The Winter Solstice is the darkest time of the year, the time for reflection and assessing what we want to put energy towards. It is also a time when the reemergence of light and renewal take place. On a most fundamental level, the sun is resurrected and begins to rise again!
This makes it a truly special phenomenon, and this post will help explain how to use it to uplift your mind and body. The more you can tap into the flow of these universal rhythms, the more you will feel in sync, and supremely balanced.
First, know that even though even cold weather is still here for most of us, and that it may get colder in certain areas, we can at least now look forward to knowing the darkest days of the year are behind us.
Little by little, the sun will be coming back and getting stronger. This is especially important to keep in mind, as winter months are often grey and the colors are dull, this can have an effect on our mood and energy.
You may be thinking, how can I look at this time of year positively? “I am so stressed, there is no sun, it is cold, I feel drained.” Yet, if you take a moment to look at the winter months with a different perspective, you will reap noticeable benefits.
As I outline in The Beauty Detox Power, our thoughts have an extreme amount of power over our actions and how we feel. For those who are aware of this, Winter Solstice marks the time of year that we can draw inward and look at ourselves in a new light, take in what we have learned, and understand what we need to improve upon in the coming year.
Use this time to reflect and draw into yourself, even if it means waking up a bit earlier, which can also help you take in more light.
What Exactly Is Happening During The Winter Solstice?
“Winter Solstice is the day when the sun crosses the sky at its lowest trajectory as seen from the Northern Hemisphere, and so its apparent trek from rising to setting is super quick, which results in the shortest day of the year. Even though the days will begin to get longer the coldest days of the year are yet to come. Despite the days getting longer during January, Northern Hemisphere oceans continue to cool in the relative lack of sunlight, and ocean temperatures drive much of the weather on the continents.
The reason for the different seasons at opposite times of the year in the two hemispheres is that while the earth rotates about the sun, it also spins on its axis, which is tilted some 23.5 degrees towards the plane of its rotation. Because of this tilt, the Northern Hemisphere receives less direct sunlight (creating winter) while the Southern Hemisphere receives more direct sunlight (creating summer). As the Earth continues its orbit the hemisphere that is angled closest to the sun changes and the seasons are reversed.
The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice. Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, “sun” and stitium, “a stoppage.” Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.”
As you can see, this is a powerful shift with wide-ranging implications — both for the earth, and our daily lives.
How to Incorporate Awareness of The Winter Solstice Into Your Daily Life
When looking at the Winter Solstice from the yogic perspective, it is the true new year, where you let go and bring closure to the past year. Out of the darkness comes the seeds of new growth, and with it, the emergence of light and new beginnings.
This is a time to contemplate all that doesn’t serve you anymore and let go, as you allow for more space to let the new in. This time is a completely necessary part of the whole cycle.
Winter Solstice celebrates the presence of Spirit and the power of faith and hope that our visions of the future will come into manifestation.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, as we approach the Winter Solstice, there is a sense of everything standing still and drawing inwards. Yoga practice during this time incorporates periods of quiet reflection and longer periods of relaxation.
Some ways of doing this are to: 1) stay in yoga poses for a few breaths and then 2) while you are holding the pose, you can draw emphasis on relaxing in and releasing with longer exhales.
This is a time of year where it is extra essential to nourish yourself. I find this to be a magical time of the year, as the Winter Solstice celebrates the fire of the sun and empowers us to bring that fire to our goals, dreams and mission for living. Super inspiring!
Some of my favorite poses to do during this time are forward bends like Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold).
Now, to make this even more practical, I’m going to give you 4 tips to assist you in embracing this transition:
#1: Make Time for Yourself
We are all busy and often pulled in a million directions, especially during the holidays! I can’t stress enough how important it is to set aside quality time for yourself. It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends during the winter and then feel drained when you could be preparing for renewal.
Deep relaxation, including meditation, yoga and even spending time in a sauna, can be important parts of fighting anxiety and depression which often spike during this time. A great way to also help yourself relax is to get direct sunlight! I know it’s in short supply this time of the year, but even 15 minutes midday can provide a big boost and some much needed vitamin D.
A perfect way to do so without the chill is to sit by a window and let the warmth touch your skin while sitting in the comforts of your own home — though the vitamin D effect is reduced when the sun’s rays pass through the window.
For longer sun-time, sunscreen is generally recommended, but short bursts can have a beneficial effect on your mood and health.
You should also take special care to schedule time in your day to meditate, or engage in hobbies you enjoy.
Recharging is a huge theme to keep in mind this time of year, so remember to prioritize yourself in a big way. A spiritual saying is, “you cannot save others from drowning if you are drowning too” — and the meaning is clear: by giving yourself care and energy, you will be able to give so much more to others in your life.
#2: Encourage Yourself to Get Outside!
Make the most of your time out doors! (Even if just a little!) Most of us have to go outside everyday to get to work or to run errands. Try to embrace your time outside, regardless of the temperature. As noted a moment ago, the crisp air and sunlight even for a few minutes can still assist your body in getting vitamin D.
According to an article from the publication Issues, in Mental Health Nursing, insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with depression. Since your best source of vitamin D is sunlight, it’s understandable that during the winter months these levels drop.
You may want to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months (I cover that in this post) as getting enough sunshine isn’t always possible in certain climates.
In an article for Psychology Today, James M. Greenblatt, MD recommends D3 supplementation as one factor in improving mood for cases of SAD.
#3: Continue to Be Active, and Exercise!
We all love being outside and moving during the warm months, but you have to contiune to incorporate this during the winter! You have to move your body to avoid feeling lethargic and heavy!
According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, exercise is an excellent way to fight the winter blues. One study showed that getting some form of aerobic exercise three times per week effectively improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
Another study showed the regular practice of yoga could lessen anxiety in women.
#4: Adapt Your Eating, But Keep It Clean!
Pay special attention to what you are eating and how much. Winter causes many people to eat heavier, heartier foods in an attempt to warm themselves from the inside.
Warmer and/or more cooked foods is good and natural, but that doesn’t mean all your food needs to be dense or heavy. If you find yourself feeling “weighed down” or lethargic, you can try to lighten up what you eat.
Whenever you eat heavier or more dense foods too frequently, your body will be forced to work harder to digest them, and that will then slow you down. Lighter fare allows you to use that digestive energy for – well – energy!
My staple breakfast is the Glowing Green Smoothie which is packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber, all in one glass. You can have it at room temperature or even slightly warm if cold beverages are too unappetizing at this time.
Start with a warming glass of hot water with lemon first as well. And since it won’t weigh you down, the GGS gets every day off to the perfect start, helping you feel light and energized all day long!
It’s something that I absolutely continue during the winter, and really love as we go through this transformation.
That’s It for Today…Happy Winter Solstice!
I encourage you to use these tips and info to connect to the earth and this magical process, while also setting yourself up for renewal in the new year.
Take stock of what you want to cleanse out and what you want to nourish, and take charge of the many possibilities that await you now, next year and beyond!
You are powerful and this life is filled with infinite possibilities! Sending you so much love this week.