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This Thursday, June 21st, is the Summer Solstice. Also known as the longest day of the year, and the International Day of Yoga.
I have been putting out new videos and accompanying blogs for each of the changing seasons, with a practice that honours the seasons unique energy and qualities. Summer tends to be a time of year that people are feeling their very best. The Summer Solstice brings with it a renewed energy, optimism, and vision.
It can also be a time to check in, as we are half way through the year, with the goals you set back in January, and what you want to accomplish with the rest of the year. Reflect back, be proud, be grateful. But also look forward to what you want to do with your renewed sense of energy.
This practice is fittingly very energetic! These poses will work the core, the lower body, and of course we will do some sun salutations!
You may want to keep your journal close by to note what comes up during your practice, note what you’re grateful for so far this year, and note down your goals and project ideas for the remainder of 2018.
1. Seated Cat/Cow – Start in a comfortable seated pose, lengthen your spine and bring your hands to your knees. As you inhale, arch your back and lift your chest, squeezing the shoulder blades behind you. On your exhale, round and contract, bringing chin to chest. Keep going for a few more rounds at your own pace. Getting any kinks out of the spine, ridding yourself of anything stiff or stagnant.
2. Plank – From hands and knees, ensure the palms are underneath the shoulders, then extend the legs out. To modify, keep your knees down on the mat. Draw your low belly in, reach the crown of the head forward. Press in to the fingertips and knuckles. Reach the tailbone in the direction of your heels. Squeeze in through the inner thighs. Lift your right foot a few inches from the mat. As you exhale, draw the right knee to the right shoulder. Inhale to return to 3-legged plank. Do 5 rounds of this, and then return to plank. Drop both heels towards the right, lean in to the right hand and extend the left arm up to the sky. Push in to the feet to lift the hips up higher. Take a big breath in, and then return the hand down to the ground. Move through a vinyasa flow, and then repeat on the left side.
3. Rag-doll – Walk your feet forward towards the front of the mat. Keeping a bend in the knees as your upper body folds over the legs. Bend your knees as deep as needed to get the belly and thighs in contact with one another. Do whatever feels good with the arms here, you may want to let them dangle or hold on to opposite elbows. Perhaps you want to introduce some swaying from side to side here. Find your foundation, pressing down through all four corners of the feet for stability. Release the arms down if lifted. Bend even deeper in to the knees. Pushing in to the heels, roll all the way up to standing.
4. Sun Salutations – Standing at the front of the mat, we will take 3 rounds of modified sun salutations, followed by 3 rounds of classical sun salutations. Modified: Inhale, reach the arms up, bringing the palms together to touch. Exhale, folding all the way down, bending the knees as needed. Inhale, bringing hands to shin, halfway lift with a flat back. Exhale, folding fully. Inhale, rising back up, bringing the palms together to touch overhead. Exhale, lowering the hands to heart center. Take two more rounds of this. Classical: Inhale, reaching the arms up. Exhale, folding down. Inhale, halfway lift. Exhale, plant the palms and step back to plank. Take a full breath here. Exhale, lower to the belly, point the toes back. Inhale, push up in to cobra, keeping the elbows in and bent. Exhale, tuck the toes, lift the hips, coming in to downward dog. Take 3 breaths here. Look forward to the hands and step or hop to the front of the mat. Inhale, halfway lift. Exhale, folding down. Inhale, lifting all the way up, bringing hands to touch overhead. Exhale, drawing hands to the heart. Take 2 more rounds before moving on.
5. Warriors – Come in to downward dog, kicking the right leg up. Inhale, shifting forward in to plank and drawing the knee to nose. Exhale, returning to 3-legged dog. Do 3 rounds of this. On the 4th round, step your right foot through between the hands. Ground the back heel down to the mat and lift the torso. Check in with shoulders and hips, that they are squared to the front. Bring your hands together at the heart. Bend your front knee so that it’s stacked over the ankle. If it’s painful on the back knee, lift the heel to come in to a high lunge rather than Warrior 1. Inhale to straighten the front leg, and open the arms up and down. Circle the arms back and overhead to touch. Exhale, bending the knee and drawing the hands down to heart. Do 4 rounds of this. With the front knee bent and hands in prayer, tilt the chest forward. Leaning on to the bent front leg, lift the left leg up and back. Squaring everything up to the ground in Warrior 3.
6. Eagle – From Warrior 3, bring your back leg forward to meet the standing leg at front of the mat. Lift your left foot and wrap the left thigh over the right thigh. Bend in to both knees. Maybe loop the left toes behind you. Bend your elbows, lifting them up in front. Wrap the left arm under the right, binding once (hands back to back) or twice (palm to palm). Try to sink down a little bit lower, pushing the forearms together. Extend the left leg back to Warrior 3. Lower the foot down to return to Warrior 1 (keeping Eagle arms the whole time).
Repeat poses 5 and 6 on the other side.
7. Prayer Twist – Return to downward dog, kicking the right leg up. Option here to stoke the fire again by shifting back and forth in to plank for a few rounds with your breath. Step the right foot through and plant the back heel down, returning to Warrior 1. Bring your hands together at the heart. Rotate your chest to the right, hooking the left elbow over the right thigh. If this is too painful on the back leg, you have the same option to lift the heel taking a high lunge instead. Push the palms together. Draw the right shoulder down away from the ear, maybe looking up if it feels okay on the neck. Pressing the right leg out and in to the left elbow, rotate your spine even more. Look down to the floor, keeping your arms as they are. Step the back foot forward to meet the front foot. Squaring up the knees, sink the hips down, coming in to a chair twist. Repeat this through on the other side.
Want more practice for your Summer Solstice celebration? Join me doing the full video below.
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