I love the solstices. Summer, winter. The two bookends. The beginning and the end. Which one came first, I wonder??
Regardless of the one in the beginning, we are here now on the cusp of winter solstice. For years I have led various workshops around winter solstice, wanting to share its significance with others in different ways.
This year, we are not going to be together, so I wanted to give you some ideas for a little home retreat. An offering to the space between us, that is the space inhabited by all, the we-space of union, of yoga. The collective. And the anchor we all share, regardless of the ability of your body, the color of your skin, your geographical location, the extra money (or lack of) in your bank account is our breath.
Our INSPIRING & ILLUMINATING breath.
Try this practice to remember your inner luminosity:
🌟Start in Crocodile Pose, makarasana
🌟 As you lay down, fill your abdomen with your breath, and notice how your low back, ribs and pelvis respond. Take at least 5 deep breaths here.
🌟 Afterward, mindfully move through a child’s pose and into a comfortable seat. Use a chair, block, blanket…however you need to sit to feel tall and supported. Begin to just notice your breath here, in and out through your nose. Lips together, teeth apart. Tongue to the roof of your mouth.
🌟 Establish a sama vritta pattern with your breath: inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4. After a few rounds, begin to add a 4 count pause at the top and bottom of your breath. Create NO STRAIN doing this! Back off of the pauses if you feel any anxiety, stress or out of breath.
🌟 Release the pauses and begin to move into a psychic alternate nostril breath. Inhale through your left nostril, then out your right. In right, out left. Keep the inhale and exhale in a steady 4 count rhythm. You may extend longer, but just ensure the length of inhale and exhale are matching without stress.
🌟 Start to add a visualization of light: stream light in through your left nostril, through the left side of your brain, left side of your spine, all the way to the base of your spine. As you exhale, move that light up along the right side of your spine, through your right brain, and out your right nostril. Inhale right, draw light up, in and down. Exhale left, move light back up, around and out. Repeat 5-10 rounds.
🌟 As you draw in this light, allow it to be a sacred experience. The light of stardust, the light of the moon, the light of the sun. The light that gives heat and tends to our inner fire of spirit. The light of prana. This is one of our most primal essences, and our unique light signature is vital for all of humanity to find harmony and peace.
Bask in this illumination as long as you like! This can also be practiced on non-solstice days as well, but seems especially perfect for winter solstice. Please share with others, and spread the light!
Elizabeth Ruff is a Licensed Massage Therapist in addition to being a yoga teacher, with a rich background of training. She effortlessly weaves her classes with playful light and a sense of adventure.