Fly me to the moon, yogastyle…
Have you been enjoying the lovely weather? Though summer is not yet over & we slowly make the shift to fall, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is just around the corner. Often referred to (at least in my family) as Moon Day, it is an Asian harvest festival where we would eat moon cakes & gives offerings in honor of the moon, a symbol of harmony & unity. There are many legends in Chinese mythology in regards to the moon festival, such as the “rabbit in the moon” or “Wu Gang chopping the Laurel Tree”. One legend in particular that I heard as a child, was the story of the moon deity, Chang E, once married to the great hero, Houyi.
In this story, it tells of how there were 10 suns that suddenly rose in the sky causing disaster among the people. The archer, Houyi, shot down 9 of the 10 suns leaving one to continue give light. He was then pronounce king by the people, but soon became a tyrannical ruler obsessed with immortality. When he received the elixir of immortality, his gentle wife, Chang E stole the potion to prevent Houyi from eternal life thereby continuing his cruelty to the people. She then had no choice but to swallow the potion once Houyi realized what she had done. Not knowing that the elixir would cause the one who drank it to be transported to the moon, the king became overcome with grief as he helplessly watched his wife float up into the sky. Afterwards, the king realized his wrong doings & made amends by learning to become a just ruler to the people. He proceeded to give offerings to the moon in hopes of having Chang E returning to him. Meanwhile, when Change E arrived at the moon, she meets the chopper, Wu Gang. She learns that once a year, the laurel would appear & if chopped down, it would connect the moon to the earth allowing those to return to earth. However, the tree must be cut cleaned through the first time, otherwise once the ax was removed from the tree, the cut would miraculously heal itself & the tree would disappear. Desperate to return to her husband, she would make the attempt every year. It is said that during moon day, if one looked close enough, one could see the shadow of a woman & the laurel tree.
Though there are many variations of the legend of Chang E, this was always my favorite. As a child I would look up into the moon on Moon Day look for the shadow of Chang E. So in honor of the coming Mid-Autumn festival (Moon Day), expect Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose to make its appearance throughout class. As many know this is a great balancing pose with so many benefits. It helps to open the chest & hips to relieve stress, while strengthening the abdomen, ankles, thighs, buttocks, & spine. It also helps to stretch the groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulder, chest & spine, while improving balance & concentration. This pose can also be therapeutic for anxiety, fatigue, menstrual pain, backache, sciatica, indigestion & constipation. With so many benefits, it is no wonder that I choose this pose to honor the moon while perhaps eating some moon cakes?
P.S. I will also be subbing additional classes at Studio in the Heights & MBSY. See this week’s schedule below for more details.
P.S.S. I will also be teaching yoga at the New York Road Runners’ Run Center this Sunday September 15th at noon. Class is free! Register here:
This week’s class schedule:
Mind Body Soul Yoga
350 Fort Washington Ave., NY, NY 10033
6:45am – 7:45 am: Hatha
Stretch’n Flow Yoga
Keystone Dance Studio @ 252 W. 30th St., #4B, NY, NY 10001
6:30 pm – 7:30pm: Hatha/Vinyasa ($12/cash or PayPal)