In Chinese Medicine, the Water Element corresponds with the Winter Season and the Kidney & Urinary Bladder meridians. Winter is the most Yin time of year, a time when we bundle up against the cold, fight dry skin, and hibernate until Spring. When the Water Element is out of balance, we can experience fear and/ or depression, adrenal and thyroid issues, dehydration or water retention, poor circulation, UTIs and more. "Winter is the start of the seasonal cycle, and as such, it is like a young child, uncertain, unsure, feeling isolated and alone. The fear is the primal fear of the dark." from Lauren Walker. In the 5 Element Theory cycle, Winter also represents the end of life and can represent the fear of death.
It's recommended that we eat warm & hearty soups with warming spices and a hint of sea salt (squash, sweet potato, beans, kale, cherries, dates, fennel, cinnamon, ginger, dill, etc. Stay active but don't overdo it. Rest, meditate, go to bed early.
Some of my favorite essential oils for this time of year are birch (courage), black pepper (circulation), lemon & juniper berry blend (for cleansing, as well as, kidney & UT health), grapefruit & fennel blend (supports kidney health by eliminating excess water- also great for fluid retention during PMS).
This Yin sequence focuses a lot of the inner thighs as a connection to the emotions we hold in our hips. Feel free to use as many props as you need to allow yourself to relax and let go.
The sequence starts with the Water healing breath for the kidneys, to release fear and awaken courage.
Energy Medicine for the Kidneys "Blowing out the Candle"
(video coming soon) "The movement for this season is called Blowing out the Candle, and by doing this movement, you move from fear to courage and trust- trust that even in the darkness of this deep growth season, you are safe and protected."
"Start in a squat, with your arms wrapped around your knees. You can have your heels propped on a blanket to help support you. Or sitting in a chair.
Bow your head. Inhale, lift the head up, and exhale through pursed lips, as if you're blowing out a candle in front of you. Male the sound whhhooo as you exhale. Curl your head down again, take a deep inhale, lift your head up, and blow out the candle again with a whhhooo sound. Do this once more." from Lauren Walker's Energy Medicine Yoga.
After your third round of breath, take your hands to your kidneys and breath in a deep blue healing light.
Dragonfly (5 min)
Widen the legs into a V-shape, possibly taking a blanket under the sits bones to tilt the pelvis forward. Allow the legs to relax and the spine to comfortably round. You can use a bolster or block under your forearms for support.
To release, slide your hands under your hamstrings and gently draw the legs together. Take a few rounds of seated cat & cow, arching and rounding the spine, allowing the pelvis to move with you.
Half Shoelace (4 min each)
Start with both legs extended in front of you. Cross one leg over the other, knee to knee, allowing the legs to soften. If it feels ok, fold forward over the legs. Windshield wiper the legs between sides, finding a slight arch to the spine to open the heart. Repeat Half Shoelace on the other side. After releasing, come into Shavasana for a few breaths.
Cat's Tail twist (4 min)
Lay on your left side, stacking your shoulders and hips, rest your head in your hand. Extend your right leg to the side, foot no higher than your hip. Bend your left knee and reach back for your foot. Slowly draw your right shoulder towards the floor for a twist.
After 4 minutes, stack the shoulders and release the left foot. Keep the right leg extended.
Thread the Needle variation (4 min)
From Cat's Tail, keeping your right leg extended, roll onto your belly. Thread your left arm under your right and relax your head down. If this is too intense, you can do the pose from a Tabletop position or with a block for support under the head.
Gently release into a child pose with the knees together. Take about 30 seconds there, then repeat Cat's Tail on the right side, and Thread the Needle after. After both poses, take a few rounds of cat/ cow.
Waking Lizard (Half Frog variation- 5 min each)
From Tabletop, come onto your belly for Sphinx, lining up your elbows under your shoulders- forearms parallel. Open your left knee to the side in a Half Frog variation (optional blanket under your knee). Halfway through, you have the option to straighten the arms for a Seal variation.
Slide the leg back in line with the right and lower the torso, extending the arms forward into long prostration. Windshield wiper the legs.
Repeat on the other side, then find a wide-kneed child pose.
Dragon (5 min each)
Come up to a Tabletop position, step the left foot forward and wide. Place a blanket under the right knee for padding. Breathe and relax. To release, step back into a downward facing dog and stretch out your legs. After a dew deep breaths, return to Tabletop and step the right foot forward and wide.
Saddle (5 min)
I like this pose with a bunch of props (2 bolsters, 2 blocks, 2 blankets) because it's more comfortable for my low back & knees. Feel free to adjust your props as needed. Prop set up- place one block between the bolsters, near the top where your head would be; I also stagger the bolsters slightly lengthwise. One blanket is under the knees, the other is rolled up behind the low back. The second block is under the seat. Saddle can also be practiced with one foot on the earth and switch halfway through. To release the pose, press up evenly, and come into a wide- legged downward facing dog to stretch the legs. A few rounds of cat/ cow after is beneficial too.
Shavasana (10 min)
Before reclining into your final relaxation pose, take 30-60 in a reclined twist each side.