These days there are a lot of self-care rituals out there and it can feel hard to choose the best one for you. But the Chinese lunar calendar, which the Chinese zodiac is based upon, has been used for centuries to give health, career, and even romantic advice to people based on their zodiac sign. This is because similarly to the astrological zodiac signs, each of the animals of the Chinese zodiac represent certain personality traits.
So since we’re always looking for ways to help others take better care of themselves, today we’re going to share the best wellness ritual for you based on your Chinese zodiac sign. If you don’t know what your Chinese zodiac sign is, we’re also going to share how to determine your Chinese zodiac sign, what Chinese zodiac year is the unluckiest, and a description of each sign. So keep reading to learn more about your sign and whether you should be relaxing by sipping on some herbal tea, taking a floral bath, meditating, or something else completely!
What are the origins of the Chinese zodiac?
Since the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–9 A.D.), the Chinese zodiac has been used to count years, months, days, and hours in a 12-year cycle. You might’ve already heard that each animal represents a different year in a 12-year cycle, but they also represent a day in a 12-day cycle, and every two hours in a 24-hour day. The twelve animals of the zodiac were based on the first twelve animals which appeared during the Zhan Guo period (5th century B.C.) (1)
It is said that the order of the twelve animals in the zodiac is based on a race that was conducted by the Buddha himself. According to legend, Buddha summoned all of the animals of the universe and had them race to his palace. He then based the order of the zodiac on who arrived at the palace from quickest to slowest. (2)
What are the animals in the Chinese zodiac?
In order, the animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
How do you determine which Chinese zodiac sign you are?
Since the creation of the Chinese zodiac, each animal has been used to represent one year. Then every twelve years, the cycle resets. 2021 is the year of the ox, but the Chinese new year is slightly different from the new year we’re used to. Instead of starting over every January 1st, the Chinese new year changes from year to year depending on the lunar calendar. The holiday is always on the second new moon after the winter solstice on December 21st.
Below, we shared a chart sharing which Chinese zodiac signs go with which years, but if you are born in January or February you should check the date of the Chinese new year during the year you were born. This year, the Chinese new year was February 12th, which means any babies born between January 1st 2021 and February 11th 2021 should still be assigned the zodiac sign from 2020.
Which Chinese zodiac year is the unluckiest?
After the year we had in 2020, some might say the year of the rat is the most unlucky Chinese zodiac sign. But you might be surprised to learn that the year of your own zodiac sign is usually the most unlucky year for yourself. According to legend, Tai Sui, or the God of Age, brings misfortune to people during the year of their zodiac sign which will occur around the age of 12, 24, 36, and so on. (Maybe this is why middle school and our mid-twenties tend to bring a little extra crisis than usual.) (3)
Fortunately, you can bring some extra luck on yourself by wearing auspicious colors like red, wearing jade accessories, and by facing away from Tai Sui. Each year Tai Sui faces a different direction. In 2021, Tai Sui is facing Northeast (30°). Facing away from Tai Sui can actually bring you good luck so people will adjust their beds, desks, and seats in order to have Tai Sui at their backs. It is even suggested to conduct business meetings while facing away from Tai Sui in order to bring good luck.
Rat: Morning Pages
As the first one who arrived at Buddha's palace, rats are known for being quick and energetic. They are usually well liked and kind, but sometimes that can be too blunt because of their poor communication skills. They are also empathetic to others and while they enjoy spending money, they also tend to waste money on unnecessary things.
As a rat, you’re creative, even if you might not think of yourself as so. A good wellness ritual for you is morning pages. It’s not always easy for you to communicate your feelings with others and even with yourself. You tend to bottle things up, which is why morning pages work well for you. If you haven’t already heard of morning pages they are three pages of handwritten, stream of consciousness writing, that should be done first thing in the morning. This wellness ritual gives you the opportunity to clear your mind, break through any creative blocks, and promote personal growth. (4)
Ox: Yoga Nidra
Oxen are honest and trusting. In fact, the ox was going to be the first to arrive at the Buddha’s palace, but the rat asked the ox for a ride (or snuck on his back, depending on the story) and then at the last minute hopped off his ox’s back and arrived there just before. Ox rarely ask for the center of attention and prefer to gain recognition through their hard work. They tend to think logically and selflessly.
As an ox, you are naturally healthy, but you do tend to be a workaholic. This means you are easily burned out and might even go days without proper rest. Your irregular diet can sometimes lead to digestive issues and your irregular exercise schedule can sometimes cause you to get injured.
So the best wellness ritual for an ox, is yoga nidra, or yogic sleep. Yoga nidra is the most relaxing form of yoga that helps you get a pure form of rest. Yoga nidra usually only requires one pose so don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself a yogi. This practice focuses mostly on meditation and bringing your body to a complete state of relaxation.
