Did you know that behind every yoga pose, every asana there is a myth? A story of that pose, of that sage, of that warrior?
And one of my favourite poses—Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon pose—has an especially interesting story when it comes to her cycles, her waxing, and waning.
So why does the moon wax and wane?
The scientific explanation is that different phases of the moon are caused by the angle from which we see the moon illuminated by the sun as it orbits the Earth. As the moon makes its way around the earth we see various fractions of its surface reflecting sunlight.
But there must be a yogic explanation for that phenomena…right? A slightly more, well, magical one?
Enter Ganesha—the elephant god, remover of obstacles, son of the original yogi Shiva.
If you’ve ever seen an illustration, a statue or any other depiction of Ganesha, besides his big elephant trunk you’ve probably also noticed his round belly or, as I like to call it, proof of his immense love for sweets. (Yep, you’ve read that right, even the gods can’t resist desserts!)
On this one particular evening, Ganesha was on one of his adventures again and, unable to contain himself, devoured all the sweets that he could see with utmost satisfaction and then quickly realised that he should probably head back home to rest his full belly.
On his way back, riding his tiny “steed”—a mouse—a big cobra crossed their path. The mouse was sure he’s going to become the cobra's midnight snack, got scared, threw Ganesha off his back, and ran away. When Ganesha and his full belly hit the ground, his stuffed tummy exploded and sweets started raining everywhere. Ganesha, disappointed by literally losing all his sweet(nes)s, started collecting all the cakes, stuffing them back into his belly, and used the cobra to tie it shut.
This whole conundrum was observed by the moon who could not contain her laughter at the sight of the raining sweets and the whole ordeal.
Ganesha, being a son of god and god himself, deemed such behaviour to be completely disrespectful, lost his temper, broke off his right tusk, hurled it at the moon, and cursed her never to shine again.
And for a time after that, the world only saw the sun.
After a while, people realised that along with the moon, the romance and the love disappeared and they started missing the moon’s presence immensely. That gentle light, the shadows, the mystique, that special feeling that the moon evokes and brings forth needed to be brought back so they begged Ganesha to let the moon shine again.
After some convincing, Ganesha finally agreed to let the moon shine but under his own terms. Since his pride was still hurt by the moon’s unspeakable behaviour—laughing at a god—he said that she can shine again but she’s only permitted to shine in her full glory one night per month, which is why the moon waxes and wanes.
Now, you tell me, which one of these explanations is more fun? ;)
Dreamer, creator, lover, yogi.