Yoga for the Winter Solstice


“You’re what your deepest want is.
As your want is, so is your intention.
As your intention is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your future.”
–The Upanishads

The brand new photo voltaic 12 months is upon us as the Earth begins her to tilt again towards the Solar, signifying the completion of one other life cycle earlier than the emergence of spring. For hundreds of years the Winter Solstice has been celebrated round the world—acknowledging the shortest day of the 12 months as a return to gentle, a return to innocence; a rebirth alongside the wheel of life as the nice world continues to spin.

This non secular homecoming has metamorphosed into what we all know in Western cultures as Christmas on December 25. Lengthy earlier than that, the Pagan pageant Saturnalia had marked the begin of winter, as did the birthday of the “invincible” solar god Sol Invictus throughout the golden age of the Roman Empire. In Historic Egypt, January 6 was first acknowledged as winter’s coming, which was later adopted by Christianity as the Feast of the Epiphany.

In fashionable occasions, this solar standstill falls on December 21, coinciding with the begin of Capricorn season in astrology. Throughout this cycle, we’re invited to realign with our objectives and beliefs as we glance towards the new 12 months forward—regardless of the chaos of the vacation season as the calendar turns. Capricorn is symbolized by the uncommon paradox that’s the Sea Goat, a testomony to the persistent vitality of this bold, but grounded earth signal. Dominated by Saturn, the robust trainer planet recognized all through astrological lore as “Father Karma,” Capricorn reminds us that whereas it’s okay to have lofty desires and grand visions, they have to even be rooted in actuality.

By setting intentions at the Winter Solstice, we will make clear them throughout Capricorn season and past. As we lay out the framework for our plans, we’re constructing a path that lights the approach by way of the darkness of winter and guides us towards our brightest future. Via continued refinement of our objectives, a willingness to grasp that errors shall be made, and that we might have to vary course alongside the approach, intentions are little stepping stones that lead us like a compass towards our highest potential. An intention is the start line of a dream; what makes the unconscious acutely aware. It’s the artistic energy that fulfills our coronary heart’s needs, be it profession or relationships, cash or materials issues, private or non secular ascension. In essence, an intention is an epiphany in motion. A-ha!

Very like our yoga practices, our intentions are all the time in flux—and are altering from second to second. Via the ritual of follow, the intentions we set in movement will inevitably grow to be second nature, as outdated layers, habits and selves start to fall away on this nice unraveling towards the Self; our truest nature. And like a seed, an intention should be planted, nourished and given persistence. However an intention can not develop if we cling to it—it should be launched outwardly to make itself recognized to the universe.

Activate your intentions for the new 12 months by turning inward and awakening your inside fireplace; by studying to see in the proverbial darkish. Consider the Winter Solstice as the fourth and remaining motion of your 2017 life-symphony, and take a look at these six yoga circuits: a sequence of dynamic, core-powered sequences to amplify your follow. Synchronize your breath to motion that’s sturdy and intuitive. Go slowly, and let go of what now not serves you so that you could be clear the slate for all that’s coming your approach.

SEQ I. Historic Eye Activation

Motion: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Canine) cut up to excessive lunge variations.

Straighten the entrance leg to elevate the arms overhead and look as much as the heavens. Re-bend by way of the entrance knee and launch arms outwardly to both aspect, trying towards the future. Repeat, then attain the again arms up once more and return to excessive lunge. Twist, drawing the navel in towards the backbone. Place the left hand down and attain the proper hand up.

Elective: Place the proper palm at the again of the neck and lean into it for help, inviting more room to move into your coronary heart. Deliver your palms down to border the entrance foot after which step again to Downward Canine cut up earlier than decreasing the foot to change sides.

SEQ II.  Pyramid Energy

Motion: Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose) variations to discover hips and hamstrings with buoyancy.

Flip to a large stance and fold ahead, then cross the left elbow over the proper and switch the inside elbows out. Flip the heels flip in and toes out. Root to rise: Bend the knees and preserve a protracted backbone as you look ahead. Floor into the fingertips and balls of the ft, gathering earthly vitality.

