December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice = Kidney Kindness


ElementWater, ColourBlack, NatureYin

OrgansKidney/Bladder EmotionFear/Willpower
TasteSalty, ConditionCold, Direction – North

Today is the shortest day and longest night of the year ~ Winter Solstice. In Chinese Medicine the short day and long night is the balance point of Yin and Yang. With the Solstice today, we are officially in Winter.

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.

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.

The change from Autumn to the colder, darker days of Winter changes or 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.

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.

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, travelling, 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. Watch the Holiday goodie intake!

This is the perfect time to treat yourself to some Restorative Yoga to 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 some tips on Yoga for Solstice

Chinese believe we can live in harmony with the cycles of Natures to be healthy. The cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down, and our bodies instinctively understand the principles of winter. This is the time to reflect, replenish, and conserve energy and strength.

Here are a few tips to staying healthy this season:

  • Emphasize warming foods like hearty soups and stews, whole grains, roasted nuts, root vegetables, beans, garlic, ginger, miso and seaweed. Helps warm the core 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.
  • Some Solstice Yoga tips.
  • Some Chinese Medicine tips

The human body is a microcosm of the universe, and finding equilibrium is a powerful and natural way to health and well being.  Connecting and understanding the body within Nature strengthens this house for the spirit to bloom…

“The wise nourish life by flowing with the four 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. So it is that dissolute evil cannot reach the man of wisdom, and he will be witness to a long life.”

~ Huangdi Neijing Suwen

Bend, Breathe, Bloom..!


Cora WEN has taught Yoga since 1994 and apprenticed extensively with America’s most influential Yoga lineage. She blends Iyengar alignment with a playful, active, and flowing style. ERYT500 Yoga Alliance, CYT Intl Assoc of Yoga Therapists

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