This year on Monday, June 20, it is the first day of summer. This day is also known as the Summer Solstice. It is the longest day of the year with the shortest night. Summer Solstice traditions are associated with new beginnings, community and nature.
In ancient cultures around the world, the Summer Solstice was a time of celebration. Each country and culture had its own a unique tradition. In ancient China, they honored the Earth and feminine energy by celebrating the Yin of life. (For Winter Solstice, they celebrated "Yang" energy.) Native Americans tribes danced to honor the Sun - painting their bodies in symbolic colors. In Europe, some historians believe Stonehenge in England was used during Summer Solstice to mark the calendar's beginning. Today many people gather at Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice to connect to the energy of this extraordinary ancient place. (More historic details here.)
Today, here in the United States, Summer Solstice celebrations are happening in our yoga community around the country. Many of these celebrations revolve around doing multiple Sun Salutations (you know those chatarungas (or knees-chest-chin) to Up dog then Down Dog - you do at the beginning of class?). This is could be called the yogic way of Sun Dancing. I'll be hosting a little yogi sun dancing myself in my Happe Flow Yoga class at Happehatchee Center on Sunday, June 19th from 10-11am. Show up to celebrate the sun, new beginnings and community with meditation, a class of mostly Sun Salutations and a little dancing. Happehatchee Center is a beautiful place to honor the beauty of nature. The class is held outside in a screened in pavilion surrounded by lush vegetation. Sunday morning yoga classes at Happehatchee are always full of vibrant community - we have afun regular Sunday morning group! If you can't make it 6/19, join my Happe Flow class any Sunday 10-11am or check out the entire Happehatchee Center Yoga in Nature schedule online.
In the Kundalini Yoga community, in 1969, Yogi Bhajan started Summer Solstice Sadhana gatherings to raise consciousness and health by connecting with the Infinite. Kundalini Yogis have been gathering to mark this special time of the year with multiple days of yoga, deep meditation and community. Yogi Bhajan believed during these extreme long days (and in the winter long nights), it was easier to connect to the Infinite/God because the veil is thinned. To honor this celebration, please join me for a local special Summer Solstice Kundalini Meditation on Monday, June 20 from 5:15-6:30p at BKS Yoga Studio. The meditations will focus on compassion and will be from 3, 11 and 31 minutes. In the tradition of Kundalini Yoga, I encourage you to wear all white and if you'd like, a head covering. Space is limited to 12. Reserve your space now. (P.S. If you're interested in taking a Kundalini Yoga class or another yoga class, check out the BKS Yoga schedule)
No matter what you or your culture do (or don't do) to recognize the Summer Solstice, it is a day to come together as commUnity. The theme of every celebration has and is just that - connecting with each other in compassionate celebration. I hope you will honor the tradition of community for the Summer Solstice.