I love the Summer Solstice. It reminds me of the constant change of the world. Solstice means when the sun stands still. It is the longest day of the year here in Australia, and subtly the days will begin to get shorter and shorter again, until the sun stands still for the shortest day of the year in June.
I have a tradition of celebrating the Summer Solstice with my family, either around the Solstice on the 21st or 22nd of December, or Xmas day. We often go the beach, and have a parent vs child soccer match with the extended family. It is also often filled with water fights, laughter, drinking, eating, gift giving and celebrating how amazing it is to be alive, and to be here on this Earth at this time.
I also use this time for some quite contemplation and often have a dedicated yoga practice for the summer solstice to reflect on the light within. I am often reminded of the Buddhist deity, Kwan Yin at this time, who reminds us that we all have a light inside of us, and encourages us to share that with the world.
Initially, my practice was sun salutations, but any practice is fine. This is my favourite gentle variation of a sun salutation for this Summer Solstice practice.
Start Kneeling in Virasana (thunderbolt pose) with buttocks to the heels. Please use a bolster or blankets under your bum or your knees if this feels better for your body to have some height here. This is a wonderful pose for digestion and for strengthening the back (so also good to do after too much Xmas lunch) Spend a number of breaths here. Connect in with your breath at the centre. You might like to visualise a gold point at the solar plexus, where you breath in and out from. Make the exhale breath progressively longer than in the inhale until it is comfortably twice as long.
From here reach forward into forward virasana, or extended childs pose. Feel your fingers connect with the earth. Make your knees and belly comfortable. Stay for a few breaths, lengthening the spine, and allowing the warmth of the sun to move into your back.
Come into all fours and practice a few rounds of cat pose, or wriggle your hips around or do other movements that free through your centre.
From all fours and then into Downward facing dog pose. Feel equally connected between your hands and feet to the ground. Stay with the lengthened breathing. If it feels right, you might like to bring some gentle dymanic movement between plank and dog pose, if this is something your shoulders enjoy.
Return back progressively to kneeling, through each of the poses. You can practice this dynamically for a few rounds, or you can slow it down and spend time savouring each pose. It's up to you.
End with either a few rounds of seated breathing, or if you have been more physical, a lying shavasna, perhaps with your hands resting on your belly for a few minutes.
However, and whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends, and allow yourself to shine like the sun.