Nourishing Life

Cultivating the Art of Change

Yang Sheng Fa

Promoting Patterns of Healthy Living

Cycles in nature and life are a constant, and how we interact with them affects our health. The skill of yang sheng is to develop a dynamic lifestyle that works with - and not against - the seasonal changes, the wax and wane of day and night, of moon and sun, and the natural course of our own lifetime. The reward is optimum health of body and mind in accordance with our constitution.

According to Chinese Medicine, our constitutional strength and vitality is determined by our jing or 'essence', the ancestral code that generates and governs the course of our lifetime. Beginning with conception the rapid unfolding of embryonic, foetal and childhood development towards sexual maturity is seen as the blossoming of jing, and the far slower process of ageing towards a natural death reflects the inevitable decline of jing. This pre-natal or yuanjing is a finite resource. Every metabolic activity in our lifetime consumes jing, and we can either deplete it at a much faster rate than we replenish it, or we can nourish and conserve what we have and use it wisely. The practice of Nourishing Life is to engage intelligently with both this inner resource and environmental forces that surround us so that we may live our life to its highest potential: Nourishing life to nourish spirit. 

If you are recovering from illness or injury, or want to optimise treatment at Xin Yao:

Hydrate

After any bodywork drinking plenty of fluids is essential for flushing out any toxins that have been released during treatment. Equally during illness and injury good hydration is needed for healthy cellular function.

  • Hydrate your body with spring water that has not been chemically treated.  
  • Drink plenty of warm liquids such as herbal teas and broths, and eat sufficient vegetables and fruit.  Mineral-rich dashi broth provides excellent hydration.
  • Avoid ice and chilled drinks as a warm internal environment supports the free circulation of qi, blood and fluids.

Eat simple, clean and vibrant food

If your health is compromised or in repair mode it is important that you eat food that is full of life-force yet easy to digest. Your body needs to be able to easily transform your food into nourishment and not be burning energy trying to assimilate food that is difficult to process. Instead that energy can be free to support healing.

  • Eat fresh, local and organic food to acquire the most qi for reparation and not overload your system with unwanted toxins. 
  • Avoid foods that are processed, greasy and fatty, hot and spicy, high in dairy, sugar and salt. Reduce intake of cold and raw foods.  
  • Lean in towards cooked foods; porridges and congees, gently spiced soups, broths and stews, chicken and fish, and lightly steamed vegetables.
  • Add bone broths to your diet if you can as they are particularly beneficial for healing. Rich in collagen, essential amino acids and minerals, they can promote healing of soft tissue and bone, repair the gut lining, improve arterial elasticity and much more. These stocks can be added to stews, soups and congees.

Eat mindfully and regularly

Our body likes regularity and your digestive system primes itself to your eating rhythms. Be reliable!

  • Eat well in the morning time when the qi of the digestive organs is at its strongest for assimilating food. Eat less at lunchtime and make your smallest meal in the evening ideally at least three hours before bedtime.

According to Chinese Medicine, stress and overthinking can injure the digestive system.

  • Eat seated, talking time to chew and enjoy your meal!
  • Don't distract yourself with information in print or on screen.
  • Don't eat when hurried, stressed or emotionally upset.

Nourish your Blood

Healthy blood will nourish the organs, tissues, sinews and tendons with qi and vital substances, making them supple and vital. According to Chinese Medicine healthy blood also helps to anchor and calm the mind and can reduce anxiety, depression and insomnia.

  • Nourish blood with dark leafy greens, deep red fruit and vegetables such as beetroot, red cabbage, red grapes, cherries, plums and goji berries. Include seaweeds and try introducing small amounts of blue-green algae such as spirulina or chlorella into your diet. If you eat animal products make a bone broth and eat organic meats such as chicken, lamb and liver. Sea bass, squid and eggs are also beneficial. 
  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee, black tea, chocolate and alcohol.
  • Maintain a balance between good rest and physical activity to strengthen blood production and renewal.

Rest Well

Sleep is restorative, a time to replenish qi and jing so that they can support healthy functioning of body and mind.

