Article and photo from: www.bustle.com
For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice means one thing: a few long, cold, dark months are ahead of us, with seemingly no end in site. While the winter solstice might not be something worth celebrating to you, to others, it's an extremely spiritual day full of sacred rituals. In fact, to some, all of that extra darkness isn't a bad thing at all — it actually adds to the spiritual significance of the day. The winter solstice has so many spiritual meanings that make it so much more than just the shortest day of the year.
For many cultures around the world, the winter solstice (which falls on Dec. 21 this year) marks an important milestone. It's the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year, and signals a powerful transition point between seasons that is impossible to ignore. Because of this, it has been celebrated and revered in ancient civilizations, indigenous cultures, and various religions, all of which have their own rituals for taking advantage of the unique energy.
According to Forever Conscious, "The winter solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the sun and is believed to hold a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection. In Pagan times the winter solstice was referred to as Yule and was a celebration of the Goddess (Moon) energy. It was believed that on this day, the moon would give birth to the sun." That certainly puts a slightly more magical spin on things!
Each year, the winter solstice falls a few days before Christmas and New Year's Eve. This isn't just a fun coincidence; in fact, there's a much deeper meaning there. According to Alokananda.com, "The spiritual and energetic significance of the winter solstice is multi-layered, but the most direct relevance is that it symbolizes the birth of the sun." The birth of the sign is representative of the birth of Jesus. Alokananda.com says, "The birth of these higher beings at this time of the solstice was symbolic of the birth of the spiritual sun within, that we are not separate from the creator, as we have been conditioned to believe to feel that we are less than divine beings." That's where the religious aspect comes in.
If you aren't particularly religious or spiritual, you might feel like this has nothing to do with you. Actually, it does! The winter solstice is a time of quiet energy, where you get the opportunity to look within yourself and focus on what you want and need. It's a time to set goals and intentions for the coming year, to examine and let go of our past, and to make changes within ourselves. The solstice is essentially tied to a personal awakening.
Feeling inspired to embrace a more spiritual take on the solstice this year? One way to celebrate is to take part in Christmas traditions, if you celebrate the holiday. The holiday is actually strongly based on Pagan beliefs, which are also strongly tied to the winter solstice. If you aren't a religious person at all, though, you can still take part in the spirituality of the day. There are so many rituals that are linked with the solstice, and honestly, they might bring a whole new meaning to new year's resolutions. It might feel overwhelming to pick just one, but there are a few options out there anyone can take part in.
Here are a few suggestions....
1. Decorate your house
Are all the many Christmas traditions really Pagan? As Jason Mankey explained in 2013, some are, some aren’t, and some are complicated. The way I see it, the customs that don’t directly reference the birth of Jesus are organic responses to Winter and the Winter Solstice, even if they were started by Christians.
So put up a tree and decorate it with ornaments. Hang greenery – make your house a colorful contrast to the dreary outdoors. Set up candles – just use electric ones if you’re going to leave them lit when you’re not home and awake.
Even those of us who are happy for cold weather recognize that there’s something not so nice about Winter’s gloom. Make your home joyous and bright.
2. Light a Yule log
The Yule log is one of those customs whose ultimate origins are uncertain. But any ritual centered on a tree and a fire is Pagan enough for me.
There are numerous ways to do a Yule log. Some call for a specific wood. Some burn a whole tree trunk a foot or two at a time – that’s virtually impossible for those of us with contemporary fireplaces. Others don’t burn the log at all – they drill holes for candles and decorate it with greenery.
If you do burn your Yule log, save some of the ashes and use them in charms, especially charms of protection.
3. Watch the sun setThe Winter Solstice is the death of the sun – it’s the shortest day of the year. It’s a solemn occasion, one filled with mystery and magic. Particularly if you have clear skies, go outside and watch the sun slowly sink below the horizon.
What dies with the last sunset of the solar year? What do you mourn? What are you glad to be rid of?
4. Sing up the sunSing to a Sun God. Sing to a newly born Sun Child. Sing that the light has returned, and now the days will begin to lengthen. Knowing the science of the Solstice only increases the joy of knowing that the sun lives, and so life on Earth will continue.
