In Chinese Medicine winter is seen as the season of yin, when the energy of the earth retreats inwards to rest. You can see this all around you in nature with both plants and animals entering a hibernation phase. So what does this mean for you and your health?
There is a natural ebb and flow between the yin (still and nourishing), and yang (moving and growing) aspects of our energy as we move through the year and the seasons. At this time of year our yin energy should be slightly more dominant, but not in excess as your energy should always be in balance. If your yin energy is in excess you may find yourself feeling more sluggish, tired and low than normal. In contrast if your yang energy is in excess going against the flow of the seasons you may find you are suffering from symptoms of dryness such as aching joints, coughs and dehydrated skin. So how can you keep your energy in balance and thus keep yourself healthy this winter?
In Chinese medicine one of the pillars of health is to live in tune with the seasons, and in winter this means getting more rest ideally in a meditative way, as well as, nourishing our bodies with seasonal produce. At this time of year it is particularly important to eat foods that nourish and support our lungs, (our first line of defence against illness), these include foods such as broccoli, pears, garlic, flaxseed, mustard greens, sweet potato and turnip. One should focus on cooking methods that add warmth and qi (energy) to the food we eat such as stews and soups, and focus less on cooler raw foods. At this time of year of rest the energy of your stomach is more sluggish and so warm cooked foods are much better for your qi and easier to assimilate than cold raw foods.
What else can you do?
-Meditate daily for about 20mins if you can
-Practise meditative exercises such as yoga or tai chi
-Wrap up warm - wear a scarf - the lungs are considered the delicate organ in Chinese Medicine so you must keep them warm in winter
-Keep the feet covered - no walking around on cold floors with nothing on your feet
- Breathe deeply - help strengthen the lungs by practising some deep breathing techniques daily
- Book in for a seasonal attunement to get your energy into balance for the winter season.
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Laura Jones is an expert in Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Beauty and Holisitic Therapies with nearly 20 years experience.