The cold has finally arrived, it’s finally an old fashioned Northern California style winter. Our bodies need the seasons, and how we take care of ourselves during the winter can have either negative repercussions or lasting benefits through the rest of the year.
It is a Chinese medical principle that the root of disease in summer occurs in the winter. Meaning that if we don’t nourish and rest the our body’s physiological fire (yang) during the winter, it will be too weak to be vibrant and active in the Summer, and dis-ease will ensue. Winter is all about slowing down, going inward (being yin) and letting the fire build on the inside.
How is this done?
Well, let me tell you a few ways , according to the ancients…
1. Go to bed early, wake up late
Follow the nature’s lead on this one. Start slowing down when it gets dark, get to bed early. Stay in bed until the sun has risen.
Let the yin nature of the season guide your sleeping habits.
Bears do it, squirrels do it, lizards do it.
2. Stay warm
Yes, obvious. But take care with this. Do you walk barefoot at home, ignoring that your feet are cold? Do you go outside without a hat on, noticing that the top of your head is frigid, but don’t pay it any mind?
Well, quit it.
Your heat is what keeps you alive, and it isn’t an endless resource. Winter is when it needs to be preserved and kept inside.
3. Ease up on activity
Now I sound like a broken record, but slow down during the cold months and short days. You may already notice that you are more tired then normal, and getting out and exercise is more of a mental challenge. This is because you are a part of nature, and you are responding properly to the times.
Rigorous exercise that generates a big sweat is another primary way we lose body heat, a finite resource. In our society of sitting for 8-10 hours a day, of course it isn’t a good idea to completely stop all activity, but be respectful with how your body is feeling,.
Now is a good time to practice slower activities like qi gong and taiqi, or restorative yoga and meditation. Take a moderate approach to exercise, and your body will thank you come spring and summer.
4. Eat hearty, building foods
In addition to preserving our body’s yang, we also need to build it in the winter. The best way to build qi is through the food we eat, and making those foods seasonal and locally grown.
Add organic and grass fed and pasture raised to the mix, and you’re on your way to becoming a super hero. Soups, bone broth, roots and tubers are all great foods to be eating right now.
Skip anything cold or raw, including salads and juices. Save that for spring, when it’s time to cleanse, AFTER the building months of winter.