6 Seasonal practices for Winter

Winter is the time of hibernation and restoration. The quality of yin are at their height: dark, interior, passive, feminine, cooling, contraction, soft, intuitive slow, descending energy. The stillness and quietness is displayed throughout the natural world. As we too are part of nature, in Winter our beings need to draw inwards and as we let go of our constant outward activity and take rest, we return to our source and preserve our roots. By emphasizing the yin aspect of our being, we create a winter within. It is time to listen inside, rest deeply and encourage a more receptive, introspective state of mind.

According to Chinese Medicine, Winter is the season of the water element and so it is the time to attend to our water organs, the kidneys and the bladder. The kidneys control water system of the body, governing filtration and urination. They are responsible for procreation and the elegance or difficulty with which we age. The kidneys are our fundamental organ and we need to nourish them in Winter (and always!!!) because they can get out of balance over this season.

Our modern lives, however, do not always offer the time and space for the kind of internal reflection and practices that we need in Winter. The fast-paced, external distractions and subsequent fragmentation in the mind, leads us constantly outward and active, depleting us of yin and affecting our kidneys network. Lack of sleep, constant stress, fear and insecurity, overwork, excessive exercise, intoxicants, dependence on caffeine, excessive sweet flavor, too much protein.. All deplete our kidneys.

   1) Practice asanas to nourish the kidneys and bladder.

These poses focus on stretching the hamstrings and the inners legs where the kidneys and bladder meridians run across. Practices with deep awareness, these asanas help us deeply nourish the Water element. 3 examples:

  • Upavista konasana (restorative version suggested)

  • Supta baddha konasana (restorative version suggested)

  • Viparita Karani series (restorative version suggested)

 

2) Do Less

  • Restorative yoga

  • Pranayama

  • Rest when tired

  • Limit outward activity

  • Speak less listen more

  • Sleep a lot, go to bed early rise later

    

3) Embrace activities that create centering, sinking, grounding quality

  • Restorative yoga

  • Pranayama

  • Meditation

 

4) Tune up your ears

  • Listen to music

  • Mantra and chanting

  • Play and instrument

  • Sound gong baths

  

5) Food to strengthen the kidneys

  • Whole grains: millet, wild rice, dark colored grains, quinoa

  • Vegetables: parsley, sea vegetables, yams

  • Fruits: dark berries, dried fruit

  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, black sesame seeds, walnuts

  • Beans: all beans, particularly dark varieties (black and kidney beans)

  

6) Awaken inner vision

  • Go see visual art

  • Visualization practices

  • Vision drawing