It is cold outside and wouldn’t it be just wonderful to sit somewhere cozy and enjoy a steaming cup of tea, reading a good book curled up on the sofa. In reality though, we are finding ourselves in last minute frantic pre-Christmas hectic topped with a work deadline. This feeling of wanting to slow down is only natural and we have been celebrating this for centuries. Sunday the 22nd is Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun rises late and for many of us this time a year it’s already dark before we are home from work.
Winter Solstice has been celebrated for centuries
In many parts of the world this time a year has been celebrated for a long period of time. The ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia, by honouring the solstice in December through excessive parties dedicated to Saturn. Further north St. Lucia Day in Scandinavia is celebrated, combining festivities focused on the return to light in combination with older solstice fire customs to scare away dark spirits. In China Dong Zhi celebrates the arrival of winter and the turning point to longer daylight and more positive energy. Many festivities are bringing light into this darkest time. Celebrating change and the beginning of quite literally a brighter time.
Nature is using this period to take a break, the earth being covered in snow and many plants and animals are hibernating. It is a quiet time where nature prepares itself to blossom freshly in spring. We often feel like doing the same, reflecting and recollecting our energies for new beginnings. This busy time often does not really for it. Sometimes creating a small window of time for ourselves can make all the difference.
Honour the longest night a year by creating some time for yourself. Welcome the change and the arrival of more light into your life by rolling out your mat, getting your FeetUp® Trainer and maybe burn your favourite candles. We created a little mini break for you to relax and rest with your FeetUp® Trainer. A couple of poses to shift your awareness from doing to being. We invite you to celebrate this magical time of the longest night through a relaxed, restorative practice. Create a little quiet, dreamy space for yourself, reflecting on the old if you like and invite new beginnings.
Take your time with each pose, staying in it as long as it feels good for your body.
Exercise 1: Butt up, feet in the air
This exercise is perfect for those who have lower back issues. Start by sitting on the back edge of the FeetUp. Now bring your upper body down carefully while supporting yourself with your hands on the floor. The shoulders are now on the floor, arms outstretched and the chin touches the chest. Now get your FeetUp and just relax.
Exercise 2: Open the chest with the bridge
Similar to Exercise 1, your shoulders are on the floor with your chin pointing to your chest and your shoulder blades squeezed. Instead of picking up your feet, they stand to your left and right next to your FeetUp. Now grab your ankles with your hands to bring your feet even closer to your upper body. In this way you open your ribcage even more.
Exercise 3: Torso Twist
Sit on the padded end of your FeetUp, feet are firmly on the ground. Now turn your upper body slowly to the right and bring your left hand to your right knee, the right hand is behind you. This way, you open your shoulder and chest muscles and keep your spine mobile.
Exercise 4: Opening the ribcage, slackening your shoulders
Kneel down on the floor in front of your FeetUp, far enough to put your elbows on the padding by leaning forward. Let your head hang slightly in the opening and bring your hands together over your head. This exercise works wonders for stiff shoulders.
Exercise 5: Hang your Head
Bring your head into the opening of your FeetUp. Instead of going to the headstand, kneel down on the floor with your knees and lay your hands on your back. Stay in this position for five breaths.
Exercise 6: Keeping everything loose with the "hands-free Down Dog"
As with Exercise Five, put your head into the FeetUp opening and let it hang loosely. The arms hang loosely down the side. Instead of kneeling, you stand up, almost as if you were in a downward facing dog. This exercise activates your circulation and helps you to reduce stress.
Exercise 7: Stretching the Back, Opening the Chest
For this exercise, place your upper back on the FeetUp Trainer, butt and tailbone hang in the air, feet firmly on the floor. Now bring your arms back over your head and grab the legs of your FeetUp with your hands. This will open your ripcage and stretch your back.
Exercise 8: Hands in the head
Sit on your FeetUp Trainer, legs wide open to the left and right. Now bend your upper body, hands behind your head so you can push your upper body even further down. The arms remain parallel to each other.
Exercise 9: Close Your Eyes and Relax
Sit on your FeetUp Trainer, one foot on the floor, the other resting on the adjoining thigh. Let your hands rest loosely on your knees, sit upright and breathe deeply in and out. Stay in this position for about five breaths.
Exercise 10: The Final Relaxation
Sit down on your FeetUp Trainer, feet are firmly on the ground, placed to the right and left of the FeetUp and hands are placed in Prayer Pose in front of your forehead. Take a few deep breaths and open your eyes. Now you should be fresh and relaxed for the day ahead!
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// Photos: Simon Toplak Photography