At autumn equinox, the climate is neither cold nor hot; day and night are equally divided and yin and yang are in equilibrium.
The whole air is refreshed by the cool breeze of autumn and a rich perfume of osmanthus blossoms is wafted everywhere.
Autumnal equinox is the fourth solar term in the fall. As the solar term with the same day and night time, according to the sayings in Plain Conversation in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, while in the health preservation, it’s necessary to keep yin and yang of the body in equilibrium.
Getting up and going to bed early, fostering the lung qi
It’s said in Plain Conversation that “in the three months of autumn, it’s better for people to go to bed and get up early, with the same living habits as chicken.” The reason to go to bed early is to follow the reservation of yin essence so as to “receive” the qi; and the reason to get up early is to follow the comfortable extension of yang qi so that the lung qi could smooth out. The sleep postures also vary from person to person. Long-lived elderly people generally lie on side when sleeping, with bowed position on the right side as most common. It is in line with what the old saying goes that: “Lying like bow”. The correct sleep posture is that one elbow is bent and placed in front of the pillow, and the other hand is naturally placed on the thigh; lie on the right side, with the legs slightly curved, and the whole body is relaxed. For patients with heart failure, a semi-recumbent position should be used. Patients with emphysema should be supine, with a slightly higher head and slightly extended hands to keep the breathing open. If patients with gastric ulcer lie on the right side, it will greatly increase the reflux of the acidic liquid flowing from the stomach to the esophagus, which will cause burning pain in the stomach, so it’s better to lie on the left side.
Tai Chi five animals exercise, gentle movement
Autumn is a good time to exercise, but in this season, as the human yin and yang are in a convergent internal stage, the exercise should also follow this principle, namely the amount of exercise should not be too heavy to prevent excessive sweating and yang loss. The practice of five animals exercise, Tai Chi, eight trigrams boxing are all suitable, combined with “static qigong”, for instance, six-character formula, reciting the exhalation exercise, qigong, fixation, etc., so that the activity and inertia could be associated to strengthen the body and cultivate the personality.
Combining the clear and rich and it’s better not to be greasy
The weather in autumn is dry, therefore, after the autumnal equinox, spicy food should not be eaten more. You can eat more fruits and vegetables with spicy, sour, savory flavors or the ones with lung-lowering effect, for instance, autumn pear, white radish, carrot, lotus root, water chestnut, sugar cane, citrus, hawthorn, apple, grape, lily, white fungus, yam and persimmon, which are all effective fruits and vegetables that restrain autumn dryness. From ancient times, there’re customs to nourish in autumn, however, nowadays the normal nutritional intake of people has already exceeded the daily needs, so the current autumnal diet should not be greasy. The past fleshing out in autumn is not suitable for the present situation.
Peace and tranquility relieve the loneliness and depression
Traditional Chinese medicine believes that from the perspective of “the correspondence between heaven and people”, lung belongs to metal, matches with the qi in autumn and manages the breathing, and the mental change of the lung is worry. People with lung qi deficiency are sensitive to changes in autumn climate, especially some middle-aged and elderly people who witness the autumn and cold rain, the fading of flowers and trees, and the depression of all things often feel sad, with desolate, coveted feelings in their heart, and are prone to depression. At this time, they should maintain peace of mind, slow down the suffocating qi, and converge on the spirit. The elderly can talk less, climb mountains more and let the bad moods such as depression and sorrow dissipate to adapt to the autumn atmosphere.
(Jing’an District Chinese Medicine Hospital)