Wellness Practice in Winter,
Nourish the Kidney First
Winter is the season of kidney. According to “The Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic” (Huangdi Neijing): “The kidney is the foundation of sealed preservation, the place of essence.” Preserving both innate essence and the acquired essence kidney has the function of storing essence and overseeing growth and reproduction, corresponding to the winter season in nature. The nature of Yang in winter, cold, all things closed for concealment, the most conducive to the body Yang and kidney essence closed for concealment. At the same time, it is cold outdoors in winter, people move less and eat more, the absorption function of the human body is strong, and the synthesis metabolism is strong, which can well nourish Yang qi and nourish qi. Therefore, the wellness practice in winter is the most appropriate to nourish the kidney.
In the theory of traditional Chinese medicine(TCM), winter is corresponding to the kidney, and the cold in winter is the most likely to damage the Yang qi of the kidney. When kidney yang is injured, it is prone to the cold pain in waist and knees, susceptible to catching cold, frequent nightly urine, impotence and spermatorrhea, and other diseases; Kidney Yang deficiency will further injure kidney Yin. Kidney Yin deficiency will cause dryness in pharynx and mouth, dizziness tinnitus and other symptoms followed.
Therefore, in the winter it is very important to pay attention to the maintenance of the kidney health. Nourishing kidney in winter can not only enhance the ability of human body to resist cold, but also improve human immunity and resistance to disease, and delay aging. Kidney normal function can adjust the body to adapt to the severe winter weather changes, otherwise, will cause metabolic disorders and disease.
Kidneys are the foundation of life, and source of health, which is closely related with human body skeleton, blood, skin, tooth, and ears. The four seasons transform, how can one utilize the small detail in daily life to accumulate healthy energy ceaseless, and stimulate the vitality of kidneys？ “Yellow Emperor Internal Classic” said, “In the three months of winter, one should be closed and concealed…… This is the way to keep hidden for nourishment.” Winter season belongs to water element, corresponding to kidney. The physiological function of kidney is “hide essence”, “If winter does not hide essence spring would be distensible.” In other word, if the kidney is nourished well, there would be no problem in physical health. Therefore, wellness practice in winter must comply with the nature of the winter, follow the law of season, to collect Yin and protect Yang, so as to nourish the kidney to store essence as the fundamental.
Following are four main aspects for nourishing the kidney in the winter:
First, adapt to nature and adjust the lifestyle
1. Dress for the cold
It is easy to catch a cold and waste Yang qi if dressing too little too thin; Too much clothing or too thick will lead to sweat and open skin-pores leak so that Yang qi cannot be collected, while cold evil be easy to invade. In winter, it is better to wear comfortable clothes without sweating.
People with weak bodily Yang should pay attention to protect the head, navel, ankle, which are the most vulnerable parts to the wind evil attack.
Remind everyone do not “sacrifice temperature for looking good,” try to avoid cold and wind, which induce the aggravation of basic body diseases.
2. Go to bed early and get up late
Human beings have no hibernation mechanism, and sleep is an important way for people to recuperate and nourish themselves. Yellow Emperors’ Internal Classic said, “Three months in winter…… Go to bed early, get up late and wait for the sun.” That is to say, when enter in the winter, we should follow the wellness regimen of “go to bed early and get up late” to ensure adequate sleep.
Especially for patients with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases they should not get up early, while those with liver disease, kidney disease, stomach disease should not stay up too late.
3. Drink plenty of water
Long-term dehydration of the body easily causes urinary tract infection and kidney stones. Drinking water properly helps to prevent kidney disease. Adults are advised to drink 1500-1700 ml of water per day, with plain water or weak tea preferred. In a hot day, with exercise and sweating, the patients with kidney stones should increase water intake. Drink water evenly throughout the day to avoid drinking large amounts of water in a short time. However, it should be noted that patients with severe renal impairment, severe edema, heart failure and other diseases should limit the amount of drinking water.
4. Eat more warm food
Kidneys need to be prepared to maintain their winter caloric expenditure, it is important to eat warm food with extra energy so that a certain amount of energy can be stored for the coming year, so kidney maintenance is crucial. Diet should always pay attention to the recuperation of the kidney, pay attention to the addition of calories, eat more animal food and legumes, vitamins and inorganic salts. Beef, mutton, goose, duck, soybean, walnut, chestnut, agaric, sesame, sweet potato, radish and so on are suitable food in winter.
