The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year – the day in which you can enjoy approximately 17 hours of daylight in Toronto. This year, it takes place on June 21.
The term “solstice” derives from the Latin word meaning “solstitium,” meaning ‘sun standing still.’ The Summer Solstice marks the day when the sun’s path stops moving northward in the sky. It’s a time to honour the move from the darkness of Winter to the light of Summer.
Of course, any astrology enthusiasts reading this might also realise that if the sun stops moving north, then that must mean the days will slowly begin to shorten. And you’d be right, but don’t worry, we won’t notice the difference for a while. The shortest day of the year – the Winter Solstice – isn’t until December 21.
Why is the Summer Solstice so significant in yoga?
Yogis all over the world celebrate the Summer Solstice in unique and different ways. It’s an auspicious time to honour the sun and allow the welcoming arms of nature to embrace you.
The Summer Solstice is considered the ideal time to practice Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations), to connect with and build upon the enlivening solar energies that are pulsating within us and throughout the universe.
The most traditional way to celebrate the Summer Solstice is to rise at dawn, face east and do 108 repetitions of Surya Namaskar.
The number 108 is a sacred number in yoga and has many interpretations. Here are just a few:
- 108 is the number of names for Shiva (a Hindu god)
- 108 is the number of names for Buddha
- There are 108 counting beads on a mala
- The chakras are the intersections of energy lines within the body, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra
- 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 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 twelve times the number 9, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation
How can you celebrate the Summer Solstice?
Tradition aside, the Summer Solstice is a time to celebrate. You can honour the occasion with your own rituals. If 108 Sun Salutations seems too ambitious, then you can reduce the number to something more manageable, or simply do one reverent bow to honour the sun.
Other ways to mark the day include practicing Surya Bhedana pranayama (single-nostril breathing) to harmonize the body’s solar and lunar energies. Being outside and barefoot is another beautiful ritual; feeling the sun on your skin and the interconnectedness with nature.
Some yogis mark the day by washing themselves clean, releasing the past, and preparing to accept the new season by taking a dip in the lake, river or ocean. Others may simply light a candle and meditate.
However you choose to celebrate the Summer Solstice, there is one underlying theme: coming into your body, finding your breath, and being completely absorbed in the experience. Give gratitude to the sun, the gift of life, and the beautiful world we live in.
Happy Summer Solstice from Yoga City!
Come celebrate with us on Wednesday:
10:00am-11:00am – Hatha Yoga (Kylie)
5:30pm-6:30pm – Hatha Yoga (Steph)
6:45pm-7:45pm – Beginner Yoga (Debbie)
8:15pm – 9:15pm – Hot Vinyasa (Karren)