This is Part 2 of 2 articles on Yoga, following up from Yoga and Writing
Tucked away at the bottom of the programme at your last Astrology Conference, and starting at some ungodly hour of the morning, there might be a yoga class. A bit of HaTha or Ashtanga to accompany the Horary, House systems, Prognostication, Zodiacal Release and Time Lord classes that follow. This pairing is not accidental as keen observers will already know. Millennials might have no problem transitioning the yoga mat to the astrology class tossing their yoga gear in a grab bag along with their ephemeris. But others might think “I’m too stiff to do yoga” (that’s Saturn speaking), therefore avoiding it for life. Astrology often slips in the back door at Mind-Body-Spirit Conferences too and no one blinks an eye. It is as though they were meant to be together but few seem to know exactly how much and how well they bolster each other.
Most astrologers are not yogis and the millions of people who flock to the yoga class – said to be close to a 15% demographic in the US- may know their sun signs but little beyond that. Typically, knowledge of astrology among the general public is superficial. But many are now realizing the advantage of being astrologer-yogis and yogini-astrologers. Diane Booth Gilliam runs YogaAstrology.com – and both Western and Vedic are taught alongside the yoga in a seamless whole. Faculty on the Western astrology side include Rick Levine and Erin Sullivan.
Astrology has a mixture of schools and divisional systems that amount to different languages talking about the same essence which is the integration of the principle of as above-so below. Yoga has a wide range of schools practising different forms of yoga. Most focus on the physical and that’s fine, but the goal is to integrate mind, body and spirit. The body is the place to start the journey. The zodiac can be mapped to the body- each sign is situated within. The sequence goes from the head which is Aries, to the feet which is Pisces, with Scorpio covering the genitalia. Each sign has rulership over various organs of the body. It may or may not surprise you that there are 12 cranial main nerves radiating from the brain stem to the body- 12 is the number of zodiac signs. Also that the proportions of the human body were used in Classical Greek and Roman architecture as the ‘measure’ (Saturn again). The physical is metaphysical- as above, so below, as without so within. The fact is that yoga and astrology have actually had a long historic kinship-they just look very different to the casual observer.
Just as Yoga and Writing are parallel practices, there are overlaps of yoga and astrology. This goes deep into the traditions especially of Indian Jyotish which draws on the philosophy of the Vedas. It is best seen as three prongs of a holistic approach to life, so it would also include Ayurvedic medicine. The wisdom goes that “Ayurveda is the Science and Yoga is the practice of the science.” So add astrology, also classed as a Science and/or Art, and with these three tools at your disposal and Ayurveda, you would be powerfully equipped for the kinds of world-rocking changes we are experiencing in 2020 and that will continue into 2021. If you agree with Goswami Kriyananda then “Astrology shows you where the problem is. Yoga helps you solve the problem.” The zodiac sign shows the area where any pain might show up.
There are many layers to unpack but If you want to jump straight to which poses best suit your sun sign, see below.
The Sun and Moon salutations in yoga honour natural cycles- and in astrology the luminaries are primary and the pivotal relationship between sun, moon and the earth creates not just the sun’s daily cycle, the moon cycle as it reflects the sun, but also the nodal points, North and South Node, and creates the extraordinary eclipses. The Sun Salutation is related to the prostration rituals called Pranama and Namaskar rituals. The Moon Salutation is the corollary of the Sun Salutation- the yin to its yang. The salutation follows a distinct sequence that parallels the interrelationship of light and dark that allows us to see the phases as moments. The yogic term Hatha also reflects these individual yet interconnected qualities –Ha referring to the warming, active energy of the sun and tha – the cooling, receptive elements of the moon. Hatha yoga, therefore, seeks to unify these apparently opposing elements, creating harmony and balance.
Is there a Solar astrology and a Lunar astrology? Definitely, you can focus more on one or the other, but most would agree the two are seen as an interlinked eco-system and never separately – and the way they interlink is in the Nodes and Eclipses always with the Earth as the third part in the equation. They are a direct way to align your body with the luminaries and contemplate the message each has to offer. It is interesting that yoga studios and astrology schools are mostly closed now. We are coming up to a series of powerful Eclipses in Sagittarius/Gemini where the nodal axis is currently and that yoga and astrology classes are flourishing online. These two ancient practices are not about to die just because physical meet ups are forbidden to take place.
