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The summer solstice on June 21st signifies the longest, lightest day of the year and the start of our favorite season: summer!
Dating all the way back to ancient times, the summer solstice marks the mystical, spiritually-heightened day when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. Celebrated by many cultures and religions at festivals and ceremonies around the world, it honors a deep sense of devotion to nature, Mother Earth, and the energizing power of the sun.
Yogis everywhere can experience the empowering effects of this supercharged day! The summer solstice is all about equilibrium—a time when the state of the cosmos is perfectly balanced by profound radiance. It stirs up something different in everybody, but this day is a great time to check in with the self and reinforce your connection to sunshine, warmth, and the beauty of the outdoors. Also, the summer solstice falls on the most important day of the yogi year: International Yoga Day! Coincidence? We think not.
Summer is the perfect season to open up the body and deepen your connection with the mind and soul. As you shed your outer layers to welcome the warmer weather, use your yoga practice to remove the residual buildup of seriousness, stress, and tension that can cling on long after winter’s gone.
Summertime yoga says: get to your mat and get moving! Clear away the clutter. Take some deep, releasing breaths. You can move your practice outdoors, focus on areas you want to refine and restore for the season, or join your YogaWorks community at an event near you!
If you can make it to your mat, you can reap the many perks of this year’s summer solstice. To help you tap into your primal nature and take full advantage of the extended daylight, we put together a list of poses that inspire solar connection and leave you vibing as high as the sun in the sky.
Not only can you find these poses in many of our YogaWorks classes, you can easily enjoy them outside on your own terms. Wherever you choose to flow, here are a few asanas to help you salute the summer sun and beam its nourishing energy from the inside out:
Sun Salutation Flow
The most tried and true way to honor the sun is with an awakening Sun A (Surya Namaskara A) flow. Sun A is a primary yoga sequence designed to intuitively open the body, linking a series of eight asanas with flowing inhalations and exhalations:
• Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
• Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
• Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
• Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
• Plank Pose
• Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
• Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
• Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Sun Salutations lengthen and strengthen the most essential muscles in the body, decompress the spine, and channel fresh breath through the entire system. They’re rooted in the rich tradition of ancient yogis who practiced them to begin their day with devoted movement and deep pranayama.
Flowing through a few rounds will leave you feeling calm, clear, and ready to take on whatever comes your way—that’s why the best time to flow a Sun A is first thing in the morning, before any of the dreaded to-do’s creep in! Create your clean slate and see what serenity (and productivity) unfolds.
Heart openers like Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Fish Pose (Matsyasana) deeply engage the Solar Plexus, your body’s third chakra, located in the upper part of your belly. They symbolize the element of fire, the color yellow, and your inner connection to the sun.
In poses where the Solar Plexus is directly stimulated, intense sensations are known to surface. Let them. Yoga is the single best outlet for repressed expression and emotion. Whatever comes up, simply acknowledge it, breathe through it, and know you’ll leave your mat feeling lighter.
Presenting the chest in such a proud and powerful way can often make us feel vulnerable and exposed. But by practicing these invigorating heart-opening postures, we expand the ribcage immensely and create even more space for breath to flow. Vulnerability isn’t a weakness—it’s a necessary step on the path to inner peace.
What list of summer yoga poses would be complete without the Mermaid Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)? Also known as One-Legged King Pigeon Pose, this intermediate posture calls for openness in the hips and a willingness to channel the playful and beloved goddesses of the sea!
You can make an extra splash by practicing your Mermaid Pose on a beach or shore to tune into the rejuvenating power of the water element. Flow a few Ocean Breaths (Ujjayi Pranayama) to sync up with the sound of the breaking waves.
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.