BY KEREN ELIEZAR kerenoryoga.wordpress.com

February 1st of 2014 coincides with Rosh Chodesh of Adar I. Adar I is the added month that balances the Jewish calendar on its solar-lunar cycle verifying that the appropriate months align with the correct seasons. It
precedes Adar II, the time of the joyous celebration of Purim. Together,
these two months mark an exceptional joyous time in the history of the
Jewish people.

Rosh Chodesh in general marks the emergence of a new moon. Although
both Yoga and Judaism are ancient traditions, the similarities between
Judaism and Yoga never cease to amaze me. As such, I recently learned
that in the Ashtanga practice, it is customary not to practice during “Yogi”
Rosh Chodesh – full and new moon days. The premise behind this
custom being that humans are also afected by the phases of the moon.
The gravitational energy exerted on earth because of the solar and lunar
cycles may cause us to feel less grounded during times of full and new
moons, when the energy is at its strongest. (http://
www.ashtangayogacenter.com/moon.html
)

As stated, Judaism goes by a lunar-solar calendar. Our days start at
nightfall with the emergence of the stars and moon. Rosh Chodesh is the
beginning of a new month but also the beginning of a new moon. This
time is considered spiritually auspicious in nature (especially for women).
And although the Talmud states that women’s work was abstained from
on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the month remains a time to draw
closer to your spiritual practice rather than shy away from it as done in
the Ashtanga practice. The energy of the month ahead is refocused as a
time for prayer, thanks, and self-awareness.

Whether you choose to practice asanas or not during Rosh Chodesh, it is
an advantageous moment to refocus and ground yourself. Find time to
light a candle and say a special prayer. Give thanks for what you have and
what you have achieved. Create a heightened sense of self awareness and
spiritual awakening by reminding yourself to live deliberately and
consciously each day. This is the perfect time to re-connect to your
spiritual self for those that have been feeling disconnected lately.

One of my most memorable Rosh Chodesh moments was when friends
decided to hold an “amen” meal. Everyone brought a diferent type of
dish. Each friend led the rest of us in a bracha on their dish. We started
with “pri ha-gefen” and ended very untraditionally with “ha-motzei” (so
we wouldn’t rule out all the other blessings!). We covered the works –
fruit from the ground, fruit from the trees, grain, “shehakol”, and finally
“ha-motzei”. Each blessing was followed by a resounding “amen” before
trying the dish. After “ha-motzei”, we dug in to full size portions. The
individual attention to each bracha and accompanying food helped
refocus our intention – kavana – in prayer as well as elevate the
significance of Rosh Chodesh.

The energy of Rosh Chodesh serves as a re-awakening and re-stirring of
the spiritual soul. Jews have always capitalized on the unique capsulation
of time. Think of the new moon as a time when the energy of the new
month is being capsulated in one day. All the potential energy of the
month to come exists in this one moment – Rosh Chodesh. All the new
experiences, revelations, growth, and positive thought that will exist are
bound into this day just bursting to begin. Each time you recite the
special prayer for the new month on its first day, each time you say a
bracha over food that day and include the special insertion for the new
month, each time you spiritually connect on this day; think of this
potential energy of beautiful experiences that are yet to come.

Rosh Chodesh is an opportune moment to remind ourselves just what a
wonderful, energetic world we live in and how we should give thanks for
being a part of this world every day and every month. This opportune
moment is something both Yogic and Judaic practices can agree on. The
specific Rosh Chodesh of Adar I is the start of this joyous period in Judaic
history and for 2014 it also marks the promise of warmer days ahead.
The potential energy of Adar I should ignite your day and month with joy
and understanding, spiritual connection and renewed enthusiasm for
yogis and Jews alike.

Keren Eliezar is currently pursuing her yoga teacher certification. She
recently started a local program to help women find strength, spirituality,
and physical awareness through yoga and Judaism. She blogs regularly at kerenoryoga.wordpress.com.

Image courtesy of fullmoonyogaadventures.com.