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The Power of Summer Solstice: Connecting Pagan Celebration and Yoga Practice

As we approach the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, I am excited to announce that on the 25th, I will be hosting a special solstice-themed, candlelit yoga class in Acle, near Norwich. This unique event combines the energy of the summer solstice with the transformative practice of yoga. I invite you to join me in exploring the meanings and traditions associated with this time of year and discover how they can enhance our yoga practice. Immerse yourself in the enchanting phenomenon of the summer solstice, a celebration that symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and the abundance of nature. Here I continue my series of articles discussing the different points in the wheel of the year and the ways they can connect to our yoga practice. Read below to learn more about the traditions surrounding summer solstice or click here to jump ahead and explore how this can be incorporated into your yoga practice.

Understanding the Summer Solstice

The summer solstice, also known as Midsummer or Litha, marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It occurs between June 20th and 22nd when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined towards the sun at its maximum extent. This celestial alignment bestows upon us the gift of ample daylight, awakening a sense of joy and vitality within the natural world. It is a time of abundance, growth, and the peak of life-giving forces. The summer solstice serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings with the cycles of nature and the rhythms of the cosmos.

Ancient Pagan Origins and Traditions

The summer solstice has deep roots in pagan cultures that revered the Earth's cycles and sought to align with the rhythms of nature. Among these cultures, such as the Celts, Norse, and Druids, the solstice represented a time of profound connection to the natural elements and celestial energies. It symbolised the peak of life-giving forces, fertility, and the bountiful harvest to come. Bonfires were lit during the solstice celebrations, symbolising the power of the sun and its role in sustaining life. Some ancient rituals involved setting large wheels ablaze and rolling them down hills, signifying the sun's descent from its zenith.

Gathering sacred herbs is also a common tradition, as it is believed that their potency is at its peak during this time, used for healing, purification, and protection in various rituals and ceremonies. Witnessing the sunrise or sunset on the solstice is considered a powerful experience, as it symbolises the triumph of light over darkness. In the past pagans would gather in circles or at sacred sites to honour this celestial moment but you could do this anywhere that suits you. The celebration of the summer solstice is an opportunity to honour the Earth's cycles, express gratitude for the gifts of nature, and connect with the divine energies present in the world.

Relating the Celebration to Yoga Practice

The pagan celebration of the summer solstice can be seamlessly woven into a yoga practice, allowing practitioners to tap into the harmonious rhythms of nature and cultivate a deeper connection with themselves and the world around them.

Setting Intentions: Begin your yoga practice on the summer solstice by setting intentions that align with the themes of the celebration. Reflect on the energy of the sun, its vitality, and the abundance it symbolises. Consider the aspects of your life or yoga journey that could benefit from increased light and illumination. You can create a sankalpa that encompasses your intentions and use it throughout your practice to help you bring those intentions to fruition.

Sun Salutations: Sun salutations, or Surya Namaskar, are a series of yoga postures that pay homage to the sun and its life-giving energy. Incorporate multiple rounds of sun salutations into your practice, using each movement as an opportunity to connect with the sun's radiance and express gratitude for its presence. You may repeat your sankalpa as you move through your sun salutation to strengthen you intentions going forward. Sun Salutations can be practiced slowly, incorporating pauses as well as with more vinyasa flow, move in a way that suits you in that moment. Have a sense of connecting to the sun’s energy before you start and as you move draw that energy into yourself while also honouring it’s power.

Solar-Plexus Activation: The solar plexus chakra, Manipura, is associated with personal power,

transformation, vitality and the element of fire. During your yoga practice, focus on activating and balancing this chakra. Incorporate postures that engage the core, such as boat pose (Navasana), twisted poses like revolved triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana), or warrior poses like Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III).

Gentle Backbends: Backbend poses are particularly potent during the summer solstice, as they open the

heart center and invite in the expansive energy of the sun. Incorporate heart-opening postures like camel pose (Ustrasana), bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana), or Warrior II ( Virabhadrasana II) into your practice.

Meditation and Visualisation: Towards the end of your practice, find a comfortable seated position and engage in meditation and visualisation. Close your eyes and imagine yourself surrounded by the warm, golden light of the sun. Visualise this light permeating every cell of your being, filling you with vitality, clarity, and joy.

Gratitude and Reflection: If you’ve ever been to one of my classes you will know I am a big fan of gratitude as a regular practice, I end most classes by offering the opportunity to thank your body and yourself. I truly believe that feeling genuine gratitude for our bodies is a vital step in cultivating a health relationship with ourselves. As well as this you may like to complete your practice by expressing gratitude for the summer solstice and the transformative power it brings. Take a few moments to journal or reflect on the insights and experiences that arose during your practice. Consider how you can carry the energy of the solstice with you beyond your yoga mat, infusing it into your daily life, relationships, and aspirations..

By infusing the pagan celebration of the summer solstice into your yoga practice, you unlock a gateway to deeper connection, transformation, and inner radiance. Embrace the light within, honour the sun's energy, and allow the harmonious rhythms of nature to guide your journey on and off the mat.

Later this month our Soulful Sunday candlelit yoga event will be a celebration of the summer solstice, giving you an opportunity to relax, unwind and embrace the season. We will move through an hour of mindful postures and flows before settling into half an hour of yoga nidra. This will give you a chance to set a sankalpa (intention/affirmation) and move into some deep rest while bringing to life your intentions. If you would like to know more about the class then head over to the events page here or get in touch to book your place.

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