The winter is upon us and I think we can all agree that the short days and grey skies can be draining, mentally and physically. Many of you know that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help with feelings of depression and lethargy, as well as boost immunity to keep away the cold and flu. Still, it is important to understand the winter within the context of the four seasons so that we can better utilize and even appreciate the winter months.
Let's first discuss the theory of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposing energies that complete each other and create balance in our bodies and the universe. According to the ancient Chinese medical text, the Huangdi Nejiing, "...the change of yin (rest) and yang (activity) energy throughout the four seasons is the root of life, growth, reproduction, aging, and destruction. By respecting this natural law it is possible to be free from illness." Essentially, we are a part of nature, and the external environment we are exposed to affects the internal environment we maintain. Listening to our bodies and getting in tune with the season can help to promote health and longevity.
WINTER - According to Chinese medicine, there are a series of characteristics that are associated with each season. During the winter months all things in nature "wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period, just as lakes and rivers freeze and snow falls." The philosophy of the season is conservation, storage, reflection, and retreat. This is a time when yin energy dominates over yang energy. For this reason we should focus on embodying yin and preserving yang. This allows us to feel well and properly embrace the coming Spring, a time of yang energy. Winter is a time to get cozy indoors with those you love, eat some warm and nutritious foods, and store up your energy and resources.
Here are a few nuggets of ancient wisdom on how to behave during the winter months:
• Retire early and get up with the sunrise
• Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep your pores closed/avoid sweating
• Soak your feet in warm/hot water, this warms and activates the Kidney channel, the channel most affected by the cold (the Kidney channel originates on the bottom of the feet)
• Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad to your low back (this warms the Kidneys directly)
• Eat warming foods (hearty soups, stews, congee) ginger, cinnamon, whole grains, squash, root veggies - carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, garlic
• Use immune boosting essential oils - eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme, lemon