The Winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest.
This year, it will take place on Wednesday, December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. Places like Reyjavic, Iceland will experience just 4 hours and 8 minutes of daylight. Cities like New York will have closer to 9 hours and 15 minutes of light.
The Winter solstice holds significant meaning in many cultures, dating back to Neolithic times. Astronomical events such as this were often used to guide activities, such as the mating of animals, the sowing of crops and the monitoring of winter reserves of food. Many cultural mythologies and traditions are derived from this.
The Winter Solstice and Yoga
The Winter solstice has traditionally been a time of celebration, rest, and emotional and physical nourishment. We can take these ideologies and apply them to our yoga practice as well.
In yoga, and in astrology, the sun symbolizes the soul. The word “solstice,” in Latin, means “sun standing still”, so in a sense, we could say the soul stands still on the solstice—maybe even long enough for you to catch a glimpse of it.
The Winter solstice marks the middle of winter, and is therefore a time to celebrate the slow return of the sun. It’s a chance to give birth to our visions and name our dreams, our “solstice resolutions”, which will grow with the increasing light. It is a time to celebrate the presence of Spirit and the power of faith that our visions of the future will come into manifestation.
The Winter solstice is also a powerful reminder that the universe needs both light and darkness. It is out of the darkness that flowers eventually emerge, babies are born, and ideas are formed and nurtured.
Let this be a time of inner reflection; to look back on your journey since the Summer solstice and acknowledge what you have completed, and the insights and understandings you have gained. Celebrate the dark and use it as an opportunity to re-light your inner light. What dreams do you carry inside? What are you visioning or hoping for? The way is now open for the rebirth of our active selves and coming out of hibernation.
Use your yoga practice to reflect on these things. On the night of the Winter solstice, come to your mat and slow things down. Instead of practicing a vigorous flow and dynamic postures, dig deeper into hip openers and forward folds. Spend some time turning inward.
Asanas to Celebrate
Here are some suggested yoga poses to celebrate the Winter solstice:
Supported Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s Pose is a bow to your self within. As the external world falls away, follow your breath inward and hang out there for a little while.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Eagle Pose is like a full body hug, wrapping your limbs around one another. The best part of this pose is the curling in, attempting to bring your elbows to your knees, taking you deep into the sanctuary of your heart.
Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana)
Forward folds have a reflective nature; they turn you back into yourself, giving you the opportunity to reflect. Standing Warriors help us know our own strength, while hip openers ground us. Humble Warrior is an awesome combination of all three.
Come celebrate the Winter solstice at Yoga City
The following classes are available on December 21:
5:30-6:30pm Hatha Yoga with Steph
6:45-7:45pm Beginner Yoga with Debbie
See you on your mat.
Debbie is a Yoga Instructor at Yoga City, Mississauga. She has been practicing yoga since 2008 and completed her 200 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training in 2016 with Yoga City. Debbie has a professional background in writing and digital marketing, with a passion for Health, Wellbeing and Personal Growth. She is thrilled to be able to combine both as the Editor of the Yoga City blog. You can follow Debbie on Instagram @yoga.bee