Taoism on Winter

From a Taoist perspective Winter is a Yin season, governed by the element of Water and the energy of ‘storing’. Water looks for a way around resistance, holding true always to its search for the lowest point where it gathers and eventually finds stillness. The sediment then drops away and the surface becomes clear and reflective.


The organ of the water element is the Kidney, which has a lot of significance in the eyes of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Two of the most important physiological functions performed by the kidney are the filtration of blood to regulate body fluids and the production of marrow that’s stored in the bones. And its’ partner organ, the urinary bladder is an obvious expression of the water element, busy with the transformation, storing and release of fluid.

The kidney also stores our ‘pre-natal qi’. This is the genetic energy on which our constitution, strength and vitality is based. We receive it from our parents at conception and our final breath signifies its expiration. A precious essence that can’t be replaced, the prenatal qi is called on when other organs need support, in times of stress or when we are not nourished enough to meet lifes’ demands.


Winter therefor is the season to conserve our qi, to let it gather and settle. Nature shows us how to do it. Things on earth slow down, creatures go to sleep, growth in plants is minimal, concentrated and usually close to the ground. There is little exertion. This is an important preparation for the expanding Yang season of Spring which will follow the quiet Yin of Winter. If we don’t give ourselves a chance to restore we may not have the internal resources to utilise the great potential and excitement that comes with Spring. Or we may draw upon our deep Qi reserves to do so.

Finding harmony with Nature supports the health and wellness of body-mind- spirit. Align with the cycles and impulses observed in the outer world by recognising and honoring the presence of Natures’ principles within our selves. It doesn’t have to be complex. Here are a few suggestion for finding your peace with the water element and Winter.

* Don’t push the river- go with the flow, find ways around conflict, avoid exertion (outward flowing forces like perspiration, excess mental effort, yelling)

* Empty the cup- look at your stress triggers, rest a little more, let go of strong feelings so that that the surface can settle and you can see clearly
*Keep well hydrated- add a little salt to help retain fluid, decrease diuretics like coffee, eat lots of soups and broths

*Love up your kidneys- keep the low back and soles of feet warm, stretch your lower back with twisting and side bending movements, add walnuts, chive, goji berry, black beans, black sesame seeds, winter squash and seaweed to your diet.


is that, while you can’t top up your ‘prenatal qi’ stores, you can conserve them with focused breathing, tai chi and qigong!

See you at the Ziran Qigong Spring Retreat in September.


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