GET TO KNOW YOUR CAPRICORN MOON SIGN

The Capricorn moon sign is tougher than most – a balance of tender and tough, says Ash Baker. PLUS 8 lifestyle tips to help you manage your Capricorn moon sign. Artwork: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

Fellow sea goats, gather around and learn about your personal take on the Moon. You project an emotional character that is sparkling with strength. Even your aura is made of resilient stuff. Capricorn Moons get a bad rap though because the qualities of this sign are the exact opposite of what the Moon stands for.

This means it’s a tougher Moon than others, but not impossible. I too have this Moon so I’m really speaking from the heart with this article. And it just means we have to work a little more mindfully at achieving the Moon’s needs via our sign’s attributes.

Capricorn stands for power, control, success and ambitious achievement. The Moon, our heart, wants to nurture and support through being soft and gentle. So this Moon’s purpose is to understand how to be vulnerable while still feeling safe. To not be too controlling. To let go of the ice queen/king tendencies. This placement can feel a bit dark side of the Moon. We stay cool and detached so we don’t get hurt. Learning to bridge that gap is key.

Capricorn does have something in common with the Moon though, they both enjoy taking care of needs. What those needs are varies but possessing the ability to help fulfill them is strong. This can be a very realistic Moon in that Capricorns see the logic in emotions. They can come across insensitive due to being so grounded, conservative and stoic.

The Capricorn Moon sign needs independence and to prove that it can do things on it’s own. So working towards the goal of embracing independence while asking for help every once in awhile would be beneficial. Just watch out for being too controlling of others to get what you want. You really take it to heart if you think someone sees you as unable to fulfill certain functions. Therefore you can become too rigid and bossy just to hide the fact that maybe you are not so perfect at everything you set out to achieve.

It’s okay. You are human. Our flaws bond us. Allowing those who love you to take care of you is HUGE. You want to remain in a place where you feel dignified and composed, but also open enough to depend on someone else. This is where true intimacy is born and your Moon can fully blossom. We each have an area of life where we feel the need to get the job done. The Capricorn feels respected, nurtured and fulfilled in doing so.

Below are a few suggestions to work/benefit your Capricorn Moon sign’s higher vibes.

:: Strength ::
Pick an exercise that makes you feel strong. One that gives you a feeling of power over your body yet humbles you at the same time. This sign rules the bone structure so if yoga suits you try this yoga sequence…

High Lunge :: Alanasana
From a standing position step the right leg/foot towards the back of the mat. Come up on the ball of the right foot with an inhale. Exhale and bend the front left knee. Make sure the knee is bent directly over the ankle. Tilt the pelvis slightly under and lengthen up through the spine. Inhale and reach the arms loosely into the air. Reach your upper body towards the ceiling and press the lower body down towards the floor. Come back to standing and switch legs.

Warrior 2 :: Virabhadrasana 2
Come back to Tadasana. Step the right foot back 3-4 feet. Turn your right foot to a slight angle with the toes out and the heel in. The left foot should be pointed forward. Inhale and reach the arms up and out in line with your shoulders like wings. Exhale and begin to bend the front knee directly over the ankle. If you are a beginner, lessen the bend in the knee but never take it further than your ankle. You should see your 1st/2nd toes. Make sure your torso is directly above your pelvis. Reach your arms out wide and feel them lengthening. Press your feet down into the ground gathering energy back into the body. Hold for 30 seconds up to 1 minute. Come back to Tadasana and switch sides.

Reverse Warrior :: Viparita Virabhadrasana
From Warrior 2, drop your back hand down to the back of your back leg or on your hip as you lean backwards from your side and reach your front arm up and over your ear, creating length in your ribs and side waist. Keep the knee bent directly over the ankle. Look up towards your hand as long as you don’t have any neck pain.

:: Time alone ::
You need solitude to plot, plan and stay on top of all the goals you want to achieve. Being such an independent Moon you emotionally benefit more from private time than some other signs do. If this is something that feels difficult to add into your life, really start to make it a priority. Put up some boundaries if need be. This quiet time will really benefit your heart in the long run.

:: Lighten up ::
Now, following the tip on alone time you also need to balance. Be sure to add fun, and silly experiences to your life. This sounds easy to most people, but it’s something you actually have to work at. This Moon sign is serious from birth. We enter the world like little adults. So going out of your way to go out and play is actually quite therapeutic.

:: Life coach ::
Being such a goal-oriented sign is a good thing, but it can get a little too controlling. So why not ask for some help? Hire a life coach to help get things in order so you’re not constantly obsessing over your never ending lists. This actually is a double whammy for you because it allows you to work on asking for help while still achieving goals piece by piece.

:: Bodywork ::
Massage. Reiki. Shiatsu. Any modality that helps ease the rigidity of your body from stress is going to do wonders. We all hold tension in our bodies but due to this sign being so prone to stress, a healing release is necessary. You may be guilty of only feeling comfortable when worrying over a deadline. If this is you, go treat yourself.

Happy healthy climbing Cappy Moons!

HOW TO WORK WITH A SAGITTARIUS MOON SIGN

Learning to work with your Sagittarius Moon sign means finding freedom in everything you do, says Ash Baker. Artwork: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

Your Moon sign, your heart’s luminary, is a vital key to understanding yourself on a more intimate level. It shows you how you react, how you nurture others, and how you need to be taken care of. Our Moon sign lights up our inner landscape and knowing more about it can be hugely beneficial to you moving through this world with ease. If you don’t know your Moon sign, do your chart for free here.

The Sagittarius Moon sign wants to explore and try new things. You don’t literally have to do lots of traveling but you need the space to experiment with everything you put your heart into. You know that you won’t always win or get what you want but you need the room to at least try. The constellation associated with Sagittarius is the archer, shooting arrows far into the distance, knowing that eventually they will hit the right target. You move through life with an upbeat disposition and positive attitude that attracts good experiences. People want to be around your joyful energy.

Also, this sign is associated with philosophy, religion, and higher truths. You can’t be caged in by just one type of thinking. You must step outside yourself and seek out other cultures, new ways of doing things, and try out as many experiences as you can. You have a heart full of wanderlust, and need a life filled with broad strokes. You probably desire friends and lovers that are open to the excitement of life, and can’t have people around that weigh you down. You require open communication and honestly someone who can appreciate your intensity. That is your version of intimacy.

Your zest for life comes from being a fire Moon. There is a forwardness to your energy that not everybody can jive with though – and that’s okay. In fact, being such an open minded person will continually bring you into contact with people who are quite the opposite. This may be friction inducing but you can learn so much from others, including never to become like the people who seek to drag you down.

Like a wild horse running free enjoying all the pleasures of the wind on your face, you will find your tribe through your various adventures. You just have to be careful not to be overconfident or egotistical. The shadow side to the Sagittarius Moon sign is to become dogmatic or so stuck in your opinion that you alienate others from having their own voice. This can show up in your romantic life. You need a partner who can understand your need for openness. One who doesn’t judge you but also doesn’t act like a doormat to your fiery will.

Below are some suggestions for connecting with the symbolism of your Sagittarius Moon sign.

:: Seek Diversity ::
Keep immersing yourself in new creative endeavors as this sign loves to learn. Even if you are only a student of life, take time to expand your wisdom as often as possible. Also, travel as often as you can. Maybe backpack across Europe or try hiking through the mountains of Tibet. If those are not feasible options in your life right, seek to get lost in the travel section of the bookstore. Try taking a new route to work. Just keep up with the ever expanding world around you. That will keep your heart swelling.

:: Charity/Non-profit work ::
This Jupiter-ruled Moon hold good moral ethics in high regard. You believe in humanity and you want to help show others what a wonderful world do and could live in. You have an ability to be a catalyst for change and social justice. You want everyone to reach their potential and go beyond. With your cheery attitude you can also nurture in a way that inspires others to live a better life. So take up a cause that speaks to your heart. You will feel a sense of personal fulfillment while bringing more goodness into this world.

