Celebrated by ancient agrarians, the Winter Solstice was observed to urge and welcome the return of the sun. Assorted cultures around the world still take note of this natural cycle; in this country it’s maybe just the shamans and yogis.
The studio held an evening class to honor the solstice, canceling the harsh overhead lights in favor of loops of tiny bulbs scalloped across the mirrors, and nightlights flickering like candles on the floor. Tranquil music played, and the teacher did not recite instructions nor issue corrections.
I relaxed in this class like never before. I could just do the postures, just flow with the movements. No words to focus on. No need for ears or mind. I did not fuss myself about whether my nose was straight or my toe pointed or my hip twisted. All I did was raise my limbs in patterns I know and love. It was as relaxing as dancing.
And as happened the last time I took a silent class set to music, I did every posture, every last sit-up. Listening carefully to the instructions takes a lot of energy, exerting myself to get deeper is what tires me. After this class, I felt light, buoyant, almost giddy—energized, as the teachers always promise.
But the best part of the class was, during the savasanas, the teacher read inspirational words about rebirth. She began the class by referring to Bikram’s statements about the practice asserting that one of its primary purposes is “To make you fall in love with yourself.”
I dedicated my practice to that thought, and what I fell in love with was my love of yoga. The magic of it all, the way stretching feels like breathing, resting like floating, heat like an embrace, the way water tastes so good. I felt grateful for my practice. My love for yoga was renewed, and my sense that yoga is itself renewing. Yoga is a Winter Solstice celebration every day.