The 3 R’s of Winter solstice wellness: Restoration, Rest and Reflection
“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.”
–Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Suwen)
When we live in harmony with the seasons and adjust ourselves and our lifestyles accordingly, we are honoring our whole self by bringing more balance to the body, mind, spirit and soul. By adjusting our habits, from what we wear, eat, when we wake up, go to sleep to the type of activities we engage in according to the weather and the environment will help keep us healthy throughout the year and maintain robust immune and organ systems that are strong enough to ward off the flu and other diseases.
The season of winter is a time of restoration and nourishment. Winter is associated with the kidneys, which hold the body’s fundamental energies. Harmonizing with the seasons will help the body stay healthy and prepared for each succeeding season.
Restore our energy reserves with nourishing foods to maintain both the physical and spiritual health of the body. There are many foods that are beneficial to eat during the winter season. These foods should be the ones that naturally grow during this season. Food items like squash, potatoes, root vegetables, winter greens, cabbage, carrots, apples, pears and mushrooms are all examples of things that should be incorporated into the daily diet during the winter months. Also warming foods such as soups and bone broth are highly recommended to warm the core and nourish yin. There are foods that specifically target and nourish the kidneys too. These foods include black beans, kidney beans, lamb, walnuts, chicken, dark leafy greens and black sesame seeds. It is recommended to cook items for longer periods of time, on lower heat and with less water, as the food should be warming as well as nourishing.
In traditional Chinese culture, the winter solstice is a time for nourishment. Bone broth soups with healing herbs are prepared to restore the body. Under traditional Chinese medical philosophy, the physical body best absorbs nutrients during the cold winter months and so the winter solstice is a time for healing. Healing, nourishing foods are eaten to maintain both the physical and spiritual health of the body.
Bone Broth Recipe: https://5elementfood.blogspot.com/search?q=bone+broth
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. Be watchful of your Holiday goodies intake!
Rest is important for revitalizing the kidneys and this is why some animals hibernate during the winter months.
Sleep is said to be a time for our bodies and cognitive functions to repair, rejuvenate, and restore. Sleep is also said to be the time when structural and organizational changes in the brain takes place, known as brain plasticity. These theories are perhaps instructive on how we might observe the winter solstice.
The winter solstice is symbolic of that time for sleep. It is a critical solar term in the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The winter solstice represents one of those twenty-four terms during the mid-winter season, identified in the lunisolar calendar by the earthly branch zi (子). Zi (子) is timed along the ascendant hour of the Rat, between 11 pm and 1 am, the time of sleep. Thus, midwinter corresponds with the time of sleep. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the winter solstice marks the longest night of the year.
Winter is also a really good time to turn inward and do some reflection. This is why practices like tai chi, qi gong and restorative yoga can be very beneficial during the winter season. These practices help us connect to our inner selves, while supporting the kidney energy. These practices help relax the mind and calm our emotions.
Winter is also associated with ears in the Chinese medicine system. When you go outside in the cold make sure to keep warm and cover your ears, head and neck to fortify kidney energy. Our ability to hear is related to the health of our kidneys. The stillness of the winter months allows us to hear the world more clearly and encourages us to slow down. The bones are also associated with winter, which means that it is important to tonify and heal any orthopedic problems during these months.
Restorative Yoga nourishes your spirit, activate digestion and keep the spine awake and healthy, infuse your Yoga practice with twists. Activate Kidney Qi 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.
7 Restorative Poses to Stay Grounded:
When we align ourselves with the natural processes of life and the seasons, our bodies will adjust and perform optimally, just as they are intended to. This is how we are supposed to live and can quite possibly be why there is so much more disease now than in the past. So to be the healthiest you can possibly be, learning to take cues from the seasons might just be the best suggestion ever.
The holiday season can be stressful so treat yourself to a tune-up so that you can be resourced, healthy and ready to deal with the challenges and stressors that may present itself.
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