Second, Diet Adjustment
In winter, the metabolism of the human body slows down and consumption is relatively reduced. “Winter tonic” can make the energy transformed from nutrients stored in the body, thus cultivating the foundation and strengthening the resistance.
Among the vegetables recommended for the winter season: Chinese NAPA cabbage, white radish, Chinese yam, lotus root, rape and so on are good choices. Additionally, the winter is the season of kidney, it should also increase appropriately on “tonifying kidney” food, for instance, walnut, chestnut, cashew nut, Euryale ferox, sweet potato, pumpkin etc.
What food does winter take tonifying kidney? Here are some examples:
a. Walnuts — Walnut can tonify kidney solid essence, diuretic stone removal, moving intestine laxative, warm lung and reduce asthma, often used for kidney deficiency, lower back pain, urinary stones and other diseases.
b. Black rice — It has the effect of nourishing Yin and kidney, invigorating spleen and warming liver, tonifying spleen and stomach, invigorating qi and promoting blood circulation, nourishing liver and brightening eyes. It is conducive to preventing and treating dizziness, anemia, soreness of waist and knee, lung dryness cough, kidney deficiency edema, weakness of spleen and stomach and other diseases.
c. Chestnuts — Warm, sweet taste, in addition to spleen and stomach function, it also tonifies kidney and waist, those with kidney deficiency and waist pain are the most appropriate to eat chestnut.
d. Black beans— Black bean is known as the grain of kidney by ancient people. It tastes sweet and smooth. It not only looks like kidney, but also has the effects of tonifying kidney and strengthening body, activating blood and channeling water, detoxifying and moisturizing skin, especially suitable for patients with kidney deficiency.
e. Garlic, leek and other allium vegetables — Garlic, Onions, leeks and other “man dishes” not only have strong bactericidal ability, but a study also found that men who eat more allium vegetables have half the risk of developing prostate cancer.
f. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and radish — Cruciferous vegetables help prevent the spread of prostate cancer and are best eaten raw or lightly cooked.
We will recommend a few winter-suitable diet recipes to nourish kidney in a separate article later. Or you can join our Sunday Qigong for Health class online to learn more details in our classes:
Third, Some Easy-to-use Wellness Practices
1, Chomping teeth (tapping teeth)
Saliva is born by the kidney essence. Under the action of kidney qi, Kidney essence, along shaoyin kidney meridian to reach under the tongue or denture, secreting body fluid, which is our saliva.
When our kidney essence is sufficient, the saliva in the mouth is very abundant and sweet, but if excessive consumption of kidney essence recently because of excessive fatigue, stay up late and other reasons, , it will obviously feel the sensation of dry mouth, bad breath.
Chomping teeth is the action of empty bite, which stimulates saliva production and is an easy way to nourish the kidney.
Practice method: every morning or evening after brushing teeth, you can gently chomp teeth 36 times, which will produce saliva significantly, and then slowly swallow saliva, which can effectively nourish kidney essence.
2, Rubbing the ear
The ear is the kidney orifician. the kidney opens in the ear. The ear is the place where the six Yang meridians gather or meet. Frequently rubbing the ear have the function of nourishing kidney and nurturing life.
Practice method: We can do this at any rest time, with both hands knead, rub, pull, knead the whole ear until there is a warm feeling.
In addition, the kidney health experts said that acupuncture the point of kidney on auricular map can also play a strong role for kidney fitness. The effect of rubbing and massaging auricular points are quite good.
3. Rub waist and Shenshu point
Waist back is the house of kidney, rub waist can not only dredge the meridians of waist back, but also warm kidney and waist.
Practice: rub the waist, from the waist (navel is on the back of the position, that is, mingmen GV-4 point) has been rubbed to the lumbosacral part, rub until the waist warm and to the lower abdomen, and even reach the feet.
The Shen-Shu point (BL-23) of the waist can warm the kidney Yang, through the meridians, usually can often push the Shen-shu BL-23 on both sides of the waist), morning and evening each time (the effect is better before going to bed), each time about 50 times.
4, Stand on Toes (lifting the heel)
This is the simplest way to maintain the kidney meridian and can be carried out anytime, anywhere. The kidney meridian originates from the foot. Lifting the heel can stimulate the kidney meridian, make the kidney meridian receive Yang qi, improve cold hands and feet, and ease fatigue and other problems, but also stimulate the yong-quan point (KI-1) of the foot.
