March-April 2012

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: a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence: physical equilibrium: mental and emotional steadiness BALANCE by Danielle Polen Get Your S On ometimes, our best efforts at being in balance just aren't enough and we need some outside assistance. Aſter three recent back-to-back trips with varying degrees of stress, my immune system finally gave out and I got sick. I immediately made an appointment to see my fabulous acupuncturist, Kate. The practice of acupuncture dates back EASE THE PAIN: Listen to NPR's report on how thousands of years, and how it works depends upon whom you ask. According to Chinese thought, the body (indeed, all of nature) contains two opposing forces—yin and yang. When these constantly shiſting forces are in balance, the body is in its most optimal (healthy) state. When out of balance, a state of disharmony, illness, or disease manifests. Our life-force energy, known as chi, flows along pathways throughout the body and maintains yin and yang in balance. However, the flow of energy can sometimes get disrupted or blocked, leading to illness. The intention of the acupuncturist is to get the chi flowing again by stimulating specific points on the body, thereby enabling the body to heal itself. From a Western perspective, acupuncture "works" by stimulating certain points on the body to create a shiſt in the vibration of energy, which in turn encourages the release of certain chemicals and hormones. These acupuncturists like Kate can help you! chemicals can help boost the immune system and provide relief from pain and inflammation. While still a relatively new practice in the United States, studies show that acupuncture is quickly gaining in acceptance and popularity. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, people use acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions, including back pain, joint pain, neck pain, headaches, and sciatica, and stress management. While acupuncture certainly has become more widespread in this country, there are still plenty of people who either fear the idea of being treated with needles, or who are just plain skeptical. For me, however, it's a useful tool for maintaining balance and good health. And like the old saying goes: "There must be something to acupuncture—you never see any sick porcupines!" Danielle Polen is Associate Director, Publications. She is also an experienced, registered yoga teacher through the Yoga Alliance. She can be reached at dpolen@aila.org. MARCH/APRIL 2012 29 Chi n SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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