MYndful Musings | 19th October 2020
Autumn-the season of lungs & lymph
Staying healthy through the seasons is something which both traditional Chinese medicine & Ayurveda (Indian medicine) put a huge focus on.
To me, it makes sense that as nature shifts and changes- so do we. Our internal environment afterall, is just an extension of the nature. We are part of nature, not seperate from it! Therefore we can look to nature and the qualities of each season to learn what we need to practice, eat, drink, take care of in order to thrive through the seasons.
As the trees shed, letting go of their leaves- perhaps we too should look to clear out stagnation and let go on things which are fading. Autumn is often a time of year when mucus can sit and build up in the body and we can suffer with colds and dis-ease to our inner environment and balance (homeostasis). For this reason I believe our yoga and wellness practices are so important, as always, they help us stay connected to nature and in balance with our environment.
In Chinese medicine, Autumn is the season of the lungs. This organ is responsible for bringing life into our body and helping us let go of what we don’t need. When in balance, we have a good relationship with our breath (respiratory health) and we can let go with gentle acceptance. We also have boundaries and are organised. Out of balance you will find that you suffer with lingering coughs and colds, you may also suffer with grief and feel heavy with sadness.
PRACTICES FOR THE LUNGS
It goes without saying that our breathwork practice help us to take care of these organs. When we practice breathwork we regulate the breath-lengthen and deepen it, we strengthen the muscles of the respiratory system (diaphragm & inter-costals) to increase lung capacity & to help the lungs stay healthy. Some breathing practices as also known as ‘kriya’ cleansing techniques-these are specifically designed to clear out stagnation from the body. Through breathwork and breath awareness we also affect the nervous system- initiating the relaxation response and lowering the levels of stress hormone-cortisol.
We can, also influence our breath and lungs through the postures we practice. In the simplest form the awareness of our posture and practice of consciously lengthening, opening your chest and creating space in your torso physically allows us to breathe fuller breaths. But also on a more subtle level we can work with the fascia/meridians to influence the organs (this is the theory of YIN yoga specifically).
Possibly the most overlooked body system in terms of it’s importance. Your lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste and toxins from your body through it’s vessels and also plays a VITAL role in the immune system. But unlike the blood circulation-your lymphatic system does not have a heart to pump these things.. this system relies on your MOVEMENT! The more you move through all of your muscles and joints, the more you invert, the more you use your muscles to pump your lymph around your body then the happier this system becomes! Possibly the only reason you need to take a yoga class!
Other tips to nurture your autumn body;
- Self massage or skin brushing are also great ways to help keep your lymph moving.
- Use eucalyptus in your home and in your essential oils routine.
- Clear out any stale corners of the house, let go of things you don’t need!
- Drink plenty of water (always)!
- Transition to warm foods like soups and stews using the food nature gives us at this time of year-lots of root veg!
- Incorporate lung tonic into your diet like walnuts (have you noticed they look like lungs!), mushrooms, onions, beans and protein!