:: Breath of Fire ::
I think all fire Moons could benefit from doing this yogic kriya when feeling overwhelmed, restless or restricted. This breathwork will help to eliminate toxins, amp up your energy, and get your blood moving. Find a comfortable cross legged seat on a blanket to prop up the hips and lengthen the spine. Let your hands rest on your thighs. If you are a tactile person you can place your hands on top of each other on your belly. Take a deep inhale through your nose. Exhale and quickly contract your belly inward pressing all of the air out. The next inhale should be automatic and passive. You want the contraction in your lower belly to be rapid. Aim for 60 rounds per minute. Just do one minute if you are new to breathwork. When you are finished take a deep inhale through the nose and exhale through your mouth.

And remember, your sunny luminary is needed in this world to keep spirits lifted and minds open!

INTENSELY FELT: GET TO KNOW YOUR SCORPIO MOON SIGN

Those born with a Scorpio Moon sign feel life more intensely than most, says Ash BakerArtwork: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

Calling all with a Scorpio Moon sign. Let’s dive into the deep waters where your heart centered luminary resides. The Moon reflects our deepest emotions, our reactions and instincts, and where we need and seek comfort in life – and the lunar Scorpio is intense. Not only in your needs, but how you get those needs met.

The Scorpion Moon sign comes with a super power to see past any illusion and go for a direct hit if it means getting to the truth of any situation, and people lacking the bravery to be honest won’t get far with you. The Scorpio Moon sign is drawn to intense people, situations and environments. You seek drama on some level, whether you like it or not, and all because of an innate drive to transform . A Scorpio Moon sign understands better than any that you must shake the foundation until it crumbles so you can build it better than before.

This need will play out in totally different areas of your life depending upon which house your Moon is located in your birth chart. But any which way, embracing this strong need for emotional intensity will be key to accepting yourself. Finding healthy ways to release this intense energy can help relieve it while still honoring this side of yourself.

This is also a very psychic Moon. With the laser like ability to hone in on the truth, you just know things you really should not. This level of knowingness gives you an emotional upper hand. You possess a level of confidence that will entice others to deeply confide in you, or else you’ll scares the hell out of them. And the Scorpio Moon sign is happy knowing everything about you, while you know very little about them. These are private creatures.

The shadow side of knowing everybody’s secrets is that you also know you can get hurt, badly. Human nature can sting. This can lead to the Scorpio Moon sign creating a tough veneer, seemingly making those around them, especially lovers, jump through hoops to earn your trust and affection. You like to control for fear of losing it – at least if you’re in control you always know what’s coming. Yet even when disaster hits, this Moon will thrive on opportunity for yet another rebirthing experience.

This Moon may reside on the darker side, yet when in love, you will display a level of loyalty like no other. You will fight till the death for your own, and are ultimately a great ally. While it might seem the Scorpio Moon sign can play on negatives as a catalyst to help others, when galvanized into action you are unstoppable. Let’s look at some ways to bring out the best in the Scorpio Moon sign…

See projects through to completion. The Scorpio Moon sign feels emotional unrest if you don’t finish what you start. This goes for your career, home projects, and even your relationships. You do things with your whole heart, or not at all. There may also be the tendency to expect others to hold the same standards. But other people won’t always be so black and white about life. Work on practicing loving acceptance of yourself and others.

Honor your need for privacy. Having healthy boundaries around your need to be alone to connect with your higher self is key. This is something others need to respect about you too, as you may become quite defensive without a quiet space to retreat to. Scorpio’s mascot is literally the scorpion, who likes to hide in dark places until they feel safe to come out. Your emotional Moon is quite the same. Knowing that this is normal for you is another positive step in healthy self-acceptance.

Seek the truth but leave room for the light. You don’t shy away from the darker side of life, and while admirable, this can lead a person to expect to find negativity more often than not. Spend time around people, places and get involved in experiences that show you how good life can be. It can be a cruel world out there, but it can be an amazing love-filled one too. Volunteer for a charity that speaks to you, working with others to make positive changes. Spend time with kids or animals, and witness unconditional love through the innocence of these beings. This will help your heart out next time you’re feeling cynical about the world.

Keep a journal. Write out your anger. Write out your sadness. Make a list of things you are grateful for. Use this space to get EMOTIONAL. Multiple studies have shown writing out your feelings brings a sense of control back into your life, so genuinely use this as a way to purge your intense inner stirrings. You could also see that some situations, if actively pursued, could lead to unnecessary strife. You seek intensity in life, and are strong enough to walk through the fire, but you have to pick your battles. Let it all out on the page instead, and keep your journal locked, tucked away or even under your bed. Prying eyes are death to the Scorpio Moon sign!

Your Moon is hugely valuable, as it can help others transform into better versions of themselves. Use your natural lunar abilities to light the way for others seeking their own much needed healing.

BALANCING ACT: GET TO KNOW YOUR LIBRA MOON

Libra season is also the perfect time to work on balancing the people-pleasing traits of a Libra Moon sign, says Ash Baker. Image: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

Hello Libra moons! Yours is the reflecting Moon, the mirror of the heavens. If our Sun sign is what others see in us, our Moon sign is what we feel within ourselves. As such, partnerships are big for the Libra Moon sign – you need to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. You don’t have to be glued to a mate, but having close friends, colleagues and family to bounce ideas, attitudes and emotions off is a necessity.

Represented by the symbol of the scales, this Moon feels a deep need for harmony and balance in all areas of life. You are the peacemaker of the zodiac, and sometimes to a fault, going to great lengths to keep things copacetic at home or work. You are a firm believer in fairness and can genuinely feel like you’ve failed when emotional waters get choppy – even when it’s not your fault!

The Libra Moon can be guilty of going against your authentic needs and desires to make the people around you happy. Libra Moon so dearly wants to be loved and accepted, but it’s of no use if you’re not being authentic. You want others to love you for who you really are, so there can be an internal struggle to keep the peace. Even worse, the people in your life can feel mislead if you’re always being a “yes woman/man.”

So how do you find balance? You focus on YOU. You get honest with yourself about what you want in any given situation and build from there. People who really love and care for you will accept your truth even if it’s not what they want to hear. Your soul will only feel heavy and burdened if you always end up doing, feeling and being what you think others want.

So keep the order, but not at the expense of your soul. Focus on showing others how to treat you, by how you treat yourself. Also, practice the art of saying “no.” It sounds simple but for the Libra Moon it can be torture. It’s worth the effort though. It will show you and others you can create healthy boundaries.

Ruled by Venus, planet of beauty, the Libra Moon also has an eye for the aesthetic. An artistic flair. You will probably find symmetry, composition, and the skilled use of negative space extremely appealing. So make an effort to spend time getting artsy. Painting, photography, or even creating vision boards will fulfil the emotional need for visual harmony.

Since the Moon also rules our home environment, Libra moons need a safe, nurturing space without clutter. And with such a sensitive Moon, you really need a place that’s peaceful. Hectic energy will only drain you.

:: CHILD’S POSE ::
You will know your Libra Moon is off if you find yourself plagues with indecisive thoughts. My suggestion for those moments is to go within with a simple Child’s Pose. Feeling confused and stressed about a situation is usually a signal that you’re not listening to your heart. Get grounded by connecting to the earth. Let go with your breath. Give yourself the time and space to really listen to your inner teacher. Really think about what you want, and make your decisions from that solid, still place inside.

:: GET GROUNDED ::
Libra is an air sign so this also an intellectual Moon. Your thoughts and feelings can move like the wind, and you can get quite ahead of yourself! When things get a little too breezy it’s a sign to get grounded. Create a habit that you do everyday – maybe it’s warm lemon water in the morning, or writing in your journal at night. Just pick something simple and do it without fail. Keeping a routine will help calm some of the nervous energy that comes with being an air Moon sign.

