Ladies Holday,  Moon Day,  Social Media,  Teaching Ashtanga

Give Me All the Ashtanga Holidays

It is so interesting to see the amount of animosity some people have towards moon day and ladies holiday. Dude, it is a day off!!! Granted, I have definitely been through periods in my Ashtanga journey where I did not take these off, however, I never got angry about them. I didn’t see them as an insult to my womanhood or, as someone put it on my face book page, the advice of a “stupid, lazy, indian guru.”

A young lady asked a sincere question about moon days on an ashtanga face book group recently and like 10 people answered, “who cares!!!!”.  Well, I mean, obviously she did or she wouldn’t have asked.

You guys, Columbus did not discover America. There was a whole group of people here, chilling and enjoying life way before his people and other “settlers” got here and pretty much wiped out their whole race. But you know what, if my boss wants to give me that day off, I will take it!!! I am not Christian but I sure do enjoy Christmas. If my boss wants to give me Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and Chinese New Year off, with pay, I will take it!!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, if Trump wanted to declare August 4 as KKK day, I would not vote for it. But if it passes, and my boss wants me to stay home with pay, I might go out and protest, but I won’t be at work. And anyway, comparing KKK day and moon day is like comparing apples and crystal meth.  Yes, you can take them both into your body but apples are not that serious.

The period of my life, where I was not taking moon day and ladies holiday, was straight ego. I saw Ashtanga as this linear progression and I was terrified of losing strength, flexibility or a pose by taking it off. I was also scared I would gain weight. After 16 1/2 years of practice, it became quite clear that my practice was not linear. I lose poses, strength and flexibility and I get it back.  Like, that is just how it works…for me.  I also know that this body is not going to last forever and at some point, I am going to lose stuff and not get it back…like ever.  For me, I have better luck losing weight by stepping away from the table then I do killing myself with asana.  So that whole paradigm was a lie so I had to get rid of it.

Even after these realizations, I wasn’t taking my ashtanga holidays. It was going to Mysore that did it for me.  In Mysore I was practicing on 100 every damn day.  I realized that, the reason I didn’t need rest at home was because well…I didn’t need rest. I was not practicing on 100. I was not living life on 100 either. When I started practicing on 100 and living on 100, I needed my ashtanga holidays. I started to enjoy them. My fondest memories in Mysore, and I am not ashamed to say this, is getting a huge box of sweets from Sam and eating at Old House Pizza in Mysore on our days off. OMG, it felt like Christmas.  When I got back on my mat after the day off, I felt refreshed and renewed.

I also take days off because I am in my forties now and my body recovers at a slower rate then it did in my 20’s. There will be a time in your life when sneezing throws your back out even much grabbing your ankles in a back bend. Like I was walking to the kitchen yesterday, carrying nothing, and my shoulder “spased” out and then like 5 minutes later, It was gone.  I am proactive instead of reactive. I rest my body before if forces me to rest.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail