* Meridian therapy: how it supports the immune system
* Year of the Ox
* Online Qigong & Taiji
* Exercise for the Lungs
12 February 2021 signals the end of the tragic and turbulent Year of the Rat and the start of hopefully a calmer, yin Year of the Metal Ox. A perfect time to cultivate your inner strength
* Meridian therapy: how it supports the immune system
* Year of the Ox
* Online Qigong & Taiji
* Exercise for the Lungs
The past year was undeniably challenging for most of us, yet what emerged from the confines of lockdown was the a sense of community and resilience. Back in March 2020 the weather was glorious and I started teaching daily zoom Qigong classes from my back garden. At the peak there were around 60 people joining me from all over the country and even across Europe.
It was an amazing experience to be able to connect friends and families united in learning qigong exercises in London and across the continent. We named the neighbourhood white tail-tipped fox cub Xiao Bai (Little White) and saw him sneak across the garden fence. My cats performed a Tom and Jerry show with a little mouse that I managed to rescue mid-class, whilst birds were chirping heartily enjoying the fresher air and freer skies.
Now in mid-winter lockdown, my clinics in the gym are closed again. Fortunately I can continue my acupuncture practice for urgent and high need patients in a colleague's garden clinic in Camden. Xiao Bai the friendly fox is fully grown, and although the weather is less welcoming I am still in my garden teaching Mon & Fri Moving Qi-gong, to friends and family in Switzerland, Manchester and Deal and my local and new students whilst waiting to return to the community centre, college or park where I teach.
You are welcome to join the class. It's open to all and free, with voluntary donations invited.
If you are in need of acupuncture contact me. If your case is urgent or high need I can book you into the Camden Clinic. Otherwise I can see you for a 30-minute online qi session.
Yinxiang: Welcome Fragrance
This acupuncture point is the final point of the Large Intestine Channel. It is located at the side of the nose, level with the middle of the ala nasi - the round flared edge of the nostril. In Chinese medicine, the Lung is the yin organ and the Large Intestine the paired yang organ. Rubbing or pressing the point opens the nasal passages and expels wind and clears heat. In clinic I would use a needle at the point to help with congestion, discharge, loss of sense of smell, rhinitis or pain swelling, itching or paralysis of the face.
Dry Washing Yinxiang Exercises
This simple Qigong Lung exercise (see video) can be practiced daily to clear the nose and one student said it helped to clear her chronic cough.
According to the 2021 Chinese horoscope, this year is synonymous with hard work, discipline, loyalty and a fair appreciation of tangible reality. The characteristics that gain influence are constancy, a taste for traditions, but also the internalisation of feelings, discipline and making savings.
The energies of Wu Xing (Five Phases) and Feng Shui (Wind Water or the Chinese art or practice of creating harmonious surroundings) promote stability and prosperity for short-term projects. Before launching any project in 2021, it is therefore essential to plan carefully the architecture of each stage, so as not to compromise the viability of the operation, even if this takes a little more time than expected. Such an attitude, which is both prudent and lucid, will ultimately have a positive and lasting effect.
The year, however, presents its share of obstacles to overcome. It is prudent to progress with rigour and determination on your path, to anticipate the difficulties to be overcome without giving up on your dreams. It is good to practice to focus more on what is real and concrete to avoid getting lost in illusions. Moreover, it is essential in 2021 to first prove yourself in the desired field of activity in order to be able to earn or keep your position.
Metal is synonymous with durability, resistance and loyalty. It designates teamwork and interest in the community. The direction is the West and symbolically associated with sunset. At the level of the human body, In Chinese medicine and food, Metal is linked to the lungs, the colour white, to pungent taste and flavours. As opposed to the Yang Metal which was a sign of hardness and sharpness, like a sword to protect the home or a scythe to harvest crops, Yin Metal correstponds to a metal ornament whose object is to embellish or a table instrument such as a fork or spoon whose function is to satiate appetites.
Lifestyle and health
Last year was the first of the 12 year cycle with the cunning rat beating the Ox to the start. It was also the start of the metal phase and therefore no coincidence that we were warned that as the Metal element refers directly to the lungs, beware of respiratory infections. The Chinese horoscope for the year of the Ox advises you to favour the fresh air of the countryside or the mountains to recharge your batteries and stay healthy.
In western terms, immunity is the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitised white blood cells. Innate immunity is the body's natural defence system, whilst adaptive immunity can differentiate pathogens and comprises two components: T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes.
