The full moon in Scorpio brings our attention to our inner complexities, intangibles, and mysteries, and asks us to explore our deep feelings in connection to others. The Scorpio energy is intense and doesn’t shy away from investigating the unpleasant dark side of our nature. It is also a beautiful sensitive energy which connects us to our deepest desires and passions. By allowing ourselves to explore our greater depths with love and honesty, we are given the opportunity to release the darkness and to let the brightness shine through.
Scorpio energy is powerful, it makes us focus on stagnant emotions that need to shift. This gives us the space to let go of any pent-up resentment, sorrow or trauma which can negatively affect our physical and mental wellbeing.
Transformation from the darkness to the light can come about through a deep experiential understanding of our turbulent emotions. When we take the time to investigate our emotional body in an open and honest way we can explore the underlying psychological source of our feelings. This is not an exercise in analysis but an exercise in experiencing the felt sensation of our emotions in our body, specifically at the heart centre.
Meditation is an effective technique which allows us to relax and increases our ability to concentrate and focus. With focus we can explore the sensations felt in the body without attaching a story or judgement to them. This allows us to defuse the obsessive nature of the thinking that we habitually attach to our feelings. By remaining the conscious witness of our emotions, we can allow our feelings to flow through us without holding on to self-destructive addictive states of mind.
Meditating on our deep emotions in an honest and kind way gives us the possibility of releasing toxic feelings and to transform them. In turn, we can free ourselves of the emotional baggage that can drag us down. Attaching ourselves to past wounds only prevents us from being truly present which is the only place where we can experience love and fulfillment.
The full moon in Scorpio is the perfect time to sit in deep meditation and release ourselves from any poisonous thoughts hindering our reconnection to others with love so that we can return to a place of peace and emotional wellbeing.
“When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you'll come to realize what you were dragging around with you. And for that, no one else other than you was responsible.” - Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
The sun is currently travelling through Taurus, the stable, patient, practical and hard-working bull. This is a welcome slowing down from dynamic Aries and brings more steadiness to our daily lives. Taurean energy is what’s needed when we need some stability in our lives and it supports us to get in touch with the parts of ourselves that enjoy things to be practical, plentiful and pleasurable.
For our asana practice this translates as cultivating empowerment by pressing into the earth and opening our hearts. We are asked to channel the qualities of the slow and steady bull, finding our grounding and alignment and slowly, steadily building our postures with patience, love and authenticity. Taurus helps us to find contentment and ease in our practice.
Taurus rules the throat in the body so it calls on us to focus our energies at the visuddha chakra to create spaciousness around the throat and neck, through which profound spiritual truths can flow. Vishuddha (throat chakra) governs self-expression and our ability to communicate effectively. When the throat chakra is balanced we are confident and able to express ourselves to others clearly and effectively.
One of the easiest ways to balance visuddha is by chanting, the seed mantra for this energy centre is ‘hum’. Some of the most widely used Yoga asanas that activate visuddha are Matsyasana (fish), Makarasana (crocodile), Ashtangasana (eight-limbed pose), Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulderstand), Simhasana (lion’s pose), Sasangasana (rabbit), and Halasana (Plow).
Visuddha is the energy vortex that harmonizes our ability to express ourselves and communicate with others. It is the chakra of musicians, artists, writers, poets, or any artist who uses sound and vibration as their medium. When visuddha is open we connect to our imagination and flow through the river of creativity with ease.
The most important lesson to take away from visuddha is learning to express ourselves freely and authentically.
“Our body is an instrument played by divine breath. It is our job to keep the instrument well tuned and to listen to the voice of truth moving through us” - Anodea Judith
As the Sun travels through the warrior Aries it is pushing us to be more assertive and to get things done. Our impulses now may lead us to start new projects, to shrug off negative self-talk and to go for gold. Aries is energetic, competitive and motivated. We can use this energy to bring us closer to our aspirations and goals. This is an excellent time to begin new and bold projects. The challenge is to stay disciplined, to persevere and to stay on course keeping our higher purpose in sight.
