The Winter Solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere, and so follows it’s the reverse in the southern. The solstice is considered auspicious in many cultures, including the Romans’ “Day of the Unconquerable Sun”, the Druids’ “Light of Arthur” and the Hindus’ Diwali and Lohri. This year it falls on December 22, when we’ll have just over 9 hours of daylight.
In many places, obviously including Ottawa, solstice marks the distinct shift into winter. While the days are getting longer with increasing sunlight after solstice, we enter a season where we desire hibernation. These cold, dark days remind us of the reverence and gratitude we have for sunlight and our perfect position in relationship to the sun for the abundance it provides. Like all things, there are dual, overlapping aspects to all creation, and so we embrace the necessary darkness and dormancy winter provides for renewal in the spring season.
The natural drawing in of energy seen in nature is reflected in our needs, and so many of us practice us a quieter, more restorative form of yoga. Restorative, yin and meditation are all suitable for this reflective season. For some yogis, their asana practice is more focused on the creation of inner-heat (tapas), and so they practice the mala of 108 sun salutations that also mark the equinoxes.
Self-reflection and intention setting is a component of the solstice, too, since it lies near the shift to the new year in the Gregorian calendar. Our practices at this time of year can include reflection on our journey through the year to that moment, where we can contemplate what should be grown and developed and what should be forgiven and left behind. We identify that which brings more light, not just into our lives, but into the world, so we can be beacons of light throughout the year that inspire a more harmonious community.
What most cultures who celebrate the winter solstice have in common is the illumination of the darkness with the warmth of candlelight. Everyone can relate to the soothing, warming effects of candlelight, and its ability to cause an inner glow. In the yoga community, celebrations often includes trataka (candle gazing meditation), or candlelit yoga practices and meditations.
At PranaShanti, we celebrate the Winter Solstice in the same way we do everything: with diversity! We will enjoy candlelit practices and meditations with two events on December 22 in the heart of the evening. Led by Devinder Kaur at 5:45 pm, you can enjoy a Kundalini Class with Triple Gong Meditation for a soothing, vibrational experience. Following at 7:30 pm, join Cat Edward for a Hatha and Yin practice with a focus on mindfulness and the light within.
Thank you for another wonderful year! You are the light in our solstice.