In short, take time to honor yourself and the rest will fall into place!

GET TO KNOW YOUR LEO MOON SIGN

In the first of a new monthly column, Ash Baker does a deep dive into the Leo Moon sign – with some tips for taming the lion within. Image: Prince Lauder

Firstly, if you don’t know your Moon sign, you can enter your birth details for a full, personalized birth chart here. You don’t need to know your time of birth to find out your Moon sign, just the date and year.

In our chart, the Moon represents how we react to situations, our emotional center and our emotional needs. It speaks to our intuitive desire and our soul calling. Learning about your Moon sign can help you figure out what really nurtures you and what you need to feel comfortable.

With the Sun in Leo this month, it’s actually the perfect time for all those with a Leo moon sign to acknowledge and seek a deeper understanding of this intimate and fundamental side to them. The Sun conjunct (in the same sign as) your Moon, will energize and activate this part of you, encouraging you to express the vulnerabilities you often keep hidden.

There follows an overview of the traits of a Leo Moon sign, as well as some lifestyle tips to nurture your Leo Moon.

With your Moon in Leo, you have a big generous heart and a deep seated need to be seen, adored and appreciated. The moon is our inner child, the cosmic center that is a direct link to our subconscious mind. It’s our memories and knee jerk reactions. The Sun rules the way we carry out our actions, but the Moon is the underlying reason for those actions.

The Moon rules the heart whereas the Sun rules the head, and Leo moons crave love at core level. Therefore, you are truly hurt if you give all you’ve got yet don’t get the gratitude you feel you deserve. This can lead to drama – which, for a Leo Sun sign could be expressed in vibrant outbursts, but which could make the Leo moon  behave in a very stoic, distant way. On the positive side, this Moon tends to be hugely creative, bringing a level of lunar passion to projects that’s hard to compete with. Finding an outlet for your creative gifts is a staple of this Moon’s wellbeing.

You are uncomfortable being vulnerable, so pride (ego) can be an issue for you if you use it to conceal your true feelings (a defence mechanism of the Moon). Underneath those defenses you can be quite tender though, demonstrating an innocent and pure level of trust when you’re truly in love. It can take quite a while for you to fully heal when hurt.

A natural leader, you can rally others into achieving amazing things. Just don’t get too bossy or your peeps will hit the road. Instead, channel that exuberance into healthy endeavors where you can be appreciated, without the need to stand on the more solar soapbox. Sharing your light is the highest expression of your Moon. You are very emotionally expressive and this energy is best served from a place of authentic care for others.

To help balance all that passion, fire and prideful energy, here are a few wellness tips to try the next time you feel your inner lion coming out to roar – rather than rejoice.

:: LION’S BREATH :: 
Take a deep inhale through your nose, exhale, open your mouth and stick out your tongue. Curl the tip of your tongue towards your chin. Give your tongue a good stretch and really push the air out of your throat. You will make a “Haaaa” sound as you exhale. Inhale through your nose and repeat. Go through 3-5 rounds.

:: CREATE :: 
Try your hand at anything artistic to find what lights you up on the inside. Leo energy tends towards the more dramatic arts, so something in the performance realm may feel just right. Also try painting, sculpting, or vision board crafting. Anything where you can perfect your talents and receive praise.

:: DANCE :: 
Even if it’s just a fun night at the club with friends, you need to express yourself physically. Your Moon is BFFs with the SUN. That’s pure fire, explosive energy and speaks to a tendency to become restless if not released. You could find a form of dancing that really inspires you to share that joy that oozes so naturally out of you. When you share that positivity it affects everyone around you, and in return you love to feel their vibrations being raised by your enthusiasm. It’s a win for everyone.

:: SELF-LOVE MEDITATION :: 
There will be times in your life when you don’t feel loved, appreciated or adored. You will have your heart broken in some way at some point. We all do. Your cat like Moon doesn’t deal well with this common human experiences however, so it’s key to learn to appreciate yourself.

You tend to be naturally confident, but when you have days where nobody noticed your light you can feel really down. This is when you need to spend at least five minutes quietly sitting, feeling your breath move in and out of your body and really focusing on everything that’s great about what you have to offer. Even if nobody noticed today, YOU did and that’s what really counts.

How have you learned to work with your Leo Moon sign? Connect with us and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

WHAT LIES BENEATH: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR CANCER

With this simple yoga sequence for Cancer, Ash Baker shares three poses to help you access the jewels of your subconscious…Images: Abby Wright for MF Jewelry

June 21 to July 22

Ruler: Moon
Element: Water
Modality: Cardinal
Anatomy: Chest & stomach

4th sign of the Zodiac

Happy Solstice lovers!

We are now entering the sign of home, our roots and the subconscious realm of lady Luna. This marks a lovely midpoint to the year, regardless of your residing hemisphere. Expect to find yourself craving security, a sense of nurturing, and the desire to be surrounded by the people you call family.

We have some heavy planetary action going on in the heavens throughout the crab’s month-long sojourn. Saturn is retrograding back into the depths of Scorpio, as Neptune also retrogrades through ethereal Pisces. This equates to a high volume of water energy, and with two outer planets retrograding there is fertile ground to go within – for the ultimate benefit of the collective.

Utilize this energy to cultivate your intuition, check in with your soul DAILY, and seek the inner jewels that make you feel nurtured. The Cancerian is always looking for treasures to make themselves feel more secure and at home. This is a beautiful time to connect your mind to your body and soul, and to enrich your own inner sanctuary.

:: Plank Pose / Creating heat within ::
Come to your hands and knees. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists and that there is a slight micro bend to your elbows. Straighten both legs out behind you and keep them zipped close together. Take a slight tuck in your tailbone and engage your lower belly. Spread the collarbones wide. Don’t let your bum/hips droop. Press energetically through your heels. Feel the strength and heat being created in your body. Hold for five breaths, up to one minute if you are more advanced.

:: Upward Facing Dog / Open the heart, collarbones and chest ::
From Plank pose lower down to your belly. Place your hands next to your ribs/torso so that your elbows are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your legs stretched out behind you with the tops of your feet on the floor. Inhaling, press your hands firmly into the floor and begin to straighten your arms. Lift your torso off of the floor while keeping your thighs firm and slightly rotated inward. Scoop the tailbone down and open the collarbones wide. Take three rounds of breath and flow back down to your belly and chest.

:: Child’s Pose / The ultimate surrender pose ::
From hands and knees, inhale and begin by bringing the big toes to touch. Gently exhale and sink your hips back to sit on your heels. Reach the arms loosely out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. Pause and breathe here for one minute. Then tent the fingers and lift up slightly. Walk your arms over to the right and sink down again. This will give the left side body a nice stretch. Stay, breathing there for a few rounds. Then tent the fingers, lift up slightly and walk the arms over to the left. Stay for a few rounds of breath before returning to center. Two minutes total.

Mantra for Cancer: “I seek the treasure only found within”

OPEN TO THE POSSIBILITY: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR GEMINI

With the Sun conjunct Mercury retrograde in Gemini, the stage is set to review the conversations you have with yourself and the world this month. Ash Baker shares a simple yoga sequence for Gemini to aid the process…Images: Hanne Gaby Odiele by Serge Leblon for Mixte Paris (S/S 2012)

 

GEMINI: May 21 to June 21

Ruler: Mercury
Element: Air
Modality: Mutable
Anatomy: Hands, arms, shoulders. lungs & nervous system
3rd sign of the Zodiac

Interesting times ahead as the sun enters Gemini while Mercury is also retrograde (May 18th – June 11th) in the sign he rules, Gemini! That’s a high quota of twin energy, and communication will be a key theme for the next month.

