We are nearly ½ way through the winter season and the days are already getting longer, which I am thankful for. Winter is the season for the Water Element in Chinese medicine, the Kidney and Bladder Meridians. The gift that winter brings with shorter days, longer nights is rest and drawing our energy inward versus out. If you tend to be a bit busy all the time and find it difficult to relax and unwind, then this can be a challenging time. If so, take note as it is the thing you need most to bring balance within the Elemental system.
The Kidneys (Kd) and Bladder (UB) are typically the Element that is most challenged in our Western society and the rest of the world is following suite. This meridian pair requires a balance of rest and activity to be at optimal function. It is the Element that houses our Jing, or the sum total life force energy we were born with. Over our lifetime, if we nurture ourselves enough, we can preserve this vital life force and be productive and active into our later years. If there is always a push to burn the candle at both ends, then the challenges of this Element will show up as joint pain, arthritis, neurologic problems and issues with the brain as we age.
The good news is, we always have the opportunity to change our habits. To nourish the Water Element it is a good idea to get more sleep during the winter months. Go to bed earlier, rise later if possible. Another way to nourish this Element is to do more exercise such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong. If you usually run, then walking might be a good change of pace. If you usually do a hot or Power Yoga type practice, try taking more restorative classes. If you have a home practice, you can also shift the time spent in the active part of your practice with sun salutations and standing poses taking up less of the practice with warm up, floor work and relaxation taking up more.
Of course, you can access the Sacred Pathways Yoga series and do the Water Element practice several times per week to provide balance in the Kd and UB meridians and their organs. Benefits include efficient elimination of toxins, healthy aging, the support of optimal bone density, increased willpower and the Water Element Practice promotes courageous action.
Winter is also a wonderful time to enhance your mediation practice, taking advantage of the stillness and quiet. Early morning is my favorite time to meditate. There are many techniques with the simplest being just observing the breath. You can also meditate on an intention for the Kd and UB such as allowing deep rest to restore energy. Any time the mind wonders to thoughts or other distractions, simply return to your intention.
By allowing more down time and relaxation during this season, you can empower the Water Element to bring its gifts more powerfully through the rest of the year. If you get into the habit of regular practice during the Winter months, it is easier to continue through the rest of the seasonal cycles.
Jan Mead PT LAc is the creator of Sacred Pathways Yoga, a practicing physical therapist and acupuncturist. She is passionate about helping people achieve their wellness goals from the physical level to the spiritual.