Yes. Five elephants. Count them. Five.
Okay, well maybe not exactly, but Becky Flynn from Five Elephants Acupuncture and I had a great interview about her upcoming workshop! She will be partnering with Yin Yoga teacher Shanna Portman for an afternoon that will make your transition to fall so much more pleasant.
Can you tell me a bit about what acupuncture is? How did this “become a thing”?
Acupuncture is a safe and wonderfully effective therapy that treats a wide variety of health conditions—all types of pain, digestive issues, asthma and allergies, menstrual complaints, arthritis, anxiety and depression, addiction, migraines, fertility support, fatigue, and so much more. Acupuncture also shines as a preventative medicine to improve a person’s overall health and well-being. During an acupuncture treatment, hair-thin, sterile, single-use needles are inserted to stimulate points located on the body, head, and/or ears that have been chosen to activate the body’s natural healing response.
The practice of acupuncture has its origins in China, several thousands of years ago with early instruments (sharpened stones and long, sharp bones—yikes!) dating back as far as 6000 BCE.
What made you decide to formally study acupuncture?
A friend of mine wanted to try acupuncture for his insomnia and invited me to come along. I went in with no specific complaints, curious to see what a treatment was like. While I was resting with the needles in, I was so comfortable that I dozed off and when I woke up and the needles were removed I felt amazing—calm and relaxed but also revitalized and happy. I was so impressed with the benefits from that first treatment that I went back for a few weeks in a row and checked out a book from the library to learn more about acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. The more I knew—yin and yang theory, the five elements, tongue and pulse diagnosis—the more I wanted to know and before long I was hooked!
Wow! So, how have you seen it make a difference in people’s lives?
Almost across the board, patients feel relaxed and refreshed following an acupuncture treatment and find that they get a great night of sleep after. Many of my patients have been happy to decrease their use of over-the-counter pain, allergy, and other medications (consult with your doc before changing any prescriptions, of course) as they find themselves needing those less often.
I never promise miracles but it’s not uncommon for a patient to have incredible results. One of my proudest moments as an acupuncturist was when a patient who had suffered nerve damage during a surgery 12 years previously was able to begin walking without the use of her cane after just her second treatment. This truly is an amazing medicine.
Great! Your workshop is about “seasonal attunements.” How can acupuncture help us more easily transition to a new season?
In Chinese Medicine, the organs are paired and each of these pairs is associated with one of the Five Elements—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Five Element theory extends further to include associations with specific body parts and processes, smells, tastes, sounds, pathologies, colors, directions, seasons, and more. Acupuncture is a great way to strengthen the organs associated with the oncoming season, protecting against pathogens and putting you more in harmony with the universal energy.
Autumn is associated with the Metal element and the Lung and Large Intestine organs. This season sees the decrease of yang (sunny, active, expansive) energy and increase of yin (dark, internal, contractive) energy. As the trees release their leaves, the Large Intestine also has an important function of letting go. The physical Lung exhales the old breath, making room for the new. The emotion of the Metal element and autumn season is grief and so the emotional aspect of the Lung allows us to process old experiences, letting go of what has been and preparing us for what is yet to come. This autumn attunement will also benefit respiratory and immune health and protect against the dryness of the season.
Okay, well, I guess the thing all of us who are new to acupuncture really want to know is, does it hurt?
Everyone asks this. Good news—it doesn’t hurt. You may occasionally feel some sensation as the tiny, flexible needles go in. Some people describe it as temporary pressure, aching, soreness, or even a little “zing.” This is the arrival of the qi (energy) at the acupuncture point. Acupuncture should be comfortable—if anything hurts the needle is easily adjusted or removed—and very relaxing. So much so that many patients have come to appreciate the added benefits of an acu-nap during their treatment.
Awesome! But, I’ve never done this before. Can you tell me what an acupuncture session like?
After a consultation about your health goals and history you will rest in treatment lying on a massage table or reclining in a chair for around 30 minutes. Many patients will begin to notice benefits to acute conditions during or shortly after their first session and experience more complete, longer lasting relief for chronic issues with continued sessions.
There are acupuncture points located all over the body, so it’s best to wear comfortable, easily adjustable clothes. Eat so that you are neither famished nor full. You’ll have no problem driving home after your treatment, and you may feel so good that you are tempted to overdo it at the gym or otherwise, but it’s better to keep your activities at their normal level through the rest of the day. I always recommend drinking an extra glass or two of water in the hours following your treatment.
*Currently, this workshop is full, but you are more than welcome to sign up for the waiting list. OR you can sign up for the next one, which will be Friday December 15th!!!