When we think of living life as a yogi, we often think of doing the practices specified and outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. After all, Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga (the yamas and niyamas, posture practice, breathing techniques, and the different steps to meditation and enlightenment) are the essence of our modern Yoga practice. However, there are many other yogic practices that are available to us! Our work is to try a variety of practices, determine which ones help us to live in the yogic state more often (in essence, the state of psychological and spiritual health), and to adjust our practice accordingly throughout our life so we can live our yoga more often.
Yoga teaches us the interconnectedness of all things. From a yogic perspective, we are not separate from nature. We are part of it. Living in alignment with nature is a yogic practice. We do this through things like astrology, seasonal living, and following the lunar cycle.
At the time of publication, there are a lot of seasonal changes happening this Sunday! (If reading this post in the future, not to worry. These natural phenomena occur at least annually.) This Sunday is the Summer Solstice. It also just so happens to be a solar eclipse! As yogis, awareness of these shifts allows us to live in greater harmony with the natural world.
Eclipses as heralds of change.
Eclipses signify change is afoot! Change is part of the human experiences. Some changes are big, some are little. Some change we like, others we don’t. At times, we initiate change. Other times change shows up on our doorstep uninvited. No matter how we feel about change, it is inevitable. It is who we choose to be in the midst of change that matters most.
Astrology is like a map we can use to navigate change. When we understand what astrological occurrences mean, we can use that knowledge to make better informed decisions about our life. This Sunday’s eclipse is a solar eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs only at the new moon. New moons are typically associated with new beginnings. Therefore, we can think of a solar eclipse as being a particularly potent new moon. Solar eclipses herald new, usually unsought, beginnings.
This Sunday’s solar eclipse is in the astrological sign Cancer. Cancer represents home, emotions, and mothering. Knowing the sign gives us a clue as to the nature of the change that will be occurring. We can glean even more information surrounding astrological occurrences by plugging them into our birth chart. Then we can determine what house, or field of lived experience, will be most impacted by the solar eclipse, or any other astrological happening.
The Summer Solstice: a time for pragmatic rejoicing.
The Summer Solstice is the first day of summer from an astrological and astronomical perspective. It is the longest day of the year. In European agrarian communities, the Summer Solstice, or Litha, was the first of three major harvests: Litha, Lughnasadh , and Mabon. At Litha, those who survived the winter gave gratitude that they had enough resources and were able to sustain enough health to see them through the colder months.
Litha is a time for pragmatic rejoicing. Communities gratefully celebrated the bounty of their crops and the onset of the warmer season. However, they also recognized this was not a time to kick back and relax. They were already looking to the future: sowing, planting, and doing all the work necessary to ensure there would be enough to eat in the year to come.
The Summer Solstice asks us to look at the world and our place in it and consider some pretty big questions: Is the way we have been doing working, not only for us, but also for our community? How will we ensure all of our people have enough resources to live well in the year to come? When it comes to the future, is the way we are living sustainable? Are we in it for the long haul?
Yoga teaches us that we are intimately connected to Earth and her cycles. Living in alignment with nature does not mean that we believe the seasons and cosmos outline our fate. Actually, it is just the opposite. As we study, cultivate an understanding, and live with respect to natural cycles we are able to make better informed decisions, create sustainable long-term plans, and live in right relationship with others and the world around us. Seasonal living means living with greater depth and intention. When we live in accordance with the natural order of the Universe, life is not some random, chaotic experience that happens to us. Rather, we are empowered to fully step into life as co-creators of our destiny.
Image by Niklas Veenhuis of unsplash.com