Yoga Soul-stice

    By 24Life

Summertime, anyone? Astronomers and scientists mark the June solstice as the beginning of summer season in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. The summer solstice, also known as midsummer, falls on June 21 and is the longest day (most daylight hours) of the year. Solstice comes from the Latin words “sol,” meaning sun, and “sistere,” meaning to come to a stop or standstill.

During the solstice, the sun reaches its northernmost position, as seen from the Earth, and in that moment of motion, it finds stillness. The zenith does not move north or south as during most other days of the year, but instead it stands still at the Tropic of Cancer for a brief pause. It then reverses its direction and starts moving south again.

Across the world, the solstice holds a special place of celebration. People from every culture and discipline celebrate the day with feasts, picnics, dance and music. And so should you. Instead of working more that day, why not indulge in a little more body love with an inspired yoga practice that invigorates you from head to toe and wakens your own inner glow. No Sun Salutations are required.

Perform each posture for five to 10 breaths—or as long as you desire. To really signify the start of the new summer season, rest in Savasana for five to 10 minutes and then enjoy a Seated Meditation for three to five minutes more.

1) Standing Arm Swing

  • Stand tall and step your feet wide apart.
  • Swing your arms side to side, allowing your shoulders, torso and hips to rotate and your heels to lift off the floor.

2) Upward-Reaching Mountain Pose

  • Stand tall with your feet together or hip-width apart, legs and core engaged.
  • Root down through your legs into the four corners of your feet and lift up through your sternum.
  • Extend your arms straight outside your hips and lightly draw your outer shoulder blades onto your upper back.
  • Lift your arms out to either side, sweeping up until your wrists and elbows are stacked over your shoulders.
  • Reverse the arm movement to release the pose.

3) Dynamic Side Bend

  • Stand tall with your feet together. Reach your arms overhead and press your palms together.
  • Squeezing your inner thighs and anklebones toward one another, think “length” as you bend up and over from side to side.

4) Forward Bend

  • Stand tall, inhale, press down through your feet, and reach your arms out and up over your head.
  • Exhale, bend your knees and fold forward, keeping your legs strong and core engaged.
  • Release your spine, hold onto your opposite elbows and hang your head, boxing your ears in.
  • Allow the weight of your arms to lengthen the sides of your body.
  • Draw your shoulders away from your ears to lengthen your neck and spine.

5) Standing Straddle Fold

  • Take a wide-legged stance with the outer edges of your feet parallel or angled slightly inward.
  • Root down through your feet, actively create tone in your legs and bring your hands to your hips.
  • Inhale and lengthen through your spine, hugging your elbows back and lifting your sternum.
  • Exhale and fold forward, bringing your fingertips to the floor under your shoulders.
  • Draw your shoulders away from your ears to lengthen your neck and spine.

6) Low Lunge

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Step your right foot forward and sink into a lunge, keeping your spine long, chest lifted and collarbones spread.
  • Exhale as you lower your left knee to the floor; inhale and straighten your left leg. Repeat several times.
  • Exhale, press down through your front foot, and then inhale and step your left foot forward to return to standing. Repeat, stepping forward with your left leg.

7) Stretched-Out Side Angle

  • Start in a wide-legged stance with your left toes pointing forward and your right foot turned out.
  • Place your right elbow on the base of your right thigh, bend your right knee and lift your left arm up and over your left ear, palm facing down as you reach over to your right.
  • Press into your left heel and lengthen through your left arm, reaching from your left heel through your left middle finger.
  • Inhale, press down through both feet, straighten your right knee and lift your left arm overhead as you return to your starting position.
  • Exhale as you turn your left leg out and your right foot to point forward. Bend your left knee and place your left elbow on the base of your left thigh, lifting your right arm up and over your right ear, palm facing down.
  • Reach from your right heel through your right middle finger.
  • Inhale, press down through both feet, straighten your left knee, and lift your right arm up and overhead to return to your starting position.

8) Warrior

  • Take a wide-legged stance and stand tall with your arms outstretched from your sides. Align your ankles so that they are under your wrists.
  • Shift your weight to your left heel and turn your right leg out 90 degrees.
  • Slowly bend your right knee 90 degrees, turning your left hip forward and reaching both arms overhead.
  • Take a few breaths, pressing into your back heel, widening your left hip to the left and lifting up through your spine.
  • Shift your weight to your left foot and rotate your right leg forward; shift your weight to your right heel and rotate your left leg out 90 degrees.
  • Bend your left knee 90 degrees, turning your right hip forward and reaching overhead, to repeat the sequence.

9) Child Pose – Rotation

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Bring your big toes together and knees apart, and press your sitting bones back to your heels. Leave your arms outstretched, and rest with your palms flat on the mat.
  • Walk your hands to the left side of the mat on the diagonal.
  • Reach out through your right fingertips and pull back through your outer right hip, lengthening your right side and using your breath to expand into your right side ribs.
  • Inhale and walk your hands back through center and then to the other side.
  • Exhale and walk your hands to the right side of the mat, reaching through your left fingertips and pulling your outer left hip back.

10) Plank

  • Standing tall, fold forward and place your hands on the floor.
  • Walk your hands forward until your elbows and wrists are stacked under your shoulders.
  • Keep your neck neutral and engage your core to make your body a long, strong, straight line from head to heel.

