Winter Solstice and the Balance of Yoga

Winter Solstice and a Lunar Eclipse – powerful forces of light and dark – all in one evening.  Wow, I am still trying to wrap my brain around the possibilities.  Last time these two events occurred simultaneously was 456 years ago.  I will have to ask my friend and ayurvedic astrologer, Melanie Farmer, to comment on the synchronicity of these events and their possible effects on our doshic equilibrium.

On the one hand, now that the solstice has passed, I know the days are going to get longer.  With each day we will have a bit more light.  But the contradiction here is that even though the days will be longer, we will actually be entering more fully into the cold of winter.  At least there is a balance, a bit more light for a bit more cold.

And a lunar eclipse.  Here in the Northwest, we frequently are unable to see this magical event.  But night before last, the skies cleared and the moon was large and full, only to be slowly covered up, not by clouds, but by a shadow.  The moon that is so consistent in its cycle, moved through its cycle yet again, but its light was momentarily oblated by a larger force, the force of a shadow.

So here we are, moving from darkness to light, yet entering into this moment of turning, with a full awareness of the power of our shadow. Because it was indeed our own shadow that covered the moon – the shadow of the earth covering the light of the moon.

In yoga, we are always seeking to achieve balance.  We balance on one leg and one hand (ardha chandrasana), on one leg (vriksasana), on both hands (adho mukha vriksasana), on our heads (salamba sirsasana).  We work to balance our inhalations and exhalations (sama vritti pranayama).  We strive to balance our breath with our asana movements (vinyassa).  And most importantly we seek to balance our  effort/engagement with our ability to let go.

And many times we do find ourselves in balance.  It happens pretty regularly, just like the solstice.  When things are all in place and we exert correct effort, the asana, be it headstand or tree will simply just happen.  Ah, but then we begin to wobble.  Nobody is pushing us, the floor is not moving.  What is happening?  Could it be our shadow?  That little voice inside that continuously questions our ability to be.  “Uh, are your really in that headstand? You sure you have it right.? Can’t believe you are still there, what a lot of work that must be.”  And by the time those shadow thoughts have registered, we are probably all about to fall.

But let us take comfort in the fullness of the eclipse.  Let us allow this amazing event to be a touchstone for our yoga.  While a shadow does indeed pass in front of the moon, the moon does not lose it’s course, and neither should we.  Let us abide in the fullness of the moment.  Let us watch the shadow pass by. Let us not worry or be shaken by the doubts that arise in a moment of darkness.  And then let us pass into the fullness of the asana, the fullness of our breath and balance of our yoga.

Happy Winter.  May you experience the beauty of the season with the fullness of your heart.

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi


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