Sun Signs Yoga for the Zodiac
Astrology is a wonderful system that can be paired perfectly with your yoga practice. It’s safe to assume that most of us know what our astrological sun sign is, for example, I’m a Scorpio and my son is a Taurus. Each astrological sign represents a part of the body and organs; therefore we can create a yoga practice that focuses on the corresponding body parts and functions that best signifies your astrological sun sign.
The yoga we are most familiar with, the practicing of physical poses or asana, is often called Hatha Yoga. Ha=Sun and Tha=moon. In our yoga practice the sun energy is considered Yang, or energy out. You may hear the phrase, “Shine your Light”, this is indicative of the radiant sun energy pouring out from our heart center. We are taught to look up for most of our asana practice and that is also “sun energy”, which is great.
In astrology we have the Zodiac, which is made up of twelve different sun signs, and your date of birth determines which one you are. Each sign has unique traits lending to our personalities, character traits, motivations, and inclinations. And while there is much more that makes up your full astrological chart, the sun sign is the best place to start as it describes your basic nature and the personality traits that remain consistent through the ups and downs of life. In both yoga and astrology, the sun represents the ego, the self.
With the attention drawn towards your physical body, your astrological sun sign will govern over certain organs and body parts as well as dictate certain emotional patterns and psychological tendencies. We then seek to find the corresponding yoga postures or practices that will help to create more balance and health in your life.
We start with the sun sign of Aries and end with the sun sign Pisces—I would suggest that you try to incorporate some of the poses into your Sadhana, your daily yoga practice.
Aries (March 21st-April 20th)
Aries is a fire element that governs the head and brain and therefore can be prone to headaches, sunstroke, and depression. Indigestion and nervous disorders can be of concern and they’re liable to have accidents and physical injuries due to the “act now, think later” type of approach most are familiar with. Many professional athletes are Aries as they love challenges and coming in first. Aries likes to win and are the “go getters” of the Zodiac. Aries are very action oriented, independent, and aggressive. They have the energy of their ruling planet, Mars, the warrior planet. Sun sign yoga for an Aries would include Virabhadrasana, Warrior Pose, in all variations. While Aries has tremendous power to take action, it is not a sign with a lot of endurance or persistence, it wants to be the pioneer and enter the new territory. However, there is no telling how long they will stick around once they arrive. In the physical sense the warrior postures strengthen your legs, back, hips arms and shoulders as they stretch the muscles of the legs, open the chest and increase your stamina.
Taurus (April 21st-May 21st)
Taurus is an earth element that governs the throat and neck and can be prone to throat infections and respiratory ailments such as asthma. They are said to be at risk for diseases of the liver and kidneys and rheumatism as well. Because Taurus is the most earthly sign of the Zodiac they absolutely love to fully experience all of the physical sensations; touch, taste, smell, etc. They have extreme determination and strength of will and are balanced, stable and unless provoked, are lovers of peace. Taurus is also the sign of beauty and nature with strong aesthetic tastes enjoying art and music. A great yoga pose for the sun sign Taurus is Vrksasana, commonly known as Tree Pose. The earthy feel of being grounded, balanced and centered will resonate with the Taurus energy quite well and is a great pose to help you remain steady in the face of the unexpected. Combining chanting with your yoga pose will help to appease the throat chakra, in which Taurus governs, and bring awareness to the spiritual possibilities.
Gemini (May 22nd- June 21st)
Gemini is an air element that governs the hands, arms, lungs and nervous system. That’s right, there is a lot going on in the sign of the twins. They need to be aware of diseases and accidents associated with the upper body as well as the nervous system and pulmonary disorders. Gemini are prone to taking unnecessary risks and often wind up harming themselves or others in the process. Gemini are very intelligent and have strong analytical minds and love cerebral challenges. Most are outgoing and witty and love to talk as Gemini are the communicators of the Zodiac. Gemini invites us to ignite complimentary opposites, such as night; day, sun; moon, hot; cold, and yoga- Hatha. Because Gemini’s tend to hold tension in their shoulders, poses like Plow (Halasana) and Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana) will help to loosen the shoulders and help you sleep better. Drawing your attention to counting your breath can help keep the Gemini mind focused in the present moment while practicing these poses.
