and allowing time for rest, reflection, meditation, ceremony and self-care in the dark hours).

Moon salutations are highly soothing and cooling in their nature. Incorporate them into your evening practice on the days of Full Moon as well as any time when you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, overstimulated or overheated.

The system of Ayurveda has three energies (doshas) that govern physiological activity in the body; they are known as vata, pitta and kapha. The body is also influenced on a physical, mental and emotional level by the five elements.

According to Ayurveda, the energy of the Full Moon is closely connected to kapha dosha (earth and water elements, responsible for moisture, stability and structure in your body). This dosha carries the qualities of heaviness, coolness, density and slowness, which you may notice reappearing in your mind and body during the Full Moon. When balanced, this energy has nurturing qualities and cools “fiery” behaviours and heightened emotions, manifesting in stability, sensuality, grounding and creativity.

Yoga and the moon

Hatha yoga recognises that every yang quality has its yin counterpart. Masculine has a feminine polarity, with shakti female energy ruled by the Moon (associated with love, compassion and creativity) and shiva male energy governed by the sun.

BKS Iyengar further elaborated in his book The Tree of Yoga, “Ha means sun, which is the sun of your body, that is to say your soul, and tha means moon, which is your consciousness. The energy of the sun never fades, whereas the moon fades every month and again from fading comes to fullness.”

The aim of hatha yoga is to achieve balance between the solar and lunar energies, between activity and receptivity. This is why traditional yogis honour the auspiciousness of sunrise (performing sun salutations) and sunset (saluting the moon) for practising yoga.

The energy of the Full Moon relates to the force of prana, the end of the inhalation, characterised by a feeling of fullness, upward-moving energy and expansiveness. While you may feel energetically elevated, you may also experience amplified emotions, yet lacking the sense of being grounded.

Full Moon practices for a yogi

Lighten up your diet

Experiencing a sense of heaviness and sluggishness during the Full Moon is common, so you may want to eat lighter, nurturing, easily digestible and freshly cooked sattvic (prana-rich) meals to balance out the heaviness and coolness of the Full Moon. Nourishing kitchari, a light and simple Ayurvedic dish of rice and mung beans prepared with fresh seasonal vegetables and spices, is a suitable option during this time.

Cultivate gratitude

“Gratitude is a gracious acknowledgment of all that sustains us, a bow to our blessings, great and small, and an appreciation of the moments of good fortune that sustain our life every day,” writes Jack Cornfield, a renowned meditation teacher and author of The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace.

A growing number of scientific studies have examined the effects of gratitude on mental and physical health. They have revealed that a gratitude practice lifts your spirits, promotes empathy, boosts happiness and can also enhance your relationships, decrease depression and improve your heart health.

How to:

This simple practice can be done as a formal seated meditation with your eyes closed, or as a relaxed journaling exercise.

Set your timer for 10 or 15 minutes.

Practise calming Left-Nostril Breathing (chandra bhedana pranayama)

According to yoga philosophy, the left nostril relates to ida nadi. This energy channel is associated with cooling lunar (chandra) energy. Chandra nadi has also been linked to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response), the left side of the body and the right hemisphere of the brain, which focuses on intuition and creativity.

Chandra bhedana pranayama involves inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right nostril.

A pilot study conducted at the Advanced Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research (ACYTER) involved 22 hypertension patients practising 27 rounds of Left-Nostril Breathing. The research revealed that the patients had an immediate decrease across cardiovascular parameters, including a reduction in heart rate together with systolic and pulse pressure, declaring it effective in hypertension management.

Along with cardiovascular benefits, nurturing chandra bhedana pranayama is practised to reduce internal heat, refresh the body, quieten the mind, elicit deep relaxation and promote better sleep.

How to:

Yoga for the Full Moon

This sequence introduces you to semi-circular calming moon salutations. It will replenish your energy and offers an alternative to heating and stimulating sun salutations.

Moon salutations are highly soothing and cooling. Incorporate them into your evening practice on the days of Full Moon, as well as any time you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, overstimulated or overheated.

Salutations to the moon (chandra namaskar)

  1. Upward Salute Side Bend pose (parsva urdhva hastasana)
  1. Goddess Squat pose (utkata konasana)
  1. Star pose (utthita tadasana) à Triangle pose (utthita trikonasana) on the left side facing the back of your mat
  1. Intense Side Stretch pose (parsvottanasana) on the left side
  1. Low Lunge pose (anjaneyasana) with the left foot facing the back of the mat
  1. Side Squat pose (skandasana) on both sides
  1. Low Lunge pose (anjaneyasana) with the right foot forward, facing the front of your mat
  1. Intense Side Stretch pose (parsvottanasana) with the right foot forward towards the front of the mat
  1. Triangle pose (utthita trikonasana) on the right side facing the front of your mat

This is one half of the circle. You are now invited to repeat it, beginning towards the back left-hand side of your yoga mat. The right foot will step out to the side into Goddess pose.

As you do the first two to three rounds of moon salutations, move slowly and stay in each pose for 3–5 deep breaths. As you become familiar with the sequence, you will develop a natural flow. You may incorporate the breath cues described in the sequence, or simply allow your breath to find its own pace.

Practise chandra namaskar for a minimum of six rounds, alternating the right and the left sides of the body. Then take a long savasana (Corpse pose) in the moonlight (where possible), comfortably lying on your back. Allow yourself plenty of time for restoration and assimilation of the effects of the practice.

Bathe in the moonlight

Apart from dinacharya (a daily regimen), Ayurveda equally advocates a nightly routine (ratricharya) to sync you with the lunar rhythms that invite you to slow down and turn inwards.

Acharya Shunya, an internationally recognised Vedic scholar, Ayurveda teacher, author and the founder of Vedika Global, describes this notion: “If we were to pause long enough from our preoccupations at night-time and simply gaze at the moon from a window or a balcony [or lying down in your backyard basking in the light of the Full Moon], we would discover that moon rays have a special calming and relaxing effect on our minds.”

The refreshing effect of the Full Moon can relieve tension, emotional intensity, heat (fiery pitta dosha) and exhaustion. Namaste.


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Mascha Coetzee

Mascha Coetzee is a yoga teacher, holistic health coach, nutrition assistant and linguist, and a practitioner of hatha yoga, inclusive of ashtanga, vinyasa and yin yoga. She integrates the wisdom of yoga, Ayurveda, CTM and modern research in her lifestyle and teachings. Mascha is based in Launceston, Tasmania.