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What To Do For The Winter Yin Blues

walking in snow

First snow ... falling ... on the half-finished bridge ~ Issa

Many of us are feeling a bit ‘let down’ late in January, as the high emotions of the holiday festivities have faded away. It’s not unusual to feel a lack of physical and financial energy in January due to overspending during the holidays.

Some of us have an emotional reluctance to put away the decorations, hoping to sustain the energy of the Celebration—YANG—despite the fact that we have to journey through the energetic ebb of Winter—YIN.

This is understandable because we’re just a few weeks past Winter Solstice, the time in late December when the Seasonal Energy is at Maximum YIN—‘low tide’ … ‘empty’. A time when everything is STILL and very LITTLE ENERGY is available to do all the things we need and want to do. So what we need to do is reconnect with the traditional wisdom that tells us to CONSERVE ENERGY … doing less, with less, in order to have enough.

Like your clothes need WASHING periodically, it’s the same with BALANCING your body’s energy. When you’re not FLOWING … ORIENTAL MEDICINE helps get things going

This UNDERSTANDING is becoming more and more critical to our health and well-being as we continue to have less cheap energy to run our economy. As the world we live in becomes more Yin … having less energy … we must learn to adapt our actions and emotions to stay healthy and to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from being in Harmony with Reality. 

YIN ~ YANG: The Seasonal Energy of Winter

Though the Seasonal Energy has shifted a bit, as the days gradually lengthen into YANG … remember … Spring is coming!, we’re still definitely in Yin territory … less energy, which is hard on the body—even if the temperatures aren’t particularly cold.

And as we continue through Winter, LUNG energy, which got drawn down through Autumn, continues to weaken and won’t have a have a chance to rebuild until Spring. On top of that, KIDNEYS too grow weak through Winter as their energy gets drawn down. This means, health-wise, most of us are tip-toeing through Winter with a weakened Immune System; which means you need to be very vigilant to avoid catching cold and flu.

Exhausting yourself through work and/or play, combined with unhealthy eating in the Yin of Winter, is like opening the door to illness and inviting it to stay a while.

Things To Do For the Winter Yin Blues

• Get plenty of rest to help your body rebuild its Energy/Chi. Then remember to SAVE some of it.
Eat in a BALANCED way.
• Eat easy-to-digest foods—no heavy fat, no spicy spices.
• Ginger, cinnamon, and cardamon are warming and help improve digestion. So add a little cinnamon to your oatmeal, or some cardamon to your hot chocolate, sprinkled on top. (Not surprisingly, these ‘warming’ herbs are contained in Chinese medicinal Winter herb formulas since it’s been understood for a long time that you need internal warming in Winter.)
• Chinese medicinal herbs are particularly good for maximizing your energy in Winter; (keeping in mind that Winter is Yin, so the energy available is relatively low regardless of what you do.)
• Stay balanced and live in harmony with the Seasonal Energy.
• Slip into Yin-mode; be mindful of how much energy you have—in your body and your wallet—and spend wisely. 
• Focus on CONSERVATION: We understand what it means regarding ecology and economy, so it makes sense that conserving energy is what we need to do now, and going forward, to maintain our HEALTH.

Related Links

Staying Healthy In Winter
Winter Solstice Retreat
What You Need to Know About Winter


As the holidays approach ... here’s a simple, balanced recipe to try out that will help you get in touch with what a balanced Five Element meal tastes and feels like.

I encourage you to think about what you eat—become more aware of the ingredients in the meal and whether or not the tastes are balanced.

(Click Image for Print Version)

Beet Soup Recipe


  • 3-4 medium sized beets, scrubbed and diced (skin may be left on, if desired)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 teaspoon oil, preferably unseasoned sesame oil or extra-virgin olive
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon miso, medium salty type like brown rice miso (optional)
  • 3-4 Beet greens (or other leafy greens — like chard or kale), washed and chopped

How To Prepare

  • Put the diced beets in the water and bring to a simmer.
  • While the water is heating, saute the diced shallot in oil over medium heat until transparent.
  • Add shallot to simmering beets and water.
  • Cook until beets are tender, about 10 minutes — fork tines pass through easily.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the beets and shallot to desired consistency.
  • Add the chopped greens and simmer until tender about 5-10 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and salt to taste. If using the miso, spoon out one ladle-full of hot liquid into a small bowl with miso and mix until it is a smooth paste.
  • Stir miso paste into soup and serve.

Related Links

Healthy Eating—The Five Element Way ... An Online Course
Jack O’Lantern’s Post-Halloween Health Tips
Healthy Eating: The Five Element Way—Phone Seminar: Session One

How To Protect and Strengthen Your Lungs In Autumn

Japanese woodblock print of forest and mountains

Dancing gold
The forest rustles
Alive with surrendering leaves
— Lao Xian

Fall is the time of year when the Lungs and immune system are working hard to help your body adapt to the changing weather.

Working together, your body’s organs are a networked system that receives, transforms and transmits energy. A balanced system is a healthy system, and in Autumn, you want to make sure that your Lungs get tuned-up. Oriental Medicine does that.

Lungs Are Most Sensitive In Autumn

The Lungs are the focal point of your body’s energy network in Autumn. So now is the time to do some very simple things that will protect your Lungs from the forces that cause cold and flu, by preparing them to deal with the dampness and cold that come with Autumn and Winter.

Five Ways To PROTECT Your Lungs

  • Use a scarf or collar to cover the front and back of your neck when you go outside.
  • Avoid drafts and wind.
  • Wear a dust mask, or other cover, when working around dust, spores or other airborne contaminants.
  • Use Chinese medical herb formulas, or other internal protection, to guard against colds, flu and other contagious illnesses.
  • Be mindful of any intuitive insights you may have regarding your health.

Five Ways To STRENGTHEN Your Lungs

  • Eat foods that nourish the Lungs. These include: daikon radish, lotus root, maiitake mushrooms, and Chinese herb formulas.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Reduce and keep stress low. (Easier said than done ... but doable.)
  • Pace yourself. Make sure to save some of your energy.
  • Begin developing—or maintain—an inner practice  like meditation or deep breathing to help your body relax and rejuvenate.

So, as the days continue to shorten and the nights get longer, remember to slow down to match the deepening  of the seasonal energy. 

Conserve and enjoy!

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IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.