Winter Health and Harmony with Nature
In wintertime the traditional Chinese Yin-Yang cycle reaches its Yin peak. Nature’s level of activity is reduced during this season of rest and passivity. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recommends living in harmony with nature. As nature slows down in winter, people should reduce their activities as well.
In TCM, winter is determined by the water element and associated with the organs kidney and bladder. The kidneys are the source of the kidney Qi which is composed of the prenatal Qi (stored in the kidneys) and the postnatal Qi (stored in the spleen). The prenatal Qi is given at birth by our parents. It is responsible for the renewal and regeneration of cells and tissue. It is said that it determines the duration of life. The postnatal Qi is acquired by the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. It is first of all responsible for our daily energy. However, if this energy is low and cannot provide the daily demand, the prenatal Qi gets damaged. These two Qi energies together are responsible for the nourishment of organs and the protection against exterior disease-causing effects.
Especially when the weather is very cold and damp, the postnatal Qi needs special care and nourishment. Different areas of our life like diet, emotions, exercise, etc. can influence the capacity of our postnatal Qi and therefore our wellbeing and protection against illness.
Winter is the time to rest and reflect on our health, conserve strength and store energy. It is wise to go to bed early and stay in tune with sunrise and sunset for sleeping and waking. The body needs to rest well and stay warm.
Doing extreme sports is contradictory to the understanding of this season. However, soft exercises outside (in order to get some fresh air) are recommended. Meditation and breathing techniques are helpful to manage stress and strong emotions and prepare ourselves for the coming spring.
Personally, it is important to develop new confidence in yourself during this time. It is a good time for reflection. Interpersonally, during the winter season we should be especially focused on listening and communicating with others.
Daily food consumption can be limited according to your reduced activity level. This also prevents unnecessary weight gain in wintertime. You should avoid eating raw food and focus on warming meals like soups/stews, root veggies, bean and lentils, whole grains and nuts. To protect the kidneys, drink sufficient amounts of warm water and herbal teas regularly.
In general, the winter is the time to prepare for the next cycle of life. We hope these tips help you to stay healthy and prepared for the rejuvenation of spring.
If you are experiencing a lot of seasonal illnesses this winter, you likely have a Qi deficiency. Come in for a consultation at Body & Soul so we can help you rebalance your body to lessen these vulnerabilities and stay well through the changing seasons.