And all of this Mercurial energy vibing in the air, this relates both to the dialogue we keep with others as well as ourselves. So use the retrograde to your advantage. RE-view, RE-establish, and RE-connect with areas of yourself and your life that could benefit from a slowed-down perspective.

This retrograde period is the Universe’s way of forcing us (granted in very frustrating retrograde ways sometimes!) to take a pause and ponder all that’s occurring around us, and everything that brought us to this point in our journey.

Below are some yoga tools to connect with your breath, strengthen your body and create the space to spend time within. Give yourself the gift of perspective through grace. And remember, we’re all in this together!

 

:: Sun Salute ::
Come to stand at the front of your mat. Feel your feet grounding downward by pressing your big toe mound, little toe mound and heel firmly against the floor. Scoop your tailbone slightly, giving the abdominals a slight inward moving squeeze. Draw your shoulders back, allowing your collarbones to widen. Lengthen your neck by raising the crown of your head up towards the sky. Arms are softly at your sides with slightly open palms. Now you are in Tadasana or Standing Mountain Pose.

Take a deep inhale inflating the entire belly while simultaneously reaching the arms out and up, bringing the palms to kiss. Exhale and begin to fold forward with your arms following out to your sides like wings. Remember to create a hinge at your hips when you fold and keep a slight bend in your knees. Keep your back nice and flat until you reach your edge in the stretch. Then you can gently round the spine as you surrender to the fold. Inhaling, come up halfway, placing the fingertips on the floor or the palms to the shins. Exhale, and fold down again.

As you inhale again, place your hands on the floor and step or jump back into Plank Pose. Keep the tailbone tucked, engage your abdominal muscles. Exhaling, either bring the knees to the floor or keep legs lifted while slowly lowering down through Chaturanga push up position. Come all the way to the floor.

Inhaling, with hands next to your shoulders, press up into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog. Exhaling, bend the knees and press back and up into Downward Facing Dog. Root down through all ten fingers especially the thumbs. Press your hips up towards the sky and ground your feet into the floor – energetically at least if the heels don’t reach.

Stay for three rounds of full belly breath. On the fourth inhale, raise onto your tiptoes and on the exhale bend your knees and either step or jump your feet to meet your hands at the front of your mat. Inhale and come into the flat back position, hands on your chins or touching the floor. Exhale and fold over your legs. Inhale and stand up straight, bringing your hands to kiss above your head as you do, and then to rest in front of your heart in prayer position. Repeat the whole sequence three times.

:: Supine Pigeon ::
Come to lie on your back. Bend the knees so both feet are flat on the floor. Take the right foot/ankle and place it just above the left knee and focus on opening the right knee and hip. Now gently draw the left knee towards your chest and interlace your fingers either around the front of the left shin or behind the left thigh. While you press the right foot/ankle into the left leg, keep drawing the left knee towards your chest creating resistance. Keep the shoulders and neck on the floor. Jaw should be soft. Relax and allow the right hip to open up. Hold for up to 1 minute. Switch sides.

:: Viparita Karani with block/bolster ::
Come down on your back and bend your knees. Lift your hips up and place a block or bolster under your sacrum for support. Let your arms rest out to your sides with palms facing up or down. Gently begin to extend both legs straight up towards the ceiling. You can have a micro-bend in the knees but keep the legs slightly firm. Let your face and belly soften. Stay here for up to 1 minute.

Monthly Mantra: I go within to begin.

How does your yoga practise facilitate a conversation with your self? Connect with us and share your insight on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

FEET ON THE GROUND: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR TAURUS

The coming month is a time for rooting your dreams in reality. Get grounded with this yoga sequence for Taurus, says Ash BakerImage: Anthony Maule and Carine Roitfeld for Harper’s Bazaar.

Ruler :: Venus
Element :: Earth
Modality :: Fixed
Anatomy :: Throat, neck, vocal cords, tonsils, thyroid, tongue and mouth

2nd sign of the Zodiac

We are now heading into the mid-spring month of the Bull. Think earthly sensuality and grounded, focused qualities. Perfect timing for meditating on what you would like your summer to look like. What can you create in your life with precision right now that will bloom into something magical in a couple of months? Taurean energy is what to embody wherever you need some stability in your life. Our practice this month will help cultivate empowerment through pressing into the earth and opening our hearts.

:: Lions Breath ::
Take a deep inhale through your nose, and as you exhale, open your mouth and stick out your tongue. Curl the tip of your tongue towards your chin. You will make a “Haaaa” sound. Give your tongue a good stretch and really push the air out of your throat. Inhale through your nose and repeat. Go through three-five rounds.

Now bring your hands to your heart and think of something you would like to offer to yourself or another person. Yoga can be seen as a moving meditation so what would you like your intention for this session to be?

:: Tabletop spinal extension ::
Come to hands and knees. Tuck your tailbone slightly and firm your abdominals. Inhale, reach the right leg out behind you and press through the heel, firing up all the muscles of the leg and giving you more support. Fully exhale.

Then with your next inhale reach the left arm out in front of you. Keep your palm facing inward. Looking down feel the length being creating in your spine as you reach in opposite directions with arm and leg. Release the arm and leg back to the floor. Repeat with the left leg and right arm. Hold for three rounds of breath. Complete two rounds on each side.

:: Low Lunge ::
From a standing position step the right leg/foot towards the back of the mat. Drop your right knee down onto the floor, tucking the toes under for more balance. Exhale and bend the front left knee. Make sure the knee is bent directly over the ankle. Tilt the pelvis slightly under and lengthen up through the spine.

Squeeze the inner thighs towards one another to get a little lift and then release slightly and let the pelvis sink down towards the floor allowing some opening in the right hip flexors. Inhale the arms up overhead and reach through the fingers. Hold for three-five rounds of breath. Repeat on the other side.

:: Triangle/Trikonasana with arm circles ::
From a standing position, turn to face the left and take a wide stance with your legs. Take your front right foot and point it forward and take the back left foot and point it to a 45-degree angle. You can have heel to heel alignment or wider depending on your hips and what makes you feel stable.

Reach your right arm out over that front leg and begin to reach as far forward as you can. Once you reach your edge, take the same hand to your shin, foot, a block or the floor. Take the left arm and gently reach it upwards. You can look up towards your hand or, for more stability, down to the floor. Add some flow by sweeping the left arm down towards your hip and back up creating a full circle. Take a few circles and repeat this pose on the other side.

:: Grounding Meditation ::
This meditation can be done anywhere you have the ability to place your feet on the ground or any other supported surface. I kid you not, some of my best meditations have been on a public city bus, feet planted on the floor and eyes lightly closed. So just find a space you can sit or even stand for a few minutes and begin to simply feel your breath move around your body, flowing in and out of your nostrils.

Now begin to focus on the feeling of your feet against the ground. Take time to connect with that support. Feel how strong it is and apply those qualities to the areas in your life that need more stability. Stay there breathing, feeling those focused, strong, and stable qualities within yourself. Know that you are always supported. Divinity is designed that way.

Monthly Mantra: I am supported, secure and strong in all my actions.

FUTURE PERFECT: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR AQUARIUS

In preparation for Wednesday’s second consecutive New Moon in the sign of the water carrier, Ash Baker shares a settling yoga sequence for Aquarius…Image: Nomads by John Lisle via Behance.net

Aquarius: The water carrier

January 20 to February 19

Ruler: Uranus
Element: Air
Modality: Fixed
Anatomy: Nervous system, ankles, Achilles heel, calves and shins.
11th sign of the Zodiac

Ground control to Major Tom! We are about to experience the second consecutive New Moon in the sign of straight up energetic pulses, innovation, and intellectual connectivity. Represented by the symbol of the water carrier, now comes one final dose of this futuristic energy before the Sun enters dreamy Pisces.