Yoga Teachers and their Charts
But there is another strand to unravel which is just how yoga and astrology fuse together. Yogananda Paramahamsa (Capricorn) became one of the best loved Indian teachers, and he was schooled through difficult experiences that could only be explained by astrology. His own personal guru was Swami Yukteswar Giri (Taurus) a prominent Vedic astrologer, and his student needed some convincing. While they followed the conventions of Indian astrology wearing bangles for good fortune there was also an injunction to transcend it and spiritualise the astrology – with the goal of setting yourself free from passive and superstitious dependency on the star system.
For this purpose yoga is not just about hyper-twisted advanced ‘glamour’ poses to promote your IG account, but the whole philosophy leading via meditation to enlightenment. Many yoga teachers have a strong relational aspect of Uranus and Jupiter. Uranus, which is yoga as a ‘science’ of psyche and soma; and Jupiter, which is the guru bestowing spiritual blessing and benevolence. A strong Jupiter can signify having that role in life. But there is no simple formula for this. I would not overlook prominent aspects of Mars, with Jupiter and Uranus as Mars is the physical embodiment, and Neptune, the spiritual, But even Pluto can be part of the configuration too, as both yoga and astrology are transformational. Standout aspects would be conjunctions to the Ascendant and MC- and any oppositions and squares as yoga requires effort to master, so it sets up a struggle and without squares in the chart willpower might be lacking. Uranus also happens to be one of the prime markers of astrology- put that with Mars and the urge is to express it in physical ways.
Even a brief look at the charts of Indian yoga teachers reveals some of these patterns. They would have naturally seen yoga and astrology as two peas in a pod, not isolated practices. Bear in mind this viewpoint uses only Tropical Psychological astrology.
Swami Yuketwsar Giri (Taurus) was the beloved teacher of Yogananda Paramahansa who convinced him of the inexorable power of astrology. He has an intense concentration of planets in Taurus: the Sun conjunct Uranus at 16 degrees, with North Node, Mars and Mercury conjunct Pluto at the earlier degrees. This is indomitable manifestation energy. Jupiter- the guru force- is completely unaspected at 29 degrees of Aquarius- so a kind of free-floating wild card. He incarnated on a mission to find his pupil Yogananda.
Swami Narendranath Vivekananda (Capricorn) brought yoga to the West in a very bold manner at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He was bound to be visible and successful as his Sun conjuncts his Ascendant. He has a Cardinal opposition of Jupiter in Libra and Mars in Aries. His Uranus is conjunct his South Node opposite the North Node in Sagittarius so mystical access to higher order thinking would be a given. That he was pioneer in a ‘parliament’ of religions speaks to his North Node placement- Jupiter in the 9th house. The electrifying moment when he first uttered the words ‘sisters and brothers of America’ took place on 9/11- 1893.
Yogananda Paramahansa (Capricorn) pioneered the message of Kriya yoga in the West. He had Jupiter in Aries opposite Saturn in Libra. He had Pluto conjunct Neptune in Gemini on his MC inconjunct to Uranus in Scorpio. This powerful magnetic combination helped him make an immediate impact with a bell-like voice, exotic robes and long flowing hair to die for. He wrote spiritual ‘classics’ seemingly without effort: Autobiography of a Yogi (1946) still conveys his fresh, direct approach. He said god was in the spine and “energy distributed evenly in the body is what keeps diseases from settling. You don’t have to be afraid of germs. If your body is electrified, they’ll be electrocuted” ( Uranus speaking).