An effective way to cultivate the confidence and courage needed to action new and challenging projects is to embody vira rasa in our asana practice. Vira in sanskrit means hero and rasa is the essence of human emotion. Vira energy stimulates our inner fire, concentration and potential, it allows us to explore our inner power and dignity.
Evoking vira rasa on the mat helps us to get in touch with our inner warrior and gives us the confidence to step outside our comfort zone. The vira rasa is awakened in poses that involve alignment, strength and flexibility. We use this in Vinyasa flow with sequencing that focuses on concentration, sustains power through alignment and challenges our potential strength and stability. Asanas which most strongly awaken our vira rasa include Virabhadrasana 1, 2 and 3 (warrior poses), Virasana (hero pose), all arm balances and standing balances.
“The willingness to practice at all is a form of bravery. Practice courage in these small ways on the mat and it will be there for you when you need it most” - Marianne Elliott
The full Moon in Virgo energy brings our attention into the physical body and gives us the impetus to revisit our diet and lifestyle. This is a good time to detox and to reboot our system for the new season ahead. Physically Virgo relates to the stomach, intestines, nerves and the reproductive system.
In yoga twisting is known to be cleansing and one of the best asanas used to release toxins by squeezing the internal digestive organs. This leaves us feeling clean, clear, and refreshed. Massaging the abdominal organs, including the liver and kidneys encourages healthy digestion and elimination. Twisting also tones our abdominal muscles and gives us good posture which helps to protect our lower back.
On a mental level twisting has a great balancing effect. When we feel restless or agitated twists can settle us down. When we feel uptight or 'wound up', a long spinal twist followed by a deep release as we uncoil the body can also help us to unwind the mind. When we twist we are literally turning our torso around itself, this quickly brings our attention to how the body feels, whether the stomach is bloated, the breath constricted, or the muscles stiff. Deep twists insist that we observe what is present, whether difficult or sweet, and from that awareness we have a clear choice to create change or to make peace with the sensations in the body. Twisting also gives us an energetic lift when we are feeling tired or lethargic.
The Virgo full moon energy teaches us to care for and to love our body by treating it with care. When our body is flexible and strong we are more productive and we are better able to experience the world with joy. To care for our body we are asked to give it loving attention by feeding it healthy food, getting plenty of sleep, walking in nature and practicing yoga on a regular basis.
“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way” - Cybele Tomlinson
The Sun is now diving into the deep unconscious waves of watery Pisces. Under this influence we can access our inner mystic, poet and dreamer. Pisces loves to connect to the deep inner self to cultivate empathy and compassion. The Piscean creative flow encourages us to dream and to connect to our deep inner bliss body.
This is a good time to slow down, to let go, to let flow, to trust and to have faith. Pisces gives us permission to daydream and to reflect. We may feel the desire to indulge and go on a retreat, leaving our daily routines behind, swim in ours oceans, rivers and lakes to soak up nature’s healing energy. Imagine yourself as a mystical mermaid, wild, free and adventurous. Delve into the world of magic and imagination remembering your inner power of creativity.
The mythical mermaid archetype delves in the deep waters of the imagination and embodies self-love and self-empowerment. On the yoga mat she asks us to integrate creative spontaneous movement and to focus on the emotional quality of everything we experience. Tantra yoga refers to this as rasa which translates as the energetic essence of human emotion. Rasa is in everything and remains the invisible substance that gives life its meaning.
During asana practice we can apply three fundamental rasas: vira (courage), shanti (peace) and sringara (love). When these rasas are cultivated, the thinking mind quietens and pure feeling pulses through our body. This transformational state of awareness is a type of communion between ourselves and that which surrounds us and we are left feeling united with our current experience. Incorporating rasa to our practice allows us to move with grace and fluidity. It moves us away from the analytical thinking mind towards the heart centre of creativity and imagination.
“Always be yourself unless you can be a mermaid, then always be a mermaid”
With the regal influence of Leo, today’s super full moon eclipse is especially potent and has the potential to create major ripples in our lives. This eclipse invites us to use our resources and influence to manifest major change. This is the time to find our inner courage and to speak up in support of issues of social justice, in particular to support women in their struggle for respect and equality in the workplace and in society in general.