The three poses below are designed to help you ground the Aquarian vibes, and settle into yourself a little deeper as you maybe take the cues from the past month to adopt a new angle or approach to whatever you are experiencing in life.

:: Eagle Pose / Garudasana ::
Come to stand at the top of your mat. Take a bend in your knees and cross your right leg over your left. If you have the flexibility, wrap your right foot around the back of your left calf. Make sure to squeeze the inner thighs together so there is no space between your upper legs. Now open your arms out to the sides like wings. Take the left arm over the right, crossing at the elbow. Bring your forearms to touch and if your shoulders are open enough you can wrap even further and place the right palm up against the left palm. Draw your elbows up so they can be directly in front of your shoulders. As you inhale, lengthen up through your spine. With each exhale, sink down a little further. Hold this pose for five rounds of breath, and then switch sides.

:: Wide-legged standing forward bend / Prasarita Padottanasana ::
Take a wide-legged stance on your mat with your feet parallel to one another. Reach your arms out like wings as a measurement. Your wrists should be directly above your ankles. Now take your hands to your hips. Make sure you are pressing the inner and outer edges of your feet into the floor. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale begin hinging at your hip creases to fold forward. Take your hands to the floor, or, for a shoulder stretch, grab your ankles. Let your neck and spine relax and lengthen while your legs do the work. Stay here for five rounds of breath. Take your time coming back to a standing position and move your torso upward on an exhale to help eliminate possible light-headedness.

:: Hero’s Pose / Virasana ::
Come down to your knees and bring them in to touch. Take enough space between the feet that you can sit your hips down on the floor between them. If that hurts your knees/hips, take a block or stack of blankets under your seat. Let the big toe sides of your feet turn in towards each other slightly and press the tops of the feet down into the floor. Make sure there is about a one-inch space between the inner arches of your feet and your outer hips. Rest your hands comfortably on your thighs and lift your spine. Let your chest open with wide collarbones. Breathe here for up to one minute.

:: Meditation for Clarity::
Come to sit on a folded blanket up against a wall for spinal support. Cross your legs at the ankles or if that hurts, stretch them out in front of you. Rest your hands, either palms down for grounding or palms up for receiving, on your thighs. Close your eyes and begin gently breathing through your nose. Just notice all the different sensations, electric currents, and rhythms in your mind and body. Without trying to change anything, just witness yourself. Stay with your breathing and see if you can create a calming sync between the sensations of your own internal circuits. Stay open to anything that comes up in your mind or body and try to create a harmonious resonance. Establishing this type of self-awareness can be a powerful tool when you are stressed. The more you practice this meditation the better you will notice body/mind stress sensations, and will be better equipped to direct your breath accordingly. It’s your very own auto-correct, allowing you to change course with greater and greater ease.

Monthly Mantra: I am the heroine/hero of my own journey.

STRONG AS BONE: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR CAPRICORN

Facing down 2015, it’s time to move out from the transformational vibe of the past 12 months and put the new you into action. Ash Baker shares a simple yoga sequence for Capricorn that’s designed to create a solid foundation for all that lies ahead. Images: Karolina Daria Flora

December 22 to January 19

Ruler: Saturn
Element: Earth
Modality: Cardinal
Anatomy: bones (skeletal structure), joints, knees and teeth

10th sign of the Zodiac

Here comes the New Year! Glitter, gold and cheers!

This is always an exciting time because things feel raw, open, attainable, and fresh.  The Queen/King of the mountain, the Cappy goat, looks down at all the terrain to be explored in the coming year with complete determination and resilience. Never fear though, this seabeast comes with the guarantee of seeking out solid ground so you can rest assured that harnessing this energy will be planted in reality. This sign doesn’t do whimsical, fleeting or cloud consciousness.

Use the cosmic energy now to get a head start on your biggest dreams, desires, goals and, of course, for facing your challenges. Take any downtime over the remaining holiday period to write a practical yet powerful action plan, and prepare your mind for gorgeous possibilities to open your heart in 2015! Capricorn rules the bones, the skeleton, the architecture that holds up our worldly suit. The below poses are designed to help cultivate a connection to your structure, as feeling strong is the key to conquering the year ahead!

:: Tree Pose // Vriksasana :: 

Bend your right knee and draw it up towards your chest. Hold it in place for a moment. Take your foot and place it on either your inner ankle, calf or inner thigh. NEVER on the knee itself! Press your foot into your leg and your leg back into your foot to create stability. Externally rotate your right hip out and your right sit bone under. Keep a bend in the left knee. Bring your hands together at your heart or raise them up like branches above your head. Repeat on the other side. Hold for three-five rounds of breath.

:: Chair Pose // Utkatasana ::

From a standing position bend the knees and come down like you are going to sit in an imaginary chair. Keep the knees pressing together. The more you stick your butt out the easier it will be. Let the weight be in your heels. Bring your arms slightly behind you with only a slight bend at the elbow. Extend the shoulders down and back opening up the chest. Feel your collarbone expanding and your core heating up.  Three rounds of breath. Repeat three times, with your goals in sight.

:: Downward Facing Dog ::

Come to hands and knees. Tuck your toes and root down through all ten fingers especially the thumbs. Bend your knees deeply bringing your belly to your knees. Feel the length and extension being created in your spine.  Press your hips/sitting bones up towards the sky and ground your feet into the floor, at least energetically if the heels don’t reach. Your head will extend out between your arms and allow your shoulders to drop and widen down your back. Come back down and take Child’s Pose. Three rounds of breath.

 :: 2015 New Year’s Meditation :: Letting go to let it in :: 

Come into your deep, rhythmic breath while either sitting cross-legged or laying on your back. Imagine as you inhale and exhale a layer of yourself that is worn out and tired, peels away like the skin of an onion. Removing any previous frustrations, heartbreaks and disappointments from the past year. Allow yourself to shed the old skin to become new again, ready for what’s next on your path. Stay here for five-10 minutes visualizing this symbolic dry brushing of things you no longer need on this new journey ahead.

:: Monthly Mantra :: I am my own source of strength for not only myself but others around me. That way we are all lifted up.

ADVENTURE AWAITS: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR SAGITTARIUS

The Cosmic energy this month invites an adventure to the ends of your imagination. This simple yoga sequence for Sagittarius is designed to create space in your mind and body for bold new visions to form, says Ash Baker. Images: Mara Hoffman fall 2012

:: SAGITTARIUS :: November 22 to December 21 ::

Ruler: Jupiter
Element: Fire
Modality: Mutable
Anatomy: Hips, thighs, muscles.

9th sign of the Zodiac

Expansion, possibility and the strength to go after all that you desire. Cue the visionary energy that is Sagittarius! We are now entering the last month of the calendar year, and a fresh new start is just around the corner. This is an opportune time to start meditating, processing, and dreaming about what you want 2015 to look like. Jupiter, the giver of gifts and luck is the king of Sag, so use this auspicious energy to create what you want.

We are also preparing to bid farewell to the Chinese year of the Horse, another symbol for Sag, so take some time now to honor and on reflect all the adventures of 2014 that have brought you to the turning point you now find yourself arrived at.

As Sag is the sign of higher education, whether that be university or self-study, use the longer nights now as an excuse to curl up with a book that expands your mind, or watch a documentary that informs your choices. Knowledge is power for these archers. The practice below is designed to create space in your body for self-inquiry, dream catching and some rejuvenating end of year rest.

:: Pigeon Pose ::
Come into Downward Dog. Inhale and lift the right leg up in the air behind you. Exhale, sweep your knee in towards your chest and place the right knee behind your right wrist. Bring the hips to the floor and lengthen your left leg out behind you. Make sure your left knee and the top of the foot are facing the floor. Sit upright for a moment and center your hips. If you find yourself leaning to one direction take a block or blanket under the drooping side. Once you find your center take your hands and place them down in front of you. You can use your breath to go deeper. As you inhale, lengthen the spine. As you exhale, sink further forward, walking the hands away from you. If you have the flexibility, completely fold forward and rest your forehead on the floor. Stay here for 30 seconds up to a few minutes depending on your level of practice. Press up to Downward Dog pose, walk the feet in place for a few seconds and then repeat on the left side.

