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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.
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.