The winter solstice is fast approaching – this year it falls on Saturday, December 21 – and for those of us in cold climates, it is the dreaded first day of winter and also the day with the shortest amount of daylight. Hence it’s been dubbed the darkest day of the year.
I’ll be the first to admit that the deprivation of light that comes during this season can be excruciatingly painful, especially for someone who lives to teach yoga on the beach.
But instead of dwelling on the darkness this year, I’m changing my attitude and perception of this time. I’m choosing to embrace the fact that on the solstice, the worst is behind me, that each day promises to bring with it a few more moments of light, that before I know it I’ll be putting away the snow brush and instead reaching for my beach rake. Seeing the season through different eyes allows me to see the whole world in a completely different light.
The week leading up to the winter solstice, I’ll be participating in a cleanse that consists of doing yoga and meditation daily (before the sun rises), consuming a vegetarian diet (no coffee, no adult beverages, no sweets), and chanting. The food I’m eating is full of fiery spices like cumin, cayenne, and coriander to bring heat to prepare my body for the cold winter days ahead.
This is the second year in a row I’m doing this solstice cleanse, and for me it is more than just taking the time to renew and nourish my body with great food and yoga practice. To me it is a period of reflection, to look inside and find my inner light as I let go of the darkness, bad habits, and negative experiences of this year. In essence, this cleanse becomes a time of celebration, a time of rebirth, a time to shine my light and look forward with hope to the new season and year to come.
And, it gets even better! With the bright glow of the full moon on December 17, we all get a little extra illumination and inspiration to shine on us.
I know this is a busy week for most people getting ready for the holidays, but I encourage you to take some time to slow down, practice yoga, reflect on any darkness this year, and then turn your focus and attention to the promise that the New Year will bring brighter days. The light of the full moon may brighten the path of a new direction you should take, or motivate you to let go of negative energy that has been dragging you down.
For me, the winter solstice is no longer the darkest day of the year; it is the day when I let go of the darkness and open up my heart to the light of the New Year to come, to love, to compassion, and to joy.