“The three months of winter denote closing and storage. Water freezes and the earth breaks open. Do not disturb the yang: go to bed early and rise late. "
-Su Wen Chapter 2
The super moon welcomed 2018 and winter is in full expression. This year (in the Northern Hemisphere) the peak of the winter season lasts from December 21- mid February. In February winter will begin to wane, transitioning into spring.
The Chinese character for the word winter is an image of the sun locked up and stored in an upside down bottle. (see character on the right) This is a clever way to show us that the energy of winter is closing and storage. All of nature is in a state of stillness and hibernation. Winter is defined as the the end of the seasons; it is the darkest, coldest, most yin time of the year. Therefore, it's the best time of year to conserve our energy and nourish our qi. Qigong practices for winter emphasize stillness and inward reflection, sleeping longer hours or taking naps, nourishing our qi and maintaining internal warmth throughout the organs especially in the lower dantian, our internal furnace. The YOQI Winter Series contains a variety of these seasonal practices to attune your energy with winter.
A QIGONG PRACTICE FOR WINTER
Physically, winter qigong practices focus on the organs of the water element: the kidneys and bladder.
In the Five Element Phases of Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter expresses the water element. In your body, the water element particularly affects your kidneys, bladder, fluids and brain. The kidneys are considered the energy batteries of the body. They store the yuan qi, the precious gift of innate qi that we inherited from our parents. They also store the reserve qi, jing qi, which effects our general energy and sexual potency. When our kidney energy is weak the whole body becomes weak and we cannot actualize our full potential or will power. The kidneys also regulate the water element, our body fluids and the blood.
Because the kidneys are so critical to our state of vitality, there are thousands of qigong practices that focus on cleansing, nourishing and refining the kidney qi. In the winter the qigong classics suggest that we pay extra attention to conserve our energy and use nourishing life qigong practices that focus on the kidneys (called Yang Sheng). All of our WINTER SERIES practices combine effective nourishing life qigong techniques to support the kidney and bladder with focus on purging, tonifying, circulating and complete routines.
Emotionally our qigong will focus on transforming fear or fright into trust and tranquility.
Can you imagine what it was like for the ancient people to survive the winter season? It was a time of danger, scarcity and death. Even today with our modern luxuries, those who live in remote locations are familiar with the trials of snowstorms and the priority of warmth and resources. Therefore, the natural emotion that resonates with winter is fear or fright.
One of the unique principles of Taoist wisdom is that emotions are not stored in the mind, they are stored in the organs and tissues of our body. In particular, the emotions of fear and fright are stored in the kidneys. As we work with the kidneys in this season's routines, we will be naturally transforming fear into trust and tranquility. As a result of this transformation, the emotional virtue or spirit of the kidneys that arises is zhi, meaning will power. When our will power is in a state of optimal balance we have a natural sense of confidence that we project into the world to promote peace and connection. This seasons QIGONG FLOW FOR HEALTHY CONFIDENCE is a fun and dynamic routine that empowers our zhi, the emotional virtue of winter.
Energetically, winter supports your ability to reflect inward and cultivate awareness.
In Yin and Yang theory, winter is called the time of “Great Yin” (tai yin 太陰). Yin denotes darkness, while yang is light. Winter teaches us to become still and awaken the awareness of our senses.
One of the best practices to attune your energy with the yin energy of winter is meditation. This season’s Guided Qigong + Meditation to Awaken Awareness is a strategic series of awareness exercises that are designed to bring forth your true nature. This meditation is inspired by the Buddhist Heart Sutra, Xin Jin.
FEATURED VIDEO FOR WINTER: QIGONG FLOW FOR HAPPY KIDNEYS
The complete routine video focus for your practice this month is Qigong Flow for Happy Kidneys. This routine uses specific qigong exercises that focus on the kidneys and the principle of effortless flow to harmonize your energy with the water element of winter.
NEW VIDEO LIBRARY ADDITIONS THROUGHOUT WINTER SEASONAL PERIOD
- Qigong Flow for Happy Kidneys
- Qigong Flow for Vitality
- Qigong Flow for Healthy Confidence
- Seated Qigong + Meditation to Awaken awareness
- Winter Series: Qigong Flow to Purge and Cleanse
- Winter Series: Qigong Flow to Tonify
- Winter Series: Qigong Flow to Circulate
- Winter Series: Qigong Flow Complete Routine
- Evening Qigong to Relax and Unwind
- Evening Qigong + Yin Yoga
Note: These videos will appear at the top of the library status throughout the winter season.
DESIGNING YOUR WINTER PRACTICE
Choosing a routine for your day is a great way to use your intuition and listen to your body. The Seasonal Series routines are designed to be alternated throughout the week as you wish. Although each routine has a focus denoted by a colored spiral (purge, tonify, circulate, complete routine, or meditate) each routine is also its own complete practice that contains warm ups, main focus exercises and a closing to integrate and center the qi. There is no need to layer the videos and do all of them in one day. It's best to choose one per day and then rest. If you feel like you want to do a longer complete routine there many options in the library: Winter Complete Routine, Vitality Flow, Qigong Flow for Healthy Confidence and Qigong Flow for Happy Kidneys.
In honor of the conserving nature of the winter season, after each practice I suggest that you immediately take a 5 to 10 minute nap, or longer, to nourish your qi and allow the body to process the energy work. Then when you wake up you will feel refreshed and revitalized!
Read The 4 Keys to a Qigong Practice blog post here.
With consistent dedication and skillful effort, your qi and inner light shall blossom….
May the life force be with you!