Simple Practice Sequence for Summer Solstice

Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) are a great way to begin any yoga practice and are a part of most yoga traditions. They are a beautiful way to greet the sun on any ordinary day, but during the summer solstice, this sequence has even greater meaning. 

The series of poses can be seen as symbolic of the flow between the seasons. For example, Uttanasana (Forward Fold) is a pose of turning inward like we are doing during the darker, colder months of the year and in Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) we reach up and expand as we do in the spring and summer.

As you practice Sun Salutations, it is important to allow your breath to lead the way. Each inhale and each exhale will take you in and out of the poses and create a feeling of mindful fluidity. Exaggerate your awareness of the expansive, opening poses and the contractive curled in poses to feel the dance between the dark and light, and the play of the seasons.

1.Mountain (Tadasana): Stand with your feet about a shoulder's width apart, with hands palm to palm at heart center. Take a few deep breaths here to settle in.

2.Extended Mountain (Utthita Tadasana): On an inhale, slowly raise your arms out to the side and up over head. Stay grounded through your feet as you reach upwards.

3.Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana): On an exhale, bend forward from the waist, stay long through your torso and reach your hands toward the floor. If you feel even a hint of strain, bend your knees to lessen the intensity.

4.Half Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Inhale and lift your torso as high as you need to so that you find the natural curves of your spine. Lengthen from the crown of your head to the top of your tail. Roll your shoulder back and open your heart.

5.Plank: Exhale and extend your legs back into a pushup like position.

6.Low Plank (Chatturanga Dandasana): Exhale and lower yourself into a pushup in the down position. Keep your body in as much of straight line as possible. Feel free to make this transition with the knees on the floor.

7.Cobra or Upward Dog (Bhujangasana or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana): On an inhale, bring your neck, head and chest up while leaving your legs on the ground. Only come as high as you can using the strength of your back and not your hands. In Upward Dog, rise up on the arms fully, so only your hands and feet are on the ground. 

8.Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):Bring your head down and raise your hips into the air on an exhale. Your body will be in an inverted V position. Hold for 5 breaths.

9.At the bottom of your next breath, step or hop your feet to the front of your mat.

10.Inhale, Repeat Half Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)

11.Exhale, Repeat Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Sun Salutations can be done several times as a practice on their own or as a warm up to a more comprehensive asana practice. Repeat 1-10 times.

Kirsten Warner