How to Plan a Winter Solstice Personal Yoga Retreat

Winter Solstice

 

“Winter Solstice”

No more hurry

hurry,

time now for firelight

and dreaming,

for church bells

mingling

with the cold, quiet sunlight.

And somewhere

deep

inside of you

a kernel of courage

unfurling –

each day, more light.

– Irene Latham


“If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”¬†

A friend once shared this tidbit of wisdom with me, and it still rings true whenever my plans fall apart. I had every intention of focusing on my practice for the month of December but my immune system has been on the ropes from three consecutive colds.

Thankfully I’ve had a chance to regroup, just in time for the Winter Solstice. In some ways it’s better to start a Personal Yoga retreat now because I’ll have fewer distractions over the holidays.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to merge working life seamlessly with your practice. But according to the great Sage Patanjali, the first of 13 Obstacles on the Yogic Path is sickness. There isn’t much we can do until we’re feeling better. So incubation is key, which falls in line with the power and presence of the Winter Solstice.

Winter Solstice Retreat

I like to begin a Personal Yoga retreat with a few simple preparations. These are especially beneficial if you haven’t been feeling well or have low energy from holiday season burnout. I recommend starting with Saucha, the second Niyama (observance) of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.

The Niyamas are foundational practices that relate to our internal world. Saucha means purity or cleanliness of our internal and external worlds. When we engage in Saucha on an external level (such as our bodies), we are also affecting the internal (mind and spirit) parts of our beings.

If my house isn’t clean I have a hard time focusing on anything. So I like to practice Saucha with a thorough and intentional cleaning of my home environment. A few of my Saucha materials include:

  • White Vinegar Spray: Great for counter-tops, bathrooms and floors (dilute 50/50 with water).
  • Baking Soda: Mix with vinegar spray to create a paste for sinks or tubs.
  • Essential Oils: Lavender and Tea Tree are powerful antiseptics. Add a few drops to a sponge or mix with grain alcohol for a DIY air freshener. (For more information, read Freshen Indoor Air Naturally )

I love the way burning candles and diffusing essential oils can lift the feeling of a space. [Fun fact: I recently learned that burning dried sage can reduce airborne bacteria.] Another nice touch is a vase of fresh flowers in clean water.

I like to conclude a meditative house cleaning with a hot shower and a fresh set of clean clothes. These simple steps clear my mind so that I can drop more easily into my practice and refill my “cup.”

I hope these tips spark your imagination with creating your own Winter Solstice Retreat.

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Raw Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

I’ve had raw truffles on the brain lately so I figured that was my body’s way of telling me to make some.

You should ALWAYS make your own raw truffles. You don’t need a food processor or a high powered blender. Most health food stores carry the specialty ingredients (or you could order them online).

Store bought raw truffles are ridiculously expensive – I’ve seen them sold for as much as $8 for a four pack.

The best part about making your own raw truffles is that you can use any ingredients you want. For instance, most raw dessert recipes call for agave but I prefer maple syrup or honey.

Raw honey provides a great pre-workout energy boost. It’s a powerful antioxidant that promotes digestive health, strengthens the immune system, eliminates allergies, calms the nervous system and can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

If you’re going to eat dessert then make it count.

I use raw cacao in no-bake chocolate desserts because of the incredible nutrient content. Cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. It’s high in fiber, magnesium and iron. It contains the¬†alkaloids theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine – three natural mood enhancers which make you feel like you’re in love.

Like raw honey, raw cacao is considered to be the food of the gods.

I used peanut butter but you could use any nut butter – almond, hazelnut, or sunflower seed (if you’re allergic to nuts).

Virgin organic coconut oil is yet another amazing superfood. Coconut oil has been getting a lot of bad press lately, but I just ignore it (remember when butter was supposed to be bad for you?)

Tip: If you have a little extra coconut oil on your measuring spoon give your sun-kissed skin a treat while you’re making these.

Raw Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Makes 20

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp organic virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
  • Chopped toasted nuts for coating

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except for the chopped toasted nuts into a medium bowl. Blend with a wooden spoon until combined.
  2. Transfer to a glass tupperware container and chill for at least an hour.
  3. Place chopped nuts in a small bowl.
  4. Using your hands, roll truffle mixture into large marble-sized balls. Roll truffles in the chopped nuts, applying gentle pressure.
  5. Store unused truffles in the fridge.
  6. Bring truffles to room temperature before consuming. Savor, enjoy, and share the love…

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