Guiding Light: Yoga Solstice

Guiding Light: Yoga Solstice

Ritesh AswaneyUpdated: Saturday, June 22, 2024, 03:11 AM IST
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As the north pole achieved its maximum tilt towards the sun, we experienced the summer solstice, the longest day in the year ! And for the past 10 years, the 21st of June has been celebrated as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations. And like each year, this day is marked in cities all over the world, everything from gentle stretches to introduce beginners to the wonders of yoga, to a marathon of sun salutations for the pros!

The chosen theme for this year is Yoga for Self and Society. Yoga is a great form of daily sadhana to pursue on an individual basis. It facilitates a brief digital detox and spending time with yourself, the breathing techniques (pranayama) and postures (asanas) bring a sense of balance and harmony to mind and body. Yoga can also be a great way to connect with those around you. One may attend a class in the gym, or share one's experiences and/or expertise with others, who have always been curious about yoga, but haven’t been able to make a start.

Any discussion on yoga is incomplete without mentioning Maharishi Patanjali, whose sutras are the basis of almost all modern systems of yoga. And if you thought the Maharishi wrote tomes about Vinyasa flows, then true to the terse style of our ancient masters, all he really said was “Sthira Sukham Asanam”, which translates “The posture that you hold should be steady and comfortable” ! All of yoga is a preparation for a higher state of consciousness that seekers in our culture have aspired for millenia. The gateway to this holy grail is preparing the body and the mind by following the 8 limbs of yoga that the Maharishi prescribed as part of the Ashtanga Marga.

Meditation and mindfulness have gained significant recognition in modern times, with the increase in stress levels and increasing pressures in daily life. Meditation brings deep rest, helping us disengage our senses from the constant streams of stimuli, which warp our perception and bring mental exhaustion. Even a few moments spent communing with the higher self in solitude can bring deep rest, which can help us feel rejuvenated.

It may seem like yoga and meditation are all the rage today, but the truth is we still have a long way to go before we approach the solstice in this quest for human wellness. We are fortunate that the ancient system is available to us in an accessible form through contemporary gurukulas at affordable costs. So whether it’s the physical form one seeks, or mental peace, a little bit of yoga can make our lives better!

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