The Solstice is nearly upon us for another year. In any other universe many of us would be getting ready to make the pilgrimage to sacred sites such as Stonehenge to celebrate the magical Solstice sunrise. However, we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic and instead sacred sites all over the world are turning to social media to live stream their various festivities and providing us with the innate, universal connection we feel at this time of year. I can personally recommend tuning in to the magic at Stonehenge. You can do so tomorrow evening on this link.
So what actually is the Summer Solstice? Quite literally 'Solstice' means 'Sun Standing Still', representing the apparent movements of the sun at this point in time within the galaxy. The Solstice has been celebrated for many millennia within the Northern Hemisphere as the longest day of the year and therefore the indication of the end of winter, with warmer days to come. In ancient times the Solstice was used as a marker to celebrate the life-giving sunshine where food is plentiful and warmth is abundant.
So where does Stonehenge come into it? There is much we do not understand about these sites of ancient heritage, however astrologers and historians alike have come to theorise that Stonehenge was in fact a type of sun dial, allowing ancient folks to be able to understand the passing of time and the seasons before clocks were invented. The heel stone at Stonehenge perfectly aligns with the light of the sunrise as it comes up on the Solstice, creating a breathtaking moment of unity between man and universal power.
What does that mean for Yoga? Within Yogic philosophy we understand the body and our innate connection to all things universal through a system of energy that begins with the Chakras. The energy of the summer is connected to the Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) within our bellies. This energetic centre is our seat of personal esteem and human emotion - allowing us to grow, transform and digest emotional process through the power of the Solar Plexus. We understand all things are united and can find a deep, transcendent joy within this time. This is a time of life, of joy and of the world blooming in beauty.
So why the 108 Sun Salutations? 108 is a powerful number that appears in many sacred text littered throughout the ages. In numerology 108 = 9, which is the sacred symbol of love, eternity and awakening. Within Astronomy the distance between the sun and the earth is roughly 108 times the sun's diameter. There are 108 sacred points on the body within Ayurvedic medicine and there are 108 Upanishads and Tantras within ancient Yogic philosophy. We honour the tradition of the sacred number and build fire within our own bodies by performing 108 traditional sun salutations on the morning of the solstice.
What does the Solstice mean for me? We have a super-special Solstice this year, with the solstice colliding with a New Moon AND a solar eclipse. The energy of this specific time is very intense, comfort yourself with ritual, self-care and lots of nourishment. Find a way to celebrate the sunshine and coming of new warmth to feel more connected to the natural rhythm of life.