Yoga and Ayurveda: Practicing with the Planets

One of the most thrilling parts about creating a show for Yoga Anytime is picking the inspiration for the classes and sequences. Here’s a little glimpse behind the scenes of how I developed my classes for Yoga and Ayurveda.

The first season of Yoga and Ayurveda with Ali Cramer is "Practicing with the Planets". Each sequence is designed to invoke the different qualities of the planets according to Vedic astrology, called Jyotish (“Science of Light”), associated with Ayurvedic treatments known as chikitsa. Both Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, and Vedic astrology see us as the microcosm of the macrocosm, and share powerful tools to feel more in harmony with the circumstances of our lives.

My intention with Yoga and Ayurveda is to share my journey through the Cosmos with the Yoga Anytime community and offer a bit more background on each of the sequences in the series.

How It Started: The Planets and Vedic Astrology

About ten years ago, my Ayurveda teacher Dr. Vasant Lad did a fascinating three hour workshop on the planets, their qualities, and the way they influence our lives. He explained that Vedic astrology is a complex system that takes into account the position of the planets at the time of our birth. We can utilize our own Vedic astrological chart to guide us toward our natural strengths and navigate the areas of challenge in our lives.

Dr. Lad explained through many intricate charts with different “houses” and how each of these houses would be affected by the planet residing there at the time of our birth. The houses represented different aspects of our lives like career, health, and creativity, as well as corresponding to parts of our body and stages in our lives. He discussed how different planets affect different houses, how planets could be benevolent, malevolent, or neutral. Dr. Lad then proceeded to tie it all to Vastu Shastra, the Indian concept of good design for homes and businesses.

With Dr. Lad's wealth of information, we were hanging on his every word and scribbling furiously in our notebooks, trying to keep up. At the end of the workshop, he gave a little dismissive flick of his hand and said, “But I know nothing of Jyotish. It is not my specialty.” Whaaaa? My curiosity was piqued, so…

The Next Step: Continuing the Practice

I signed up for a four-day intensive workshop with Margaret Mahan, one of the most well respected practitioners of Jyotish in the West. Margaret took us through each of the planets in more detail throughout our time with her. Each planet, or graha ("to grasp", "to hold") in Vedic astrology had an associated deva or devi (god or goddess), a mantra, an Ayurvedic dosha, and certain practices that could “appease” the planet ruling the issue that might be troubling for you.

For example, if you are trying to strengthen your abilities as a yoga teacher or invite more wisdom into your life, a Vedic astrologer might advise you to wear a yellow sapphire ring, set in gold, on your index finger, to appeal to Jupiter, the Guru Planet, and do the mantra for Jupiter one hundred and eight times for forty days. What a lovely prescription!

I began to do some more in-depth study on my own, watched a lot of YouTube videos, and had my own Jyotish chart done, which was frighteningly accurate. I also discovered one of my favorite books on the mythology of the planets, called The Greatness Of Saturn by Dr. Robert Svoboda.

Lucky Stars: Further Exploration of Mantras and Practices

In 2012, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the Johari family by some of my teachers. Harish Johari was a great Ayurvedic scholar, artist, and yogi. His family has carried on his legacy and continues to pass on his wisdom to those who make the pilgrimage to Haridwar, a holy city in Northern India. Not only did I practice the mantras with Seema, his daughter, and Anushree, his granddaughter, but they also taught me more about the Navagraha (the Nine planets of Jyotish), the days of the week associated with the planets, and the appropriate colors for those days. According to ruling planets, there are even days that were considered to be more appropriate for certain activities, foods, and practices.

Wow! There was so much to learn! It was like looking through a peephole that just kept getting bigger and bigger, revealing more of this cosmic world. I began practicing the planetary mantras daily. Why not get a little help from the universe as we go about our daily lives? The word mantra comes from the Sanskrit manas, meaning “mind” and tra, meaning “tool”. I have always found it a very centering practice. The repetition is soothing and it can be done anywhere, either aloud or silently.

Practicing with the Planets Today

I still do the mantras regularly and try to honor the colors of the planets on their appropriate days. It’s okay if it’s just a tiny bit of the color. Think of it as a sign of respect - an acknowledgment of our connection to the universe. Spoiler alert: you will see this in the colors of my clothing in these yoga classes. Every planet has its own color, and we honored that throughout the season.

