Why Yoga + Acupuncture Are a Match Made in Chill Heaven

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Starting in May, we'll be offering Yoga + Acupuncture on a biweekly basis at The Water Bar & Public Studios in NE Minneapolis and we couldn't be more pumped. These two practices go together like two peas in a pod and we're here to tell you why:

Their roots grow deep

Yoga and acupuncture both have very similar, long histories that go back thousands of years. While both practices have changed plenty since their respective inceptions, they also maintain a special link to their origins. The origin story of both leads to a philosophical discussion that I'll reserve for a future post. 

While yoga started as something that looks a lot different than what we see in most yoga studios today, it can still be a practice that asks its practitioner to develop a heightened sense of self awareness on a physical, mental and emotional level. What the practitioner does with that information is completely up to them. 

While Chinese Medicine has always been a medicine, the way it is practiced has gone on quite the journey. And, there are still significant differences between the way the west practices Chinese Medicine compared to East. At its core, Chinese Medicine meets you where you're at, to work with your body to create balance and fluid energy flow.

They Both Move Energy

In yoga, 'prana' is the word we use to describe life force, or more simply put: energy. In the modern practice of yoga, we use movement, breathing and meditation to move energy in a direction that nourishes us. Sometimes this looks like an intense dynamic practice, and other times it looks like a really long nap on the floor.

Qi is the Chinese medicine version of this same concept. Taking a look at the full picture of who you are and what you're navigating, Chinese Medicine doctors are able to locate areas of excess or deficiency in the body. By using using various tools along sections of the body called meridian lines, acupuncturists are able to move or nourish the qi and send it where it needs to be.

They're Both Often Misunderstood

Yoga is so much more than poses and acupuncture is so much more than needle medicine.

The word "Yoga" means "union" or "connection." It's a practice that offers you an opportunity to integrate you body with your mind with your breath and your spirit.

While we often think of stretchy pants, incense and contortionists, yoga is so much more than that. In fact, you don't even need to be on a mat to practice it. You can practice it on a long walk or on a bus without doing a single yoga pose. It has nothing to do with flexibility or strength. In fact, one of the most yogic people I know can't barely use the left side of her body.

When someone says "acupuncture" most people think of human pin cushions. But Chinese Medicine also makes use of tui na (a form of Chinese medical massage), cupping, moxa, herbs, and more.

So How do they Work Together?

Perfectly, of course. By moving the body slowly and mindfully, with a focus on gentle, but deep breathing, you will begin the process of moving the energy in the body with as much or as little vigor as you choose. After the movement piece is complete, you will take your final resting pose and an acupuncturist will perform distal acupuncture on you. You may get a few needles in your hands, feet, head and face, depending on the class focus. As you rest, the medicine will do its work. You'll leave class feeling grounded, connected and pretty blissed out. 

If this sounds like your kind of night, sign up for an upcoming Yoga + Acupuncture class at The Water Bar!

Have questions? Want to chat before booking?

Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but we'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. We only recommend products we use in our own daily life!

How Do You Know When Acupuncture Is Working?

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Many patients visit my clinic as a last ditch effort for their health. They've seen their primary physician, one or many specialists, and possibly other integrative care practitioners before they decide to give acupuncture a shot. By this time, their symptoms may have been present anywhere between 6 months to several decades. At this point, their condition is clinically considered "chronic".

Acupuncture isn't a magic pill. There are times when it can produce almost miraculous results - I've seen it myself - but those are generally the exception, not the rule. You can't expect a chronic condition of several years resolve in one or two sessions. Acupuncture works cumulatively - just like strength training or learning a new language. As I discuss in this blog post, the frequency and length of treatment varies from patient to patient. And while the primary symptoms might not abate in the first few treatments, there are other markers you can look for to know when acupuncture is working for you.

