The YMCA of the North is getting right to the point when it comes to providing a multitude of healing/recovery options for visitors. The Y recently began offering acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for visitors at its George Wellbeing Center.
After launching the center, Sally St. John, the vice president of whole person wellbeing, said it became a test kitchen to experiment with integrative health services for Y members and the greater community in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Acupuncture specifically was an integrative health modality community and market research was telling us people wanted better access to,” said St. John. “It turns out they do. We have found group acupuncture to be another positive way individuals and families can gather in community to work on their health. Currently we are offering community acupuncture at three sites and almost daily it is a full house.”
At a visitor’s first acupuncture session an on-site licensed acupuncturist will:
- Gather health history and information to create a personalized well-being plan.
- Complete a TCM assessment.
- Provide an acupuncture treatment, which could include herbalism, cupping or Gua sha massage.
Before coming to an acupuncture session, visitors are heavily encouraged to eat something beforehand so they don’t arrive hungry. St. John said acupuncture serves as a whole-systems approach and can offer a wide range of benefits.
“For example, one might seek acupuncture for pain but also experience improved sleep afterwards,” said St. John. “Common conditions people come in to treat are pain management, insomnia, stress reduction, headaches/migraines, fertility, pregnancy symptoms, addiction, gut health and digestion, arthritis, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel, anxiety, depression, etc.”
During an acupuncture session:
- A licensed acupuncturist inserts ultra-thin, sterile needles at various points in the body. These points are called meridians and they connect all aspects of the body together into one network.
- The acupuncturist might manipulate acupuncture points with techniques such as acupressure, Tuina, cupping and a Gua sha massage.
- Most clients experience a state of relaxation and calmness during their session. Sensations from acupuncture needles are very minimal, and can include mild tingling, soreness or aching.
Sessions are available in either a one-on-one or group setting. Longer treatments are available for Y members at different prices between $50 to $125.
Advice for Interested Rec Centers and Individuals
For individuals who may be a little skittish about the treatment, St. John encouraged them to first meet with an acupuncturist to discuss their goals and fears.
“An acupuncturist has several tools in the toolbox besides needling, such as acupressure (a non-needle approach), tuina, gua sha massage and cupping,” said St. John.” It is also helpful to note, the typical acupuncture needle is not bigger than a piece of hair, so once the needle is in, you really don’t feel much of anything.”
St. John said several acupuncturists who are in private practice are currently looking for ways to better connect the community to the health and well-being benefits of their treatments.
“So first, go try acupuncture for yourself and get to know the practitioners who do it,” advised St. John. “They have lots of ideas on how to improve accessibility to TCM. Next, don’t overthink it, community acupuncture can pop-up almost anywhere — a gymnasium, yoga studio, community room, etc.”
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