In my family, we always celebrate Christmas and sometimes we also celebrate Hanukkah. Decorating the tree with ornaments collected and treasured over the years always brings a special glow to our household. We have ornaments to commemorate special times, such as our miniature Seattle space needle we bought on mine and my husband’s honeymoon to the Pacific Northwest. We have ornaments to remind us of things from particular years, like our wedding cake ornament from 2016 or our “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament from 2017, when our son Desmond was brand new. When we can, we also celebrate Hannukah, to honor my Eastern European Jewish roots. The Hanukkah celebration is smaller scale, but feels warm and special all the same. For at least one night of Hanukkah, we make vegan latkes from scratch and enjoy them with applesauce and vegan sour cream. Every evening for eight days, we light a little menorah and say a little Hebrew prayer.
In honor of these celebrations, each with their own connection to light, our pose of the month this month is candlestick pose.
Candle or Candlestick Pose (Shoulderstand, Sarvangasana):
Lying on the back, lift the feet, press the hands into the ground to stretch the toes toward the sky. Bend the elbows and hold onto the lower back for support. If working with young children, have them press their feet upward into your hands. This reclining inversion helps the throat and 5th and 6th chakras, stimulates the thyroid, pineal and pituitary glands, strengthens the entire back, core and spine, brings blood to the brain and stretches the neck and shoulders.
This pose and a few others are included in our newest yoga video! Liz has represented each holiday with a different pose, creating a relaxing yet energizing sequence for you to try with your kids and family. Check it out on our youtube channel!
MORE ABOUT CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
Here is some more information about the celebrations we have incorporated into our newest yoga video on Youtube. At the end of each description, you will find which pose we decided to include to honor that celebration.
Diwali - This 5-day festival usually takes place between mid-October and mid-November each year and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term dipavali, meaning “row of lights.” This festival generally symbolizes the victory of light over darkness. While Diwali has many components, one that is largely associated with this celebration is the lighting of lanterns called diyas, which are lit and set adrift on rivers and streams. POSE: RIVER
Winter Solstice - In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice usually takes place on December 21 or 22 each year. This solstice commemorates the moment when the earth is at its furthest tilt away from the sun. This tilt results in the shortest day, or least amount of daylight hours, that we experience for the entire year. After the Winter Solstice, the days begin to get longer again. People all over the world celebrate the Winter Solstice in many ways, such as lighting bonfires, lighting candles or lanterns, or eating certain foods (pomegranates and watermelon in Iran or kabocha in Japan). (Learn more about winter solstice here or here). POSE: CHILD'S POSE
Hanukkah - This eight-day festival of lights celebrates runs from December 10-18 in 2020. This holiday celebrates a miracle of long-ago when Jewish people persecuted under Antiochus, a ruler of the Greek kingdom, were able to defeat his army and protect their temple. When they went to burn their oil lamp to rededicate the temple, they found only enough for one night. To their amazement and deep joy, that oil miraculously lasted eight nights, and this holiday, though considered a minor holiday in Jewish tradition, is one filled with hope and thoughts of perseverance in dark times. Each night for eight nights, a candle is lit on the menorah, along with the recitation of a special Hebrew blessing. Children play a game with a small spinning toy called a dreidel and eat special golden-wrapped chocolate coins. POSE: CANDLESTICK
Christmas - This Christian holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who is believed by Christians to be the son of God. In most places around the world, Christmas is celebrated on December 25 each year. Traditional Christmas celebrations have to do with the nativity story of Jesus’s humble birth in a manger. Many modern celebrations of Christmas include a mix of traditions that are Christian, pre-Christian, and Pagan in origin such as exchanging gifts, decorating wreaths and trees, and the myth of the gift-giving figure Santa Claus or St. Nick. POSE: TREE