Ch’i: Winter Warming for Health!

Via on Dec 27, 2010

According to Chinese Medicine…

…the cold of winter is a great time to recharge and generate vitality and energy – Ch’i. Chinese believe that we can live in harmony with the natural cycles of our surroundings, and as the cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down, we may find it an ideal time to reflect and replenish.

The change from Autumn to the colder, darker days of Winter changes our emotions, and we can feel moody, depressed and lethargic. This is the time to store and conserve, much as bears hibernate or farmers prepare for winter. The more we understand the energy of Nature around us, the better our emotions will be in balance with the world.

This is the season of Yin (darkness and conservation) dominating over Yang (light and movement). Chinese Medicine sees Nature and its patterns, forms and seasons reflected in our bodies and emotions. Each season is associated with an element, emotion, organ, and taste, so if we are in harmony with our environment, we adapt better and stay healthy.

Winter is the Water element, and associated with kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands.  According to Chinese wisdom, Kidneys are the source of all energy (Ch’i), and store Ch’i for times of stress and change, to heal, prevent illness, and help aging.Winter is full Yin and has the characteristics of inactive, cool, damp, slow, feminine, and quiet as everything slows down. Our bodies instinctively want to rest, reflect, conserve and store energy. Giving ourselves time for introspection, rest, and conserving energy (Ch’i) prepares us for the outburst of growth and activity in the new year.

Kidneys govern the low back, so be mindful with the snow and cold, and conserve your Kidney Ch’i by treating back injuries quickly as they can persist in winter.  This final part of the year can be filled with a hectic pace of shopping, socialising, traveling, decorating and other high energy consumption, so find time to slow down and get in sync with Natures cycles.

It is important to nurture and nourish your Kidney Ch’i and keep this area warm and covered, since this energy can be easily depleted. This season also stresses the ears so cover your head and neck to fortify kidney energy. In Winter,  digestion slows and heart function is at a low ebb so your circulation also slows. Sugar lowers the white blood count, so moderation is key.

Will, determination, and memory are connected with Kidney Ch’i, and the Classic Chinese medical text, Huangdi Neijing says “the kidney stores jing (essence), and jing houses will power.” So, if Kidney jing becomes exhausted, weak energy and poor memory results. Kidney jing encompasses both Yin and Yang, and is referred to as the Original Yin and Original Yang, and there is a dynamic interaction of Yin nourishing all organs, while Yang is the driving force behind the processes of warming, generation, and transformation. The Yin and Yang of the Kidney rely on and control each other, and maintaining proper balance is imperative for health.

To balance the Ying/Yang in this season, treat yourself to Restorative Yoga and nourish your spirit. To activate digestion and keep the spine awake and healthy, infuse your Yoga practice with twists. Activate Kidney Ch’i as you twist from the belly and back body. Forward folding is another way to focus awareness inward, but make sure you keep the heart lifted in forwards bends or the practice can become melancholy, and exacerbate emotions of fear and depression in the Kidney.

Here’s a Yoga sequence to ignite and nourish the Kidney energy in your back body, buy adding supported poses and twisting through the mid body. Click the photo to your right and go to a video sequence to Rejuvenate and Replenish. Add “Like” so Yoga Journal will ask me to do more sequences! ;)

Here are a few tips to staying healthy this season:

  • - Eat more warm foods like soups and stews, whole grains, roasted nuts, root vegetables, beans, garlic, ginger, miso and seaweed. Helps warm and nourishes Yin.
  • - Sleep early, rest well, stay warm, and expend less energy. Restores Kidney Ch’i.
  • - Find ways to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Include yoga, meditation, relaxation therapy or nap. Releases stress and pressures of life.
  • - Share thoughts and release emotions that are stuck or repeating, and find moments for meditation. Nourishes and strengthens wisdom/willpower.
  • - Seasonal acupuncture help tonify the organ system. Preventative treatment for body harmony.

WINTER is

Element – Water
Colour – Black
Nature – Yin
Organs – Kidney/Bladder
Emotion – Fear/Willpower
Taste – Salty
Condition – Cold
Direction – North

About Cora Wen

CORA WEN grew up in a traditional Chinese family in Asia and the West, and took refuge in the Buddha as a teen. An international childhood growing up in Hong Kong and Indonesia, Switzerland, Australia and the US, has instilled the spirit of a travelling adventurer. After sowing wild oats in New York City in the 70s with rockers Deborah Harry and Patti Smith, she had careers in fashion and banking. Since 1994, Cora has taught Yoga, mentored by America’s most influential Yoga lineage. She has been dedicated since 2002 in support of indigenous culture for exiled Tibetan people and land mine victims. Find her at www.corawen.com.

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7 Responses to “Ch’i: Winter Warming for Health!”

  1. mary fitzsimons says:

    This is a grounded ,sensible and informative article. More like this please.
    In contrast to the woolly unfocussed waffle(processing?) that erupts from the other yoga babes and trustafarians published here .

  2. Tangled Macrame says:

    Loading your Yoga Journal sequence for my evening asana. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cliff says:

    Cora Wen – I love your articles. Thanks to you and Yoga Journal and Elephant for sharing!

  4. What a great and energizing article!
    Makes you want to indulge in winter :)

  5. Dylan Barmmer Dylan says:

    Wonderful. Thank you.

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