To The Point Acupuncture

How to add more yin and protect KidneyQi

By Kari Pettersen


Winter. Some love it and some hate it. I personally love winter but when it gets really cold for weeks on end I do start to lose my mind. Alberta weather problems, am I right?! Cold weather makes me feel like I am moving through molasses. Everything is harder to do and exhaustion hits. Do you feel like this too? If you do then read on dear friend. I am going to share some wisdom for staying healthy in Winter. 

All we need to do is look at nature to see that winter is a time for rest and rejuvenation. Tree's lose their leaves and their energy moves more inward, bears hibernate, birds are rarely seen. Just like nature our energy also moves more inward. In Chinese Medicine winter is considered the yin to summer's yang. Yin is quiet, stillness, dark and cool. In Winter the Chinese organ that is most affected is the Kidneys. Kidneys store "essence"; the material base of the human body.  The Kidneys functional activities including aging, fertility, and water metabolism. Kidney's nourish the bones, hair and open to the ears.

So, in other words the Kidneys play a major role in Chinese Medicine and we want to protect that  precious Kidney Qi in Winter. Overwork and exposure to cold can weaken our Kidney Qi.  Do you find it hard to keep up with your "summer" routine?  That is because we are not supposed to be as busy in winter. We are supposed to slow down, protect our energy, and go inward. When we do not slow down; we get run down and exhausted and eventually sick ( a way of forcing the body to slow down). Here are ways to do this by incorporating some ancient Chinese wisdom to help make it through the rest of the winter. 


In general, in winter, you want to be eating more warming foods. Chinese medicine looks at the energy of food as well as nutrition and we want to be protecting our yang energy. That means not adding a bunch of cooling energy in our bodies. Dust off the ol crock pot because it is your friend in winter. Nourishing root vegetables, warming soups, stews and bone broth. Ditch the frozen fruit smoothies and opt for warm oatmeal instead. Drink more tea or room temperature water. This will keep your energy levels, digestion and warmth up in the winter.  If you have to eat more cooling foods like salads or smoothies balance it out by having warming ginger tea or adding ginger. 


Everyone who knows me knows how much I love Hygge. I love it so much I have bought books on it! Scandinavians have perfected the art of slowing down and adding more yin into their lives and it shows. According the happiness institute, Danes are considered one of the happiest countries in the world. They also have long, dark, harsh cold winters.... so whats up? Hygge is what is up. Danes take the time to enjoy the simple things in life with close friends, soft lighting, comfy clothes and some indulgent sweets ( with moderation of course). Some people think that by slowing down they need to isolate and not leave the house but having connection can greatly boost your winter happiness levels. Here is how to Hygge some winter yin.

1. Ditch the big parties- Hygge cultivates togetherness during the long dark winters by having intimate conversations. That means inviting small groups together, cooking a meal together and playing board games. This allows you to slow down, conserve your energy and make meaningful connection.

2. Its all about lighting and comfy clothing- Hygge is soft blankets, comfortable clothing, candles and fire. It is reading a book in front of the fire place or cuddling with a loved one under the blankets. It is about stopping to enjoy the stillness of winter. It is the perfect way to rejuvenate the body and soul. 

3. No TV or screens- This can mess with your melatonin especially before bed but its also a major Hygge no no. How can you focus on enjoying the little things in life when you're scrolling through a mass of information on your phone? It's not about numbing out. It's about dialing it down and connection with others and your surroundings .


Even though we are slowing down in the winter we do not become stagnant. Moving in winter just looks different then in the summer. More yin ways to move would be yoga or walking. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing is great!  That way you move your body without using up that kidney Qi by overworking. Getting outside and connecting with nature are great ways to boost Vit D and your mood. Take advantage of that precious sunlight.


I feel like this is a no brainer but I do often see people wearing hardly any clothing in winter. Shorts or just a tank top with snow on the ground? Yup, I have seen it all. Cold is nasty when it settles in the body. Its stagnant and causes intense pain. It can settle in the joints, skin and even deeper in the body. Exposure to cold on the back can easily drain Kidney Qi. If it settles in the uterus it can cause painful periods and infertility. Exposure to cold can do so much more to the body than just give you frost bite! In other words, just wear proper clothing! Be careful not expose your abdomen or lower back to cold.


We go days without seeing the sun in the winter and sometimes it's gone at 4:00 p.m. Supplementation with Vit D can be essential to hormonal health and energy. Aim for up to 1000 IU per day or talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what dosage would be good for you. SAD lamps are also great for mood boosting when its been dark and gloomy for days.


Acupuncture is the ultimate yin. Acupuncture can down regulate your sympathetic nervous system ( your fight and flight) and up regulate your parasympathetic nervous system ( your rest and digest) giving you the ultimate yin experience. Activating certain points can help your Kidney Qi and the adding of moxa ( heat ) to the points can help disperse cold. All of this can help increase fertility, sleep, energy and digestion. Adding of heat can help stiffness, painful periods, and arthritis especially if it is aggravated by the cold. If your interested in seeing how Acupuncture can help you I have added my online booking link here- BOOK HERE



Wiking, M. (2016) The little book of hygge. UK: Penguin Random House.