In the last yoga retreat we talked about living in rhythm with the seasons to help improve overall health and wellbeing. As well as discussing positive actions you can take during each season to improve overall health, we specifically talked about the 24 hour Qi clock in relation to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Personally I am fascinated with Eastern thinking and when east meets west, I truly believe exciting things can happen and you can really optimise your health and wellbeing.
So what does the 24 hour Qi Clock mean?
According to TCM, the body has a 24 hour cycle which affects our Qi (energy). Every 2 hours of the day a different organ and meridian system is energised. It is believed that each organ has an anatomical quality, as well as an energetic, emotional and mental quality.
Note: The Meridian system comprises of meridian lines running through the body. They exist in corresponding pairs with many acupuncture points along them. Meridian lines are seen to be highways or channels where energy/ Qi flows.
By living in sync with the 24 hour cycle, we can save our Qi, create balance and restore health.
So here is the 24 hour Qi clock....
7AM-9AM relates to the stomach. This time is when the digestive system is optimal. According to TCM, the stomach is said to be the emotional centre of the body, where we hold onto negative energy, worry, fear. This is the perfect time to meditate, breath out concerns or worries and then indulge in a healthy breakfast.
9AM-11AM relates to the spleen which is the largest organ in the lymphatic system and keeps bodily fluids balanced. It is the most important digestive organ (according to TCM). The spleen is said to reflect our thoughts and intentions. Low spleen energy can include symptoms of fatigue, caused by over thinking and over working. In order to restore this energy, relax where possible, practise control over destructive thought patterns and reduce sweet foods from your diet.
11AM-1PM relates to the heart, so it is a great time to express feelings. Avoid vigorous exercise during this time and instead meet with friends or listen to music. It is important to eat a balanced diet abundant in antioxidant-rich organic (where possible) vegetables and healthy fats to keep the heart healthy.
3PM-5PM relates to the bladder; the storage site for urine which we eliminate fluid waste and is the longest meridian line in the body. Feeling depressed at this time indicates you need to explore issues involving jealousy or resentment. It is a great time to let of fears! In terms of nutrition, salty foods such as miso and savoury soups encourage bladder energy.
5PM-7PM relates to the kidneys; our energy store house and reservoir of life force for the entire body. Kidneys are said to act as step-up transformers and when energy is low and we are over-working, it is the kidneys which give us that vital energy to perform and push through. Therefore use this time to switch off from the day and acknowledge your skills and strengths, laugh! Foods to strengthen kidney Qi include lamb, kidney beans, walnuts, pumpkin and plums.
9PM-11PM relates to the triple burner which has no corresponding organ, but is said to metabolise all bodily fluids. During this time digestion, elimination and nourishment of the immune system are all taking place. Therefore this is the optimum time for sleep and relaxation.
11PM-1AM relates to the gallbladder which is a small sac into which the bile from the liver flows. It is associated with courage and the use of wise judgement. Any problems making decisions, nervousness or dreams of anger and frustration are linked with imbalances here. In terms of nutrition, hydrogenated oils (note: hydrogenated oils are vegetable oils where the chemical structure has been altered to prevent rancidity and increases shelf life) damage the gallbladder. To aid the gallbladder, regularly eat fresh green vegetables, and replace hydrogenated oils with flaxseed and olive oils.
1AM-3AM relates to the liver which is responsible for detoxifying the body both physically and emotionally. The strongest linked emotions here are anger, frustration, bitterness and resentment. It is the best time to be asleep to really allow maximum energy to be diverted for detoxification. If you find you wake during this time, it may well indicate that your liver needs some cleansing! To help with this, eat leafy green vegetables and drink dandelion teas.
3AM-5AM relates to the lungs which is where wisdom is said to derive. The lungs are inked to emotions such as grief and sadness. If you wake during this time, you may need to explore any stored emotions. Sleep with your window open to get fresh air which will help to calm the respiratory system. Practice yoga -not that I am biased ; ) and learn to breath correctly, as opposed to shallow breathing where your lungs are not fully utilised.
As it's approaching 5pm while I am concluding this, I am going to switch off (as best I can with a 14 month old clinging to my legs) and I will certainly laugh! : )
Photo credit Ales Krivec