:: Supported Bound Angle::
Sitting on a blanket, draw the soles of your feet together to touch. Take a block under each knee. Take your hands behind you and slowly lay on your back. You can take your blanket from under your seat and place it under your head if you find that more supportive. Let your arms relax at your sides with the palms up. Relax your whole body and rest for five whole minutes.

*Counterpose- bring your feet as wide as your mat, plant your soles on the floor and let your knees fall in. BREATHE.

:: Supine twist ::
Come to your back and draw your knees into your chest. Take a deep inhale and on the exhale drop both knees over to the right. Take your arms out to the sides like wings. Take your gaze to the left. With each inhale allow your spine to lengthen and your belly to fully expand. On the exhale allow your body to twist deeper. Stay here for a few minutes and then inhale the knees back to center. Exhale and repeat on the opposite side. Enjoy this detoxifying twist. Use your breath to emotionally release anything holding you back from moving forward with your goals.

:: Legs up the wall Meditation ::
This pose and meditation will create space in your mind, relaxation in your body and openness of the heart by resetting your central nervous system. Come over to a wall space and sit down next to it with one hip against the wall, or as close as you can get your hip to the wall. As you start to lay down flat on your back simultaneously begin to walk your feet sideways up the wall, until your feet are pointing straight towards the ceiling. The knees can have a slight bend and if you want extra support take a block or blanket under your hips. Your hips and seat should be touching the wall, so inch your way as close as you can get. Just rest your arms out to the sides or lay them on your belly/heart. Close your eyes and focus on the sensation of relaxing. Keep your attention on your breath moving in and out. The aim is to create a clear space in your mind in which to invent your future. Stay here up to 15 minutes.

Monthly Mantra: “I ask for, act on and receive blessings in divine timing.”

Read more about Ash Baker and her work at Cultivatewithin.com

LET’S GET DEEP: YOGA SEQUENCE FOR SCORPIO

As the nights get longer, Scorpio season is here to make us face our inner demons – all in the name of transformation, of course. Use Ash Baker’s simple yoga sequence for Scorpio like a physical prayer to take you there…

Madonna shot for H&M 2006

SCORPIO
October 23 to November 21

Ruler: Pluto, Mars
Element: Water
Modality: Fixed
Anatomy: The nose, genital organs, blood, bladder and bowels.

8th sign of the Zodiac

Phew – we survived. Coming out of Mercury Retrograde and two Eclipses, now it’s time to transform and integrate what we’ve learned – and there’s no better sign than Scorpio as a backdrop. Symbolising re-birth and transformation on the deepest level, the most mysterious sign of the Zodiac invites us to do a deep dive and shine a light into the Cosmic cave.

Scorpio season knows it takes serious determination to kick out of our comfort zone and rise above the banal. As for the famous sting in the Scorpio tail? Sure, if you piss ‘em off you’ll feel it – but all of us possess that inner warrior, the loyal guardian of our deepest truths.

To harness this energy in the month to come, let us focus on the strength, wisdom and determination of the Scorpion. The poses chosen here are designed to ignite the energy to overcome that which no longer serves you, and to dig a little deeper into your own dark corners to bring your truth to light.

Skull Shining Breath :: Kapalabhati Pranayama
This breathwork will help to eliminate toxins, amp up your energy, and get your blood moving. Find a comfortable cross-legged seat on a blanket to prop up the hips and lengthen the spine. Let your hands rest on your thighs. If you’re a tactile person you can place your hands on top of each other on your belly. Take a deep inhale through your nose. Exhale and quickly contract your belly inward pressing all of the air out. The next inhale should be automatic and passive. Aiming for 60 rounds of beath per minute, the contractions in your lower belly should follow in rapid succession. One minute is enough if you’re new to breathwork, otherwise try three minutes. When you’re finished take a deep inhale through the nose and exhale fully through the mouth.

*Avoid this if you have high blood pressure, hernia, heart disease or are a pregnant mama to be!

Boat Pose :: Navasana
Come to sit and bend the knees with the feet on the floor. Take your hands behind you with your fingertips pointed towards you. Press your hands and sit bones down towards the floor to lengthen your spine upward. Engage your pelvic floor by scooping the tailbone slightly forward and your pubic bone up towards your chest. This action will automatically engage your abdominals. If you’re a total beginner stay here and just breathe. If you wish to go further, draw your calves up in alignment with your knees, parallel to the floor. You can keep your hands behind you for support or take them behind your thighs. Keep lifting your chest up and keep the spine straight. Don’t let your lower back round at all. To move into the full pose, straighten one leg and then the other, reaching through the toes. Take your arms straight out parallel with the floor. Keep lifting the heart with each inhale and squeeze your pelvic floor (bathroom muscles) with each exhale.

Bound Angle :: Baddha Konasana
Find a comfortable seat. Imagine your spine lengthening with each inhale, pulling you up from the crown of your head. Draw the soles of your feet together to touch. If you need a little support or feel a pulling sensation in your inner thighs you can sit on a blanket or place a block under each knee. Take a hold of your feet and pull your chest through your arms to feel as much length in your spine as you can. Inhale your arms up over your head and begin to fold forward at your hip creases with a flat spine until you reach the edge of your stretch. Then place your hands down and allow a little rounding of your upper spine and neck to happen. Stay here and use your breath to help you relax into the pose more deeply. With each inhale lengthen out a little more and with each exhale sink deeper.

*Counterpose: Lay down on your back and bring your feet as wide as your mat. Let your knees fall in. BREATHE.

:: Sea Breathing Meditation ::
Come to lie on your back and drape a blanket over your body. You want to be fully relaxed so take a pillow under your head and a rolled up blanket under your knees if you wish. Imagine you are on the beach, warm and safe. Everything is calm and serene. Feel the heat coming from the sand beneath you and a slight breeze in the air. Scorpions are usually linked to fire but we often forgot that they are water warriors, so direct your attention to the ocean. Listen to it breathing, inhaling as the tide comes in, exhaling as the tide goes out. Now listen to your own breathing. Imagine your breath is syncing up with the tides. You are breathing the ocean. Think briefly about what you would like to wash away from yourself. Picture the vast amazing power and beauty that is the ocean cleansing that which you don’t need. Use the strength of the ocean to find your inner strength. Stay with this practice for as long as you like.

Monthly Mantra: “I am empowered by my own truth.”

VENUS IS HER NAME: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR LIBRA

With a Mercury retro period and two eclipses to navigate in the coming weeks, is the Cosmic joke on us? Ash Baker shares a grounding and balancing yoga sequence for Libra, to foster harmony and equanimity in the chaos. Main image: Brittany Alcorn.

LIBRA
September 23rd to October 22nd

Ruler: Venus
Element: Air
Modality: Cardinal
Anatomy: Kidneys and lower back

7th sign of the Zodiac

Venus, cosmic queen of love and the ruler of Libra will be energetically present throughout the heavens this month. This is a time to focus on cultivating harmony, balance and peace within your life. So much change is coming upon us. Mercury will retrograde from October 4th – 25th, during which time we’ll also experience a lunar eclipse on October 8th and a solar eclipse on October 23rd.

Now people tend to run for the hills when Mercury retrogrades, but personally I prefer to use this time to pause and deeply reflect on all the changes that may be occurring within you and around you. Those changes may come apparent as the eclipses also stop by to say hello.

Eclipses are known for removing something in your life, may it be a fear producing attitude, a toxic relationship, or whatever is blocking you from getting your dream job. Thankfully, all this cosmic drama is going down in the month of love and harmony. Use the Libran energy to find balance in the crazy, cultivating gratitude for what is, and peace with what isn’t.

