Spring is a season of renewal and transformation, the golden season in wellness practice. There is a Chinese saying that “spring does not nurture, summer easily get disease.” In the “Huangdi Neijing” it states “In the three months of spring, it is the season of revitalization. Heaven and earth are reborn, and all things thrive. It is beneficial to lie down early at night and rise early in the morning, take a walk in the courtyard with hair let down and body relaxed… This is how to follow the spring energy and maintain good health.”
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is also the time of year when the Wood element is dominant, which is associated with the liver and gallbladder organs. As the weather begins to warm up and the days get longer, it’s an excellent opportunity to implement wellness practices that align with the principles of TCM. In this article, we’ll explore some highlights of the seasonal wellness practice in the spring season.
What’s the Seasonal Feature in Spring?
The following are some characteristics of Spring season in terms of TCM practice:
- Liver Qi is active: During the Spring season, the liver Qi is active and rises to the surface of the body. This is a good time to focus on practices that support the liver, such as eating fresh and light foods, avoiding greasy or heavy foods, and staying active.
- Wind and rain are prevalent: In Chinese medicine, the Spring season is associated with wind and rain, which can cause imbalances in the body. It is important to protect yourself from the elements and stay warm and dry.
- Emotions can be affected: According to traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with emotions like anger and frustration. During the Spring season, these emotions can be heightened, and it is important to focus on practices that promote emotional balance, such as meditation, deep breathing, and gentle exercise.
- Yin and Yang are in balance: The Spring season is a time of balance between Yin and Yang energies in the body. This is a good time to focus on practices that promote overall health and well-being, such as acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies.
Overall, the Spring season in TCM is a time of renewal and transformation, characterized by active liver Qi, wind and rain, emotional sensitivity, and a balance between Yin and Yang energies in the body. By incorporating practices that support these characteristics, you can promote optimal health and well-being during this season of growth and renewal. The following are some tips on wellness practice in the spring.
1. Go to bed early and rise early.
To maintain good health in spring, it is important to focus on the generation of yang qi and the smooth flow of liver qi in the body. As all things revive in spring and the days become longer while nights become shorter, it is recommended to adopt a routine of going to bed slightly later than in winter, but still aim to sleep before 11pm, and rise early in the morning. Spring belongs to the element of wood, and the liver is the organ associated with wood. This means it is beneficial to store blood in the liver, support the function of the liver in promoting the smooth flow of qi, and enhance the generation of yang qi, promote the circulation of qi and blood, and soothe emotions.
2. Increase Daily Activities
In the spring season, it’s important to stay active and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. This could mean taking a walk outside, practicing yoga, or doing other outdoor activities. It’s also a good time to start incorporating more cardiovascular exercise into your routine, like running, cycling, or swimming. As the weather warms up, it’s essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating foods that are naturally hydrating, like cucumbers and watermelon.
3. The Season to Nurture Yang Qi.
One’s daily routine is crucial, and mornings in particular are a key time for the rise and generation of yang qi in spring. Firstly, dietary adjustments should be made to suit the characteristics of spring. Foods with a pungent, sweet and dispersing nature such as ginger, spring onion, coriander, chives, bean sprouts, and shiitake mushrooms are recommended. Secondly, ancient Chinese wisdom emphasizes the importance of maintaining the health of the head. The Huangdi Neijing states that “the head is the palace of wisdom” and “the essence and energy of the five organs and six viscera are all directed upward to the head and face.” After the beginning of spring, combing the hair 100-200 times in the morning is a good way to maintain health. Combing the hair in spring should be done gradually and gently, without excessive force. It is best to comb the entire head, starting from the hairline at the forehead and continuing down to the roots of the hair at the back of the neck, for 3 to 5 minutes each time. The morning is the best time to comb the hair, and a comb made of ox horn, jade or wood is recommended.
4. Regulate Emotions and Keep a Positive Mood
According to TCM, spring belongs to the Wood element and corresponds to the Liver. The Liver is responsible for smooth flow and dispersal and is associated with the emotion of anger. It dislikes depression and likes smoothness and harmony. Therefore, regulating and smoothing the Liver Qi is the core purpose of spring health preservation. Emotionally, it is important to avoid irritability and anger, and to avoid suppressing emotions and feeling uncomfortable. It is advisable to maintain a calm and optimistic state of mind.
Spring is the high season for depressive mood and suicide, it is important to keep an upper spirit, engage in some interesting things, and get some outdoor activities to avoid depression.
5. Dietary Adjustment
One of the most important aspects of TCM is the role of food in maintaining health and preventing disease. In the spring, it’s essential to focus on light, fresh foods that help to detoxify the liver and promote healthy digestion. This means eating plenty of leafy greens, sprouts, and other green vegetables. Foods that are sour or bitter, like lemons, grapefruit, and dandelion greens, are also beneficial during this time. It’s also essential to avoid heavy, oily, or greasy foods, which can clog the liver and digestive system.
6. Cover up in Spring
There is a saying in Chinese that goes “Cover up in spring and expose in autumn, and you won’t suffer from various diseases.” As winter fades and spring arrives, the cold air retreats and the warm air rises. However, spring weather is unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature from hot to cold. There is a folk saying that “In February, don’t put away your cotton clothes, and in March, expect pear blossom snow”. Unfortunately, the body’s ability to regulate itself cannot keep up with the rapid weather changes. Therefore, it is important to regulate clothing appropriately during spring to achieve optimal health.
