The Summer solstice has been celebrated across global cultures for centuries. Our ancestors were once highly attuned to these cycles of life. They honoured the busy season of planting, the cycle of nurturing and tending emerging crops, the busy period of harvesting and receiving the bounty of the earth, and of the darker winter months of rest and retreat.
Most of us, in urban environments continue to move through the year without reflection and pause to the signs that are apparent around us. The summer solstice is certainly a time for great celebration, especially in climates such as ours here in Canada where the energy of the sun is responsible for such natural beauty, and is in such stark contrast to the contraction and desolation of winter.
With energy tending to run high at this time of year, it is important to balance the excitement of this season with practices that are cooling and calming. Ayurvedic wisdom indicates that emotions such as impatience and irritation reach their peak in this season and as such we must work extra diligently to stay cool and calm. In terms of our physical yoga practice, increasing restorative and meditation practices in this season can be very beneficial, even though we may be drawn to fiery types of practices. These can be overstimulating, as most of us are already in a state of increased heat and agitation. Increasing our intake of seasonally nourishing fruits and vegetables and staying well hydrated is essential. Our appetite and digestive fire may weaken, and this should be managed carefully; smaller, lighter meals at this time of the year are best.
Darren Hall and I have collaborated over the years in many Crystal Bowl and Yoga sessions, and we are excited to be sharing what we have learned from many years of solstice celebrations across many cultures with you all. Join us on June 26th for a beautiful evening of community and togetherness. We will facilitate a a gentle practice of mantra and restorative yoga. The mantra we will learn is the Savitri Gayatri – an ancient vedic mantra that honours the power of the sun, and our own inner light to remove obstacles and ignorance from our lives.
Whilst in New Zealand recently, I paddled my sea kayak out into the Pacific Ocean before dawn. Completely alone, I watched the rising sun and despite being on a sphere with 6 billion other human beings, knew that I was one of a just a handful who were witnessing this phenomena – the beginning of a new day, from very first place on earth to see it begin. With the water lapping gently around me, I launched into my yoga practice – 108 quiet repetitions of the Gayatri. Gayatri Mantra has been a very sacred part of my yoga practice since I was first taught it in 1999 and to chant this mantra alone in my sea kayak exposed to all the elements was very special. I look forward to sharing this all with you.
(For more information on the Solstice, yoga and 'living in flow with the pulse of life' I wholeheartedly recommend my teacher Shiva Rea's wonderful new book Tending the Heart Fire.)