Wondering how the sun, moon, and stars might affect your yoga practice or teaching this month? Here are the big, astrological shifts happening right now, plus expert advice on how to get inspired by these seasonal and energetic changes.
While last month was as full as could be with Scorpio intensity, it’s opened us up to seeing the places in our lives where we’ve been covertly resisting change. Because of this, December will feel like a breath of fresh air, as Sagittarius guides us to take our newfound (and hard won) insights and use them to craft a life that has more meaning.
See also 3 Tips on Realistic Goal-Setting and Actually Keeping Them
On December 2, Venus moves into Scorpio
Scorpio (yes, Scorpio again!) wants us to alter stagnant situations in our lives—and that call to duty isn’t quite over yet, because although Venus isn’t moving backward any longer, she must still complete her retrograde mission by returning to Scorpio for a few more weeks. Venus represents love and self-worth, which makes this a potent time to look back at your life since October 5 (when the retrograde transit began) and ask: What do my relationships with myself and others look and feel like now? Have I gained any confidence? What does inner pleasure mean to me? As Venus finalizes these lessons, know that change is still available, and Scorpio highly encourages it.
Practice: Venus is often related to both Svadhishthana (the sacral charka) and Anahata (the heart chakra). Utkatasana (Chair Pose) supports both by building energy in our sacral area and opening our hearts. For more ideas, check out 11 Poses to Ignite Your second Chakra and Spark Creativity.
On December 6, Mercury stations direct
Starting December 6, we have a cascade of excitement as Mercury, our opinionated planet of discourse, stations direct in the late degrees of Scorpio. This particular Mercury retrograde cycle began on November 16 with Mercury in Sagittarius, where we were reminded that a strong opinion about something doesn’t make it right or true for everyone. As Mercury begins to move forward in Scorpio, we complete the teachings with some Scorpio wisdom—which means you might find yourself questioning the validity of everything. (Not with the intent to argue and cause division, but with the idea that true self-awareness means acknowledging that even when things seem black and white, we can choose instead to perceive them in shades of grey.)
See also The Power of Self-Inquiry for Uncovering the Real You
Practice: Mercury retrograde periods activate our minds, and if yours seems particularly busy right now analyzing and processing ideas, concepts and beliefs, A Flow to Calm Your Crazy Monkey Mind for Meditation may be the very thing you need to slow everything down.
On December 6, there’s also a new moon in Sagittarius
Later in the evening, when the Moon in the sign of Sagittarius becomes completely enshrouded in shadow, we have opportunities. When the Sun and Moon join each other (as they do during a New Moon) it creates the perfect environment to birth new things into the world. This is especially true when Jupiter is involved. Jupiter bestows us with the gift of grace and reveals things that make our spirits soar. Use this New Moon time to hatch new plans. What big talent do you have that wants to be expressed?
See also Want to Thrive as a Yoga Teacher? 5 Tips from a Yogi Who Cut Through the Competition with Grace
One caveat: The sky is busy right now, as Uranus (a.k.a. the changemaker) squares the nodes of the moon (the points where stagnation versus growth come into play). The result? We may feel extra pressure to create change in our lives at this time. The Sun and Moon also make a tricky connection to both Neptune and Mars, slowing our pace and mixing clarity into frothy confusion. Just know that even with the noise in the background, our higher selves will be leading the way.
Practice: When we’re in times of creation, precision is key, but it’s not always available. If cultivating some certainty sounds appealing (and you need some extra help doing that) Elena Brower’s Yoga Sequence to Create Space + Find Clarity will help loosen and move energy.
On December 21, the sun moves into Capricorn and we welcome the Winter Solstice
Capricorn gets a bad rap. High and exacting standards feel hard to meet sometimes, but it’s those very structures that, when in place, allow us to relax. As the Sun moves into Capricorn, be aware that a tightening of the belt may be necessary in the coming month. We may find that some of our soft spots will be called to the table to be reworked and strengthened. If we’re willing to reality check ourselves, inner authority and self-mastery develops naturally, and it’s those things that allow us to soften into what is.
