As fall turns to winter, it is an excellent time to cultivate energy and enjoy some internal reflection. Winter is a more ‘yin’ season and according to traditional chinese medicine is the season of water and relates to kidney energy which is source energy in the body. The Neijing, the classic Chinese Medical text, tells us “The kidneys are responsible for creation powers, and skill and ability stem from them.” The kidneys represent the potency of the life force and the foundation of the bodies balance. Through the winter season seek balance and inner nourishment.

A great deal of emotional and physical imbalance comes from resisting our natural self. We often spend so much time striving to be something else – perhaps what we believe we should be. Winter and its shorter days are an excellent time to rest, reflect and listen to your true inner voice, nurture oneself, get more sleep, opt for warming teas and food, read, meditate and practice contentment.                                      Even though we may have families and jobs to attend to, it is possible to carve out time for rest and nourishment. Nature shows us how to live during this time of year – seeds deep in the ground are gathering energy for the coming spring, the growth of so much has stopped to be still, the longer nights invite us to get more sleep, the colder temps encourage us to seek more warmth. Blankets of snow encourage stillness, and crisp, clear skies reveal the awe and openness of the moment.    Like nature, just practice being!                                                   I love this quote from Lao Tzu:                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Instead of trying to be a mountain,                                                                                                                                                                                                       Be the valley of the universe,                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So all things come to you.

Following, are some tips to take you into winter:

LIGHT: Get outside!! Bundle up and head outside to drink in light & fresh air. Many people experience SAD; we need light and it is healing. If you can’t get out, get close to a window with sun or even the light through the cloud cover. Inhale and imagine bright light flowing through very pour and into very cell. Exhale and ‘feel’ the light pouring through your whole body. Repeat as long as you wish.

WARMTH: Make sure you go to bed warm, you’ll get a better sleep. Take a bath or shower if needed to warm you up. Apply cozy socks or apply a pillow at your feet under the covers. If you can warm it on a rad first, even better. Where a hot water bottle will get cool during the night, a pillow will get warmer!   Keep your throat and kidney area well wrapped while outside.

SPACE: Practice opening your chest, it’s excellent for tendencies toward the blues. Lie over a pillow or folded blanket behind your middle and upper back, but not your shoulders. Support your head & neck accordingly. Bend knees if you like.  Practice breathing in to your side ribs (you can place your hands there). Stimulate lung points by massaging around your upper chest. Tap your breast bone to encourage the immune system.

OPEN & UPLIFT: Essential oils are amazing to keep on hand. To relieve clogged nasal passages and help colds and sore throats, get some filtered water steaming on the stove. Turn off the heat, move the pot to a safe place and toss in 5 to 7 drops of either or a combination of, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree. Cover your head with a big towel to make a tent and breathe deeply!  To uplift, breathe in oils of peppermint, lemon &/or grapefruit via a special distiller or just put drops on a tissue and inhale deeply.                                                         Get fresh air daily and open your bedroom window for a bit.

NOURISH: Make soup! I didn’t do this very often  because I thought it was too time consuming in my busy schedule, but I have been changed! I make soups all the time and it doesn’t really take that much time at all. I also add some big strips of seaweed (kombu or  digitalis) for extra nutrients during the cooking process and then pull it out before serving. I’ve found some great recipes on the ‘Fine Cooking’ website under soups or I just make it up as I go along. Some good veggies, herbs & stock are all you need. Or use water and add some meat or fish w/ veggies & herbs.

DRINK TEA:  I have been downing herbal tea since my early twenties and I am a huge advocate of the herbal world for healing. Here is my favourite cold & flu buster:                                                                                                                                                                                                           Grab these ingredients at the first signs – fresh thyme, at least 5 sprigs; fresh ginger, about 1 to 2″ piece sliced or grated; 1 crushed fresh clove of garlic; half a lemon, squeezed; 5 or so peppercorns. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the concoction, cover and let steep for 10 mins. Drink at least 2 – 3 cups per day.

Yogini Caterina’s favourite elixir:                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 lemon squeezed, fresh grated ginger, cayenne to your liking, medicinal honey to taste, 1 to 2 cups hot water. Stir and enjoy!

My Warm Bliss Chai:       I’ve been making this a lot and absolutely love it. I’ve even begun making my own almond milk for it. Try to use the organic looseleaf green Rooibos & good quality, fresh spices.

Bring about 2 cups of filtered water to boil and while that’s happening.. Place in a small tea pot:                                                                                        2 generous tsp green rooibos, half a tsp ground nutmeg, half a tsp ground coriander, half a tsp ground cardamom (or more if you love cardamom as much as me), half a tsp ground ginger.   Heat about a quarter cup of your favourite milk. Mix it all, recite an incantation, steep for 5 – 10 mins, strain, and prepare for Nirvana!

EXTRA HELP:  If you would like to consult one of these awesome ladies, I recommend Beth Landau-Halpern for Homeopathy and Pascaline Phillips for Naturopathy.   Both are also great with nutrition.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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