June is my favorite month in Michigan. It brings long, glorious days with warm breezes. And on the 21st of the month, the summer solstice officially rings in the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year. The word solstice is from two Latin words. Sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “to stand still.” So the summer solstice is all about the sun standing still. It’s a moment to pause before the days get shorter again.
Each summer solstice, I invite people into my backyard to do yoga at sunset. We start by standing still and taking in that moment when the movement of the sun’s path as we see it from Earth comes to a halt and then reverses direction. In these days of constant distraction and multitasking, it’s a joy to stop and stand still, breath and feel the breeze.
Time goes so fast. Yoga helps slow things down. So as we enter another fabulous Michigan summer, let me give you a few reasons to get on your mat and do some yoga:
It’s the fountain of youth. As you get older, you notice all the ways your health is declining. But yoga helps improve your focus, boosting your concentration and creativity. When you do a new pose or your first headstand, you’re actually creating new neural pathways in your brain. You become more flexible, not just physically, but mentally. When you learn a new pose or move in a different way, you end up looking at the world differently. A new yoga pose takes you somewhere you’ve never been before. It actually changes your brain. Really! A study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that as you age, yoga protects your brain from the decline in gray matter. The more people did yoga, the more volume of gray matter compared to others in the same age group. (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, May, 2015)
It’s a great stress reliever. In yoga, we create artificial stress and tension so we can better handle challenges in the real world. By putting yourself into these awkward poses, sometimes in extremely warm temperatures, you’re actually training your brain to find comfort with discomfort. You’re teaching yourself not to be reactive but to just breathe through it. Then when yoga is over, you’re better equipped to handle whatever comes your way without over-reacting.
You’ll find strength. You’ll tone your muscles, improve mobility and flexibility. But that’s just an added bonus. Chances are your yoga will have a big impact on much more than your waistline. While some come to yoga to become someone new or better, the more powerful benefit is learning to befriend who you already are and learning to be present with whatever is happening around you. This will serve you, not just on your mat but with everyone you come in contact with.
In yoga we talk a lot about the light that’s inside you. While you may twist and turn into pretzel poses, it’s really to wring out whatever is keeping you from seeing your own light. It won’t happen from one summer solstice yoga practice. It’s never overnight. You need a consistent daily practice. It will help keep the brightness of the summer with you all year long. Namaste.
Lila’s Health Report:
In order to stay healthy, you need to stay active and engaged. In addition to exercise, good nutrition and sleep, you also need a good dose of adventure. So each month I’ll share ways to boost the excitement and passion in your life with adventurous ways to create more wellness in your body, mind and your spirit.