When Words Fail Us

So many things in life simply transcend our ability to express it in words. When we get choked up by our emotions or grapple to find just the right words to explain our often muddled thoughts, we are left with a feeling of frustration in the wake of the confusing look in the listener’s eyes. Even when we do manage to find the right words to clearly and eloquently express our thoughts or emotions, it simply does not mean that the listener actually understands what we are trying to convey. We listen to others through the haze of our own outlook on life that is often tainted with preconceived ideas, and so once more, words fail us.

It is in a poet’s words that we often find the ability to describe an experience. It is in the music that speaks straight to the soul that we find the expression of emotion that is apt. It is in looking at a painting that we clearly comprehend what the artist is trying to say.

It is in practicing yoga asanas that we stumble upon peace, joy and beauty through the expression of our bodies. It is when we manage to leave the world behind, connect with the divine within us and move in harmony with breath, that a whole new world of experience and expression opens up. No words needed. . .

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Lunar Eclipse

The lunar eclipse on the 15th of June was absolutely breathtaking viewed from South Africa. Although lunar eclipses are fairly common, this one was not only a total eclipse, but also a particularly long one. The beautiful red the moon was bathed in made it memorable, and the sting of the freezing winter air on my cheeks cemented it even further into my memory. I love the moon and any full moon rising with dramatic effect never fails to impress me. I also love driving through the Karoo when there is a full moon, as it bathes the landscape in silvery light that renders it magical and ancient. Lonely, long drives like that can truly ignite my imagination and transport me to more primitive times of myth and legend.

 To most cultures in the past it was a bad omen that signaled calamity, famine and disease, or wars and bloodshed. Some cultures have mythical stories of dragons or serpents devouring the moon, or of the moon and sun battling, but they are all far too gloomy and depressing for my romantic soul. The real explanation of the moon simply travelling through the earth’s shadow is, on the other hand, also a bit too mundane and ordinary for my active imagination. The Wiccan tradition’s view of an eclipse as a magical time in which a union between the moon goddess and the sun god takes place, is a far more romantic explanation. In western cultures the moon has always been seen as feminine and has been known by a variety of different names: Luna, Artemis, Diana, Selene or Phoebe. In India the moon is a male deity named Chandra, which means ‘shining’ or ‘bright’.     

In yoga practice there is a beautiful series of asanas (postures) that celebrate the moon, called Chandra Namaskar, or Moon Salutations. There are actually a couple of different variations on these salutations. Moon Salutations connects one with the calming, cooling, and relaxing energy that is associated with the feminine principle of the moon. It is also said to stimulate creativity and intuition. The energy the sequence creates or stimulates is one that takes you inward, whereas the energy created by Sun Salutations, for instance, is far more stimulating. It is therefore most appropriate to perform Chandra Namaskar in the evening and better yet, when the moon is visible.

To balance the lunar energy within the body, practising Chandra Bhedana Pranayam is very effective. This energy is associated with the left nostril and the ida nadi. It is a simple practice where the right nostril is closed, while you take a deep slow breath in through the left nostril. Close off both nostrils and hold your breath for as long as possible. Open the right nostril and exhale. Repeat this a couple of times, inhaling only through the left nostril.

In yoga philosophy full moon days are seen as days of opportunity, and the time between the waxing moon and full moon the best time to bring the things your heart desire into your life. This is also said to be the best time to start a new project or to embark on a new career path or relationship. According to the ancient yogis the lunar phase one is born under will set the tone for the soul’s evolution during this lifetime.

Subtle changes in energy can often be observed depending on which time of the month you perform these salutations. The phases of the moon has always been associated with the cycles of growth, aging and death all living things have to move through. It is said that the phases of the moon affect us, just as it affects the tides of the ocean, and many people profess to being severely affected by the moon, while others simply shrug it off as having no effect on them. So if you are one of those that get affected in a way that makes you feel overly emotional and out of control, why not try some moon salutations or breathing to balance the feminine energy?