The warmth of the summer sun can have a revitalizing effect on you, particularly after a long winter and rainy spring season. With the summer season just days away, you might already be daydreaming about what you want to do.
Perhaps a vacation or a summer cookout is on your list. There are many more ways to take advantage of what the summer season has to offer. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, try one—or all—of these healthy, life-enriching activities to reap the benefits of summer.
This year, make a special effort to celebrate the summer solstice to give thanks to the sun and what it provides.
The summer solstice, which has been celebrated by humans for thousands of years, is the first day of summer and falls between June 20 and June 22. The exact date and time varies each year along with your particular geographical location. A good source to find out your exact date is the Farmers Almanac.
The word solstice means to stand still. On this day, take a little time to stand still too. Meditate, relax, and think about how you plan to get the most out of summer this year.
Soak up the Sun
Humans need Vitamin D; and the best source for it, is the sun.
Your Vitamin D levels may have dropped during winter and spring, particularly if you live in an area that experiences extended days of cloud cover, rain, fog, and snow. Those who live in sunnier locale aren’t immune to low Vitamin D levels either. If your job is in an office, you may also need a boost.
Getting a shot of Vitamin D is easy: head outside. Keep in mind, that your skin type will dictate how much sun you need. This doesn’t mean basking in the sun for hours without sunblock is a good idea either. Too much exposure can lead to sunburn and skin damage.
Talk to your doctor about the appropriate amount of sun exposure if you’re taking any medication that might make your skin sensitive to ultraviolet light.
The Vitamin D Council is another resource that can help you determine how to safely get the Vitamin D you need.
Observance and awareness brings us closer to gratitude. It also brings us closer to self. When we become more self-aware, we can develop new intentions by observing at a deeper level than before.
Observe your surroundings the next time you’re outside for a walk, run, or even while gardening or mowing the lawn. Examine how the sun and warmer temperatures have changed the landscape. Take note of how plants and animals have changed. Do the clouds look different in summer versus winter? What direction do the plants grow?
Even if you’re more aware than others, try to take a deeper view. For instance, get down on the ground and observe an ant colony.
You may eat clean, but do you eat fresh? Eating fresh, seasonal foods is a challenge in winter. Take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are harvested during summer.
The fresher the food, the more packed it is with nutrients. For the best results, try planting and growing your own vegetables and fruits. Pick them and eat them right off the vine for the most nutrient-rich treats.
If you haven’t started a garden, scout out your local farmer’s market. Ask the farmers at the stand if pesticides or chemicals are used. The “organic” designation requires an evaluation and a hefty fee that some farmers can’t afford. So if you ask “is it organic?” They may respond with “it is no chemical.”
Try these summer-friendly salad recipes that take advantage of the colorful veggies, flavorful herbs, and vitamin-packed fruits of the season.
If you are new to yoga, there is no better place to start than Sun Salutations. Sun Salutations are a physical, mental, and spiritual way to unify with the sun.
If you are a yogi, consider incorporating Sun Salutations more frequently during the summer months.
This weekend, head outside with this handy easy-to-print Sun Salutations guide written by Teresa Long, director of the Chopra Center Certification Program. The one-page article has pictures to help you remember every pose in this sequence.
Summer is the perfect time to travel. This year, try a yoga or meditation retreat.
A retreat can help you grow emotionally and spiritually. And you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. You can take what you’ve learned at the retreat and work on making progress throughout the fall and winter seasons.
Check out the Chopra Center’s meditation and yoga retreat this July.
The stars have shifted, the sky is clear, and you should be sitting under it!
If you live in the city, take a drive into the country at least one time this summer. The stars and moon are visual reminders of how massive the universe is.
Looking up at a star-filled sky is a natural depiction of how light cannot exist without the darkness. It can help you see that your troubles might actually have purpose.
The night also has another benefit, the feminine energy of the moon. In most ancient cultures, the moon represents the feminine energy in our solar system, the sun being the masculine. With more hours of sunlight in the summer months, being out in the moon light contributes to our balance of these two energies.
We all have both female and male qualities and energy, balancing these two forces takes awareness. The sun is masculine energy, while the moon represents the feminine side. Basking in the sun this summer can help you tap into your masculine energy.
Whether you are male or female, set aside some time to journal and reflect upon your personal masculine energy.
- What comes natural?
- What do you force based upon situations?
- Do you feel that any masculine trait needs some balancing attention? This could be increasing or decreasing.
- How does the sun provide lessons in this particular topic?
- What is the sun’s natural state of being?
Harvesting your masculine side can guide you into a higher state of consciousness.
The warmth of summer provides an opportunity for a little water therapy. That could mean playing in the rain or taking a dip in a local river, creek, lake, or backyard pool.
Water is symbolic of nurture and purification. This season, focus for a moment on what you would like to release while splashing in some H20. Imagine the troubles rolling off you with the drops. In relaxing moments in water, visualize the bright white light we often see sparkling on water when the sun hits it.
Float in one of nature’s most valuable resources and allow this light to nurture all aspects of your being.
From a Doshic prospective, summer is a Pitta time of year. Keeping cool can help you control your health as well as mood swings and anger. Try these tips to cool the fire.
- Although the sun is healthy, it requires moderation.
- Eat some of those fresh garden foods such as watermelon and cucumber to stabilize a hot body.
- Reduce or avoid spicy foods this time of year.
- Carry a spray bottle of water when outdoors or long road trips. A spritz on the skin can be refreshing.
Seasons transition effortlessly one unto the next. Strive to flow with them as much as possible to help create a oneness with all that is around you and reduce your internal and external conflicts.
Come experience a soul-nuturing ayurvedic massage designed to revitalize, balance, and restore you at the deepest cellular level. Learn more about what the Chopra Center Spa has to start your summer off right.