5. Mark the sunriseThe Winter Solstice is the farthest south the sun will rise and set on the horizon (in the Northern Hemisphere). As you watch it die and be reborn, stand in an appropriate place (your front door, the middle of your back yard, whatever seems right to you) and make note of where the sun crosses the horizon. Do it again at the Equinox and at the Summer Solstice.
You’ll likely never build a stone circle or a passage tomb in your back yard, but knowing the extent of the sun’s movements helps connect you to the land where you are.
6. Gather mistletoeGathering mistletoe is one of the few customs we know were practiced by the ancient Druids, though for them it was tied to the phases of the moon and not the stations of the sun.
Forget the kissing customs. Even if you’re not alone, they’re not exactly consensual (unless they’re a way for couples to kiss in public when they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed). For the Druids, mistletoe was known as “allheal” – use it in your healing magic.
It’s also poisonous (though the American variety is much less toxic than the European) so best to use it externally and not consume it.
7. Give a giftChristmas extravagance is the creation of modern capitalism, but gift giving at the Solstice dates back at least to the Roman republic. Any tradition of kindness and generosity is worth continuing.
Gifts need not be expensive, nor must they be hand-crafted. They simply require the desire to share what we have with others, be it great or small. Give something to a family member, a friend, a coworker, or someone on the street.
Give with no expectations, not even the expectation of gratitude. Just give for the joy of giving.
8. Make wassailWassailing is the practice of going outside singing songs of Winter’s joy. Wassail is the hot beverage that makes it more enjoyable.
There are a million recipes for wassail on the internet. Basically it’s hot spiced cider. Start with non-alcoholic, non-carbonated cider. Add spices, especially cinnamon. Heat to a comfortable drinking temperature. If you want an extra kick, add brandy, rum, or whiskey (but save the good single malts for sipping).
However you celebrate and whoever you do or don’t celebrate with, may your Solstice be merry and bright.
photo by @vitasocial
What Our Commitment IS to Our Community, to those we Serve.
During this season we tend to experience a roller coaster of emotions. There tends to be little time to stop and even read a paragraph to lift your spirits because we are consumed with fulfilling the "to do" list of everyone else's expectations, but what about you?
Our commitment is to come along side you and meet you where you are today. When you take the first step in nourishing your self care and being open to giving yourself some service, you will then be full to share this abundance with the lives of others.
It's like they say on the airplanes... "secure your mask first before helping others". You will be good to no one if you are unable to nourish your needs. Here is where we seek the balance and here is where we come in to help you along the path.
We never said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.
When we offer a class, we do it with the passion to serve our communities with the expectation of restoring this balance in every life we touch. In a season where moods can go from elation to devastation within seconds, it is vital for us to be available for our students that rely on their schedule/ routine/ to attend their class and offer their gifts, sacrifices, and blessings to the mat. Seeing how yoga impacts each life we come across is soul as to why we commit to being there for each student. If one shows up or many, we will be there for you.
Every time we give, we receive so many blessings. We are committed to ensuring we equip ourselves with the best tools to make each experience through the practice accessible for everybody. It doesn't matter what background, what happened, or where they come from, our goal is to empower our students to seek presence within what brought them to the mat and invite a change or shift in consciousness.
Our classes invite meditation, chanting, singing, and freedom for creative expression. We encourage each student to invite the practice as a guide to express themselves without limitations. Spiritual teach, Joyce Meyers says,
" Being a servant - is someone who lives to benefit others and someone who sacrifices for another persons joy.
Something wonderful and profound happens when you serve others, when you don't put yourself, but the needs of someone else before your own. You will find love and deep satisfaction in your life...
Serving is simply helping. It is doing things for others."
Our commitment is to always serve our community accessible yoga so all may have the opportunity to discover a part of the benefits of the practice and begin their journey.
Thank you for your support and belief in our mission and the work we are called to do. Will you consider a gift to
Jai Bhakti Yoga Foundation in any amount to help us keep pioneering wellness and yoga programs throughout our communities? We are deeply grateful for all of you.
Follow us on IG: @jaibhaktiyoga
photo by @vitasocial
It is hard to believe that this little non profit started because of the people Christina enjoys serving. A community that quickly embraced her as much as she embraced them as family.
