In western cultures we don’t usually give too much conscious thought to changing our lifestyle and thoughts to align with the seasons, although we may naturally shift our behaviours and patterns to accommodate the change in weather. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) however believes that the best way to stay healthy is to learn about the nature of each season, and live in harmony with its spirit.
So what does that mean for autumn? In TCM autumn signifies the change to the ‘yin’ season, as we shift to less than 12 hours daylight. Nature is slowing down and contracting, and for us we tend to move inwards also. We tend to reflect more, enjoying quiet time, and traditionally we would harvest what was planted in spring, preserving for the cooler months ahead.
Balancing the yin and yang
According to TCM the lung and large intestine are the internal organs related to autumn and we must nurture these organs to thrive at this time of year. Every organ in TCM has a partner – one is yin, the other yang. In this case the lung is yin, and the large intestine is yang, and they work together to keep the body in balance. The lung is responsible for taking in the new, bringing fresh oxygen into the body to help us function optimally. The large intestine is responsible for letting go, releasing waste as the last stage of digestion, and retaining only the nutrients needed for survival.
Get that Qi flowing!
As we transition between the seasons our Qi (vital life force) can become unstable compromising our immune systems. Here are some tips to support the lung and large intestine specifically, using the principles of TCM:
Something so simple you can implement immediately to strengthen the lungs is deep breathing. Most of us are shallow breathing most of the time without even realising it. Shallow breathing has detrimental effects on our energy levels, immune system and memory.
Go for a walk outside and breathe in the crisp autumn air whilst soaking up nature. You’ll be surprised at how your mood is elevated and at the same time you will be flooding your cells with vital oxygen. You can also take up the wonderful practice of Qi Gong. Developed by the ancient Taoists, Qi Gong incorporates flowing movement with the breath to increase vitality, extend lifespan, and prevent disease.
Here on Mallorca we have some great practitioners that specialise in therapeutic breath work. Nourish loves transformational breath sessions and workshops with Breathwork Mallorca, and Space to Breathe.
2. Declutter – physically and mentally
The large intestine is responsible for physically eliminating toxic matter from our bodies. But along with physical toxicity, this is the perfect time of year to get rid of mental negativity as well. Sometimes just being aware of, and acknowledging our negative outlooks and emotions is enough to cause a small shift towards a more positive mindset. Meditation can also be a great aid for this.
Now is also a great time to declutter the home, and let go of the old to make room for the new. You could clear out your wardrobe and donate old clothes to charity, or even clean out your computer to create a feeling of space and order. If you could do with some help in this department, Nourish loves the services offered by Kristina from Bring Your Soul. She is a certified Feng Shui and Clutter Clearing Consultant and will have your home or office feeling like an oasis in no time!
When it comes to clearing your closet, get in touch with SUNVIBES. Eli will help you do it in a creative way , starting with a moodboard to get you inspired with your favorite colors/styles/muses for the new season. She will then assist you too sort out your clothes in 4 simple steps:
- Keep the garments that you love
- Keep the pieces that flatter you
- Set up a bag for the garments you’d like to alter and bring them to your seamstress – she will give them a new life!
- Donate the rest to Charity
3. Eat warming foods and hydrate
In TCM the flavour of autumn is ‘pungent’ and should be balanced with ‘sour’. This allows the body’s mucosa to stay moist and warm, preventing infections and congestion. This is the time to eat less of cooling foods like salads, raw foods, and dairy as they create dampness and phlegm which is stored in the lungs. Incorporate heartier warm foods like soups and stews, and use pungent foods like garlic, onions, ginger, mustard and horseradish for flavour.
Also always remember to drink plenty of water, especially in autumn, which is associated with dryness and can leave you susceptible to dehydration.
Sleep is important for immunity in TCM. It is believed you should retire early and ‘wake with the crowing of the rooster’. TCM holds that the spirit is more accessible in autumn, which means even taking time out to rest and do nothing, or perhaps stretch or meditate, can have great effects on your wellbeing.
5. Rug up
Being the uppermost organ in the body, the lung is considered to be the ‘tender organ’ and especially susceptible to wind and cold. This is the time of year to rug up! Stay warm and dress appropriately to avoid colder weather ills and chills.
Hopefully you can implement some of these TCM habits into your routine and enjoy an autumn filled with good health and happiness!
If you would like to learn more about Traditonal Chinese Medicine Practices, join one of Escapada’s beautiful Health Retreats here in Mallorca.
Written by Ché Miller
About the author
Ché has always had a passion for hospitality having completed a conjoint Bachelors Degree in International Business and Hospitality Management. She has spent the last 15 years working in the hospitality industry. When this passion led her to working in a premier health retreat in Australia in her twenties, she found the knowledge she gained there inspired her to start living a healthier life.
Now Ché loves to combine her two favourite things, hospitality and wellbeing, by scouring the island for the best nourishing restaurants, products and services. She has been living in Mallorca since early 2017, having moved from her home in New Zealand. She absolutely loves the energy of the island and everything it has to offer.
Ché’s other interests include ashtanga yoga, boxing, reading, writing, and really good coffee.