YIN ORGAN: Kidneys
YANG ORGAN: Urinary Bladder
SPIRIT: Willpower (Zhi)
COLOR: Black / Dark Blue
SENSE ORGANS: Ears
VIRTUES: Strength, Courage, Wisdom
In Chinese Medicine, the organs associated with winter are the Kidneys and Bladder. The Kidneys in Chinese Medicine, influence our reproduction, brain, bone health and emotions like anxiety, fear, and courage.
The Kidney organ system stores our energy. Winter is the best season to slow down and conserve our energy. The cooler and darker days invite a meditative space to rest and reflect. This deeply nourishing Yin time restores our ‘battery levels’ and gives us the much needed energy and purpose with which to emerge into spring- a season of growth, renewal of spirit, and fresh starts.
“It is the concentrated, internal force of winter that enables a seed to burst forth in spring growth.” - Nei Ching
Whatever your “winter hibernation” might look like (hello, warm baths, sweatpants and bottomless cups of tea!), it’s essential that you take this time to replenish your resources that have been used throughout the year.
5 WINTER WELLNESS TIPS TO STIMULATE YOUR KIDNEYS AND BLADDER
1. Keep warm for balanced Qi flow! Nourish and warm yourself from the feet up by taking a foot bath or place a hot water bottle on your back or feet before bed. This is beneficial if you have back pain or a tendency to have cold hands and feet. Practice as often as you like.
2. Food Therapy. Enjoy warm tea and cooked, nourishing foods. Warm, cooked foods are more easily digested and take up less energy to break down. Avoid eating cold and raw food or drinking cold fluids that require more of your body’s energy to process and digest. Warming herbs for cooking and teas include cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, black pepper, cardamom and anise.
3. Meditate or simply sit quietly, even for a minute. Winter is the perfect time for deep reflection and soul level restoration. Rug up against cold, wind and rain, and enjoy some time to recuperate.
4. Limber up. Stretch, take a yin yoga class and rub menthol-based treatments into sore muscles and joints to keep the cold out of your bones. My favourites are Zheng Gu Shui, Wood Lock oil and Tiger Balm, which are available from most Asian grocers and all Chinese herbal dispensaries.
5. Tonify the Kidney channel. The Kidney Channel starts at the base of the foot, at a point called Yongquan—'Gushing Spring’. This is a great point for strengthening the Kidneys and Adrenals and has a powerful descending and grounding effect.
To find the point, feel for a tender depression on the bottom of your foot, between your second and third toes. This point is at the base of the ball of your foot.
Use Acupressure on this point for 30-60 seconds as needed during the day. It is a helpful point for anxiety, insomnia, headaches, hypertension and hot flashes.
Image: Deadman, Peter, et al. (2016)
Deadman, Peter, et al. A Manual of Acupuncture. Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2016.