Walking with Wind: Transitioning Gracefully into Autumn
As we continue our transition into the Yin-dominant part of the year, moving from the Late Summer to Autumn season, we become increasingly exposed to windy, mercurial weather. This is an especially destabilizing time of year, as our bodies can have quite a difficult time adapting and recalibrating in the face of highly invasive Wind, which weakens our natural defenses and increases susceptibility to pathogens. Indeed, Wind is considered to be the basic underlying cause of many imbalances / illnesses in TCM, including respiratory issues, allergies, colds, flus, joint and muscle pain, skin conditions, and headaches.
The concept of Wind in TCM refers to both an external environmental factor as well as an internal pattern of disharmony. Wind is considered one of the six external pathogenic forces (amongst Cold, Heat, Dampness, Dryness, and Fire) that can affect the body's balance.
When Wind invades, the body's defensive capabilities are weakened such that, in physiological terms, the pores in our skin become “loose,” allowing pathogens into our bodies. In TCM, this phenomenon is understood in a more energetic sense of compromised Wei Qi (the conceptual shield guarding our bodies). The Wei Qi is one of the body’s crucial and innate mechanisms for restoring balance and supporting adaptability – including through all seasonal transitions, and it is intimately connected to optimal Lung function.
The Lungs are associated with Autumn and during this time of year, they’re at the greatest risk of being harmed by Wind (not to mention Dryness and Cold). We can benefit greatly from paying extra attention to this organ system that governs not only our breath but also our Qi – the abundance, quality, and unobstructed flow of which is foundational to our ability to experience vibrant health. Playing a crucial role in the regulation of our overall Qi, the Lungs additionally govern the circulation of Wei Qi specifically, fortifying the body’s boundary to invasion by pathogens carried by Wind.
You might recognize a few of our recommendations to protect from Wind and support the Lungs; you may have even considered some of them old wives’ tales. Quite often, there’s at least a grain of truth in any advice passed down throughout many generations. We are here to uplift ancient wisdom for modern wellness with some simple suggestions:
- Protect the “Wind gate” on the back of the neck by wearing a scarf, especially when it’s cold or windy outside. This prevents Wind invasion and keeps the neck warm, which helps keep Qi and Blood circulation smooth and unobstructed.
- Stay warm to cultivate internal Yang that can help balance external Yin, also preventing the constriction of Blood vessels and/or disruptions to the flow of Qi. You can achieve warmth with clothing, by incorporating warming herbs like ginger and garlic to meals, and through movement practices.
- Deeply nourish the Wei Qi and Lungs with Astragalus, which you can also add to chicken soup for robust immune support.
- Prevent Dampness in the body by following TCM’s pro-metabolic dietary guidelines; it’s especially important to limit cold and raw foods during this time of year.
- Lubricate internally and externally! Tremella is a wonderful ally for the internal moistening of Yin fluids, protecting the mucous membranes. It has a specific affinity for the Lungs, which can be severely compromised by Dryness.
- Embrace the spirit of Autumn by whipping up nourishing treats that happen to support the Lungs, like these baked pears with Cordyceps and cinnamon.