Gather your tribe because the longest night of the year is almost here. December 21, we celebrate the Solstice—Winter Solstice, in the Northern hemisphere. (It's the Summer Solstice, shortest night of the year, in the Southern hemisphere).
The Solstice is a universally sacred occasion honored for centuries as a time to gather around a blazing fire, cheeks flushed and hearts warmed in soulful celebration.
In yoga—for instance Surya Namaskar | Salutations to the Sun—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, as some legends say you can at this divine time of year.
The Winter Solstice is the longest night, meaning it contains the most hours of darkness—and it is a deeply-trusted nocturnal delight, a sort of spiritual pillow where we rest our head and nestle under soft layers of a velvety void.
The darkest night contains the most magnetic power, too. This is a time to draw forth what you want, to incubate your best intentions. As you're cuddling in the cradle of a lingering midnight, nurture high hopes for your best new year ever.
Solstice (in both hemispheres, North and South) coincides with the sun's ingress into earth-sign Capricorn, the sign traditionally aligned with the knees.
Kneel in gratitude for your body, your yoga or/and other wellness practice, and your life. Let saying the word knees be a kind of yogic mnemonic for thinking about your needs. Which needs could use some attention now? While you are working on the answer to that question, nurture your knees in these poses, which connect you to Mother Earth.
( 1 ) Virasana | Hero Pose
Begin in a kneeling position. As you sit back, let this pose remind you of your most heroic self. Courageous in the face of darkness, you carry an inner light.
( 2 ) Malasana | Garland Pose
Keeping with the spirit of the season, the name of this asana is reminiscent of holiday wreaths and the fresh scent of pine—which is an aromatherapy associated with the month of Capricorn. As you squat on the earth and feel its support, remember that you are harnessing the energies of Capricorn, an earth sign.
( 3 ) Padangusthasana | Standing Big Toe Pose
In this standing forward bend, let your gaze rest on your knees. Offer gratitude for the support they bring to your every step. Thank them for carrying you forward into the joyous new year.
GET YOUR GOAT
"Zodiac" means circle of animals, and nearly every one of the 12 zodiac signs has an animal associated with it such as Aries the Ram, Taurus the Bull, and so on.
Do you know Capricorn's animal? It's the goat.
I prefer a practice steeped in rich tradition, so I have not tried Goat Yoga—have you? A bunch of baby goats hopping across the yoga mat could be a lot of fun. And I do love goats. And yoga. Hmmm.
Solstice has been a time of celebration for thousands of years. The Feast of Saturnalia was a grand fête held in ancient Rome around this time of year—to honor the greatness of Capricorn’s planetary ruler, Saturn.
As you enjoy the brightest lights of the season, please remember this. Your soul is the light of the world. You carry the light within you. You shine.
Wishing you a soulful Solstice, and a joyful New Year. Namasté.