If you glanced into the sky on Sunday or Monday night, you likely saw a beautiful, large, full moon lighting up the cosmos. And, if you happened to your yoga mat, you may have heard your teacher talking about the effects of the lunar cycle on your mood, your body rhythm and your sleep cycle. Is this all just a bunch of Yogi folklore, or does the moon truly change human behavior?
Surprisingly, when I went to research this topic, I found very few scientific answers to this question. I had anticipated much research on the question so many people have asked, but I found very little. I thought I hit the jackpot when I found University of Miami psychologist Arnold Lieber's 1978 book The Lunar Effect: Biological Tides and Human Emotions. Lieber argued his statistics showed an increase in homicide during the full moon. However, his statistics have largely been discounted.
The same story came up again and again. Psychologists and police officers found a correlation between odd behavior and the lunar cycle, but other scientists found flaws in their research methods. And as to that adage, "More babies are born during the full moon?" That's not statistically true, either, according to most studies.
So, science has failed to confirm the "Transylvania Effect," which is the term given to links between the lunar phases and odd behavior. But, science has also failed to confirm the presence of Divinity. That doesn't stop most humans -- and definitely most yogis -- from experiencing this connection.
Ultimately, the body's connection with the lunar cycle is also not something to understand but rather something to experience. The moon's forces change the tides of entire oceans. Since the human body is 80 percent water, we can assume the moon's forces are also pulling on us. The result of that pull can be a full range of emotions. Science has not found a predominant trend of one emotion across all human beings, but that doesn't stop a large number of people from experiencing their own, personal change due to the lunar cycle.
Therein lies the answer to the question of how lunar cycles affect you -- it's all about your personal experience. For the next few months, consider keeping a journal of how you feel during the full moon or the new moon. You may notice a trend such as feeling overwhelmed, restless or even energized during the full moon. The new moon can bring about feelings of excitement, hope, anxiety and more. Your reaction may not correlate with a large enough percentage of people to be considered a scientific truth, but it may correlate month-to-month in your body, making it true for you.
Yogis believe the full moon is an excellent time to shed items you no longer need. Clean out your closet, your email box, your car or your to-do list. Make space in your life for something new to come in. Many women may even note this is a time their bodies are naturally prone to menstruation (in the absence of birth control which controls the body's clock), which is a biological act of shedding a layer.
On the new moon, yogis believe there is a great opportunity to set new goals. Spend time meditating -- or simply thinking about -- what you would like to accomplish throughout the month. If nothing else, the lunar cycle gives you an opportunity to come into rhythm with the universe.
Isn't this the ultimate goal of yoga, anyway? To yoke in the forces of the universe and feel them in your own body and soul? Even if you have never believed in the theories of lunar cycles in the past, give yourself a chance to flow with the rhythm of the moon, and you may find answers to questions about your own psychological and physical rhythms.
image via NASA