How to do it: Lift your heels up until your legs are too sore to hold, then gently drop to the ground to feel a jolt. So lift, drop, lift, drop, do it continuously, to the point without feeling of fatigue.
5, Soak the foot to motivate meridian
The functions of all organ-viscera have corresponding acupoints on the feet. Frequently soaking feet can play the role of nourishing vitality, strengthening waist and tendons, conditioning the viscera, dredging the meridians, promoting metabolism and delaying aging. There is a folk saying “a pot of hot soup before going to bed is better than ginseng soup”.
Soaking feet can not only keep warm, but also promote the circulation of qi and blood throughout the body. By stimulating dozens of acupoints on the feet, it can adjust Yin and Yang, qi and blood of the human body.
6. Pinch the Achilles tendon
The position of the medial and lateral Achilles tendon is just at taixi point (KI-3, the inner side of the foot, the grove between the posterior medial malleolus and the heel bone) and Kunlun point (BL-60, the grove between the lateral side of the foot, the posterior lateral malleolus and the Achilles tendon). Taixi point is the original point of the kidney meridian, which is the “Yangtze River” that brings together the vitality of the kidney meridian and can enhance renal function. Kunlun point has the effect of harmonizing qi and blood, strengthening kidney and ridge. Pinch and knead two points every day, 3-5 minutes each time, can have kidney-tonifying effect. Pinch and knead can use the side of thumb, or massage stick or slippery stick press knead, intensity should have acid bilge outside feeling, it’s better to have “hemp feeling” for a good effect.
7 kicking shuttlecock
kicking shuttlecock can promote blood circulation and metabolism, so to fill up kidney qi, improve kidney function. Shuttlecock-kicking can not only improve kidney function, but also help to improve varicose veins, thrombosis, phlebitis, vascular occlusion, hemorrhoids and other diseases. However, shuttlecock should not be kicked after or before meals, which is easy to cause gastrointestinal adverse reactions. It is better to find a cool place, the site should not be too hard or too soft, and the time should not exceed 15 minutes each time. You may stop when feeling perspiration.
8. The catwalk
Catwalk can indirectly massage the perineal point (CV-1), help to open up the kidney and maintain kidney health. How can one walk the catwalk? The catwalk is undoubtedly the way cats walk, characterized by feet and soles in a “1” shape walking in a line. Step first with your left foot, tiptoe on the ground and heel gently falling down. Once your left foot is settled, shift your weight forward and do the same with your right foot.
9. Press the hand
Supine, two hands back clingy in the waist area, 5 ~ 10 minutes later, there will be heat up throughout the body. At the beginning, the palms may appear hemp swelling phenomenon by lumbar pressure, 3 ~ 5 days later it can be adapted to disappear. TCM thinks, this action is effective, because of the person’s two hands external Lao-gong points (located in the back of the hand, in the grave between the 2nd and 3rd metacarpal) clingy after two kidneys, the heat of double palm can warm two kidneys. At 10 to 11 p.m. the end of Hai time and the beginning of Zi time (11 p.m. to 1 a.m.), the earth qi is at its peak. The earth qi is inhaled through the inner lao-gong (PC-8, the opposite point of the external lao-gong) and injected directly into the two kidneys through the external Lao-gong. At this time, the kidney tonifying effect is doubled.
10. Tick the feet (rocking the toes).
Keep your legs straight together, hook your toes up, both hands grab your toes, and body slowly press down for about 10~15 minutes, once a day. It is not necessary to pursue the feeling that the body is sticking to the leg painstakingly when practicing, as long as the tendon of back leg has the feeling of pulling straight, that is ok.
Four. Daoist kidney-nourishing Methods
Kidneys are the foundation of the human body, if the kidney is deficient or not healthy, it will cause a lot of problems in the body, and may make people premature aging. Many people are constantly looking for the best methods to tonify kidneys, so did Daoist practitioners. Now I would like to recommend a few Daoist kidney-nourishing methods that have been spread thousands of years.
