Open your heart! Just in time for Cancer season and a nurturing cosmic cycle, we’re thrilled to bring you our latest installment of zodiac-themed yoga poses by Andrea Rice, a Libra with a Cancer North Node and Astrostyle’s Managing Editor. For each astrological season, Andrea will share her favorite planetary poses tailored to the traits of the corresponding star sign. By embodying astrology and asana, you can move more in tune to the natural rhythms of life; enhancing your perceptions and elevating your spirit.
Namaste! –Tali & Ophi
Cancer season coincides with the start of the summer solstice and the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally, the solstice is a time for honoring the fertility and abundance of the Earth and reminding ourselves of the Sun’s gifts of light and warmth.
Much like the zodiac wheel, our bodies are always shifting, progressing and changing form. From the “birth” of Aries season to the “death” of Pisces, we too are experiencing a continuous life cycle. In other words, we cannot be born again until the outmoded parts of ourselves are released in some way. And it is only when we stop spinning our wheels incessantly to actually witness our patterns—old habits, beliefs and ways of being—that we can become aware enough to actually break free from them.
Picture yourself like a spiraling galaxy, where at your galactic core is your light, your source, your divinity. It is by moving into that very center of serenity that change and growth can occur. It is where yoga begins. Astrology is a wonderful complement to yoga asana, as both disciplines require self-study. And since the purpose of yoga is to stabilize the fluctuations of the mind, we can more readily look to astrological insight from a place of clearer perspective with acceptance and without any judgement. In other words: Free your mind—and the rest will follow.
By working with astrology and asana during heartfelt Cancer season, we can transmute the qualities of the sensitive Crab into tangible form. As the zodiac’s first nurturing water sign and an idealistic cardinal sign, homespun Cancer is also the zodiac’s most feminine sign. Ruled by the emotional moon, Cancer energy is indeed moody at times, but is also reminds us to create a sense of “home” in the world and in our bodies.
Planetary Poses for Cancer Season (June 21-July 22, 2018)
Cancer rules the chest and heart, and much like the actual Crab has a sensitive underbelly. The following yoga poses are designed to hone the loving energy that radiates from the heart chakra, helping us in this energetic coming back home to ourselves after the Sun’s playful but scattering stint in Gemini. For musical inspiration, I recommend “Heart of Gold” from Neil Young’s fourth album “Harvest” to channel the homespun sensuality of Cancer season.
1. Boat Pose (Navasana) with Jupiter Mudra
The Sun’s shift into Cancer, the nurturing water sign ruled by the moon, will inevitably tug at our moods and emotions more prevalently during this solar cycle. This core-focused asana strengthens our foundation and resolve, in an effort to stabilize mood swings. By incorporating a mudra, the heart can stay lifted with more ease.
Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and parallel and the soles of your feet rooted down. Pull the flesh back from your seat so you can feel your sitting bones connecting to the earth. Lightly grab hold of underneath your thighs and sit up nice and tall and float your feet off the earth. Lengthen your spine and curl your tailbone down and away from you. Lift through the crown of your head and draw your shoulder blades together behind you to broaden through your chest and open up your heart. Take a deep breath in, and then exhale to float your palms alongside you. Inhale, and then exhale to straighten your legs and spread through your toes. Make sure that you continue to sit up tall and watch that you don’t round forward in your shoulders. Next, interlace all of your fingers except for the two index fingers to a Jupiter mudra.
Smile, and breathe deeply as you point toward the light of the solstice, stabilizing any fluctuating emotions for up to 10 deep cycles of breath.
2. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) with Padma Mudra
This variation on a basic low lunge offers your heart’s intentions to the universe.
From Downward Dog, inhale to step your right foot forward in between your hands and lower your back knee down. Stabilize your right knee by stacking it directly over the ankle. Bring your palms to your chest and activate your heart chakra with Padma mudra. Touch the outer edges of both pinky fingers and thumbs together, and keep the heels of the palms pressed. Blossom your hands open and extend through the tips of all 10 fingers. Take a deep breath in, and then set your intentions by voicing your heart’s deepest desires.
