Mindful Museum: Virtual Spring Astrology and Meditation WorkshopTuesday, Mar. 23 at 6:30 p.m.  

The release of Lisette Cheresson’s and Andrea Rice’s book, The Yoga Almanac: 52 Practices and Rituals to Stay Grounded Through the Astrological Seasons, coincided exactly with the outbreak of the coronavirus. The writers scrapped plans to promote the book when it became clear a year ago that the virus wasn’t quickly going away—a shame that it didn’t receive the recognition it merits, as it is a comforting, engrossing guide to have around during a time of international crisis.

Separated into four sections, the seasons and their themes, and subdivided further by the 12 signs of the astrological calendar, the book begins in spring, a time of revival, renewal, and growth, and takes the reader through summer (the time to flourish and thrive), autumn (the time to embrace tradition and find equilibrium), and, finally, winter (the quiet journey inward).

I could certainly have used such a book last March when, holed up at my parents’ home in Wilmington, North Carolina, hunkering down with them and my two-year-old, working remotely, I watched the state shut down and the death count tally up. Yoga, which I was learning to do by following a teacher on a screen rather than in a classroom full of fellow practitioners, helped me relax and clear my mind during a time that was filled with dread, anxiety, uncertainty about the future, and what we didn’t understand.

Near daily, I’d end a short yoga practice curled up in Balasana, or Child’s Pose, with which The Yoga Almanac begins and describes as a symbol for “entering into the world in a vulnerable position,” “a shape in which we feel at home in our bodies.” As we move with the book through the zodiac, and the seasons, we’re guided with poses, Dharma poems from the authors, stories, rituals, and activities connected to broader goals and objectives to consider.

Moving ahead to the winter, and the sign of Pisces, described as “the healer of the zodiac”—an “ethereal, mystical energy that soothes and calms”—I think of how apt that description has become for this season, this year. Armed with the COVID vaccines, February and March gave us the first hopeful indications of healing, a promise that the virus that has plagued us for the longest year now is finally beginning to wane.

While accessible to those with even a passing interest in yoga and to longtime practitioners as well, The Yoga Almanac likely isn’t for everyone. If you appreciate astrology, this book is a gem; if you’re turned off by the woo-woo stuff, it’s probably best to give it a miss.

Next week, coauthor Rice, who is also a Raleigh-based yoga teacher, ushers in the awakening energy of spring with a virtual two-hour meditation workshop designed around current astrological patterns in partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Art. All skill levels are welcome, and Rice will offer mindfulness meditations and prompts for journaling and self-reflection.

If you missed The Yoga Almanac when it was released last year, now is the perfect time to pick it up and dip in.

Spring, or the vernal equinox, arrives next Saturday at 5:37 a.m., coinciding with the start of the Aries season. It’s “a metaphor for new beginning,” The Yoga Almanac says, “and a cosmic rebirth.”  

This story has been updated to reflect that the words from the Dharma in the book are poems written by its authors.

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