Warm up this Winter
Winter is a season that evokes images of cold weather, wet earth, short days and frosty mornings. As we enter the season of Winter, we might start to experience a personal sense of heaviness, stillness and sleepiness. We can quickly lose energy during this season, which is why it essential that during the winter months, we maintain a balance between the time we spend resting and time spent stimulating the body and mind.
In Chinese Medicine, Winter marks the embodiment of the yin energy for the year. Yin energy is dark, cold, slow, inward energy. It draws us into ourselves and beckons for us to rest and wait out the cold. Winter is associated with the water element. Water is the most yin of the five elements. The organs associated with Water are the Kidneys and Bladder, which rule water metabolism and maintain balance and harmony.
When the water element is out of balance, fear becomes an issue in our lives, often manifesting as anxiety signifying a lack of grounding, which causes the energy to become trapped in the chest. Physiologically, fear increases adrenalin production, and we can exhibit symptoms of burn-out, colds and chest infections.
According to Ayurveda, Winter is considered to be a Kapha season. Kapha is related to stillness and groundedness, but also inertia. It is essential to maintain a balance between the doshas in Winter, it is suggested that we warm the body through exercise and diet as well as take time for rest during the Winter to maintain good health.
Signs of imbalanced Kapha may include:
- excess mucous
- thick, white tongue coating
- slow bowel movements
- higher body weight
- difficulty rising in the morning
- feeling sluggish, foggy, dull, lethargic or heavy
- easily attached or possessive
- overly sentimental
- complacent or stubborn
- the tendency for overeating.
Work and Goals
In regards to profession and vocation, Winter is an excellent time to stop work and take in what you have achieved over the past 12 months. It is the time to analyse our position in life and work to let go of commitments and go inward and discern if we are heading in the right direction.
Winter is a time to allow yourself to sit with what is so that new ideas are allowed to form. You can let the sorting process begin as you discern what you want to take with you into the next cycle and what you have finished with and do not need to revisit. It is an excellent time for burying the projects that are not working out or that are causing stress or anxiety.
Winter is also a great time to take a break from your job or day to day routine and spend some time with yourself. A short holiday might be in order now; however, be careful not to shock your system by changing climates too dramatically.
Many people love Winter. They feel energised by the cold and love to be out and about. Winter causes others to retract, stay inside and can cause some to feel sad or even depressed because of the lack of light and reduced physical activity.
Winter is a great time to adopt lifestyle practices of self-reflection, to write, to meditate and read.
Sleep is an essential aspect of staying healthy, especially in Winter. Going to bed earlier and sleeping in later will help you receive the full healing effects that sleep has to offer. Make sure that you give yourself an 8-hour opportunity to sleep every night.
You may also benefit from keeping things fresh and a bit unpredictable, so do your best to strike an appropriate balance for yourself.
Take a warm bath at least once a week and wear socks or slippers, scarves and beanies to retain body heat.
There are many foods that are beneficial, these foods are the ones that naturally grow during the season. Think squash, potatoes, root vegetables, winter greens, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, apples, and pears.
During winter, our bodies need warming foods like soups made with hearty vegetables. Foods that nourish and warm the kidneys are; black beans, kidney beans, walnuts, chestnuts, black sesame seeds and dark leafy greens.
Chinese medicine often prescribes bone broths as nutritional therapy, as they are warming, nourishing and especially good for the bones because of the collagen content. If you don’t get enough collagen in your diet, consider a powdered supplement. Bone broths are powerful Jing (energy) tonics. Jing is depleted by activities such as prolonged stress, lack of sufficient sleep, working long hours, and excessive behaviours like too much drinking and drugs.
Herbs to add to your diet include Cinnamon, Ginger, Black pepper, Turmeric, Chilli pepper, Cayenne, Paprika and Nutmeg.
Because in winter, the focus is on the harder tissues in the body. Yin Yoga and stretching will help you to prevent hardening of the connective tissues and help alleviate the onset of joint stiffness the cold can bring.
However, to prevent becoming too stuck and feeling overly heavy it is important for you to compliment your yin with yang workouts such as walking, tai chi and hatha yoga to keep energy and toxins moving through the lymphatic system and the digestion working.
How will you warm up this winter?
An important phase of your spiritual development is carried out during the Winter. Winter marks the ending of the old and the start of a fresh cycle but it is not time to commit to a plan of action, instead, it is time to sit with what is.
Kristen is a holistic wellness professional.
A qualified Kinesiologist, Counsellor, Coach, Yoga and Meditation instructor, Kristen has been helping people with their physical, emotional and spiritual journeys for 13 years.
Kristen’s professional approach, dedication, and enthusiasm have helped hundreds of people break through limitations in their personal and professional lives.
Kristen specialises in working with the power of the subconscious mind to uncover the underlying cause of blockage and dis-ease, offering a highly individualised service to help our clients to live consciously, awaken their potential and discover their purpose.
Kristen’s passion is helping you to achieve inner peace, purpose and clarity by discovering your unique truth and working towards your highest potential. Her personal belief is that everything we create in our life comes back to our attitudes, beliefs and behaviours, most of which we are not consciously aware of. Her vocational appetite is for exploring the subconscious mind (including dreams) to help her clients achieve happiness, discover their unique truth and work towards their highest potential. Her goal is to her clients to create vibrant, dynamic purpose-driven lives.