I am posting an article by my teacher and world-renowned Qi Gong Master Liu He of the Ling Gui Qi Gong School with a few explanations written by me.
Nourish Your Kidney Yin
As we enter the Winter season, people may experience more yin depletion. Master Liu He advises all students at this time to nourish their Kidney Yin and not bother your Kidney Yang. With sufficient Yin energy, just as in a stage of pregnancy, the Yang can then give a healthy birth in Spring. Winter is considered a time for storage, just as nature and animals take this time to hibernate. She stated, if you do not preserve your Yang Qi, all the Spring diseases will occur such as: cold hands & feet, Yang Qi will not be able to rise the entire year, difficult digestion, allergies, etc.
If you are new to the concept of Kidney Yin and Yang, I will offer a brief explanation. The kidneys in Chinese medicine not only filter your blood and create urine, but they store our constitution and the vitality that was passed along in our genetic code from our parents. When we ‘burn the candle at both ends’ in our daily lives, we take that energy directly from our kidney energy. We can build this constitution back up after times of duress if we adopt proper lifestyle changes. Annually, the season of winter is considered the season of the kidneys and is a great opportunity for us to strengthen our energy. If we take the time to rest, repair and rejuvenate, we can enter the new year with an optimal foundation for our health. The kidney yin is the deepest aspect of everything dense and fluid in our body (body fluids, blood, the density of our organs). The kidney yin is the foundation for all other yin or fluids in our body. Kidney yang is the deepest foundation for everything that moves throughout our body (neurotransmitters, our energy, hormones, even the peristalsis of our digestive system). Winter is a dark, cold time of year perfect for rest, hibernation, and reflection. All of these attributes of winter are considered yin in nature. When yin is nourished and built upon, it naturally strengthens and help grow our yang energy. This is what Liu He is referring to when she discusses nourish the kidney yin in winter and not bothering with the kidney yang.
Here are Liu He’s suggestions to preserve your Kidney Yin this winter:
1. Think less and slow down your daily activities/lifestyle.
2. Eat warm and cooked foods. Avoid cold and raw foods.
3. Eat chicken soups and oysters.
4. Go to bed early and get up late.
5. Shower/bathe less – no more than 3 times per week
(especially not a sauna – excess sweat. Excess sweating depletes your yin in your body- saunas are best done during the non-winter months)
6. Soak your feet in hot water with sea salt for 20 minutes at night. .