As we move more deeply into the darkest part of the year, it is easy to forget that the days will very soon begin to get longer. The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year, which will occur on Wednesday, December 21st at 5:44 a.m. From that time forward, the minutes and hours of daylight will gradually increase.Throughout history and around the world, people have marked the Winter Solstice as a significant turning point on the wheel of the year, a time to reflect on the past and look to the future.
Yoga practice at this time of year can become quieter and more introspective. We need to keep moving to lubricate the joints and stay warm so sun salutations and standing poses are helpful. We can add forward bends and gentle hip openers, followed by some restorative poses, meditation and a longer Savasana. These practices as useful, especially at this juncture of the year which for many is busier than usual and stressful.
Update on Classes
Our fall session at Yoga East will finish on Thursday, December 22nd.
The Winter Session will run from Monday, January 9th until March 2nd (8 weeks)
Class times remain the same as those in the fall session.
Valerie’s Class Schedule:
Tuesday 9:30 – 10:45 gentle yoga and meditation
Wednesday 9:30 – 10:45 mixed level
$90.00 to register for 8 week session
Drop in – $14.00
5 class pass for three months – $65.00
Cash or cheque only payable to Valerie Hobson
To register: contact Valerie at (519) 702-0534 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine’s Class Schedule:
Monday 11:00 – 12:15 mixed level
Thursday 10:30 – 11:45 mixed level
$90.00 to register for 8 weeks session
Drop in – $14.00
5 class pass for three months – $65.00
Cash or cheque only payable to Catherine Heighway
To register: contact Catherine at (519) 871-0661 or email@example.com
To see our schedule, please click here
Valerie’s Sunday afternoon Restorative Yoga Classes will be begin again in January.
Dates: Sunday January 15th, February 19th and March 19th.
Time: 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Fee: $15.00 per class or $45.00 for all three classes
To register, please contact Valerie at (519) 702-0534 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter Solstice Candlelight Meditation
We will be offering two Winter Solstice Candlelight Meditations this year. In the midst of holiday festivities, align with the energies of the Earth to welcome the returning light. Join us for a celebration of the Winter Solstice through music, readings, guided meditation and quiet reflection.
Each will be fundraisers – one for the Unity Project and one for Wellspring London and Region.
Fundraiser for “The Unity Project”
Saturday, December 17th – 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Yoga East, 537 Ontario Street
A minimum donation of $20.00 is suggested for “The Unity Project,” dedicated to the relief of homelessness in London. Chairs are available for those who prefer to not sit on the floor. Refreshments will be served following the program.
Space is limited so please register with Valerie or Catherine.
For information on “the Unity Project” please click here
Fundraiser for Wellspring London and Region
Monday, December 19th – 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
YMCA Centre Branch, 432 Waterloo Street
Chairs are available for those who prefer to not sit on the floor. Refreshments will be served following the program. Receipts will be provided for donations of $20.00 or more.
Space is limited. Registration is required by contacting Wellspring London and Region – 519-438-7379
For information on Wellspring, please click here
Celebrating the Returning Light – Clava Cairns, Scotland
Ancient peoples celebrated the return of the light in remarkable ways. We can see evidence of this reverence in sacred places around the globe. In September, I traveled to Scotland with my husband. We made a special trip to the Clava Cairns just outside of Inverness.The Clava Cairns were an important place for ritual and burial activities in the Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago.
The three well-preserved cairns each have a central chamber. Each cairn is surrounded by a ring of standing stones. The standing stones are graded in height, with the tallest facing the setting sun in the south-west. On a modern note, these standing stones are said to have inspired author Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” books!
The passages of the cairns are aligned towards the south-west, with the midwinter sunset.
We visited the cairns just as the sun was coming up. We were the only visitors for about an hour, when a tour bus pulled in! It was quiet, mystical and awe inspring. I was struck by how much careful thought, planning and massive effort must have gone into the construction of the cairns, illustrating the deep respect earlier peoples had for the winter solstice.There are many similar monuments across the British Isles and around the world. These sites remind us of the sacredness of the earth in all her seasons.
To read more about the Clava Cairns, please click here
Love and Joy come to you and to you, your Wassail too!
Wassail began as a greeting – Waes hael, in Old English means “be you healthy” or “be whole.” Eventually, wassail became associated with the hot drink made of ale, sherry, sugar, spices, and roasted apples. A piece of toasted bread was traditionally floated on top of the wassail. So when you hold up your glass and say “Let’s have a toast” you are honouring this very old ritual.
On Christmas or Twelfth Night, revelers would carry a large bowl from door to door, asking for it to be filled, a custom known as wassailing. The spiced cider was also used as an offering to the apple trees. Wassailers would make the wassail and soak pieces of bread, cake or toast in it. They would then travel from apple orchard to apple orchard, burying the wassail-soaked pieces of bread or toast at the tree’s roots or hanging them in the tree’s branches to ensure a good harvest for the coming year. These actions were thought to appease the tree spirits and feed the trees well until the next harvest.
There are now many versions of wassail, which may or may not contain alcohol.
Slow Cooker Spiced Wassail
- 2 quarts unfiltered apple juice or apple cider
- 1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
- 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 27 whole cloves
- 15 allspice berries
- 4 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 5 small firm cooking apples of your choice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 medium orange
- 2 cups Calvados (optional)
- Combine the apple juice, cranberry juice, and brown sugar in a 6-quart slow cooker. Place 12 of the cloves, the allspice berries, and the cinnamon sticks in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to make a bag. Add to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Stud each apple with 3 of the remaining cloves and place in an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Add the water and bake until the apples are just a bit tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- After the juices have stewed for 4 to 5 hours, add the apples to the slow cooker. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the orange peel in wide strips, making sure to avoid the white pith, and add the peels to the slow cooker.
- Remove the spice bag and stir in the Calvados. Serve hot (leave the slow cooker on to keep the cocktail warm).
Winter Solstice Blessing – Selena Fox
As we celebrate this holiday time with lights, songs, gifts, evergreens and other customs of our ancestors from many lands, let us remember the ancient and sacred spirit of Winter Solstice – that of renewal, peace and interconnectedness.
As days grow longer again and we embrace winter and the new calendar year, let us kindle within ourselves a deeper awareness of the divine circle of nature of which we are all part.
Let us celebrate our relationships with our families, friends, communities, cultures, all of nature and the Divine as unity and multiplicity.
May we be filled with joy, love and harmony.
May this Spirit of Yuletide shine within and around us throughout the year, as the Wheel of the Seasons continues to turn.
Good Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Holidays!
We look forward to welcoming you at Yoga East!
Catherine and Valerie