In Sanskrit  Retrogression of  planets is known as Vakra gati.  Vakra means twisted, crooked, winding, roundabout, indirect, evasive and ambiguous.
All the planets go around the sun in their cyclical orbits and normally appear to move from Aries towards Taurus, at times, appear to move backwards, from Pisces towards Aquarius and so on. It is an apparent motion observed only from planet earth when the planet “appears” to move backwards in the sky.
The Earth moves around the Sun completing one full revolution in 365.256374 days. [Earth rotates around its axis. For one such rotation (causing day and night) it takes 23 hours and 56 minutes.This will cause an observer on Earth to see Sun as rising in the East and setting in the West.]
Moon completes one revolution around the Earth in 27.32966 days.
Duration of other planets for one revolution around the Sun is:
Budha 87.969 days,
Shukra 224.7 days,
Bhouma 686.98 days,
Guru 4332.585 days,
Shani 10759.22 days.
Shani is the slowest of all and has acquired the name Manda (very slow) or Sthira (permanent).
Rahu and Kethu move backwards at the rate of one revolution in 6793.394774 days.

All the planets, whether inferior or  superior while moving in their orbit reaches a particular positions in its orbit, where from the point of view of on observer on Earth, the planet will slow down in its direct motion; becomes stationary in the sky, and then appear to yes appears to  reverse the direction of its motion in moving backwards in the sky. It is this latter motion, which we call retrograde motion.
The planets do not actually move in reverse direction, but appear to have backward motion due to the relative position and motion of the earth. Because we look at them from the Earth, they appear to retrogress. In Astrology, the position of planets are determined with reference to the center of the Earth.
A Vakri graha is also known as the Saktha (powerful) graha. Vakragati confers exceptional i.e. Cheshtabala, to Vakra grahas whose strong influence is expressed by the manner they affect the Natal Chart and by their transits. 
The two Lunar Nodes have perpetual retrograde motion.
The Sun and the Moon, the two luminaries, do not have Vakra state, they do not acquire retrograde motion, the other five planets (Tara grahas) have Vakra state, they acquire retrograde motion from time to time when they transit from 5th to the 8th house from the Sun
As per Suryasiddhanta there are eight verities of motion of which Vakra, Ativakra and Kutila refer to Vakragati i.e. retrograde motion, and the remaining five verities viz; manda, manda tara, sama, sighra and atisighra refer to Rujugati i.e. direct motion, 
A planet hemmed between two Vakri grahas behaves as a Vakri graha, this applies to the Moon. 

Whereas Mars, Jupiter and Saturn appear to retrograde in the signs opposite to the one occupied by the Sun, Mercury and Venus appear to retrograde when they are farthest away from the Sun.
The apparent motion of a planet backwards in the zodiac is due to the motion of the earth in its orbit. When a planet appears to begin to move backward in the order of the signs it is usually (but not always) denoted by an (R) marked with its degrees in the Ephemeris.  When it apparently turns direct in motion, it is usually indicated by D at the date.  A planet is said to be stationary when neither moving direct nor retrograde.
Saturn is retrograde for 140 days and stationary approximately 5 days before & after.
Jupiter is retrograde for 120 days and stationary approximately 5 days before & after.
Mars is retrograde for 80 days and is stationary approximately 2 or 3 days before & after.
Venus is retrograde for 42 days and is stationary approximately 2 days before & after.
Mercury is retrograde for 24 days and is stationary approximately 1 day before & after

Retrogression time
Stationary before and after
5 days
Once every year
5 Days
Once every year
3-4 days

Approx 2 Days
Approximately once in 19 months
1 day
Three times a year

Their periods of stay while in retrogression are not always the same.
Saturn remains retrograde for about 5 month in a year, Mercury and Venus remains retrograde for 2 months,  Jupiter remains retrograde for 4 months And Mars remains retrograde for 8 Months. 

