I huffed and puffed my way through the yoga class. This was supposed to be easy, I thought to myself. It had started off easy but it sure didn’t feel that way. The instructor was gentle, making sure to give us enough time to keep up with her. When the postures had to be held for too long, she would remind us as to what we were doing this for, as we focused on our breath and tried to connect something bigger and higher. But this class was different, this class was taking place the week of the summer solstice.
The word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped) and indeed even if only for a moment, the sun stands still at the highest point in the sky. It marks the beginning of the summer and true to its spiritual nature, it has been celebrated across the world in a variety of ways. In Poland, a ritual called the Kildonas has the village's unmarried women placing a personal belonging in the pot and leave it under a fig tree overnight, where the magic of the sun blesses the item with prophetic powers, as the girls dream of their future husbands. In Poland, young, unmarried women would float floral wreaths in a river and eager bachelors on the other side would try to catching the flowers, then in Kupala (from “cupid”) Night, matched couples leapt through flames together while holding hands and if they don’t let go, it is said that their love will last. And right across the pond in the UK, at Stonehenge to be exact, thousands gather to see the sunrise, marking the moment, seen as a druid ritual of fertility, a celebration of the union between male and female deities, the Sun and the Earth. It’s no wonder that 9 months after the solstice, Swedish records of births take a little jump.
The spirituality of the solstice extends even into North Africa, and in my neck of the woods, in Ancient Egypt, the Egyptian New Year begins on this important day, with the rising of the Nile River, signifying the water of the crops.
The solstice signals the triumph of light over dark, the start of a new season, and one of abundance, at that. And as Nature manifests the beauty locked hibernating deep in the winter, so can we. The Solstice is an invitation for manifestation. How can you celebrate? Easy, reflect on all that you are thankful for, remember all the achievements you can celebrate and most importantly, go outside for a walk.
And in case you missed it, here is the stunning (pre-pandemic) sight of summer solstice sunrise over Stonehenge:
Join us for Gentle Yoga every Tuesday at 10am with Debbie Clark. You may livestream the class by visiting our Livestream page.