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Solstice Rituals & Ayurveda Insight

The winter solstice is December 21, marking the shortest and darkest day of the year, and the first day of winter. Traditionally, the winter solstice was a time to welcome in the new season, prepare for a season of rest and reflection, and embrace the coming months of more darkness. In modern times, shortly after the solstice we celebrate the new year by setting our yearly resolutions. By a similar approach, the solstice is an ideal time to reflect on your year, organize your thoughts and home, and begin to welcome in what will be a quiet next few months. 

This year, set an intention on the winter solstice to reflect on things that you can clear from your life to allow more space and energy to mindfully fill your time, your home, and your habits. 

Winter is a season of contemplation, reflection, rest and grounding. In the western hemisphere, the earth is quiet, the plants are dormant, the air is clear, and the nights are long. Where can you bring more stillness and clarity into your day or into this season? 

Ayurveda Solstice Insight

Ayurveda acknowledges not only our daily circadian rhythms and routines (known as Dinacharya), but also our seasonal rhythms and routines (known as Ritucharya, or “seasonal movement”). As with all things in life, our seasonal routines should change and adapt with the times and our own life cycles. Our body may feel quite different in winter than it does in summer, and our needs and cravings prompt us to make these adjustments. 

Of course, we cannot all stop your daily lives and hibernate all winter long. But we can use this season to draw our attention inward, practice mindfulness and self-connection, and ensure that we prioritize rest and sleep during this season. 

Winter Qualities: Dry, cold, dull, heavy, stable

Winter Doshas: 

Early winter: Vata can be increased with cold and dry conditions

Late winter:  Kapha can be increased with heavy, dull and cold conditions. 

To balance: Focus on cooking and consuming warming foods such as soups, stews, kitchari, porridges, stewed vegetables and fruit compotes. Enjoy warming herbs and spices such as ginger, cumin, cinnamon, peppers, and healthy oils like ghee and sesame. Whole grains and legumes (cooked in a broth) are especially good this time of year. 

Solstice Practices + Setting Intentions

Solstice Practice:

  • Begin the day witnessing the sunrise, and appreciating the sun setting. 

  • Practice gentle stretching throughout the day to encourage lymphatic movement and muscle flexibility.

  • Enjoy your largest meal at noon

  • Sip warming, grounding teas morning, afternoon, and before bed

  • Reflect / Journal: What can you clear from your life, home or mind that will bring more lightness into this season?

Setting Intentions for Winter

Below are some Ayurvedically inspired solstice intentions you can carry through winter to prepare you for a vibrant spring:

  1. I prioritize my time for sleeping 8 hours per night, and creating a sleeping space that encourages peaceful energy and restful dreams. 

  2. I will check in with my body each morning and ask what it needs to feel balanced today. A warming breakfast. An afternoon ginger tea. A brisk walk in the chilly air. Extra time for my yoga practice in the evening. Communicating mindfully throughout the day. Resting when I feel overwhelmed. Cooking slowly and eating slowly today. 

  3. I devote myself to a daily grounding yoga practice each day in Winter. 

  4. I commit to learning and doing something new this winter. Each day, I will take 30 minutes (or however much time suits you) to begin learning  _______ (example:  learning a language, book binding, calligraphy, my countries history, learning new cooking skills or recipes, exploring my ancestral genealogy, painting, poetry….)

  5. I will maintain a daily schedule that makes my body feel stable, nourished and grounded. I will wake up with the sun each day, and go to bed at the same time each night. (Ayurveda encouraged us to be asleep by 10, and awake by 6am.

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