Sri Baghwan Rajneesh, also known as Osho (Sagittarius) had a clear fire trine of Uranus, Jupiter and the Sun, played the role of guru to the nth degree with unfortunate dysfunctional consequences. He promoted a Bhakti- devotional style blend of Kundalini yoga and philosophy. One of his statements from 1975 is “The meaning and essence of astrology is that we are not separate, we are one with the universe. Not only are we one with the universe, we are also participants in every situation and event….So, if you can, use this [astrology] for making people more alert and meditative, more responsible for their lives, more clear that this is their past … now they have to escape from the clutches of the past, you can be of great help. You can be a blessing to people.”
Sri Aurobindo started out as a political leader and poet then abandoned this role completely to found an ashram in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu. He had Uranus conjunct Mars, Jupiter and the Sun in Leo conjunct his Ascendant making his role as ‘leader’ self evident while still managing to look like a Biblical prophet.
Krishnamacharya (Scorpio) sometimes called the father of modern yoga especially of the Ashtanga sequence out of Mysore, had Jupiter in Sagittarius and Uranus in Libra square Mars in Capricorn where it is exalted. He also studied astrology and called Ayurveda “a veritable surgery without instruments.’
B.K.S. Iyengar (Sagittarius) had Pluto and Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Leo opposite Uranus in Aquarius. He was a teacher of static forms- his Saturn besides being opposite Uranus is trine to Mercury, Venus, the Sun and the Moon. Jupiter as in Yukteswar’s chart unaspected and there’s a predominance of Fire.
These examples all Indian men, as their contribution happened to be outstanding. The influence of women in yoga and as teachers is under explored. Leading yoga teachers such as Shiva Rhea, Seane Corn, Diane Booth Gilliam simply do not have their charts in the public domain- so they cannot be studied. But astrological guesswork might suggest similar prominent combinations of Uranus, Jupiter, Pluto and Neptune in their charts. Among my clients is a female yoga teacher- one of my teachers- who has Uranus trine Mars and Jupiter square to Neptune and she likes to extend the poses longer than most teachers due to a prominent Saturn on the Ascendant.
One of the aspects that stands out in my own chart is an awkward link between Jupiter, Uranus and Mars, and without some semblance of discipline, I would not have been able to manage this circulation of pure energy and learn to contain it. It has taken me in opposed directions- so yoga has helped me to channel wisely. In these charts of yoga gurus there is no one single aspect that indicates a yoga teacher and there are multiple styles and to pick out that characterises astrological-yogis even more difficult to find. In India however it appears there is no separation at least at the philosophical level between yoga and astrology- they both are respected, and both tear away the veils on reality to reveal the hidden workings of the divine underneath.
The Astrology within the Body
The Ayurvedic system of health which can be linked as the third arm in a tripartite ‘alchemy’ of tools to understand the universe. I might suggest that there is a disembodied and embodied view of astrology: one view is that it all mental and psychological residing in the brain alone; and the other view roots the astrological archetypes directly into the body, more correctly, the body-mind (link) and that is a more ‘embodied astrology.’ Psyche and Soma are interlinked and to miss this understanding just as to miss the message revealed in the map of your psyche, your natal chart, may cause you to misalign to your ‘dharma’ or true life purpose. Studying your chart reveals what lessons are in store for you, not just with health but with the whole of life. Its symbolic mirroring is less deterministic than you might believe, but it takes applied knowledge to bring that into being.
According to Yogananda, yoga and astrology are linked via the spinal column (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal plexuses) as he explains “The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man.“
The word Yoga is also used in Vedic astrology more to mean particular effects of planetary combinations. James T. Braha defines it “ Union. In this case planetary unions which produce specific effects.” There are way too many ‘yogas’ to discuss here. They are well known to boggle the memory of anyone learning Jyotish astrology.
The zodiac is a series of animal archetypes in constellations- many yoga poses are a friendly menagerie. This is the origin of the word zodiac- zoos in Greek. Both astrology and yoga have zootropic metaphors. Each yoga pose is a kind of archetype. Among thousands of asanas, many actively embody these animal totems such as the Lion, Rabbit, Cow, Scorpion and Fish and you can align with them if they match your zodiac sign.