The poses below have been chosen to help you find your inner calm and be your very own Venus.

Goddess Pose :: Utkata Konasana
Come into Tadasana, standing Mountain Pose, at the front of your mat. Step the right foot back as if you were about to do a lunge. Instead, turn your whole body to the right, making sure your torso is in the center, right above the pelvis.

Step both feet to a 45-degree angle, with the toes out and the heels in. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale bend your knees directly over your heels. Make sure your hips are in line with your knees. Bring your hands in front of your heart in prayer.

Allow yourself to feel the heat being created from the strength in your legs, and with each inhale imagine scooping up that fierceness from below and exhaling it into your full, gorgeous heart. Hold for up to one minute.

Warrior Two :: Virabhadrasana Two
Come back to Tadasana. Step the right foot back three-four feet. Turn your right foot to a slight angle with the toes out and the heel in. The left foot should be pointed forward.

Inhale and reach the arms up and out in line with your shoulders like wings. Your torso should be facing the right side, arms extended above your legs. Simultaneously exhale, and begin to bend the front knee so it lines up with the ankle. If you’re a beginner, lessen the bend in the knee but never take it further than your ankle.

Look directly along the length of your left arm, chin aligned with your left shoulder. If you gaze down, you should see your 1st/2nd toes. Make sure your torso is directly above your pelvis.

Reach your arms out wider and feel them lengthening. Press your feet down into the ground, gathering energy back into the body. Hold for 30 seconds, up to 1 minute. Come back to Tadasana and switch sides.

Cat / Cow Pose :: Marjaryasana & Bitilasana
Come to hands and knees. Make sure your hips are right over your knees and your elbows are directly above your wrists. Keep a slight bend at the elbows.

As you inhale, arch your spine and pull your chest through your shoulders creating an opening in your collarbones. The chest and the sitting bones reach upward.

Exhaling begin to tuck your tailbone, press the hands downward into the floor and round your spine. Feel your shoulder blades spread wide across the back. Repeat for five rounds.

Scales of Peace Meditation
Find a comfortable seat. Prop yourself up on a blanket so the hips are higher than the knees, creating a slight pelvic tilt. Take a moment to notice your natural breath, but don’t change it. Just soften into your energy.

After a couple of minutes start to deepen your breath by following a count of five seconds for the inhale and five seconds for the exhale. Really focus on expanding your belly on the inhale, and then drawing the belly button inward towards the spine on the exhale. Try five rounds of this deeper breath.

Now bring your hands to your heart and think of something in your life where you want to create balance. Hold that in your heart space for a moment. Then picture what it would look like if it were in balance. How would that feel? Keep breathing with that feeling.

Stay here for as long as you need and allow yourself to arrive at answers that may assist you in creating actual balance in your chosen issue. Try doing some journaling afterwards to create action-worthy ideas to help bring equanimity into your life.

Monthly Mantra: “I am the ruler of my own harmony.”

FEET ON THE GROUND: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR VIRGO

As Virgo brings its back-to-school energy of diligence and efficiency, Ash Baker shares some grounding poses to bring purification and clarity. PLUS a meditation to purge your fears ad connect you to the innate gifts within.

VIRGO
August 23 to September 22nd

Ruler: Mercury
Element: Earth
Modality: Mutable
Anatomy: Intestines, upper bowel. gallbladder, liver, pancreas and nervous system

6th sign of the Zodiac

The pure and curious creatures of the skies come out from the Cosmic woodwork to say hello this month. As we enter the earthy sign of Virgo, you may feel the winds of change begin to beckon. This month is about an ushering in of the first feelings of Autumn, and a deliciously crisp edge to the atmosphere reminding you to harvest what you’ve been working on.

Virgoans are all about service, purity, analysis and self-containment. All of which characteristics can be used to our utmost advantage. Being in service is gratitude in action and a much needed practice for living in the present. It inspires us to be grounded in a system of a high moral code. Analysis is POWER when used to discern what your heart and soul needs most. Just be careful not to over analyze yourself! And this sign teaches us that when we use self-containment to fill ourselves up with that which we need (gratitude, self love, and truth) we become an unstoppable force of light.

In honor of the Virgo energy that infuses our existence now, here are three poses to detox your whole body, strengthen your liver and calm your nerves. If you have time, flow through a few rounds of Sun Salutes to warm up the body before you move into the more static postures below.

Half Lord Of the Fishes // Ardha Matsyendrasana

Find a comfortable seat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Begin to draw your knees up and drop the left bent knee down to the left. Your left foot should be tucked just under your right seat. Then cross the right foot over the left leg and place it down next to the mid outer hip. This leg will stay upright with the knee towards the ceiling.

Inhale and reach the right arm up, exhale with a slight twist and place it behind your right seat. Take the left upper arm and elbow either around the outside of the right knee or to the outer right hip. This is a deep twist so use your inhales to gather length in your spine and twist deeper on the exhales.

Remember, the twist should be happening in the mid to upper spine. Think ribs up! Hold for five rounds of deep breath and then repeat on the other side.

*Gratitude practice: Inhale and think of something you are grateful for. Exhale and energetically let it surround you.

Bridge Pose // Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

This asana offers specific benefits to your liver by strengthening the core muscles that support it. Come down to lie on your back and bend your knees. If you have neck issues take a folded blanket under your shoulders to assist in creating a natural cervical curve.

Make sure your feet are directly under your knees. Rest your arms at your sides. Take a deep inhale through the nose. On your exhale begin to tuck your tailbone, activating the glutes and press your lower back down against the floor. Allow the exhale to lift your hips off the floor. Bring your shoulder blade tips closer together creating space in the front shoulders and collarbone.

Take your arms underneath and clasp your hands together. Press the forearms, hands and feet firmly into the floor. Release on an exhale and slowly wave your spine to the floor. Stay with this pose for 30 seconds up to 1 minute.

*Do not turn your head in this pose. 

Supported Shoulderstand // Salamba Sarvangasana

Begin by folding two blankets into a rectangle shape about one-foot by two-foot. Come to lie on your back with the knees bent and your feet on the floor. Make sure the top two-foot edge of your blanket is lined up with the tops of your shoulders. Your head should be resting on the floor. Inhale, and on your exhale place your arms at your sides.

Firmly press your arms down into the floor as you draw your knees up and your thighs in towards your chest. Take a bend at the elbows making sure they are in alignment with your shoulders and place your palms on the small of your back for support. Begin to really curl your tailbone and extend the legs straight up towards the ceiling while simultaneously walking the hands up the back towards the floor.

Reach up through your toes and focus on bringing your chest towards your chin. Maintain a nice curve to your neck and do not turn your head. Hold this for 30 seconds if you’re a beginner, or more advanced yogis can hold up to five minutes.

To come down, exhale while gently bringing your knees towards your chest and roll the spine out long.

*Allow your body to relax and soak up the benefits of these poses!

You are a jar of stars meditation // Cosmic canned goods

Find a blissful space to sprawl out under a blanket. Maybe even under the moon and stars. Take an inhale for the length of five seconds, hold the breath in for five seconds and exhale for the length of five seconds. Go through 10 rounds of this more controlled breath. Then find a nice, soft rhythmic breath that suits you and place both hands on your belly.

See yourself laying there in your mind’s eye. Understand your body as a container for anything you wish to either get rid of or cultivate. Virgos are masters of discernment and can be an example when it comes to weeding out what we do or don’t want. As you inhale find the positive strengths you possess and view them expanding within you. You are your own cosmic universe.

As you exhale, visualize letting go of the negative junk that makes you feel sad or insecure. Allow your body to be a vessel for change. Lay here as long as you wish.

Monthly Mantra: I am the master of my own domain and I honor my truth.

