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The Sanskrit word purnata represents a sense of all-encompassing fullness, or divine perfection. Connect to the completeness of your inner being with this full moon-inspired yoga practice.
According to Tantrik philosophy, every aspect of reality is perfectly whole, even when it might appear otherwise. Suffering occurs when a being identifies with some limited aspect of him or herself, instead of the all-inclusive essence-nature that unites all things. Feeling, for example, like you can’t be “complete” until you find your soulmate leads to a fragmented understanding of yourself, and leaves a hole that will never adequately be filled. Each time you fall into the trap of “I’ll be happy when. . .” you unintentionally fortify the mistaken belief that you are somehow deficient or inadequate. Through your spiritual journey, invite an awareness of your innate sense of purnata—that everything you could be possibly be, do, want or have is already inside of you.
The Moon as Metaphor
The monthly display of the moon is an extraordinary reminder of the ways the sensory organs can deceive the mind. Looking at a new or quarter moon, for example, could lead to a belief that part of the moon had disappeared. Luckily, your wisdom has taught you that that part of the moon is simply in shadow each time it appears black. It may be hiding from view, but it is always present.
Even the “full” moon has the dark side behind it. If you can imagine that you, too, are like the moon, perfectly whole in every way, and that the parts that feel empty or non-existent are simply hidden in the shadows, perhaps you would connect to a deep sense of inner peace and love for yourself that you never thought possible. In fact, the yogic teachings all but guarantee it.
This full moon-inspired yoga sequence intends to awaken the divine, reflective nature of the moon. As you move through the postures that seem to highlight only one limited aspect of your experience, see if you can connect to the “dark side” of the postures—that is, the parts that may be concealing themselves from your direct and obvious awareness. Concentrate on the sense of fulfillment you feel each time you bring the second side of an asymmetrical posture to completion.
Standing Half Moon
With your legs together in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), reach both arms up and clasp your right wrist with your left hand. Keeping your weight evenly distributed between both feet, lengthen the spine and arc to the left. Take a few breaths here, with your gaze turned downward.
As you feel the deep stretch along the lengthened side-body, breathe more fully into the shortened side-body. As you proceed to the second side, connect to a feeling of symmetry and balance.
Lower to your hands and knees. Stretch one leg back and come to the ball of that foot. Stretch through the back leg (even though you can’t see it) and reach up to the sky with the opposite arm. Squeeze your inner thighs together and feel an even sense of rotation along your spine.
Notice how your upper body and lower body appear to be engaging in opposite actions, however there is a sense of wholeness to the shape. Try to be aware of all the sensations the pose provides. Complete this posture on both sides.
Crescent Lunge with Full Circle Mudra
Step into a high lunge with the back knee lifted. As you expand your breath three-dimensionally, keep your pelvis upright and your belly toned. Reach the arms to the sky, and, as if you wanted to capture the moon between your hands, tent all 10 fingers together to make the shape of a full circle. As you lean back and look up, stay full in the back body.
Connect to the sense of faith that your back-body is still there, even though your eyes cannot see it. Proceed with the next pose before repeating this one on the second side.
Twisted Reverse Warrior with Jnana Mudra
After a few breaths in Crescent Lunge, twist in the direction of your front leg. Release the leading hand down to the back thigh and look over your shoulder. With the top hand, bring the thumb and forefinger to touch in Jnana Mudra.
Imagine your consciousness remaining bound to that circle in the sky as you feel your body, breath, and awareness move through your entire being. After a few breaths, release the pose and repeat the lunge sequence on the second side.
In this second round of lunges, let your back knee rest on the earth and point your toes behind you. Allow your hips to lower as much as feels good. As you curl back into the backbend, connect to the shape of the backline of your body. It is as if you are creating half of the moon from the back toes all the way to your fingertips. When you complete the second side, you will have created the shape of the full moon.
Half-Moon and Sugar Cane
This set of poses connects to the apparent movement of the moon across the sky. From a Warrior II position with the left leg in front, crawl the left fingertips ahead of the left foot and shift your weight forward.
As if the moon were riding the outside of your back ankle, trace the journey across the sky as you lift your back leg until it is in line with the earth. Breathe and find your balance. As you then bend your right leg, stay present with the experience of reaching for your back foot with your top hand despite not being able to rely on your sense of sight.
When you capture your foot, kick back into your hand to create another crescent shape with the back line of the body. After a few breaths, release the pose and complete the sequence on the other side.
After cooling down from your practice, sit in meditation for 5-20 minutes. Visualize a beautiful full moon glistening above the crown of your head. As you inhale, receive the moon’s wisdom down into the base of your heart-space, and as you exhale offer your awareness back up your central channel to the imagined moon. Breathe like this until you feel yourself settle into a quiet state and hold the concept of purnata as the object of your meditation. You may even make a mantra for yourself, mentally repeating, “I am whole, I am complete. I am divine perfection.”
Imagine how you would move through this world if you knew you lacked nothing—if it was only from your fullness that you desired anything. Each time you look at the moon, take a moment to connect with that ever-present reminder that you are so much more than your self-images and limited mental constructs. You are a miracle and worthy of celebration.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
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