The Sun and Moon never become retrograde. Mercury is retrograde three times in a year, Saturn and Jupiter every year for some months, Mars and Venus once in about two years.
Rahu and Ketu are always retrograde i.e. they always move in backward direction (left-hand side of the zodiac).
It is said that
*from Aquarius to Taurus, Mercury moves along with the Sun,
*from Gemini to Virgo before the Sun and
*from Libra to Capricorn after the Sun.
There are, therefore, three occasions during a year when Mercury crosses and re-crosses the path of the Sun causing retrogression.
Mars, Saturn and Jupiter become retrograde when posited in the 6H, 7H and 8H from the Sun.
Mercury and Venus are retrograde anywhere within 15° from the Sun their Maximum distance away from the Sun is only 29° and 47° respectively
To understand the phenomenon of retrogression we shall first know what are Inner and Outer planets 
The planets Mercury and Venus have their orbits between the Sun and the earth. They are called inner or inferior planets.  These planets cannot go far away from the Sun. Mercury can only move a maximum of 27 degrees from the Sun and Venus a maximum of 47 degrees from the Sun.

The planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, whose orbits lie outside the orbit of the earth, are called outer or superior planets .
The reason for this apparent retrograde movement of planets varies. For the inferior planets, Mercury and Venus, when they are between earth and the Sun, they appear to move retrograde; however, when they are on the other side of the sun (Sun is between the planet and earth), they appear direct.  Retrograde motion for the inferior planets occurs as the planets pass in front of the sun – thus, they are not visible for the duration of retrograde motion as the superior planets are.In the case of the inner planets, their faster angular velocity than the Earth causes the apparent  retrogression.

Superior planets, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are retrograde when they are in signs opposite to the Sun, in other words, when they are just ahead of the earth and we are trying to catch up with them until such time when they are a bit behind the earth in the ever-going orbital race. The remaining time they are in direct motion. In the case of the outer planets, it is the velocity of the Earth that causes the phenomena.

Retrogression of inner Planets

Effect of retrogression:

Retrogression of Mercury
When Mercury is retrograde, the thought processes are introspective, deliberate and internalized. Mercury governs intellect, communication and thinking in a person. It goes in retrograde state about three times a year for three weeks of time period each. During the retrogression of Mercury, all lines of communication seems to go haywire. The information provided by the native is misinterpreted. Although the native may come out with brilliant ideas during this period, but he may suffer from anxiety and nervous breakdown very frequently.
The native should not sign any contract even if it means a verbal commitment when Mercury is in retrograde state. He should not rely on any information which comes to him and should think, watch and analyse because the information presented in front of him may be a false one if not totally unnecessary.
Retrogression of Venus
The retrograde state of Venus is related to our luxuries in life and to our relationships with our near and dear ones. Many great conflicts, dis satisfactions, joys, pleasures and strides in relationship might take place behind closed doors during this period. It is also the time we should reconsider our material gains in life. Also, this is the time to be watchful as it is a period for strong emotional ups and downs.
If Venus is retrograde in birth chart, it indicates emotional and material difficulties. If it is well-placed and is retrograde, it indicates extreme emotional attractions and repulsion.
Retrogression of Mars
Mars primarily governs anger and aggression. We may face issues involving these emotions, either within ourselves or with others. The native may become unusually sensitive to disagreements, conflict and power dynamics around him. He might feel it difficult to deal with aggression, anger, hostility, fear, threats and displays of power. The primary instinctive responses to fear are fight, flight or freeze.
Hence, the person needs to control his control his anger and needs to maintain an equilibrium between his anger and his composure.
Retrogression of Jupiter
Jupiter is the planet of growth and expansion in career. When this planet is in retrogression, a lot many projects may get delayed or stop altogether. Moreover, the native might become committed to the political parties and religious sects which promote and carry out violence.
This is the time for a person to think about his or her own resources and ways to utilize it. In this period, you might come up with a conclusion that the work you stopped was not exactly necessary and there are better resources available.
Retrogression of Saturn
A person either will not know when to stop working or may not like to work at all when Saturn is retrograde. This period can cause unexpected delays and interruptions. Unthought obstacles can spring up taking up your priority. People with a retrograde Saturn appear shy, uneasy, introvert or lacking in self-assertion. They feel alone, isolated, separated from their friends.
This is the right time to sit back and reconsider all that you are doing. It is not a proper time to make new starts but make sure that you learn from the failures of the past.

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