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winter tree

photo by Cristina Warseck

Brrr. It’s cold out there! Even in San Francisco, the Winter months are cold, rainy, and windy. The days are often over-cast and night comes so early.

In Chinese Medicine, we believe that health comes from living in harmony with nature and the changing seasons.

If we observe nature, we notice that winter is a time for hibernation: leaves have fallen, animals are hibernating, plants are underground, and night-time comes sooner.

If we deeply listen to our bodies, we will also notice that our bodies change with the seasons. In the Winter, our bodies want to slow down, our energy is a little lower, we want to sleep more, and we want warm, heartier foods. Trust your body’s needs. This is a natural shift in the Winter.

In Chinese Medicine, Winter is the season of the Kidney organ. The Kidneys house the root of our energy- the energetic fire that activates all of our body’s functions. The cold weather drives this “fire” deeply inward, where the body can conserve this energy. The Winter is a time to conserve our energy so that we can gently enjoy it for the whole year.

Health issues that may come up when the Kidneys are out of balance are in the areas of water metabolism, control of the bladder, urination, libido, reproduction, sexual/reproductive organs, adrenal energy, bone and joint health (especially issues with the knees and lower back), teeth, hearing, ear health, healthy hair (premature graying and hair loss), growth and development, and premature aging. If you already experience issues in any of these areas, then this is an important season to focus on your health and I recommend that you seek support from a Chinese Medicine practitioner.

In the next post, I will discuss specific foods and herbs to powerfully support and strengthen the Kidneys to keep your body balanced. In this post, I will discuss some lifestyle factors that you can implement to boost seasonal health.
In the Winter it is important to protect ourselves from cold- make sure to protect the lower back area where the Kidneys are located. Wear lots of layers and keep your whole body warm with a scarf, hat, and gloves.

Winter is a time to slow down in all aspects of life. It is healthy to respect our need for more sleep. “Early to bed and late to rise” is the key to Winter.

Winter is a time for rest and a time for our social life to be less active. It is recommended for physical activity to be more moderate and gentle. Healthful activities in the Winter include gentle yoga, tai qi, qi gong, meditation, and relaxation techniques.

However, please don’t think this means to stop exercising, moving, and socializing completely. In Chinese Medicine, we always think about balance. If we stop moving completely, we can cause stagnation in which our energy doesn’t move properly. So, we need to find the right balance of socializing, activity and exercise. We find this balance by listening to our body’s needs.

If you are feeling overly tired and unmotivated, this means that your energy is stuck. I suggest scheduling an acupuncture treatment to help move stagnant energy.

In order to experience the lively, dynamic energy of the spring (the time of re-birth), it is important for our bodies to slow down and experience our roots in winter (the metaphorical death).

When we are in harmony with the seasons, we can trust the changing flow of each season and meet the changing needs of our bodies.

Listen: What is your body telling you this Winter? Trust this message.

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