  • Ensure sufficient sleep and go to bed early. Sleep during the time between 10pm and 2am is especially potent for immune system repair, hormonal regulation and for rebuilding qi and jing.
  • Avoid highly charged emotional states before going to bed.
  • Avoid working on a screen at least 2 hours before going to bed and have wifi and all devices in your room switched off at night.
  • If you have trouble sleeping try decluttering your bedroom, changing the orientation of your bed, letting more fresh air in (without causing a draught), and forgo excessive alcohol consumption.

Balance rest with movement

Whilst rest is important to restore the body and mind, movement is also restorative and has an important role to play in preventing stagnation. Depending on your condition, make sure you find ways to regularly stretch and mobilise the soft tissues and joints to support the healthy circulation of qi, blood and body fluids.

Use your breath

Even and relaxed abdominal breathing nourishes the body more deeply with qi than shallow or restricted breathing. This nourishment comes not only from the air we breathe but from the movement of breath. Free and rhythmic movement of the diaphragm massages the internal organs, promoting the circulation of vital substances around them and thereby enhancing their function. Breathing predominantly from the upper chest will deprive your body of healthy qi circulation, create postural imbalances and will reinforce any tendency towards flightiness, anxiety and depression. Healthy breathing patterns on the other hand contribute significantly to ease of digestion and sleep, greater vitality and calmness of mind.

  • If you don't already have a breathing practice, set aside time each day to observe your breath whilst seated or lying down. Breath deeply into your abdomen in a relaxed manner and use your breath to discharge any tension, especially in your diaphragm, abdomen and lower back.
  • Living in a polluted area will inhibit deep breathing. Make sure you access fresh air and get into nature regularly. Sea and forest air are the most cleansing and invigorating for your being.

Regulate sexual activity

Orgasm will relax the body, calm the mind and move qi as well as enhancing intimate connection. However for males a main cause of jing depletion is through ejaculation. For this reason, sexual excess can hinder the healing process and effect overall vitality.

  • Avoid ejaculation when tired, stressed, emotional, ill, or recovering from injury.
  • Avoid having sex under the influence of intoxicants as it will further deplete the jing and scatter the qi.
  • As you age jing naturally declines. Gradually decrease frequency of ejaculation as you get older to conserve your jing and maintain vitality.

Regulate emotions

Extreme emotional disturbances drain the body of vitality, weakening the protective wei qi and depleting jing to leave one more prone to illness and injury. Due to their energetic anatomy, women are especially prone to leaking jing via their emotions.

  • Foster conditions that promote peace of mind and serenity of heart
  • Reduce activities that overstimulate your body and mind, especially when ill or injured.
  • The simple self-regulatory acts of sleeping, eating, exercising and breathing well will help to stabilise your emotional environment and enhance wellbeing.

Healing Broths

You'll often hear us recommending bone broths as a cure-all remedy. For injury and illness recovery, healing the gut, for skin, eye and brain health to name just some; few foods support the body's regenerative capacity quite like bone broth. Rich in collagen, essential amino acids and minerals, this jing building food is a primary household medicine that is inexpensive and makes use out of what would be waste.  

We thought it helpful to leave cooking guidelines here. If you don't eat animals then a nourishing dashi or miso broth is a fair and tasty equivalent of which we've also left recipes below.

How to make a bone broth

Sourcing

It is important to obtain bones directly from a local producer who rears animals ethically and naturally, being mindful that the quality of the animal's nourishment, environment and experience is stored in the marrow which you will be extracting for your own nourishment. For this reason wild animals are very good, so if you have a source make good use of it!

Chicken:  After a chicken roast, strip the chicken for remaining flesh and set that aside.  Remove fatty parts such as the skin. With the remaining bones and flesh, smash with a pestle or a knife (that you don't mind blunting) to expose the marrow. Alternatively obtain some old laying hens and cut whole carcasses into sections.

Beef:  Ask for joints such as the knee or ankle which are high in cartilage and leg bones which have plenty of marrow to be sawn into smaller pieces.

Fish:  Ask your local monger for fresh carcasses including heads.

Roasting

It is not necessary to roast fish bones or re-roast bones that have come from a roast dinner. Other raw bones should be browned in the oven to open up the flavour and render the fat. Lay bones on an oven tray at roast at 180C for 20-30 minutes.

