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The winter solstice is the shortest and darkest day of the year. These dark days of December call us inward and command some recognition. Even if we don’t pay attention to the call inward, we can feel the affects in our bodies and minds. We may notice a natural slowing of our energy both physically and mentally. We may find ourselves in a more introspective space as the sun’s zenith is at the furthest point away from the equator.

During the dark days of the year, certain practices will help enliven our spirits and bring us into balance with the changing environment

Some of us search for some practices that will help us counter balance that inward pull. Certain practices will help enliven our spirits and bring us into balance with the changing environment. We may try extending our exercise sessions to bring up the heat and energy in the body, take a sunny vacation, or even use light therapy to counteract the darkness.

There is no right way to respond to this time, but more important, it’s interesting to observe your own tendencies and preferences as you acknowledge and mark the transition. With your yoga practice, you can honor what is right for you during this time, making the most of the support you need to emerge refreshed and rejuvenated.

You may find that a little bit of both is needed.

The Call Inward

If your tendency is to sink into the call to move inward, it can be a powerful time for introspection, meditation and inner connection. It sends you forward with a sense of fortification and renewal as you approach the New Year. Practices like journaling, meditation, and intention-setting all set the stage for deep internal awareness. This can provide a nice balance to our otherwise externally focused lives. Part of setting New Years resolutions requires that we gain perspective from the previous years activities and we review what is working and not working for us in an effort to start fresh. This approach of moving inward helps us set the stage for starting over.

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Allow your time on the mat to be filled with a healthy dose of meditation followed by a deep listening to your own heart.

Take time to journal and set intentions for your highest self to emerge.

Bringing Up the Heat

If you use this time to find balance with the darkness, heaviness and coldness, you can connect with those practices that will bring up the heat and inspire you into action. You may find yourself volunteering at a soup kitchen, or helping a neighbor in need.   You might use imagery to imagine yourself lying on a sunny beach or in a warm bright light.

Yet another practice that helps bring up energy and puts us in connection to the sun itself is the practice of Sun Salutations.

These are a series of twelve yoga postures strung together in a gentle flow to improve circulation and bring heat to the body. It is also a practice that allows us to pay our respect to this great star, our sun that shines down on this planet providing us with heat and light and the ability to survive here on earth.

As you come to the mat to practice the Sun Salutations, it’s a perfect time to pay your humble respects to the sun as heat and light start to fill your body during practice.

For centuries we humans have honored this time and transition. There are festivals of lights, and practices of giving to others that help us dispel the darkness and bring a festive quality to this time. There are practices of introspection and gratitude that help us align with our highest self. No matter what you do to mark this time, know that recognition brings a sense of meaning to this transition. It connects us to our ancestors who have honored this time for centuries.

What do you do to honor your wellbeing during the transition of the Winter Solstice?

 

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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