Autumn, the season of dryness, has just drawn to a close and we now must prepare for the next change of season. According to the philosophy of Chinese Medicine, Winter represents the utmost of Yin. In its very nature Winter is a slow, dark, cool, inward moving season, all things Yin.
Winter is associated with the water element and the energy of the Kidney, Bladder and adrenals. It is a time to slow down and conserve our energy, consolidating our Qi in preparation for the transformation of Spring.
In Chinese Medicine theory the Kidneys hold our body’s most basic and fundamental energy known as Jing or essence. This is our inherit vitality, intricately involved in reproduction and ageing and is something we tend to burn at a rate of knots in our modern lifestyle.
It is believed that by harmonizing oneself with the seasons we stay healthier and prevent disease, balancing our internal organs energy with the energy that surrounds us. As such Winter is a good time to strengthen the Kidneys. Rest is important, being in bed by 10pm, sleeping in, working less. Practicing nourishing forms of exercise, such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong or yoga. Calming the mind with meditation and taking pleasure in creative activities such as writing, cooking, sewing or knitting all help to connect to the Kidney energy. It doesn’t mean to say we can’t go for blustery walks in the bush or excursions to the snow, it just means the scales tip more in the favour of rest.
This theory naturally extends to our diet, eating seasonally and locally will help nourish the Kidney essence. Winter foods include squashes, potatoes and all other root vegetables, winter greens, mushrooms, bay leaves, coriander, fennel, leek, nutmeg, pine nuts, rosemary, spring onions, apples, pears and citrus. Hearty meats (specifically lamb), black beans, kidney beans, walnuts, black sesame seeds, chestnuts and cinnamon are all excellent at nourishing the Kidneys. Our bodies enjoy warming foods like soups made with hearty vegetables and rich bone stocks.