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I live down the street from Berkeley’s own Acupressure Institute. In fact, I have a couple of friends who have recently finished or are in the process of finishing the program there. One night, a buddy of mine called and asked if he could practice a new technique on me. Curious, I agreed.

The Institute is a welcoming environment, which quickly put me at ease. It’s clean, nicely decorated, and quiet inside. My friend greeted me, and we headed upstairs where there were several other students getting ready for the open hour of practice time with their friends. We set up a massage table and I put my face in that doughnut-hole thing that extends out the front.

Expecting a massage like the deep-tissue one that left my muscles sore for days afterwards, I was surprised that the entire experience consisted of very gentle if not barely-there physical touch. I didn’t feel like my muscles were being separated from each other, but I did feel pretty relaxed dressed in my pajamas in that darkish room with a surprisingly warm sheet over me. I may or may not have dozed off at one point.

Afterwards, I was jolted back into reality when my friend quietly advised me to take my time before getting up. So I took a couple of deep breaths before sitting up, and I was surprised to feel that faintly familiar sense of an approaching fainting spell. I was lightheaded, and suddenly voices sounded very far away.

My friend handed me a little cup of water and asked how I felt. “Weird,” I said. “I feel kinda lightheaded.” He nodded understandingly and told me that it was common. He also said that since acupressure releases the muscles similar to a massage, I should drink a lot of water to flush out my system.

I slept like a baby that night.

The next day, he messaged me on Facebook to ask how I was feeling, with a side note that acupressure can also bring up buried emotions. This was perplexing to me, so I thought I’d do a little light reading.

The idea behind acupressure, like acupuncture, is to access points in the body that apparently stimulate self-healing. The difference is that acupressure (thankfully) does not involve any needles. There are countless accounts on the internet of acupressure patients and doctors attesting to its effectiveness in relieving headaches, lower pack pain, stress, GI issues, and even stress or trouble sleeping.

Before the session, my friend asked if I had any trouble spots, so I told him that I’ve had lower back pain ever since I started working in an office (five and a half years ago). Afterwards, he told me I have tight hamstrings, which were more than likely pulling on my back and causing pain. The idea made sense, since the lower back pain is worse when I do a lot of long-distance running or when I neglect my stretching… which, I have to admit, is more often than not. To me, it was amazing he could tell what was wrong after seemingly barely having touched me.

I’ve only had one session of acupressure, so I can’t tell you whether or not it’s effective in the long-term treatment of pain. I didn’t really notice any resurfaced emotions the day after, but maybe I’m not so in-tune with that kind of thing. I can tell you that it was a relaxing and fascinating experience, and it comes with an equally relaxing and fascinating philosophy.


Article by Esther Slaman

Feature Image Source: BookYogaRetreats