Summer solstice marks the beginning of summer. It is the longest day and shortest night of the year, occurring at a particular point in time when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. The solstice comes at various times on different days every year.
Wherever you are in the world when the summer solstice arrives, you may want to celebrate it with your passion for yoga. The changing of the seasons is one of the few natural phenomena that mark the passing of time in a concrete way. You can connect to this organic seasonal change with your yogic practice. With a little attention to timing and direction, you can make your annual summer solstice ritual a time of renewal.
How to Plan a Summer Solstice Yoga Practice
Planning is the most important component of your summer solstice practice sequence. It's important to choose the correct time and date, as well as to select an appropriate location.
Timing is an important part of any summer solstice ritual. The solstice doesn't occur on the same day each year, and it actually begins at a specific time of day. First of all, it's necessary to know the day of the summer solstice in your area. The day will be different in the Northern Hemisphere than it is in the Southern Hemisphere, as the seasons are reversed.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs within a day or two of June 21. In the Southern Hemisphere, the summer solstice takes place on or near December 21. People wishing to truly sync themselves with the seasons through a yoga ritual should find the precise day and time of the solstice and begin their routine at or around this time.
Direction and Location
The sun rises in the east, making this direction important for a solar adoration. You can use a compass to find exactly where the east is, allowing you to salute the sun from the place that it enters your world. You may also want to select a location that has special significance for you with regard to the sun. This can be as simple as a beautiful, quiet place where you like to watch the sunrise. It can also be a city on the other side of the world. The important part is that the place is conducive to yogic practice and is personally significant for you.
Sample Summer Solstice Practice Sequence
Once you know when and where to begin your solar adoration, the next step is to plan your sequence. Sun salutation is a great option. Many yoga practitioners learn the sun salutation sequence early in their training. This is an excellent way to greet the sun on any day, but during the summer solstice, this sequence has even greater meaning. Sun salutations consist of a set of yoga poses done in a specific order:
- Mountain pose: Stand with feet about shoulder's width apart with hands in prayer position. Take a few deep breaths.
- Upward salute/extended mountain pose: On an inhale, raise your arms over your head and bend slightly back, opening the chest and looking up toward the sky.
- Standing forward bend: On an exhale, fold the body forward, touching your hands to your feet and bending your knees if you need
- Half standing forward bend: On an inhale, lift your gaze and extend your spine so that the back is parallel to the floor. You can leave your hands at your feet or move them up to your shins.
- Plank: Exhale, plant your hands on the top of the mat and step or hop back to plank pose. Hold the pose and inhale.
- Low plank: Exhale and lower the body trying to keep the entire body in one straight line. Only your feet and hands touch the floor.
- Cobra or upward dog: On an inhale, press the body forward, rolling onto the tops of your feet and opening the chest to the front of the room with your focus forward.
- Downward dog: Exhale and press through the hands, bringing the hips to the sky to a downward dog pose. Stay for five breaths.
- After the fifth exhale, then walk, step, or jump your feet forward so they are behind your hands at the front of the mat and inhale.
- Repeat standing forward bend.
- Repeat extended mountain.
- Complete your routine by resting in mountain pose.
Celebrate Summer Solstice Your Way
A summer solstice solar adoration is something that you can do by yourself or with others who wish to celebrate the summer solstice. You can combine your solstice yoga ritual with a party, a special meal, or a celebration to mark the changing of the seasons. You could also spend the day in seclusion, quietly and mindfully meditating on the qualities of the year gone by and what you hope to get from the coming year.