The symbolism of Durga is similar to that of Leo and the Strength card in tarot. She is depicted as a regal queen riding on a lion. Durga’s mission is to protect the community from the negative forces of prejudice, hatred, greed, selfishness and anger. She is that aspect of our nature which is compelled to act out fearlessly and to make a positive difference in the world. No challenge is too big for this magnificent goddess as she rides her lion into battle to eliminate the demons of self-doubt.
In yoga we evoke the powerful energy of Durga to remind us of our own inner strength. During asana practice this helps us to dig deep and find our inner courage as we flow through challenging poses. This leaves us feeling fearless and boosts our confidence.
Another powerful way to invoke the power of Durga is to chant the mantra “Om Dum Durgayei Namaha” which translates as “Salutations to the feminine energy that protects from all negative influences”. Chanting this mantra helps us to overcome fear and transform the limiting destructive forces in our lives, chanting with this intent helps us to stimulate and awaken the energy of change.
Durga represents the Cosmic Mother and the remover of obstacles. She teaches us to believe in ourselves, to live in our truth and to respect ourselves.
Durga’s key teachings are to never doubt our own power, to stand firmly in our truth, and to call forth our fearless heart.
Venus and the Sun are both currently travelling through Aquarius helping us to focus on our relationship to the wider world. The sign of Aquarius is forward-looking and growth-oriented, concerned with social justice, equality and individual freedom for all.
Although Aquarius is represented by the water bearer, he is nonetheless an air sign, detached and intellectual. The waves pouring out of his vessel are energy waves. In yoga we can feel these energy waves circuiting through our bodies with the practice of chanting.
Chanting is a combination of sound, breath and rhythm that helps us channel our energy with the intention of transmitting certain frequency vibrations. This practice has subtle yet powerful psychological and physiological effects on our bodies. Everything living thing in the universe is in a state of vibration, when we are in a natural harmonious vibration we are in a state of health but if some part of the body begins to vibrate at a counter frequency, the energy becomes stuck and creates dis-ease. In yoga we use mantric chanting to release stuck energy in the body returning it to its natural state of wellness.
The vibrations created from chanting stimulates the hypothalamus gland in the brain which regulates communication between the nervous system and the endocrine system, it absorbs information from our body and transmits it outward again via our ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and dopamine. This help to balance our moods, our metabolism and our nervous system.
On an energetic level, chanting fills our bodies with breath carrying prana (life force) through each of the chakras from the base of the spine to the top of the crown where the vibrations we create are released out into the world. Stimulating our chakras this way helps in the smooth functioning of different body organs keeping them healthy.
On a spiritual level, chanting is the easiest way to raise our vibration and to harmonize our frequency with the divine universe, it allows us to unite with all of existence.
An appropriate mantra to chant during this humanitarian Aquarian time is “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” which translates as “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” This mantra has been used for centuries to invoke greater states of compassion and peace. By chanting this mantra, we move from our personal self and radiate an intention of love for all beings in existence, including all animals, plants, planets and galaxies. This mantra is a reminder that we can all make a positive impact on all of creation.
“Chanting opens the heart and makes love flow within us” - Swami Muktananda
Today the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn heralding a period of focus, productivity and pragmatism. This is a good time to set goals for the next chapter in our lives. Simultaneously, Saturn Lord of order reenters his own sign in Capricorn after a 29 year jaunt around the zodiac, and he is here to stay for the next 3 years. Time to make those 3 year plans!
Capricorn is the taskmaster of the heavens and has a reputation for being a workaholic, these goats work with focussed determination forever grasping for the next reward to achieve success through hard work and perseverance. This influence is one to be careful of especially during the silly season when we are all prone to burning the candle at both ends. To work hard and play hard can lead to stress, exhaustion, anxiety and can reek havoc on our nervous system.
It could be said that our results-driven society is ruled by the characteristics of Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, creating a culture of individuals who are forever in pursuit of the next big thing and never content with the here and now. Many of us have developed a habit of looking outside ourselves for validation and fulfilment. The truth is that we can only ever be ourselves and to ignore our inner greatness leads us to ongoing discontent and unhappiness.
