Wednesday, 10 23rd

Last update12:29:48 PM

Winter Water DropWinter is the season when Yin is at its peak or, more accurately, when it is most condensed. Winter is the season of death and decay when most things in nature reach the end of their cycle and return to the earth. It is a time for stillness and reflection.

Within traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the seasons are associated with the five phases of energy or five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

Water is the element associated with this season and expresses yin in its ultimate forms: cold, blue, dense, heavy and moving downwards. Water is a formidable force — it has the power to destroy life but is essential to sustain it. Taoist philosophers believed in observing nature and following its laws to achieve optimal health.

In an ideal world, during winter we would be in bed not long after sunset and wake at sunrise. Our working day would be short and slow paced and we would eat whatever nutritious foods we wanted, without counting calories. However, in today’s fast paced and demanding times, we unfortunately barely even stop to take a breath in the winter.
TCM Sketch Kidney
In TCM, Winter is a necessary and important part of the yin yang seasonal cycle. This is the time of year when the kidneys need most care. This is when TCM practitioners believe we need to accumulate enough yin for yang to burn in the spring and summer. Yin is the substance and structure that generates yang and allows it to function.

In TCM thinking, the kidneys are vital to our function and existence. The kidneys hold the key to our Chi, or “life force”. According to Eastern philosophy, at the time of our conception, through our parents, the heavens gift us with ‘pre natal Chi’. It is stored in our kidneys and is the source of our essence, original Chi, and the root of all yin and yang within the body.

In order to maintain our original Chi and essence we need to top it up with ‘post natal Chi’ from the food we eat, the air we breathe and the way we live our lives. Chi serves us in its functions within the body to transform, transport, hold, raise, protect, and warm.

So, how do we build yin and support the kidneys in the winters of today’s hectic world?

Here are some tips to survive the winter and stay healthy:

Go to bed early and wake up late – If you get super organised the night before for the day ahead, you could end up with extra snooze time. Getting extra sleep time during dark hours is crucial for building your yin.

Keep Warm and Cozy Keep warm – The kidneys hate the cold and are most susceptible to it in the winter. Although the kidneys are organs of water, they are the source of fire (Ming Men) in the body. This fire can be diminished when the body is invaded by cold, wind and damp, leading to symptoms of cold extremities, lower back pain, sore knees, lack of libido and fatigue.

Wear a scarf and keep covered up especially in windy cold weather. Wind can drive cold into the bladder channel (which is one of the most superficial meridians) causing a stiff neck and can lead to cold invading the organs which leads to pain and disease. So snuggle up in your winter woollies, curl up in front of a fire and beat the cold.

Be quiet – Meditate more frequently and for longer. Invest in some relaxation/ meditation CD’s. Reflect on what is past, observe what is now and dream of what is to come. Inspiration and insight comes to us in still, quiet moments.

Roasted Root Vegetables Eat for the season – Unless you are hot & dry, cold & damp foods are a no-no this season. Root vegetables, slow cooked stews & casseroles, soups, baked foods and roasts are all favourites for the winter, as are beans and lentils.

Don’t worry about calories, (although avoid using too much fat and sugar in your cooking) focus on the nutritional content. It's normal to gain up to 4 kilo’s in the winter, this makes up part of your yin for the yang months. So... double helping of mash any one?

Keep up your water intake – The kidneys govern and regulate the water in your body and maintain the electrolyte balance. The cold winter months often lead to a reduction of water intake resulting in dehydration. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day and take a sip every 15 minutes. Avoid drinking cold water. Drink warming herbal teas instead if you prefer.

Exercise – Avoid long gruelling workouts. A brisk walk every day is all you need in the winter. Mindful practices such as Winter ChiBall, Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates and Feldenkrais are also excellent for building and balancing yin & yang.

Treat yourself to massage – Book yourself in to have a Chinese massage. This is the best way to get Chi and blood moving without exertion. It helps balance and regulate Chi and helps us to maintain good health. Reflexology is also excellent this time of year because of the connection of the kidneys to the feet.

Winter Seasonal ChiBall Class - this class focuses on building a gentle healing heat, building internally around the kidneys and flowing throughout the whole body. The class will be slow but intense as you move fluidly from activity to stillness. The emphasis is on Breathing, deep relaxation and meditation, Therefore the movements will be flowing and hypnotic (a moving meditation) bringing you to a place of deep inner peace.

Watch a preview below of the Winter Seasonal Class