Winter Solstice: How to Embrace the Darkest Day of the Year

This year, Winter Solstice falls on Sunday, December 21st.

What’s so special about this day? Due to the axial tilt of our planet, this astronomical phenomenon marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. That means the sun will appear at its lowest point in the sky marking the beginning of the winter season.

What does this mean to us? First of all, winter – with its freezing temperatures and snowy appearances – is officially here. But what’s even clearer: it’s a time for new beginnings. I’ve read that long ago, people considered this day an important one because they believed if the sun were to keep sinking lower and lower soon all would be dark and life would end. On this date the sun would climb back into the sky and therefore was a time of new beginnings.

It’s also a symbolic time to (literally) reflect on where you were this same time last year. Last year I was just beginning my 200 hour yoga teacher training, and the year before that, on December 21st, I was one of the many people that wondered if the world was actually ending because of predictions from the Mayan calendar. Taking a moment to acknowledge where you were last year helps to encourage more gratitude and growth.

How can we embrace the darkest day of the year?

Hibernate. This is the perfect time to stay home and snuggle in with a good read and restore. The best way to embrace the start of winter is by slowing down and finding relaxation.

Share the warmth. Invite a friend into your home or call a distant relative just to say hello. Open communication provides a true source of light to everyone in your network.

Cleanse: A one-day juice or elimination cleanse is a great way to reset the body and the mind. It will also help you to feel bright in a time of ultimate darkness.

Salute the sun: Practice your sun salutations in celebration of the solstice. A few rounds of Surya Namaskara A and B on your yoga mat will go a long way into the winter months ahead.

Set an intention. Write down your purpose or share it with someone. With setting an intention on this specific day, every day following will seek to move closer to your goal as more sunlight rises into your life.

Ashley Rose Howard

Ashley Rose Howard is a New York City based writer and yoga instructor. Her work has appeared in various fitness, wellness, and lifestyle magazines and websites.

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