Tiger: Blue Lotus Evening Elixir
Tigers are sharp, kind, and benevolent. They are known for their courage and perseverance. They also tend to have a lot of energy and might not always feel like they need sleep. They are also very imaginative and tend to have an ear for creative arts like jazz.
Health-wise, tigers are prone to anxiety and insomnia. For those who suffer from anxiety, nighttime can be one of the most difficult times of the day. A good bedtime routine is important for any tiger, which is why we suggest a Blue Lotus evening elixir. The Blue Lotus flower is an herbal tea that is known for its ability to promote sleep and relaxation. To create your elixir simply brew your blue lotus flower in hot water and then add almond milk, which is high in sleep-promoting hormones and minerals, like tryptophan, melatonin, and magnesium. If you’re a tiger suffering from sleep deprivation, you can also check out our blog post where we share 29 of the best natural remedies for sleep.
Rabbit: Morning Walk or Run
Rabbits are known for their kindness towards others. Some may view them as soft or weak, but rabbits know what they want and their nice side happens to hide their confidence. Rabbits are good people, but they expect the same out of those around them.
Sometimes their confidence can go to their head, but usually they just move steadily towards their goal. The rabbit actually arrived first at Buddha's palace, but he was so confident that he took a nap and three other animals arrived before he woke up. Rabbits are generally social beings and attract a wide range of people, but they also find it difficult to open up to others.
If you are a rabbit, you might need physical activity in order to uphold your mental health. Rabbits’ minds are usually going a mile a minute and focusing on a physical workout is one of the best ways to clear their minds. The best wellness ritual for a rabbit is a morning walk or run. Getting fresh air, sunshine, and some physical activity through a walk or run is a great way for rabbits to recharge and reset.
Dragon: Guided Meditation
In Buddha’s story, it was expected that the mighty dragon was going to arrive first to the palace. But when the dragon was on the way, he saw a village that was suffering from a drought and stopped to make rain for them. The dragon’s selflessness and leadership is one of the reasons why the dragon is one of the most revered animals in Chinese culture. It was once believed that all emperors were reincarnated dragons.
Dragons are steadfast in their beliefs and are honest people. They are career driven and usually marry either young or later in life. Because of their commitment to their careers, most dragons become stressed out due to work. This can make them fatigued and even cause them to suffer from insomnia. They are also easily affected by any problems within their relationships.
Even though dragons are capable of doing everything on their own, it can lead to burn out. The best wellness ritual for them is a guided meditation. Meditation in general is great for combatting stress and anxiety and can even help with insomnia. Guided meditation is suggested because it takes even more of the work off of the dragon’s shoulders. This positive thoughts meditation is great for dragons who easily get worn down by work.
Snake: Green Juice or Smoothie
Snakes are known for being cool, calm, and collected. They are unbothered by life’s everyday problems and don’t take well to small talk. They prefer humorous or sophisticated conversations. Snakes aren’t worried about the future so they are always making new plans without really thinking about what society would think of them.
Luckily, their intuition is usually correct. Because snakes tend to overlook the little things, they also tend to bottle up any stress and anxiety. The outcome of this will usually depend on their genes, so snakes should look to their parents as a guide for health.
Since snakes don’t really worry about the future, they tend to indulge in their favorite foods and drinks without thinking about their health. This is why enjoying a green juice or smoothie is the best wellness ritual for snakes. By getting in some greens right in the morning, they won’t have to worry about eating as healthy throughout the day.
Horse: Deep Breathing
Horses are studious and always go after their dreams. Pure at heart, rather than chasing money or fame, they look towards happiness as their goal. Horses can sometimes be over energetic and they can’t always understand why others don’t work at the same speed. They can sometimes be blind to their own faults, but are generally good friends who don’t hold grudges.
Horses are always on the move. As soon as they accomplish one goal, they are off to the races to get the next one down. Unfortunately, this leads little time for rest and can cause them to get overworked and even sick. The fast-paced speed of the horse’s life also makes them more susceptible to ignoring little symptoms, which can turn into bigger problems. So the best wellness ritual for horses is one that helps them slow down.
Deep breathing is a great grounding exercise because it helps us get in touch with something we usually ignore. The last thing a horse will usually think about is their breath so by engaging with their breath throughout the day, they’ll learn to slow down with time. If you don’t have time to sit down and focus on breathing try doing it during other activities like while going on a walk, brewing your favorite herbal tea, or while in the shower. These three-minute breathing exercises can be done while your tea is brewing or anytime throughout the day when you need a moment to yourself.
