Hands up who’s thrown themselves into intense physical exercise since the new year.
A lot of you, I bet. But winter isn’t the time for hardcore cardio work, least of all in the weather we’ve been having lately. It’s the most Yin time of year, and therefore a time of quiet, dark, rest and restoration, preparing you for spring. It’s also the time of the Water element, which focuses on the energy of the Kidneys.
This season brings with it the cold – the enemy of Kidney energy – so acupuncture treatment at this time of year will work on gently bolstering and warming the Kidney Qi. Regular rest, and warm and nourishing meals will also help.
But if full-on workouts aren’t advisable, how do you keep moving? Here are some options to see you through the remaining dark weeks and beyond.
The clue’s in the name here. Yin yoga is a slow and gentle practice, concentrating on release and restoration. Poses are held for a few minutes, not a few breaths, and concentrate on stretching and nourishing the body. In Chinese Medicine, the earth is the epitome of Yin – solid, cool, moist, nurturing – and as such Yin yoga is almost entirely floor-based.
Click here for a short introduction to Yin yoga by Adriene Mishler.
Qi gong can be described as ‘a form of gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how the body moves through space’.
Combining movement with breath and meditation, and with your feet grounded firmly on the earth, qi gong is a wonderful exercise for the winter months.
Here is an example of a qi gong exercise that focuses on the Water element.
So there you have it, two ways to keep your winter energy moving without depleting your vital reserves. See you in the spring …
Important note: If you choose to try these video exercises yourself, please be aware of your body’s limits, taking care in particular of the lower back and knees. There is no substitute for proper instruction, so, ideally, do seek out a reputable teacher/class.
Photo: revac film's & photography from Pexels