Today is the longest day of the year, and around the world the event is marked as both the summer solstice and the "International Day of Yoga".
How are yoga and summer connected? Since we are closest to the sun than on any other day, we are receiving an abundance of energy, and many interpret this as an invitation to harness the sun's abundance to inspire, lift, and rekindle our internal fires. Yoga is a practice of connecting the body and mind, allowing us to reawaken, gain acceptance and become more mindful of ourselves and our present surroundings. For millions of yogis worldwide, this is a day of reenergizing through stillness.
There are other traditions across many cultures – some centuries-old -- that have celebrated this seasonal pivot point. In Chinese astronomy, the phenomenon known as Xiazhi roughly corresponds to the summer solstice – it begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 90° and ends when its celestial longitude is 105°. Xiazhi usually begins around June 21, and ends around July 7, though the term sometimes refers in particular to the day when Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 90°.
In New York, thousands of yogis young and old will participate in Solstice in Times Square with free yoga all day long. The event, which features celebrity fitness gurus, yoga village booths with vendors, freebies and giveaways throughout the day. “We welcome all to Times Square, as we celebrate the Summer Solstice and take a moment to find inner peace amidst the daily hustle,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance and cofounder of the event. “At a moment when the world is more chaotic than ever, Solstice in Times Square shows that it is possible, even in what might be considered one of the more unexpected places, for people to find harmony within themselves.”