Find your balance through every zodiac season with our Astrology & Asanas series by yoga instructor (and harmonious Libra) Andrea Rice. Follow along with these postures to connect to the natural rhythms of life, enhance perceptivity and elevate your spirit.
Purifying Virgo season (August 23-September 22) shifts our attention to clean living and optimal well-being. This is a time to boost productivity while also prioritizing self-care.
By working with astrology and asana during the efficiency of Virgo season, we can transmute the analytical qualities of the Virgin, the zodiac’s methodical perfectionist, into tangible form. As an adaptable mutable sign and a stabilizing earth sign, analytical Virgo knows how to streamline and systematize to run like a well-oiled machine. Ruled by meticulous Mercury, Virgo energy can teeter on obsession, but also remind us that practice does indeed make perfect!
Virgo rules the digestive system, gallbladder and pancreas, and the nervous system. The following yoga poses are designed to stimulate and even improve digestion by wringing out impurities. They can also help to cultivate clarity, thwart anxiety and nervousness. For musical inspiration, I recommend the album, “Anxiety” by Ladyhawke to remind you that at the end of the day, we are all perfectly imperfect.
Ready, Set, Digest: Cat & Cow
Cat and Cow postures stoke digestive fire and lubricate the spine. Begin on hands and knees, fingers spread wide and hands placed just wide of the elbows. Moving with the breath, inhale to let the belly drop and gaze lift, opening through the chest, then exhale to lift from the back of the heart space to round the spine and tuck the chin, drawing the navel in toward the spine. Repeat for several rounds of breath, as rhythmically and organically as you like.
Let’s Twist Again: High Lunge Variations
From Downward Dog, step the right foot forward in between the hands and inhale to sweep the arms overhead to a high crescent lunge, staying low in the front thigh and tracking the knee over the ankle. On an exhale, draw the navel in toward the spine and twist the torso to the right, opening out the arms like wings and turning the chin over your right shoulder. Take a deep breath here, then exhale to tip back and reverse, sending the left hand skyward and right hand to support the low back or slide down the back of the right thigh. Breathe deeply, then use an inhale to draw yourself back into a revolved high lunge, repeating a few times as you like. Switch sides.
Power Purge: Modified Side Plant (Vasithasana)
Returning to Downward Dog, step the right foot halfway up toward your hands and shift weight into your left hand as you pivot all ten toes to the right and find the outside edge of the back foot, reaching the right hand toward the sky. Let your attention drift toward the heavens, drawing the navel in toward the spine to facilitate the twist. Press actively into the left hand while lifting the right hip. Breathe for a few deep cycles of breath and then step back to Downward Dog, repeating on the other side.
Relax & Surrender: Seated Forward Fold with Half Lift
Forward folds help to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system; the rest and digest response. Come to a seat with the legs extended long and pull the flesh back from the sit bones. Inhale to sweep both arms overhead, exhaling to hinge forward at the waist and lead with the heart, letting the hands naturally reach for the shins, ankles, feet or two big toes. Inhale for a half lift, leading with the heart, exhaling to bend the elbows in at the sides to draw yourself forward and in. Move slowly with the breath, surrendering deeper into the posture with each forward bend.
Unwind Your Mind: Seated Spinal Twist (Marichyasana III)
From the same seated position, cross your right foot over your left thigh and plant the sole of the foot down. Hug the right knee into your chest to square the torso first, then crawl the right fingertips behind you. Inhale the left arm overhead, then exhale to hook the left elbow on the outside of the right thigh. Inhale to sit up tall, and exhale to turn the chin over the right shoulder to deepen the twist. Continue lengthening your spine by extending through the crown of your head. Send the breath all the way down into the belly as you breathe in, exhaling to draw the navel into the spine to help facilitate the twist. Keep the gaze soft and steady, and allow yourself to smile as you receive the healing and detoxifying properties of this twist.
Photos courtesy of 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.