The WATER Phase in Asian Medicine The Water Phase is the Time of Stillness


the Water Phase as water, snow and ice

Water is a great healer.  Think of how peaceful you feel by the oceanside, or soaking at the hot springs . . . and how restored you feel at the end of your stay.

The Water Phase of Asian Medicine represents the ability to flow through life with ease and grace.  An easy, graceful, steadiness requires a tranquil nervous system and good quality rest as the ground for enabling that flow.



The Asian medical classics say the Kidney energy (yin), which includes the adrenal glands, is that of a strong and capable minister of government who exhibits technical ability and expertise. The Bladder energy (yang) is like a local minister who works to adjust the supply and demand of water in outlying areas. In this way they work together like supervisors over all the various organs and functions.

Water as waves in a Japanese painting

The WATER PHASE of Asian medicine regulates the hormonal and nervous systems.  If you are a Water-type person, when you are in balance, you are calm and even, you enjoy physical activity and are well-coordinated. Also, you possess the energy, strength and will to persevere in your endeavors. Although you may be tired at the end of the day from working hard, you will fall deeply asleep, waking up refreshed and restored.

But, when you are out of balance, you may tend to overwork, and yet never finish what you start because you have a hard time finding the perseverance required to stick with it. Or, you may tend to startle easily, be timid or fearful, or exhibit excessive nervous energy. You might even be hyper-vigilant, over-react to things and appear to be “on your last nerve.”



Water Phase ailment

The WATER PHASE encompasses the element of water in all its states, from steam to water to ice. The most common complaint associated with the Bladder and Kidney meridians is low back pain and stiffness.  Your back “freezes up” like water does in Winter, which is the season associated with the Water Element. Headaches at the base of the skull or at the forehead are also typical. Shiatsu is an excellent remedy for such complaints. Acupuncture and chiropractic may also help. Find out what Shiatsu can do for you here.

Water Phase prevention for low back stiffness

In Asia it is common in winter to wear something warm around your belly and low back – called a hara maki – in addition to the scarf around your neck, as the low back is very vulnerable to cold.You can order then from Amazon. Check it out here.

However, if that doesn’t suit you, you can try rubbing the area of your back around your kidneys vigorously before going out into the cold and again when you come in, just as you rub your hands together to warm them. In addition, exercise that takes you inward and emphasizes low back health is excellent. Yoga, qigong and Alexander Technique are good choices. Or check out this YouTube instructional video on self-massage for the back.



Good sleep is especially important during the Water Phase

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE WATER PHASE – In winter it is best to conserve your energy by staying warm, getting good nutrition, and keeping a harmonious balance between activity and rest.  And sleep is absolutely essential for maintaining health.  It is common to need more sleep in the winter, so go ahead and get that nine or ten hours you’ve been needing. It’s justified!

TWO TYPES OF  REST ARE IMPORTANT: one is recuperative sleep, as always; the other is just as important, especially at this time of year — it is the type that does not require sleep, but quiets your whole being. It restores your soul so that you can dream the dream your spirit yearns to realize. Winter is the perfect time to read, paint, write or journal, plan your garden, etc. Any quiet creative endeavor that helps you stay “in the flow” of your true self fosters a healthy functioning Water Element. This is a good time to start or give attention to your meditation practice.


Hearty soups support a good Water Phase diet

Regarding foods that are good during the Water Phase: at this time of year, you can best maintain body heat by eating a diet of mostly carbohydrates and proteins. Hearty soups and casseroles with lots of root vegetables are wonderful. Red beans, black beans, lentils and split peas are also excellent. If you use whole grains, barley and buckwheat make splendid additions that support the Water Element in this cold season. Also, cold drinks (especially cold beer or soft drinks with ice) are especially harmful. Do drink lots of water and avoid too many dehydrating and stimulant drinks.

Plentiful hydration supports your Water Element health

Your entire body needs water to function properly. Making sure to drink plenty of water is good for you. You will quickly see improvement in your skin, hair, and energy levels.

5 Hydration Tips

1.  Drink a full glass of water right after waking up. Drinking water at certain times of day can be super efficient for your body. This helps your body get a good start and gets your brain revving for the day.  Hot water with lemon is the perfect morning beverage! You will also want to drink water between meals and with your meals to aid in digestion.
2.  Add some zip to your water.  Make things a little more exciting by adding fruit, herbs, or veggies to your water.  Try this:  Fill a pitcher at night with water, slices of fresh (or frozen) strawberries, and cucumbers or lemons as well as a few mint leaves.  Let it sit overnight in the fridge and in the morning your taste buds will thank you!
3.  Track Your Water. Set an alarm on your phone throughout the day to remind you to drink, or even install a water tracking app!  Though it can vary, the general rule of thumb is to drink 2-3 cups of water per hour.
4.  Always have water on hand!  Especially at work, it can be easy to put off drinking water until your next break.  Not drinking enough water at work will slow down your energy and can impact your performance.
5.  Increase Water intake when Exercising. If you exercise regularly, make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your exercise routine.  Aim for 7-10 oz about every 15-20 minutes during your workout.



So stay cozy, rest well, eat warming food, incubate your dreams, and cultivate your true self and deep nature. Remember, snow and ice are just water in one of its forms. The thaw is coming, so don’t lose your sense of fluidity, power and freedom. This is the season of stillness; of silence. Be aware of this, and remember, often, that . . .

If you use this time to quiet yourself and meditate,

your inner wisdom will arise like a wave out of the ocean!

Hello Wisdom!




    • WinterJade says:

      This season always does put me in a poetic frame of mind. It makes me very happy to hear that it comes across. Thank you for telling me.

  1. Daniela says:

    Infinite thanks for this useful and easily applicable information for the bossy and Spirit. You’re always present 🙌💌!

    • WinterJade says:

      Thank you,Jody, glad you find it worthwhile. That means a lot coming from you. it’s so nice to hear from you! Hope you are doing well. BTW, just so you know . . . next month I’m coming up on the 5th anniversary of being ordained in my Cherokee tradition. So my legal name is now my Cherokee name, Winter Jade Forest. I go by Jade.

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