11) Upward-Facing Dog

  • Begin in a high plank.
  • Exhale and slowly bend your elbows and lower your hips to hover at the bottom of a push-up.
  • Inhale, press down through your palms, and pull your chest forward and up, letting your hips and thighs hover above the floor. Keep your gaze high.
  • Lower your chest to the bottom of a push-up, allow your knees to drop and come up to sit cross-legged.

12) Downward-Facing Dog

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and fold forward to place your hands, shoulder-width apart, on the floor.
  • Walk your hands forward into a high plank. Spread your fingers, press down through your palms, and lift your hips up and back, keeping your spine long.
  • Keep your neck neutral by allowing your head to drop down so that your ears are between your elbows.

13) Tabletop – Knees Bent

  • Sit tall with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Place your hands on the floor alongside your hips, under your shoulders, with your fingers pointing forward.
  • Press down through your palms and straighten your arms. Bending your knees, plant your feet. Press down through your feet and slowly lift your hips to the ceiling.
  • Keep your chin slightly tucked so that your neck stays neutral.

14) Seated Staff

  • Sit up tall on your sitting bones with your legs extended out in front of you.
  • Contract and rotate your inner-thigh muscles inward to point your toes and kneecaps straight up to the ceiling.
  • Spread your toes, engage the muscles of your legs and press down through your thighbones.
  • Place your palms flat by your outer hips with your fingers facing forward, press down, lift your sternum up and soften your shoulders back.

15) Butterfly Pose – Folding Forward

  • Sit with the bottoms of your feet together and your knees out to the sides.
  • Inhale, press your feet together strongly, and pull your heels toward you slightly as you lift your sternum and lengthen your spine.
  • Roll your inner thighs and groin open and tuck your tailbone to create a neutral pelvis.
  • Exhale and fold forward, lengthening your sternum toward your toes.

16) Seated Half Pigeon

  • Sit in a cross-legged position, lean back slightly and bring your left shin up toward your chest.
  • Grab hold of your left ankle with your left hand, and place the sole of your left foot in the crease of your right elbow, pressing your foot into your arm and maintaining a flexed, stiff ankle.
  • Hug your left knee firmly with your left arm, cradling your leg close to you.
  • Join your fingers. Keep your left shin lifted and parallel to the floor, and maintain a long spine and neutral posture.
  • Repeat on the other side.

17) Seated Twist With Stretched-Out Leg

  • Sit with a tall spine and your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your right foot flat in line with your right sitting bone.
  • Hold onto your right knee with both hands, inhale and lengthen your spine.
  • Exhale and place your right fingertips on the floor behind you.
  • Inhale and reach your left arm to the sky, engaging your core to create energy for the twist.
  • Exhale and hook your left elbow outside your right knee, keeping your core strong as you twist your torso to the right.
  • Repeat on the other side.

18) Bridge Pose With Shoulder Stretch

  • Lie flat on your back, bend both your knees and place your feet flat underneath them with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lengthen your arms by your sides with your palms up, wrap your outer arms under and draw your shoulder blades firmly toward the center of your spine.
  • Inhale and press down into all corners of your feet, engage your inner thighs, and keep your core engaged, pelvis neutral and knees in parallel as you lift your hips up off the floor.
  • Press the backs of your hands and fingernails into the floor for support, and engage your shoulders. Contract your shoulder blades together once more, and lift your heart up and toward your chin.
  • Lower your hips, and relax your shoulders.

19) Modified Plow

  • Sit with your knees bent and your palms and feet on the floor.
  • Keeping your palms on the floor, roll back and lift your legs up and overhead, letting your toes drop to the floor past your head while your arms remain extended.
  • Straighten your legs and press your heels forward.
  • Engage your core and slowly roll your spine to the floor, letting your legs trail over your head and controlling their movement until your hips are on the floor.
  • Slowly lower your legs to the floor.

20) Double Knees to Chest

  • Lie on your back and hug both knees into your chest.
  • Engage your core and extend your lower back to press the back of your pelvis firmly into the ground.
  • Keep your neck long and chin neutral.

21) Reclining Hand to Toe

  • Lie on your back, hug your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg out on the mat with your toes pointing straight up.
  • Interlace your fingers behind your right thigh and contract your quadriceps to straighten your right leg to the sky.
  • Press your left thigh down and extend out through both heels.
  • Engage your core and extend your lower back to press the back of your pelvis firm into the ground. Keep your neck long and chin neutral.
  • Take a few breaths and release your right knee back into your chest.
  • Repeat on the other side.

22) Reclining Butterfly

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat and hip-width apart on the mat.
  • Slowly open your knees to the sides and bring the bottoms of your feet to touch.
  • Rest your arms down the sides of your body, palms up, and release your shoulders back.
  • Take five deep breaths.

23) Resting Pose

  • From a seated position, bend both knees and gently lower your body down lying on your back, bringing your knees into your chest.
  • Release one foot to the floor at a time, stretch both legs out, lengthen your arms by your sides with your palms up, and relax your shoulders, eyes and jaw.
  • Take a few deep breaths and rest completely and fully into the floor.

24) Seated Breath With Balanced Mudra

  • Sit with your shinbones crossed and your heels under your knees for support. Connect your sitting bones down into the mat.
  • Lengthen up through your sternum, broaden your collarbones and soften your shoulders back.
  • To create “samana mudra,” bring the tips of all your fingers to touch and rest the backs of your hands on your thighs. Allow the energy of the mudra to help balance and release vitality from deep within your core.

Photo credit: Jovo Jovanovic, Stocksy
Videos: Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com
Hair, make-up & grooming: Gabriel Perez
Models: Jon Ly and Ariel Thorpe


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