What is the Summer Solstice?
Wednesday, June 21 2017 marks the longest day and the shortest night of the earth’s solar year, otherwise known as the Summer Solstice. During this time, we celebrate the completion of the cycle that began during the Winter Solstice. As we celebrate the longest day of the year, we also begin to prepare ourselves for the return of shorter and darker days.
Solstice literally means “standing of the sun” and we can connect to this great turning point in the earth’s yearly cycle by taking a moment to stop, find stillness, and reflect on our journey these last few months. From now until the Winter Solstice, what can we do to better nurture and develop ourselves? The Summer Solstice is a doorway into the second half of the year. Stand on the threshold and ask yourself what you wish to accomplish and achieve over the coming months.
The Summer Solstice is a perfect opportunity to bring these same principles to your yoga practice. At Empower Yoga we will be holding a Summer Solstice celebration on Friday, June 23 starting at 5:30pm. We will begin our celebration with a series of 108 Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara), which is a “mandala” or circle of poses celebrating the sun. Afterwards, we will have a potluck party. Join us, let’s celebrate the Sun and each other!
What does 108 mean?
The number 108 is a sacred number and has many interpretations:
- 108 is twelve times the number 9, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation.
- 108 is the number of names for Shiva (a Hindu god).
- 108 is the number of names for Buddha.
- 108 is the Chinese number representing man.
- 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary.
- 108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan “mala” (prayer beads, analogous to a rosary).
- 108 is twice the number 54, which is the number of letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, one set of masculine (shiva) and one set of feminine (shakti).
- 108 is the number of Sutras in the Yoga Sutras
- 108 connects the sun, moon and earth as the average distance of the sun and moon to earth is 108 times their respective diameters
- 108 forms of dance in the Indian traditions.
Why do we complete Sun Salutations?
When completing Sun Salutations, we begin to move into a state of meditation. As we move and breathe, we begin to create tapas or inner heat that cleanses the body. With this inner heat we create combined with our meditative state, we can begin to release toxins in our bodies or things that no longer serve us. As we let go of these stuck energies, we become less in our head and more in our heart. On each exhale, we let go and on each inhale we create opportunities for new beginning and ways to better love and nurture our bodies so we can continue to grow.
Join the fun!
I would like to invite you to join us on June 23rd. If you are unable to attend, perhaps find a place to hold your own celebration. Come into your body, find your breath and move through your favorite variation of Sun Salutations. Take time for you, to honor your own experiences, and begin to reflect on ways to take care of yourself over the next several months.
After you finish your practice, draw your hands together in Anjali Mudra. Feel the inner glow of your own heart. Then radiate that warmth outward with gentle words and gestures of love. Let the solar energies of the summer solstice nourish and support you.
Want to learn Sun A? Visit Empower Yoga’s Instgram page to see the video! (IG- empoweryoganj)