Woof woof! The year of the dog is approaching! In the lunar calendar, February 16 is the start of the Chinese Year of the Earth Dog.
What this means is that 2017’s hard-working and punctual rooster year will shift to the energies of the friendly, loyal and honest qualities of our canine friends.
This forthcoming dog year is predicted to be a grounding and confidence-inspiring year.
As we know, however, dogs are not always positive and friendly.
They can take their time trusting strangers, in part because they serve and protect those they love. If they feel threatened, they will not hide their aggression. They may even attack if they’ve been hurt or betrayed. For all their wonderful qualities, dogs can also be judgmental, sensitive to criticism (we all have seen a dog’s eyes when they know they’ve done something wrong!), and can tend toward dominating others. As highly emotional creatures, they can be exceptionally loving, but also quick to anger and driven by impulse.
What does the dog year mean for our health?
Well… for starters, all dogs love a daily walk or run. Regular exercise keeps dogs happy! Try a bit of active yoga or dynamic qigong in your routines. And, as an earth dog year, doing things that connect you to the earth is essential. Try going to parks, taking long walks in the country, or being close to the land. If you can, do some gardening or other work that keeps you close to the ground.
>>Try this Morning Practice for Fluidity and Flow>>
To keep your earth energy balanced, you also want to ensure sufficient affection, love and play – or qualities related to the fire element (in Chinese medicine, fire feeds the earth element). You may also want to attend to your diet by avoiding excess sugars and fats. If you have too many sugars or heavy foods that are hard to digest, it can create an excess in earth. This leads to too much energy in the respiratory system as well as the organs of elimination (lungs and large intestine, related to the metal element).
The most important meal
Earth animal years in Chinese medicine also relate to the digestive organs of the stomach and spleen. The stomach and spleen digest, churn and transport the nutrients we take in from food and convert them into energy or qi for the body. Eating a good hearty breakfast between 7 and 9 am is a great start. These are the hours the stomach is most active in the day. By eating a good breakfast, you can help stabilize the stomach qi and provide enough energy to sustain a good dog day of hard work or play.
And lastly, to meet the emotionally charged and quick-tempered year-of-the dog, there is no better art and skill than mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches us how to pause before we react. It offers us a mental training whereby we respond to situations with greater clarity and compassion. With mindfulness, we can temper the critical and aggressive characteristics of the dog, and begin to align ourselves with its more positive qualities of being energetic, loyal, playful and loving!
>>We recommend this Mindfulness Meditation on the Elements>>
Wishing you all a very happy start to the Year of the Dog! Woof woof!
Mimi has been a student of yoga since 1995 and an avid lover of dance since 1978, when her mother put her in ballet school for walking with turned-in toes. Mimi mainly teaches a breath and alignment-based vinyasa yoga that is cross-pollinated with aspects of Daoist and Buddhist teachings.