Cancer (June 22nd-July 22nd)
Cancer is a water element that governs the chest, breast, stomach and digestion. They can suffer from weak digestion and other stomach ills and there is a tendency to coughs and weakness of vision as well as varicose veins. Most Cancers love their homes and are very loyal to their families with a deep craving to nurture others. They are very intuitive but also emotional, also known as the Crab, they can be downright “crabby” at times. They often pick up on the emotions of others and have a tendency to take on the other person’s emotional state thus leading to unpredictable and severe mood swings as they actually feel what you feel and hurt when you hurt. They are great organizers and have a flare for inventiveness and originality. The Sun Sign Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and therefore the yoga pose, half moon or Ardha Chandrasana, will resonate on a deep level for Cancers. Ardha Chandrasana is both a standing and balancing pose that improves core strength. Another great recommendation would be Pavanamuktasana or Wind Removing Pose, is designed to relieve gas and improve digestion, something all Cancers can benefit from.
Leo (July 23rd-August 21st)
Leo is a fire element that governs the heart, spine, upper back and forearms and its natives are subject to a number of possible ailments from back pain to diseases of the heart and blood. As the most outgoing of all sun signs, Leos are almost always extroverts that are ambitious, courageous, dominant, deliberate, determined, and more often than not, born leaders as well. Leos love to live large and bold but can tend to boastfulness and self-centeredness when out of balance. Leo is ruled by the Sun so your task in life is to let your light shine! Sun Salutations are the perfect sequence of postures for you and seems to be a more natural fit, but you can also benefit from Matsyasana, or Fish Pose which opens the heart.
Virgo (August 22nd-September 23rd)
Virgo is an earth element that governs the central nervous system, spleen, intestines and Virgos can be vulnerable to stomach and bowel troubles as well as nervous instabilities. Their very nature makes them the “worry warts” or worse, the hypochondriacs of the Zodiac. They have an eye for detail and prefer a clean and well organized environment in order to flourish. Lovers of cleanliness and hygiene, they tend to be judgmental or critically inclined of others who do not live up to their expectations. Virgos can be their own worst enemy as they are much harder on themselves then anyone would realize. On the surface they can seem emotionally cold and this is mostly done through an unconscious fear of giving away their emotions freely because they do not trust others, or worse, themselves. Due to their overactive nervous system the best postures for Virgos are going to be of the restorative nature, such as Viparita karani, Legs up the wall pose, however, a supported headstand, Salamba Sirsasana can also be of great benefit for the sun sign Virgo.
Libra (September 24th- October 23rd)
Libra is air element that governs the kidneys, bladder, the lower back lumbar region of the spine and the skin. Although Libras have amazing vitality and are rarely ever sick, their love for sugar and utter disregard for the laws of health may eventually do them in. Libra is the sign of the scales with an emphasis on finding balance, peace and harmony. Known as the relationship sign, Libra is ruled by Venus, the planet of love. Librans are typically intelligent, social and friendly but are also very partner-oriented and loyal to the core- they do not like to be alone. Most have a highly developed artistic side and can be very charming and aesthetically pleasing as well. One of their greatest strengths is the quest for fairness, peace and harmony, which they continuously seek to maintain. A wonderfully balancing yoga practice for Libras would include a breathing exercise called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. It is an alternate nostril breathing technique that restores balance and harmony to the body, mind and spirit, leaving the Libra to feel most relaxed and at ease.
Scorpio (October 24th-November 22nd)
Scorpio is a water element that governs the pelvis and reproductive systems and can have ailments of the liver, kidneys, bladder and genitals. Scorpio is the symbol of sex and most Scorpios are passionate lovers and are the most sensually energetic, but also most powerful sign of the Zodiac. Ruled by their intense deep emotions, most also possess strong intuition or psychic powers. Scorpio penetrates to the heart of matters with intensity, feeding out the lies, and discarding all that it no longer needs with a passion and power until it transforms into something new and stronger. A great yoga pose for Scorpio would be Ustrasana, or Camel pose. Camel will absorb the Scorpio energy through back bending while stretching and toning the abdominal muscles. Baddha Konasana or Cobbler Pose would be a great option for Scorpio as it creates openness in the pelvis, enhancing the flow of prana through the pelvic floor region.
