Thursday, 05 23rd

Last update12:29:48 PM

Summer Winter ImageryChristmas is a time when we indulge with our friends and family in all types of foods, drinks and parties. Some of us find this time of year stressful with all the high expectations of gifts, shopping and all the associated luxuries. Others use it as a spiritual life-cleansing opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and create and give gifts from the heart. However you use your holiday time this year, use it as a time to reflect and focus on the positive elements so that they follow you into the New Year.

 

In this article by Master Trainer Rebecca Quin we explore some of the characteristics of traditional Chinese Medicine for High Summer and Winter, and give you some tasty tips for each season!

 


In the Southern hemisphere we are starting to experience the radiant yang of High Summer which is ruled by the Fire element. According to traditional Chinese medicine, High Summer starts around the 15th December in the Southern Hemisphere. Growth, joy and spiritual awareness between the heart and mind are the focus during this season. Read more about our tips for Summer.

 

For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere and experiencing the condensed yin of Winter, this is a time to be less active. It is where cold, and damp prevail. At this time of year it is appropriate to remain introspective, restful, and consolidate your Chi during the shorter daylight hours and prepare for the outburst of new life and energy in the spring. Read our tips for building your Chi-bank in Winter.

 

Summer and Chinese Medicine

 

The sun is considered yang as it gives energy, causes action and outward movement and creates the hot and dry climate. Summer is nature’s season of growth and maturation with flowers and fruits all around us. We are also maturing and growing and this is the high point of outdoor exercise, sports, water recreation and hikes in nature as well as brightness and creativity.

 

We experience the full force of summer – the season filled with abundant energy, long days and sunshine. This is the most yang time of year (winter is the most yin). Summer is about expansion, growth, activity and creativity.

 

Element: Fire

Color: Red

Nature: Yang

Organs: Heart, Small Intestine

Emotion: Joy

 

The Fire element is associated with the heart, which is more active during the summer. This is the organ to focus on. The heart is in charge of your blood vessels & circulation and helps to send oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body. Cardio vascular exercise that gets your blood and muscles moving is a great idea for a heart healthy summer. So, for optimum balance and wellbeing this summer, practice the High Summer ChiBall™ movements and share this with your students!

 

Sensuality, desire and self awareness are all key words for summer. Take up some Latin inspired dance lessons, share some intimate moments with a loved one and spend some precious moments tuning into yourself and your hearts desires.

 

This is the time of year to realise your potential and fulfil your goals.

 

The highest emotional expression for the fire element and summer is love. Beginning with love of the self

 

 

Summer Diet

"The wise nourish life by flowing with the seasons and adapting to cold or heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang, and what is hard and soft.” -The Neijing

 

Summer is usually hot and we are more active in summer, heat may cause stomach Chi to rebel resulting in indigestion or nausea . Heat in the stomach can also lead to an insatiable appetite. If you think you may have an invasion of heat, look in the mirror and stick out your tongue. A normal tongue should be a healthy pink with a thin white coat. If your tongue is bright red - you have heat. If your tongue is red and there is no coat in the centre - you have heat in the stomach. If your tongue is red with a yellow sticky coat – you have heat & damp. Eating light and keeping away from grease and fat will best remedy this, fried greasy foods generate heat and damp within. Celery is cooling and also removes damp. Barbequed red meat (especially lamb) generates excessive heat. Summer is the perfect season to introduce some cooling, yin foods into your diet. Yin refers to substance, deep materials, the shade, the dark, tangible matter. Yang is expansive, outward, light and airy, energetic. Yin contracts; yang expands. Yin is cooling; yang heats.

 

Chinese nutrition classifies food according to its energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and how it moistens and strengthens the body. Yin foods generally clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids. Yang foods generally warm and heat the body, and dry up excess bodily fluids. In the summer, we naturally gravitate towards cooling – yin – foods. In the winter, we want to conserve energy, and heat our bodies, so warming yang foods are preferred. Foods in season are best in taste, are economical and good for our health.

 

In summer, we have bountiful, local organic fruits and vegetables available which cool the body. In general, cooling foods tend towards the green end of the spectrum — lettuce, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest vegetables. Few vegetables are warming, though root vegetables will help the body conserve energy. Most fish and seafood are cooling, while most meats are warming. Note that watermelon, apricot, rock melon (cantaloupe) are some of the most cooling fruits. Cilantro, dill and mint are cooling herbs. Red fruits and veggies are excellent heart food this season. Berries are especially good and blueberries are a great boost for your kidneys. Sweet corn can calm & settle a restless heart. Avoid dairy foods and bananas if you suspect you have damp. Look out for the late summer newsletter where we will discuss damp in more detail.

 

The flavour this season is bitter. The bitter taste is drying, detoxifying and anti-inflammatory . Bitterness has a descending effect and promotes digestion. Bitter herbs and foods are commonly used for their reducing effects on conditions such as swelling, inflammation, excess heat etc. They are also used for their ability to dry and drain damp.

 

Excess intake of bitter foods and herbs can be over drying and draining. They can wither the skin and cause loss of body hair. The inner classic mentions that; “bitterness travels to the bones; in diseases of the bones do not eat too much bitter [food].”

 

Bitter leaves like dandelion and rocket are great to add to a salad.

