Two days a month, on the full and new moon, ashtanga yoga students don’t practice. Some say it is for esoteric reasons like gravitational pull and the risk of physical injury. Others say resting on moon days avoids lunacy. Finally, some students say that Pattabhi Jois had other religious duties to execute on these auspicious days and had no time to help students with back bends or forward folds. I notice that Gokulum, which is often filled with sweaty yogis eating big breakfasts by 8AM, is quiet. This moon day I went for a walk. I saw the locals sweeping the streets, coming out of the gym and gathering for tea at the Sri Durga Hotel.
On moon day mornings you wont see a white face, unless you bump into me. The night before is reserved for movies, pizza and maybe even a beer. I tend to go to bed early, then rise early to sit, draw and have some tea. When the sun finally arrives, dressing the sky in its pink and yellow dress, I leave the house and head down the lane. If you walk into the depths of Gokulum you can find some very interesting color. Early morning fires are heating water in traditional steel and copper pots, families are carrying out ritual or the first chores of the day: washing, bathing, gardening.
The birds and the dogs are awake and alert on moon days. They are singing and wrestling, connecting and contributing. I stop for tea, even though I know I have had enough at home. My Raj asks if I need a room for next year? He asks if I like my tea with sugar? He asks if I like a large or a small? Large with sugar I say but when I try to explain that its simply is not chai without sugar he gets confused. Do you want sugar or not? Yes sugar, I say and smile and take a photo and say good-bye.
The sun gets hot early and I remember that moon days are for rest so I head back up the hill, past the Ganesha temple, the coconut stand and into the shade of Shala Road. I see a cow and a kitten. I see the ground littered with blossoms, yellow, white, and violet, depending on where you look. This morning I feel the fullness of India, the fullness of the moon, tugging, nudging and basically calling me home.