Saturday 20 June will mark the official start of summer and the longest day of the year with approximately 12 hours of sunlight.
All over the world, in many cultures across the continents, the summer solstice was celebrated with celebrations and festivals with different meanings. No matter what one person believed, most of the human beings in ancient times agreed that the summer solstice marked an important day of the year.
In ancient China, the summer solstice was a time to celebrate yin qualities. At the height of summer when the heat is greatest, it’s important to find ways slow down to maintain balance. This same concept of equilibrium can be found in Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science.
In Ayurveda, summer is categorized as a pitta season, represented by fire and water. If you add heat to heat, you naturally get more heat, which is why it’s so important to stay cool in the summer months if you follow Ayurvedic principles. Excess heat can present itself as rashes, burns (sunburn, anyone?), anger and irritability. Cooling exercises, such as breathing practices and forward folds (or any yoga pose that down-regulates the nervous system) are great options in the heat of the summer.
Over in the Nordic seas, midsummer meant mediation for the Vikings – they used the summer solstice as a time to come together to settle disputes and set new rules. This is a perfect combination of celebrating both a new beginning and recommitting to past intentions or making updates to those intentions as needed.
The summer solstice marks the perfect time to check in on those New Year’s Resolutions, reflect on the first half of the year and set new intentions or recommit to existing ones for the last 6 months. In fact, in ancient Greece the summer solstice was actually celebrated as the first day of the year! Wouldn’t it be nice if New Year’s Day happened in June and not January?
In our modern life, the solstice has less significance than other holidays but we can still view it as a time to check in and reflect. Whichever way you look at it, the Summer Solstice is a great time to revisit intentions and set new ones for the coming months.
Summer is a time of fulfillment and abundance. It expands and brightens our lives. The warmth of the sun and the long hot days remind us how good it is to find a balance between intense activity and lazy idle hours doing nothing. It can also teach us patience. The fruit is green until it is ripe in the summer and you can’t rush it. In this time of lockdown, we can’t change the situation or hurry it along. If we relax and let go, things will fall into place when the time is right. Use this time to find ways to nurture and sustain you and let go of what no longer serves you.