Signs that acupuncture is working:

You're less stressed

Stress reeks havoc on our bodies. Research on the relationship between mental/emotional stress and physical health has shown that increased emotional stress can result in varying issues from poor surgical outcomes to a decrease in immune system functioning. (i

Stress relief is one of the first noticeable side effects of acupuncture treatments. Patients often exclaim how relaxed they feel after a treatment, or how stress related ailments such as TMJ (jaw) pain or anxiety are greatly reduced after visiting my office. I can safely say that the majority of ailments I see in my clinic are exacerbated by stress. Therefore lowering the patient's stress level often brings patient's pain levels down drastically.

You're sleeping better

This is a fan favorite sign that acupuncture is working. Often, new patients report that their sleep is "just fine" in their initial intake, only exclaiming a few treatments later that they're "sleeping so much better!" They are so used to their poor sleeping pattern that they don't even realize that a quality night's rest is available to them.

Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. When we are sleeping our bodies regulate our hormones, repair damaged tissue, form new pathways in our brain, and trigger growth and development. Research has shown that persistent sleeplessness can lead to chronic disease later in life. (ii)

You're more energetic

This one goes hand in hand with better sleep. When we spend more of our nighttime hours enjoying quality, restorative sleep, we wake feeling more refreshed and have more energy to go about our day. Fatigue is rarely a patient's #1 reason for coming to my clinic, but it's one of the most common complaints I hear from in new patients.

While acupuncture is naturally relaxing (many patients take a needle nap on the treatment table), it's normal to feel a surge of energy in the days following treatment. This energy isn't' like a caffeine buzz, it's more of an awareness in your body and increased motivation to complete tasks.

You're digesting better

Acupuncture is all about creating movement. Illness arises when substances such as blood, lymph fluid, and qi (energy) become stagnant within the body. By increasing the circulation of those substances, the body has the ability to nourish all of its organs and tissues and can begin the process of healing.

So while acupuncture treatments are geared towards moving things within the body, things, well, tend to move. If your digestion tends to be a bit sluggish you might find that you bowel movements happen on a more regular basis (pun intended). Conversely, if your digestion tends to be on the more frequent or erratic side, you might find that acupuncture relaxes the smooth muscle in your colon, resulting in less spasms, pain, and frequent trips to the bathroom.

Acupuncture at work

Noticing these positive changes in your body means that acupuncture is working for you. Stay strong and stick with your treatment plan. Complying with any homework assignments such as dietary therapy, herbs, supplements, or lifestyle modifications that your acupuncturist has prescribed for you will help accelerate the healing process and get you back to optimal health before you know it.

Have questions? Want to chat before booking?

Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but we'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. We only recommend products we use in our own daily life!

Ice is For Dead People

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Note: this is a re-post of a blog I wrote for Twin Town CrossFit a while back. I thought now would be a good time to re-post it since the weather is getting warmer and more outdoor sports will soon be getting underway.

"Ice is for dead people."

That’s the old Chinese adage that first came to mind when I read a recent blog post on injuries. Traditional Chinese medicine has known for centuries that ice is detrimental to healing injured tissue, and now it seems that some western MD’s might be coming around to the same conclusion.

Ice is great at preserving things in a fixed state.

Ice is great for keeping my meat CSA fresh throughout the winter, but you’ll never find me icing my shoulder after one too many pull-ups.

In Chinese medicine, there is an underlying idea that pain is generally due to an obstruction (of blood, lymph fluid, energy, etc) and that by removing the obstruction and bringing free flow to the area, the pain will be resolved. Ice has a natural tendency to slow things down to a standstill – including blood and fluids. Therefore, icing an injury will contract and congeal the blood and tissue in the affected area – producing a more permanent obstruction that is harder to disperse later.

So, what does Traditional Chinese Medicine say you can and should do after an injury?