Instructor Christina Andrini had no idea that her passion to share the gift of yoga would become a platform to deliver a service that so many needed. Beyond yoga, came family, support, community, spiritual growth, and acceptance. The journey of Jai Bhakti Yoga Foundation was a not all rainbows and unicorns. It had a very bumpy beginning...
Christina is a one woman show. From marketing, to teaching, to running 2 businesses, being a wife, a step-mom, and a pug mom, overcoming the loss of her companion of 18yrs, almost loosing her life in a near fatal accident in 2015, and having her entire life change before her very eyes, yoga became her only outlet, both personally and professionally.
She had been teaching on and off since 2011 in Florida, when her husband brought her and the kids over to New Orleans based on a military relocation. She didn't realize how drastically this move would impact her. Life in New Orleans was very different from what she was accustomed to in Florida. Not knowing anyone, and starting from scratch was a challenge for her and the kids, but "we made it work"... two days after her first experience of Mardi Gras, she was in a car accident on I-10 that nearly took her life. Her car was totaled, and by the grace of God she only suffered a concussion and knee injury. Looking at the vehicle, one would have thought otherwise. She has since never been behind the wheel of a car again. This accident became the biggest blessing in her life.
She soon lost her high paying job for not being able to make it to work anymore, and a few other painful losses. However, something inside her told her to never give up. She started to learn the bus system and the streetcar routes, which quickly woke her up to the lifestyle and culture of the New Orleanian way of life. She befriended the bus drivers and passengers and started to learn the ways of how people live and what their needs are. She began to see the poverty, homelessness, sick, hurting, and disadvantaged people that would share their stories with her.
Her first friend was a yoga teacher at her favorite yoga studio, Wild Lotus Yoga in Uptown, who encouraged her to take the teacher training there, which she did after a little time settling in to the city. Here, is where she met her new life long friends and received her 2nd 200hr TT Certification. To get herself back on track with teaching, after taking a year off, she decided to start a random Tuesday night class in beautiful City Park after her day job at 6pm. Little did she know, this would be the beginning of the company she now lives and breathes for.
She packed her little zebra bag of a few spare yoga mats, put a little facebook event and meet up event together, jumped on the bus and headed to the park to teach her class. 17 people showed up to her first class and she was completely surprised. Soon it turned into 36, 42, 55, and she had to move the class to a bigger space. Christina led this class week after week for Free until one of her students said she needs to start charging for this gift of helping people. So he gave her the first donation, which soon turned into many more donations weekly. Students started telling her about other needs and what her gifts would be able to help, and soon, she began teaching at a multitude of different places to honor the voices of the people.
Jai Bhakti Yoga soon formed because of the people and their needs and she was eager and willing to help out wherever she could. Her passion for yoga and seeing the lives of these individuals touched, inspired her to do more. Through the midst of the growth of JBY, she lost her love of 18yrs, her cat, that kept her alive, as Christina dealt with severe bouts of bipolar depression and suicide throughout her life. Her cat Boo, was her anchor, and loosing him was the most painful event in her life. Thankfully, the community she had been teaching too surrounded her with so much love, that she knew taking her life would be selfish and not worth it, when she was helping so many others overcome the same struggles she had been battling with beneath the skin.
Jai Bhakti Yoga Foundation became her new baby. She gave her heart and soul to it as she can relate with so many that suffer in silence and was able to be an anchor for them as Boo was for her. Yoga is a medicine for many and the students that come to her class mean everything to her. She makes it a point to meet and greet each student, learn about their lives, and genuinely finds a way to support them, even if its only through a smile or a kind word. Her love for community and her students is the driving force behind what she does.
In a world of so many non profit organizations in New Orleans, about 1.8million nationally, where does hers fit in? Christina's passion to restore lives, one mat, one person, one mission at a time stands out because she is a mobile service provider. She brings the practice to the under served and minority communities that other yoga studios aren't able to reach. She ensures that the practice of yoga is accessible to all bodies, all walks of life, from trauma, to veterans, to troubled teens, to forgotten elderly. She may not realize it, but she is creating a legacy in enriching the lives of the many people, thousands of people, she has touched, inspired, and hugged, along the way.