Goat: Practicing Gratitude
The most impressive thing about goats is that they are able to persevere through any difficulty. Known for their selflessness, they always think of how others might be suffering around them before worrying about their own suffering. Goats also are good with children and animals and do very well when surrounded by nature.
Goats are also really organized and generous with their time and money. They can be stubborn, but overall they make friends easily. Others appreciate their kindness and their empathetic nature.
Because of their selflessness, goats are not known as the healthiest animals in the Chinese zodiac. They can easily get caught up in all of life’s worries and tend to struggle with a healthy mindset.
Research shows that reminding ourselves of all we have to be grateful for can help us feel happier and less pessimistic about our lives. So the best wellness ritual for the goat is to practice gratitude. You can do this by writing down everything you are grateful for every morning or by practicing a guided gratitude meditation. (5)
Monkey: Loving-Kindness Meditation
Monkeys are known for their intelligence, which can sometimes contribute to their arrogance. They also tend to be competitive and can become jealous of those who are doing better than them. Despite this, they believe that they have something to learn from everyone. They accept critiques and are willing to learn from their mistakes because they know that everyone has room to grow. They think very logically and tend to be calm in nature.
In general, monkeys have pretty good health, but they can be accident prone. They are also sensitive to the opinions of others and can become depressed. Having strong relationships is really important for the mental well-being of any monkey.
The best wellness ritual for the monkey is a Loving-Kindness Meditation. This specific type of meditation actually increases happiness in part by helping people feel more connected to loved ones, acquaintances, and even strangers, which makes it perfect for our monkeys. According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley, practicing a loving-kindness meditation can not only help us feel more connected to those around us, but actually make our social interactions and close relationships become more satisfying.
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Rooster: Add gut-healthy foods and drink to your diet
Roosters are serious and straightforward, but they are also big family people. To them, their family, or friends that feel like family, are a refuge from the busy world. Roosters tend to be perfectionists and won’t give up until their goals are accomplished. They can be quite scary if angered so you don’t want to be the one telling them they can’t do what they want.
Roosters tend to be picky eaters, which means they don’t always get all of the vitamins and minerals they need. Their sensitive nature can also lead to digestive problems because they tend to take any negative emotions straight to their gut. This means that a gut healthy diet is key for roosters.
So, the best wellness ritual for the rooster is to add gut-healthy foods and drink to their diet. Roosters need proper fuel to succeed and by focusing on a gut-healthy diet they’ll be able to do so. We suggest adding a gut-healthy drink like kombucha, organic rose tea, or kefir in the morning and then focusing on adding a wide range of fruits and vegetables, fermented foods, and adding in prebiotics and probiotics throughout the day.
Dog: Immune-boosting activities
Dogs are known for their loyalty and usually make the best friends and partners. They are hard workers who never abandon their work because they know it’s for the best of their team. Dogs are great at giving advice and despite their ability to help others they are usually worried and anxious inside. (6)
The biggest problem dogs usually face health-wise is their unhealthy diet. They tend to be generally healthy, but their unhealthy diet can affect their immune system, which sometimes means that a little cold can keep them in bed for days. Dogs also tend to be extremely busy with work and don’t always take the time to stay active and recharge. Immune-boosting activities like yoga, drinking chrysanthemum tea, forest bathing, and walking meditation are all great ways to help improve any dog’s health.
Pig: Rejuvenating Floral Bath
Last, but not least, the pig. According to legend, the pig was the last to arrive at Buddha's palace because a wolf destroyed his home and the pig had to rebuild it before he could leave. Others say the pig simply overslept, but if you’re a pig you might rather believe the first one. (7)
In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth. They are usually blessed with good fortune. Despite this, pigs aren’t exactly the type of people that will stick out of a crowd. They usually work behind the scenes, but they are willing to accept positions of authority.
Pigs can sometimes be big-talkers, but they usually follow up their plans with real action. They tend to be on the materialistic side, but this is what gives them to motivation to work hard. They search security and being able to hold solid objects helps them do so.
Pigs tend to be naturally healthy. But they also live very busy lives where they might overlook small problems or forget to take breaks. Pigs don’t like giving in to difficult situations and prefer to keep on moving, which is why they need to consciously pause to recharge so that the difficult situations never arise. The best wellness ritual for pigs is a rejuvenating floral bath.
Bath time can be used as a space of total relaxation. Try filling your bath with epsom salt or some organic dried roses. Diffusing your favorite essential oils, lighting some candles, and enjoying a good book is a great way to level up your bedtime ritual as well.
Each of us are uniquely different and may even identify with other animals. If one of these wellness activities interests you more than others, go ahead and give it a try! Taking care of yourself is the most important thing no matter how you’re doing it.