Today, December 22nd, marks the Winter Solstice—the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a potent and magical time of year rich with significance and meaning, and cultural traditions and rituals.
As the days shorten, we welcome the darkness. We honor this time by turning inward, taking personal inventory, acknowledging all aspects of ourselves (the light and the dark), connecting to our heart’s desires, letting go of the things that no longer serve us, and planting seeds of intention.
Instead of practicing vigorous flow and dynamic postures, such as handstands and full wheel pose, I like to slow things down and dig deeper into hip openers and forward folds at this magical time of year. Spend some time turning today with these yoga poses to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
1. Supported Child’s Pose
Settle into a more Supported Child’s Pose using a bolster, blankets, or pillows between your thighs and underneath your belly, chest, and head. Fully release into the pose, knees spread wide apart, elbows resting softly on the earth, and your head gently turned to one side.
Allow yourself to be supported by the props as you continue to let go and breath.
The ultimate act of surrender, Child’s Pose has profound soothing effects on the nervous system, calming the mind, relieving stress, and combating fatigue. As the tension in the body falls away and the mind unwinds, internal space opens up for you to drop into and explore.
Essentially, 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.
2. Eagle Pose
Eagle Pose is like a full body hug, wrapping your limbs around one another. The trick to getting your legs tightly wound is first bending your knees a little, sitting your groins back, and crossing the top leg as high up the standing thigh as it will go. Then, squeeze them together.
Don’t worry if you can’t wrap your arms and legs completely, and feel free to leave the foot of the top leg propped on the floor. The best part of the pose is the curling in, attempting to bring your elbows to your knees, taking you deep into the sanctuary of your heart.
3. Humble Warrior
Humble Warrior is perhaps the most powerful and challenging standing hip opener and forward fold. Standing in Warrior I, interlace your hands behind your back; inhaling, roll your chest up, and exhaling, bow inside your front leg.
With the arms extending overhead and the crown of your head lengthening toward the floor, lift the sides of your waist up as you bow.
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.
A fierce and at the same time humbling pose, Humble Warrior draws on all of your strength and focus, but also requires a softening—a giving in to the experience. Try resting in Child’s Pose after a Humble Warrior and notice the effects.
Can you think of other poses to celebrate the Winter Solstice? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!