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Described as acupuncture without the needles, Tui Na is a hands-on body therapy that favours pressure over pins. An integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the treatment’s name literally translates to ‘push-grasp’ or ‘poke-punch’ so if you’re looking for a softly, softly approach, this might be one to steer clear of.
The purpose of the poking is to restore balance and promote healing by stimulating the natural circulation of blood and energy, or chi as it’s known in China. Only when you’ve achieved your balance through this incessant prodding and pulling, will you be able to enjoy a sense of overall wellbeing and harmony.
Tui Na refers to the body’s energy flow as the ‘Meridian System’. If you have blockages in the system, you’re less likely to be able to go with the flow, your energy will dip and your balance will be knocked sideways, so it’s crucial that the obstructions are eliminated.
Your initial treatment may feel like a bit of a geography lesson what with ebbs and flows of energy, but by using your body in the same way as an ordinance survey map, your therapist, after examining all your muscles, joints, acupressure points and energy Meridians, will be able to pinpoint exactly where your problems lie. Your following sessions will then see them navigate the best possible way to overcome these barriers.
If you’ve ever tried your hand at bread-making, be prepared for some of the same techniques here. Using a variety of pressure moves expect rubbing, kneading, brushing, shaking, pulling, knuckle rolls (not to be confused with knuckle dusters!), pounding, pummelling and vibrating techniques. Admittedly, some of the aforementioned procedures may leave you a tad sore, but the onus is to leave you feeling as light as a feather.
Treatments can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour and are performed on a massage table or firm mat. There’s no need to strip off as there are no oils involved, but it’s probably best to wear loose clothing so it’s easier for the therapists to perform their moves. If you can hack the pace, and the pressure, it’s advisable to have at least 10 sessions to ensure that your energy is at a happy equilibrium.
It is believed that Tui Na links different emotions to different organs, so if you’re feeling particularly low on your treatment day, your therapist will more than likely pick up on it. For excessive joy, sadness, hysteria and irrational behaviour, the heart will be treated. For anger and depression the liver and gall-bladder and for fear or phobias the bladder and kidneys will become the main focus. Whilst the lungs are connected with feelings of sadness and grief, the stomach and spleen are linked with too much thinking, so if you’re worrying about your weight, deliberating over it won’t help your slimming regime.
As well as emotional and physiological effects, Tui Na alleviates muscle pain and medical conditions including arthritis. If you’re particularly stressed out or feeling tired and emotional, a good old knuckle roll can help to overcome insomnia, constipation, migraines and stress.
Baby Tui Na is also becoming a popular choice with mums and their newborns, although the technique is understandably toned down. By balancing the baby’s body, it encourages the immune system to flourish and can reduce reactions to things that cause eczema and asthma. It also helps with that extra special parent-to-child bonding as well as improving motor co-ordination which enhances those child genius traits - they’ll be writing, reading and playing sports before they’re out of nappies!
Developed over 2,000 years ago, Tui Na continues to be a popular treatment in its native China.