The zodiac sign Cancer, the crab, is a watery sign, ruled by the Moon. Following on from my last few blog posts, themed around the zodiac sign Cancer, in this post we'll look at how you can introduce a Moon theme into your yoga practice.
In astrology the key words associated with the Moon are response and fluctuation. In older texts the Sun represented spirit, the Moon represented soul, and the ascendant represented body. The Moon represents the pull of matter (subconscious), and the Sun the pull of spirit (superconscious). The Moon’s connection with health has always made her prominent in astrological medicine.
The Moon is the Earth’s natural satellite that shines by reflecting the Sun’s light. The Moon speaks to us of time passing, and its waxing and waning connects us to the ebb and flow of life. The phases of the Moon teach us about the cycles of life, death, rebirth, and renewal. Out of the darkness, the New Moon arises in the night sky and speaks to us of hope reborn. The Full Moon is pregnant with possibilities. The Dark Moon reminds us to pause, rest, and recuperate.
The Earth and the Moon are in a symbiotic relationship. The gravitational pull of the Moon, and to a lesser degree the Sun, creates the ocean tides. Many people believe that the Moon’s gravitational force also affects humans, as our bodies are made up of approximately 60 percent water.
Some of us notice that the phases of the Moon elicit a response in us. Of course, our response to the phases of the Moon is a very personal thing. Some love the flurry of energy, activity, and creativity during the waxing phase of the Moon up to when it reaches its fullness. Others prefer the more serene, contemplative, reflective energy of the waning phase of the Moon. If you regularly observe the response that the moon’s cycle elicits in you, it will help you find a rhythm of activity and rest that is uniquely healthful and energising for you.
There are many ways you can introduce a Moon theme into your yoga practice. You can include circular sequences that mirror the phases of the Moon, such as Chandra Namaskar (Salute to the Moon). Or you could try including flowing, fluid, watery movements into your yoga session.
All pranayama practices are a way of bringing both Sun (ha) and Moon (tha) into your practice. We are also connecting with the ebb and flow, waxing and waning, rhythm of the Moon, when we consciously attend to balancing sthira (effort) and sukha (ease) in our yoga practice. Off the mat, meditative, circular walks also have a satisfyingly Moon-like quality to them.
You could try visualising the Moon during a yoga practice or ask the Moon to guide your intuitive practice. However, whenever you introduce a Moon focus into your yoga, it’s important to remember to stay grounded. Working with a Moon theme and forgetting to ground yourself can be disorientating, so always keep an awareness of your connection with the earth beneath you and a sense of roots connecting you to the earth, giving you support and stability.
You'll find lots more moon-inspired yoga ideas in my forthcoming book, Yoga by the Stars.
The zodiac sign Cancer is known as the mother sign, with a strong desire to nurture and nourish others. In my last post, Tough Times Require Tender Care, we explored how the zodiac sign Cancer can be a wonderful source of self-care, nurturing, and nourishment for us. In this post we'll continue developing that theme, looking at how we can become our own best friend. This skill is invaluable as we look for ways of navigating our way through the unprecedented uncertainty of the current pandemic.
How do you talk to yourself when you mess up or life takes a wrong turn? Often at these difficult times our inner critic takes over, and many of us speak to ourselves in a manner that we would never dream of speaking to a friend. Even though many of the events that occur in life are beyond our control, we can still consciously decide to cultivate a loving and compassionate attitude toward ourselves and others.
If you are interested in finding out more about developing the skill of self-compassion, you could check out Christopher Germer's The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, or Paul Gilbert's The Compassionate Mind.
In the Zodiac sign Cancer chapter of the Yoga by the Stars book, I include a Become Your Own Best Friend Meditation, which teaches you how to connect with your own inner loving, nurturing self, and how to show the same compassion to yourself that you would show to a friend in need. By cultivating good self-care in this way, you build up self-confidence and the resilience to cope with life's ups and downs. Although I am not including that meditation in this blog post, however, I am including an audio link to Mark Williams The Befriending Meditation. As Mark says, "When life really begins to get you down…. When you feel angry, lost or alone… When you feel close to despair… When you feel that you are your own worst enemy… The Befriending Meditation is here for you." The meditation below comes from the Finding Peace in a Frantic World website, where you will find many other mindfulness resources and free meditations.
We are all living through tough times, with this pandemic, and more than ever at this turbulent time we need to show ourselves and each other tender care. Regardless of your own Sun sign, the sign that can nurture and nourish you through these challenging times is the zodiac sign Cancer.
Cancer, the crab, is a watery sign, ruled by the Moon. It is known as the mother sign, with a strong desire to care for, to nourish, and to protect others. At times of crisis self-care is so important, and now is a great time to practice the skill of parenting yourself. Learning how to “mother” ourselves well is an essential part of our spiritual practice. Of course, we must also remember that nurturing, nourishing, and caring skills are not exclusive to one gender.
Along with the theme of mother-love, the zodiac sign Cancer is also concerned with creating a peaceful place of sanctuary, where we may retreat to and take time to heal away from the fray of life. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says that when life seems like a turbulent ocean, we have to remember we have an island of peace inside. Life has ups and downs, coming and going, gain and loss. Dwelling in the island of self, you are safe. The poem below, The Island of Self, illustrates this beautifully.
The Island of Self
The path of yoga is a path that will lead you home to yourself. When the world feels hostile and unwelcoming, yoga is a place of sanctuary. When you feel unwanted, unloved, or un-cared for, it provides a place of refuge. Step onto your yoga mat and you are stepping into sacred space. Here you are loved; you can let the public mask slip and simply be yourself.
You are held in the circle of yoga. The circle is strong enough to hold whatever burdens you are carrying. Yoga teaches us to relax into the support that life can offer. We are held, nurtured, and nourished. The water on the surface of your life might be turbulent, but underneath the pool is deep, calm, and still.
You will find more ideas for nurturing yoga practices on my Yoga Through the Year blog:
Mother Yourself with the Mantra Ma
Soothing Summer Yoga Practice
Hello, I am Jilly Shipway, the author of Yoga Through the Year, and my forthcoming book Yoga by the Stars. In this Yoga by the Stars blog I will share with you zodiac-inspired yoga insights and inspiration. I also have another blog on my Yoga Through the Year website.