Sagittarius (November 23rd-December 22nd)
Sagittarius is a fire element that governs the hips, thighs and sacral area and can also be prone to sciatica and to suffer from ailments of the hips and thighs. Certain deficiencies of silicon in their physiques can give them poor skin, nails and hair. Like Aries, a fellow fire sign, Sagittarians are also prone to accidents which arise from sudden dangerous pursuits. Sagittarians are often optimistic and full of enterprise and energy, eager to experience anything beyond the physically familiar. Idealistic in nature, the Sag is most often honest, honorable, generous, and they love anything that has to do with justice. Sagittarians are strong willed and make excellent researchers, having the ability to think rapidly while using their keen intuition. As Sag is ruled by the hips and thighs, Trikonasana, Triangle Pose would help facilitate a nice stretch in the hamstrings, and activate the hips and thighs as well as the spine. Another amazing yoga pose for Sag would be Eka Pada Rajakopotasana, King Pigeon Pose, to gently open the hips.
Capricorn (December 23rd- January 20th)
Capricorn is an earth element that governs the knees, bones and skin, so they may be apt to fractures and strains of the knees and other failings of the legs. Some are prone to skin diseases such as rashes and also digestive upsets may be caused by suppressing their emotions, which Capricorns tend to do. Capricorn is the most reliable and stable signs of the Zodiac and are very independent, strong willed, responsible, practical, cautious and are capable of just about anything they set out to accomplish. Capricorns are the go- to sign for any profession as they’re the most reliable workers, known to be the backbones of many companies. This sign is resourceful, determined and they set high standards for themselves and others. Capricorns are so rational, logical and clear headed that getting them to open up emotionally can prove to be quite the challenge. A great yoga pose for this Earth sign would be King Pigeon Pose, Eka Pada Rajakopotanasana, taking variations that put most of the body in contact with the earth. The pigeon postures stretch and strengthen the hips, thighs, groin and spine. It also helps to open the chest and massage the kidneys and adrenal glands.
Aquarius (January 21st- February 19th)
Aquarius is an air element that governs the legs from knees to ankles and the circulation of blood. Aquarius can be susceptible to cramping in the legs and ankles and can be prone to spasmodic nervous issues, diarrhea, goiter and those that drink alcohol can be prone to delirium tremens. Aquarians are almost always intelligent and logical in their thinking – very clear and concise. Many are psychically intuitive and can be very spiritual. They do not give of themselves easily, and can come across as cold at times, but once deemed worthy of their friendship or love, they can be almost hypnotic and irresistible. Aquarians are very faithful once committed and will undertake huge sacrifices for the ones they love. Preferred yoga poses for Aquarius would include Bridge Pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, as Aquarius is a bridge from old to new and symbolizes the transition from past to future all while strengthening the lower back, neck and shoulder muscles . Savangasana, Shoulder Stand, stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands and provides a stretch to the neck and spine and reverses the flow of blood as well as the direction of gravity on the body.
Pisces (February 20th- March 20th)
Pisces is a water element that governs the lymphatic system, liver and feet as well as skin diseases, gout and inflammation difficulties. Pisces are emotional and very sensitive to the feelings of those around them and have a deep capacity for empathy towards others, even strangers. Pisceans are often gentle, easygoing, and submissive by nature. They often put others before themselves and will adapt to suit others to avoid any sort of confrontation or conflict. Pisces is the dreamer of the Zodiac and tends to withdraw into their own private dreamland. They’re often very intuitive and most possess abundant artistic abilities. Piscean energy is a healing, compassionate and sensitive energy. Yoga for Pisces looks like Fish Pose, Matsyasana, when if practiced in water, enables you to float in the depths of the Piscean energy. Also, with the feet being the focal body point of Pisces, Cobbler Pose, Baddha Konasana, would be appropriate since you bow towards your feet with the option of holding the feet as well.
That concludes our Sun Signs Yoga for all twelve astrological signs, focusing on the Yang energy or Sun energy for the majority of the signs. Equally important is your Moon sign and the Yin Yoga, the Moon energy that helps to balance out the ego and sun energy.
Vernal Equinox: Ritual Through Yoga
Over the course of each year, our playful planet performs an elliptic dance around the sun while simultaneously spinning about its own imperfect axis, which tilts roughly 23 degrees from vertical. Born of the primordial fire, the terms of this intricate cosmic relationship are responsible for all of the natural rhythms that inform our daily lives — from changing weather patterns to reliable zeitgebers that regulate our internal clocks.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
The Story of a Blue Sphere and a Fiery Mass
As Earth diligently revolves around the sun each year, there are four distinct sandhis, or junctures, where a clear seasonal shift occurs from our terrestrial perspective. The vernal equinox is one such juncture, marking the transition from winter to spring.