1, Breathing mind-method
The movement: Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart , arms raise straight up, crossed in the back of the head, at this time the lower abdomen slightly forward, hands straight up as far as possible with back pressure, all the strength and mind focused on the lumbar spine. Then the power initiates from the lumbar spine, so that the two arms from the back of the head to the sides of the body with the largest radian pressure down, squatting at the same time, the hands in the last two knees crossed, the end of the mind focused on the front foot for 5 seconds. Keep your heels on the ground. When standing up again, the ball of the forefoot should be powered first as the starting energy, and then all the strength and intention should be focused on the lumbar spine again. The legs should not use any strength to stand up. Keep your hands crossed from chest to crown and to back of your head.
Breathing method: The entire process of squatting down, exhale. As you stand up, inhale. Hold your breath for two seconds as you transition your breath. Practice time should be based on individual physique, to the degree of not feeling too tired. After practice, many people will feel waist acid, need to use both hands clenched empty fist, gently beat the back waist.
2, Ignition of fire to the source: Acupressure Yong-quan
Every night before going to bed, wash the feet with warm water, sit cross-legged on the bed, one hand hold the toes, another hand pressure foot heart (Yong-quan point, KI-1), every time press down should feel the faint pain. Yong-quan is the starting point of foot shaoyin kidney meridian; rubbing this point can tonify the kidney and essence, regulate qi and blood. When kidney qi is strong and sufficient, the body be healthy and longevity. The most importantly this can save the kidney energy from ordinary-times into the bank for future use. In other words, kidney fixation.
3, The Heart-Kidney Intersection Methods
This method not only tonify kidney essence, but also treat all ear diseases.
The first method of heart-kidney intersection is called Ming Tian Gu (striking the heavenly drum). The back of our head is called Tiangu (heavenly drum). Ming tian gu uses our Ting-wen point (inside ear) and Lao Gong point (PC-8). The Lao-gong point of human body is one of the most hard-working points, it is a fire point. For instance, when our stomach pains, we will immediately and unconsciously use palm to cover the stomach, so it is very hard-working.
The second method of heart-kidney intersection is massage Ting-wen point (inside ear). The tip of the middle finger is the well point of pericardium, which belongs to the heart, and the ear hole belongs to the kidney. First, with your palm facing back, use your middle finger to insert into your ear hole. After you put it in, turn your finger 180 degrees so that your palm is facing forward, and then let your finger gently wiggle inside. Then, suddenly pull the finger out of ear hole to create special pressure vacuum.
The third heart-kidney intersection method is palm center (PC-8) massaging the feet center (KI-1). Do not underestimate this method, which integrates a deep sense of TCM application…….
The last method of the heart-kidney intersection is to rub the ear, cover the ear with palm, and then rub the back of the ear with the root of the palm. But pay attention to this: not rub the back of the ear skin, but across the back of the ear and rub the ear inside. Rub the ear when thinking inside the ear so as if across the back of the ear has kneaded into the ear inside.
4. Clench your teeth and no talk when going to toilet
Wellness practice in Daoism recommends that when going to the toilet, one should clench teeth, which can fix and strengthen kidney qi, especially for the men with severe damage of the kidney essence. Why is that? Because the tooth is closely related to the kidney, it is the appearance of kidney essence. However, you should not bite too tight, as tightly-biting may consume the kidney qi. Instead, it should be “kidney teeth as if two bites”, which means as if there are two dates between the two back teeth, slightly biting. When relieving urine, one is in a state of inhaling and receiving qi, the channel should not be open. Clenching teeth and lifting heels, are the key step to nourish kidney qi.
5, Anus-lifting Method
Do this in a quiet-relaxing state, when the whole body is relaxed, with the abdominal breathing (that is, when inhaling abdomen outward, when exhaling abdomen contracts), and slightly forced contraction of the anterior pubic and anal while exhale, relax and relieve while inhale, repeat 10 times.
6: Chomping-teeth method
Teeth are the residual of bone, the residual qi of bone, while kidney is in charge of bone. When a person reaches certain age, the kidney qi gradually weaken and the teeth become loose. In this case, we can think in reverse, if the teeth are very strong, then will the kidney qi be very strong? If it is not convenient to adjust the kidney temporarily, then we can strengthen the teeth first. The meridian in the tooth and kidney classics are interlinked, as long as the tooth is firm and solid, it can have a counter-solid effect on kidney, and make kidney strong. As you know, you can’t have strong teeth and weak kidneys, it’s just not possible, because they’re synchronized. Therefore, if we are not directly nurturing the kidney, then strong teeth is the best way to nourish the kidney. A good way to strengthen your teeth is to chomp them frequently, 300 times in the morning, with two rows of teeth hitting each other, that’s it. Note that the impact area is mainly the back of teeth, do not allow the front teeth to chomp first. After you chomp teeth a few days later, you will feel the face very ruddy, the original sallow and dark face has disappeared. This is because qi and blood continuously supply to the head, and gastrointestinal function could be improved obviously, you will have good appetite and sweet sleep.
