“The Yogi who realizes the movable and immovable world in the body is called the knower of the body, ” Siddhasiddhantapaddhati, 3.1
In the third chapter of the Siddhasiddhantapaddhati, Guru Goraknath relates everything in the seeable and unseeable world to our physical and subtle bodies. This list of reflections in the outer and inner worlds beckons the reader to examine their inner richness. In this short post we investigate the external moon, highlighting its influence in Hatha Yoga practice and seeing how it can enrich our view of an inner world.
Shandor Remete writes in the astrology section of “Shadow Yoga/Chaya Yoga”: The moon governs the top of the brain and controls the entire physical body. This importance is embodied also in the ancient science of Jyotisha which denotes the moon a symbol of the mind. Our physical body and mental states experience ups and downs much as the moon waxes and wanes between new moon and full moon. Understanding these fluctuations will aid in seeing if there is, in fact, an influence of the moon on our states.
The phenomena of the moon phases reflect the movement of the moon and the sun. The new moon is when the moon and sun are together – the moon sandwiched between the earth and the sun, does not reflect sunlight to the earth and so appears dark. The full moon occurs when the moon is opposite the sun, reflecting the sun’s light to us and appearing as a juicy, bright orb. The waxing and waning phase appears as the movement of the moon in relation to the sun. Jyotisha uses a calculation called tithi to break up this movement into 15 tithis plus an extra16th tithi or digit for the waxing and waning phase. Each tithi can be considered as a lunar day with a ruling deity and a unique set of characteristics and significations.
“Twenty seven nakshatras, twelve houses of zodiac, nine planets, nine lac stars, fifteen tithis (lunar days) dwell in their own seventy-two thousand internal cavities of the interwoven nadis of the body. Numerous clusters of stars dwell in the cluster of waves,” SSP, 3.13
Goraknath also lists 16 adharas, or “vital supports”, that are points in the body. We can correspond these adharas with the tithis. The first tithi of the waxing phase, Pratipada, corresponds to the first adhara, angusthadhara. Angusthadhara is located in the big toes. On the first lunar day of the waxing moon, when it is new, Angusthadhara refers to the right big toe. As the moon waxes it travels up along the adharas of the right side of the body. As the moon wanes it travels down the adharas of the left side, ending again at Angusthadhara but on the left big toe. Each adhara relates to one tithi.
In the beginning it is best to keep become familiar with the external moon by observing its phases and noticing the highs and lows associated with the new and full moons. As one gains familiarity with the moon and its tithis, recording the fluctuations of life, we can track our physical and mental ups and downs in relation to the tithis.
Having a consistent, daily practice is the most important part of getting to know ourselves. A strong practice not only enhances our attention and ability to focus inward but it also gives structure to gauge daily fluctuations; over time we notice patterns in our behavior and can see the repercussions of our actions. Having a knowledgable, trustworthy guide is second most important. Without this structure, it is difficult to gauge the fluctuations and repercussions because the mind tends to fall prey to its own tendencies and conditioning. Keeping track of a daily practice in relation to the adharas and tithis will, over time, help us to see through the mental condition to our connection to the cycles of the moon. You will see that it is not simply influenced only by new or full moon days but that it casts an influence throughout its cycle. There is much more to explore, this is only a basic framework with which to begin exploring.
“Happiness is heaven, sorrow is hell. Action is bondage. Nirvikalpa is liberation. From any state of the mind such as sleep when the atman awakens and experiences its own real nature, it is called quietude or peace. Thus the Supreme Lord of Universe, the Superme Soul exists in every individual body in the form of pure consciousness of indivisible nature,” SSP 3.14