The chakras linked to the planets and to the zodiac signs- this is a whole subject in itself. Chemical salts can be assigned to each zodiac sign as well for natural recuperation of the bodily alchemy related to that sign, especially useful where there is an imbalance. There is also a system of mudras ( hand positions) that focus energy. But an asana is a mudra of the whole body. There is a system of hieratic gestures, a performance art therapy that also embodies the essence of each Zodiac sign. Rudolph Steiner and Marie von Sivers developed this. Hieratic poses to ‘fix’ the energy of the sign into in the body in the form of Eurythmy– here is an intersection point between the physical and the mental i.e. bodymind coherence.
Yoga and Astrology both converge and diverge paths: you may come from one and then see the wisdom of blending the two overarching philosophies together or you may not. They would still be 100% valid in their own right. They may run on parallel tracks and never appear to connect or just occasionally. In one sense yoga can free you from astrology but only if you do the diligent practice of erasing the bondage to karmic imprints. The point is to realise that if the planets are embodied in the spine then the natal chart intersects there too. This came through the tradition of Sri Yuketswar and Yogananda– that the zodiac is centered in the body. This fusion has not seeped so deeply into Western astrology whereas it is axiomatic in Jyotish and Medical astrology points to this not always recognising the etheric body and higher or more ‘subtle’ nervous system.
How to envisage this in practice may not be obvious but for example: If your Saturn is in Taurus or Libra in the natal chart, it means it is lodged in the heart area, the Anahatta chakra in the upper chest. This centre aligns to the two signs ruled by Venus. This is visualized as green- the colour of Venus- to tune in to this think of a brilliant emerald resting there or green rolling fields. Taurus rules the spring, and Libra the autumn. But if this Saturn there acts as a block and your heart is tinged with heaviness, sadness or restriction, not allowing that smoothness and greenness that is Venus to manifest. Venus Saturn aspects can complicate the expression of love and appear conservative and status-oriented but still earthy and loyal.
So yoga breathing that channels energy through the energy centres of and in the heart centre, it can help you come to terms with that dilemma of how you feel. It increases the seriousness of love and compassion and may deepen understanding of the suffering that Saturn can bring, being loving but not ignoring the harsher realities that relationships trigger. What this fusion of yoga and astrology achieves is a lightness to your heavier more karmic aspects, but even if they are not there, and you have just one or two squares, practicing yoga with astrology can give you the energy in this lifetime to elevate consciousness. The accidental side effect of that is that you ride the wave of a difficult transit an annus horribilis like 2020 with more equanimity and better insight into when to act and when not to act. You are less bothered by major conjunctions which are impersonal rather than personal.
The goal of yoga is meditation, reaching that state of calm, and knowledge of astrology is a tool for self-development. To become overly dependent on it might not be useful in the long term. Astrologers like yoga teachers vary enormously in their rigidity of thinking and some are more inclined to be trapped by their own stickiness to the age-old doctrines and conventions of their art/science. They can tend to act fatalistically, or become obsessed with- even possessed by – the trivia of techniques and formulas, missing the bigger or human perspective. In the esoteric tradition there is the concept of heirmarmene which is ‘astral fate’ that locks us in to the natal chart and any struggle against it would appear an act of sheer futility. It carries immense weight.
What is worth realizing though is how you allow the directions of the inexorable cycles that appear to chain us to either dominate your life. To err towards a fatalistic view is to increasing a sense of helplessness; but to err towards a more elevated view where you understand the patterns, you exert some free will in the face of what appears to be a wall of ‘fate’ that we bang up against. It is possible through inner work- for example yoga- to break free from this as Sri Yukteswar said “The soul is ever-free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.” He held the natal chart in high regard but the soul was cannot be contained by it which sets Kriya yoga at odds with astrology though they are still sisters at heart. It highlights what Liz Greene (2019) calls the ‘compulsions of the planetary daimons’ and that working with astrology or yoga, we can gradually become ‘what we were intended to be.’
