A couple of weeks ago I ran a “summer” cleanse yoga workshop. Then last week we connected to our masculine energy which is all about cultivating our “sun” side – can you spot a theme here?!
Evidently, in the face of our typical British stop-start Summer this year, I have been trying to bring some sunshine, heat and energy in to our yoga practice instead recently!
This week I have decided to address this beautiful season head on, and get us to celebrate the Summer Solstice in our practice. I think this has been timed rather nicely, what with the little heat wave that is descending upon us over the next few days.
The summer solstice happens in the Northern Hemisphere around June 21st and represents the longest day of the year, the first day of summer, and also the International Day of Yoga! During the summer solstice, the sun is at its greatest distance from Earth’s celestial equator. This time of year is symbolic of transitioning from the short days of winter, in to the bright, long days of summer… yay!
The term solstice is derived from the Latin “solstitium”. It is made up of the Latin sol, “the sun,” and sistere, “to make stand/stand still.” We can therefore take inspiration from the sun standing still at this time, and view this as the ideal moment to allow ourselves to come to a halt as well, and check in with where we are at this midpoint of the year. Most of the time our yoga practice encourages us to live in the present moment and to not dwell on the past or project in to the future, but during this summer period it can be good to acknowledge how far we have come this year already, and to notice the achievements we have made, or lessons learned along the way.
What has the first half of the year brought you? Are you still aligned with your goals that you set back in January? Use this time to reinvigorate yourself and your goals/intentions if you need to, and decide what it is that you want the second half of this year to bring.
There are also lots of other ways we can celebrate the Summer Solstice. As yogis, so many of our practices revolve around the sun, including of course, Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar). The origin of “saluting the sun” is not about getting the perfect Chaturagna/Upward-Facing Dog alignment, but about bowing to and taking in the fiery solar energy of the sun, to wake us up, energize us, and start our day. The practice was originally taught to be done in the morning, with the torso facing the sun.
Another traditional way to celebrate the solstice is to take an outdoor yoga class - a chance to reconnect with nature. Expect my classes to be outside as much as possible over the coming months!
Remember a few weeks back we set the intention to be a little bit selfish? Well, this time of year is all about joy, happiness and vibrancy, so come back to your ‘love to do’ list, and see it filled with all of the things you would love to do over the summer months. Get outside and go for long, slow walks. Eat ice-cream (vegan if you like!). Bathe in the sea. Surf. Do Yoga. Spend some time with friends and family. Have a BBQ. Sip a cool beverage in a beer garden! Whatever it is, enjoy it.
If you meditate, then try focusing your awareness on the Manipura chakra, located around the solar plexus. This bright yellow glowing ball of inner sunshine is the centre of our power, energy, will and achievement, and is where all of our power to manifest comes from.
Happy Summer Days Everyone!