As I drove up to my yoga studio last night, I realized there was a full, amazing (and kinda creepy, dingy looking) moon right in front of me. Of course, my glorious iphone5 couldn’t capture the image at all, so I had to sear it to my memory.

It also reminded me that 1) Halloween is like today and 2) My teacher, Jamie Horgan, was most likely going to be teaching a moon flow class.

So what’s the big deal with the full moon and yoga?

Time for lil splainin’.


The primary effect of a full moon (besides oohs and aahs) are tides.

The key when it comes to understanding how the tides work is to understand the relationship between the motion of our planet and its moon. Both the Moon and the Earth are constantly moving through space. Since the Earth spins on its own axis, water is kept balanced on all sides of the planet through centrifugal force. The Moon’s gravitational forces are strong enough to disrupt this balance by accelerating the water towards the Moon. This causes the water to ‘bulge.’ The Earth’s rotation causes a sympathetic bulge on the opposite side of the planet as well. The areas of the Earth where the bulging occurs experience high tide, and the others are subject to a low tide. However, the Moon’s movement around the Earth means that the effects of its forces are in motion as well, and as it encircles our planet, this bulge moves with it.

The height of the tides can vary during the course of a month, due to the fact that the Moon is not always the same distance from the Earth. As the Moon’s orbit brings it in closer proximity to our planet (closest distance within a moon cycle is called perigee), its gravitational forces can increase by almost 50%, and this stronger force leads to high tides. Likewise, when the Moon is farther away from the Earth (furthest distance is called apogee), the tides are not as spectacular.

FULL MOON AND YOGA (most info from

Just like in many cultures, balance is the key to having a fulfilled life. Think yin and yang in Eastern cultures. For yoga- it’s the fiery sun and the watery moon. The typical warm up (fire builder) for a yoga class is a sequence called Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskara, which in Sanskrit means “bow to the sun,” embodying your solar energy.

The soothing sister sequence to Sun Salutations is known as Chandra Namaskar, or Moon Salutation. As the name suggests, Chandra Namaskar is a quieting sequence that invites you to bow to and cultivate the moon’s soothing lunar energy.

If you think about it – in terms of sun and moon, scientifically speaking, it makes sense. The sun creates energy. Think of all the plants that are growing and living off of the sun, creating chlorophyll. Or the solar panels on the roof of a building. The sunlight and heat is energy that is being created, stored and used. The moon has a different effect in the science world. It is related to gravity and tides- our oceans. Water.

Full moons create high tide sequences, so the idea is since our bodies are made of 80% water, we (maybe not consciously) feel these effects too. We feel heavier, slower. And therefore, the yoga practice tends to be slower, and maybe balance slightly off. This has not been scientifically proven (As indicated here in, but you can be your own judge on that:

The moon, tides and you High Tide.

The human body is about 75 percent water, and so people often ask whether tides are at work inside us.

The moon and the sun combine to create tides in Earth’s oceans (in fact the gravitational effect is so strong that our planet’s crust is stretched daily by these same tidal effects). But tides are large-scale events. They occur because of the difference in gravitational effect on one side of an object (like Earth) compared to the other. Here’s how they work (full explanation of tides):

The ocean on the side of Earth facing the moon gets pulled toward the moon more than does the center of the planet. This creates a high tide. On the other side of the Earth, another high tide occurs, because the center of Earth is being pulled toward the moon more than is the ocean on the far side. The result essentially pulls the planet away from the ocean (a negative force that effectively lifts the ocean away from the planet).

However, there’s no measurable difference in the moon’s gravitational effect to one side of your body vs. the other. Even in a large lake, tides are extremely minor. On the Great Lakes, for example, tides never exceed 2 inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which adds, “These minor variations are masked by the greater fluctuations in lake levels produced by wind and barometric pressure changes. Consequently, the Great Lakes are considered to be essentially non-tidal.”

That’s not to say tides don’t exist at smaller scales.

The effect of gravity diminishes with distance, but never goes away. So in theory everything in the universe is tugging on everything else. But: “Researchers have calculated that a mother holding her baby exerts 12 million times the tide-raising force on the child than the moon does, simply by virtue of being closer,” according to, a Web site that applies logic and reason to myths and urban legends.

Consider also that tides in Earth’s oceans happen twice every day as Earth spins on its axis every 24 hours, bringing the moon constantly up and down in the sky. If the moon’s tugging affected the human body, one might presume we’d be off-balance at least twice a day (and maybe we are).


Typically in a full moon class, the teacher will have a much slower, fluid-like sequence, versus a fast-paced high-energy one. Almost always, they will begin with Chandra Namaskara, and always with the left side first (the moon/yin side).

Now you know why your classes may be a little different around full moon time!


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