All this to say, when it was time to pick an inspiration for Yoga and Ayurveda, it was an easy choice. Vedic astrology gave me so many guidelines that I felt like half the creation was already in place. I knew the mantra to recite, the color to wear, the quality of the planet to invoke through the movement. It was such a joy to be given a cosmic headstart!

And how should you know which planetary sequence to try?

The list below should be helpful. You may choose a planet by which day of the week it corresponds. You may also use these practices to support what you need on given day, such as strength, gentleness, a watery flow, or crisp alignment. It’s all there for your choosing. I hope you enjoy this season of Yoga and Ayurveda. For any questions or recommendations for further study, please feel free to get in touch with me. May the planets shine their grace upon you!

Namaste, Ali.

Planet: Sun

Day of the Week: Sunday

Color: Gold

Mantra: Om Sum Suryaya Namaha

Suggested Activity: Celebration, spending time with friends and family, community service

Associated Deity: Surya, the Sun God; Agni, the God of Fire

Dosha: Pitta

Helpful for: Uplifting mood, being generous and/or charismatic

Planet: Moon (New)

Day of the Week: Monday

Color: Gray, white

Mantra: Om Cham Chandraya Namaha

Suggested Activity: Meditation, restorative yoga, spending quiet time alone

Associated Deity: Shiva, Varuna

Dosha: Kapha/Vata

Helpful for: If you need gentle replenishment

Planet: Moon (Full)

Day of the Week: Monday

Color: Gray, white

Mantra: Om Cham Chandraya Namaha

Suggested Activity: Dancing, singing, dating

Associated Deity: Shiva, Varuna

Dosha: Kapha/Vata

Helpful for: If you are feeling isolated, a little disconnected

Planet: Mars

Day of the Week: Tuesday

Color: Red

Mantra: Om Kum Kujaya Namaha

Suggested Activity: Exercise, medical attention (doctor or dentist appointments)

Associated Deity: Hanuman and Kartikeya

Dosha: Pitta

Helpful for: Physical strength, courage

Planet: Mercury

Day of the Week: Wednesday

Color: Green

Mantra: Om Bum Buddhaye Namaha

Suggested Activity: Public speaking, oral negotiations, learning languages

Associated Deity: Buddha and Vishnu

Dosha: Tridoshic

Helpful for: Communication, speaking your truth, listening skills

Planet: Jupiter

Day of the Week: Thursday

Color: Yellow

Mantra: Om Brim Brihaspataye Namaha

Suggested Activity: Studying, Teaching, Meditation

Associated Deity: Brihaspathi and Ganesha

Dosha: Kapha

Helpful for: Getting in touch with intuition, clear mind and sharp focus

Planet: Venus

Day of the Week: Friday

Color: Pink

Mantra: Om Shum Shukraya Namaha

Suggested Activity: Engaging in the arts, painting, writing, romance

Associated Deity: Lakshmi

Dosha: Kapha

Helpful for: Getting in touch with sensuality, beauty, and creativity

Planet: Saturn

Day of the Week: Saturday

Color: Dark Blue

Mantra: Om Shan Shanicharya Namaha

Suggested Activity: Quiet time, Meditation, esoteric practices

Associated Deity: Shani, Kali

Dosha: Vata

Helpful for: Changing perspective, creating boundaries

Practice with the Planets with Ali in her new show, Yoga and Ayurveda, now available only on Yoga Anytime.

Ali Cramer
About the Author

Ali Cramer

Ali is a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner based in New York City. She believes deeply that the practices of yoga and Ayurveda can teach us to live our lives with integrity, balance, and grace, if we are willing to do the work. You can practice with Ali on Yoga Anytime in Yoga and Ayurveda and Ayurveda: Yoga Practices to Feel Like Yourself.


Kate M
1 person likes this.
I'm loving your carefully crafted season "Practicing with the Planets", Ali! Sharing sequences for us to embody the science of Jyotish is a great addition to this YA website. So many thanks for sharing your understanding with us!! 

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