by Katherine Smith
Have you ever noticed how similar yoga and acupuncture are? Both follow similar philosophies. Both work on a series of energy channels in the subtle body to promote healing and wellbeing. Both are steeped in millennia of wisdom and ancient medicine.
You may have also noticed there are a number of yoga retreats springing up that include or offer both yoga and acupuncture. My guess is it’s because those behind the idea know the profound impact this marriage of arts makes.
I first discovered acupuncture in my early twenties. Back then I suffered from IBS, my periods were irregular and painful and always preceded by ferocious PMT. I sometimes struggled with depression, migraines and various aches and pains. Combined, all of this left me with a general malaise that no one was ever quite able to place. I never had any energy and was always being checked for thyroid issues and diabetes.
Eager to combat these random symptoms I decided to try acupuncture. Luckily, I met a great and extremely wise therapist who was able to connect what I was feeling and why, and treat me accordingly.
The rejuvenating and re-energizing results were staggering. Until then, yoga had been something I did in a gym, as a compliment to my high-octane, adrenaline-fueled workouts, but I began to realize that yoga had a similar profound impact on my body-mind as acupuncture treatment and that if I incorporated both into my regular lifestyle I felt well. I felt this effect especially when I was able to remove myself from my daily life and experience both yoga and acupuncture on a yoga retreat. What I found was a potent combination of environment and treatment that resulted in overall wellbeing.
Here are 5 reasons why acupuncture is more effective on yoga retreat:
1. You’re away from the stresses and triggers of home
After treatment you’re not being thrown back into regular everyday life that can come with a jolt. Instead, the body and mind is more settled, leaving room for you to assimilate the effects of treatment better, meaning you decompress far quicker than when you just take time off.
2. You’re resting
On retreat there is simply far less to worry about. You have the time and space to give ourselves time to breath. Sometimes this means that things can feel worse before they feel better, because down time provides the opportunity to re-evaluate and ponder life from all perspectives. You relax more deeply and perhaps begin to think more profoundly. Both yoga and acupuncture will help you to process and integrate your thoughts and experiences and gently move the energetic stagnation that gives you a bad case of the blahs! so you feel rejuvenated and restored.
3. You’re doing yoga regularly
Yoga will open you up and continue the work of the acupuncture needle long after treatment, working on mind, body and spirit.
4. The food
You’re eating well. The food you eat on retreat is clean and healthy (usually), without all the regular stuff that burdens your system, so you naturally detox. Acupuncture can help accelerate the shedding of toxins and leave you feeling light and bright, as will yoga.
5. You can’t maintain the habits of home
You’re not able to maintain your usual patterns of behavior. When we have treatment outside of the box we call “home” we have the chance to change our conditioning, re-write the rules and replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones.
Where to start. Here are two retreat centers I would highly recommend where yoga and acupuncture are available:
Blue Osa is a yoga retreat space on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Their resident therapist Koji ran away to China at age 17 and trained in energetic art forms within the walls of a Shaolin temple where he was first introduced to Chinese medicine. What he experienced inspired him and he felt a strong call to help people. He responded by completing a rigorous five year curriculum at the Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences in British Columbia, prior to earning his doctors degree and furthering his studies in China.
Vale de Moses is a chocolate box retreat space of unparalleled beauty nestled in the Portuguese mountains. Co-founder, Vonetta Winter, is a yoga teacher, acupuncturist and massage therapist. She discovered all three as a result of trying to solve her own health and wellbeing issues, particularly the unbearable back pain that plagued her following the birth of her first son, Josh. The effect of her own journey to health and wellbeing was so profound she changed her life so she could heal others, studying with an eclectic mix of teachers around the world.
Katherine is a global nomad, a free spirit, a wild warrior yogi on a quest for her own truth; part of a new generation of women who are wild, wise, authentic and free, who has chosen to dismiss what society has dictated and instead pursue her own destiny. She is currently writer in residence, chef yoga teacher and writer at Wild’n’Whole. Find out more at www.katherinesmithyoga.com.