Written by Sarah Loker
The Winter Solstice occurs this Friday 22nd December. It is the shortest day, and longest night, of the year, the day with the least amount of daylight hours in the northern hemisphere. It happens due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis, with the northern hemisphere tilting furthest away from the sun at this point of the year. Historically, the Winter Solstice has been of significance to many cultures around the world, often as a marker of the passing seasons, and a time of rebirth and renewal.
As we enter the darkest point of the year, the Winter Solstice marks a clear shift in energy from season to season. We can think about this from the framework of ancient Chinese philosophy and the energy of Yin and Yang. Yin energy is characterised as feminine, linked to the moon or lunar energy, cold or cool temperatures, looking inwards and being. Yang energy, in contrast, represents masculine, is linked to the sun or solar energy, is characterised by heat or hot temperatures, and is all about doing and action.
Winter is a time of yin energy - a time for slowing down, reflecting and turning inward, and honouring our deep need for rest and relaxation over constantly ‘doing’. This stands in contrast to the business of the festive season, which can feel particularly intense and chaotic as we juggle all that Christmas throws our way.
Winter is a time to honour the natural stilling of the outer world and give ourselves permission for a sacred pause to replenish. If we do not stop to pause, rest, and switch off during this time of the year, it can leave us feeling burnt out and running on empty. To maintain balance, we must remind ourselves of the value of slowing down, of turning inward.
Just as trees shed their leaves back to the earth at this time of the year, which turn into fertilizer for the soil and help fuel new growth in the Spring, the Winter Solstice reminds us to honour taking time to slow down, and release what no longer serves us, to recharge and refresh ahead of the new year. Just like nature, this time of hibernation is necessary for our tired, overworked brains and bodies to recover after a long year, ready to spring into action once the days get brighter and longer again.
So, this Winter Solstice, even if your to-do list is as long as your arm with Christmas prep, give yourself permission to rest, to tap into the yin energy of the season, in order to emerge from these dark, cold days into the brighter Yang days of Spring with renewed energy and vibrancy. For “nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” (Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher).
Inspired to connect more with the yin energy of the winter season? We are excited to announce that from January 2024 we will have a brand new regular yoga class with Sarah on our timetable - Yin Yoga. This class is a chance to quiet the mind in this contemplative and restorative practice. Yin Yoga targets the deepest tissues of the body, our connective tissues - ligaments, joints, bones, the deep fascia networks of the body and energy meridians - to release tension, unwind and relax. Keep an eye on the Class Timetable for any updates!
Living Ayurveda: Nourishing body & mind through seasonal recipes, rituals, and yoga - Claire Ragozzino (p247)