As we welcome the appearance of new life in nature, many of us remain blissfully unaware. We may neglect or even override the innate curiosity that seeks to understand how our cozy blue sphere and its fiery solar star orchestrate this magnificent show year after year. The truth is, when it comes to their relationship status, “it’s complicated.”
A Practical Approach to Visualization
Imagine yourself sitting in a camping chair with your feet warmed by the heat of a well-burning fire. Fortunately, you’re equipped with a warm scarf and hat to dull the chill you might otherwise experience as you recline back (at exactly 23.4°) to enjoy the stars. Now, without adjusting the direction your chair is facing, imagine yourself orbiting around the focal fire to the opposite side, giving the back of your head a chance to enjoy the warmth of the flame.
If your feet were the southern hemisphere and your head where the northern hemisphere, these two positions would represent the winter solstice (with more heat reaching the bottom half of your body) and the summer solstice (with more heat reaching the top half of your body) respectively.
To visualize the vernal equinox, imagine your chair was to revolve just a quarter of the way around this campfire circle. In this position, your body would be leaning neither toward nor away from the fire and the projected plane of your navel (the equator of your body) might pass directly through the center of the glow. Also, the light reaching one side of your body would match the darkness on the opposite side, much like the day and night which are of approximately equal length on the equinox.
Still confused? Don’t sweat it, simply allow yourself to enjoy the fruits of spring with a deep knowing that there are some wildly wonderful forces at play.
Emergence of the Exhale
Played out on a living, organic sphere, the seasons are guided by a unique planetary breath rhythm. The annual breath of the Earth, much like our own cyclical respiration, serves the purpose of bringing nutrients into the system in exchange for that which cannot be utilized. During the Vernal Equinox, our sleepy planet awakens from the depth of its winter inhalation and begins a 6-month out-breath.
Lean into the Light
Illustrated in the table above, the vernal equinox is a point of orbital balance marking the emergence of days that outlive nights as the axis of the planet bows once again, toward the sun. In direct response to increasingly available sunlight, a life that remained dormant in the barren winter months begins to awaken in receipt of new light. All of nature comes to life — hibernating creatures wake up with healthy appetites and germinating plants shed the shackles of their seeds.
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ::Cynthia Occelli
Subtle Body Spring: Melting the Inner Snow
As nature begins to melt the winter snow in spring, rivers and far-reaching tributaries swell with freshwater that sustains the natural environment as well as human communities. Mirroring the wisdom of the planet, now is the time to water any seeds of intention we may have planted at the beginning of the year and evaluate which future crops and creative projects we will irrigate with the melt of our inner snow.
Just as mountain rivers are swelling their waters, our bodies respond in much the same way at this time of year. This is nature’s way of melting the inner “snow” of the body.
::Shiva Rea, Tending the Heart Fire
Like a bear emerging from the deep sleep of hibernation, sometimes it can be difficult to recalibrate the body and mind for the vibrant spring rhythm. During the long period of seasonal darkness that precedes the vernal equinox, the body naturally increases melatonin production, a hormone that promotes the desire for sleep. This is the planet’s way of encouraging us to slow down and regenerate during fall and winter.
However, with the advent of smartphones and 24/7 connectivity, we override many of these environmental signals which can disrupt our natural circadian rhythms. This dissonance may leave energy levels, which were supposed to have been replenished during the winter, somewhat depleted when springtime arrives.
Fortunately, the daily increase in sunlight that occurs during this half of the year, has its own subtle body effects which include an increase in the mood-elevating hormone, serotonin as well as testosterone and estrogen.
While the shift in our internal chemistry generally increases energy and vitality, this period of hormonal recalibration puts a strain on the endocrine system which can leave us feeling a little tired as we meet the seasonal transition. To navigate the changing internal landscape, any effort to cleanse and detoxify the body can help alleviate energetic stagnation in preparation for the luminous spring ahead.
The Kappa Season
The predominant dosha during springtime is kappa, comprising earth and water. With heavy rains and warming temperatures, the elemental density and heaviness of kappa in late winter continues into spring. As we approach the equinox, it becomes necessary to balance these kappa qualities in order to alleviate winter-induced inertia and energetic malaise. The ideal rhythm for springtime is kappa-pacifying: meet the cool, oily, and heavy qualities of earth and water with the arid warmth and lightness of air and fire.
