We all experience times of feeling down, as though we are going through a point of stagnation, miscommunications, and apathy. However, sometimes it’s easy to forget that this can be a collective experience. Our egos tend to play a nasty game with us, as individuals, implying the notion within ourselves that everything we experience, especially the difficult, is an individual experience. But just as the gravitational pull of the moon’s rotation has effect on our planet’s oceans and tides, the other planets in our solar system play a roll as well. But it is not just our planet that is effected by these cosmic shifts that are continually happening in the galaxies, but also us. For we are inhabitants of this planet, and as much as we have tried - as a species - to detach from this notion, we are still a part of the earth’s ever evolving ecosystem, and so we are not separate from the cosmic effects the rest of the stars and planets have on this special blue planet we all call home. As we begin to approach the middle of April, it should come as no surprise if you relate to the symptoms such as stagnation, sorrow, and apathy. However, I’m sure, many have spent time combing through all of the details of their own individual lives, attempting to pinpoint the direct cause of these sensations without considering the notion that just as the moon causes the tides to wax and wane, the planets may be causing these effects. During the month of April 2018 not only are we experiencing the effects of Mercury in retrograde (meaning that during the planet’s three or four time per year revolution around the sun, it is at its closest point to the earth) which causes confusion, since astrologists say the planet rules over the lower mind. So, hopefully everyone is slightly comforted by the fact that they are not alone in this chaos.
Also in April however, just as Mercury in retrograde is ending, two other planets fall into retrograde, Saturn and Pluto. Saturn is known to rule over long term goals as well as discipline, and Pluto is known to rule over breakthroughs. So, also don’t become alarmed if you happen to be experiencing extra stress over responsibilities, loneliness, and depression due to Saturn’s retrograde this month. Pluto’s retrograde may cause symptoms of fear and excessive control. But, as reassuring at times as it may be, to know that these experiences are not singular to your individual person, the notion of planets being in retrograde can still be an alarming thought. So many of us cannot help but think “Great, now I know why not only myself but so many people I know are feeling this way, but what can I do about it?”. This is a valid question, and combating these symptoms of cosmic shifts can be quite intimidating for it can feel as though one is trying to challenge the power of the planets. However, we do not have to sit by - feeling awful - and live by the mantra ‘This too shall pass,’ while we wait for the retrogrades to end. Of course we may still feel some of the effects of planetary retrogrades, but there are tools that can help us.
The best about these tools that combat planetary shifts and cosmic changes, is that you do not need a lot, except for yogic knowledge and yourself. Yoga has provided humans with the tools to lessen these astrological effects. For thousands of years yogis have been using these practices and techniques to not only exercise their bodies, but to provide overall resilience, balance, and bliss. While we may not reach the ultimate goal of bliss and enlightenment in this lifetime, we can still use these tools to alleviate the experiences of planetary shifts. There are a vast number of pranayama techniques (breathing techniques) which promote different effects physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually. By practicing the Positive Breathing one can balance out negative thoughts and depression and promote positive thinking and action. The calming breath (inhaling for a count of 8, holding for a count of 4, and exhaling for a count of 8) can alleviate anxiety and stress. By practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing one can promote balance and lessen confusion.
Having a daily meditation practice is also incredibly helpful. One does not need to sit for an drastically long period of time to practice concentration as we imagine the yogis in the caves wearing loincloths doing (however this could be highly beneficial), in order to receive the grounding and centering benefits. If you are just beginning a daily meditation practice start with only a couple minutes, set a timer, and over time, you can gradually increase how long you sit for. This is a wonderful way to clear one’s mind, letting go of unnecessary thoughts and stress, and to relax and calm down.
Of course the asana (physical yoga practice) is beneficial as well. Not only are you stretching your muscles, gaining strength, working on balance, and moving your joints, but while one is practicing, they are also removing buried and built up emotions such as stress and anger, releasing them and letting them go, allowing energetic blockages to be freed and for the energy in the body to move freely. When we do this we are making our bodies and minds more resilient towards the external energetic effects of the universe and cosmos.
Of course we cannot diminish astrology, and the planets and stars play a very pivotal role in the way in which we all live our lives. Just as we know better than to try to stop the tides, but instead to learn to work with them and have the knowledge about them that we need, we should all be aware that the cosmos will continue to play their role, and while we cannot change the course of the stars, we can educate ourselves and provide ourselves with the tools to work with these challenges. Yogic techniques are some of the most powerful tools to not only help us cope but overcome the harsh symptoms of retrograde. As was said before, retrogrades will still occur and shifts will still take place, even on individual levels, but by utilizing the knowledge and tools yoga provides we can make ourselves more resilient, allowing us to pass through these shifts and changes with grace.
During this month, take the time for self care and your yoga practice, and remind yourself that everything and all aspects of your life will be just that much better if you take that small amount of time to care for your well being. Remember to feed the body good foods and lots of nutrients, and remove any toxins from your diet. The way you eat effects the way you feel and think. And if you are looking for more knowledge on the yogic techniques, or want that little bit of community support, join Dharma Yoga Vermont for their SPRING CLEANING WORKSHOP: Yoga Techniques for Cleansing and Purification on April 21st from 4-8pm and learn about how yogic techniques can help cleanse and purify the body, providing one with more strength and energy to help them pass through whatever challenges they may be facing, giving them space for new growth and personal expansion. For more information on our workshop visit our website: https://www.dharmayogavt.com/workshops or check out our event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1758733734147935/