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health tips for autumn

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

as we transition from the earth element of late summer to the metal element of fall, it’s important to a little extra care to feel balanced and enjoy the bounty that autumn brings.

below are a few ideas of how to stay healthy and well during this season of cool winds, rustling leaves and giving thanks.

thanks xo

  • Try to fall asleep earlier so you’re getting at least 7-8 solid hours of rest
  • You might begin waking earlier – it’s common and beneficial to align with the Lung + Large Intestine’s peak hours around 5am
  • While laying in bed, practice easeful diaphragmatic breathing + allow your mind to focus on the breath
  • Consider meditation – starting with 5 minutes a day + increase time as it feels right
  • Swap salads and raw foods for warm, nourishing  meals (see fall*ing post post for ideas)
  • Increase your intake of Vitamin C and probiotics to strengthen your immune system
  • Keep hydrated – water, teas and soups!
  • Prevent the spread of viruses by washing hands often and well – at least 20 seconds per wash
  • Keep sinuses clear and support immunity by rocking that neti pot (with a balanced salt water solution)
  • Walk through woods, pick apples, hike a mountain – give it up for nature
  • Love on that neck of yours – wear a scarf! The neck is the most vulnerable area of the body susceptible to invasions of wind and cold
  • Enjoy hot showers on chilly days + keep warm and dry
  • support the immune system by massaging beneath the ear lobes, below the occiput, along the neck and at the armpits (to promote lymph drainage)
  • Protect your lung Qi by stimulating LU7 on both wrists for about 30 seconds a few times/day. Stimulating LU7 helps relieve a stiff neck, headaches, migraines, coughing and sore throat, and, increases brain circulation
  • Watch for the first signs of a flu (fatigue, headache, stiff neck, sinus congestion, sneezing, fuzzy thinking, general malaise, etc.) and take rest
  • If you’re feeling a little cold and achy, rest the back of your head and neck on a not-too-hot water bottle for 20-30 minutes
  • At the first signs of a cold or flu, sip an immune-boosting ginger-scallion tea
  • Consider adding 3 drops of dietary grade oregano oil to warm water, and drink 3 times per day for a few days to support the immune system

Our ability to tend our special needs in Autumn will not only keep us healthy during the next few months but will also ensure a harmonious transition into Winter.



tending your heart

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

support for sadness + depression

Because of our particular sensitivities during autumn – the elemental resonance of grief, less daylight hours, and the descending movement of fall energy – we can be more susceptible to feelings of sadness and depression.

To allow the gentle passage of the seasons within, we can:

  • remain aware of our thoughts and feelings
  • express our feelings to trusted listeners
  • keep in close contact with loved ones
  • maintain a regular schedule & get adequate rest (7-8 hours)
  • clarify intentions and focus our energy on actualizing goals
  • volunteer and give of our time to others in need
  • make healthy, balanced choices in diet and lifestyle
  • avoid or reduce caffeine intake and other stimulants
  • avoid or limit depressants like alcohol
  • count our blessings
  • manage stress and take time out to relax and rest
  • spend time in nature
  • consult healthcare providers about supplements, eastern and western herbal remedies, and gem and flower essence infusions

fall*ing

Monday, September 13th, 2010

That bright yellow star, center of our solar system, is destined to cross the celestial equator on September 23rd.

Outside my window leaves are shimmering on a crisp breeze and the golden light of sunset promises an earlier dissolve to twilight. Overcast mornings, the smell of dark earth, I bike along the water, a warm scarf loose around my neck . . .

The autumnal equinox marks a time of reflection, ripening and harvest. Ancient Chinese masters observed that within fall the vibrant yang of the earth’s late summer slowly pivots into the dark, quiet yin of winter. In the Huangdi Neijing Su Wen it states that “in the three months of autumn all things in nature reach their full maturity,” and “as the weather in autumn turns harsh” our internal climates are also transformed.

As intersections between heaven and earth, human beings are affected by cosmological and seasonal shifts in ways that are sometimes less perceptible but often quite profound. To live in harmony and align to the evolutionary, descending shift that autumn brings, the ancient masters advise that we “retire with the sunset and arise with the dawn.”

Of the five elements in Chinese Medicine, Metal peaks in the fall. Metal governs the mind, reason, and organization.  Autumn and metal are closely related to the organs of the Lung and Large Intestine. As such, the masters recommend that we “keep the lung energy free, full, clean, and quiet. This means practicing breathing exercises to enhance lung Qi.” If the lungs are not properly nourished, the Metal energy can be weakened, resulting in issues of the lungs like frequent colds, sinus congestion, respiratory problems, and allergies.

We’re also more vulnerable to wind and cold during the fall, which often appears as dryness, contributing to cough, sore throat, dry skin, dry scalp, dry mouth, cracked lips, and hard stools (think Large Intestine issues like constipation and other bowel disorders). A great way to fortify the body in response to the changing climate is to eat fresh, cooked, seasonal foods that reflect the qualities of autumn.

Choosing heartier flavors and preparing foods by baking or sautéing are great ways to move from the cooling salads of summer to the stimulating warmth of autumn stews and casseroles. As the weather and leaves turn, opt for warm and cooked foods over cold and raw. Hot oatmeal or savory congees (rice porridge) are perfect meals to start the day.

Foods that are more yin in nature, like earthy root vegetables, sweet potatoes, beets, pumpkin, wild rice, spinach, brussel sprouts, bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, apples, figs and pears are all great choices to center, nourish the lungs and large intestine and protect the body from dryness. Try to reduce heavy fried foods and cold or frozen dairy products. If you eat meat, consider beef, lamb, and chicken – all warm and nourishing. If you don’t have sensitivities or aversions, spicy herbs like cinnamon, garlic, ginger, horseradish, rosemary, sage, and thyme can offer a nice balance to the falling temperatures outdoors.

With the climax of metal, autumn also resonates with the emotions of grief and sorrow. Past losses may surface and we may be more susceptible to experiences of sadness. It is important that we create time + space to notice and experience our emotions. Spending just a few minutes observing feelings and sensations as they arise, often is enough for the experience to transform and soften. Emotions, like thoughts, are vibrations. Getting quiet and reflecting inward, allows emotions to arise and pass like all energetic shifts. Sometimes breathing into tight areas of the body, inhaling light and exhaling tension can help create more space to allow emotions passage.