Nature is full of patterns and we humans love finding them, creating them, repeating them. This is the core of ritual, which is the repetition of words or actions deemed worthy of representing something bigger than ourselves. My view is that all over the world and across time, these are all a form of art, an elaborate performance or a secret poem, all vital in their ability to help us face the nature of time and change.
- Sasha Sagan, "For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World"
Some of my favorite aspects of a regular Ayurveda practice are the rituals that surround it. In Ayurveda, we have daily routines known as Dinacharya and seasonal routines known as Ritucharya. For certain days and seasons, there are specific asana, pranayama, mantra, mudra, and dietary recommendations.
Vedic astrology, a branch of Ayurveda, goes even further and recognizes the planetary influence on the days of the week. Each day of the week is associated with a planet and possesses specific qualities. Thus, certain activities and practices are recommended to “appease” a planet and court its favor. You can explore the intersection of yoga and the planets in my show, Yoga and Ayurveda.
Cultures around the world lean into ritual as a way to sanctify events and create reverence for both the developed and natural world. Think of the ritual of getting a kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve or wishing upon a shooting star. These actions remind us that the events in our lives deserve attention. Rituals help us pause, create memories, and imprint moments in our minds.
On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, we welcome the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. In 2014, I was fortunate enough to teach the closing Sunset Flow for Solstice Times Square, an annual event in the heart of New York City. It was incredible to be in the middle of one of the loudest, most active places in the world and look out over the 3,000 people choosing to stop traffic (legally!) and sit in meditation together. Along with moving, breathing, and sweating together, we chanted Om and did Diamond Heart Mudra. The energy was powerful and there were intentions set, tears shed, and laughter. We smiled as we came together to practice yoga as a way of inspiring each other to work toward our Greatest Good.
This year, we may not be able to gather in close quarters with 3,000 of our closest friends. However, we can still create a ritual for ourselves or to share with close friends or family members. Below are some suggestions to inspire you this summer solstice:
May we remember we are a reflection of that which we see around us. May the brilliant light of knowledge infuse our practice and our life with peace. Blessings on your solstice!
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