As a chilly blanket descends upon the Northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice on 22nd Dec will mark the shortest day of the year. Many rituals and traditions around the world celebrate this important astronomical moment, such Dong Zhi in China or the Pagan celebration of Yule in Europe.
After the lengthy darkness comes longer days and shorter nights, and many cultures choose this night to give gratitude for the year passed, the challenges overcome and a transition from darkness to light. Drawing inspiration from these transformative celebrations, within the realm of yoga, the Winter Solstice presents an opportunity for a practice that harmonises body, mind, and spirit with the natural rhythms of the universe.
The Essence of the Winter Solstice in Yoga
In the quiet stillness of winter, yogis have the chance to turn inward, reflecting on the cycles of nature and their own internal landscapes. The Winter Solstice serves as a metaphorical guide, urging practitioners to seek the light within themselves even as the external world experiences its longest night. Here are some ideas to honour this powerful time of the year.
**1. Sun Salutations: Surya Namaskara
The Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutation, becomes a symbolic gesture of embracing the returning light. Each flowing movement honours the sun, offering gratitude for its presence in our lives. As you transition through the asanas, visualise the sun’s radiant energy filling your being, dispelling any darkness within.
**2. Restorative Poses: Honouring Stillness
Winter encourages us to slow down and be kind to ourselves. Incorporating restorative poses into your practice allows for deep relaxation and rejuvenation. Poses like Child’s Pose, Supported Bridge, and Savasana provide a space for introspection and restoration.
**3. Meditation and Mindfulness
As we embrace stillness, we may also feel the need to quiet the mind. Guided meditations centred around themes of light, inner warmth, and renewal help foster a sense of peace and tranquillity. You can find plenty of inspiration online – here is an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY4vluL3jcs.
**4. Candlelit Yoga: Embracing the Glow
Creating a sacred space with candlelight during your yoga practice enhances the connection to the Winter Solstice’s symbolism. The soft, flickering light becomes a representation of the inner glow we nurture within ourselves, even in the darkest of times.
Set New Intentions: Embracing the Winter Solstice Within
Much like our yoga practice, our intentions are ever-changing, shifting from one moment to the next. By reminding ourselves of our intentions during our yoga practice, these intentions are set into motion and gradually become second nature. Like shedding old layers, habits, and personas, this transformative process leads us on a journey toward the truest expression of our Self. Similar to planting a seed, an intention requires careful nurturing and patience. But for it to flourish, we need to release it outwardly, allowing it to manifest in the universe.
As we approach the new year, let your intentions move from your inner fire and be manifested in the world around you. Consider the Winter Solstice as the final movement in the symphony of this past year of your life and the grounding stone to build a new beginning. Harmonise your breath with deliberate and instinctive movements. Move at a measured pace, releasing what no longer serves you, creating space for the opportunities that lie ahead. This intentional letting go clears the slate, paving the way for all that the universe has in store for you.