Calling all dynamic duos! Just in time for Gemini season and a communicative cosmic cycle, we’re thrilled to bring you our latest installment of zodiac-themed yoga poses by Andrea Rice, a partnership-oriented Libra 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
Partner up and let the synergy flow: Gemini season sets the stage for kindred spirits and twinning from May 20-June 20, 2017. By practicing yoga and embodying the qualities of the chatty Twins, we can work with people whose skills complement our own and embrace the art of mirroring.
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 we die in some way. And it is only when we stop spinning our wheels incessantly to actually witness our patterns—old habits, beliefs and outmoded 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 versatile Gemini season, we can transmute the qualities of the mischievous Twins into tangible form. As the zodiac’s first actionable air sign and a shapeshifting mutable sign, dynamic Gemini knows there is no “I” in team, and understands that duality is the universal nature of all things. Ruled by mental Mercury, Gemini energy is fast-paced and light-hearted, but can also be two-faced at times—changing course at a moment’s notice. But mostly, clever Gemini encourages us to embrace partnerships of all kinds, infusing our communication with scintillating humor and wit.
Planetary Partner Poses for Gemini Season (May 20-June 20)
As the sign of the Twins that governs communication, Gemini rules the hands, fingers, arms, shoulders, upper ribs, lungs and nervous system in the body. The following partner yoga poses are designed to cultivate playfulness after the Sun’s stabilizing stint in Taurus, and work with the anatomy of Gemini. Partner yoga cultivates trust and can also fire up the the solar plexus—the third chakra—to empower our sense of humor and purpose, working the core as a bonus. For musical inspiration, I recommend Michael Kiwanuka’s “Love & Hate” as your go-to soundtrack to remind you that not only do opposites attract, but that understanding the nature of two opposing forces can help to cultivate greater peace of mind during dualistic Gemini season.
Begin seated back-to-back with your partner comfortably in a cross-legged position (Sukhasana). Lean into each other from the back of your heart space (the upper thoracic spine) as you both sit up tall. Inhale both of your arms overhead and exhale as you both twist to your respective left sides (pictured), placing your right hands on top of your left knees and left hands on top of your partner’s right knee. Continue leaning in to each other and sitting up even taller. Inhale both of your arms overhead, and exhale to both twist to your right. (Note: it doesn’t matter which way you decide to twist first, so long as you twist in tandem together).
Stand three to four feet apart facing your partner. Bring your arms overhead and begin to lean forward toward each other with your palms facing one another. Once your palms press together, begin to draw your palms back overhead until your foreheads meet and you both hinge forward at the waist. Gaze into your partner’s eyes…and don’t get freaked out when their eyes become one with yours. From here, begin to press your palms back down so that they’re at shoulder height, and grab each other’s wrists as you step toward each other. By now, your feet are maybe only six to twelve inches apart. Lift your hearts toward the sky as you lean back, and trust that your partner is there to support you. To lift yourselves back up, be sure to communicate that you’re both ready and simultaneously draw your clasped wrists in toward each other. Keeping hold of the wrists, begin to step backward again until you are both hinged forward at the waist, giving yourselves a deep shoulder stretch and chest opener. Breathe deeply, then pull yourselves back in, as you step toward each other once more.
Double-Duty Downward Dog: Supported L-Shaped Handstand
Typically in any type of partner or acro yoga exercise there is a Base and a Flyer. If you and your partner are roughly the same size and height, then you should both give this one a try—so long as you’re both comfortable with going upside-down. Partner B (right) begins in Downward Facing Dog. Partner A (left) takes a wide stance in front of Partner B and places their hands about two feet in front of Partner B’s hands. One at a time, Partner A gently places each foot to Partner B’s sacrum, being sure to communicate with Partner B that they’re experiencing a lengthening stretch and not any pressure. Partner A’s heels will lift upward to create gentle length in Partner B’s lower back, rather than pushing into it with force. When Partner A is ready to come down, one foot at a time will step off of Partner B’s back, just wide of Partner B’s shoulders. Switch roles if you like.