In Chinese medicine theory, a healthy constitution is determined by two factors:
Meridian therapy was founded in Japan in 1930s by acupuncturists who felt that under the influence of western style medicine, acupuncture was losing its traditions and theories. Returning to classical acupuncture texts dating back 2500 years, the aim of acupuncture is to to regulate the balance of qi and blood. Meridian Therapy seeks to improve circulation of qi (vital energy) in the body to restore health. In Toyohari (literally translated as “East Asian Needling Technique”) Meridian Therapy, the non-invasive needling used in the root treatment is the most important part of treatment as it works at a constituional level. It will support the overall health and wellbeing of the patient, their own self-healing capabilities and ability to recover from illness. Moxibustion, an essential part of Japanese acupuncture, has also been found to improve immunity (see Moxafrica).
25 January 2020 marks the start of the spring festival or Chinese New Year of the White Metal Rat. It’s the beginning of the 12 animals zodiac and so time to start something new. Have you tried moxa, taiji or qigong?
In this newsletter:
I use Moxa as an essential part of my Toyohari Japanese acupuncture treatments. Patients find it extremely relaxing and it can help to reduce pain, stress, hot flushes, improve blood count and immune function and balance the meridians.
The term for ‘Acupuncture’ in Chinese is Zhenjiu. Zhen is ‘needle’ and Jiu is ‘moxibustion’. Moxibustion or moxa is the often forgotten, ‘poor relation’ to acupuncture. However, its history predates the use of needles and it has powerful therapeutic effects.
Moxa uses the refined product of the selectively picked leaves of the mugwort plant which are smouldered over key points on the skin in specific ways. This plant found in temperate zones of the northern hemisphere is generally classified as a weed, although it still has a reputation for its more esoteric properties in many traditional cultures. It is only in East Asia, however, that it has been used therapeutically by being burnt over the skin.
Moxa was first referred to in Chinese literature by some of the famous Chinese philosophers. Its early use in China actually provided the seminal theoretical inspiration for meridian-focused holistic acupuncture two thousand years ago.
20th century Japanese research into responses to direct moxibustion provide positive indicators of whole body responses particularly in respect of changes in blood chemistry, in immune response and relating to effects within the autonomic nervous system. Early in the 20th century, it was being successfully used to treat Tuberculosis (TB) and as a tool to counter outbreaks of cholera.
Research also suggest that Moxa can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes experienced in menopause or as a result of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.(1)
Jenny Craig and Merlin Young (2) (fellow Toyohari UK acupuncturists) investigated the record of its use in the 1930s in Japan to treat TB before the advent of antibiotics. They set up a charity, Moxafrica, to systematically investigate the possibility that moxa may play a significant role in treating TB in the developing world where drugs and appropriate diagnosis are so scarce.
Their first Ugandan study found that patients using Moxa responded faster and better to their treatment than those who have only first line drugs. A second study was conducted by the North Korean government based on the findings from Uganda. Using higher doses of moxa on patients with multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), results showed that 85% of their Moxa patients recovered successfully from MDR-TB compared to 60% using only drugs.(3)
1. Park JE et al, Moxibustion for treating menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial
2. Young M, The Moon over Matsushima - Insights into Moxa and Mugwort
The origins of the Chinese Zodiac go back a few thousand years. According to the myths, Buddha decided to call all the animals on earth. But only twelve came. In recompense, he assigned each of these animals a year on the cycle affirming that children born in that year would acquire the personality traits of the animal assigned to that year.
In order to decide their order in the Chinese Zodiac cycle, the animals held a very exciting race. The first one to cross the river would be granted the first year, the second to come in would be the second animal in the cycle, and so on.
The strong, hardworking Ox was in the lead. Suddenly, the clever Rat, jumped on the Ox’s back, he did not even feel the little thing getting a free ride. At the last second before reaching shore, the Rat jumped on land, winning the race! The Ox came in second, the Tiger third, and so it went... the happy-go-lucky Pig took his time and came in last. Thus the Chinese Zodiac and its twelve signs were born.
25 January 2020 - 11 Feb 2021: the metal element is linked with the colour white and symbolises autumn and when associated with the Chinese zodiac sign of the Rat is therefore a period during which the individuals having invested in important projects the preceding years can expect to reap the benefits.
A Metal Rat Year combines a witty, smart and bold Rat with the robust and firm characteristics of Metal, it heralds a year with vast productive and ingenious energy. Take advantage of the invigorating characteristics of Metal to accomplish anything you have been postponing. As the beginning of the 12-year cycle, the Year of the Rat denotes a fresh start, a new beginning. This could mean anything from starting a new project, acquiring new habits, rebuilding lost friendships and relationships.
What to watch out for? The bold and shrewd disposition of the Rat needs to be harnessed so it does not become guileful or irresponsible. Make the best of the opportunities and chances life will offer always keeping a good balance. This will be a very intense year and when you are too goal-oriented you might miss the joy of the journey.
