Yin and Yang in the Body: 5 Tips to Preserve Energy in Winter

A family out in the snow.

Follow these tips to keep warm in order to ensure overall good health during winter. (Image: Monkey Business Images Ltd via Dreamstime)

In winter, the wind is cold, the grass and trees are withered, and all living things go into hiding. The human body’s Yang energy also goes into hiding. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Yang energy refers to the body’s warmth, energy, and vitality, so in winter, your body naturally tries to conserve energy and warmth to adapt to the colder weather. How should you adjust to this natural tendency and make sure that you keep warm in order to ensure yourself good health? 

Here are 5 simple and easy methods to preserve energy

1. Wear a hat

According to TCM, the head is an important part of the body that needs to be protected during the winter months, as it is where the body’s Yang energy is most vulnerable to loss. For elderly people, especially those who are weak and prone to illness, if the head is exposed to cold winds, symptoms such as dizziness and headaches will appear quickly, and these people may even be at increased risk of suffering a stroke.

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To prevent the loss of Yang energy, it is recommended to wear a hat or cover the head with a scarf or hood when going outside in the winter
To prevent the loss of Yang energy, it is recommended to wear a hat or cover the head with a scarf or hood when going outside in the winter. (Image: Dude1982 via Dreamstime)

To prevent the loss of Yang energy, it is recommended to wear a hat or cover the head with a scarf or hood when going outside in the winter. This can help maintain body warmth and prevent the onset of symptoms associated with Yang deficiency.

2. Wear a scarf around your neck

Traditional Chinese Medicine says that ‘wind enters through the neck.’ This is because there are three important acupoints on the back of the neck: Feng Chi, Feng Fu, and Feng Men which literally translate to Pool of Wind, Mansion of Wind, and Gate of Wind. In other words, the neck is the gateway for wind to invade the body.

From the perspective of Western medicine, when the neck is exposed to cold stimuli, in order to prevent excessive heat loss, the local muscles will contract protectively, increasing pressure on the neck and leading to a narrowed space between the cervical vertebrae. This can compress nerves and blood vessels, leading to discomfort, such as dizziness and insufficient blood supply to the brain, and can cause wear and tear on the spinal disks in the neck. Therefore, it is very important to keep the neck warm in the winter.

If a scarf is not available, clothing or coats with a high collar can also be worn. This is especially important for people with age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal disks in the neck, hypertension, heart disease, and other conditions, who should pay more attention to protecting their neck.

3. Keep your navel warm

Chinese medicine says that the abdomen is a Yin (cold) area of the body, while the back is considered a Yang (warm) area of the body. The navel area is considered the most Yin part of the body and is especially sensitive to cold temperatures.

To protect the navel, it is important to avoid wearing clothes that expose the area, to dress warmly enough in the winter, and to use extra blankets at night. Additionally, massaging the area around the navel with fists or knuckles can help to generate a slight heat sensation in the area.

Bed piled with warm blankets.
Be sure to use extra blankets at night. (Image: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz via Dreamstime)

4. Wear socks

Cold starts from the feet, and it is difficult to fall asleep when your feet are cold. Because they have little subcutaneous fat, poor thermal insulation, and are far away from the heart, your feet can feel cold easily. Additionally, the feet are where the three yin and three yang meridians meet, and keeping them warm is important for the circulation of your body’s energy.

To protect your feet from the cold, you should wear socks and shoes, which can help keep your feet warm and prevent them from getting hurt. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the circulation of energy and blood in the body, as well as the health of our organs, are all based on Yang energy, which is the driving force of life. Only when the Yang energy of the body is strong enough can the body be healthy. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your feet warm and to protect other parts of your body that are easily affected by the cold, such as your head, neck, and navel.

5. Keep your back warm

As we have mentioned, the back is considered a Yang (warm) area of the body from the perspective of TCM. But cold wind and other external factors can easily enter the body through the various acupuncture points along the back, which can damage this energy and upset the balance between Yin and Yang. This can weaken the body’s immune system and make it more susceptible to illness or make existing health problems worse.

To prevent this, it’s important to dress warmly and wear enough layers to keep your back protected from the cold. Older adults who are particularly sensitive to the cold may benefit from wearing an extra layer, like a vest, to keep their backs warm. If you sweat during the day, it’s important to change into fresh, dry clothes to prevent your body from getting chilled. Additionally, if you need to get up in the middle of the night, be sure to put on a coat or other warm clothing to protect your back from the cold.

Translated by Patty Zhang

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