Cultivatewithin.com 

@missashbaker

SALUTE TO THE SUN: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR LEO

Enter Leo, and passionate, sunshine times are here. Ash Baker shares a simple yoga sequence and 2nd chakra meditation to honor your inner Lion, boost your creativity and cultivate the courage to truly love yourself and others. Image: Karolina Daria Flora

 

LEO
July 23 to August 22nd

Ruler: The Sun
Element: Fire
Modality: Fixed
Anatomy: The heart, spine & hair ( your Lion’s mane )
5th sign of the Zodiac

Queens & Kings rise to their cosmic throne this month! We are now entering the summery sign of Leo who worships the Sun, all things luxurious and leaps boldly into creative, fierce endeavors. This is a month of action rather than reaction, and for taking moments to connect with your inner child. Finding that magical place in your heart that defies logic and lives for the moment. Let these poses infuse your more solar side and add some sparkle to your courageous stride.

Surya Namaskar // Sun Salute // 3-5 rounds

A flowing salute to Leo’s ruler, the Sun. This simple series is great for beginners as well as the seasoned yogi. It will also help to alleviate some of the loveable but stubborn fixed nature that the Lion is known for.

Come to stand at the front of your mat. Feel your feet grounding downward by pressing your big toe mound, little toe mound and heel firmly against the floor. Scoop your tailbone slightly, giving the abdominals a slight inward moving squeeze. Draw your shoulders back allowing your collarbones to widen. Lengthen your neck by raising the crown of your head up towards the sky. Arms are softly at your sides with slightly open palms. Now you are in Tadasana or Standing Mountain Pose.

Take a deep inhale inflating the entire belly while simultaneously reaching the arms out and up, bringing the palms to kiss. Exhale and begin to fold forward with your arms following out to your sides like wings. Remember to create a hinge at your hips when you fold and keep a slight bend in your knees. Keep your back nice and flat until you reach your edge in the stretch. Then you can gently round the spine as you surrender to the fold. Inhaling, come up halfway, placing the fingertips on the floor or the palms to the shins. Exhale fold down again.

Inhale, place your hands on the floor and step or jump back into plank pose. Keep the tailbone tucked and engage your abdominal muscles. Exhaling, either bring the knees to the floor or keep legs lifted while slowing lowering down through Chaturanga push up position. Come all the way to the floor. Inhaling, with hands next to your shoulders, press up into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog.

Exhaling, bend the knees and press back and up into Downward Facing Dog. Root down through all ten fingers especially the thumbs. Press your hips up towards the sky and ground your feet into the floor, at least do so energetically if the heels don’t reach.

While in Downward Dog we are going to add in Lions Breath! A little pause to honor our inner fierceness. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale with an open mouth while simultaneously sticking your tongue out. Let the exhale be forceful, making a “ha” sound. Do three to five rounds of this breath each time you come into Down Dog. Take this opportunity to let go of anything negative in your inner landscape that may be hindering your growth or creativity. With each exhale imagine yourself releasing that negative attachment. The “ha” sound is you laughing at your fears. Just as any lion would do.

Walk or hop the feet up to meet the hands coming into a forward fold with a slight bend in the knees. Take your hands to your shins or take your fingertips to touch the ground and come up half way with a flat spine. Reaching forward with the crown of your head, take an inhale. Exhale and fold forward once more. Inhale while rolling your whole body up to stand from the ground up. Keep your knees slightly bent, allow your spine to unfurl and reach the arms to the sky. Bring the fingertips to touch, collect yourself, your intentions and place them before your heart with prayer hands.

Heart to Heart time.

Now that your body is warmed up we can move onto some more static yet deeply powerful postures. This next pose is a great way to open your heart and lungs. Leo rules the heart, and not in the way you may think. They can be great romantics but they are not the kind to wear their heart on their sleeve. It takes genuine courage to truly open your heart to another person, which is why harnessing Leo like courage within our bodies and towards ourselves is so powerful. The more we open to vulnerability with strength and grace, the more we can offer the ones we love.

Camel // Ustrasana

Come to hands and knees. Go through a few rounds of cat/cow just to get a nice spinal flow forwards and backwards. Then come up on your knees. If you have crabby knees like I do, take a blanket or towel underneath them. Take your hands to your lower back with the fingertips pointed towards the floor and begin to press your hands downward. You should feel your lower back lengthening and your collarbones widening. Just stay with this for 3 rounds of breath.

Then take one arm behind you grabbing your heel or ankle. Stay there breathing for a moment and then take your other arm behind you clasping your heel or ankle.. Draw your shoulders open, tuck the tailbone down while also drawing the top of your hip points up and inward. This will naturally engage your abdominals. Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute if there is no pain in your low back or knees.

Once released take your hips to your heels, reach the arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. Allow yourself to surrender to your heart’s requests. Breathe deeply for a minute.

Locust Pose // Salabhasana

Now that the front of your body is open and ready to receive, we will strengthen the back of the heart. Leos also rule the back which is key in developing self courage. Many of us are courageous in the name of others but not so much for ourselves. We always have a choice and it requires deep work to not always be a people pleaser! The Lion speaks his truth with fearless ease.

Plus this pose always makes me feel like Superwoman!

Come onto your belly. Keep your arms along your sides, point the fingers and let your forehead rest on the floor. Inhaling begin to unfurl your head, shoulders and chest upwards. Allow the arms to follow the upwards motion like you are in flight! Keep pressing the pubic bone and belly towards the floor to keep your low back supported. Now begin to zip up the legs by squeezing them together and engaging your glutes. With pointed toes begin to lift the legs up. Now all limbs should be flying. Breathe and feel how strong you are. Hold this for five rounds of breath. Come back down, releasing for a few seconds. If you feel energized by this pose go into it once more.

Make your way into Childs Pose.

If you need a little help softening or just want a sweet pose this month try a Yin heart opener – Yin being the soft, receptive and cooling side of the circle. Use this to say to the Universe that you are open for business, fearless and ready for what’s next.

You will need two blocks, a bolster or blanket and a pillow.

If you don’t have a bolster just roll up a blanket. Place your bolster or blanket horizontally across your mat. Come down onto your back with the blanket just under the tips of your shoulder blades. This will create a nice opening in the chest. Draw your feet to touch creating a diamond shape with the legs. Place a block under each knee allowing the legs to gently relax into the stretch. Your arms should be outstretched to the sides comfortably. Lastly, take your pillow and place it under your head. You should feel fully supported and safe. Stay here for as long as you need.

Sun meditation // 2nd chakra

This would be a great meditation to do while in the supported Yin pose, but if you prefer you can sit cross legged on a pillow with the hands gently resting on your legs. The 2nd chakra, Svadhisthana, is the seat of our creativity and passion. Leos are pleasure hunters, and it’s our energetic pleasure hub and. When one has a clear connection to this chakra they are in tune with their feelings, desires and can communicate that easily to others. This is the birth place of artistic divinity and when flowing freely we experience pleasures in every moment.

Close your eyes. Take one hand to your heart and one to your belly. Really feel both areas of your body and picture them being harmonious in their communications to each other. What seeds do you want to plant within yourself? Where do you want to be more open? More creative? How could you cultivate more pleasure in your life? The answers to these questions are your seeds.

Now imagine a garden within yourself filled with all your favorite plants, flowers and creatures (unicorns are welcome!) Take all of those seeds (desires) and start to plant them in the dirt, knowing in your heart what they will look like in full bloom. Look up and see a big, radiantly beaming Sun pouring down upon your garden, nourishing all you have sown. Feel the warmth and know that you are actively pursuing the things in life you want or need. Again you are courageous and always have a choice. Just stay here breathing, opening and surrendering to your own strength.

Monthly Mantra: I am the ruler of my heart, my strength and all things contained within my inner kingdom.