We're now in Deep Winter, a time of Yin. 

In Traditional Chinese Medical theory and principles we look to the five elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal), and the balance of Yin and Yang, to see what is most needed for our health and well-being. Yin and Yang are coexistent forces or principles of energy that exist in a certain level of potency at any given time. Should we have too much of one, and not enough of the other, disharmony and dis-ease may ensue. For this reason, the practices of TCM and Shiatsu Therapy are practices in traditional wisdom and therapy that encourage the body towards a naturally balanced state. 
Through the seasonal influences of nature we can observe a reflection of what we too may experience. Our bodies are Nature so consequently they shall be impacted by what is occurring outside us. In a manner of speaking there is no separation. These natural energies and tendencies can be observed and respected. 

It is now deep winter, the growth of plants has slowed, there is less sunlight and in turn less nourishment for this growth. Water falls in the form of rain or snow, and the coldness of the air causes up to draw inwards and seek ways to create heat. 
We may as a result feel less energized, more sensitive, emotional and quiet or withdrawn.  Like in nature, these are the tendencies we experience at this time. 

Knowing what we may experience in this season of Winter gives us two things. 

1. It gives us Awareness to Act. If we are aware of these natural forces and their impact upon us, we can practice nourishing ourselves through the gentle actions that will support ourselves. These practices may include those that nourish our Yin - our quiet, receptive, reflective and resting qualities. More on this later.   

2. It gives us Opportunity. The winter is the deepest Yin, and as such presents the most potent time of the year to nourish and develop that Yin that is Us. Whether it is a physical need to strengthen the organs of this season - the Kidneys, and Bladder - the Adrenals and Mind; or an emotional need to nourish healing and inner change and transformation, the winter season offers an incredible opportunity for these things. 

In this sense it is a ripe time for inner journeying and self development. We dive into the darkness to discover where growth is needed. We prepare through quiet observation, nourishing practices and self-love. Then, ideas may form, transformations occur and we harness the energies of the return of the Light and Spring to put these inspirations into action.  

It is an incubation. 

Still, life is happening... we go to work, look after our children and community, and see what time is left over for us. We may feel exhausted! 

So this brings us to Self-Care
We do our best to balance these needs for output with input. By input I mean, the restorative practices and acts we give to ourselves.  

The Yin is nourished through Diet, Bodywork and Acupuncture, Meditation and Exercise.  

The Winter is a fantastic time for Bodywork and Shiatsu Therapy in particular. The body thrives from this physical support to move the Qi, and restore and repair tissues. Yin is the moistening and nourishing watery force. Moving the body and stimulating the joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, organs and meridians provides the body with a focussed and powerful opportunity for balance and renewal!  

Exercise everyday!
Move every joint - everyday.  Whether it is through gentle Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga, Cardio or structured workouts, moving your body is essential at this time of year. Moving the Qi in this manner helps your physical to avoid stagnancy and boosts immunity to help ward off external and internal illnesses. Of course, this must be in moderation - for too much Yang - or action/exertion - will weaken the Yin and lead to further imbalance. 

For Diet, enjoy your Soup's n Stews! Cook your veg.
Salt, the flavour of the Water element supports the Yin, the Kidneys and Bladder. Minerals are needed at this time, but also not to be in excess for salt will encourage water retention. Salt helps to combine and bind the flavours in the soups and stews so it is fairly intuitive and easy to pursue. Miso soup is a wonderful tonic for this season.   

Meditation and Sleep. 
During this Yin time these practices are much needed for restoration of body, mind and soul. Do your best to listen to your body and get enough sleep. 8 hrs should suffice for most.  Meditation offers a deep rest as well, and is a powerful practice to cultivate through these months.  If you need support with meditation please contact me as I offer a few different options for assisting you to harness this for yourself. The winter is a great time to build this muscle for use year-round. 
Finally, I'd like to say a few things to Water Element imbalances

As previously mentioned, the elements and forces within the body exist best in balance. When imbalance occurs in any one element it can present in a myriad of ways some physical, some emotional. In the case of the water element we look to energy levels, the back health and the emotions - particularly the emotion of Fear.  During the winter water imbalances can occur more readily if one has a constitutional or circumstantial deficiency that arises. In the case of fear, the emotion could also take on several different manifestations - such as insecurity, anxiety or unrest. It could also present as a general malaise or feeling of lack of motivation. In any of these cases strengthening the water element, the Yin, through the practices above is warranted. 

Strengthening through these methods can shift or transform our fear into courage and optimism!  

This blog post is intended as a general reminder or motivator in the areas of Self-Care for the season. If you need more clarity on any of these suggestions please contact me as I am happy to offer support. 

I hope that you are enjoying the Winter for all of it's offerings in inner growth and do hope to work with you soon!