The great lesson for all of us at this time is Santosha as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Santosha means contentment, it means letting go of striving for what we don’t have and accepting what you do have with gratitude. It means being happy with what we have, where we are, and who we are. It means not looking outside of ourselves for happiness, it shows us that peace comes from within. We live in a consumerist society that feeds our discontent in order to sell us more stuff, we are conditioned from a very young age to want more. We also know from our own experience and the stories of others that having more stuff (including power and influence) does not bring us any lasting fulfilment and often leaves us empty. We can easily get caught up in this continual cycle of striving for more in the hope that the next thing will bring us happiness, and so the wheel of samskara keeps spinning.
Santosha can only be achieved by letting go of desire, letting go of having to prove anything, letting go of the need to conform, to fit in and to be what our culture/family/friends/peers want us to be. If we allow wealth, power or fame to be our driving force towards fulfilment, all other aspects of our lives including our relationships, our health, and our spirituality suffer.
It’s important to note that Santosha does not advocate sitting on the couch doing nothing, it isn’t to be confused with complacency. It simply means accepting and appreciating what we already have. Practicing gratitude feeds our confidence and creates a sense of well-being. When we are satisfied with ourselves and our lives, we are able to enjoy life more fully.
One way to create Santosha in our lives is by practicing mindfulness, which is to bring conscious attention to the present moment without judgment and finding contentment here. Mindfulness is not a passive activity and does not simply rest in acceptance but encourages us to bring awareness to the tendencies of our minds. Observing how our mind behaves then helps us to distance ourselves and to gently redirect our thoughts in a way that serves us. Cultivating Santosha brings us deep satisfaction and relieves us from being slaves to our minds and to a culture driven by power and money.
The path of yoga is to seek the truth rather than believing the cravings of the mind. By practicing mindfulness and cultivating Santosha we are better able to detach from our desires and cultivate an inner peace and joy that is not dependent on external circumstances. We find our own strength and our own truth from within. When we feel Santosha we begin to enjoy the simple things in life and we begin to notice just how abundant we really are.
“When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” - Lao Tzu
Today is the last Full Moon for 2017 falling in the air sign of Gemini, it is also a Super Moon so its energy is amplified.
The moon represents our emotional needs and all that we need to feel safe and secure, under the Gemini influence this is all about communication. During this time our motives and intentions will come to light allowing our truth to rise to the surface. This is a good time to express ourselves, to speak our truth, to say what we mean and mean what we say. However, the way we speak our truth is a practice that for many of us needs contemplation and refinement. The Gemini tendency is to think feelings and to broadcast them immediately without pause or thought. This full moon encourages us to stop before we speak and bring mindfulness to our speech.
In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali speaks of Satya (truthfulness) as one of the five yamas (constraints). To speak our truth in a way that is mindful means slowing down, allowing time to filter and carefully consider our words so that we have the space to choose them wisely. When we speak instantly as a reaction to certain situations it is often on a purely primitive level, we’re often not seeing the truth and are speaking from a place of fear and conditioning. When we practice meditation we are able to create a fraction more time to process situations before speaking out. This allows the more evolved part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, to consider before the primitive brain takes over. A daily meditation practice helps us to take some time observing our thoughts as they arise and watching them pass without getting caught up in them. This way we get to experience and see that all thoughts, emotions and situations come and go and are in fact not true. Satya encourages us to speak our truth in such a way as to not create harm to another remembering that personal opinions are not the truth, they are merely constructed from our personal conditioning and experience.
Like yoga, Satya needs continual practice and refinement. As we consistently bring more awareness to our words, we find an improvement in all our relationships including the relationship to ourselves. When all falsity ends we are set free to live in truth. To speak from Satya is to bring out the very best in ourselves and in others. When we do this, we are contributing to the creation of a world that we want to live in, a world based in truth, kindness, clarity and connection.
“When the practitioner is firmly established in the practice of the truth, her/his words become so potent that whatever (s)he says comes to realisation” - Yoga Sutras