My awesome Canadian pal, Ro, of Yoga with Ro inspired me to learn a little bit more about the summer solstice this year. Every time a solstice event rolls around, I've been curious about the ways in which it impacts our energy, moods and bodies, but I've never taken the time to find out!
The summer solstice is, of course, the longest day of the year. This year, it falls on June 20th in the northern hemisphere. Around that time, I'm looking forward to hosting a Summer Solstice Bash to celebrate it and to bring a little more intention to the transition from one season to the next.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda science both pay very close attention to the way that seasons affect us. Chinese medicine is not complicated but it is very complex. Each person is treated based on their presenting patterns, so it can get confusing quickly. The seasons or type of predominant weather represent various qualities in the body both physically and energetically. For instance, summer time is linked to the Heart + Small Intestine meridians (energy pathways) in the body. It's a time that they are both active and need support. Chest openers, back bends as well as twists will help to stimulate and detoxify this pathway within the body.
Also, with the incoming heat of summer, the body wants to naturally cool down. Vigorous movements and breathing techniques that create heat within the body usually just don't feel right as the summer solstice approaches. Only you can know what feels balancing for you, but a rule of thumb for the summer solstice is to slow down and chill out. Yin yoga practice is low to the ground, cooling, calming and slow and will help to balance the yang energy of summer. Incorporating yin into your summer practice will help to cool you off, physically and energetically speaking.
This is from a great book on Chinese Medicine and nutrition by Paul Pitchford called "Healing with Whole Foods"
'To unify with summer, (a yang season) we should express expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness, and creativity. Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach for the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyous and grow into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.'
In our (yin) yoga practice this month try paying attention to your heart. 'Smiling from the heart' is said to have profound physiological effects that helps promote the flow of qi or prana (energy) and blood in our bodies. Exploring more back bends will help open the chest so that you can walk through life with an open heart. Notice thoughts, activities, people, food...and how they affect your hearts rhythm and make you feel. Stay focused on what you believe to be important in your life and in your practice.
Explore ways to notice and balance your own energy as you move toward the solstice. Recognize how intimately connected we are to our environment and what happens when we (or the environment) become imbalanced.
To learn more and enjoy a deeper connection to the season...