Entering winter, yin qi continues to rise, heading to its maximum, the winter solstice. Being the counterpart of yang (active), yin is calm in nature.
Winter in a year is like the night in a day. This is time to rest and repose. To mirror the natural rhythm, we should sleep early and get up late, because sleep is good for storing our yang qi in the body. And winter is all about storing for the new life cycle to start next spring.
To store yang qi, avoid too much physical labour, dress warm to stop losing yang qi and bathe your feet in the evening to promote quality sleep.
Based on the five elements system, winter and kidney are correlated and the emotional counterpart is fear. Avoid being in fear too frequently to protect your kidney’s wellbeing. In TCM, ears are the kidneys’ external corresponding body parts. Frequently massaging the ears is beneficial to the kidneys.
As mentioned, sleep is important in winter, especially sleep between 11pm and 1am replenishes the kidneys’ yin qi and between 11am and 1pm boosts kidneys’ yang qi. Take a midday nap in winter if you can.
In yin (calm) qi, predominant in winter, repose is an essential part of the winter nourishment. Reading, listening to music, being in the sun, taking in “aroma essence”, like eating tangerine, are helpful in setting our mind in repose.
Nourishing food for kidneys in winter: black colour food is generally nourishing for kidney, e.g. black bean, black sesame, black rice. Otherwise, chestnut, Chinese yam rhizome, lamb, honey, Gordon Euryale seed and walnut are recommended for winter dietary.