Just as January 1st marks a fresh start in many Western countries, the Lunar New Year, too, offers a chance for reflection and renewal.  

In many Asian cultures, the Lunar New Year is more than a shift in calendar. It’s an auspicious time to clear away the old — both physically and metaphorically — to make space for new energy and aspirations. 

This also aligns with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principle of the five elements and the season of spring. Spring (which officially begins during the first solar term of Lichun, February 4th – 19th, 2024) is the season of rebirth, renewal, and growth in TCM. Setting new goals, taking action, and letting your ideas flourish are fruitful practices at this time. 

But each year has an energy all its own, depending on the animal and element attributed to that year.  What’s in store for this year? And how can you embrace TCM practices to make this a truly transformative year?

2024: The Year of the Wood Dragon 

2024 ushers in the Year of the Wood Dragon, a year that promises to be as dynamic and full of life as its namesake creature.

In the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon is a symbol of strength, courage, and good fortune. It is the only mythical animal in the Chinese zodiac, which makes it a particularly auspicious and powerful sign.

Each year is also characterized by an element, with wood being the key element for 2024. In both Chinese astrology and Chinese medicine, wood is associated with growth, vitality, and renewal. It suggests a year of new beginnings (like the spring season) and expansion, much like the upward and outward growth of trees. 

When we consider these energies together, we can expect the year of the Wood Dragon to bring an energy that is assertive yet compassionate, ambitious yet ethical. This year may also be a good time for creativity and progress – bold moves and new ideas may get you further than in previous years.

However, the excitable energy of the Wood Dragon can sometimes lead to impulsivity. Thus, this year also calls for a balance. It's a time to channel this vibrant energy towards growth, while staying rooted in wisdom and mindfulness.

6 TCM-Inspired Rituals to Welcome the Year of the Wood Dragon  

Chinese medicine is closely connected to Chinese philosophy and astrology. Experiment with these self-care practices to tap into the power of the Wood Dragon year and find your balance. 

  • Meditate in Nature or Go Forest Bathing
    Traditional Chinese Medicine and Taoism place a strong emphasis on living in harmony with nature. Celebrating the Lunar New Year by meditating in nature allows you to tap into the tranquil energy of the natural world to start this new phase with a sense of peace and connectedness.

    Find a peaceful spot outdoors, perhaps a forest, garden, park, or near a body of water. Sit or stand comfortably, allowing yourself to become present in the moment. Focus on your breath, feeling the fresh air fill your lungs, and exhale any tension. To connect more deeply to the wood element, focus your gaze on a tree (or something green) nearby while practicing deep breathing.

  • Embrace Your Inner Dragon with Yoga and Qi Gong
    Yoga and Qi Gong are simple ways to embody the vitality of the Wood Dragon and keep your blood flowing. Incorporate a yoga routine that focuses on fluid, dynamic movements, reflecting the dragon's graceful strength (like the dragon pose, or dragon flow sequence).

    Complement this with Qi Gong exercises, which focus on harnessing and directing your internal energy or Qi. These practices are not only beneficial for physical health but also for cultivating mental and emotional balance. By regularly engaging in these exercises, you embrace the Wood Dragon's qualities of resilience and renewal, channeling this energy into your everyday life.

  • Eat Nourishing Foods for the Wood Element
    In TCM, the Wood Element is associated with the liver and gallbladder, so foods that support these organs are particularly beneficial. Eat more leafy greens, sprouts, and green vegetables, as green is the color associated with the Wood Element.

    You may also consider enjoying more foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods not only provide essential nutrients but also symbolize growth and vitality.

    Remember – it’s not just what you eat but how you eat. Practice slow, mindful eating to nourish body and mind while staying in balance.

  • Celebrate with a Calming Tea Ceremony
    Slow down and celebrate with a tea meditation to welcome the Year of the Wood Dragon. This ritual can be a personal moment of tranquility or a shared experience with loved ones. For your tea ceremony, choose teas that encourage balance and calm, such as green tea, jasmine, or chrysanthemum.

    As you prepare and sip your tea, focus on the present moment. This ceremony is not only about enjoying tea but also about cultivating mindfulness and appreciating the simple, peaceful moments in life.

  • Experiment with the Practice of Wu Wei (Effortless Action)
    Wu Wei, or effortless action, is a Taoist principle that encourages actions in harmony with the natural flow of life. While the Year of the Wood Dragon is a year of new starts and taking action, we also need time to reflect and let the best move forward reveal itself.

    However, this doesn’t mean letting life just happen to us. Rather, it is about taking actions that feel natural and unforced. It can be as simple as listening more to your intuition when making decisions or letting go of the need to control every outcome. 

  • A Restorative Daily Ritual for the Year of the Dragon

    The Year of the Wood Dragon promises to be an exciting year, full of transitions and transformations. Along with the rituals above, Daily Reishi Formula offers a simple daily ritual that not only clears the mind and connects you to the present moment, but supports your optimal health and well-being at the same time. 

    Toast to each new day of the Dragon year with a dose of Daily Reishi Formula, a fresh glass of water or your favorite tea, and a few moments of deep breathing. 

    Ready to experience the restorative power of tonic herbs? Start your Daily Reishi Formula ritual here


    About the Author: 

    Kate Downes, L.Ac MSAOM

    Kate Downes, a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist with an MSAOM degree, combines her passion for herbal medicine and Chinese medicine into a thriving career. Initially practicing in Indianapolis, IN, she embraced a global journey, transitioning from face-to-face care to sharing her expertise as a remote herbalist and writer. Collaborating with wellness brands and health pioneers, Kate focuses on women’s health, using her platform to promote balance and wellness. Her transition into writing allows her to reach a wider audience, establishing her as a trusted expert in the wellness community.