Today is the Summer Solstice and to celebrate this festival of light many yogis around the world will greet the longest day of the year by saluting the sun. The sun, which at it’s core is creating energy by turning hydrogen into helium, creates enough heat and light to reach us here, 93 million miles away. Each morning we are greeted with its gentle rays coming from the east, and each evening we say goodbye as it dips down to the west.
Why is the Sun Important?
The sun provides our bodies with essential vitamins and supports plant and animal life, which in turn supports human existence. It also creates the winds by unevenly heating the earth’s surface allowing rains to come inland giving clean water to plants and animals alike. The sun is the only way our existence is possible. Its gravitational pull is the reason our earth and this solar system has formed. Our placement in the universe, creating the ‘Goldilocks’ effect, has allowed consciousness to evolve from a single celled organisms. These are a few of the reasons the sun’s power has supports our existence, and what better way to express our gratitude than by bowing our head during our practice.
Following the below described sequence, stay connected to the breath and body, inhaling as one lifts the body and exhaling as one moves downward, rooting into the earth. By practicing outdoors one may feel more connected to the sun’s energy and the life that energy has created on earth. Begin by facing east, the direction in which the sun rises each and every day, symbolized by new beginnings and illumination.
- Mountain Pose – Tadasana– with the palms together in front of the heart (our hand position symbolizing where our true intelligence in centered)
- Forward Fold – Uttanasana
- Step one foot back, into Low Lunge – Anjaneyasana
- Step the other foot back, into Plank Pose then float to the mat, keeping the elbows hugged into the torso
- Choose any of the following backbends
- Cobra – Bhujangasana
- Sphinx – Salamba Bhujangasana
- Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Press into the hands, moving into Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Step the opposite foot forward, into Low Lunge – Anjaneyasana
- Step the back foot toward the front of the mat, meeting the other foot in Forward Fold – Uttanasana
- Inhale, lift back into Mountain Pose – Tadasana– with the palms together in front of the heart.
Repeat, beginning with the opposite leg.
A Word of Caution
Be careful not to do too many sun salutations in a practice. Yes, saying you did 108 sun salutations on the summer solstice may be fun, but is it healthy for your body? Our wrists were made to hold a couple of pounds, but during chaturanga and downward dog, they can be holding two-thirds of one’s weight. This is fine for a short length of time, but not for hours on end. After the body begins to tire it looks for the path of least resistance, often creating alignment mishaps. This puts the shoulders and wrists at risk for injury.
My suggestion is to go through 1-3 cycles of this sequence, allowing the body’s energy to guide the practice, not a number or amount of time.
May we all be illuminated.
Happy Summer Solstice!