Today is a rare culmination of events that has a similar occurrence in astrology known as a Grand Trine. It is simultaneously International Yoga Day, the start of National Prayer Days to Protect Native American Sacred Places and the Summer Solstice.
The Grand Trine is a planetary pattern where the placement of three planets form an equilateral triangle. Its auspicious appearance indicates a harmonious flow of energy with potential for creative self-expression and blessings. How very much like today’s celebration of the sun, yoga and sacred sites across America!
The proposal to start the International Day of Yoga was stated as such before the UNGA by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi:
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
All of today’s events ask us to pause, observe, reflect and respect, not just for one occurrence of an historical event, but for the whole complexity of life. Looking out at a National Monument (most of which have Native American sacred roots) from my house under a blazing sun in 111 degree weather and with an outdoor yoga class on the horizon later tonight, my own personal Grand Trine is feeling very real today.
I love this country’s natural history and marvel at the array of landscapes it contains, the very powerful centers of stone, water, soil, sun and air that have been designated as protected sites under the National Park Service. And yet, our reverence for these sites is only as deep as our pockets are full. With natural splendor comes natural resources, and eventually, unspoiled land is seen as a fine place to settle new populations.
Conservation is a daily commitment, like the practice of yoga—once you lose the habit, you loose the connection and therefore, stop caring. The founder of National Prayer Days, Suzan Shown Harjo, has made it her lifelong work to protect sacred native sites and traditions across America. Her commitment has recovered 1 million acres of tribal lands to Native peoples across America, one of her many victories for Native American rights.
Perhaps the most exemplary figure of commitment is the sun. It makes a promise to rise and set to varying degrees in the sky every day of every year ad infinitum. Just look at the handiwork of that kind of consistency: the entirety of life on this planet. As we can see, ritualistic observances of our daily patterns and habits are necessary. When we show something care and attention, it grows.
The practice of yoga is no different from honoring sacred sites and greeting each day with the rising sun. It is a practice of repetition, reflection, reconnection to one’s purpose, relationship to others and to the earth, community, health and honoring the sacred rhythms of life with respect and reverence. With commitment to the practice, yoga creates wondrous opportunities as expansive as the Grand Canyon and as vibrant as the midday sun. Yoga is a sacred space in which to honor oneself, others and the entire world. How beautiful that it too gets its own holiday for all of us to pause and reflect on our commitment to the practice of life.