7 Yoga Poses For Mental Clarity If The Summer Of Retrogrades Has You Feeling Overwhelmed
In case you haven't heard, the ~summer of retrogrades~ is upon us, my friends. By this I mean, seven planets will be going into retrograde in the coming months, and to say the least, it's going to be a seriously intense summer. While this might be a time of chaos for some, finding a few minutes each day to flow through some yoga poses for mental clarity is a great way to stay grounded, centered, and as mentally stable as possible during this turbulent time.
If you need a little refresher on what the heck a retrograde actually is, it simply refers to when a planet appears to be rolling backward in its orbit from Earth. In astrology, this appearance of backward movement is said to shift the energy down here on Earth, making many people feel a little (or a lot) out of whack. As of June 2018, five planets are in retrograde (yes, all at once), so if you've been feeling out of sorts lately, cut yourself a break, girlfriend. Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Neptune, and Mars may be contributing to that mental haze you've been stuck in these last several weeks. Oh, and according to Refinery29, two more planets will be joining the retrograde lineup in the coming months: Uranus, and everyone's absolute favorite, Mercury. Fun!
Though I'm joking around and using sarcasm to cope with all of this planetary madness, if you're feeling all the feels, don't beat yourself up. Instead, use this time to indulge in self-care practices like yoga to connect with any difficult emotions that may be surfacing. These seven poses will help you tap into a glorious sense of mental clarity when you need it most.
And remember, these asanas aren't limited to just the summer of retrogrades. Feel free to flow through this clarifying practice whenever you're feeling scatterbrained, or any time when things feel chaotic.
Lotus pose is simple, grounding, and clarifying — aka all of the glorious things you're seeking during this chaotic time. If you're a beginner, or the full expression of this pose simply doesn't serve you (aka your hips do not bend that way), don't sweat it: Find your way into easy pose for a simple modification, keeping your legs crossed and your spine straight as you do so.
Close your eyes and begin tapping into your ujjayi breathing. Fill your entire belly with air on your inhale, and slowly exhale out of your nose to release any tension you're holding on to.
Standing Forward Bend
At the beginning of any yoga practice, a standing forward bend is an incredible way to release tension in the head, neck, and shoulders. You might not even realize how tight these parts of your body are until you get into this pose, but once you're there, go ahead and let it all go, girl.
Be sure to keep a subtle or generous bend in your knees during this pose, depending on how your hamstrings feel. Take hold of opposite elbows, and let your body cascade over you thighs, hanging down like a rag doll, and releasing whatever negative energy doesn't serve you.
Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose
For balance, both mentally and physically, extended hand-to-big-toe pose should definitely have a place in your flow. This asana will help you focus on what's important, and eliminate what's not.
If you're not able to extend your leg fully, or it just doesn't benefit your practice that day, feel free to keep your knee bent and hugged into your chest. Remember to breathe through any uncomfortable sensations, and keep your standing leg firm and strong, without locking your knee.
Chair pose is strengthening, powerful, and lower body-dominant, reminding you that you always have a stable base to hold you up, no matter what's going on in the universe.
Be sure to use long inhales and exhales to guide you through any discomfort this pose brings. Remember: Regardless of whatever pain or stress you're feeling right now, it's only temporary.
Seated Forward Fold
This nourishing pose is an excellent opportunity to turn inward for a moment and seek solace in the comfort that always lies within you.
Oftentimes, it's easy to look around in the external world for answers to difficult situations, or for the clarity you're seeking amidst the chaos. However, the answers have been inside of you all along. Take time in your seated forward bend to remind yourself of this.
To help you harness strength from the inside out, sneak a boat pose into your summer retrograde practice. This asana might be difficult to hold, and it's totally OK if you have to pause or release the pose at any point. But have faith in the fact that you do have the strength within you to work through not only this difficult asana, but also anything the universe may throw your way. You are way more powerful than you give yourself credit for.
It might seem like a low-key pose at first glance, but a restorative and grounding corpse pose is often the most important asana you can include in your yoga practice, especially when it's mental clarity you're seeking. Savoring stillness is key to finding beautiful, ecstatic motion in life, so make sure you allow yourself to relax in this pose for however long you need.
Scan your body from head to toe, noticing areas where you might be holding unnecessary tension, and breathing into those parts of yourself with all of the compassion and gratitude your being can muster.