Today I am savoring a perfect new moon day. It is an overcast June day and I have spent all morning wrapping up creative projects, sipping tea, making food for my family, and going on slow walks with the dog. I am not teaching, or even talking very much at all today, which is a nice break in the midst of my busy schedule. The new moon is when the night sky is dark and the light of the moon can’t be seen. It’s a time when the energy current is below the surface, and in comparison to the bright and vibrant energy of a full moon, the days around the new moon are quiet and contemplative in nature.
Nature moves in rhythms and cycles. Nothing in the natural world is free from this law, though mountains and stars have longer life cycles than butterflies and summer flowers. And though we know this fact of life, most of us don’t live in a way that honors it. We often act in a way that is out of alignment with natural rhythms and as a result may find ourselves reaching for chocolate and caffeine on a new moon or winters day thinking we are tired when instead our energy is simply not as extroverted as at other times. Assuming that we can maintain the same pace at all times is a sure fire way to experience imbalance, frustration and a sense of disconnect. Now while I am fully aware that most of us can’t choose our schedules fully (for instance this is the first time I have had a new moon day off from teaching in over four months), we can cultivate certain practices that can allow us to synch up with nature’s rhythms so that we can experience more natural energy, inner support, and inspiration, in our lives.
New Moon Practices
Meditation & Contemplation: the new moon is considered the subtlest time of the month energetically, so it is ideal for meditation and creative contemplation. It is not a time to start new projects but rather to finish things up or get clear on your path of action.
Clear Space & Let Go: new moon is the end of the lunar cycle and so is ideal for letting go of things. This can be done on a subtle level by creating personal ritual to help you release an outdated belief, opinion, or attachment. Or it can be much more physical. For instance this can be a great time to clean out your house, clear work off your to do list, and organize your cupboards. Or you may begin to ease into a nutritional cleanse. Again don’t start anything new yet, just organize what is already present in your life and let go of anything that represents clutter, anything that will hold you back as you move into the next active cycle of the moon.
Move Slowly: use the three days around the new moon as an opportunity in your monthly cycle to slow down and move at a gentler pace. This is especially important for those of you who tend to do too much (you know who you are!). Make space in your calendar each month by booking less on new moon days whenever possible, and saying no to social events that are not absolutely necessary. Full moon parties are way more fun anyway! Resist the urge to fill this empty space with more projects or work at home, instead enjoy a few days of increased silence and stillness so that you can give more the rest of the month.
Eat Lightly: because new moon energy is below the surface and is related to Vata you will often find that your appetite is not as strong or your digestion is weaker. Honor this by eating lightly and simply for a few days. Many people I know do a three-day liquid fast each month at this time. Smoothies, juices, broths, light grain or mung bean porridges and teas are ideal for this.
Open Your Hips: on your yoga mat focus on more standing and seated hip opening poses over active arm balances and fiery postures. Hold your poses a little longer and breath into all the tight and contracted places. Encourage your apana vayu (downward flowing energy) to be released. This is great for soothing the nervous system and reducing anxiety. Restorative and yin yoga are also great practices for new moon days. Here is a recording of a new moon practice I made last summer.
Reflect: this is a sweet time of month to check in with yourself and do a journal practice. I like to use this time to reflect on the last month and notice what has shifted or arisen in the different areas of my life. I have kept a journal since I was nine years old and they have been invaluable in helping me to observe patterns of behavior and thought in my life (both positive and negative). If you already have a practice of working with intention this can be a key time to check in with whether or not your intention needs to be re-worked or if you are still on track with it.
Rest: just as winter is the time in the yearly cycle that is ideal for resting and restoring, the days of the new moon offer us that space in the monthly cycle. As much as you can try to have 1-3 days a month (preferably at the new moon) where you allow yourself to rest deeply. This means moving slower as I recommended above, talking less, and should include sleeping more. Get to bed earlier (by 10 pm is ideal, earlier if you can) and catch up on some good quality sleep. If you are like most of us in the modern world you are deeply sleep deprived and even if you are getting enough hours of sleep per day chances are they are not the optimal hours for sleeping. Sleeping between 10pm-6am is ideal. Anything later than that and we start to shift out of balance. Use the new moon days to catch up again and you will feel a steadier quality of energy for the rest of the month.
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have questions or comments to share please do so in the comment box below. I welcome conversation around this topic. If you would like to learn more about natures rhythms and how to get into greater alignment with them be sure to check out my Living Yoga Online Immersion. Now I’m going to go run a bath and read a book. New moon blessings to you all!