You hear a lot about yoga for the summer solstice but what does it actually mean and why should we pay attention?
The truth is, every season comes with its own energy
Yoga is a practice that helps us to connect to our own energy. It is the perfect tool to help us find an energetic sense of equilibrium and health in our bodies, hearts and minds.
When we go against the energy of the season our health and well-being can suffer. This is why we subtly change our practice as the seasons change.
Before I do let’s dive into what the summer solstice is and represents.
What is the Summer Solstice?
The summer solstice represents the height of summer and the longest day of the year.
“Solstice” means sun and standing still, as derived from the Latin words Sol+systere.
On the day of the summer solstice, the sun is at its highest and most proudest.
From then, on (even though we have more summer to enjoy) the days will gradually get shorter and the nights longer.
Adapting our Yoga practice for the summer solstice
At the height of summer, we are in the most yang time of the year.
Yang is associated with high energy and activity. In nature everything is in full bloom – there is no more growth to be had for the year.
The weather can be pretty hot and humid.
Our yoga practice should therefore not only help us shift the excessive energy of summer (so we can cool down) but also give us tools to slow down and take stock.
It is all too easy to be super active and busy in summer because the weather is so nice, and the days seem to last forever. However, it is also good for us to behave like lions too – time to bask in the sun and do – well nothing!
Yoga for the Summer Solstice & Beyond
Below are a few simple ways to adapt your yoga practice to not only celebrate the amazing energy of summer but also help you slow down and keep cool during the hotter months of the year.
1. Practice Expansive Poses
Expansive poses give you the opportunity to move energy from the tips of your toes out through the crown of your head – the whole body is involved.
Examples are poses such as Triangle, Standing half-moon balance, the warrior family and balances like tree pose.
Putting these poses together in a vinyasa flow will also help to move energy as when we sweat through effort we can cool ourselves down and get rid of any surplus heat.
2. Enjoy Poses to stimulate the Manipura Chakra
Summer is closely linked to the Manipura chakra, so any pose that works the core is great for this time of year.
Examples of poses to try to include any of the standing poses above and boat pose. Again these poses not only help to move energy but also help us cool down through sweating!
3. Yoga for the Summer Solstice and the tradition of practising 108 sun salutations
In Pantanjali’s yoga sutras (a traditional yoga text) it is written “one learns from the perfect discipline of the sun and solar system” (3.26)
Discipline is about mind control. With mind control comes inner peace.
I can’t imagine another practice that would help us develop our own self-discipline with gusto than rolling out our mat and moving through 108 sun salutations.
Just imagine the mental courage and determination you would need to muster to get through the practice of 108 sun salutations without a break.
Your inner transformation is just around the corner!
But why 108 – I hear you ask.
108 is a sacred number in yoga and other Eastern traditions because it has a significant meaning. Below are some examples:
- There are 108 Upanishads ( a collection of yogic philosophical texts).
- There are 108 beads (each representing a repetition of a mantra) on a string of prayer beads.
- In the Sanskrit (yoga) language there 54 letters – but each has a masculine and feminine form so multiply 54 by 2…
- We have 108 Marma points in the human body (anatomical meeting points between bones, joints, veins etc).
- There are 108 nadis (energy lines) in the body that all converge to form the heart chakra (energy point in the centre of the chest).
- Now for the scientific backing. The number 108 is often referred to as the number of the universe. The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth and the average distance of the sun and the moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters ( I know – a bit of a mouthful).
So what is the deal about 108 sun salutations?
In terms of a sun salutation 108 is twelve times the number 9, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation.
Practising 108 sun salutations has other benefits as well (and they are listed below):
Benefits of Practising 108 Sun Salutations:
- Creates energy in your physical and mental body
- Detoxes and cleanses your body
- Builds internal heat
- Activates your prana
- Releases stuck energy and emotions
- Reminds you to surrender and be present
- Builds mental resilience
- Builds strength and stamina
4. Cool Down with Some Yoga Breathing (Pranayama)
Certain breathing tools (pranayama techniques) and relaxation practices can also help us to tap into our energy (and the sun’s) at this time so that we can enjoy this time of year to the fullest.
For cooling yourself down try the ‘cooling breath’. You can watch a quick tutorial on how to do it here
Also, don’t forget savasana. What better way to rest and cool down at the same time?
5. Slow Down with Yin Yoga
Too hot and bothered to vinyasa or practice heating poses?
Slow and cool down with yin.
Why not try one of my yin/restorative yoga practices.
(Quick note – although this video was filmed in the winter months it is perfect for summer too!)
6. Other Self- Care Rituals to try along with your yoga for the summer solstice practice.
a) Journal and Reflect
Many believe it is the perfect time to check in with our hopes, dreams and goals.
So, it might be a good time to get out that journal and revisit intentions and set new ones for July, August and the beginning of September.
Stuck for ideas – why not pick one or two to get you started from the list below?
- Is there anything – negative self–talk, a habit or an ongoing thought pattern that no longer serves you?
- List anything that drains your energy. Can you move away from these habits, people, or behavioural patterns?
- Write down everything that you are grateful for. Take time to focus on the good in your life
- List down anything that has made your year so far. These could be achievements or just something you are proud of. Take time to celebrate yourself.
- What would you like to welcome in over the next few weeks/months?
b) Get Outside & Bathe in the Sun
Celebrate the summer solstice (and summer in general!) by getting outside more. Not only will this do wonders for your mind, body, and soul, it’s a great way to feel better in general.
c) Change Up Your Routine
As the summer solstice represents new beginnings, why not change up your routine? We all tend to have more motivation and energy during this time of year so why not dare to be different?
It can be as simple as changing your morning routine or just trying something new like going out for a daily walk.
Try My Free Summer Solstice Class🕺👇
Happy summer solstice! May this new season be full of happiness, growth, abundance, and joy.