Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chinese New Year 2022 – Year of the Tiger

Chinese New Year 2022 - Year of the Tiger

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China for good reason. Each new year brings new energies and opportunities. The celebration begins the day after the first new moon between January 21 and February 20 each year and lasts until the following full moon. These 2 weeks are a time of welcoming and aligning with the new energies. This year, the Chinese New Year falls on Feb 1st and festivities continue through Feb 15th, 2022. Each year has a corresponding element and animal of the Chinese zodiac.

This is the year of the water-tiger year that holds a lot of promise for an exciting, productive year. This indicates a new beginning, a fresh start, and it’s a year made for bold action. The Tiger is known for its power, daring, and ability to do everything on a grand scale. 

This water-tiger year is in gear to be a faster-paced, more passionate year after a slower year of the Ox (2021) and a very challenging year of the Rat (2020). The tiger has been sleeping, awaiting his time for action. 2022 has great potential to be a year of change because of the energy of the tiger: brave, self-assured and ready to pounce. Individually we might be inspired to embark on new adventures, such as travel or moving, or starting a new business. Collectively, there may be an energetic shaking off of stagnation brought on by the past couple years of the pandemic. It will be a year of exploring new ideas, and not shying away from challenges. If energy is not allowed to flow (individually and/or collectively) there may be some restlessness or unpredictable behaviors. It is also important to balance the aggressive energy of the tiger with times of rest. Even tigers take cat naps. This is a water year, so the yin energy of the water can help to balance the fierce fiery nature of the tiger. continue reading »

Winter Soltice: Yin Meets Yang

The winter solstice this year falls on Tuesday, December 21st. This is a magical moment in terms of Chinese Medicine’s view of seasonal rhythms. It is the exact time when yin, the dark aspect of the yin-yang (tai ji) symbol, reaches its peak, and the spark of yang is born again. It’s a time when we honor the darkness while celebrating the coming of the light. The word solstice means ‘sun stand still’, marking the time when the sun reaches either its highest or lowest point in the sky (depending on the hemisphere) and, to ancient astronomers, appeared to stand still. To those of us in the Northern hemisphere, December 21st will be the shortest day of the year and the longest night.

In Chinese Medicine, winter is the season of the kidneys. The kidneys are our source of ‘prenatal qi’ which we inherit from our parents. This prenatal qi corresponds with our genetics and is therefore a vital connection to our ancestors.

Kidneys are also considered the source of all our energy, the storage for our essence, our constitutional strength. Careful conservation of this energy helps to ensure health and longevity. Getting adequate sleep is critical in this kidney essence conservation effort. While we sleep we give our bodies time to detox, repair and replenish. It is basically a time to recharge our batteries. And in order to prevent burnout, we must also adjust our sleep patterns to fit the season. When we are in the season of extreme yin, exemplified by short days and long nights, nature is reminding us to follow suit with our daily sleeping and waking rhythms. Night time in winter is longer and when we align with the seasonal energy we naturally get to bed earlier and wake later and use that extra yin time for rest which is what winter is all about. Ironically, our current western traditions around the solstice have evolved to become a very hectic time so it’s important to check in with yourself, set boundaries and make sure to get the downtime that seasonal change is encouraging.

Dec 21st marks the beginning of winter and is the moment of extreme yin, but it also marks earth’s movement towards increasing light. From this day forth there will be more daylight each day. The yang within yin is also the life under the frosted ground, the seeds that prepare themselves to burst forth in spring. Seeds represent the potential for manifestation, so this is also a time to look inward to find our potential, overcome fears and recognize the opportunity for hope and renewal. The ancient Taoists honored the mysterious blending of yin and yang at the exact moment of the solstice as a transitional moment of perfect harmony and reconciliation. They saw this as an opening, a chance for new ideas and creational energy, a time for conception.

While caught up in the rush of the holidays, take time to consider the shifting seasonal energies. Eat yang nourishing foods (soups and stews, bone broths, shrimp, walnuts, black beans and kidney beans, and warming spices like cinnamon and ginger), remember and pay homage to your ancestors, sleep like a bear, and create your own rituals to birth ideas. Remember your potential and generate hopeful visions for the future.

Schedule your next acupuncture session around the solstice to assist your own magical transition. Acupuncture can help fortify your kidneys, and support the seasonal surge of yin while you nurture your seeds of yang!

Harvest to Hibernation

Fall is traditionally thought of as harvest time, a time for gathering nature’s bounty, and preparing it for storage. Food is preserved for hibernation season. While we, as humans, do not actually hibernate in winter, we resonate with the energy of the season. Many animals hibernate, plants die down while roots preserve energy for the spring. The sun is low in the sky, days are shorter, it is darker and colder and we are drawn home.

Home is where the heart is but it is also where the hearth is. Preparing the hearth means creating a warm, safe space. Fall is a time to make sure our homes are ready for the extreme yin season, while also preparing our bodies, minds and spirits. Surviving and thriving in winter relies on the ability to draw on the reserves of food, warmth, and energy that we have gathered and preserved in accordance with the seasons.

Here are some things to consider in Fall to better prepare for winter:

Nutritional transitions: In Chinese Medicine, Fall is lung season. Don’t miss this opportunity to nourish and moisten the lungs with foods like pears, apples, figs, cauliflower, and daikon radish. Keeping the lungs strong will build immunity for the sometimes harsh conditions we face in Winter. Plenty of fiber is also important to help clean out LI (the lung’s paired organ) and prevent digestive stagnation as everything slows down in Winter. Most food should be cooked to maintain the body’s digestive fire. Warming teas with cinnamon and ginger are delightfully seasonable as temperatures drop throughout fall and winter.

Lifestyle transitioning: Winter is the peak of yin time. Yin time is about going inward into stillness. Fall is the beginning of the yin season and when we should begin that inner journey. The excitement of summer quiets down and we begin to require more sleep and rest in general. We simply need to slow down as we don’t want to expend the energy reserves that are needed to keep us warm and healthy throughout the frost.

Emotional transitions: In preparation for the reflective yin time ahead, we are compelled to feel some grief as we say goodbye to summer and observe the natural cycle of death happening around us as the earth progresses towards winter. If we have created space and time to feel the natural sadness of letting go in the fall, and release those energies appropriately, it will be that much easier to face the emotional energies of winter, the darkest season. Winter is associated with the emotion of fear and facing our fears helps us tap into our strength, our courage and our willpower.

 

Schedule some fall acupuncture to ‘prepare the hearth’ and set yourself up for a smooth transition into winter!

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