The Winter Solstice falls on this day in the Northern Hemisphere, too, which is always a powerful time to go within and contemplate the meaning of the Sun. After all, this is the darkest day of the year, making the Sun a powerful force and worthy of honor on this day.
Practice: If you’re called to meditate, but the idea of sitting in stillness feels difficult, how about a moving meditation instead? 17 Poses to Prep for Mindful Meditation is a great precursor for sitting, or you can simply make this flow the meditation.
On December 22, there’s a full moon in Cancer
With the Sun in Capricorn and the Moon in Cancer, this particular full moon brings us into the tension we all experience when trying to make sense of the differences between our inner emotions and our external individuality: feelings versus identity; instinctive response versus worldly success. This duality may be particularly strong during this time, as the moon in Cancer has us feeling moody and in need of extra nurturance, while the sun wants us to buck up and focus on cold hard logic.
See also Learn to Listen to Your Emotions with Meditation
A difficult connection to the planetoid Chiron (The Wounded Healer), may bring up old hurts that beg to be tended, so we’ll have to decide whether to honor the healing of those wounds with compassionate nurturing or with a more rational approach. Either would work.
Practice: Learning to maintain emotional equilibrium is a never-ending project, but one that is especially important during a full moon. Fortify your physical body with balance poses or incorporate an entire sequence like Fall for Yoga: 15 Poses Proven to Build Better Balance.
About the Author
Natha Campanella is a Certified Life Coach, professional astrologer, and podcaster. More than just analyzing astrological archetypes, she gives dynamic interpretations of entire life stories by opening windows straight into the personal, family, and relationship dynamics of her clients. She aims to transform the people she works with by helping them make meaning of the gifts, burdens, and various complexities of being human. You can find her on Instagram, and Facebook or schedule a reading with her by visiting nathacampanella.com.
7 Simple Ways to Call in More Joy—and Feel Less Stressed
It can be easy to get caught up in the non-stop “go” of life and lose sight of what brings you the most happiness. If you can relate, this emotional detox is for you.
Joy. It’s our most natural state. When we are in it, we feel light, effortless, smooth, confident, and free. What makes joy so powerful is its purity. It is an unfiltered state of unconditional love. Joy is abundantly and effortlessly alive, yet we let so many things—frustrations, mishaps, fears, anxieties, unhealthy relationships, and past experiences—taint it. These emotions are not toxic, but the way in which we have conditioned ourselves to respond to them is—that’s what I call reactivity.
Here is the thing: we are born with emotions; reactivity is what we learn. Raw emotions are like nutrients, reactivity like toxins. No one comes into this world with denial, expectations, the urge to gossip, guilt, doubt, and insecurity—these are reactions reinforced by how we interpret and respond to our feelings. Our spirits want to stay in sync with joy and avoid disconnection, but joy can be stripped from life at times when we most want to connect with it—like now, during the holidays.
See also A Meditation Practice To Let In Joy + Happiness
Like a food detox, an emotional detox leaves you feeling energized, clear, and fulfilled; it cleanses the pathway for new habits and behaviors, and lays the groundwork for connection, happiness, and love.
How to Do an Emotional Detox: 7 Simple Steps
These tips will help you let go of stress and tap into your own joy. The best part? You can do them all today.
1. Up your turmeric intake
Turmeric is a warm spice that’s high anti-inflammatory properties. Besides finding it in the spice aisle, you can also find it in the form of a supplement. It is used as a natural medicine for conditions such as headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia, itchy skin, and more. Turmeric, to me, is an essential yet affordable way to support your detox. Try adding it to soothing herbal tea (non-caffeinated teas such as elderberry and peppermint ease digestion, while ginger and saffron can help ease tension and promote emotional balance), spicing up salads, or simply take it in the form of a supplement.