Firstly, the temperature is an important factor. The recommended temperature threshold is generally around 15℃ (59~60oF). It is not recommended to wear fewer clothes when the temperature is lower than this, but clothes can be gradually reduced as the temperature rises above this threshold. Secondly, clothing adjustments should be based on individual physical condition and personal tolerance for cold and heat. Additionally, the nature of one’s occupation can also impact the degree of “covering up” needed, with physical laborers requiring more clothing than those engaged in mental labor. It is important to pay attention to weather forecasts and adjust clothing accordingly to maintain good health during the spring season.
7. Have Liver-Nourishing Tea:
Honey Red Tea: Brew red tea and add an appropriate amount of honey and brown sugar according to personal taste. Drink once before meals every day, which can warm the middle and nourish the stomach, protect the liver and dispel cold, suitable for those with excessive liver fire and poor spleen and stomach function.
Scallion and Ginger Tea: Take 1 scallion, flatten and chop it, put it in a pot with 1 bowl of boiling water, and boil it over high heat. Add an appropriate amount of red tea and 1 teaspoon of ginger juice. Brew strong tea and drink it while it’s hot. After drinking, you can go to bed and sleep. It can increase warmth and prevent colds.
Chrysanthemum tea: Take 10g of dried chrysanthemum flowers and brew them. It has the functions of clearing the liver and brightening the eyes, relieving fever and detoxification, and lowering blood pressure.
Rose tea: Take 10g of dried rose flowers and brew them. It has the effects of nourishing blood, promoting blood circulation, regulating menstruation, and beautifying the skin. It can also improve symptoms of liver blood deficiency and menstrual irregularities.
8. Press the liver-nurturing acupoints
Interlace your hands and rub the Shan-zhong (RN-17) acupoint in the center of your chest 30 times to invigorate your Qi, stimulate the thymus, and boost your immune system. Alternatively, you can make loose fists and strike the Zusanli (ST-36) acupoint on the upper part of both legs, which can tonify the kidneys and strengthen the liver, and fortify the spleen and stomach.
Spring is also a good time to apply moxibustion at Ming-men (GV-4) point, to activate the Yang qi.
“Tai-chong point” (LR3) in the big toe seam to the instep of 4 cm, can be called the first key point to the human body. Some people consider “Tai-chong point” as the air vent of human body, because it is the original point and the acupoint of the liver meridian. It is the fire point of the liver meridian, which can dissipate the liver qi and irascience. So by rubbing the “Tai-chong point”, you can maximize driving the body stagnated qi out.
9. Mind-Body Exercises
TCM places a lot of emphasis on the mind-body connection, and there are several mind-body exercises that are particularly beneficial during the spring season. One of the most popular is qigong, a practice that combines meditation, breathing exercises, and gentle movement (Qigong) to promote balance and relaxation. Other practices that can be helpful during this time include yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
a, Standing relaxing by facing east, feet naturally separate shoulder width, knees slightly bent, head-neck straight, slightly abstract abdomen, straight waist back. Two arms naturally droop, two axils void, elbow slightly flexion, two palms lightly on the outer thigh. Relax, eyes open, look straight ahead. Those who are old or unable to stand due to illness may change to seat position.
b, Use of abdominal breathing, exhale to relax abdomen, raise anus, the center of gravity slightly moved back, focus on heal slightly; Inhale lips together, tongue touching upper palate, belly bulge. Breathe naturally and evenly, inhaling through nose and exhaling through mouth.
c, Stand relaxed, after calming breathing down, gently lift hands (palms face up), passing the waist, shoulder, above your head; then hands overlap, right hand over left palm, palm faces inward, lightly pressure the head pillow; turn head slowly to the right, and lift up at the upper right, upper body turn slightly to the right, then inhale slowly, in the process of rotation to be transferred to the right, head thrown back, two eyes bulging; Exhale and pronounce “Xu” at the same time.
d, After “Xu” sound, the head slowly turned to the left, slightly lift up, the upper body then slightly turned to the left, slowly inhale in the process of rotation, turned to the left, the head back, two eyes open with anger, forced exhale with “Xu” sound. So repeated around three times, a total of six “Xu”. After that, move both hands to the sides, slowly put down, natural stand with two palms lightly on the outside of the thigh.
e, We are teaching and practice Eight pieces of Brocade Qigong online in April, We meet at Zoom platform every Sunday morning from 9am to 10:30am EST. You are invited to join us for some powerful mind-body exercises together:
In addition to the practices outlined above, there are several other things you can do to support your health and wellness during the spring season. One is to get plenty of rest and relaxation, which can help to reduce stress and promote healing. It’s also important to take steps to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins, which can be particularly harmful during the spring when the air and water are more polluted. This could mean using natural cleaning products, avoiding synthetic fragrances, and filtering your drinking water.
In conclusion, the spring season is an excellent time to focus on wellness practices that align with traditional Chinese medicine. By incorporating healthy foods, daily activities, mind-body exercises, and other tips into your routine, you can support your overall health and well-being and enjoy the benefits of this season of renewal and transformation.