We get our energy from the air we breathe, the food we eat and the prenatal Qi (genetics) we come into this world with. It is no wonder why many of us are tired and worn down in light of the state of nutrition (a topic for another posting) and our tendency to breathe shallowly. Often we barely fill or empty our lungs.
Regular cardiovascular activity and breathing exercises help keep your lungs venting old stale air and receiving oxygen rich nourishing air. One breathing exercise I integrate into my sleeping and waking routine is to lie in bed with a hand over my chest and a hand below my naval. I imagine I have three balloons in my chest, one where I know my lungs to be, one at the area of my diaphragm the area just at the bottom of the ribcage, and one in my belly. With each inhalation I try to fill each balloon from top to bottom (which can feel uncomfortable if I haven’t been breathing deeply for a while). After I fill each balloon, I consciously empty each balloon from bottom to top. After doing this for a few minutes I usually drift into restful sleep or feel ready to take on the day.
Our lungs are our first line of defense during this cold and flu season. Keep them clear and strong, and get some acupuncture, cupping or gua sha if they do get challenged.
As the fall brings dry air and crisp winds, so does it bring pathogens. From an Asian medical perspective these pathogens ride on the wind and invade the body through the nose, mouth or back of the neck.
If you get a wind invasion you may experience stiffness in neck and shoulders, or a sore and scratchy throat. If at the onset of these symptoms proper self care is not taken the pathogen can go deeper into the body and become a cold or flu.
Keep your throat and back of your neck protected this fall. Scarves, turtlenecks, hooded or collared jackets are important pieces of the fall and winter wardrobe. Wear them in health.
The transition from the heat of summer to the dry coolness of fall requires a shift in diet to weather the change well. This is a time for more warming spices and foods.
Raw green salads supported your body’s health during the heat of summer, now it is time for lightly steamed or braised leafy greens (keep them bright green to avoid overcooking.)
My favorite recipe is a bunch of kale or chard, mixed with some sautéed onions and garlic, with a splash of tamari and balsamic vinegar. This is delicious with salmon and a bit of brown rice.
In the coolness of the fall and winter your body needs more Qi or energy to stay warm and functioning. Avoid cold food and drink and spice up your foods with warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, garlic, onion and cayenne pepper.