- Lighten Up. The vernal equinox welcomes a thorough spring cleaning, in our homes and in our hearts. Start by addressing any clutter that has accumulated during the winter and dispose of it in a meaningful way. In your home, this might be as simple as donating articles of clothing or re-purposing a piece of furniture. In your heart, you might tune into the presence of any heavy emotions, assimilate what you can learn from, and let the rest dissolve. Write in a journal to rid your subtle body of excess energetic weight and to create space for what is to come. Only once you have cleared any obstructions, can you begin a deep clean.
- Cleanse. Since kappa is able to sustain with or without food, enjoy a short fast or cleanse during the spring season using astringent fruit juices or warming, spiced kitchari. To stimulate the digestive fire before meals, try chewing on a small slice of fresh ginger. Shed layers of winter skin by dry-brushing before bathing and minimize the use of body oils. If you find yourself battling allergies with spring fever, consider cleansing the nasal passages with nasya, herb-infused oil, to facilitate the clear exchange of Prana. Alternatively, this can be done with warm salt water using a neti pot.
- Nourish. Concentrate on slow, mindful meal times so that your body experiences maximum satiety to avoid overeating or emotionally driven consumption which are symptoms of excess kappa. Favor light foods that are easy to digest with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Foods like apples, pears, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrots for instance. Avoid heavy, oily foods with sweet, salty and sour tastes which increase kappa.
Invigorating Yoga Practices for the Spring Equinox
To bring balance to the gunas (attributes) of the kappa season, we emerge from the regenerative practice of the cold winter months and transition into the increased energy and mobility of spring. As we adapt to the seasonal rhythm, the most beneficial physical practices are those that enliven vira rasa. The term rasa can be used to define the intrinsic energetic quality or essence of being and vira is a word for hero. Vira rasa is the embodiment of potency and courage which are reinforced by an active, solar practice. This particular movement alchemy is appropriate for any time when we are experiencing a cycle of growth and renewal.
- Summon Your Strength — Enjoy arm balances and core cultivation as well as heating inversions to experiment with a new strength that has developed from the fortifying rest of winter.
- Clear Congestion — Relieve physical and emotional congestion by practicing dynamic postures with a vigorous pace before exploring strong, standing hip-openers, and activation. This can mobilize stagnant earth and water elements that may have accumulated here through winter.
- Burn Bright — Experience the ardent internal cleansing of heat-inducing pranayama such as kapalabhati, bhastrika and surya bhedana.
- Detoxify — Any process of purification requires a great heat. In the same way that steam can disinfect the surfaces in your home, internal heat and massage can assist the body’s natural metabolic processes which rid the system of toxins and purify the cells while reducing inflammation. Focus on postures that stimulate the circulatory, digestive and lymphatic systems like bound twists and activating backbends.
Spring Equinox Sequence: Moving Meditation for the Whole Body
Tap into your innermost virya, meaning vitality, enthusiasm, and effort, with focus and attention. Maintain an affirmative inner dialogue and embody the heart of a warrior. Either internally or aloud, invoke the mantra of supreme light with reverence to the sun, our absolute source of sustenance. Allow this to be a mantra of purification and release as you move toward internal balance.
OM HRIM HAMSA SO’HAM SWAHA
om: the primordial sound of the universe, the vibration of all creation, the guru
hrim: bija, seed sound for clarity and dispelling illusion, mantra for the cosmic light, the sun
hamsa so’ham: the balance of light and dark, sun and moon, Shiva and Shakti, the power of the breath for bringing vitality
swaha: let it be so, dedication to the light
*translations by David Frawley
During this stimulating practice, focus on powerful ujjayi breathing to circulate a steady supply of oxygen through the blood. Maintain a strong, audible breathing rhythm through the nostrils, releasing heat through the mouth on the exhale as needed. With this victorious yogic breath, internal body heat increases as does the circulation of Prana.
This practice is a pilgrimage to Natarajasana that alchemizes twisting and backbends to open the channels of the spine and create space in the body. Beginning with an energizing kriya, we employ the breath to heat and polish the body from the inside out. What follows is a series of progressive twisting namaskars to energize and open before diving into standing backbends. The practice will close with deep-seated hip openers to alleviate emotional congestion before releasing into final relaxation.
To support your self-practice, please refer to the pose breakdown below with links to photos and alignment for each posture or enjoy the complete guided sequence video.