After a long and dry autumn, winter has come. And it’s arguably the most important time of the year for your health. Now is when the ounce of prevention is going to set you up for a healthy and immune-resilient year ahead. According to the Asian medical perspective, the Winter health is all about keeping your yang, or physiological fire, tucked in deep. The goal is to build the fire and energy reserves for use through the rest of the year, when activity is more the focus. Here are the 3 very good ways to accomplish this.
Go to bed early, sleep late.
Follow the lead of the sun. It’s not the time to burn any midnight oil. Start to wind down when it starts to get dark. Turn off your screens, dial down the lights and use those candles that have been collecting dust on your shelf. Use the dark yin time to protect and nourish your yang.
Dial down strenuous exercise.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but building your reserves is not done through strenuous exercise. Sweat actually depletes our yang. All that heat that comes out of your pours is your physiological fire that is no longer there to perform it’s physiological function. And when it’s time to store yang-fire to perform function on into the future, it’s a double loss. It’s a great time for slower and more nourishing exercises, like a yoga and medication practice.
You could also learn Tai Qi or Qi Gong, the Chinese medical exercises that actually build qi and yang through slow and deliberate movements. Because they are slow, does not mean they aren’t intense. They are fantastic at building strength, flexibility and balance.
Eat warming and rich foods.
The food you eat now is probably the most important in building yang. Meats, stews, roots and seeds, and warming spices are all great things to eat right now, especially for people who tend to have cold constitutions already. Some great yang foods are
- lamb, chicken and sardines
- red lentils and quinoa
- black pepper fresh ginger, star anise and dill
Make sure to eat everything warm and cooked right now (well, always, but ESPECIALLY right now). Stay away from iced beverages and food right out of the fridge.
Get some acupuncture and moxa.
Your yang can be directly supplemented with acupuncture and moxa treatments. Moxa is the Chinese herb ai ye, or mugwort. The herb is dried and can burned on top of acupuncture needles, or rolled into tubes and burned over the points and channels. The heat enters directly, and works very well to tonify the yang of the body. During the winter months, and few acumoxa treatments can go a long way in terms of preventative health for the rest of the year.