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benefits of acupuncture
Wellness
Published Thursday Jul 11, 2019 by Amber Scriven

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is known as an integrative type of medicine. This means it is safely and routinely used alongside medications, surgeries, physical therapy, and any other medicinal modality you have chosen. As an added bonus, it’s usually covered by most insurance plans and is available as a mainstream source of anxiety reduction, pain relief, and preventative care.

 

But, what is it?

Basically, acupuncture is the use of incredibly fine needles to stimulate areas in the body where either tight muscles are encouraged to melt into relaxation, or nerves can send a message to the brain to create a specific chemical response in the body- like anti-inflammatory, digestive ease, or sleep induction. 

With frequent and regular repetition, this can heal injuries, decrease pain levels and general inflammation, and it can slowly reset sleep and digestive cycles, encourage a stronger immune system and benefit individual organ health. Over time, the body learns how to do this for itself and the benefits ripple out into a faster healing response for future injuries and ailments, and generally better health. It’s like a child learning the alphabet, slowly forming words, and then writing a book.

 

Where are the acupuncture points?

There are thousands of points on the body, each one with its own effects, and the effects it has when combined with another point. 

Most of the acupuncture points are organized in anatomical lines known as channels or meridians. These lines run adjacent to blood vessels, large nerves, or fascial lines. Fascia is the stuff that wraps the muscles up and joins them all together and it is highly sensitive at “trigger points” on the body, which are very useful acupuncture points. These lines run head to toe, with a few exceptions, and are named after the organ that they ultimately connect to in the end.  

One example of a trigger or acupuncture point is the area you always squeeze when your shoulders get tight after a long day. Squeezing this point can be very tender, but it feels good because it triggers the muscle to relax, which an acupuncture needle can do very quickly. This point is Gallbladder-21, named because it is the 21st point on the line that eventually connects to the gallbladder. 

Many teachers have gathered lists of ways to combine various points into protocols to reap the loudest, fastest effect. Often when you have an injury, a practitioner will choose a protocol that leaves the aggravated site alone and actually uses effective points elsewhere on the body to treat the injury. The philosophy here is “don’t poke an angry bear.” If your ankle is swollen, puffy and sprained, then your practitioner won't stick a needle in it because that would make it hurt more. Instead, he or she would choose points on the opposite limb, ear, and hand. This has a lot to do with how the points are connected and how the brain works. This technique is especially useful with things like nerve pain (neuropathy) in the hands and feet that can make the slightest sensation unbearable. 

 

What happens in a visit?

When you visit an acupuncturist, they will set you up with a treatment plan. The frequency of your visits will depend on your complaint, pain level, general health, whether your practitioner is also recommending supplements or movement therapies, and their experience with the protocol they intend to use. Every visit will look somewhat similar until the effects cumulate and you start seeing results, at which point your practitioner will tell you to begin spacing sessions out more. If you are in high pain they will start you at 3-4 sessions per week, when your pain goes down they might have you come in 1-2 times a week until the injury is resolved.


So, there it is. Set up a session and experience it for yourself. And remember, whatever benefits you see in the first visit will be amplified down the line - pun intended! 

Amber Scriven Acupuncturist
Written by
Amber Scriven
Acupuncturist | Yoga Teacher
About the author
A busy acupuncturist, yoga teacher and trainer, Amber has actively worked in the wellness industry for over 10 years. For her, yoga is a form of health care that she uses alongside acupuncture in the form of retreats, injury rehabilitation, and pain relief. Amber is renowned for building emotional strength while cultivating physical health.
Yoga sleep tips MINDBODY
Wellness
Published Wednesday Sep 18, 2019 by Amber Scriven

4 Yoga Poses for a Better Night’s Sleep

Yoga
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

We’ve all had sleepless nights. It’s the worst! Watching the wee hours of morning tick away. Wishing we could slip into a restful sleep before our alarm goes off . The frustrating feeling of knowing exactly how many minutes there are before you need to be up. Then, struggling through a heavy relentless morning filled with self-medicating coffee runs, and a tired, snappy version of yourself dragging through the day. 

There’s no one miracle cure for insomnia because there are so many reasons for not being able to sleep. Many people, however, find relief by curbing stress right before bed. One way to do that is with a few choice yoga stretches that mellow you out by encouraging your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) to ignite your bodies “rest and digest” cycles. This is the opposite of the “fight or flight” system that helps you race away from oncoming tigers, or other more urban “dangers.”  

Here are a few shapes that calm the nervous system and decrease adrenaline in the body to help you rest and ultimately sleep better. 
 

Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

1
Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

2
Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

3
Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

4
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

Amber Scriven Acupuncturist
Written by
Amber Scriven
Acupuncturist | Yoga Teacher
About the author
A busy acupuncturist, yoga teacher and trainer, Amber has actively worked in the wellness industry for over 10 years. For her, yoga is a form of health care that she uses alongside acupuncture in the form of retreats, injury rehabilitation, and pain relief. Amber is renowned for building emotional strength while cultivating physical health.