A seasonal focus for health is a flexible model, not a dogmatic prescription. It is not meant to mimic what our ancestors went through, seasonal variation is more related to the latitude at which we live. Larger seasonal variation, day length and food availability exists further away from the Equator.
These days, most people seem to live in an artificial approximation of an eternal spring/summer. Supermarkets and global distribution networks allow us to eat fruits and whatever else we want at any time of the year. Electric lights allow us to have long days regardless of the weather or length of day outside. Heating and cooling allow us to live in ‘comfort’ regardless of the temperature outside.
Getting Back into the Balance and Rhythm of the Yin Yang
Seasonal eating – the majority of one’s diet (ideally) should be locally or regionally produced, thus effortlessly creating seasonal variation. Light-dark cycle should drive our sleep patterns. Exercise and physical activity should vary in type, intensity and duration depending on conditions.
Summer – Eat more vegetables & fruits and generally a relative increase in carbs and a relative decrease in fat intake. Long days with shorter nights should produce shorter sleep cycles. Physical activity should emphasise long-duration, low intensity activity. Some strength work, but with more focus on maintenance of strength.
Autumn – Eat less summer plants as they disappear locally and seasonally, getting more sleep as the days lengthen, shift to more strengthening exercises.
Winter – Eat less cold food. Short days, long nights should mean lots of sleep. Exercise and physical activity can emphasise higher-intensity, short-duration activity
Spring – Eat more fresh plant foods as they become available, get outside more for more low intensity activities as the days warm and brighten.
Spring is the season of growth and renewal – the Wood element, the Green Dragon. Wood energy of spring is an expression of life and a new beginning, a new cycle and time to plan, and to take action. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Wood element represents the liver and gall bladder. The liver function is the ‘Official of Strategic Planning’ – for the directions we must take to live our lives in harmony with nature. The gall bladder represents our ability to make decisions and judge wisely.
The way of nature, Tao … Qi (energy) like WATER flows down (gravity – yin – winter) nourishes the EARTH and produces the ascending energy, WOOD (spring). The energy then combines with METAL to produce FIRE (summer), work is done … (yin controls the yang) WATER controls the FIRE (autumn) and returns to the Tao. Irrigating the ground produces food, eaten and circulated to mix with air to burn as energy. WOOD pumps the water up, it condenses and returns to earth – another yin yang cycle.
Spring Into Action With These Exercises
Exercise to loosen tight tendons, nurturing connective tissues and joints.
Think of uplifting and expansive movement exercises to mimic the growth of spring.
Choose exercises that massage the internal organs, especially the Liver and Gall Bladder for spring, such as Hua To’s Five Animal ‘Bear’ exercise and the ‘Spiral Green Dragon’ from Wudang Five Animals. These exercises also help remove blockages and congestion from the meridians and improve the corresponding physical movements as well as the associated emotions and mental states. A special focus on the associated energy points of the liver and gall bladder can give an acumassage during our exercise practice.
The meridians have four functions:
1. To connect the internal organs with the exterior of the body, and connect the person to the environment;
2. To harmonize the yin and yang principles within the body’s organs;
3. To distribute Chi within the body;
4. To protect the body against external imbalances related to weather (wind, summer heat, dampness, dryness, cold, and fire).
Nurturing now prepares us for when the heat is on. Use water wisely to stop the fire from building too quickly or getting out of control.
Use kindness and understanding to overcome stress, frustration or anger.
In the “Seasonal Regimen”, are found prescriptions ascribed to the Yellow Emperor (2697 B.C.) he said we should heed the following to cure or prevent diseases. The spring governs birth; summer, growth; autumn, harvesting; and winter, storage. For each period and for each viscus, the various things that regulate and assist are given; what is indicated and what is contra-indicated, are matters that ought to be attended to.
The term for the first month, is “Beginning of Spring.” The middle of the first month is called “Rain Water.”
The second month is named the “Waking of Insects” (also animals that have secreted themselves all winter are supposed to come out now). The middle of that month is the “Spring Equinox.”
The third month “Pure Brightness” with the middle of the month, termed “Corn Rain.”
The liver is the organ which stands at the head of the three months of spring. It is represented as a dragon. The name of its spirit is “Dragon Smoke;” its appellation is “Containing Brightness.”
The form of the liver is that of a dragon; it stores up the soul; it resembles a banging bottle-gourd of a whitish brown colour; it is placed below the heart, a little nearer the back; the right has four lobes, the left three lobes; its pulse emerges from the end of the thumb. The liver is the mother of the heart and the son of the kidneys. Repair and nourish it, during the first half of the three months.
The name of the spirit of the gall-bladder is “Glorious Dragon,” and its appellation “Majestic Brightness.” Its form is that of a tortoise coiled round by a serpent; its resemblance is to a suspended gourd; its colour is a green purple; it is placed in the middle of the liver.
• RECOMMENDED SPRING CLEANER
The Wudang Five Animals DVD
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