The Winter Solstice through the New Year is a special sandhya,
or sacred juncture, to link our bodies with cosmic rhythms. In
the mythology of Siva and Shakti, this universe flows from their
“sandhya tandava”—the cosmic dance (tandava) of the sacred
junctures of time (sandhya)—which creates this rhythm from the
quantum pulse, our breath through the lunar and planetary cycles
and solar seasons.
It is important to know as modern yoga practitioners that vinyasa
within the early Tantras was linked to realizing and embodying
the cosmic rhythm as the “sequence of consciousness.” In the
early Tantric tradition, every breath is linked to the vinyasa of
the waxing and waning, solar-lunar micro-cycle flowing from the
sacred juncture within the heart. The oscillation from dawn to
dusk, new moon to full moon, Fall to Winter, and Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice is the vinyasa connecting our breath with
the cosmic rhythm.
The Winter Solstice is a sacred sandhya in the internal flow of
breath within the microcosmic body, just as it is a sacred ‘juncture’
or meditative pause in the yearly flow of calendrical time. It is ex-
perienced in the body as the peak of the inhale as the kumbhaka
moment wherein a mantra is offered to the fire of the heart in the
Tantric practice of ucchara. The Winter Solstice in our body as
well as our outer world is a moment of great intensity to trans-
form the old into the new. The peak of the Winter Solstice is when
the breath resides in the heart—the moment of internal fire of-
fering. We can ignite our inner heart fire—atma jyotir—with the
same intensity of devotion and love. Whatever offering is made
at this sacred juncture is an extraordinary time to re-synchronize
your body and soul to the increasing light—the birth of the Sun.
At this time, we are given a cosmic jump-start as we sync with
the macro support of the increasing light of the waxing next six
months of the year.
Igniting a Solstice—New Year Living Flame
- Clear your space—inner and outer—without tension to release
the clutter, stagnant, or unfinished energy of the year.
- Create an altar space for the Winter Solstice-Christmas-New
Year with your own connection to a sacred fire in the form of
an oil lamp or candle.
- Reflect in the days leading up to the Solstice in your dedication and prayers. Try writing on paper your offerings for di
solution (to give to the fire the night before) and another offering of prayers for igniting for the Winter Solstice-New Year.
- Unplug and live only with candlelight on the eve of the Winter
- Ignite your fire with your living dedication and prayer in your
own authentic ritual way.
- Enjoy creating your own candles from beeswax (easy to roll
with beeswax sheets) or any other non-polluting substance like
soy or hemp. Imbue them with scent and natural color along
with a tradition of tying your prayers to the candle.
- Link the Winter Solstice - Christmas - New Year (which falls
on a New Moon this year) by keeping a continuous votive
candle burning with your meditations.
- Learn the simple form of Vedic fire ceremony (homa or agni-hotra) to be able to offer mantra to the living flame of agni
- Learn the ucchara sadhana connecting to the inner fire altar.
My friend and scholar Christopher Tompkins has been dedicated to teaching this meditation ( www.shaivayoga.org).
Tending our heartfire means we are staying connected through all
the cycles of our life—through the shadow and fertile darkness to
the fires of renewal and organic process of manifestation. As you
ignite the Solstice—New Year, be open to consciously living the
vinyasa of over 800 million breaths, 365 sunrises and sunsets, 26
new and full moons and eight solar junctures of the year that form
the vinyasa of the year.
While the outer world moves in a holiday flurry, dive into the
deeper rhythm of inner renewal and feel the extraordinary legacy
of our inner fire. Swaha!
Shiva Rea is a shaktidasi - servant of the life-force. She is the dedicated founder of
Prana Flow –Energetic Vinyasa and Samudra Global School for Living Yoga offering
pilgrimage and yogadventure retreats, teacher trainings and online programs in collaboration with teachers, artists and activists around the world PRANAFLOW YOGA.COM
Article adapted from Tending the Heart Fire: Living in Flow with the Pulse of Life by Shiva
Rea. Copyright © 2014 by Shiva Rea. To be published by Sounds True in January 2014.
TENDING THE INNER FIRE -
THE COSMIC VINYASA
ARISING FROM THE WINTER SOLSTICE IN THE
HEART, THE BREATH CIRCULATES IN THE
BODIES OF ALL BEINGS, THROUGH 12 MONTHS,
BEFORE RETURNING TO THE HEART.
SVACCHANDA TANTRA VII.119II*
*Christopher Tompkins, translator