Thursday, 28 January 2010

Pins and needles

As those who read my post on getting hot and sweaty in the city will know, I have been an enthusiastic, if not yet fully competent, Bikram yoga bunny for a year or so. I admit however that with the strains and stresses of my Masters I have not been keeping up my usual attendance. When I do go however I love that I get a full 90 minutes of silence (and yes, pain) away from the constant flurry that is this city. Musing whilst in a session a while ago, I wondered what I would do without this escape, if I had to leave the city, and could not find it elsewhere. I determined that now, spoilt by having it as I am, I would struggle. Despite the chaos and noise, the manic pace of my life here I have found peace and quiet in a number of places. One of which I have been visiting for the past year, in line with the yoga, and have found to be a valuable refuge.

Now if I were to say, after all my ravings about the wonders of punishing yoga, that what I am referring to is acupuncture, you will all I imagine draw one of two conclusions. Firstly, I am a masochist, filling my days with pain and torture, and hence I am also probably certifiably mad. Or secondly, that I am somewhat hippyish in my approach to keeping my body ticking over - no synthetic drugs for me, just sweat, needles, and, like, holistic healing, maaann!

If city-life has taught me one thing it is that there isn't an artificial substance in the world which makes keeping up with it possible. You need to be kind to your body, as your primary method of transportation through the city streets, and keep it running in better nick than TFL. No caffeine-induced energy highs last long enough, no sugar or drug-induced rush is worth the ensuing crash; a healthy body and mind are your best assets living in a city. But I confess I cheat. I do not spend hours meditating or eating the perfect diet heaving with nutrients aplenty. I have, however, a phenomenal acupuncturist; a doctor, therapist, counselor, dietician and general guru of all that is nourishing and energising.

After a tiring day at work I can take a vile tube train (which usually misbehaves and makes me late for my appointment) and within minutes of my arriving at my acupuncturist's sanctuary I am in a different place. And not just in a geographical sense. Cosy in a wonderful, palatial shed at the bottom of a peaceful garden, I have my vital pulses checked and the Accidental acupuncturist and I briefly recap my health of the past few weeks. Soon, I am lying down, a human pin-cushion with a few tiny needles (pretty and pink!) working on my pressure points to realign me and my crazy energies. Staring at the clean white sloping roof and wooden beams, I sometimes hear squirrels scampering across the roof, but nothing else. Silence. And no, the needles don't hurt. Once they are in I usually can't even tell where they are. I lie back and clear my mind for a few quiet minutes. It is blissful. And vital.

Initially seeking help for, quite literally, blinding migraines, this form of Chinese medicine goes well beyond merely treating symptoms, but recognises that a particular manifestation of pain can be an indicator of a much larger strain which your body may be fighting without your knowledge. One forgets how much you put yourself through in the city. Solid concrete, filthy air, the germs of a million people, endless greyness and gloomy weather. So you need to make time to recharge and realign, and mount a defence. If not, London's going to get you!

For more information about acupuncture visit


  1. thank you for posting this... I still haven't went... Scotty just lost his papaw and then next weekend we are going to be in nashville...

  2. Hmmm, now looking at the above comment the Chinese spammers are getting busy.
    Hey not a masochist - rather an endorphin junky!
    As a besides, my mother and daughter used to get mega-migraines. The cause in their case, chocolate. No chocolate = no migraines (for them)

  3. Hmm, well I've done a little judicious editing but will watch out for more, Al!

    My migraines seem to be triggered by, oddly, release of stress - ie I get them AFTER a huge work project rather than during. I'm just thrilled to have found something which seems to be keeping them at bay!


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