Retrograde Season: A Time to Reflect and Decompress

May 2020 is a time of planetary retrogrades. Find out how to use this valuable time to realign with your higher purpose for greater peace and prosperity.

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Before I formally studied astrology, I was always fascinated with seeing and being present with starlight and pondering the meaning of what I was seeing and experiencing. It seemed I had a relationship, connection, and conversation with the planets long before I truly knew what was happening. I already had a deep interest in plants and herbal medicine, so I began to see the similarities between the planets in the celestial plane and the plants in the terrestrial plane. In all of my studies, I keep coming back to the same idea, which is also a part of my personal journey with yoga: the mind, planets, plants, organ systems, and emotions help me recognize that we are all one. Unity is more important than ever during these unprecedented times.


We have four planets in retrograde in May. What does that mean? When a planet goes into retrograde, the motion of the planet in the sky appears to be going backward relative to Earth’s location in space. But, it’s not. Have you ever driven past another car on the road and it looks like it’s going backward? This is a good analogy for retrograde motion.

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Retrograde is a time for revision. A retrograde planet is associated with “re-” words, such as review, reflection, revise, reconsider, remember, rebel, return, revive. And for good reason. Even though we are in the midst of difficult times, the stars are primed to help us realign ourselves. There are four planets in retrograde this month, but below I only highlight the three that began in May: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. (Sorry Pluto, you’re always getting left out.) Read on to find out how you can align with the planets this month.

Venus: Retrograde from May 12 through June 26, 2020

Venus is the planet of beauty, connected to the senses, pleasure, relationships, and art. From an internal consciousness perspective, Venus is the planet that represents our values and love. During the retrograde period, Venus will be in the sign of Gemini. On a collective level, it is apparent we need to revisit our values. It is time to reassess what is essential in our lives. When we mentally organize our lives around things that aren’t essential, we will eventually be forced to review them

On an individual level, Venus in Gemini brings connection through communication to the forefront. Neptune is involved, muddying the waters of communication and connection. The planet Neptune represents illusions, delusions, acceptance, and forgiveness. In our relationships, confusion results from assumptions of certainty when uncertainty is present. Be sure not to unconsciously project your personal values onto others, as this can cause issues in relationships. Remember: projection is a willful illusion and denial of what is.

Venus retrograde invites you to take the time to reflect, review, and write about what it is that you truly value. What brings you pleasure? What gets you in the world of the five senses? What is your gift to the world?

Get in touch with your senses with this mindful body scan from Tara Brach. 

Jupiter: Retrograde from May 14 through September 13, 2020

Jupiter is the planet of growth, abundance, expansion, and finances. From an internal consciousness perspective, Jupiter represents our beliefs and intuition. During the retrograde period, Jupiter will be in the sign of Capricorn. Jupiter in Capricorn is not the most auspicious location for Jupiter and can cause Jupiter’s gifts for expansion to dwindle throughout its journey in Capricorn. On a collective level, we see this playing out clearly in the financial crisis caused by COVID-19, similar to the crash in 2008, which occurred last time Jupiter was in Capricorn. How will we grow from these current stumbling blocks?

On an individual level, Jupiter retrograde is a great time to check in with our vision of truth. What is the story we share with the world? With Jupiter in Capricorn, if our vision of truth is lofty and not grounded in reality then it could simply remain a wishful dream. Getting in tune with what we know intuitively it is always a good thing to do during Jupiter retrograde. This is the time to discard old limiting beliefs that were forced on us by our environment. Jupiter retrograde invites you to revise the old stories that guide your life. Instead, tune into your inner guru to grow. Remember: removing obstacles can create expansion.

Try this sequence from Seane Corn to hone your intuition and activate your third-eye chakra

Saturn: Retrograde from May 11 – September 29, 2020

Saturn is the planet of boundaries, responsibility, discipline, authority, limitations, ignorance, mastery, and time. From an internal consciousness perspective, Saturn symbolizes emotional maturity, societal conditioning, resilience, self determination, and understanding. During the retrograde period, Saturn will be in the signs of Aquarius and Capricorn, where it feels most at ease. Saturn possesses eminence in Capricorn and Aquarius, therefore boundaries, responsibility, authority, and structure will be a strong theme. Aquarius also corresponds to technology, innovation, and building for the future.

On a collective level, more people are realizing that when it comes to Saturn’s boundaries, many have been left out in the cold. We can look to marginalized communities in any time of crisis to observe the disproportionate amount of damage done due to lack of resources. Once Saturn returns back to Capricorn, restructuring will take place in an attempt to handle the situation more responsibly.

