Yoga, yoga, yoga, yoga, yoga.
Yoga is especially helpful as an adjunct to holistic care, such as acupuncture.
Take this one young patient who has been coming into the acupuncture clinic with chronic pain due to an old skiing injury that just won’t heal. Although he has hired a whole host of physical therapists, neurologists, and massage therapists, nothing is really helping that much. When I ask him some questions about his pain, it turns out he doesn’t really have ‘pain,’ after all. It’s more like a weird sensation: vague and annoying and just ‘not right.’ Accompanying symptoms include cold patches on his body that he hadn’t really noticed in the past and almost numbness. The MDs say everything looks fine structurally and neurologically, but offer him everything from cortisone shots to surgery.
The integrative Asian medicine diagnosis is a lot less mysterious than his Western one. Ayurveda-wise, we are looking at vata and kapha. In TCM terms, we are looking at qi stagnation and damp obstruction.
He comes for acupuncture, so I treat him with that. He drops in deep once the needles are in and feels great afterwards. The improvement holds well between sessions. One time, I gave him a classical Chinese herbal formula and in only one week of taking it, his tongue diagnostic signs improved so dramatically it was like day and night. It was so different, I shook his hand and said, “Nice to finally meet you!” His vague pain syndrome is much improved.
This is an acupuncture success story, but to really bring James to his fullest health, I believe he really needs yoga as supportive care. I’d like to see him activating those channels on his own. The structures need strength, they need work. I gave him some very old skool style yoga postures that are specific to his individual case. These will directly address his concerns–if he practices them.
How Do Acupuncture and Yoga Work Together?
–Western mind: An important benefit of yoga is increased blood circulation and range of motion. This translates as literally delivering additional chemical nutrition and enhanced waste removal into areas of chronic injury and pain. Yoga is not just stretching. We are talking using postures and breath to get in and disrupt a stuck neurological pattern. We are talking about strengthening musculature while lengthening it. We are working with the mind and the breath, therefore neurological and endocrinological function is affected. Unlike many exercise and weight-lifting regimens, yoga gets into the deeper muscle layers to target tiny supporting muscles and integrate them with the bigger beefier muscles closer to the superficies.
–Traditional Chinese Medicine mind: Yoga breaks up stagnation and regulates qi and blood. Stagnation is a part of so many injuries, accompanying both excess and deficient type root disorders. It supports acupuncture in that it helps harmonize the channels. It is easier to get lasting results from acupuncture when the tissues are vital and *strong.*
–Ayurvedic mind: Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences. Doshic disturbances directly affect the channels, resulting in pathology. Many traditional yogic sequences are geared toward working with specific imbalances. Each of us has all three doshas, but it is useful to know which yoga postures to calibrate us according to our own constitution, the season and the time of day.