Welcome Winter Solstice

“Travel Light,
Live Light,
Spread the Light,
Be the Light.”

-Yogi Bhajan

Across the world many people rejoice this darkest day of the year, filling it with light and celebration. Winter Solstice marks the return of life as the earth makes its way back towards the sun.  As we begin the journey towards longer days and shorter nights we are provided with an opportunity to reflect, celebrate our growth and create new intentions for the upcoming cycle.

As a budding yogini my first memory of winter solstice was while attending my regular Wednesday flow class.  The teacher, Bernie, gave a brief chat at the beginning of class recognizing winter solstice and enlightening us to the notion that some yogis honor the day by completing 108 rounds of Sun Salutation A. Everything was fine and dandy until she presented us with a challenge of our own, to spend the duration of class attempting to complete 54 sun Salutations (half of the 108). Reluctantly we all clambered to the top of our mats. I completed about half of those 54 Sun Salutations. I vividly remember feeling quite disheartened that I hadn’t been able to finish them in the allotted time; however quickly all but forgot about them the moment  I rolled up my mat.

Fast forward about 3 years later, in the midst of my yoga teacher training where I learned the significance of the number 108 including but not limited to: it being the number of beads in a traditional Buddhist Mala/prayer beads, it being a Harshad number (divisible by the sum of its integers and there being 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet each having a masculine and a feminine;  54X 2 is 108.  During this time I was again tasked with Sun Salutations, only this time it was the whole 108.  I can remember the trepidation as me and the other members of my Sangha embarked on those next two  and half sweaty hours. Though it would be physically draining, the mental challenge proved to be as, if not more difficult.  I would be one of only a few people who finished all 108 that day, but the transformative power was felt equally by all 12 of us.

This year, while I admittedly will not be performing 108 Sun Salutations or any number even remotely close to 108, I will spend some time on the mat  to travel inward and hit the proverbial “reset” button. There are many options for acknowledging this shift in seasons however whether you choose a celebratory ceremony, a rich restorative practice or 108 sun salutations I encourage you to take a moment in this notoriously busy season honor the light within yourself.

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