Exhale to extend both arms overhead to release your offerings to the cosmos. (Optional: close your eyes and gently let your head drop back.) Breathe deeply for 3–5 deep breaths.
3. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
This pose helps us establish our feet on terra firma, while simultaneously reaching toward the heavens—and opening the heart.
From a low lunge, inhale to sweep your left hand toward the sky and spin your back heel down at about 45 degrees to straighten through both legs. You can root your right fingertips to the earth or place your right hand on your right ankle or shin to help you create more space. Feel the bottom of your right ribcage spin underneath of you as you rotate your chest skyward—opening and expanding through your heart space.
Keep your head and neck relaxed, and breathe deeply for 3–5 breaths.
4. Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana) with Shuni Mudra
This heart-opening asana establishes trust in our foundation while Shuni mudra, the gesture of patience, reminds us to honor the slower, steadier days of the summer season.
From Triangle Pose, re-bend through your front knee as you sweep your right hand up and overhead and left hand behind you. Slide your left hand down the back of your left thigh and be sure your front knee restacks over the ankle. Place the tip of your middle finger and thumb together for Shuni mudra.
Root down through the soles of your feet and draw from some of that divine Goddess energy from the earth, embodying the feminine qualities of Cancer. (Optional: close your eyes and let your head drop back gently.) Stay here for 3–5 breaths.
5. Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana) with Gyan Mudra
In Hindu mythology the archetype of Shiva, the god of the cosmic dance, cultivates grace and beauty amid chaos. Gyan mudra is a well-known gesture to bring focus to meditation. Let this dance serve as a reminder to find that inner peace and clarity whenever emotional challenges arise.
Bring both hands forward to frame your front foot to exit Reverse Warrior safely. Step your back foot in and fold forward, then inhale to slowly rise all the way to stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). With a soft focused gaze several feet in front of you on the ground, shift your weight into your right foot. Bend your left knee behind you and grab hold of your foot or ankle with your left hand, then inhale your right hand to the sky. Place the tip of your index finger and thumb to touch and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, hinge forward at your waist and lead with your right hand as you lift through your heart, extending the foot higher into your hand.
Breathe deeply for 3–5 breaths, then release your left foot down to meet your right.
6. Seated Meditation with Muladhara Mudra
The Sun’s transition into nourishing Cancer marks a grounding time for coming home to ourselves, connecting to our roots and remembering all that we are grateful for. Muladhara mudra works to activate our root chakra, which is located near the base of the spine and governs our sense of safety, security and stability.
Return to a seated position and take either a Half Lotus with one foot, or simply sit cross-legged in a way that feels comfortable to you. Sit up tall, relax your belly, and close your eyes. Bring your palms together in a prayer at your heart, and then interlace the pinky and ring fingers so they fold inside of your palms. Extend the middle fingers so the tips touch and then interlace the thumbs and index fingers so they form rings around each other, with the fingertips touching. Now flip the mudra upside down and lower your arms slightly, so the middle fingers are pointed downward at your pelvic region.
Breathe deeply, naturally and rhythmically as you root yourself to the earth, nourishing your mind, body and soul.
Photos by Finn Cohen
Andrea Rice is the Managing Editor for AstroStyle and is also a writer and yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, New York Yoga+Life magazine, Wanderlust Media, SONIMA, mindbodygreen and other online publications. Connect with Andrea on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and sign up for her monthly newsletter on her website.
Other articles by Andrea Rice:
Astrology & Asana: Partner Yoga Poses for Gemini Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Taurus Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Aries Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Pisces Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Aquarius Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Capricorn Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Sagittarius Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Scorpio Season
Astrology & Asana: Partner Yoga for Libra Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Virgo Season
Astrology & Asana: Yoga Poses for Leo Season
5 Yoga Poses to Find Calm and Balance During Mercury Retrograde