Living According to the Seasons

By Dr William Ly

According to the “Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor”, one of the famous Chinese Medical texts, in order to live a healthy life one must know to live in harmony with the seasons. It is believed that if one can live and adapt to the seasonal changes then that one will attain a healthier life and wellbeing in general.

According to the theories of Chinese Medicine, there are a total of 5 seasons per year. There is summer, late summer, autumn, winter and spring. Each of the seasons has its own characteristics and associations. Once we understand the characteristics and associations of each season we can start to adjust our lifestyle according to the seasonal changes to help create a mutual balance between the inner part of our bodies and the external environment.  In TCM, we believe that our diet and daily activities in winter should be adjusted to rejuvenate the Yin energy and conserve the Yang energy within the body in order to maintain good health.

The kidneys are the organs associated with the winter season. In TCM, the kidneys have a wide range of functions but specifically they have the function of storing innate essence, which was given to us all by our parents at the time of conception. This innate essence is vital for our growth and development throughout our lives. Hence it is very important to look after our kidneys in general but fundamentally important to do so during the colder climates of winter.

There are certain foods that can be beneficial to our kidneys when consumed during the winter season. These foods may include lettuces, celeries, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, walnuts, dark beans, lamb, blueberries, and apples. In winter, our bodies require a lot of warming foods for sustenance therefore vegetable soups or bone broths are excellent choices as well to keep our bodies nice and warm during winter.

Winter is generally considered to be a period of self-conservation and rejuvenation. Hence, it is considered to be a great time for us to slow down and look after ourselves mentally and physically. Activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, tai chi, painting, writing, and reading books are all appropriate activities to relax the mind and calm your emotions. Hence, they are all great activities for one to engage in during winter. Additionally, having an ample amount of rest and hibernation can also be very beneficial to your overall well-being. This is because letting the body rest can help rejuvenate the kidneys and conserve our overall energy levels in winter.

If you have any health concerns please always seek advice from your qualified health practitioners.

Dr. William Ly is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist at Western Health Collective.

(Photo credit Lisa Price)

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