“I need the seasons to live to the rhythm of rain and sun” - Sophie Marceau
Happy Summer Solstice! For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of light is here. The Summer Solstice is the peak of the Sun’s cycle and an auspicious time that gives us the opportunity to connect more deeply with both the Earth and the cosmos. For many cultures observing the journey of the Sun throughout the year symbolizes fulfilling the path to enlightenment.
This time of year in particular, is all about honoring the light within, harvesting the seeds of abundance that were planted earlier this year at the Spring Equinox, and manifesting those dreams into action. The Solstice is also a time for celebration and/or ritual, stoking fires, and burning off that extra fuel that all the extra hours of light offer.
Below are a few of my favorite summertime yoga practices to allow for a little self inquiry and honor the fuel of the solar energy. Feel free to go at it alone, or you can invite some of your favorite people to join you in honoring the radiance of the Sun and the light within each and everyone of you.
1. Ritual: Set Intention
Begin your ritual by lighting a candle and placing it at the top of your mat. This is a great location to use the flame as a drishti, or focal point, throughout your yoga practice. Set the intention to connect with your inner fire. Ask yourself what fuels you? Where does your strength, power and inner light come from? Where/when in your life does it best shine? Make it known that you would like anything that hasn’t served you through this last seasonal cycle to burn with the flame of the candle. Pro-tip: Keep a journal nearby for any self realizations or profound reflections.
2. Practice: Turn Up the Internal Fire
Summer is the represented by the element of fire. So, during this time we have a lot of energy, or fire, to burn off. Roll out that yoga mat. If you decide to do your practice with a group, set up in a circle to symbolize the full cycle that the Sun has created on its path and the intense power of the Sun itself.
One of the best ways to connect with that internal fire and ignite your center is through a core based vinyasa practice with a strong focus on the inhale. A longer, fuller inhale will keep that heat building as you explore within.
Start with some core work, perhaps 108 sit-ups of your choice, to get heat building right away! 108 is an auspicious number often used during this season to guide practices in honoring the Sun. From there try moving through 10-20 Sun Salutations. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it just has to mean something to you. If Sun Salutations aren't calling your name, maybe going to a heated yoga studio is? Or maybe dancing wildly under the Sun with no regard is more your vibe? Whatever is calling to you, do that, and go all in.
3. Cool Down: Balance the Fire with Breath
My favorite breath-work to practice during summer months is known as Sitali Breath - the cooling breath. It is the perfect end to a hot day in the sun! Find a nice seat in meditation, encouraging a long spine. You can either roll your tongue (like a taco) and allow it to stick out your mouth just a little, or create a small O-shape with your lips if you can’t roll your tongue. On the inhale draw the air in through the roll of your tongue or O-shaped mouth until the lungs are at full capacity. It is as though you're sucking the air in through a straw. On the exhale draw your tongue back in your mouth, close your lips and let all the air out of the nostrils until the lungs are empty. Repeat this breath for 12 cycles. After your breath-work, take time to sit in meditation and reflect on what came up during your practice. What things are you bringing to light during this season and what things are you allowing to burn out?
Meet the author: Danielle Ribaudo is fascinated by the connections between the physical and emotional bodies, inspired to move beyond boundaries and view our options as limitless. She firmly believes that our personal tragedies edge us closer to reaching our higher selves. A nature loving yoga instructor, a dog's best friend, a luster of wander, and a wine enthusiast, she knows that balance is key. Find her on Instagram at @moderndayogini.