Yoga for When Mercury Goes Retrograde
If the events of this past weekend left you feeling like WTF, worry not. There was a supermoon Sunday, the day Merc Rx began, traveling through the firey and playful Sagittarius.
Talk about a triple threat.
Mercury Retrograde, which occurs four times a year, already is known to bring a Puck-ish mayhem to all our communication efforts. Phones act weird, and the people who use them seem to act even weirder. With the added drama of the fullest moon of the year, and the positioning of Mercury in the Centaur stars, whatever happened was sure to have had an abundance of emotional lessons.
To manage the after effects of this and the remaining weeks in MercRxSag (lasting until December 22nd), throw on some hot retro music* and wind down your day with this yoga sequence.
The best way to consume the energy of Sagittarius, a fire sign, is to be like fire, so much so that water -- or sweat, rather -- escapes through our pores.
1. Start your practice with some kapalabhati pranayama (fire breath) by kneeling and "snapping back" the navel quickly on each exhale.
2. Work your way into adhomukha svanasana (downward facing dog), and sun salute your way into virabhadrasana I (warrior one). This posture is a grounding hip opener (psoas and IT band), and develops a brave vulnerability in the practitioner. The gentle backbend opens the heart to communication, no matter how muddled it gets this month.
3. Add some fire jumps to your flow. Building heat this way, through a sense of youthful play in your practice, will help you personify the Sagittarius spirit, and make it all the less intimidating when you encounter it off the mat.
4. Jump backs from bakasana (crow pose) is another fun transition for this sequence. The requisite cat-back of bakasana activates your "ready-to-pounce" mode, and jumping back into chaturanga dandasana teaches you to step back and pause. Jumping forward into salamba sirsasana II (tripod) likewise teaches a sense of excitement for the calm that comes with meditation.
5. Plot twist: much like the wrenches that this retrograde may throw in our holiday season, a good parivrtta trikonasana (revolved triangle) offers the opportunity to "wring out" tension, especially the emotional stuff that's held in our hips. For the advanced practitioner, drop into a pinca mayurasana (forearm stand) mid-flow to melt open the heart and throat towards the mat for clearer, more grounded communication.
5. Balance is a necessary component for compassion and non-attachment. Give your warm up a dose of it with a nice, deep balasana (child's pose/wisdom pose). Hold for at least 8 breaths to transition to your cool down. Feel yourself rooted and pure amid the chaos. Deepen this moment with eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon pose), a popular hip opener that stimulates our "rest and digest" parasympathetic nervous system. Energize your second toe (next to the big one) to bring greater alignment to the thigh.
Perform kapalabhati again to maintain the body's heat as you slow your practice.
4. Lean back and bring your legs and arms forwards and up into navasana (boat pose). Lift your heart here -- in a non-backbend -- as you strengthen the core and tone the legs. Feel connected through your hips. It's going to be work, but hold for one breath longer than you care to. You're stronger than you realize. To advance this posture lift further still, until you form urdhva mukha paschimottanasana (upward facing western stretch).
3. Release into paschimottanasana (intense stretch of the western side of the body). This will unlock the final hidden tensions in the lower back. Adding akarna dhanurasana (archer's pose) is the next step. Imagine yourself an adventurous Centaur, creator of that chaos. Sit in padmasana (lotus) or another comfortable seat, after each side. Touch the thumb (ego finger) to the pinkie (communication finger), hold for several breaths and say, So hum (I am that). Then touch the thumb (ego finger) to the index (finger of calm) and say, So hum.
2. Roll down one vertebrae at a time and then back up into salamba sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and its accompanying matsyasana (fish pose). The practice of activating and releasing jalandhara bjanda here (the throat lock) will keep your communication efforts as yogic and cool as possible.
1. Close the sequence with a 10 minute savasana (final resting pose). Give your body a real chance to marinate in this spinal alignment. Avoid fidgeting. Even the impulse to scratch an itch will pass, should you choose to not respond to it. Set your timer to a chime, or a song, or some other low-volumed alert to ensure you're taking adequate time for self.
*Tell us your favey retro songs of 2017. Shout us out on social media with the hashtags #urbanwellnessmag #MercRx #np.