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In June, my guiding mantra is “great things never came from comfort zones.” This holds true when starting, maintaining and growing through a yoga practice—especially when you enter into the wonderful world of yoga with fear, nervousness or insecurity. I know this feeling all too well. Two and a half years later, I now understand that fear does not need to be an action that holds us back, but rather one that springs us forward.
Before yoga, I was stuck in a toxic, long-term relationship. I was plagued with stress, depression and felt disconnected. My relationship, along with many other life factors, became a weight I was obligated to carry around, leading to an overwhelming feeling of stagnation. I needed to take action, or I knew my life would never improve, and my body would ultimately suffer. My first step towards personal recovery: yoga.
One day, I found a local Iyengar studio in my hometown. Starting with a beginner’s class, I was unsure how I would feel and if I would fit in, especially as a woman with a larger body. Yoga is only for fit people, right? I was worried about how I would appear to others, if I could handle certain poses, if I would fall…or fail?
That first class changed me. After years of neglect and disconnect, being in a yoga class where I was immediately forced to find my connection—even with some discomfort or tension as I settled into new ways of moving my body—was exactly what I needed at that phase in my life. Sometimes we stay right where we are, no matter the pain because we fear change. But in yoga I found change and fear to be synonymous with strength. I faced my fear and guess what? I didn’t fail. I blossomed.
I practiced Iyengar for a few weeks before I found and fell in love with vinyasa, which is all about heat, flow, and heart-racing movement. I have also since practiced Bikram, restorative, Buti and aerial yoga, but my heart is in vinyasa. No matter the yoga class, I have practiced with people of all shapes, sizes, and ages and there was never any judgment. I learned quickly that yoga is not discriminatory. It is for everyone. It is for every body.
Each instructor I’ve encountered since beginning yoga always inspires me with the same message: If we fall, we get back up (and we do fall in yoga, many times); we bend so we don’t break. Fear ultimately has the potential to turn into motivation, rather than a setback. By accepting this truth on the mat, I changed how I handle situations outside of the studio—trusting myself to face what I am afraid of. But this doesn’t mean life, or our yoga practice becomes easier.
Less than a month after finding yoga, I gained the courage to end my relationship. An incredibly significant, scary, and courageous decision that I couldn’t have done without learning what I did from my yoga practice. Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments of discomfort and weakness, but focusing my mindset on embracing fear shifts my ability to handle the hardships that come my way. Don’t be afraid to jump! Let yourself fall, and you’ll find that you do get back up. May your practice lead you to the fearless warrior you are inside.
Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for various ailments ranging from digestion to carpal tunnel, but the level of effectiveness varies from person-to-person. I’ve had Sciatica patients spend months combating their back and leg pain, and others hop off the table in two hours, never needing a follow-up appointment. Some rotator cuffs take six weeks; others take two years.
Why is this?
While your body's response to acupuncture depends on the complaint or injury, it also depends on your overall health, and how well you take care of the injured site between sessions. If we eat junk food all the time, are inactive, don’t sleep well, or overwork ourselves, then injury is imminent, and recovery is going to be hard. Equally, if we ignore an injury or don't care for it, then we will likely stay injured for longer.
So, let’s break down what’s best for you when it comes to acupuncture:
“How often should you get acupuncture with specific ailments?”
This is different for everyone, but here are some general guidelines.
More is better.
Acupuncture has cumulative effects, so while most feel relief after one session, it likely will not have resolved the issue. Multiple follow up sessions are needed, and for your own comfort, it’s recommended that you use sessions before the effects have completely worn off each time.
Every time you receive a session, your relief should be more significant, and the effects should last longer—bringing the injury closer to resolution. With this in mind; the worse the injury, the more frequent you’ll want to receive acupuncture. Several times a week is standard, that way you will get out of discomfort faster, and you’ll need fewer sessions overall.
Understanding acute versus chronic ailments.
Some acute symptoms like nausea, dizziness, bleeding, swelling, or anxiety will clear up on the spot. However, for recent injuries pertaining to tissues, like a strained muscle, you can use three acupuncture sessions in one week with great effect. For example, with strained lower back muscles, you will feel less pain in one session, a significant reduction in inflammation and symptoms within three sessions. An ankle sprain is a little more serious and may take two or three weeks, but the general idea is the same.
With stubborn pain, or chronic issues like sciatica, skin rashes, nerve pain, hormone irregularities, it can take a bunch of sessions to see lingering results. Often there will be relief right after each session, but the symptoms return quickly (albeit with a little less vengeance). This just means the results are happening in smaller increments. For this reason, your practitioner will tell you to come in over three times a week for two or three weeks so you’ll get more relief faster, but you can space the sessions out as you begin to feel better.
“What can I do to make my acupuncture benefits bigger?”
As mentioned, how you care for yourself between sessions makes a big difference. Here’s a few pro tips.
Your practitioner will give you specific directions they want you to follow for your ailment, but generally, after an acupuncture visit, it is wise to drink a lot of water and rest.
Here’s the obvious thing we don’t often consider. If you get instant relief for your pulled hamstring, but then you go running the next day, it’s going to take forever to heal! That injured body part needs to be pampered and catered to. Your acupuncturist will give you food, supplement, lifestyle, and movement suggestions to use between sessions– use them all.
I’ve seen countless patients walk in with frozen shoulder, spend 90 minutes in the chair with various points and stimulation techniques, and then leave swinging their arm painlessly with 50% more range of motion. If they eat well, do their physical therapy, and are kind to their shoulders, the effects will last. Then, next time, we can add another 50% on to their range of motionBut, if they paint a house or swing a baseball, then I see them go right back to square one overnight. How we take care of ourselves between sessions really matters.
You will want to note any changes; no matter how small or irrelevant they seem. Your practitioner is armed with many protocols and techniques. They will always start with the combo that they’ve seen work best for your complaint, from there they will work backward or tweak it slightly based on the information you give them. Make sure to tell them every detail, even if it seems unrelated.
One lady, with unrelenting pain, finally revealed a game-changing nugget to me while nonchalantly laughing about her need to wear neck scarves everywhere. I found out she had been experiencing chills and had a significant aversion to wind during the summer. This “irrelevant” snippet made me radically change the protocol, and she was pain-free and healing rapidly within four sessions.
So, there you have it. How acupuncture benefits various body parts depends on the area concerned, but also on how we treat our bodies before, during, and after injury.