Bodywisdom / Nancy Ivey
Like many other people, I awoke early on the last day of January 2018 to watch the full lunar eclipse of the Super Blue Moon. The second full moon within the same month is known as a “Blue Moon.” The full lunar eclipse occurs when both the moon and earth align with the sun and the earth casts its shadow across the face of the moon. During this eclipse, the moon was orbiting closest to the earth so it appeared larger and brighter than usual. We call this a Super Moon.
Venturing outside at 4 a.m., I saw the curved shadow of the earth shading the top edge of the moon. Sitting on the picnic table in the still darkness, I watched while the earth totally eclipsed the moon by 5:30 a.m. While driving to work half an hour later, my last glimpse of the eclipse showed an ellipse of light just glinting at the top edge of the moon as La Luna began to emerge from the shadow.
After a superlative day at work, we did half-moon pose in our evening yoga class to commemorate the magical morning.
In his book The Universe is a Green Dragon, physicist Brian Swimme forges a cosmology conceiving of humans as “a space, an opening, where the universe celebrates its existence.” He eulogizes, “We partake in the great presence of the night sky, awareness rising out of interaction. Our sentience, our feelings of wonder and awe, emerge out of the universe…These profound feelings are not just ours; they are the universe reflecting upon itself.”
Swimme identifies the cosmological powers of the universe as operative in humans including gravity which is personified by humans as attraction and love. “The human person, rather than being a separate unit within the world, is the culminating presence of a billion–year process; and the realization arises that rather than having a universe filled with things, we are enveloped by a universe that is a single energetic event, a whole, a unified, multiform and glorious outpouring of being.”
“To live,” he reminds us, “is to enter this beauty, surrounded by enchantment, summoned by magnificence.” Great minds think alike and another principled scientist, from a different discipline, confirms Swimme’s hypothesis.
Biologist E.O Wilson coined the term, “biophilia,” to describe our affinity with life, or as he clarifies, “the innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes.” Wilson argues that the freedom we humans seek is inextricably linked to the green places of the planet. He exhorts us to “explore and affiliate with life as our existence depends on this propensity, our spirit is woven from it, hope rises on its currents.”
When I learned that yoga postures may have arisen millennia ago as a metamorphic embrace of the habitat, it changed everything for me. In honor of the recent heavenly spectacle, instead of practicing the series of postures called “suryanamaskar” (sun salutation), I’ll be reviving a lesser-known practice: “salute to the moon.”
Nancy Ivey teaches yoga at CSUB and locally. Email her at email@example.com.