Today, the 21st of June marks the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere and the Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. Beautiful photographs and videos of summer solstice when mother Earth leans her head towards the Sun to ‘apricate‘ (a new word I learnt today, borrowed from Latin which means ‘to bask in the sun‘) have been published on the internet. It is quite interesting to read about some of the solstice celebrations in different cultures.
In Egypt on summer solstice, as one watches from the sphinx, the sunset happens between two pyramids; how amazing it would be! In ancient Egypt solstice is the sign of the arrival of the star Sirius. The Nile would be flooded soon after this making their lands fertile. Photos of the sunrise at Stonehenge in the UK, Glastonbury Tor are all stunning too .
Solstitium the Latin word that derived from sol (sun) and stitium (stop) indicates that the Sun stops on this day. After all, the Sun too needs to pause and take a deep breath! Deep Inhalation and long exhalation as in Pranayama, the breathing exercise in Yoga, when the toxins leave your body and your whole being is rejuvenated. The Sun takes a deep breath and continues his journey.
Life is all about balance
An attempt at the balancing pose called vrikshasana. Acrylic medium
21st June is celebrated as ‘International Yoga Day’. It is important to strike a balance with the universe thereby creating a balance and harmony within you. Yoga is cleansing, freeing, balancing and inspiring. As far as I am concerned Surya namaskara or the sun salutation is the heart and soul of Yoga. Sun is the soul of the universe, the light source of our planet; you bow, prostrate and pay reverence to the life giving source and try to harness a minuscule of that energy thus revitalising your physical and spiritual being.
Sun salutation is a warming up exercise in yoga and the twelve postures in sun salutation are in sync with the solar cycles. Another interesting word that I came across through Dictionar.com is ‘heliolatry’ or worship of the sun. when the love for sun turns into reverence it is heliolatry; a word from Greek. olatry is worship, helio stands for sun.
Back home in Kerala June 21 2017 is the start of Thiruvatira Njattuvela , the season of plentiful rains and harvest. Njattuvelas are closely connected to sun and the rotation of Earth around the sun. A year is divided into 27 njattuvelas, each one named after an asterism. Our Anakkara paddy fields would turn into lakes in the coming days.
The changing cycles of Nature are observed and celebrated in many different ways. June 21st is a special day in many aspects. It is a good time to start something new. I have promises to keep! I shall once again start Yoga, the journey of the self, to the self and through the self! Let me practise meditation to feel light, for clarity, health and Joy!