A Blog Post from the heart of our beloved teacher and student of Chinese Medicine Alex Donegan.
Today is the Winter Solstice - it’s official, we’ve made it to the most yin time of the year. We in the West tend to consider this point the “beginning of winter” considering our coldest days tend to be in January and February. Energetically, however, we’ve been declining since the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year. For some, the decline into yin is welcomed, and for others it is wholly avoided.
These days, the yin/yang symbol (taijitu) is familiar to most of us. Consider the light side as YANG (light, heat, daytime, active, going out, increase - think spring and summer) and the dark side as YIN (dark, cold, nighttime, stillness, coming in, decrease - think fall and winter). The top of the circle is the Summer Solstice and the bottom is the Winter Solstice.
So, using our yin-yang image as a guide, we can see that today is the MOST YIN time of the year, and from here we start to energetically increase. Not to mention it’s a full moon! So, what does this mean for us?
Whether you love winter or dread it, one thing is certain: our society does not winter well. With the approaching craziness of the holiday season, it's even more important to embrace the quiet, still, yin-time and settle in for a chance to rest and renew.
In Chinese medicine, this is the season that coincides with the WATER element. Think about the power of water. When there is enough reserve, it can be as still and reflective as a large lake and as powerful as the Niagara Falls. The organ that coincides with winter is the KIDNEY, which we consider our powerhouses, or our generators. With enough reserve and power here, we have the energy to spring up and be more yang during the coming months of increase. Winter is the time to BE STILL and STORE UP. Otherwise, we won’t have enough in our tanks for the coming increase of yang.
Take a look outside: the trees are bare, the water is starting to freeze the earth, the animals are less active or in hibernation. It’s colder and darker, so our instinct tells us to cozy on up to the fire and be still. A farmer doesn’t work his land in the winter - he prepares it for rest so that it can be fertile and ready for new growth in the warmer months. However we can, we should be doing the same for our bodies, minds, and spirits.
TIPS FOR STAYING WELL THIS WINTER
1. Make more time for YIN YOGA! Lucky for you, we at SHIFT YOGA have many beautiful opportunities for you to be more yin. When you’re feeling the urge to be still, maybe swap a more vigorous flow for a slower, quieter flow or yin practice.
2. Winter like the Danes. Practice HYGGE: don your favorite fuzzy socks and get cozy by the fire. This also means less screen time and more quiet time.
Eat warm, nourishing, seasonal foods. Options like cabbage, sweet potatoes and other root veggies, lemons, brussels sprouts, nourishing soups, stews, and broth - choose what makes you feel warm inside.
3. Listen to Mother Nature - she knows best! It gets light later and dark earlier for a reason. It's time to come inside and REST! Tune in to your internal body clock and sleep a little later, retire for bed a little earlier, and slow down wherever possible - even if only for a few quiet moments.
4. Cover up! Make sure you are well prepared with hats, scarves, gloves, and warm shoes every time you venture outside. There are areas of the body, such as the back of the neck, that easily allow for cold and wind to enter causing seasonal sickness such as the cold and flu. If nothing else - WEAR A SCARF!
5. Get out in nature. Bundle up, get outside somewhere away from the hustle and bustle, and enjoy the season! Notice the natural stillness around you - soak it in.
Be sure to save the date for Alex's next class in our Lifestyle Series : Living in Harmony with the Seasons on Sunday January 20th form 3:00-5:00pm. She will share an in depth look at the Winter Season and teach us how to understanding ourselves admit the winter season and to learn how to Winter well.