Find your balance through every zodiac season with our Astrology & Asanas series by yoga instructor, Astrostyle editor (and harmonious Libra) Andrea Rice. Follow along with these postures to connect to the natural rhythms of life, enhance perceptivity and elevate your spirit.
Leo season (July 23-August 22) coincides with the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere; a time to burn away impurities, embrace our truth, and express our most heartfelt passions.
During passionate Leo season, we can transmute the qualities of the proud and courageous Lion into tangible form. As the zodiac’s second fire sign and a stabilizing fixed sign, brave Leo knows how to really go the distance. Ruled by bold Sun, Leo energy is indeed egomaniacal at times, but also reminds us to be fearless in the pursuit of our dreams.
Leo rules the heart and spine, and much like a courageous lion, proudly wears heart on sleeve. The following yoga poses dare us to be vulnerable by opening our heart and lengthening our spine, helping us to boldly pursue our passions after the Sun’s introspective stint in homespun Cancer. For musical inspiration, I recommend the album, “Kill for Love” by the Chromatics to tap into your inner fierceness.
Power Pose: Stargazer
The Sun’s stint in Leo marks an opportunity to hone our pride, but also keep our ego in check. This shape finds its foundation through the fingertips and outer edge of the back foot, as the opposite hand reaches for the stars.
Begin on hands and knees, warming up the spine with Cat and Cow. From neutral, with the crown of the head extending forward and tailbone lengthening back, step the ball of the right foot back and turn the heel down. Bring your right hand to your right hip to stack the hips and spin the chest open toward the sky. Take a look at your left big toe: can you bring it to the center edge of your back foot. Take a deep breath in, then extend your right hand toward the heavens and look up. Optional: tent the left fingertips to establish an energetic exchange with the earth below you.
Smile, and breathe deeply as you gaze toward the stars, feeling your wingspan broadening and spine lengthening. Continue lengthening through the crown of your head to open the throat. Stay for up to 5 deep cycles of breath and then switch sides.
Heart-Opener: Camel Pose (Ustrasana) with Gyan Mudra
This variation of Camel Pose hones your heart’s desires, bringing focus and clarity to your intentions with Gyan mudra. This heart-opening posture will also open the throat chakra, unblocking any suppressed truths.
From hands and knees, walk your hands in to stand up on your shins, padding your knees as needed. Stack the knees directly under the hips to establish a sturdy base and bring your hands to the sacrum. Lengthen the spine and take a deep breath in, exhaling to lift up and out of the lower back. Envision a string lifting you from your heart as you lift your chest up and slightly back. Stay here, or reach the hands to your heels and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Optional: raise one hand toward the sky for Gyan mudra, bringing your index finger and thumb to gently touch. Breathe in and out deeply through your nose for 5-7 cycles of breath. To come out, bring your hands to your sacrum and lift yourself up by guiding your heart forward, rather than shoving the hips forward. Lower to your knees and close your eyes, resting your palms on your thighs and acknowledging any emotions or sensations this posture may have conjured for you.
Counter-Pose: Bound-Angle (Baddha Konasana)
This forward fold is a necessary counter-pose gives us spinal flexion after the spinal extension of a big heart opener, maintaining the health and integrity of our spine. Forward folds are also devotional in nature, humbling us to face ourselves head on—taming the ego and stabilizing the fluctuating mind.
Come to a seat and bring the soles of your feet together, pulling the flesh back from your sitting bones. Interlace the hands over the tops of your feet, rooting down through your seat as you breathe in and sit up tall first. Exhale to lead with your heart, hinging forward and letting your head go to release the back of your neck. You might allow the forearms to go past the shins, or use your elbows to press gently into the calves to maintain the opening of the hips.
Breathe deeply, naturally and rhythmically as you root yourself to the earth, nourishing your mind, body and soul.
Photos courtesy of the author
Andrea Rice is a writer, author, movement and meditation teacher, and yoga festival presenter. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, The Wanderlust Journal, mindbodygreen, SONIMA, and Astrostyle, among other publications. She has been teaching yoga since 2010, first in Brooklyn and Manhattan and now Raleigh, NC, where she currently resides. She is currently co-authoring a book about the application of seasonal rhythms and yoga philosophy to modern life which will be published in early 2020. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for her quarterly newsletter on her website: www.andreariceyoga.com.