Today (June 20th) marks the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, rewarding us with over 16 hours of glorious daylight. ‘Solstice’ is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). Summer solstice occurs when the earth’s axial tilt is most directly inclined towards the sun. This happens twice a year, (once in each hemisphere) when the sun's path (as seen from the Earth) reaches its highest position in the sky, stops and then reverses direction. By rising north of east and setting north of west, it is visible for a longer period of time. Here are some suggestions to help you be in the moment of solstice, and take advantage of these generous hours between sunrise and sunset.
Honour the Sun. Without the Sun, there would be no life on Earth. If you enjoy practicing yoga, you will be familiar with performing the infamous Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar, meaning ‘Salute to the Sun’. This sequence of movements is an ancient technique of paying respect or expressing gratitude to the sun, that is the source of all forms of life on our planet. The Sun Salutation is intended to balance harmony in both your body and your soul. Each position aims to build strength, improve circulation and increase flexibility among many other health benefits. Welcome the arrival of the sun on the morning of the summer solstice and re-energize yourself for a long day ahead.
Fortify your Energies The promise of warmer temperatures and longer care-free days should be considered as a perfect opportunity to nurture yourselves and better your performance. The gift of the sun’s energy is an offering to redirect your own energies, whether that be making greater efforts to improve your diet, eliminate unnecessary stress, or even take up some exercise that make a change to your current stagnant routine. Try re-adjusting your nutrition intake to include more whole foods, or realign your thinking when shopping for groceries, opting for more locally grown, organic produce.
Heal Yourself Many cultures consider the summer solstice to be a day bearing special healing properties. Its an optimal time to renew yourself and commit to a healthier, more mindful lifestyle. Activate your body’s internal healing centers by taking up a restorative yoga class or try practicing some meditation. You can also adopt a more organic summer by planting a herb garden in tribute of the summer solstice. Though our Medieval brethren placed special emphasis on medicinal herbs such as St. John’s Wort and calendula but you can also enjoy fresh basil, rosemary, thyme and sage for your seasonal cooking all summer long.
Seek Fulfillment The June solstice heralds the beginning of the summer season. This also represents a time of fulfillment and self-reflection. This is an excellent time to take stock of your life. Assess how your goals and aims are going and evaluate your journey from the year's earlier New Year's resolutions to the bigger goals in your life. The summer solstice is designed to move you from one phase to the next, on your terms. Remind yourself of what you have achieved so far and then ask yourself if you are still aligned with these goals or if have you strayed from them. Take this opportunity to reinvigorate them and to make any necessary changes to achieve your dreams.
Get outside and celebrate! For many bygone civilizations, the summer solstice or midsummer, was endowed with great significance through festivities, feasts, bonfires, music and dancing. So why not invite your friends and family to ring in the summer and honor the arc of a long day into a long night. Remain at one with nature and dine outside, picnic style or even dust off the BBQ. Have each of your guests bring an offering to contribute to the table and use this as an opportunity to feast together on sumptuous seasonal produce. You can find some great summer solstice party ideas online but for those innovators among us, it’s the perfect time of year to exercise your imagination and put your own stamp on an ancient tradition.
So, on this day, with the almighty sun at its most radiant, there's no excuse for not having enough hours in your day to shine more radiant too.