Sections of this article appear in The Yoga Almanac: 52 Practices and Rituals for Staying Grounded Through the Astrological Seasons, March 2020, New Harbinger Publications. Reprinted with permission: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. © 2020 Lisette Cheresson & Andrea Rice.
Ahh, twin season: When everything feels ripe for partnership, communication and craziness. Gemini, the first air sign of the zodiac, runs from May 21 to the summer solstice and is associated with doing and creating – especially in a social environment. As the final transition of spring, blending the earthy groundedness of Taurus season with the blooming splendor of Cancer season and summer, Gemini is related to the playful teenager of the astrological calendar. It’s a time to get curious, examine your relationships, and explore exactly what communication means to you.
Symbolized by the talkative twins, Gemini is also a season of dichotomy. It is a suitable time for frenzied play – to learn how to let go and activate the charm even in difficult situations. When gardens begin to bloom and fruits begin to ripen, this time of year creates a desire to get outside, connect with people, and make plans. This final phase of the spring cycle prepares us for the abundance of the months to come and teaches us to enjoy working with others as we gaze at the ease and playfulness of summer.
Gemini is ruled by the communication planet Mercury. Mostly known for its bad reputation when retrograde, Mercury is a powerhouse when it comes to providing solid energy to say what you mean and being effective in your heart’s conversations.
How communication and partnership show up on the mat
Yoga is a deep inner journey – more than a physical practice, it is a philosophy and a guide to life. However, that does not mean that communication and partnership have no place on the mat. When we practice, we enter into body-mind communication and develop a partnership with ourselves. In yoga philosophy, the ascension of Kundalini unites the Shakti (female) with the Shiva (male) energies. As symbolized by the Gemini, it is the dichotomy of life that really brings us in harmony.
While yoga IS a philosophy of life – and an ancient spiritual practice – that doesn’t mean it always has to be a serious pursuit. Bringing a playful attitude into practice can only deepen your connection to yourself and enable communication of mind and body to be rooted in exploratory friendliness. Customization is another key feature of Gemini, which makes this season a great opportunity to try out some playful practice adaptations. Bonus when communicating in partnership … acro yoga, anyone?
Poses for the twin season
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Image from YogaPedia
Warrior poses are named after the development of the thousand-eyed, thousand-limbed monster Virabhadra, which was formed from a tuft of Shiva’s hair. When Shiva was not invited to the sacrifice of his wife’s father, Sati, Sati threw himself into the fire. Despite being the supreme deity, Shiva’s exclusion from the event created a monster. Gods also need fellowship.
Warrior II is a basic pose often used as a transition in Vinyasa classes. Maintain a shortened stance to protect your SI joints that connect your hips to your spine, and grind yourself into the outer edge of your back heel while bending your back knee slightly to avoid hyperextending. It is not necessary to straighten your hips. When your chest opens, your gaze (or drishti) can focus just beyond your outstretched front arm – but only if it doesn’t put any strain on your neck. This pose strengthens the leg muscles and stretches the groin.
Warrior II activates the sacral chakra (Svadhisthana). The seat of relationships, an open sacral chakra, is essential for the development of a meaningful connection. The slight stretch over the chest engages the heart chakra (anahata) and enables us to integrate into an ego-syntonic community that supports our personal truths.
Supported shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Image from YogaPedia
Assisted shoulder stand can achieve the same benefits as any inversion when practiced against a wall. This form helps circulate lymph fluid and strengthen the immune system.
Place a blanket about a foot from the wall. Walk your feet up the wall and start rolling gently onto your shoulder girdle – the basis for the pose is the shoulder girdle, not the neck. Squeeze on your triceps and bring your hands to your lower back for support as you tilt your pelvis to raise your hips. Extend your legs as your shoulders can easily support. You can also practice the form from a supported bridge pose by placing a block under the back of your pelvis and then lifting your feet to straighten your legs up.
Shoulder Stand stimulates the throat chakra (Vishuddha), the seat of expression. An open throat chakra ensures that we are able to communicate what we want – with our partners or in other ways. The throat is the energetic bridge of our heart, the center of love and relationships, and our upper chakras, the seats of intuition and divine union.
Modified four-bar pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
The hypnotic element of a vinyasa class often leads to escapism. The predictability of common cues (eg, “take a vinyasa”) causes more fading than fading in, as we fall into familiar habits and patterns. Chaturanga is particularly precarious as it is an expected transition that ties sequences together. Understanding what the body is communicating is key – adjusting a pose can be a great way to bring the mind and body into a partnership.
To adjust Chaturanga, lower your knees and place your palms just above your elbows, maintaining a neutral spine. Start by lowering a third of the way down without folding your chest or shoulders. Push back up, then lower again, maybe halfway down. Either push back up and switch back to Downward Dog, or switch forward to lower to the ground. From here, a baby cobra is an option to help you gently open your chest to activate the heart chakra (anahata), or you can sign out and press your palms and knees to return to your starting position.
Wide-legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Forward folds activate the resting and digestive functions of the nervous system. When the mind enters a relaxed state, we experience relief from anxiety, stress, and even mild depression – allowing the body to find playfulness even with discomfort. The wide-legged forward fold strengthens the hamstrings, calves, and ankles as the lower back releases and the hips open. There are many ways to explore the shape to stretch your shoulders and upper back, and strengthen your wrists. You can cross your hands behind your sacrum and stretch over your head, cross your hands behind your skull, or place your palms on the floor and reach for opposite feet or ankles.
The rooting of the hands and feet in the earth sends the sensation of Prana or Qi like an electric current through the circuitry of your body. By softening your knees to bend forward with a neutral spine, a gentle stream of blood flows into your head and releases tension in your neck and shoulders, creating a chain reaction that affects the neck (Vishuddha), the third eye ( Ajna) and the crown opens (Sahasrara) chakras. The grounding of the form can also balance the root chakra (muladhara).
Lisette is an author, yoga teacher and content director. She is a member of the founding leadership team of Yoga Unify, a new yoga non-profit, director of marketing at the Mammoth Yoga Festival, and co-author of The Yoga Almanac. Lisette completed her 200-hour training in Brooklyn and her Reiki attunement in India and deepened her studies with Leslie Kaminoff from the Breathing Project, Tiffany Cruikshank and Andrew Holecek. She is also a grief coach and death doula whose work focuses on integrating the tools of mindfulness and asanas for grief healing and end-of-life anxiety. As a past life filmmaker, Lisette has made videos with community leaders such as Dharma Mittra, Eddie Stern, and Eoin Finn. She lives in the Hudson Valley, NY with her husband and animals.
Andrea Rice is a health and wellness writer and editor. Her work has appeared in the Yoga Journal, The Wanderlust Journal, mindbodygreen, Astrostyle, SONIMA and New York Yoga + Life. She also worked as a journalist for The New York Times and INDY Week. As a yoga teacher with ten years of experience, Andrea completed her 200-hour training in New York, NY; and promoted her training with Elena Brower and Alexandria Crow. She has also studied astrology extensively with The AstroTwins, Ophira and Tali Edut. Andrea has taught yoga, meditation, journaling, and creativity workshops in Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York, NY; and was a moderator at Wanderlust. She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and cat, where she teaches yoga at Blue Lotus and the North Carolina Museum of Art.
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