Yoga Poses for Each Zodiac Sign
Aries ( Fire-Mars- Manipur Navel Chakra)
For Aries, the natural poses are from the Warrior sequence, lending strength and stamina. The poses work best if you make your arms as straight as a spear and think I am proud and I am strong. They might be attracted to Hot yoga- the steamier the better. Ashtanga yoga and any Aerobic Power and Yang yoga styles would also appeal. Forward bends, Head stand and Handstand too might work well; any pose that brings blood to the head and flushes the pineal and pituitary gland e.g. Tortoise or Downward Dog. Kapalabati-breath of fire or ‘Shining Skull is quite Aries-inspired, though Aries is really the whole body and the beginning physical aspect of yoga- asana.
Taurus ( Earth-Venus –Anahata Heart Chakra)
For Taureans over exertion is not cool. So Slow yoga without hurry appeals to them. They might find Seated poses very relaxing, connected to the ground and for that reason they have a good mat on which they can just sit perfectly still in Lotus pose. The totem animal is bovine so the Cow part of the Cat-Cow warm up exercise. Also and Tadasana or Mountain pose as it helps to ‘earth’. Bride pose too. Any of the strengthening poses- Taureans probably go for the endurance – staying ‘in’ a pose longer than usual which may be the secret of Taurean longevity. They might like colourful yoga gear. But Down-Dog Pose is good as it strengthens the spine.
Gemini (Air-Mercury-Visudha Throat Chakra)
The goal of yoga overall is to quieten the mind, the internal chatter so Geminis might need yoga more than most. the Plow and the Half Shoulder Stand and forward bends. Downward Dog. Try practicing outside in your element of fresh air but on the grass to ground yourself. Hand poses. Mudras using the hands. Yoga for therapeutic writing might also appeal ( link). And deep meditation to watch the fulminations of the monkey mind and let it all settle down eventually.
Cancer (Water- the Moon- Chandra-Base of Cranium)
Hatha-style done in the cosiness of home rather than the studio would appeal to Cancerians. Poses like the Half Moon and the Cobra too with the curling curving action. Any ‘Yin’ yoga that softens and is restful and non-vigorous allowing psychic intuition to gather more easily. Perhaps avoid Iyengar style as that constructs static poses – there is no ‘flow’ to enjoy as in Vinyasa. Dancer’s Pose is nice for Cancerians, or the Tree pose to gain mroe emotional stability, while the Boat pose strengthen your weakest area: the belly.
Leo (Fire- the Sun- Ajna Eyebrow Chakra)
For Leos something regal is indicated like The Sun Salutation sequence, perhaps also what is known as ‘the queen of all poses,” the Shoulder Stand, and its counter pose, the Fish, which opens the heart. Leos need to pay attention to the heart area for potential problems. But very obviously Simhasana– The Lion Pose s good to practise as it mimics your totem animal’s fierceness, and helps release the upper chest and throat. Plus diaphragmatic breathing could be useful or Kriya practice of Pranayama control of prana. Also, the ‘cat’ part of Cat-Cow but a strong ‘cat’ not the kitten inside.
Virgo ( Earth-Mercury- Anahata Heart Chakra)
Virgo likes to celebrate the interconnection and Boat pose. Harmony of body and mind ( Mercury) Iyengar style to keep on perfecting the same pose so they can almost measure it with a ruler. Wherever yoga its use of props like blocks, and belts and harnesses will stretch them to the limit and modify the poses. Boat pose presents a nice challenging pose to get the legs straight. If you have a nervous system that goes into overdrive, restorative poses may be restful such as Supported headstand or just lying legs up the wall. like Use of body salts particular to your sign. And props: straps and blocks. The chemical salt for Virgo is Kali Sulphate.
Libra (Air-Venus-Anahata Heart Chakra).
All the balancing poses are good for Librans as equanmity and social poise are important for them. If they can be elegant too, it is a bonus. All poses standing on one leg would be good for Librans, that’s Tree, and one of the ultimate balances – hands free-and not least the most challenging to the knees, Padangusthasana– Toe Stand. Ha Tha sequences that start on one side and then balance up by doing the other side- for balance to integrate yin and yang also makes perfect sense to a Libran, to leave one side out would discombobulate them so this includes Eagle pose- Garuasana which aligns left and right in a tight twist.
