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You and Your Health

Dr. Dena’s Tips for Fall

As we shift our senses to fall with its brilliant symphony of colors, take in the crisp clean air with a full deep breath as it’s now lung season! Time to start consuming warmer foods and beverages. Many people will experience pneumonia at this time of the year. Lungs are ruled by the emotion of grief. Old emotional patterns of grief may come up for you at this time. Take this opportunity to reflect, let all past grief come up and out as you heal your lungs this season.

We can do this by going inward as we breathe deeply. Take full breaths into your entire lung space, not into the shallow part of your chest, but all the way down deep. That’s it—blow that belly up like a hot air balloon. Now exhale slowly, picturing the old patterns of grief leaving your body as you exhale. Cry if you need to, let it all out.

As you breathe in each new breath, you will feel lighter and free of old lung stagnation and congestion. Get your lungs moving, as you bathe them in oxygen. Give your lungs a workout by breathing fully and deeply into them every day. Feel your lungs as they expand all the way down your side body, belly and back. Continue this as your morning and evening rituals and you will see a change in daily breathing and sleep patterns as well. You will feel more full and satiated as you fill your belly with breath. Hot yoga is a great way to expand your lung space through breathing and stretching.

Prepare yourself for the winter months of hibernation by hunkering down and digging deep so you can reflect in December about the year that has passed and focus on the new beginnings that will come with the spring.

Cover yourself with a blanket of dirt (like the bulbs we plant in the fall) nourishing and preparing you for the winter months of hibernation:
Go to bed earlier, as it now gets darker earlier. I like to follow the Ayurvedic way. Kapha hour is between 6:00 and 10:00 so it’s a heavy time, time for a walk after an early 5:00 dinner and then bathe in sea salt, unwind and breathe preparing for a 10:00 bedtime. No later! If you wait, it gets too late.

It’s now Vata hour from 10:00-12:00. That’s an energetic time of night. Time to heal and rejuvenate while you sleep through the night.

Now it’s Pita hour at midnight - which is fire in the belly, if you’re up too late you might be tempted to make a milkshake. This becomes a vicious cycle, so break this habit now for the winter months when our bodies demand more sleep for maximum healing benefits.

Fall Harvest is a bountiful one. I love all the fall colors. Use these on your dinner plate. Squash of all kinds, rutabaga, parsnip, turnip and colorful carrots make a great stew that will warm the body and give it the vitamins and minerals it needs from the earth. I like to add a kombu stick in the stew. Kombu is from the seaweed family and is wonderful and necessary (find seaweed at Whole Foods in the asian section or at your local asian market). When our bodies are in perfect balance, they are the same mineral content as the sea.

1. Eat the bountiful harvest of root vegetables in warming stews and soups. This will aid in the grounding process and moisten the lungs in this dry season.

2. The seasonings of the season: Spice things up a bit and get creative while you keep your body efficiently fueled and insulated throughout the colder months. Try using the wonderful flavors of india, add some turmeric, cumin, fresh ginger, cayenne and cinnamon to your seasonal dishes. I make a wonderful cream of brown rice for breakfast and add an abundance of flavor with cinnamon, cumin and turmeric, not only great tasting but wonderful anti-inflammatory spices that help warm the body.

3. No more daily salads or tropical fruit accompanied by ice water, as it freezes the lungs in this already cool time of the year. No ice cream for you and the kids before bed, as it freezes the lung points and causes depletion of immune system, inflammation and too much mucus for this time of the year.

4. Tea, tea and more tea. Green tea, white tea, red, all day long and Sleepy Time for bed (kids too)!

5. You can use some castor oil with a linen cloth, found at Whole Foods or your local health food store, pour the oil onto your lungs and start to rub in-between the upper rib cage as you feel deep in-between the ribs. Breathe in and out as you feel your lungs working and cleansing. Lay the cloth on your well-oiled chest. The castor oil pulls toxins out of the lungs so you may start to cough. Learn to gain a sense of U as you massage in places on your chest that you may not have ever felt before. It’s okay if there are some parts that hurt, gently open them up and move the chi (energy) into those stagnant places.

6. DHU remedy for perfect winter health. If you do start presenting with a mucus-driven cold or upper respiratory infection, try my favorite concoction. I will warn you, it is not for the faint of heart and is nothing like Marry Poppins spoonful of sugar!

DHU concoction: Sambucal, cherry bark formula, oregano oil, echinechia/goldenseal tincture. You can suck on elderberry zinc lozenges and drink throat coat tea. All can be found at Whole Foods or your local health food store.

Now that we know how to better protect ourselves, we can bless the winter months, as they offer us the rest and rejuvenation we need after a summer of sun and play. 

As we move deeper into winter, it becomes kidney season. Let us prepare for the stillness of winter’s solitude by reflecting, going to a deeper place within ourselves as we nourish and nurture our bodies minds and spirits. Join the U for tips on this and more in the next DHU newsletter.

Health and light,

Dr. Dena