Winter Solstice 2020 Yuletide Reflections from the Yoga Tradition

Winter solstice sunrise

When I read Paul Ferrini’s Winter Solstice newsletter, the quote below caught my attention. It made me think about working with opposites to find balance — a prevalent concept in both Yoga Philosophy and Āyurveda.

The 20 guna-s or opposites of prakṛti, the material world, must be balanced through our diets, lifestyles, and relationships, culminating in a sattvic state of Ananta, Infinite Harmony (Yoga Sūtra-s II,47).

Enjoy these reflections and let me know how they speak to you during this unique time of great disruption balanced with the promise of great transformation.

"This winter solstice is unique in that it coincides with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, the largest planets in our solar system. In Astrology, these two planets represent very different types of energy. Jupiter is expansive and creative. Saturn is contracting and reflective. Saturn provides order, discipline and structure. Jupiter liberates us from structures that limit or oppress. Saturn helps us contract toward the center and find our essence. Jupiter helps us to expand outward and express ourselves openly. Jupiter is exuberant and chaotic. Saturn is sobering and reserved. Jupiter wants to find new approaches and explore new worlds. Saturn wants to establish order and return to what is tried and true." ~ Paul Ferrini, Winter Solstice Newsletter, 2020

How does the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn relate to the Yoga Tradition?
In Yoga and Āyurveda, we are constantly working with opposites to find, sattva or balance. We do inhalation practices to expand and exhalation practices to contract. We expand our bodies in back arches to uplift, lighten, and encourage. We contract our bodies in forward bends and twists to let go, centre, and decompress. We do inhale practices to heat the body and stimulate the mind, and exhale practices to cool the body and calm the mind. We do moon breathing through the left nostril soothe our fiery moods, and sun breathing through the right nostril to burn away our sadness and grief. We meditate on the radiance of the Sun to uplift our moods and energy levels. We meditate on the aura of the Moon to relax our minds and bodies.

According to Yoga Philosophy, we need both of these opposite qualities (guna-s) in our bodies, breath, and minds to sink into a Joy state of being, where these opposites at last dissolve into an Infinite Harmony called Ananta (Yoga Sūtra-s, II, 46-48). We cultivate sthira (strength) balanced with sukham (softness) to find a presence of body, breath and mind (āsanam) that leads to being attentive without being tense and relaxed without being lazy (Yoga Sūtra-s, II, 46). 

During this Winter Solstice season, consider embracing these opposites within yourself: that which wants to expand and create like Jupiter and that which wants to retreat and restore like Saturn. Once every 800 years, as these massive planets meet in our sheltering sky above, may we also embrace these opposite qualities within ourselves and become that radiant Christmas Star that guides us Home.