The yoga tradition teaches us that there are two key energy channels in the body called ida and the pingala, the lunar and solar channels. These energies can be compared to the complementary forces that make up life: male and female, hot and cold, etc.
The word Hatha translated from Sanskrit, separates into two parts, ‘Ha’ means sun and ‘Tha’ means Moon.
When we practice Hatha yoga we are helping to bring balance to these two opposing energies. We can use certain postures and breathing techniques when we are feeling sluggish or lethargic or want to build heat to generate more energy.
The energy of the sun brings us enthusiasm, inspiration and feelings of being motivated, uplifted and energised. We can cultivate a more solar practice in yoga by focusing on the inhale and pausing the breath at the top of the inhalation.
Repeatedly inhaling and exhaling through the right nostril (closing the left nostril) enhances a solar connection as it energises the pingala nadi.
Kapalabhati breathing, repeatedly forcing the exhale out whilst drawing the navel back, is another breathing technique used to ignite the fire, remove stagnation and improve clarity of mind.
However it is important that we balance our solar and lunar energy because excessive solar energy can make us too ‘fired up’, exhausted or depleted. If we place too much emphasis on constantly moving and doing too much we easily become ‘burnt out’.
Developing a connection to the lunar energy enables us to feel cool, soothed, calm and nurtured. It can help us develop our intuition and turn inward. These type of yoga practices help us feel recharged and refreshed.
Sometimes we need to adjust our yoga by slowing down and being more mindful. If we want to connect to the lunar energy we can hold poses for longer, place emphasis on the exhalation and add pauses to the breath at the end of the exhale. In so doing we cultivate more stabilising lunar qualities enabling us to reflect more.
The lunar practices are helpful for improving sleep, stress levels and anxiety. They can help us to bring balance to our lives both on and off the mat.