In Eastern philosophy winter is the Yin time of year, when our energies draw inwards. The animal kingdom hibernates and plants and seeds withdraw into stillness to replenish and regenerate their potential during the winter months, preparing for the growth and activity that arises naturally in Spring. This is a time of opportunity for deep healing and spiritual growth.
In times when we lived more closely attuned to the natural rhythm of the seasons humans would also have followed these patterns. In our modern society most of us miss this opportunity to replenish our inner reserves. The festive season can be demanding physically and emotionally and then in January we’re inundated with messages to make goals, find our purpose, be more, do more! It’s no wonder we can feel depleted, overwhelmed and emotionally down at this time of year.
In Chinese Medicine Winter is associated with the Kidney organs and the elemental energy of Water. The Kidneys hold our reserves of energy and potential, like our internal batteries and require careful nurturing.
Kidney imbalance symptoms often show up this time of year – fatigue, lower back ache, anxiety and fearfulness, joint and bone problems, chest and lung congestion (the Kidneys support the Lungs), kidney /urinary problems, hormonal and reproductive complaints, hearing problems
Here are some suggestions
Listen to your body
Your body knows what it needs and will communicate to you through sensations. Pay attention to how you feel! Move your body gently in ways that feel nourishing and soulful.
Move, stretch and twist into the back to nourish and move stagnant energy in the Kidney and Bladder meridians and the Governing Vessel channel through the spine. Meridian stretches, moving meditation, proprioceptive exercise, Yoga and Chi Kung are great for this.
Wrap up warm and go for a bracing walk in Nature to blow away the cobwebs and soak up the last rays of natural daylight. Choose what feels good for your body, mind and spirit.
Create some pauses between activities – no need to rush! Rest. Go to bed earlier and sleep longer whenever possible. The Kidneys like a regular rhythm, a balance of Yin and Yang, stillness and activity.
Quiet reflection and meditation
The energy of winter naturally asks you to be still and turn inward. This is an ideal time to sit still, read an inspiring book, contemplate and just enjoy being in the present moment. A meditation practice helps to cultivate this and supports the reflective nature of Water energy. A walk in nature is an ideal opportunity to balance movement with internal reflection.
Keep the Kidneys warm
The kidneys are located in your lower back, just below the back ribs, both sides. Rub this area vigorously to generate warmth and move stagnant energy. Traditionally a Hara warmer was worn under clothes to protect the Kidneys. Wrapping the lower back and waist with a scarf under the clothes does the same job. Lean back into a hot water bottle when sitting for prolonged periods of time. Ginger Compress is a traditional home remedy to harness the warming, energising nature of ginger and nourish the Kidneys directly ( shared courtesy of ShinTai International)
Kidney nourishing foods and fluids
Enjoy warming soups and stews including Kidney nourishing ingredients such as root vegetables (carrots, buttenut squash, sweet potato, parsnips). Throw in some ginger and seaweed for an extra boost. Dark vegetables and pulses such as kidney beans (the clue’s in the name!), dark leafy vegetables and berries such as blueberries, blackberries. Nuts and seeds. Sea food/ fish is also nourishing. Warm fluids such as herbal teas and ginger tea. I like to add some cinammon for warmth and to curb sweet cravings.
Reduce energy depleting foods
Sugary foods and drinks, alcohol and caffeine all deplete our vital energy quickly causing fatigue, unstable emotions and a weakened immune system.
This is a great time of year to receive a shiatsu treatment to strengthen and balance your energy. Whether you’re experiencing symptoms or need support to see you through the winter as a preventative measure. I am offering winter treatments at my clinic in Nottingham.
Wishing you a happy & healthy season xx