The year of the Yang Earth Dog started on Feb 16, 2018, so what might this mean for you and your health this year?

Yin and Yang, and the 5 Phases play key roles in Chinese Medicine. Yin is often described as the shadow side of the mountain and is a cooling, calming, moistening energy. Yang is described as the sunny side of the mountain and is a warming, active, drying energy. The 5 phases (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood) have many correspondences within the body and the environment. These phases all work together to nourish one another or keep each other in check.

From this perspective the Dog corresponds with the Earth energy and the year 2018 also radiates the energy of Earth. This double earth energy will make this year feel very grounded, harmonious and stable. This will be a pleasant relief after last year’s conflicting metal and fire energy. Being a yang year, however, will ensure the year is not too dull.

Dog year: Symbolically the Dog represents loyalty, faithfulness and protection. You’ll notice that those who have dogs in their lives often sing the praises of the companionship and unconditional love that these animals offer. As dogs are historically pack animals you may find more opportunities arise for gatherings of family and friends. This may lead to the strengthening of those bonds and cultivating more meaningful relationships over the year, helping you feel safe and supported. You may feel a greater sense of community as people gather together to accomplish what can’t be done alone.

Inertia: The double earth energy of this year is represented by the mountain which in Feng Shui can be either seen as a symbol of protection when the mountain lies behind you, or, one of obstacles when it lies ahead. The main obstacle you may encounter this year is inertia. Earth energy is greatly affected by the humidity which amplifies the feeling that someone has turned up gravity and stuffed your head with cotton wool. Fortunately, as this is an active and drying yang year, it shouldn’t be too hard to overcome the inertia. Call upon support from family and friends to help you keep moving towards your goals and also moving in general as we all understand the importance of regular exercise for good health.

Mother Earth: Earth energy also resonates with the archetype of Mother Earth which carries the theme of caring and nurturing. This will be a great year to really incorporate those random acts of kindness into your life. A simple smile or offer of help can make a world of difference to someone who is struggling. Be careful not to “over mother” others as not only does this not allow them to achieve any sense of accomplishment but you may find yourself drained. Keep your boundaries clear and remember that in order to best help others you need to look after yourself first.

The flip side of this is those who feel the need to be mothered, this year offers a great opportunity for you to work on learning to nourish yourself at all levels.

Grounding: One great way to nourish yourself in this earth year is to reconnect to mother earth. Grounding can be as simple as spending time with your toes on the grass or at the beach on the sand letting the ocean wash away your stress. The benefits include improved sleep, and reduced pain and stress. Read more about it here.

Health: The other great way to nourish yourself of course is to enjoy plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruit as provided by mother earth. The organs that correspond with the earth element are the digestive organs that receive the food we eat and transform it into nourishment for our body.

So this year the other obstacle that you may encounter is with digestive issues such as bowel problems (diarrhoea, constipation, or haemorrhoids); gas or bloating; food allergies or sensitivities; reflux or heartburn; managing blood sugar stability; or issues with weight gain or weight loss for example.

Food is our main source of energy. If you are not eating quality, seasonal foods that are right for your body type or if you’re not able to digest well you may have difficulty with fatigue, especially finding it hard to wake up in the morning. From a Chinese body clock perspective, the digestive system is strongest in the morning between 7am and 9am. If you have digestive issues then early mornings tend to be the hardest. To help strengthen your digestion and improve your energy levels, start the day with a warm, nourishing breakfast, it really is the most important meal of the day. Ideally you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince (11am-1pm), and dinner like a pauper (5pm-7pm) for optimal energy and digestion. Taking time to enjoy your meals with friends and family can be especially nourishing.

If you are struggling with any of these issues or are wanting to re energise then a course of acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs may be just what you need to help you get back on track. If you want some great ideas on what to eat watch some of my food as medicine webinars.

Another health focus for this earth year is mucous and phlegm. Chinese medicine attributes mucous and phlegm production to an imbalance in the digestive system such as allergies, sensitivities and poor digestion. This phlegm is usually felt in the sinuses and lungs but can also be seen in any masses, cysts, or growths that show up. The foods that tend to aggravate phlegm production include dairy products, bananas, peanuts, too much deep fried fatty foods, or too much fruit and sugar. Too much cold and raw food also puts a strain on your digestive system and can put out your digestive fire. So if you find yourself all congested make a change to your diet until everything has dried up and then slowly reintroduce foods one at a time and see how your body responds.

Emotional health: Nourishing yourself is not just about the food you eat but also about the thoughts you think. How you digest life and process your thoughts and feelings is often reflected in your digestive health. Poor digestion may result in cloudy thinking and lack of clarity and people who tend to over think, or worry a lot invariably end up with digestive problems.

The earth energy reflects the energy of late summer, a time to slow down and acknowledge the fruits of your labours. It’s harvest time so the work you have done on yourself to strengthen your body, mind and spirit, to cultivate meaningful relationships and find inspiring careers will all determine the quality of the harvest you reap and then what you have to share with others. Take some time this year to reflect on your life, what is working and what needs to change? Remember that within each harvest lie the seeds of the next.

Have a wonderful Dog year.

Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.

For further information on Chinese Medicine  contact  Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling). Tania is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine  (AHPRA  registered) in  Kingsford  and  is a Contract Academic  at the  Endeavour College of Natural Health  Sydney campus.