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Dear OM magazine,

I have been practising yoga for about a year now and have started to take a very keen interest in complementary and alternative healthcare and medicines, as well as many other things surrounding the world of yoga. One thing in particular that has always intrigued me is acupuncture. I do not have any specific ailments to speak of but I have always tended to suffer from a lack of energy (although my yoga is helping with this!). Do you think that acupuncture could benefit me at all?

Thanking you,

Lisa C, Dorking, Surrey

Dear Lisa,

It’s a great question, and one that we are often asked. These days, lack of energy is a silent epidemic – millions of people experience it, and often think of it as a normal condition given how busy, stressful or full people’s lives are.

The truth is, the body loves to be healthy and actually craves balance.  If our energy, or chi, feels depleted, it’s amazing how quickly we can restore this balance with a little support where needed.

To understand this better, think of your energy as flowing through pathways that feed every cell of your body.  When that flow becomes blocked or impeded from sickness or stress, our energy stagnates, and we can begin to feel sluggish, foggy-headed and even depressed.

In Five Element acupuncture, one of our roles is to find out where these blocks are and why they are occurring, then clear them using needles so that the chi can flow unobstructed.  The result can be increased energy, clarity of mind, lightness of spirit, and simply feeling better all around.

Yoga does something very similar; most likely, you’ve felt an ease and lightness after a great asana practice. One of the key differences, though, is that acupuncture is more specific with what it treats, and can go directly to the source of the problem.

In my experience, acupuncture and yoga are beautifully complimentary practices; when coupled together, they can be highly potent and work to even greater benefit in  any healing process.  I suggest you give acupuncture a try, and let us know how it works for you!

Aaron Deemer LicAc MBAcC

Spring Qi Gong

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Our latest Qi Gong video is a simple yet powerful practice for balancing and energizing the liver and gall bladder meridians, the organs associated with spring in Five Element acupuncture.

These first few weeks of spring can be a vibrant time of growth and rejuvenation. Qi Gong like acupuncture can do wonders for releasing blocks, and helping us feel balanced and energized, especially during these early weeks of the changing season.

These days, lack of energy is a silent epidemic – millions of people experience it, and often think of it as a normal condition given how busy, stressful or full people’s lives are.

The truth is, the body loves to be healthy and actually craves balance.  If our energy, or chi, feels depleted, it’s amazing how quickly we can restore this balance with a little support where needed.

I hope you enjoy our latest Qi Gong video with my wife Mimi, and let me know if you have any questions.

Aaron Deemer – March 2012

Aaron Deemer, February 2012

Over the weekend, while I wandered in Hyde Park, Thich Naht Hanh’s wonderful description of trees and nature kept coming to me, so I thought I would share his words alongside a few of my photographs…

By Thich Naht Hanh
A tree to me is as beautiful as a cathedral.  Even more beautiful.
I look into the tree and I see the whole cosmos in it.
I see the sunshine in the tree.  Without the sunshine no tree can grow.
I see a cloud in the tree.  Without a cloud there can be no rain and no tree.
I see the earth in the tree.  I see everything in the tree.
So the tree is where everything in the cosmos comes into.
And the cosmos reveals itself to me through a tree.
Therefore a tree to me is a cathedral.
And so I can take refuge in the tree and get nourished by the tree.
The tree belongs to the kingdom of God.
.

Balance is Beautiful

Aaron Deemer, January 2012

For a long time I thought about moving out of the city and into nature. I was looking for a place of ease and quiet, peace and balance. Then I realized that the simplicity I was looking for doesn’t in fact come from nature, it comes from me.

Yes, being in nature feels great for a time, but long-term ease can never be sustained by anything or anyone external.

Feeling balanced comes from within, so finding the right internal tools and techniques that work for you is really what it’s all about.

Once we have these tools, what a relief it is to discover that we can find ease and simplicity, even in the midst of a busy city like London, without having to look beyond ourselves!

Here are a few techniques that you may want to try:

  1. For the first 30 minutes of your morning, and the last 30 minutes before bed, stop talking.  By choosing to be consciously quiet, we can begin to wind down from the inside out.
  2. Set an alarm to go off every hour (the countdown timer on the iPhone is perfect for this) and take 3 minutes to sit up a little straighter and take a few deep nourishing breaths.
  3. Understanding your emotions is a great way to stay at ease, so take 5 minutes every day to write down how you feel.  Try just writing without thinking about what comes out, and once you’re finished shred or burn what you wrote.

