Before I start – what is winter solstice?
It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. On the day after the night is still long but not the longest anymore and we head towards the season of long days and short nights. So it is literally the return to the light out of the darkness. You can transfer this to your own life if you like and analyse the past months.
A time to reflect and make plans. If you google it you will find many rituals and traditions for this day in several cultures and religions. For me it was always the time to go through 108 sun salutations (and untrained this is really painful towards the end and days after).
I do sun salutations to welcome the sun back into my life and 108 is the number of spiritual completion. You will find 108 beads on a mala necklace which is used for meditation.
Benefits of sun salutations
Is it just a series of movements or where are the benefits of sun salutations? One sun salutation has all a full yoga practice needs. You have back and forward bends, inversion and pranayama included. If you repeat it 108 times it will liberate your spine, your body will be revitalised and it surely will clear your mind, which has a meditative practice included as well. If you are able to think of anything else than moving with your breath and still counting to get the 108 done, then you are a genius.
I went through a couple of winter solstices since I started to practice yoga. I always ended up sore the next day. This year marks for me the year where I want to change my approach. 2021 was the year of change when I look back.
After I had a year off and a yoga teacher training in the middle of a pandemic I started a new job this year. My approach towards many things in life changed, not only work wise. After I finished my yoga teacher training in February I started to use my new gained knowledge, not on the mat but in my life.
Whenever I start to be mad (and let’s be honest, this year gave us lots to be mad about) I try hard to put myself in the shoes of others. It works sometimes, rarely for certain topics, but I’m on my way. How could I bring it to perfection shortly after I started? The little steps, the intention to be better, this is something to be proud of.
My new job proofs to me that I did nothing wrong in my job ever since, and this is an assurance I needed so much after a series of bad experiences where people wanted to make me believe a “truth” which never has been true. I let this go this December!
Letting go is hard and we often need some assurance that it will be fine. I got mine and am so grateful for it. Letting go of practicing 108 sun salutations on winter solstice is not on my plan. This year I want to proof to myself that I am perfectly able to finish without being sore the next day.
It needs only one thing, a proper preparation.
Although I love yoga I am not daily on my yoga mat. Yoga is great as practice and I want to do it daily, but let’s face it – some days, like today, there are time slots where I could slip it in, but this is not what I want. I want peace, my mat rolled out, a candle lit up, music in the background. I want to indulge into this moment in time. Ok, seems to be something else to put on my “letting go” list because I rarely get these moments between work and kindergarten and playdates and household.
The solution for me, I will put daily reminders for myself beginning on the first of December. DO SUN SALUTATIONS (and if you like a few more asanas).
The more I practice, the better I become.
We all know this but often laziness takes over.
Why do I love this winter solstice so much? Isn’t it a burden?
It is not, it is another chance, each year it is another chance to rise and learn.
I will start my winter solstice preparations beginning of December and it sounds more complicated than it is.
Return to Innocence
See it as the return to innocence. You let go of the past and start fresh. You think about your goals and realign them, you think about what wasn’t good and what no longer has a place in your life. Setting intentions is a wonderful start but don’t be rigid, let them be flexible and adapt them from time to time. Nothing is worse than intentions which are out of reach. This all is about you and your future and well-being. I like to compare it a bit to my yoga practice. If I want to learn how to go into the wheel pose I start little and have blocks as support. If I am not able to do a proper wheel then I acknowledge and work towards it with little steps and support. I may not reach it at all, but what I reached is a constant practice, this is a great achievement. Life is about adapting, about finding peace where we are because we are here for reason.
If you need a ritual you can burn a list of things you want to let go. Toss them into a fire and watch them burn.
Fire places are great to have during these dark days, so if you have one just sit there and soak in the heat of the fire.
If you don’t have one, there’s plenty of food to get us heated up from the inside. Especially in the Ayurvedic kitchen you will find hot food for its heating effect inside of our body. Black pepper, ginger and garlic – you can combine them with potatoes, broccoli and spinach, then add some root vegetables (carrot, turnips or radish) and some herbs (basil, mint or oregano) and you will have a wonderful warming soup or stew.
Be the light in someone else’s darkness is also a wonderful thing to do and sometimes it doesn’t need more than a smile or the truly meant question “how are you?”.
Embrace the light and welcome it back into your life. Day by day our days will be longer and the nights shorter. Make sure you go with the flow (as best as you can).
As cosy as I made it for us at home, once the days are longer again we will embrace the time we can spend outside and soak in the still cold air and a few rays of sunshine. The balance is all that we need, like with everything in life.
Are you preparing for the year’s end?
I will start soon to move through the first sun salutations and I hope this was a tiny motivation for you to embrace change and see the end of the darkness coming our way. Nothing stays at it is and never will. I think this is the most important reminder to go sane through a time which is for many scary and lonely. It will get better, I promise.