Chinese medicine is about restoring balance. A fresh start or renewing old ties can mean practicing taiji and qigong. Energy or qi can be harnessed and circulated around the meridians of the body to calm and control the mind and improve physical wellbeing. In order to bring the body into balance, an acupuncturist will take your pulse, looking for excesses or deficiencies in the Yin and Yang meridians. Acupuncture needling techniques and tuina massage are used to bring the body back into balance.
Sources: karmaweather.com; thechinesezodiac.org; china-family-adventure.com
This year I’m offering patients the chance to experience Toyohari acupuncture. Based on the Chinese classical medical texts and meridian therapy, Japanese acupuncturists in the 1960s developed a non-invasive method of acupuncture and moxibustion based on pulse diagnosis. Like all traditional East Asian acupuncture the aim is to restore health by bringing the body back into balance, in terms of yin and yang, qi and blood, and the five elements or organs.
Toyohari works on the “root” by tonifying (strengthening) the weakest meridians before focussing on the “branches” or symptoms. A variety of methods in the Toyohari toolkit include non-inserted gold or silver needles, inserted steel needles, moxibustion (heat treatment using rice grains or cones of mugwort on the surface of the body) and various techniques using large non-inserted needles to balance qi in local areas and in the organs via the meridian system.
In contrast to the no-pain no-gain or trigger point approach (which of course can also be very effective), Toyohari is a gentle method that rebalances the whole body. It is ideal for children and people with needle phobia or weak constitutions due to chronic illnesses and also conditions where needle insertion is contra-indicated in the UK, such as lymphodema or post surgery.
For more information or to book an appointment click here.
Happy Year of the Earth Pig
Chinese New Year in 2019 starts on 5 February 2019 and ends on 24 January 2020. This is the year of the Earth Pig. The Pig occupies the 12th or last position in the Chinese Zodiac. The dominant presence of the Earth element under its Yin polarity has the effect of stabilizing and fixing the often joyous and ephemeral year. The Year of the Pig marks the end of a complete cycle of rotation of the 12 signs of the zodiac and signals the time take a well-deserved break, an opportunity to do the analysis of previous 11 years, in order to be ready to project ourselves more serenely into the new cycle that begins the following year, with the Year of the Metal Rat 2020.A period of joy and relaxation, the benevolence of the sign of the Pig will be felt in many areas throughout 2019. Good will and motivation are renewed and strengthened.
Lifestyle and Health
Those among the 12 signs of the Chinese calendar who feel a little febrile and unstable during 2019 must take special care of their well-being, even if that means they appear to lack consideration for their relatives. If the periods of doubt are fortunately fleeting, the questioning they entail is always beneficial. Changing lifestyle (or living environment) forces us to find within ourselves new resources that we did not even suspect.
Be careful not to indulge yourself in gluttony during the Year of the Pig 2019. Watch for the quality and portions of your meals if you want to keep getting into your trousers by the end of 2019. Practicing a regular sport activity adapted to your body type is highly recommended. Above all in 2019, it is essential to avoid idleness.
Sources: karmaweather.com; thechinesezodiac.org
3 warm-up exercises - watch here
I learnt these Hunyuan silk reeling exercises in the gardens of Heilongjian University for Traditional Chinese Medicine. A variation of Chen style taiji (tai chi) practice these were developed by Feng Zhi Qiang whose focus was on health rather than martial side of taijiquan.
They are excellent for shoulder pain, stagnation and stiffness by enabling qi or functional energy to flow through the body. Try them!
Chinese New Year begins on 16 February 2018, which is the 4715th Chinese New Year. With each year there is a related element and this year it is earth so it is also said to be the Yellow Male Earth Dog year.
According to Chinese horoscope theory, the Male Earth is represented by mountain and the sign of the Male Earth Dog is two mountains, representing a strong Earth. The focus will be on property, environment, territory, integrity whether spiritual or religious.
As 2018 is the Mountain Dog year, this may be a wild dog that could block your way. This implies that there may obstacles along the path, so in order to execute your plan you need to use your wisdom to overcome the difficulties and then you will see a wide-open road ahead.
The Dog is the 11th animal in 12 Chinese zodiac signs. Dog month is connected to the last month of autumn. Winter will come right after the Dog month. Winter is the season of Water. If you can climb on the mountain of the Dog, then you can see much further for the future. 2019 is year of Pig, which is the first year of Water. Therefore 2018 is a stepping stone and if you want to do well in 2019 the year of the Water Pig year, then need to well-planned in the 2018 of Dog year.