On a personal level, can we reassess how we’ve been conditioned to think about work. I always love the idea that responsibility is about our ability to respond—not that we must complete tasks and check them off a list. With all the uncertainty that exists right now, focusing on reflection and our ability to respond to the changing times is vital.

Emotional maturity comes up during the retrograde period a lot as well. Saturn being the ruler of self-defeat and self-determination is important to understand. The response to trauma, fear, and uncertainty will look different for everyone, depending on resources. Emotional maturity is the capacity to hold space for the range of possibilities that exist. Not everyone is going to want to expand their personal brand and create an online course, some may need to be offline completely to reflect on what is happening in the world. Stepping away from technology can be a good thing.

Uranus, the planet representing liberation and accessing authenticity will influence Saturn’s cycle, indicating that breaking away from the known path is not a question—it’s a given. Stay mindful of personal boundaries related to technology and the amount of access you allow people to have. You are your own authority and being emotionally mature means creating boundaries based on your personal definition. Saturn retrograde invites us to reflect on the structure of our lives. Hold space everyday to find new ways to restructure your life according to your needs.

This belly-breathing meditation from Bo Forbes can help you set healthy boundaries.


How Each Sign Can Navigate Retrograde Season

Want more? Here’s how this retrograde will impact each astrological sign. Plus, I suggest a practice that can help you stay grounded during this period through Mid-September 2020.


It may be time to review work and communication. Take time to focus on your spiritual practice in order to find more clarity, flow, ease. Now is the time to slow down the fire, Aries—try this slow flow asana practice to keep you centered during this time.


Reacquaint yourself with old beliefs. What do you value beyond material possessions? Focus on the root chakra during this time to keep yourself grounded and stable as you dismantle your perfectionism. Try this root chakra tune-up practice to cultivate a sense of earthiness, radiance, and stability through asana, breath, and meditation.


Reinventing ourselves is something we all must do from time to time. Plumb the depths of your psyche to discover what you want and who you want to be. Focus on heart opening practices to create space in the physical body, so you can open yourself to the expanded version of who you desire to become.


Reframe your relationships with others as a reflection of what’s going on inside. These reflections can be a way to connect to the divine and not feel overwhelmed. it’s okay to let it all go. Turn on a playlist and get into an ecstatic dance to help you get out of your head and into your body. You gotta feel it to heal it.


Review your routine and day-to-day structure. Is it in alignment with what you desire to create? Check in with likeminded people who can help you get organized. If you’re trying to establish more structure, focus on the solar plexus, which is all about self-empowerment, so you can assert your willpower and improve your daily habits.


How much of your creativity are you actually expressing? If perfection is what you’re shooting for, you’re aiming for the wrong target. Be deliberate about what it is that you want to share with the world and release rigid ideas about it. This is an opportunity for you to learn to let go and go with the flow. Try practicing the art of detachment. No Virgo, everything doesn’t have to be perfect for you to share your gifts with the world.


Revealing truths held in your emotional body may surface. Check in with your beliefs to gauge whether they belong to you or someone that you want to please. Try this chakra aligning practice to access your highest self, so you can fully step into your autonomy and connect with others from an authentic space.


Communication is important, especially when times are tough. Now’s the time to say what’s on your mind. Practice this throat chakra opener to create spaciousness in the throat so you can speak your authentic truth.


What do you really value and how are you creating partnerships that help you achieve your goals? Now is the time to do self-inquiry and set intentions so you can fulfill your soul’s desires.


Knowing who you are is always a step-by-step process. If you keep working toward it with patience; you’ll make the necessary adjustments automatically. Bring compassion and stillness into your daily routine to lift the weight from your shoulders. Many of us—especially hard working Caps—tend to hold tension in the neck and shoulders. Consider this neck and shoulder release to soften any tension in those areas.


Right now, you may feel more isolated than usual and may not know exactly what it is that you want to bring into the world with all your unique gifts. Dance, play, and remind yourself that you were once a creative child.If you didn’t have that experience in your childhood, create it now. Tap into your inner child and get playful with these asana poses.


Have you been feeling connected to your friends and groups? You may feel ready to reconnect with some, while you may feel disconnected with, =Either way, do what makes you feel comfortable. Any relationship that feels like “home” will be here when this all is over. Deepen your understanding of others, and cultivate sacred connections through a deeper understanding of yoga’s historical teachings.

See also Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Mercury Retrograde

This year, Yoga Journal’s annual ambassador road trip—the Live Be Yoga Tour—is going virtual. We are calling it The Decompression. Recently, we’ve all been asked to journey inward, to take moments of pause and stillness, and to slow down, rest, and prioritize the things we value. Follow the Live Be Yoga 2020 series here, stay connected with us at @livebeyoga on social, and join the movement to find beauty in stillness.

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