Elective: Stroll your palms round to the entrance foot earlier than switching sides, or proceed strolling the palms all the option to the left to border the again foot and transfer into the different aspect.

SEQ III. Phoenix Rising

Motion: Sure Utkatasana (Chair Pose) to Warrior variations.

Sit low and dive ahead, sweeping the palms behind the sacrum and interlacing the fingers, drawing the heels of the palms nearer collectively. Carry midway, after which shift weight into the proper foot, wrapping the again of the left hand at the proper aspect of the waist, palms nonetheless interlaced.

Root to rise: Deliver the left knee to elevate to 90 levels after which step again to a excessive lunge, sustaining the clasping of the palms at the proper waist. Use the left forearm as a shelf to help the low again for a slight backbend. Carry tall by way of the coronary heart, then use the again of the left palm to information the hips to the left and open the arms broad into Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II). Attain palms overhead to Flying Warrior and straighten the legs, then sink to re-bend the entrance knee.

Attain up first after which reverse, lifting by way of the coronary heart for Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior). Windmill the palms to shift ahead for supported Virabhadrasana III, fingertips to earth. Backbone is lengthening; core is engaged. Use the breath to usher in the knee towards your nostril. Root to rise: Return to face, after which sink again into Utkatasana to organize for the different aspect.

SEQ IV. Fly Like an Eagle

Motion: Excessive lunge on the proper aspect, lifting and decreasing, to Garundasana (Eagle Pose).

Eagle wrap arms (left over proper), as you elevate and decrease. Stabilize the hips and shift ahead, flying like an eagle. Deliver knee to nostril and root to rise; the left knee lifts to 90 levels.

Slowly descend into Garundasana, wrapping left leg over proper. Unwind and ship the left foot again, preserving the coronary heart lifted. Land in excessive lunge and unravel the arms overhead. If at first you don’t succeed, keep in mind: Repetition creates a possibility to attempt once more. Change sides.

SEQ V. Middle of the Cyclone

Motion: Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose) to Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana) variations.

Shift weight into the proper foot and elevate the left knee to 90 levels. Stabilize, after which swing the foot again to reach in Natarajasana; a warrior’s calm amidst the storm. Have interaction quadriceps of the standing leg to micro-bend the knee. Bend the knee just a little extra and lean ahead with the coronary heart.

Proceed to elongate the torso and hinge at the waist to decrease the fingertips to the earth. Hold maintain of the left foot or ankle, and rotate the chest upward for Chapasana (Sugarcane Pose). Open to Ardha Chandrasana. Sq. hips to supported Warrior III, activating by way of the ideas of all ten fingers as the breath guides the knee again in towards the nostril. Root to rise: Return to a standing place.

Elective: Swing the foot again once more and repeat, observing what you’ve realized alongside the approach. You simply would possibly shock your self. Change sides.

SEQ VI. Open Sesame

Motion: A core-strengthening transition of Downward Canine to Camatkarasana (Wild Factor).

In and out, opening and shutting. In a excessive plank place, float the hips in keeping with the low ribs. Take the pose out of the higher physique and energy it by way of the belly wall and into the legs. Discover a slight bend to the knees. Really feel bouncy and boundless. Stack shoulders over wrists and shift weight into the proper hand, stacking the hips and spinning of the backside of the decrease proper ribs beneath, lengthening by way of the crown and getting into Vasisthasana (Facet Plank). Pause, after which step the ball of the left foot again and bend by way of the leg as the left hand lifts towards the heavens. Embody your inside Rock Star.

Elective: Place the left palm at the again of the neck and lean into it for help as you provide your coronary heart’s needs to the universe. Hold the proper shoulder stabilized over the proper wrist, and press down into all 4 corners of every palm. Flip over and return to Downward Canine, after which repeat on the different aspect.

Now relaxation. Open the doorways to inside notion and launch. Reconnect to your reserves and rejuvenate, as you put together to rejoice and hibernate.

Images and video by Beth Kessler

Andrea Rice is a author and yoga trainer. Her work has additionally appeared in The New York Occasions, Yoga Journal, NY Yoga + Life, SONIMA, mindbodygreen and different on-line publications. Join with Andrea on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and her website.

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