Clouds, rain, falling temperatures - we are definitely headed towards winter here in southern California. Chinese medicine and philosophy stresses the importance of living in harmony with the seasons. Winter is the time of stillness and quiet, a time to rest and recharge. According to Chinese thought, every season corresponds to a pair of organs. The seasons, along with their organ pair, help guide us to alter our habits and diet to better reflect the changes around us. In traditional Chinese philosophy, and according to Five Element theory, winter corresponds to the kidneys and bladder, the water organs.
The kidneys correspond to dark blue or black to reflect their yin nature. They control our birth, growth, and reproduction. They are the gates of vitality, and house our will power. Winter is the time to nourish the kidneys with whole grains, small dark beans, bone broths, seaweeds and other dark leafy green vegetables. Warm foods, steamed veggies, and hearty soups should be the priority in your diet. Even moderate amounts of warm alcohol are encouraged in many cultures. Avoid too much salt, and any excess stress or fear. It's ok to gain a little weight now, and hold off on major fasts or detoxes that place undue stress on the body. Most animals eat a lot in the fall, and rest as much as possible in winter. If possible rise with the sun and go to sleep earlier.
In your practice, look for deeply restorative asana and meditation. Create warmth, but not in excess. Avoid excess sweating and running right out into the cold. Fill the belly with breath, and be mindful of the lower back which houses the kidneys. Dress warmly, and keep your feet covered as cold enters the body through the feet. It can take longer to get going in the morning. Cold limbs, poor circulation and body pain all seem to increase in the winter. By avoiding cold and wind, avoiding excess sweat, and eating properly your days can begin a little easier.
Please join us at Yoga NoHo on December 5th @ 5pm
for further discussion of the
Five Elements and the basics of Chinese medicine.