Wednesday, February 4 is the Beginning of Spring (Li Chun) for 2015 and thus the beginning of the new solar year! The Lunar New Year (known as Chun Jie 春節 in Chinese) begins on Thursday, February 19. The Beginning of Spring marks the growing Yang influences in the natural world. By this date we are only about 6 weeks away from the Vernal Equinox (Chun Fen 春分), one of the times of year where the Yang and Yin are balanced and we have more equal day and night. But even now, with cold weather lingering (today was very cold and snowy here!), the days are getting longer and in northern NJ where I am, in the morning I am hearing some songbirds starting to return
This is the time of year for new beginnings. It is also time to continue growing the ever expanding Yang in our bodies so as to mimic the expanding Yang in the natural world. One of the basic health exercise recommendations for Beginning of Spring is to comb the hair (or head if there is no hair) frequently. In Chinese, this is called “Shu Fa 梳法,” or “combing therapy.” Combing therapy has been around since at least the Sui dynasty, and is found in both Yang Sheng texts as well as Tuina manuals.
To apply Combing Therapy comb the hair (or scalp) daily, 100 times each sitting. This can be done either in the morning upon waking or in the evening before bed. The traditional recommendation is to use a comb of either bone or wood. That said, simply combing with the fingers is even more effective since the fingers actually contain Qi (which bone and wood do not). This is such a simple exercise, that patients can be taught to do this as well.
Combing has several functions. By stimulating the head we are stimulating the top of the body, meaning the most Yang area of the body. Since Spring is a time of ever growing Yang, stimulating the Yang area of the body is appropriate. Gently working the surface of the body also stimulates Wei Qi movement in the head and channels of the head. This in turn helps expel wind, and avoiding wind is one of the basic “avoids” for the Beginning of Spring. Furthermore, the scalp is a microsystem of the entire body, so stimulating the channels on the scalp actually mobilizes Qi and Blood in the entire body.
So, everyone should start combing their hair and scalp frequently. In the blog post I’ll discuss some diet and a recipe or two.