Inspired by the Celtic Wheel of the Year, I love the different seasons of nature and the different gifts each one brings. I often integrate rituals, practices and lifestyle shifts that recognise these cyclical movements of nature into the Yoga I practice, teach, and the way I live my life.
Acknowledging the seasonal wheel and changes offer you the chance to pause, reflect and renew at key times during the year, to take stock and give thanks – something we don’t often do in our busy lives.
We have the Solar Festivals – Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox – that mark seasonal changes caused by the sun when significant shifts happen in terms of cyclical change.
Then we have the Fire Festivals – Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain – which represent turning points that were celebrated as agricultural festivals by our ancestors.
The Festivals of the Celtic Wheel of the Year represent the more active and the dormant phases of nature. They are when we should plant, sow or reap. I like to play with this model through movement and yogic practices that honour these times in the year and our lives.
Bringing a Yoga focus to this idea, one may work with our Shakti feminine energy that connects us deeply with the Earth’s natural cycles. The practices we do during each season reflect the inner expression of the outward season. By practicing Yoga in this way, we can connect more deeply to the natural ebbs and flows of energy we experience both personally through seasonal shifts and collectively through nature.
In early February we begin to unfurl from the dark winter months, the first snowdrops can be seen sprouting. Your yoga may be very gentle and tentative at the time as we move back into routine!
You can get a spring back into your step with revitalising yoga and movement; focus on re-energising the body and mind after the more dormant season of Winter.
Recognising the shift in energy that Spring brings, work with poses to energise and liberate the body, drawing our attention back out into the world and encouraging it to open up and flower into Spring.
Beltane is a May Day celebration of the potency of the Earth and the forces of nature. It marks the beginning of the most active part of the year and the transition towards Summer. It is a time to celebrate our sensuality and fertility.
Summer Solstice around the 21st June represents the height of Summer, Midsummer, when we experience both the longest day and shortest night.
Solstice gives us a chance to stop, pause and reflect on our journey since the Winter Solstice. It gives us the chance to enjoy some being time at the midpoint in our annual cycle before we start to head towards the darker half of the year, moving into Autumn and then Winter over the coming six months.
As we reflect on our own unique journeys, we may also focus on developing our inner awareness and self-love as we share, reflect, move, rest and look ahead to the second part of the year.
Lammas is a festival that celebrates the first fruits of harvest. It is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude for the fruits that have grown and ripened from our labours; from seeds and desires sown and planted at the start of the year.
It is also a time to remind ourselves of the importance of self-care, self-love and nurture and to spend some time nurturing and nourishing ourselves and our bodies so we feel alive, healthy, rich, juicy and abundant as the Earth does in the harvest season too.
At the Autumn Equinox around 23rd September, there is a shift of emphasis from outward achievement (Yang qualities) to inner reflection (Yin qualities) and contemplation. Sometimes we struggle to adjust at the change of the seasons and this can unbalance us.
Half way between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice that marks the end of harvest time ahead of welcoming in the darker winter months. For many pagan Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) is also the start of the new year. It’s a time for thanksgiving, of death and rebirth; a time to reflect, give thanks, recharge and renew.
Winter Solstice, a time where we mark the end of hibernation and the return of the Sun. An invitation to pause and reflect on our journeys since the Summer Solstice. It’s a time to acknowledge what we’ve completed and the insights we’ve gained along the way.
Here are some wheels of the year to help you see the cycle, and templates to create your own!