See also 10 Ways to Love Yourself (More) in the Modern World
2. Use your heating pad
By placing warmth on your abdomen or heart, you can help calm down and soften resistance of your emotions. Heat increases blood-oxygen and circulation, detoxifying the area being treated. I love to use aromatherapy heating pads for a bit of extra therapy. Try using one to detoxify your neck, feet, and hands, and even face and forehead.
3. Incorporate crystals into your practice
Crystals can be a conduit for healing because their properties can increase the flow of energy in your body as well as within your environment. Crystals can ward off negativity while promoting relaxation. If I know I am entering a heavy or possible toxic situation, I tend to put some crystals around my neck or in my pockets. A few essentials are selenite (for clearing negativity), rose quartz (the crystal of unconditional love), and kyanite (for decreasing our resistance). Meanwhile, crystal elixirs (made by infusing water with the healing energies of crystals) can help move you through stuck emotions and patterns. Stones work deeply and permanently in our subconscious level of being and have the capacity to move energy on many levels, even upgrade our DNA.
See also 6 Steps to Use Crystals in Your Daily Routine
4. Try sound therapy
Sound therapy is a form of vibrational medicine. It is often created with instruments such as tuning forks, singing bowls, and gongs and found in wellness and healing centers. Personally,
I prefer the healing sounds of crystals bowls. My husband and I have attended a few crystal bowl circles together. We both found it powerful to lie on our yoga mats next to each other, holding hands, as the vibrations penetrated our bodies.
5. Practice alternate nostril breathing
This technique helps you deepen your breath, reaching the depth of your lungs. Begin by sitting up tall, either crossed-legged on the floor or in a chair. Gently press your shoulders back and down. Place your chin parallel to the earth. Soften your eyes. Take the thumb of your right hand and close off your right nostril so that you’re exclusively breathing out of your left nostril. Breathing from your lower abdomen, begin to inhale slowly (inflating the sides of your waist) to the count of three. Pause at the top of the inhalation for one count, then exhale out of the same nostril, pulling in your navel to the count of of four. (Make sure your exhalation is one count longer than your inhalation.) Pause. Then using your right hand again, close off your left nostril with your ring finger. Repeat the same count on this side. Repeat this exercise three to four times, and notice how relaxed and open you become.
See also Looking for an Emotional Detox? Try This Sequence from C.L.E.A.N.S.E. Yoga
6. Change your pillow
Replacing your pillow can give you a surprisingly fresh start. When you sleep, you release the stress from the day. Your pillow and mattress are two places you discharge a ton of negative energy. I once had a client who tossed her entire mattress after getting a divorce to dispel old, trapped negative energy.
7. Exercise your olfactory system
Using essential oils in a diffuser or on your skin can help you relax and feel more balanced. So long as the oils are non-synthetic (organic), using scents is one of the quickest ways to activate the calming centers of your brain. Certain scents have been proven to calm organs such as your heart, liver, and intestinal tract. Lavender is known for its soothing properties, while the scent of sandalwood can help you get grounded.
See also 5 Essential Oils Combos That Smell Better Than Your Favorite Candles
Excerpted from Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy by Sherianna Boyle. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Slow Flow: Learn to Live from Love with a Brahma Vihara
Take a few minutes to dedicate each practice to love and watch what begins to shift.
Ready to move deeper into vinyasa and build a practice that supports you for decades to come? Start today with Slow Flow: Sustainable Vinyasa Yoga for Life, designed by Cyndi Lee, renowned yoga teacher and founder of OM Yoga. This six-week online course will refine your approach to vinyasa yoga through creative asana sequences, essential modifications, dharma talks in mindfulness, and much more, so sustainability and precision are top of mind every time you flow—now and in well into the future. Learn more and sign up today!
Words carry intention and plant seeds. That’s why taking a moment at the end of your asana practice for this dedication could start to shift things in your life. This practice called Brahma Vihara, which translates as “abode of the gods” or “abode of the heart,” is not to be confused with prayer. It’s shared by several eastern traditions and can be used as a prescription for living from the heart. In this video, you’ll learn the dedication and how to interpret all four of its parts.
