Finding Light on the Darkest Day of the Year
Updated: Aug 22
The Winter Solstice. The birth of a new solar year. The light is short, the night is long - literally the longest of the year - and the blustery, seemingly endless season of Winter has begun. As a Wisconsinite, today is the day we mentally prepare ourselves for the bitter days ahead.
It's hard to find the light when you're surrounded by dark for so long. I even invested in a happy light this year to wipe away those winter blues. But these feelings of introversion can actually be used to embrace and celebrate the equinox. The Winter Solstice is a time for reflection, patience, and finding your own light.
To ease yourself into the season, I have 3 poses to add to your practice and enhance your solstice experience! Instead of hiding under a pile of blankets, roll out your mat, stretch out some salutations, and honor that equinox.
Malasana, or Garland Pose is a self reflective squat that can highly benefit your flow today. This is a great hip and groin opener and will strengthen your ankles and knees when practiced regularly. It may not feel comfortable now, but squatting was far more common for our ancestors. Over time we've evolved into chairs and vehicles, bending and slouching our spines unnaturally. Gain back some motility in your hips and back with 30 seconds in this pose.
Lean into the silence the darkness of the equinox brings and find your breath. Release the stresses and the worries and be present. Look for the light inside of you, whatever that may be. Feel the warmth rise from your toes to the top of your head and let it carry you through the rest of your asanas and throughout the sub zero season.
Humble Warrior pose, or Baddha Virabhadrasana is a forward fold to add to your practice today. Forward folds are reflective in nature. They physically turn you back into yourself, giving you the perfect opportunity to reflect. If the darkness of today leaves you feeling like the sweet days of Summer will never return, this standing Warrior pose will deliver the confidence and strength you need to survive the snow.
It's very important to listen to your body in this pose. It begins from Warrior I, but this variation opens up your hips and shoulders. If your shoulders are too tight, you can incorporate a strap or just grab your elbows. Once you find that sweet spot, close your eyes or soften your gaze, focus on your breathing, and hold onto the light that you find within. Let it wash over you from your fingers, down your arms, across your back and legs. Om-mmmm, thats' nice.
Garudasana is one of my personal favorites. So much so, that I chose it to teach to my Iyengar class in college. Eagle Pose is like giving yourself the biggest, weirdest full body hug you possibly can. That is why it is a great addition to your Winter Solstice sequence. The best part of the pose is curling into heart center, almost creating a standing fetal position of sorts. Look into your heart here, letting go of the fear, the anxiety, and embracing hope and light.
It takes a lot of elements to wrap yourself up in Eagle. It takes strength and balance to keep you from toppling. It takes steadfast concentration to hold your center while being wound. These are all elements that you should hold on with you as you continue into the season ahead. With that, confidence naturally follows and you'll find yourself spending the next year with a strong and focused mind set.
In astrology and yoga, the sun symbolizes the soul. In Latin, the word "solstice" means sun standing still - perhaps you could say today the soul stands still. Take it upon yourself to reflect today, maybe even incorporating these poses into a sequence. Your soul will thank you.
My soul honors your soul.
I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.
I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you,
because it is also within me.
In sharing these things, we are united, we are the same,
we are one.