What is Mercury Retrograde?

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Mercury is the fastest moving planet in the solar system—it’s closest to the sun, making its orbital path speedier than its neighboring planets.  Earth takes 365 days to orbit, whereas Mercury takes just 88 days. When it passes Earth, Mercury slows down, making it appear as though it’s spinning backward. In truth, it’s not actually spinning backward; it is just an illusion from Earth. 

Mercury retrograde happens three or four times a year–since Mercury orbits the sun roughly four times faster than Earth–and lasts for about three weeks at a time. Mercury is known as the “communication” planet so when its speed slows, it is connected to a variety of things in our life getting muddled, specifically anything having to do with communication, travel, or technology. 


For two weeks before Mercury retrograde officially begins, it slows down, and this period of time is referred to as the pre-shadow periods or retroshade. Mercury travels at nearly 112,000 mph, which is why the slowdowns and standstills are felt so acutely. Retroshade is essentially a teaser for what’s to come for you in retrograde so if you pay attention to the themes present for you, you will get some clues as to the lessons you’ll learn during retrograde.

The first Mercury retrograde of 2022 doesn’t officially start until Saturday, January 30th but its shadow period begins on Friday, January 15. During this time, you can expect to feel the effects of retrograde, although less intensely. Pay attention to what’s happening in this pre-retrograde time and you may be able to avoid some of the retrograde’s trappings. 

Mercury Retrograde

In astrology, Mercury is said to govern travel, communication, and technology, and the fact that it appears to be moving backward has negative connotations. People often blame things like canceled trips, undelivered texts, and emails, and general miscommunications on Mercury being in retrograde.

That said, Mercury retrograde isn’t all bad. Despite its reputation, it actually offers benefits and can be embraced as an opportunity to lean into the moments of pause it inspires. Welcome this opportunity to slow down and reconnect, both with yourself and the people in your life. 

How to Find Balance during Mercury Retrograde

Finding balance during Mercury retrograde is easier than you might think. Most importantly you need to surrender to slowdowns instead of letting them be a source of frustration. Avoid starting new projects and instead, use this time to finish existing ones. Mercury retrograde is a great time to finish anything that has been pushed to the backburner. Mercury rules Virgo, the great zodiac organizer, so some of our favorite retrograde projects include cleaning out closets and filing paperwork.  

Crystals can be an effective tool to help you through Mercury retrograde. You can place crystals in your workspace, wear them in the form of jewelry, or hold them in your hand during meditation to benefit from their healing powers. Here are a few that are particularly helpful during retrograde:

  • Black Tourmaline assists in letting go of fear and anxiety
  • Tree Agate allows you to feel supported and nurtured 
  • Fluorite encourages peace and harmony
  • Hematite is a grounding stone
  • Aquamarine enhances clear communication 

Lastly, to remain centered and focused during Mercury retrograde, recommit to your yoga practice and incorporate grounding postures like Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, and Legs Up the Wall to name a few. Better yet, get grounded with a complimentary 14-Day pass to Ohana Online so you can experience all these grounding postures and more during Mercury retrograde and beyond.

The first Mercury retrograde of 2022 officially begins Friday, January 15th starting with retroshade, with the full retrograde on January 30th. Tune in to your surroundings, and yourself, and see what you notice!

Erin Entlich is a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, holistic health coach, and writer. She believes doing good starts with feeling good, which is why she loves helping people weave movement, mindfulness, and healthy eating into their daily lives. Find out more at www.erinentlich.com.