A TCM-Inspired Home Practice to Ease Holiday Stress
This 12-pose sequence will help you remember what the season is really all about.
’Tis the season of good tidings, peppermint mochas, and gatherings with friends—and also lots to accomplish (gift-giving anyone?), people to accommodate (hello, Aunt Erma!), and more than likely, weeks of over-extending ourselves.
And while all of this busy-ness is due to a truly wonderful time of year, it’s important to get clear on what “stress” actually entails.
See also Ready to Let Go? A TCM-Inspired Sequence for Fall
The Physiology of Stress
When we are in high gear, plowing through a long to-do list to get stuff done (read: we’re stressed!), the body turns on the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), otherwise known as the fight-or-flight mode. When the SNS is turned on and we’re under perceived stress, it triggers energy to be released, allowing the body to fight or take flight.
By activating the SNS, the energy is directed to prioritized systems to fight or flight and takes energy away from (or shuts down) non-priority systems, such as the immune, digestion, and reproduction systems. This is why some people are more prone to illness, digestive upset, and for women, menstrual irregularities during or after stress.
The SNS’s counterpart is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS), or the rest-and-digest mode. When the PSNS is activated, the body conserves energy and turns “on” all down-regulated systems.
So, how can you activate the PSNS? By stimulating the vagus nerve: the longest cranial nerve that interconnects the brain to many organ systems and runs through the back of the throat and through the diaphragm.
Pranayama and Yoga are primary ways to access the vagus nerve, because the breath has the capacity to stimulate the vagus nerve through the back of the throat (hello, Ujjayi breath!) and diaphragmatic breathing (a.k.a. belly breathing). By stimulating the vagus nerve, we increase our vagal tone and turn on the PSNS, ultimately counter-balancing the stress response.
See also 8 Detoxifying Poses to Boost Digestion of Holiday Feasts—& All That Seasonal Stress
Interval Yoga: The Ultimate Counter to Stress
Interval Yoga is a combination of heart-pumping, timed movements interspersed with strengthening flows. The dynamic change between increasing heart rate and space for the heart rate to slow is great for a few reasons:
- Research indicates interval training may lengthen telomeres by increasing activity of the enzyme telomerase. Telomeres are the ‘end-caps’ on chromosomes (DNA that carries our genetic information) that protect the genetic information and prevent cell aging. Every time a cell replicates, the telomeres become shorter, eventually leading to cell death when the telomeres have been “used up.” By increasing telomerase activity to add telomere length, we are essentially adding longevity to our cells—and therefore ourselves.
- In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the energy of yin within yin—and yin equals cold, rest, and non-movement. To counter-balance all of this yin energy, we will add yang energy (heat and activity) through movement and blood-pumping intervals.
- In TCM, stress affects the energy of the liver, creating Liver Qi Stagnation. One of the liver’s functions is the free-flow of energy throughout the body and to all organ systems. Which means stagnation here can feel like constriction in the body, neck and shoulder tension, constipation, irritability, and being quick to get angry. The best remedy for liver Qi stagnation is movement. Moving the body and getting the blood flowing will move the liver Qi to alleviate the above symptoms.
A 12-Pose Home Practice to Counter Holiday Stress
The Holiday season is about giving to others—our time, presence, presents, and energy. That’s why it’s especially important to make this practice about giving to yourself. Create a space that feels supportive to you: play music that feels good for movement; light a few candles; diffuse your favorite essential oils; and set an intention to nurture you.
Also, keep in mind that you can customize how fast or slow you move based on your energy levels. Please, honor your body and modify this sequence to fit your needs.
See also Slow Flow: 4 Tips to Polish Your Step-Forward Transition
About our author
Teresa Biggs, AP, DOM is a board-certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Yoga Medicine Instructor and founder of Biggs Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Naples, Florida. Learn more about Teresa at biggsacupuncture.com.
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