Winter is the time of the Water element, reflected in Traditional Chinese Medicine in the body as Kidney and Bladder energy.
In nature energy tends to pull back in to itself and conserve itself. – Plants are dormant, animals hibernate. It is cold and the darkness gives a much more Yin energy – qualities such as cold, dark, deep, resting, stillness
If we protect our Kidney energy during this time it can set us up well for the cycle of energy in the year to come
Tips for the Winter to care for and benefit your Kidney energy
1. Keeping on top of your warmth. If your body is working hard regulating it’s temperature you are more vulnerable to letting in ailments. Enough layers, hats gloves, scarf when out. Even indoors if you need to layer up to keep from feeling shivery you will help protect your self, so the body does not have to work at keeping warm
2. Keep the kidney area warm – the mid to lower back area. Make sure it is not exposed to the cold or wind. You can go a step further and buy a Hara warmer – a belt that protects this area
3. If possible support your own Kidney Yin. Try and relax. Water is the element of the kidney and has very relaxing properties – warm baths, drinking water, relaxing walks by a river or seaside
4. If you like ginger it is useful to warm Kidney Yang energy. You can use it in cooking or even a slice in a herb tea like chamomile is very warming and beneficial
5. In the spirit of hibernation and replenishing your energy try and get as much sleep as possible if you can, Try and get to bed a little earlier to build up your Kidney energy reserves to support your health for the year ahead
6. Our fight or flight stimulus causes the kidneys to release adrenalin. Under stress it can be difficult to relax again and we can almost forget what relaxation feels like when the body is stuck in this pattern. Things like gentle exercise – yoga, swimming, or a shiatsu is a good way to relax this sympathetic nervous system response and allow the nervous system to relax and stand down
7. Emotionally, fear is the response of the kidneys. If after you have tried to destress any adrenaline, kindness is one of the best antidotes for fear. Being kind to ourselves, kind to our fears and the kindest way through stressful situations to alleviate the stess
8. Stimulants particularly in excess can deplete Kidney energy. Cutting out or just cutting back alcohol, cigarettes, coffee etc can allow the adrenals and kidney energy to relax and replenish
9. Chi gung exercise. Just standing in classic chi gung neutral position – relaxed, feet shoulder feet apart, knees slightly bent , tail bone relaxing down and head slightly suspended with chin tucked. You can imagine water flowing down through the body down into the ground,, feeling soothing and helping you relax with a downward flow of energy. This can help relax and heal you and you can feel much calmer.
10. If you practice any standing chi gung postures as in 9, Winter is a good time to practice. It can help calm the nervous system and relax and build kidney energy to help boot up your system for the year to come so you stand a better chance of good health