“Balance is beautiful.” –  Miyoko Ohno, Japanese bridge designer

Photo by Aaron Deemer, Dec ’10

The exact mechanism for how acupuncture works is a bit of a mystery. This sounds quite disturbing of course and is a major reason why western medicine has difficulty with it. Although not all aspects of western medicine are fully understood (general anaesthesia being one), it is understandable that there are doubts about the ‘truth’ of acupuncture in the mostly physical world of western medicine. I was recently made aware of an (2010) article by Duncan McGechie who discusses the possibility of a link between the acupuncture channels and the body’s connective tissue or fascia.

The 12 main acupuncture channels are often depicted as 2 dimensional lines that run bilaterally all over the body, and primarily thought of as energetic rather than physical in nature. There is also a functional link between the channels and their associated organs, so that the Heart channel, for example, performs its functions in conjunction with the heart itself and not independently of it.

There is not a continuous correlation between the acupuncture channel pathways and the nerve pathways or blood vessels so a helpful physical link between the energetics of the acupuncture channels and the structure of the  body is seemingly elusive. The fascia, however, may provide such a link. The fascia or connective tissue is defined in the article as: “Fascia is an uninterrupted three-dimensional web of connective tissue that maintains structural integrity and provides support and protection, contributes to heamodynamic and biochemical processes, defends against infection and assists with tissue repair“. In addition, there are hypotheses that suggest that the fascia functions as a signalling network for the entire body.

In the afore mentioned article, McGechie reviews previous research into such a link and, while we are far from conclusive evidence, there are some compelling insights into the actual mechanisms and actions of acupuncture. One study ( Langdoven/Yandow) that is examined maintains that acupuncture points are more likely to be at the junctions of fascial planes – for example, the seam between two distinct muscles along which an acupuncture channels runs – and using MRI and ultrasound scans conclude that “80% of points and 50%of channel intersections coincide with intramuscular or intermuscular connective tissue cleavage planes“.

As an acupuncturist this represents a glimpse into the great unknown. While I accept completely that acupuncture has a observable effect on the people I treat, I have always wondered, pondered  and reflected on HOW it works and what it is that allows the needles I insert to effect the changes I see.

Bruce McCallum January 2012

January Workshop

We are overjoyed to have Jodi teaching one more series of Qi Gong workshops this January, the last for the winter season.  We will be focusing on cultivating and managing your energy.  Led by Jodi Smith, the workshop consists of four sessions from 7pm to 8pm over two weeks (held on Monday and Wednesday evenings) beginning Monday January 9th. Space is limited to 6 people so please book early.  £50 for all four sessions.  More info here, or contact us.

Jodi teaches a fusion of yoga and qigong and, under the guidance of Matthew Cohen, trained in Sacred Energy Arts, a unique system of health and self- development drawing from the teachings of yoga, healing, and martial arts. In her teaching she promotes self-enquiry, both on and off the mat, and encourages all those she works with to consider these ancient practices as more than just physical exercise. She is a Yoga Alliance® (RYT200) registered teacher and creator of the web series 30 Minute Yoga for Hotel Rooms

She is also a filmmaker and lives between London and Beijing.

December Workshops

After such positive feedback from the last workshop, we’ve decided to host another series of Qi Gong workshops with Jodi, focusing on cultivating and managing your energy.  Led by Jodi Smith, the workshop consists of four sessions from 7pm to 8pm over two weeks (held on Monday and Wednesday evenings) beginning Monday December 12th. Space is limited to 6 people so please book early.  £40 for all four sessions.  Contact us for more info.

Jodi teaches a fusion of yoga and qigong and, under the guidance of Matthew Cohen, trained in Sacred Energy Arts, a unique system of health and self- development drawing from the teachings of yoga, healing, and martial arts. In her teaching she promotes self-enquiry, both on and off the mat, and encourages all those she works with to consider these ancient practices as more than just physical exercise. She is a Yoga Alliance® (RYT200) registered teacher and creator of the web series 30 Minute Yoga for Hotel Rooms

She is also a filmmaker and lives between London and Beijing.