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Embracing the Winter Solstice: A Yogi's Reflection on Light, Loss, and Healing



As I sit here, nestled in the cocoon of winter's grasp, the subtle dance between darkness and light takes on a significant significance in my life as a Yogi and a bereaved sister. Winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night, has become a poignant juncture for me—a time of reflection, healing, and the gentle illumination of hope amid the encroaching darkness.


The winter months have always posed a unique mental health challenge in my family. It was during this season that we lost my sister to the relentless grip of depression, a battle she valiantly fought against the backdrop of seasonal affective disorder. The struggle was palpable, the weight of the darkness insurmountable. Yet, in the face of this familial shadow, I found solace and healing through the ancient practices of yoga and the comforting ritual of kindling light in the midst of winter's gloom. 


In my mid-40s, with a tapestry of life experiences woven into my being, I've discovered the impact of incorporating reflection and contemplative meditation into my meditation routines. The meaning of Winter Solstice has evolved beyond a celestial event—it has become a canvas for me to paint my own narrative of light and resilience.


Within the sacred space of my yoga practice, light holds a special place. Through years of dedicated exploration, I've learned to perceive light not just as a physical entity but as prana, an energy that courses through the body, bringing vitality and healing. Meditations centered on experiencing this felt sense of prana as light have become a cornerstone of my healing journey.


As Winter Solstice approaches, I find solace in a simple ritual: the lighting of candles. The warm glow flickering in the darkness symbolizes not only the triumph of light over darkness but also the collective spirit of togetherness in the face of isolation that winter can bring. Winter Solstice is now a favorite cherished holiday in my family, giving rise to a newfound tradition that unites us all.


Traditionally, some yogis embark on the challenge of 108 sun salutations to greet the light after the solstice. However, I've come to realize that for those of us with depleted energy or low ojas, such rigorous practices can lead to burnout rather than rejuvenation. Instead, I invite you to try a different kind of ritual—one of stillness and reflection.


Mini Home Yoga Practice for Winter Solistice: Candlelight Meditation


Here's a mini-practice to infuse your winter nights with healing and joy:

  • Find a quiet space: Settle into a cozy nook where you won't be disturbed. Create a sacred space with a comfortable seat, perhaps adorned with a plush blanket or a cushion.

  • Light a candle: As you kindle the flame, observe the dance of light and shadow. Let the flickering glow become a metaphor for the resilience that resides within you.

  • Close your eyes: Allow the gentle warmth of the candlelight to guide you inward. Notice your breath, and see if you can feel or sense the energetic exchanges at play within your system.

  • Visualize: Picture a radiant white light at the center of your heart. With each in-breath, let this inner light expand, filling every corner of your body with warmth, vitality, and healing energy. With each out-breath, surrender into the letting-go of its fade.

  • Notice and reflect: Take a moment to notice the effects of the practice on your body, your energy, your mood, and your thoughts. Acknowledge the challenges you've faced and the strength that resides within you. As the candle burns, let it symbolize the unwavering flame of hope that burns within your heart. 

  • Give thanks: Invite yourself to close your practice with a gesture of gratitude, perhaps bringing the palms together in front of your heart. You could mentally verbalize the words “thank you” to yourself, to the Universe, or to something greater than yourself in accordance with your personal beliefs.


In the midst of winter's chill, may this simple ritual serve as a reminder that, like the Winter Solstice itself, the darkest moments eventually give way to the burgeoning light. As we gather with loved ones and bask in the warm glow of candles, let us find comfort in the knowledge that, even in solitude, we are not alone. Together, we turn towards the light of the season ahead, embracing the healing power of stillness, reflection, and the gentle flicker of hope.


With love and light,

Christine


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About me

 

Christine Saari, MA, E-RYT 200, C-BDYT is a yoga therapist with private practices in New Haven and Guilford. She lives in Guilford, CT with her husband, two sons, and her goldendoodle. When she's not writing or teaching yoga, you might find her cooking without a recipe or walking barefoot outside. Christine is grateful to be part of the emerging field of yoga therapy, and she is proud to offer health options that empower people to take a leading role in their own healing process.

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Individual services in New Haven and Guilford locations for physical and mental health conditions. Specializing in anxiety disorders and mental health conditions, as well as pain. 

 

I'm here for you! Don't be shy. Reach out at (203) 903-2393 or info@christinesaari.com.

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