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January 11, 2011

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Winter is time to resting and conserve energy

IN wintertime the traditional Chinese yin-yang cycle reaches its yin (cold energy) peak. Nature reduces its activities. It is the season of rest and passivity.

Since traditional Chinese medicine recommends living in harmony with nature, as nature slows down in winter, people should reduce their activities as well.

In TCM, winter is determined by the water element and associated with the kidneys and bladder. The kidneys are the source of the kidney qi, which is composed of the prenatal qi (stored in the kidneys) and the postnatal qi (stored in the spleen).

The prenatal qi is given at birth by our parents. It is responsible for the renewal and regeneration of cells and tissue. It is said that it determines the duration of life.

The postnatal qi is acquired through the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. It is first of all responsible for our daily energy.

However, if this energy is low and cannot provide the daily demand, the prenatal qi gets damaged.

These two qi energies together are responsible for the nourishment of organs and the protection against exterior disease-causing elements.

Especially when the weather gets cold and damp, the postnatal qi needs special care and nourishment. Different areas of our life like diet, emotions, exercise, and so on, can influence the capacity of our postnatal qi and thereby our well-being.

The winter is the time to rest and to reflect on our health. The conservation of our strengths and storage of our energy is crucial. Going to bed early and getting up according to the sunrise and sunset is good. The body needs to rest well and stay warm.

Doing extreme sports is contradictory to the understanding of this season. However, soft exercises outside (in order to get some fresh air) are recommended. Especially, meditation and breathing techniques are helpful to manage stress and strong emotions and prepare ourselves for the coming spring.

Personally, it is important to develop new confidence in yourself during this time. Interpersonally, the winter season is the right time to listen and communicate with others.

The daily consumption of food can be limited according to the reduction in everyday activities. This also prevents unnecessary weight gain in wintertime. We should avoid eating raw food and focus on warming meals like soups and stews, root veggies, beans and lentils, whole grains and nuts. To protect the kidneys, sufficient amounts of warm water and herbal teas should be drunk regularly.

In general, winter is the time to prepare for the next cycle of life. We hope that these tips help you get a good start on the next spring season.

(Doris Rathgeber is the founder of Body & Soul Medical Clinics.)

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