Face your partner and with your knees bent at 90 degrees and back heels placed down, take a Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) stance with your legs. Partner A (left) will press their inside edge of their knee into Partner B’s inside edge. As you did in the first trust exercise, press your palms together overhead. Take a few breaths here to stabilize yourselves, then each of you will cross your right arm long in front of you to your partner’s left waist and then both wrap your left arm behind you to grab for your partner’s extended right hand. Take a deep breath in and smile at each other, then tilt your head back gently as you breathe out. Switch sides.
Let’s Dance: Dancer’s Pose with Eye Contact & Wrist Stretch
It takes two to tango and it’s time to make some mirroring magic. Depending on how tall you both are, face each other with a good five to six feet distance between you. Lean forward first to ensure you can grasp each other’s opposite wrist. Partner A (left) will begin on their left side and Partner B (right) will mirror Partner A by taking the balance on their right side. As you each grab for your opposite foot and lean forward into Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana), begin to reach for each other’s opposite wrist to help maintain your balance. Smile at each other and breathe, using your partner to deepen the pose. When your ready to come out, simultaneously release your partner’s wrist as you begin to lower the lifted leg. Switch sides.
Dynamic Duo: Tree Pose Variations
Standing side by side, Partner A (left) places their weight into their left foot while Partner B does the same with their right foot. With your arms behind each other’s backs, grab their waist for support as you both place the other foot either above or below the knee for Tree Pose. There are many playful options to explore here: outside palms pressed at your unified heart’s center, extending the palms pressed out long in front of you, opening the palms out wide to the side, reaching for each other’s hands overhead. Breathe, have some fun here, and then switch sides.
Putting the “We” Back into Warrior III
Mirrored balancing continues, this time with some core strengthening. Begin a good distance apart facing each other, testing out whether if you’re able to grab for each other’s wrists again before you begin. Partner A begins on their left foot and Partner B with their right. Inhale to lift your opposite legs to about 90 degrees, then exhale to hinge forward and grab each other’s wrists as you both lengthen your spine. Use your eye contact here to maintain your balance, drawing your bellies in toward your spine to keep your core muscles activated. Optional challenge: draw your lifted knees in toward your chest as you both lift each other back up to stand. Switch sides.
Don’t Rock the Boat!
Take a seat about four feet away from each other. Sit up tall and grab for each other’s hands as you bend one knee at a time to press into the other person’s corresponding foot. Very slowly and gently, extend through your legs to begin to straighten them. Smile and draw your navels in, embracing the strength and power of your core muscles. Bend one knee at a time to begin to lower your feet back toward the floor.
Partner Power Pushups
This exercise is not for the faint of heart, but by now you and your partner should both be feeling strong— and confident in your abilities to support each other. Decide who will be your Base and Flyer and take your positions. (In this instance, Partner B is lying supine and Partner A is taking flight. Partner B raises their arms toward the sky and keeps them super straight and strong, which is key to moving on from here. Partner A places their hands on Partner B’s ankles and lifts their legs one at a time while Partner B grabs hold of their ankles. Partner A is keeping their arms super straight with their navel drawn in, lifting into a high plank pose supported by Partner B. To move on, both of you take a deep breath in to prepare. On an exhale, Partner B draws their navel in and sits up, keeping their arms straight and engaged while Partner A hinges at the waist and does the same. Take a good look at each other and smile. You did it! To come down, Partner B must engage their core to slowly lower back toward the earth as Partner A extends their legs long again. (Tip: try this on a soft surface if you’re doing this for the first time because there will inevitably be a few gentle, hilarious crashes upon dismount).
Supported Child’s Pose with Lazy Backbend
Ah…sweet relief. The time has come to rest. Partner B comes into a Child’s Pose (Balasana) and extends their arms out long while Partner A sits lightly on top of Partner B—sacrum to sacrum and seat to seat. As Partner A extends their legs out long and drapes over Partner B, their arms will reach overhead to create a tremendous backbend. Grab each other’s hands to create more space, length and connection. Switch roles to give yourselves both the opportunity to open, expand and rest.
Photos courtesy of Beth Kessler Photography
Model #twinning by Jordan Fleet
Andrea Rice is the Managing Editor for AstroStyle and is also a writer and yoga teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has also 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.