Tom Bisio’s book on healing injuries with Chinese medicine, A Tooth From the Tiger’s Mouth, has a great list and here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Bleeding the local area to draw out and disperse blood and fluid that is coagulating and blocking circulation. While this will often reduce pain immediately, I do NOT suggest bleeding yourself at the gym (not at all sanitary and might gross out your fellow gym-goers). Go see a licensed acupuncturist as soon as possible for treatment.
  2. Self massage with topical herbal linaments that help move the blood to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Zheng Gu Shui and Arnica gel are two of my favorites and both are sold at our clinic as well as many local co-ops.
  3. Chinese herbs can be taken orally to promote blood circulation and stop pain. These can be incredibly effective, but please consult a board certified Chinese herbalist before taking any Chinese herbs.

* PLEASE GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE A BROKEN BONE OR ARE UNABLE TO PUT ANY WEIGHT ON THE AFFECTED AREA.

Have questions? Want to chat before booking?

Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but we'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. We only recommend products we use in our own daily life!

Why All Athletes Should Get Acupuncture

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This post was originally inspired by a friend who started training to compete in athletic events after the age of thirty. Check out his Ignite talk: "Why you should compete as an adult."

Kobe Bryant does it. So does McKayla Moroney. Dee Dee Trotter even brought someone to London with her in order to continue her treatments during the Olympic games. What’s their secret to functioning at the professional athletic level? Acupuncture.

Once only thought of as a last resort for people with low back pain, people with conditions varying from autoimmune diseases to generalized anxiety are now turning to acupuncture for help. This is especially true for active individuals. Athletes of all levels are embracing the benefits that acupuncture produces: quicker recovery time after strenuous workouts, help healing from injuries, less anxiety during competitions, and the list goes on and on.

Here are five ways that regular acupuncture treatments can help improve your athletic performance:

It relaxes tight muscles.

If you asked me to give you a single reason why all athletes should get acupuncture, this would be my top choice. Tight muscles shorten in length and result in restricted range of motion. Pushing yourself to the limit with limited mobility is a recipe for injury, pain, and eventually time-consuming rehabilitation. While acupuncture has great ability to treat injuries, its best utilization is to prevent the injury before it occurs.

It relieves pain.

Acupuncture causes tiny micro traumas that stimulate the body’s natural painkilling response. The nervous system signals to the brain to release small amounts of pain-relieving chemicals (such as endorphins, norepinephrine, and enkephalin) that can be 10-100 times stronger than morphine!

It increases circulation.

Acupuncture increases the amount of nitric oxide in the body[i].  Nitric Oxide causes the blood vessels to relax and to widen, thereby opening up the arteries. This allows better blood flow to the heart, lungs, muscles, and everything in between. Increased circulation equals increased oxygenation of cells, therefore allowing for increased athletic performance.

It stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system.

While we no longer live in a world where we get chased by bears on a regular basis, we do live in a world full of high stress. And guess what? Our bodies aren’t very good at differentiating between the two worlds. We continuously tax our sympathetic nervous system (our fight or flight response) and rarely give our parasympathetic nervous system a chance to do its job (rest and digest). This can eventually result in adrenal fatigue and can take a toll on your ability to push your body to its physical limits. Acupuncture sessions encourage parasympathetic nervous system activity - a perfect addition to an athlete’s rest day.

It increases mental clarity and focus.

People who receive regular acupuncture state that they have more energy during the day, sleep better at night, and have an all over reduction in anxiety. This allows for better mental clarity and focus. As any competitor will tell you, mental clarity and focus is equally as important as strength and endurance during athletic competitions. Your body can only bring so much to the competition floor.  Your ability to focus on the task at hand and remove any extraneous distractions directly correlates to your performance.

So there you have it. If you have hit a plateau in your atheltic performance or are looking for an extra edge on game day, try acupuncture.  It will give you the boost you’re looking for.

[i] Responses of Nitric Oxide-cGMP Release in Acupuncture Point to Electroacupuncture in Human Skin In Vivo Using Dermal Microdialysis. In Microcirculation, 2009 May, 26:1-10

Ready to try acupuncture yourself? Book an initial appointment today!

Have questions? Want to chat before booking?

Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but we'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. We only recommend products we use in our own daily life!