Slow Cooking

Add bones to a slow cooker or stewing pot and cover with plenty of water (chemical-free).  Add a couple of table spoons of vinegar which will help to extract minerals such as calcium from the bones and loosen the collagen. Add a roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery stick for some extra colour, flavour and supportive food energetics. Other popular additions are bayleaf and black peppercorns but don't add salt as this can be added later when using the broth in a recipe. Cook at a very low heat - bringing close to a boil and then just a gentle simmer. Boiling the stock will turn the broth cloudy and slightly bitter. Be sure to top up the water if the stock is reducing too much.

Slow cook a beef stock for  24 - 48 hours, a chicken stock for 18 - 24 hours, and a fish stock for 1 - 2 hours.


Adding Medicinals

Because a bone broth brings nourishment to the deep interior of the body, it is very useful as a carrier for medicinal herbs. These can be added at the beginning of the slow cook. For an example astragalus root, chinese yam and shiitake mushroom will help to boost qi, dang guai and Sichuan lovage root will nourish and invigorate the blood, and sea vegetables such as kombu (kelp) and dulse will nourish the kidneys as well as add rich mineral content. Ask your Chinese Medical practitioner to recommend herbs appropriate to your health needs.

Straining and Cooling

When the stock is finished cooking, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the bones and meat pieces. Then pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl to remove smaller pieces such as vegetables and herbs. Leave the fluid to cool. Remaining fat will rise to the surface (and may harden depending on type) and can be easily skimmed off the top of the stock (and used for cooking if you so wish).  After removing fat, transfer the stock into containers for storage. The stock should be gelatinous when chilled; the more gelatinous your stock is, the more collagen you have successfully extracted.

Storing

Bone broth should last up to a week in a refrigerator and can also be frozen for later use.

Cooking Uses

Use your bone broth as you would any stock - as a foundation for soups, stews, sauces and savoury congees. Some people like to simply warm it and drink it straight. We suggest using recipes without hot peppers and garlic - these are dispersive in action whilst the bone broth acts to ground and consolidate - make the most of these healing properties!

Add our Herbal Broth Blend to the pot

Tonic Broth Blend of Chinese Herbs

A sweet and earthy blend of Chinese herbs used traditionally in soups to nourish qi and blood, strengthen the digestive and respiratory system, boost immunity and fight fatigue.

Made with DaoDi herbs and organic dried fruit for optimum nutritional benefit

Making vegan dashi broth

For a broth high in mineral content and rich in umami flavour, a vegan dashi helps to nourish the kidneys and boost qi.

INGREDIENTS:

6 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 strip of kombu

1 litre or more of spring or filtered water

DIRECTIONS:
  • Place kombu and shiitake in a bowl and cover with boiling water.
  • In half an hour, mushrooms should be plump.  Remove their stems and slice.
  • Return the sliced mushrooms with the kombu and liquid to a pan with water and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Strain liquid to remove vegetables, saving mushrooms for another dish. Your dashi broth is now ready! Sip it as it is, add to a miso soup, congee or other recipe requiring stock.  

Making miso soup

Miso soup can be enjoyed throughout all seasons as a gentle and nourishing tonic. In spring try adding sprouts and leafy greens, in summer radish and mange tout, at harvest bring in carrots, in autumn pumpkin and foraged mushrooms, and in wintertime fortify with black or aduki beans.

A supportive food for the digestive system, high quality miso is a probiotic fermented from a base of soy beans, rice or barley. In order to maintain its beneficial bacteria it should not be heated. Instead add it to the end of any cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

1 litre vegan dashi

Seasonal vegetables

3-4 tablespoons of red or white miso

DIRECTIONS:
  • Stir fry your vegetables for a few minutes before adding your dashi broth and bring to a simmer. (Some fresh ginger is a great addition at this point).
  • Within 10 or so minutes of simmering and while your veg is still bright take the pan off the heat.
  • Add miso just before serving.
  • Serve miso soup with a dash of rice wine vinegar, fresh leafy herbs and if you like; some sauerkraut, scallions, toasted nuts or seeds... Stir-fried tofu or a lightly boiled egg is a more substantial addition.

If you haven't made a dashi broth before hand that's no problem! Soak your shiitakes and seaweed in boiling water. Once plump, remove the stems from the mushrooms and slice. Add the mushrooms, seaweed and liquid on to your stir-fried vegetables and bring to the simmer as instructions above. This time you get to enjoy the texture of the mushrooms and sea vegetables in the broth.