Summer Solstice Ritual

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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"

One of my favorite aspects of keeping a regular Ayurveda Practice is the rituals that surround it. In Ayurveda, we have what is called Dinacharya, which means “Daily Routines”, and Ritucharya, which means “Seasonal Routines”. There are specific asana, pranayama, mantra, mudra, and dietary recommendations for certain days and seasons. Jyotish astrology, a branch of Ayurveda, goes even further and recognizes the planetary influence on each day of the week. I explored that in my most recent show, Yoga and Ayurveda. Each day of the week is associated with a planet with specific qualities, so certain activities are recommended to “appease” the planet and court its favor.

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 on a shooting star. These actions remind us that the events in our lives deserve attention. It’s almost like taking an internal snapshot, elevating a moment as a way of creating memory and imprinting the passage of time into our mind’s eye.

On Tuesday June 21, 2022, we will come around again to our 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. We moved together, breathed and sweated together, chanted Om, and did Diamond heart Mudra together. The energy was powerful, and there were intentions set, tears shed, laughter, smiles - the natural outcome when we come together and practice Yoga as a way of inspiring each other to 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. Here are some suggestions. Feel free to get creative and add or subtract as you feel moved:

  1. Investigate the exact time of sunrise in your area, and set your alarm for ten minutes before that time.
  2. Get up and find a quiet spot to sit, either inside or outside where you can see the sky.
  3. If you use a mala, bring it with you. If not, set a timer for five minutes, and recite a mantra of your choice. Not sure of one? I would recommend either the Gayatri Mantra (that would take longer than five minutes if you’re using a mala) or perhaps one of my favorite sutras from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, sutra 1:36, which says Vishoka va jyotishmati (vee-shokah vah jyoh-teesh-mahtee) which translates to “Focus on the ever blissful eternal light within”.
  4. When you finish with the mantra, get up, stretch your legs, and do three to five rounds of Surya Namaskar. You might even choose to do the traditional Surya Namaskar with mantras. Follow along here with my Sun celebration class from the Yoga and Ayurveda show.
  5. After your practice, take your shower, perform any other self care routines, and get dressed in a color that honors this day - could be traditional white, or gold, or orange for the sun.
  6. Have a snack of summer fruit. Enjoy a peach, nectarine, or some berries - something bursting with flavor and sweetness, to represent the abundance of the Summer season.
  7. At some point during the day, make sure to take a walk outside, preferably somewhere you can see trees and flowers in their full glory.
  8. Either at sunset or before bed, give yourself the gift of a brief meditation, either pick one from the many available on Yoga Anytime or stay with your own practice. I love this prayer. It might be a nice accompaniment to meditation, or even to put in your headphones as you go about your day.

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!

Namaste, Ali

About the Author

Ali Cramer

Ali is a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner based in New York City. She believes deeply that the practices of yoga and Ayurveda can teach us to live our lives with integrity, balance, and grace, if we are willing to do the work. You can practice with Ali on Yoga Anytime in Yoga and Ayurveda and Ayurveda: Yoga Practices to Feel Like Yourself.


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