Insights, Tips, and Just Cool Information
“Sri K Pattabhi Jois famous quote is ‘99% practice, 1% theory.’ He would finish this sentence by saying, ‘once you have practice, 1% becomes 100%.’
This article sheds lights on the theory behind the connection between planets, practice and the days of the week.”
Back in 2001, as we were leaving Frog’s Fitness Center in Solana Beach, CA,, my friend Matteo invited me to join him the following day at Tim Miller’s Ashtanga Yoga Center.
Tim Miller is credited as the first Westerner to teach Ashtanga. Even though I knew and been practicing daily on my own, I was still hesitant to go to Tim’s studio by myself.
Thus, I gladly accepted the invitation. On the following day I arrived early, parked next door, and walked with my mat in hand.
While I had seen the front door every day on when I looked over the surf, it was the first time I actually walked up to it.
I pushed the door and nothing happened.
I knocked softly, and then a little louder, but no answer came.
I peeked through the blinds and saw no one in the room.
Defeated in my attempt, I went surfing.
Later that day I saw Matteo. “I missed you in practice this morning,” I poked at him.
Slapping his forehead, Matteo replied “Crap! Today was Moon Day. No practice. I am totally sorry.”
“Moon day?” I asked.
“Yeah, in Ashtanga we don’t practice on Sat, Full Moon or New Moon days. It’s about needing rest, since this is such a physically demanding practice. But you can read more it on Tim’s website.”
When I got home I jumped onto the Internet. Tim’s page about Moon Days in Ashtanga Yoga starts with, ‘Like all things of a watery nature (human beings are about 70% water), we are affected by the phases of the moon.
So, it’s not just about getting rest, I realized. Where Ashtanga is truly a physically demanding practice, it seems natural that one would need one day off a week. Coming from a Judaic background, it seemed only natural and in line with other ancient traditions that Saturday would be the day off.
Moon Days, on the other hand, remind practitioners that we are connected to a universe larger than ourselves. While each planet exerts its influence on our lives, it is the moon that has the most direct relation to our body, as we are 70% water.
With its direct influence on Earth, the Moon influences our physical energy. Full Moon has an excess of energy, while the New Moon energy much less.
Specifically, on a Full Moon the body may feel like it can go further than normal, while on New Moon the body might feel stiffer than normal. Taking these days off reduces injury while reminding practitioners to look beyond the Asanas (postures).
Sri K Patabhi Jois would tell his studnets ‘99% practice, 1% theory.’ Practice included daily asanas, and days off.
It seems only natural that ‘Theory’ in Guruji (how Patabhi Jois is referred to by his studnets) words would be studying Patanjali’s sutras, which are the foundation behind the practice. Though you might then ask the theoretical question as to why practitioners are not given a new pose on Tuesday?
The answer would be found in the Vedas, or more specifically in Jyotish, Vedic astrology, which describes how each planet affects each day of the week.
Tuesday is governed by the planet Mars. Mars is known to be a fiery, combative planet. Hence, to lessen the degree of our own ego flaring up, no poses are given on Tuesday.
It turns out that this cosmic relation to each day of the week is reflected in the Ashtanga practice.
This relation becomes more evident when one has completed all 3 of the Ashtanga Series. When the practice moves from the physical to the subtle, from complex to intricate.
The planet that governs Sunday is the Sun. The Sun is considered to be the king of all planets. Second series is practiced on Sunday, as means of uniting the subtle body and the physical one.
The planet that governs Monday is the Moon. With its feminine side, this day invites practitioners to complete Advanced Series A.
While Mars rules over Tuesday, and new postures are not handed, practitioners repeat advanced series A on this day.
Mercury being the son of Chandra in Vedic mythology governs Wednesday. Mercury relates to our communication abilities. On this day practitioners complete the Advanced B series of postures.
The planet Jupiter is associated with our Guru nature. Guru being the aspect within that knows. It is not an outside experience. It’s an inner discovery. Jupiter governs Thursday, now that our Budha, wise nature has been revealed. Advanced B series is practiced again.
With all this cosmic energy exerted on the body all week, Friday opens the path for love, enjoyment and relate ability.
The plant of love and relating is Venus, which governs Friday.
On Friday all practitioners practice the Primary Series, as a return to the joy and love of our body.
Where each of the above plants spends any where from two and half days to one year is each Zodiac house, the planet Saturn takes almost 30 years to complete his visit to each house.
Due to its slow moving quality, Saturday that is governed by Saturn is a day off from practice.
The week begins again with Sunday, and the ruler of the planets, the Sun.
A new cycle of relating, connecting and discovery begins again.
When you read Patanjali, you will discover that what you seek is already within you.
The physical practice is more like an ‘old (wo)man gymnastics’ to quote David Williams, the first Westerner to complete the Ashtanga physical series practice.
Yet without practice, one will not care for the theory. And practice, according to Patanjali is anything you do that brings you closer to who you are.
So, what will you practice today?