Scorpio ( Water- Mars and Pluto-Manipur Navel Chakra)
Kundalini yoga uses techniques to stir up the sexual creative energy at the base of the spine by rocking and pivoting and allowing energy to rise up the spine. But this can be done easily in Happy Baby which stimulates the sacral area. Pranayama– and Kapalabati, breath of fire are strong for Scorpios. Kumbata-retention breath could have a powerful impact of storing up and directing energy. Hatha Yoga also can appeal to Scorpios to restore yin-yang balance. Proud Warrior pose- with emphasis on the ‘spiritual’ Jedi warrior style- is an advance of the Aries-Mars version and would offset that Pluto as ruler of the sign. The Camel pose is recommended, and of course the classic but not easy Scorpion pose- as it is connecting to your totemic creature.
Sagittarius ( Fire-Jupiter- Svadisthan Genital Chakra)
Sagittarius are naturul born yogis as they have both athletic and spiritual urges combined. Power Yoga would appeal, anything tough and challenging, but also yoga practiced outdoors on the grass, or in the mountains, or by a lake. Hot yoga set to disco music would appeal to the brash ‘fun’ side of Sag. Sweating and detoxing from that is a bonus. I like Dandayamana Dhanurasana-Standing Bow pose as it’s pure Sagittarius. This pose is actually shaped like a bow and arrow so it aligns to the archer archetype, but all Hip poses, like Pigeon and ‘King’ pigeon. File-log pose also is one of the deepest hip openers as is Lotus pose itself for meditation. Lunges, and especially Twisted lunge are also good for the thighs. Sags like variety so add Dancer pose, The advanced Ashtanga sequence appeals to the athlete inside as do ‘flying’ poses and expansive poses which are heart opening.
Capricorn ( Saturn-Earth- Muladhar Sacral Chakra)
Capricorns tend to like form and structure, so you might like appreciate a stricter and more angular style of yoga, like Iyengar. However, if the spine tends toward stiffness, it would be good to work on moves like the Cat-Cow and the Camel to keep it limber and flexible. Gate pose works on skeletal structure in this way strengthening the core. To counter the workaholism, relaxation poses like Viparita Karani, Legs-Up-the-Wall and Corpse pose can reduce all activity and slowly provide peace and quiet that counters ambitions and desires for action in the outside world.
Aquarius ( Saturn (Uranus) Air- Mulhadhar Sacral Chakra)
Aquarians can be stern without realising, perhaps because of a high-strung nervous system so they would really benefit from the restorative effects of Hatha yoga. And, Kundalini-style yoga would assist with breathing gently, watching the belly rise and fall can be soothing. They are capable of A backward-bending Bridge pose paired with a counter pose like the Seated Forward Bend will calm your brain and rejuvenate the calves and ankles as these might not be the strongest areas. Crow pose also offers sufficient challenge and balance, especially if they can manage the straight arm version, any pose that encouraged flexibility rather than rigidity.
Pisces (Water- Jupiter (Neptune)- Svadisthan Genital Chakra)
Classic Hatha yoga done to music with spiritual aphorisms to take away from class would appeal to Pisceans. Also, use of sound-vibrating mantras that encourage devotion. The totemic symbol of Pisces is the Fish so the Fish pose would connect with that. Clearly Savasana ‘Corpse’ pose also relates to the seclusion and withdrawal of the senses of the 12th House. Seated meditation is also good. Yoga Nidra or ‘sleep’ yoga takes you into deep states of repose and awareness where at its culmination you can access what Tibetan Buddhists call ‘the clear light’ beyond life. Sun Salutations might also work and any Yoga-Martial art or Dance fusions such as Budokan, Balletic Yoga and Shadow Yoga. They might incorporate complex but graceful moves like the Half Moon pose and the Dancer’s Pose, would appeal to your fluid nature if set to music or indulging in a Gong bath.
© Kieron Devlin, Proteus Astrology, November 21st, 2020.
All rights reserved.
Part 1 was a contemplation of Yoga and Writing: Getting back on the mat and the chair check back here to read.
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