The full moon is a time to release what no longer serves us, inviting an expansion of our minds and bodies. During the cycle of the moon each month, we can use the new moon to plant seeds of intention, and revisit again at the height of full moon so that they might come to fruition.
After consulting with our resident astrologers, The AstroTwins, I’ve put together 11 yoga poses to expand and release — two major cosmic themes under any given full moon. With tonight’s full moon (June 2) falling in Sagittarius, it’s also a time to harness your inner adventurer and bring forth your bold and fearless self.
Yoga helps to release tension stored in the subtle, energetic body, so that you can open yourself up to receive all the celestial gifts the full moon has to offer. You can perform these poses as a sequence, or on their own as part of your own practice. Just be sure to warm up your spine with Cat/Cow postures and Sun Salutations before you begin — many of these poses are big heart openers and lengthening backbends to help you create space.
Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana) With Hands To Sacrum
Standing backbends lengthen the psoas muscles at the front of the pelvis to simultaneously flex the thighs.
Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), rooting the tailbone down and pressing through the soles of your feet. Release your shoulders as you reach palms to sacrum, fingertips pointing downward. Draw your elbows together and use your hands to press your hips forward, bending through the thoracic spine. Allow your head to gently drop back, lengthening through your Throat Chakra as you breathe deeply.
Continue pressing the hips forward as you bend back, only going as far as what feels good. Hold for 3 deep breaths and press into your sacrum to come back to Tadasana. Fold forward to relieve any compression in the lumbar spine.
Standing Backbend With Extension
For this second set, return to Tadasana and inhale to sweep your hands up overhead, interlacing all of your fingers except for the index finger. Exhale to release the shoulders down the back. Inhale, and then exhale into the backbend, lifting from your heart. Lengthen the middle of the spine away from you as you grow long out of the lumbar spine. Keep the biceps framed by the ears and shoulders engaged and down, to prevent shrugging.
Breathe deeply for 3-5 breaths, feeling the space being created between the vertebrae and heart opening under the moonlight. Press down through the feet, using your hands to guide you back up. Release your hands by your sides and take a breath in Tadasana.
Devotional Warrior With Eagle Arms (Baddha Virabhadrasana Variation)
From Tadasana, inhale to step your left foot long behind you, turning the back foot in at 45 degrees as you bend deeply through your right thigh. Exhale to extend the arms overhead to Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I).
Release the hands and eagle wrap the right arm under the left, with the left arm over the right, drawing your palms together. Feel the deep release in your trapezius muscles as you draw the fingertips just below your nose.
Inhale to send the palms overhead, still wrapped, exhale to bow yourself forward. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths.
Peaceful Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
In this expansive back and side bend, disciplined muscle energy is being unleashed!
From Devotional Warrior, release the wrapping of your arms and inhale to windmill the arms out to either side while still bending deeply through the front knee. Flip the front palm skyward and tip your torso back on an exhale.
Draw the other hand down the back leg and keep the right shoulder away from the ear as you allow the chest to open to the sky. Gently release the head back if it feels good. Take 5 deep breaths, finding more length on the right side of the body with each exhale.
Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
From Peaceful Warrior use your exhale to tip your torso all the way forward, dropping your right fingertips a few inches in front of your foot. Bring your left hand to your hip on an inhale, and exhale to shift your weight to the right leg as the left leg lifts and extends back to counterbalance, parallel to the ground. Try to track your left ankle only as high as your left hip point, flexing the left toes out to the side.
The glutes work with the psoas of lifted leg to keep it from floating back, as the oblique abdominals allow the side of your trunk to bend. Your triceps are working to draw your elbows toward straight as you extend the left arm to the sky. Let your gaze naturally follow. Reach for the moon with your fingertips and smile. Hold for 3-5 breaths, keeping your gaze soft, yet focused — maintaining your drishti.
Sugarcane Pose (Ardha Chandra Chapasana)
If you’d like to challenge yourself further from Half Moon, reach for the top of the back foot with your left hand. Draw the heel closer to the left sitting bone for a quad stretch.
Keep spinning your chest and gaze toward the sky, opening your heart to let the moonlight pour in. Breathe for 3 breaths and release the foot back to Half Moon.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) With Backbend
From Half Moon, frame the right foot with both hands to square off the hips, and step the left foot long behind you, keeping your knee bent at 90 degrees and the back toes tucked to stretch through the plantar fascia.
On an inhale, sweep the arms overhead to interlace all of the fingers except for the index fingers. Exhale to soften the shoulders down your back. Inhale to lengthen through the thoracic spine, exhale to extend the lumbar spine out of the pelvis to prevent compression.
Breathe deeply for up to 5 breaths and then use your hands to guide yourself back up on an inhale. Exhale to soften. Release your fingertips to either side of the front foot.
Wild Thing (Camatkarasana)
From Low Lunge, step back to Downward Dog. On an inhale, lift the right foot high behind you. Exhale to bend the right knee, shifting your weight to the left hand and foot. Get adventurous and flip your Dog over to Wild Thing.
To practice this pose safely, ensure you are keeping your hips lifted. Instead of just throwing the head back, keep the neck lengthened and the gaze following the right fingertips overhead. Keeping both knees slightly bent, ground through the outer edge of the left foot.
Hold for 3 breaths and then press into your left hand and foot to flip yourself back to a Downward Dog split with the right leg lifted.
Fallen Triangle (Trikonasana Variation)
With the right leg still lifted, exhale to step the right foot across the left and as far out to the side as you can. Shift your weight into your right palm, extending your left arm overhead. Ground through the outer edge of the right foot, and the inner edge of the left.
The legs are forming an expansive triangular shape as you rotate the heart open, lifted through your hips. Hold for 3 breaths and come back to Downward Dog.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Lower to your knees from Downward Dog and bring your hands back to your sacrum, fingertips pointing down and root your pinky toenails into the earth. Inhale to press into your sacrum with your palms and exhale to lift through your heart. Keep pressing your hips forward as your heart opens wide. Lengthen through the throat and hold for a breath or two.
To go further, release the tops of your hands to your heels and keep the shoulders dropped away from the ears. Gently release the head back, mindful to not compress the cervical spine. Breathe deeply in and out of your nose for 3 more breaths, then use your palms to press yourself back up and tuck your chin.
Sit back onto your heels and send your knees wide, bringing your hands to Namaskar (Anjali Mudra) at your heart’s center. Close your eyes and notice what may have come up.
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)
Swing your feet around in front of you and separate them wide, flexing the toes upward. Remove and flesh from under your sitting bones and inhale, lengthening through your chest. Exhale to walk your hands out in front of you.
Inhale to find more length out of the waist, exhaling to find more release. You can rest the weight of your torso to your forearms or release to the ground beneath you.
Breathe deeply for at least 10 breaths, finding release and restoration with every exhale. Revisit your intentions for the full moon here — what is it that you need to let go of? What is it that you need to bring forth?
Take a vinyasa and repeat each pose on the other side of your body.
Gallery Credit: Beth Kessler for mindbodygreen