Definition - What does Shivaratri mean?
Shivaratri literally translates as "the night of Lord Shiva" and is the 14th and darkest day of every lunar month. Maha Shivaratri, which means "the great night of Lord Shiva," is celebrated on the 13th night/14th day of Phalguna, the 12th month of the Hindu calendar, which is around February to March every year.
Dedicated to the worship of the Destroyer, as the compassionate Lord Shiva is sometimes called, this night is considered one of the holiest in the calendar year. It awakens the inner spirit and destroys all evils in the Self. Devotees remain awake throughout the night, performing pujas and prayers, seeking Divine intervention to fight against all evils. Meditation is done in the night with the goal of achieving Self-awareness.
Regular yogic practices will tune the mind to stay awake and experience the powerful energy of Shivaratri.
Yogapedia explains Shivaratri
Celebrations take place throughout the night of Shivaratri. The planetary positions on this night are unique and, thus, there is an increase in energy levels. It is believed that on this day, Lord Shiva married the goddess, Parvati.
On Shivaratri, devotees visit temples to offer prayers, chant mantras and take part in the pujas performed throughout the night. Bel leaves are offered to the god as it is believed that such offerings will absolve people of all sins and lead to liberation. According to yoga philosophy, Shiva is also known as Adi Yogi (First Yogi).
Shiva is considered to be the spine that was the source for all spiritual knowledge. Staying awake throughout the night of Shivaratri with the spine erect helps the devotee to experience a powerful upsurge of energy. Yoga can be used to further one's receptivity to this energy. It is best to assume a yogic pose that keeps the spine erect, but one that's simple enough to remain comfortably in the pose for a longer time.
It is also believed that it was on Maha Shivaratri that Lord Shiva performed Tandava, a dance that signifies creation, destruction, support, illusion and grace.