It was a chilly 17th of December that we arranged the final health workshop of this year at Miyama Satoyama-sha. The theme that has heavily coloured workshops over the last quarter, namely heating our bodies, was yet again further explored. Dr. Ito, his students, a few local assistants as well as the staff, eagerly awaited the arrival of the participants in the warm shelter of Satoyama-sha’s main building.
Chilled to the Bone?
Once all participants had turned up we gathered around the table to get our customary health check done and dealt with before plunging directly into the lecture of the day. Up until this session we have received a lot of good advice on measures that will help prevent our bodies from cooling down. This time, however, we divulged further into the depths of the different types of sensitivity for cold.
Primarily people are known to suffer from one of three main types of cold sensitivity. It is important, Dr. Ito explained, to be aware of these types, as being able to put yourself into one of the categories can greatly help in choosing the most effective method for boosting the body’s heat production. Every single body is different, and should thus be treated in a manner tailored to suit its specific needs.
The first type of cold sensitivity, where the affected suffers an inability to produce sufficient amounts of heat to warm their bodies, manifests as follows:
– constant feeling of cold, and don’t sweat even on hot days
– feeling weak, and finding even light exercise very draining
– feeling lethargic and slow
– eat light meals and have an insufficient water consumption
– need to use the bathroom often
Those who suffer from the second type of cold sensitivity, the type carrying heat in their stomach, are known to present the following characteristics:
– sweaty hands and feet
– weak against changes in temperature
– feel cold but are actually warm to the touch
– suffer from diarrhea and constipation by turns
– despite eating lots they stay thin
Finally, the third, and according to Dr. Ito, most common type of cold sensitivity is one where those troubled by it have lost the ability to adjust their body’s ability to transport heat. This type often sports
the following symptoms:
– cold hands and feet, while the upper body is hot
– a life rhythm that is thrown off balance
– find it hard to sleep at night
– suffer from chronic stress
– sweaty palms
When we had all figured out which category we recognized ourselves in the most, we received some helpful advice on what we can do in our everyday lives to tackle the symptoms.
Nourish Your Warmth Back
Post lecture we moved on to some simple stretches that were devised to engaged our feet, as these were a body part the majority of the participants confessed they found hard to spread heat into; dead man’s feet. The participants also received some tips on where to locate some of the acupuncture points in our bodies that are connected to heat production, and were advised to lightly massage them or otherwise keep them warm.
While Dr. Ito finished off his lecture, his students started preparing ingredients for a sweet, nourishing drink consisting of apple, honey, ginger and hot water. On cold days this drink is an excellent option for rekindling the flame at the core of our bodies. Not only was it a hot drink, but the ingredients themselves all have heating properties; so called yang foods.
Having consumed this delicious little drink it was time for our participants to sit down for a healthy meal. The menu of the day consisted of three different types of mochi rice cakes (plain, black bean and fermented soy bean) as well as kasujiru (sake-lees soup) which, in line with the earlier lecture, was filled with warming yang vegetables.
Reinvigorate Your Mind with Kadomatsu
The last activity for the day was making traditional Japanese New Year’s ornaments, namely kadomatsu. Kadomatsu are a decoration typically made of pine, bamboo and plum-tree branches, and are commonly placed in front of peoples homes in order to welcome kami (spirits). The table was almost palpitating with excitement, as everyone was eager to get started.
Dr. Ito explained that both physical and mental exercises are important for the body to be able to maintain its health and balance. On days when you have a lot of pent up stress, or are perhaps just feeling anxious in general, constructing kadomatsu might not be the brightest idea, as a mind in turmoil is hard to focus and the purpose of the exercise is then lost. On the other hand, he filled in, when you are unable to exercise, maybe due to a cold or injury, making kadomatsu (or similar activities that engage the mind and your creativity) are superb reconstructional exercises, providing the mind with the calm, mindful outlet it needs to function at its best.
After a good hour of twining Japanese straw ropes, and arranging the different components of the kadomatsu to their satisfaction, the participants had almost all completed their New Year’s decorations. Whilst waiting for the last few stragglers to put in their finishing touches, the conversation flowed freely at the table, creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.
A group picture and a health evaluation later the final workshop of this year was brought to an end. Some participants lingered at Satoyama-sha to undergo additional acupuncture (as customary we always give the participants a chance to use the gomoen-bath and sauna, as well as receive additional acupuncture and/or moxibustion). With this blog post we at Satoyama-sha would like to thank all participants for making these workshops possible. We wish you a peaceful New Year, and hope to see you all back (as well as new faces) next year, when we’ll be kicking off the workshops with miso-making on the 28th of January.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!