Cyprus Mail
Life & Style

Getting to the point

Pain I can deal with. It’s the anticipation of pain that’s the problem. Spring a physically agonising situation on me, and I can cope; tell me that, at some point in the near future, I will undergo even marginal discomfort and you’ll see me turn into a gibbering wreck. So you can imagine how I felt on hearing I that I was going to become a human pincushion. “Go and try acupuncture,” my editor suggested, in the blithe manner of one who would happily remain, unprodded, behind an office desk. “See if you can find out about dry needling too.” There followed a long list of questions (“How does it feel? Does it work? What are you doing under the desk?!”) and then I was sent on my way to discover the point of acupuncture…

Luckily, a spot of research quickly threw up a British trained and qualified expert (the internet holds severe warnings about acupuncture frauds: setting up shop with a pack of needles is pretty simple, so potential clients are strongly advised to check their practitioner is registered). His website (www.theyogahealthcentre) was very reassuring – “Acupuncture treatment is not painful, since the needles are very fine” – and, even better, he was also a yoga specialist AND an expert masseur and thus, in my mind at least, able to both wound and soothe in the same session. With the possibility of a massage thrown into the mix, things were starting to look up!

Neither the Centre nor Richard were what I’d pictured. I’d been expecting sterility, formidable-looking charts and an ancient Oriental in a long white coat; instead I got warmth and space, clean white walls and an engaging, enthusiastic practitioner. A yoga teacher for almost a decade, Richard has a background in eastern practices (Shaolin Kung Fu and Qi Gung, as well as massage, acupuncture and dry needling) and is both knowledgeable and reassuring – a huge relief for first-timers such as myself.
“We’re called The Yoga Health Centre because that’s what yoga’s about really: your health,” he smiles. “Plus, we’re not just about yoga, obviously: there’s the acupuncture, massage and dry needling too – and those are all part of improving your wellbeing and, ultimately, your health.”

It’s reassuring to see Richard’s BSc in acupuncture displayed on the wall along with his numerous other credentials, (he’s also a qualified personal trainer, and an expert at cupping: “a technique that uses skin suction along meridian pathways to break down knots in muscles”), and he’s soon allayed my misgivings. “Acupuncture has been practised for over 2,000 years; illness is seen as an imbalance in the natural harmony of the body, and what acupuncture does is bring back the equilibrium. Think of a river,” he suggests. “It’s nourishes plants and clears impurities; when there’s a blockage in its free flow, the surrounding area suffers. The body has twelve flowing rivers, known as meridians, which maintain its good health, and illness and pain arise when those rivers are blocked. What acupuncture does is help to regulate the flow and restore the affected areas.”

And dry needling, is that the same thing? “Yes and no,” he muses. “Dry needling is more of a dispersive technique, it works on specific muscular knots rather than the meridians – so if you’re particularly tense in, say, your back and neck, it helps to break up the knots. It’s completely safe,” he says, reassuringly, “and very effective. The most you’re going to feel is a nagging feeling when the needle hits the right place, and that will go in a matter of minutes as the muscle tension is alleviated.”

Confidence bolstered, I jump onto the massage bed and am soon feeling the aches, pains and stress of overwork melt away. But this is the easy bit, I think, luxuriating in the aroma of lavender and readying myself for a spot of dry needling. Not surprisingly for someone who spends a great deal of their day bent over a computer, I’m told I have a pretty tense knot in either shoulder. Richard is quickly able to pinpoint the exact location, and – thanks to the massage – I hardly feel a thing when the first needle is inserted. “When it hits the right place you’ll feel a dull ache,” he explains, just as I say “oh!” But the sensation is not at all painful, and within ten seconds I’ve forgotten there’s anything in my shoulders, and I’m preparing myself for a tiny bit of acupuncture.

Earlier, when Richard took my full medical history (which lasted quite a while, and not merely because he was being thorough!) I clarified my main issue as being post-operative digestive problems. So that’s what we’re going to work on today through, apparently, my knee.

“Since this is your first encounter with acupuncture, I’m not going to put needles in your abdomen,” he explains. “But this acupressure point, which is directly related to your digestive system, will help with some of the more obvious symptoms such as bloating and nausea, and should relieve pain.” He inserts the needle – again, nothing. I’ve felt mosquito bites more strongly! – describing the process all the while. “I’m lighting moxa” – a substance obtained from the dried leaves of an Asian plant – “on the head of the needle,” he explains, “so that the heat penetrates the meridian.” And sure enough, a delicious warmth soon spreads upwards to my stomach and, strangely, back down to my other knee!

By the time it’s over, I’m completely at ease; my fears were for naught. Three days later, the usual digestive grumps and grumbles are still, surprisingly, absent. I’m able to report that while a massage is delightful, and dry needling is decidedly beneficial for those of us who are slaves to the screen, acupuncture may just be the answer to a lot more of life’s ills than one suspects. Bring on those needles… Next week? The sinuses!
The Yoga Health Centre is located on KyriakouMatsi, Nicosia, next to the Junior School. For more information on yoga classes, acupuncture, massage, dry needling and cupping, visit or the Facebook page ‘The Yoga Health Centre’, email [email protected] or call 99 639300

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