June 21 is the summer solstice, which not just marks the official beginning of summer but also when the sun is at its highest possible peak in the sky. In other words, night is cut short so that the sun can shine brighter and longer than any other day of the year. When it comes to yoga tradition and spirituality, summer solstice is the perfect time to worship the sun, fully charge your crystals with UV rays, and simply put, get your om on.
This is where yogi veteran Cat Van Haayen comes in. If you've never stretched with Haayen before, you're muscles are sort of missing out on life but don't fret — you can change that come June 21 when the second-annual Summer Soulstice takes over Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
Haayen came up with Summer Soulstice as a way to grow the Magic City's yoga community. "The farther you go outside of Miami, the better yoga gets," she says. The idea, then, is to do something about that. "In New York they shut down Times Square during the summer solstice and have thousands of people doing yoga. It's one of the city's biggest yoga events. Our goal is to create the same massive event and instill that sense of community here." And what better way than by doing so in a surreal and natural wondrous environment like Botanical Garden?
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"Last year was the first time we did it and we hosted it at the 1111 building parking garage, which was awesome and we had 800 on the rooftop, but it's concrete. Summer solstice is all about nature and connecting with the summer again, and we wanted a location that inspired that. It's lush heaven." And lush heaven has no limit as to how many it allows through its gates.
Last year's summer solstice event at Times Square saw 11,000 yogis getting their asana on, and although Miami might not be anywhere near that, Haayen is doing all she can to make sure we are well on our way by putting together events like this and hosting her weekly OMWave Radio show, streaming live every Wednesday from 1 to 2 p.m. on Klangbox.fm, with friend and fellow yogi Amy Dannheim (You can take her hip hop flow class at Green Monkey on Fridays.)
Back to Summer Soulstice: not only is the one-hour yoga event absolutely free of charge and open to all-levels of yogis whether advanced or aspiring, Nacho Londono will follow it up with a guitar performance so you get yoga and a concert in one. And since Athleta sponsors it, you bet your downward dog there will be goodies for the first 200 attendees (free yoga mats and the chance to win a $200 gift card), as well as a ton of health-conscious and wellness vendors who'll be dishing out surprises and free samples throughout the day.
First dog of the day starts at 9:30 a.m., but if you want in on the gratis mats or the Athleta gift card, early-bird yogi gets the worm. To sign up for the Summer Soulstice and solicit your spot, simply do so via eventbrite.com