7: Swallow-saliva method
Saliva in the mouth consists of two parts: the yan is clear and thin, which is dominated by the spleen, and the tuo is thick and heavy, which is dominated by the kidney. We can do an experiment, whenever there is saliva in the mouth, spit it out; in less than a day or so, you may feel the waist sour and soft, and body fatigue. This in turn proves that swallowing body fluid can nourish kidney essence and protect kidney.
8. Golden rooster stands on one leg
Golden rooster stands on one leg must be done with both eyes closed.
When just start practice, it may be difficult to stand stably; be persistent to practice it. Golden rooster stands independently is actually a way to draw qi and blood to Yong-quan point (KI-1). Yongquan point is a kidney tonifying point.
9. Wall-Stick Method
Wall-stick method is a great exercise for the waist and the entire spine, and will strengthen kidney qi rapidly.
The method: 1. when facing a wall or a door (as shown below), the tip of your nose touches the wall and the tip of your feet touches the wall as well; 2. Nose tip against the wall slowly squat down until legs are completely bent, squat completely, arms wrapped around the squat legs; 3. Stand up slowly with the tip of the nose still against the wall until you are fully upright; 4. Then repeat the squat and stand up movement.
10. Moxibustion helps in the winter
TCM believes that moxibustion is the best warm supplements. Moxibustion is use of moxa for fire attack, which can strengthen Yang qi, while benefit true Yin.
Moxibustion has six major functions: dredging meridians, qi and blood circulation, dispelling dampness and eliminating cold, detumescence and dispersing knots, returning Yang and saving adverse conditions, prevention of disease and health preservation. The ancients said: “where the needle is not suitable, moxibustion can go.” The moxibustion method can be used for supplement to the deficiency and cold, scatter the stagnation, and treat the sickness. the moxibustion for those disease-free can help prolonging the life.
Moxibustion of following acupoints would effectively tonify kidney:
1, Zusanli (ST-36)- effect: invigorating spleen and stomach, tonifying qi and blood.
2, Sanyinjiao (SP-6)- effect: warm kidney and spleen, remove dampness and benefit water, regulate menstruation and relieve pain.
3, Shen que (CV-8) – effect: warm Yang and benefit qi, tonifying the kidney and spleen.
4, Guan Yuan (CV-4) – efficacy: warm the kidney and spleen, tonifying solid off, relieving cold and pain, regulating menstruation and nourishing blood, health care.
5, Qi Hai (CV-6) – effect: Zhuang Yuan Yang solid collapse, cultivate vitality, Yang yiyin, reconcile camp wei, prolong life, aging prevention.
Note: Those with Yin deficiency should use this with caution; pregnant women should not use. Generally in the spring moxibustion gas sea, “neijing” has “spring in March, this hair Chen, heaven and earth are born, all things with glory.” The sea of gas is the sea of angry, moxibustion at this time, should be the timing of its spring, to help the gas, by Chen Yin, lay the foundation of the yuan, in order to adapt to the long summer.
6, Shen-shu (BL-23) – effect: kidney, kidney also; Yu, lose also. The point name refers to the cold and wet water from the kidney to the bladder meridian, so the name.
7, Tai-xi (KI-3)– It’s the original acupoint for kidney meridian. Effect: Nourishing Yin kidney, Yang strong waist.
This December our Weekly Qigong for Health class (A Zoom-based event) will teach and practice these methods online. If you are interested in knowing more on wellness practice and tonifying kidney during winter season, please join us for the energetic wellness practice each Sunday from 9:00am to 10:30am EST. The first class is always free. For registration, please go to:
Kidneys are the foundation of life, and source of health, If you can nourish the kidney well in the winter, there would be no problem in physical health. Wish you a warm and wonderful winter with more nourishment of the kidney to store essence as the foundation.