Her little nonprofit, is a 501c3 that she worked very hard to keep afloat, mostly with the little income she has made, sometimes sacrificing feeding herself, to make sure she is able to bring this practice to those who are hurting, or can't afford it. "As long as Boo can eat, I'm fine." is what she has said and now "As long as the people have their yoga, I am fine." Her commitment and sacrifice to ensuring that she keeps true to the mission of making yoga accessible through her mobile service, is what drives her each day to roll out her mat, and connect to a community that she too knows the dark shadows of thanks to her great losses and the people she has met along the way.
"From great ruin, comes great strength."- Eat, Pray, Love. This quote hits home as the city she gives her heart and soul too have been impacted by the great devastation of hurricane Katrina , and still cope with the trauma of that storm. With unshakable faith, they were able to overcome with great strength and rise above the rest, as she has overcome her personal traumas and devastation.
Jai Bhakti Yoga Foundation is a light in the storm. The horizon for some. It is the space where they feel supported and loved through the practice of yoga that helps get their minds right, bodies strong, and spirits lifted. "your class is my church." - Janice a student of hers has said, she continues... "I travel from the Northshore, just to take your class. I love you."
JBYF may be one of the millions of non-profits that pop up in New Orleans and beyond, but what makes her nonprofit different isn't just the powerful message and class she offers or the restorations and transformation that come out of the classes. What makes this little non profit different, yet fit in to the gumbo of New Orleans is as her husband and Board of Directors says...."it's her."
Photo by @vitasocial
Jai Bhakti Yoga Foundation exists to bring the gift of yoga to our under-served, disadvantaged, and minority communities. We strive to make yoga accessible to all bodies, all people, everywhere.
Our purpose is to restore lives and provide a "safe" space where people can feel supported and release their attachments to self defeating and limiting stories created within the self.
We focus our energy on providing empowering practices that help students and participants look inside and discover their inner strength and encourage them to "take their power back."
There is no ego, no judgement, no expectations when our students come to the practice.
We strive to cultivate a place that enables the student to acknowledge, observe, and reflect on finding themselves and embracing the little one within that may be suffering in silence.
We teach from a place of first hand experience and provide tools to make coping with relationships, realizations, and reflections bearable in a respectful, loving manner.
No one is left behind, or alone. We create an environment that eventually becomes a support system or family.
To be your best self for you and others, you must first discover who you are. When you find yourself, you are ready for more. We are here, on a mission, to restore lives one mat, one person, one mission at a time.
In an article we happened to stumble upon in the Biz New Orleans Journal, September 2018 issue, it brought to light the Trend Reports on what our corporate world is considering implementing into their programming and benefits for their employees and why this is going to make a significant impact.
Rhonda Bagby, CPA Market Vice President of Humana reports: " employers have been changing their definition of 'success' for wellness, employers typically should wait up to 3 years to see a true value on investment , and employers are figuring out they need to promote wellness programs for employees. Leadership engagement is the key to success."
She continues, "Another important element of success for wellness programs is making sure program features are relevant and timely. Trend #1: Mental Health, Trend #2: Corporate Social Responsibility, and Trend #3: Expanded Wellness Solutions. Social trends that are bringing attention back to mental health, particularly when it comes to depression, and social well being issues."
Bagby had stated that it was suspected as many as 50,000 Americans died from opioid abuse. The CDC estimates that in any given year, 18.8 million Americans will suffer from depression.
Helping employees live their best health- mentally and physically- will bring real value to employers.
Restoring your life and those around you takes time. When hearing such alarming statistics, it heavies my heart . We know that the Corporate World will benefit from the mindfulness practices as to have more productive employees and an uplifted environment.
We are offering Corporate Wellness Mediation and Chair Yoga Classes throughout the community. If you have a business that would like to offer this gift of wellness, please reach out and connect.
This month we take a journey into the depths of our soul. We will learn to cultivate an “Attitude of Gratitude” through a transformation that is going to shift the soul.
The answer to this question along with the steps on how to achieve this outcome is found in the book by Dadi Janki, “Wings of Soul”.
A Mini Fashion Directory…
Just like it’s food and languages, India’s traditional dress vary from state to state. Below are some of the signature pieces you will encounter when visiting, and my be inspired to include into your wardrobe. I know I will be including sone of the Lehenga and Kameez into mine.
Left the other half of my suitcase open for souveniers…. 🙂