The winter solstice, which falls on December 21, 2020, marks the beginning of the astronomical winter season. It’s the day in the year when we have the least amount of daylight, but also that point where we start to shift, and our days begin to get longer again. It’s a time when one cycle ends and another begins, therefore marking a time of death and rebirth. Rather than resisting the darkness of the day, we can celebrate it for what it represents and use it not only as our return to light, but as an opportunity to turn inward.
In both yoga and astrology, the sun symbolizes the soul and in Latin the word “solstice” means sun standing still. It might therefore be said that the soul stands still on this day. The darkness of the solstice can be a contemplative time and it provides a great opportunity to set an intention and allow yourself to slow down and acknowledge all aspects of yourself, both the light and the dark. Connect to what you desire and begin to let go of what no longer serves you.
I’ve found that the winter solstice also provides the perfect opportunity to slow down in my practice, to move through poses that help me let go and create space for myself and what’s to come next. Restorative and gentle poses work great for this, however, if your body is craving more movement, you can always move through a flow style class. You might still find it beneficial to slow down a bit to give yourself time to really experience, connect to, and feel each pose.
Because the solstice is a great time to turn inward, it is also a great time to reflect and to journal. I’ve always found it helpful to first move through my asana, no matter which style I’m practicing and then to sit and meditate before I begin to write. Practicing yoga and sitting in meditation can help to quiet the fluctuations of the mind, bringing us into the present moment. This can provide clarity, which allows us to write easier.
If you’re looking for a ritual to practice on the solstice, I suggest the following (times can be adjusted based on your preference):
Set an intention. You might focus on a theme surrounding the solstice, or you can choose something that is speaking to you in the moment.
Move (20 minutes). Move and release some energy. Do yoga, stretch, dance, make noise. Do anything that feels good and allows you to get in touch with your body on a physical and emotional level and that will create space for you to sit and journal.
Meditate (10 minutes). Once the energy is stirred and starting to release, come to a comfortable position. Sit tall and close your eyes or soften your gaze. Focus on your breath and allow the energy to settle, notice how your mind and body start to ground.
Journal (10 minutes). Allow your writing to be more organic, capture whatever arises. If nothing comes up, use the questions below or continue to sit in silence and notice. Write for the full 10 minutes or until you feel complete in the present moment.
Meditate (5 minutes). Once you finish writing, come back to your meditation position. Observe any thoughts and feelings that arise without judgement.
Winter Solstice Questions to reflect on:
What did you learn over the last year?
What would you like to release on this solstice?
What darkness are you suppressing? Is it actually a darkness?
What do you want to bring into the light?
Where do you need to shift focus in life?
What new vibrations or habits would you like to start to invite in?
What do you want to achieve in the coming year?
With the solstice falling in December, it can be an especially busy month. Remember, our practices and actions on the solstice should reflect what is happening around us, therefore, like nature, it’s a perfect time to slow down, be less active, and engage in some self-care. We all need a little balance and time away from the chaos that can be happening around us. Take time to reflect on the year so far and allow your body and mind to be filled with peace, no matter what your reflections bring up. Everything up until now is in the past and we can now start thinking about the new season and cycle that is coming.