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.
Bring on the spring awakening! Aries season marks the reset of the solar calendar and the start of the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Using yoga to embody the qualities of the unstoppable Ram, we can take a courageous leap of faith and pursue our wildest dreams.
Ego Eradicator: Neck Stretch
As the sign of the persistent Ram and its sturdy horns, Aries rules the head and neck in the body. The following series of yoga poses are designed to gather and release stagnant energy and stress that’s been stored in these areas over the long winter months. Commence cosmic rebirth!
For musical inspiration, I recommend Paul and Linda McCartney’s “RAM” as your go-to soundtrack to reawaken your body and mind during Aries season.
Come to a comfortable seated position with the ankles crossed, or take one foot into a half lotus position. Pull the flesh back from the sitting bones to ensure a sturdy foundation. Root into the left fingertips, sensing activation as an energetic exchange takes place with the earth below. Place the right hand over the head, reaching toward the left ear and gently begin to draw the head toward the right shoulder. Keep both shoulders away from the ears to deepen sensation, experiencing a humbling yet tremendous release in the left side of the neck and trapezius muscles. Tilt the chin skyward toward the left and breathe deeply for 3-5 deep cycles of breath. Switch sides.
Confidence Booster: Shoulder Extension A
From the same seated position, inhale to reach the palms overhead and interlace the fingers. Allow the shoulders to continue lifting upward as the palms stretch toward the sky. This action will help to flush away tension held in the shoulders, especially if they tend to round forward. By bringing awareness here, confidence is cultivated and you will more readily roll the shoulders down the back and proudly hold your head up high. Operating from a bold place of self-assuredness will help overcome self-doubt and other fear-based obstacles that stand in the way of your path.
Humility Reminder: Shoulder Extension B
As above, so below. On an exhale, extend the palms forward as the arms release down, keeping the biceps by the ears. Allow the spine to round and chin to tuck as the thumbs continue to reach toward the earth. Repeat by inhaling the palms back toward the sky, exhaling to round, tuck and lower. Each time you bow, allow a sense of gratitude to wash over you, thankful for the liberties and choices you have in life to pursue your goals.
Trust Builder: Seated “Frames”
Still seated, release the previous grip and release the hands by either side. Inhale to reach the palms toward the sky again, and grab opposite elbows on an exhale. Try to wiggle each elbow into the center of the corresponding palm, and then draw the frame of the arms back by the ears. Lift the heart and open the armpits, feeling an immense stretch in the chest and shoulders. By actively “pulling apart” the frame of the arms with each palm, allow a palpable sense of unshakeable trust in yourself to come over you as you breathe. After several cycles of breath, inhale both arms skyward and then repeat, but this time change the grip so that the opposite forearm rests on top for the duration of the pose.
Pride Enhancer: Low Lunge with Thumb Clasp
This gentle heart opener simultaneously releases tension in the shoulders while inviting extension of the neck by lengthening through the crown of the head. From Downward Dog, step the right foot in between the hands and lower the back knee. Keep the front knee stacked over the ankle and back toes un-tucked. Inhale both hands to the sky, hooking the thumbs together overhead. Root from the waist down and lift out of the low back, allowing for a soft arc to form as the spine extends long. Keep drawing the navel in to activate the core and stabilize the posture. Continue reaching the fingertips overhead and proudly lift the heart toward the heavens, inviting a knowing smile to spread across your face. Stay for 5 cycles of breath and switch sides.
Courage Supporter: Warrior III with Hands Interlaced
Come to a grounded standing position and begin to shift weight into the right foot. Inhale to reach the hands overhead and lift the left knee so it is bent at about 90 degrees. Exhale to hinge forward at the waist, stretch the left foot out behind you and allowing the palms to sweep back, interlacing the fingers at the sacrum. Roll the heads of the shoulders back to open through the chest and think about keeping the heart lifted. The standing leg should be engaged, so be mindful not to lock out the kneecap. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and keep sending the palms past the sacrum. At the same time, the neck and crown of the head are moving in an opposing direction, extending forward toward a bolder, braver future. Stay here for up to five breaths, and then switch sides…steady as she goes.
Devotion Sustainer: Wide-Leg Forward Bend with Neck Clasp
From a standing position step or jump the legs out wide. Place the hands on the hips to hinge forward at the waist and fold yourself in. Interlace the hands at the nape of the neck (maybe changing your grip this time so the opposite thumb is on top), and allow the crown of the head to drip down toward the floor. Use the palms on the back of the neck to generate some traction and gentle lengthening. Let the neck relax and crown of the head to be as heavy as possible. Forward folds help to flush the thyroid, pineal (third eye chakra) and pituitary glands, as well as improve circulation. Allow this posture to serve as a reminder to our continued devotion to the work that we do, especially during Aries season when new proverbial seeds are being planted. By staying committed to our most cherished ambitions and dreams, we are more equipped to handle whatever challenges are in store for us over the course of the 12 zodiacal seasons.
Yoga and Astrology “101”
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. We cannot be “born again” until outmoded parts of ourselves are released. It is only when we stop spinning our wheels and actually witness our patterns that we may become aware enough to 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 judgment. In other words: Free your mind—and the rest will follow.
Photos credit: Beth Kessler Photography
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.