 

Simple Summer Breakfast Ideas

  • A couple of pieces of fruit and tea.
  • A small bowl of yogurt with one or two sliced pieces of fruit such as Blueberries, strawberries, mango, pear or apple, a few nuts, raisins and a little honey.
  • Power Juice - In a blender mix 2 tablespoons of yogurt; one ripe banana, apple or pear; 4 ounces of orange or apple juice or water; 1-2 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast (high in B vitamins); 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses (high in iron and vitamins and a natural sweetener). Blend together and drink.
  • A more heat-producing breakfast for a colder day or for a day of hard work – a bowl of natural dry cereal like granola or muesli or cooked oats plus raisins, sunflower seeds or handful of nuts topped with almond or coconut milk.
  • 1 or 2 slices of wholegrain toast spread with a homemade nut butter topped with dates and a cup of herbal tea.

 

Winter and Chinese Medicine

 

Winter is the season for staying warm and rested, eating hot, cooked food, practicing gentle breathing techniques whilst cultivating silence and stillness. In this way we take care of our energy keeping it supple and so find ourselves refreshed when spring arrives. It is important to guard against energy expenditure by cultivating quietness and contemplation during the season of the Water Element; the time of cold yin energy. This is the time of year to give yourself permission for a lie in and to encourage yourself to go to bed early! Allow yourself to stop focusing so much on outer affairs and make your home the centre of your activities – a place to rest and regenerate.

 

The Kidneys are the organs associated with the Water Element and it is crucial that the kidney energy is conserved during the winter. The correspondences of Winter are:

 

 

Element: Water

Colour: Blue

Nature: Yin

Organs: Kidney, Urinary Bladder, Adrenal Glands, Ears and Hair

Emotion: Fear and Depression

 

Winter is ruled by the Water element, which is associated with the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands. According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all energy or “Chi” within the body. They store all of the reserve Chi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully. The Neijing, an ancient Chinese classic, advised people to go to sleep early and rise late, after the sun's rays have warmed the atmosphere a bit. This preserves your own Yang Qi for the task of warming in the face of cold.

 

Winter Diet

"The wise nourish life by flowing with the seasons and adapting to cold or heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang, and what is hard and soft.” -The Neijing

 

Eating warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts help to warm the body’s core and to keep us nourished. Sleep early, rest well, stay warm, and expend a minimum quantity of energy. We can also maintain warmth by ensuring that we eat only warm, cooked foods in the winter. Now is definitely not the time for salads or any raw food but, instead, eat soups and stews, enjoy root vegetables and hot meats, such as lamb and chicken. Chicken is a warm yang food which can be stir-fried with onions and a pinch of cayenne in the winter, or try this simple but delicious recipe which uses warming garlic and ginger to combat the cold.

 

Avoid adrenalin sports or anything that draws on the adrenal glands (no scary movies or rollercoaster rides) This is the time of year to de-stress and relax. Book in for regular massages especially foot massages like reflexology.

 

Although peace quiet and stillness are the focus for winter, it is important not to let Chi stagnate. If chi stops moving then pain and disease will quickly follow. Gentle, fluid exercise like Tai Chi –Qi Gong, Winter ChiBall, flow yoga, walking - all keep Chi flowing and the vital fires of Ming Men alight.

 

Wisdom is the highest emotional expression. Curl up with an empowering and enlightening book like; “the way of the peaceful warrior.” By Dan Millman or “Too soon old, too late wise.” By Gordon Livingston.

 

The flavour for winter is Salty- The Salty taste moves downwards and inwards, regulates fluid balance, purges and softens. It is used to soften hardness i.e. hardened lymph nodes in cases such as scrofula and purge stools relieving constipation.

 

Excessive use of Salty herbs can cause water retention, high blood pressure and hardened arteries. According to the Inner Classic; “Saltiness travels to the blood; in diseases of the blood, do not eat too much salty [food].

 

Simple Winter recipes

 

Winter Energy Cereal

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of rice
  • 6 cups of water
  • ½ cup toasted black sesame seeds
  • ½ cup TB toasted crushed walnuts
  • 3 TB honey
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions:

  • Cover the rice in 2 cups of water and soak for 2 hours. Toast the walnuts and crush. A simple crushing method is to place the walnuts in a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin.
  • Toast the black sesame seeds and drain the excess water off the rice.
  • Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and mix.
  • Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the rice is thoroughly cooked and all the water has been absorbed.
  • Stir the cereal frequently as it is cooking. The texture of the cereal at this stage is like a thick porridge or cornmeal mush. The rice is creamy and the sesame seeds are still slightly crunchy.

 

To make into a breakfast cereal: add ½ cup boiling water to ½ cup of cereal – optional: a touch of cinnamon; Yield: 4 cups; Serving size: ½ cup

 

Kidney Bean, Tomato & Winter Squash Soup

 

Ingredients:

  • 2tb walnut oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic – slivered
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped parsnip
  • ½ cup chopped yam
  • 14 oz can of plum tomatoes
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • 3 half dollar slices of ginger
  • 2 small dried hot red peppers (or to personal taste)
  • 1 15 oz can of kidney beans
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 cups of butternut/ squash, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • salt to taste
  • ground pepper
  • chopped cilantro/parsley garnish

 

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan/wok/Dutch oven and add the onion...cook until it is just softened.
  • Add the garlic, parsnip, yam and cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, ginger, peppers, beans and water.
  • Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about 1/2 hour – stir occasionally.
  • Add squash and simmer for about 1 hour until squash is tender. Check liquid levels, add water if necessary and don’t forget to stir occasionally.
  • Add salt and ground pepper, adjust seasonings to personal taste.
  • Garnish each bowl with a sprig of parsley.