by Katya Greer: The four moon phases affect us whether we realize it or not…
Have you ever looked up at the sky at night in awe of her simple beauty? Is she constantly changing and affecting us knowingly or unknowingly? She seems so far away: powerful but gentle, bright and enchanting. The moon is magic.
Read on to learn about the 4 phases of the moon, how each moon phase can affect us, as well as a yoga practice you can do for each phase.
What Are the 4 Moon Phases?
Every night the moon looks different. What we see of the moon in the sky will depend on where it is in orbit around the Earth, and where the Earth is in relation to the sun.
The moon itself is not changing but what we can see of the moon from Earth is. We see all the different shapes of the moon – whether we see a bright circle or a narrow crescent shape, these are called moon phases.
Moonphases explains that although we have the 4 phases of the moon that we are more familiar with, there are 8 phases in total.
“An additional four intermediate phases make up the combined eight phases that comprise the Phases of the Moon in the following sequential order:
- New Moon
- Waxing Crescent
- First Quarter
- Waxing Gibbous
- Full Moon
- Waning Gibbous
- Last Quarter
- Waning Crescent
The 4 Phases of the Moon in Yoga
The moon, also known as chandra in Sanskrit, represents our emotions and personality. It’s known as the mother, divine goddess, and women.
In yoga, the moon is said to be connected to the “manas,” a part of the emotional, sensory mind. This part of the mind governs how we respond to the external environment and how we react emotionally. It’s deeply connected with how we experience ourselves within the world.
The yogic quality of the moon is known to be that of purity (sattva). The moon corresponds with the subtle body such as the chakras, energy channels (nadis), and the energies (vayus). The subtle body is the vehicle which consciousness moves from life to life.
“When the moon shines, Brahman shines; And when the moon sets, Brahman goes.” – Kaushitaki Upanishads 2.1
The gravitational pull, or attraction, between the Earth and the moon is what causes the rise and fall of the ocean’s tides.” The strongest gravitational pull is said to be around the time of the full moon and new moon.
We earthlings are made up of around 70% water, and many studies have suggested that when the moon has the most impact on the sea, she also has the strongest impact on us and the “manas” and how we respond to the world emotionally.
These Are the 4 Moon Phases, How They Affect Us, and Yoga Practices We Can Use for Each:
Read on to learn about each lunar phase and how it can impact you, plus a yoga practice that embodies the specific needs and energy of each moon phase.
1. New Moon
When we cannot see the moon in the sky, there is no illumination. A new moon happens every time the moon is orbiting between the Earth and the Sun. This is when the side of the moon facing Earth is in darkness and the back side of the Moon is illuminated.
How does this affect us?
The new moon is also known as the beginning of a new moon lunar phase and is a time when we may feel we would like to start planning new things, set intentions, begin new projects, or set out new routines and habits.
This phase is a perfect time to start a new yoga routine, a skincare plan, or even a work project with a fresh start.
The new lunar phase is a great time to journal, practice soothing lunar yoga, light a candle and take time to ponder, and sit with your pen and paper listening and honoring your gut feeling and instincts so you can create and set goals for the days and months ahead.
Yoga for the new moon:
Practice seated forward folds like Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana), which is soothing and calming so you can tune inward.
2. First Quarter
The first quarter happens around one week after the new moon: around the seventh day of the moon cycle. The first quarter is also known as the half moon because we only get to see 50% of the moon’s surface illuminated by the sun.
The moon is at a 90% angle from the Earth, and the sun is creating this shadow.
The half moon is suggested to have perfect shadowing and is beautiful for astronomers to see because breathtaking details of mountains and craters can be viewed and observed. This perfect shadowing is said to last about three days in total.
How does this affect us?
If you planted seeds, intentions, or goals during the new moon phase, this might be the time when things begin to take shape, and you start to see things flourish.
Make sure you stay grounded with your end goal in sight. Obstacles may naturally occur at this stage, so staying balanced and looking after yourself with rest, a balanced diet, and yoga are essential to keep clear physically and mentally to deal with anything that arises.
This moon phase is also a perfect time to explore and learn new things to achieve future goals and intentions. Connecting with the world and universe may serve you on your journey toward your destination.
Yoga for the first quarter moon:
Practice Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana), which opens and expands your body to help you find balance, strength, and focus.
3. Full Moon
The full moon takes place when the Earth is located between the sun and moon. The full moon happens when the moon’s nearest side is fully illuminated because it’s on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun.
The sun illuminates directly across at the moon, making it appear to be whole and complete. When the sun, Earth, and moon are aligned, this is the time the gravitational pull is at its highest. The solar tide has an impact on the lunar tides, creating extra high tides.
How does this affect us?
The full moon is a time of peak energy, and you may experience heightened emotions or feelings. Your sleep may be disturbed.
Many studies have explored the moon and the effect it may have on us earthlings.
During this moon phase, there may be a completion of the goals and intentions that you set during the new moon.
This is a time of completion, letting go, surrendering anything to the light that no longer serves you, taking time to release anything that is heightened that you no longer want to hold onto, and making space for the new to arrive.
Yoga for the full moon:
Practice meditation during the full moon, to release and let go of all things that do not serve you and make space for the new.
4. Last Quarter
In this last quarter moon phase, we get to see the opposite side of the first quarter of the moon. After this phase, the moon begins to get smaller and smaller. The last quarter moon, also known as the half moon, takes place around one week after the full moon.
How does this affect us?
This moon phase allows all that you were ready to surrender the opportunity to begin shedding. You may feel the urge to cleanse and let go of old habits, negativity, old beliefs, people, or things.
It is a time to honor what needs to be released. You may have an urge to deep clean your environment or even cleanse your inner body.
As you release, let go, and forgive, you open up new space to get ready for new manifestations, ideas, and abundance during the new moon phase that is on its way.
Yoga for the last quarter moon:
Practice seated twists like Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), which allows you to let go, release, and find calm.
Honoring the 4 Phases of the Moon
The moon is proven to affect the Earth and the tides, and we are one with nature. She gives us the perfect opportunity to tune in to ourselves and devote time to understanding the cycles of nature and life.
She offers us the wisdom of knowing we are a part of something magical, something bigger. We are one.