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.
Cancer season (June 21-July 22) coincides with the summer solstice and is a time to honor abundance and our nurturing spirit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.