Do you enjoy good health and a sense of ease within your body? Do you want to be in possession of strategies and resources to make the very best of the wellness that is available to you?
Have you ever experienced traditional Chinese bodywork therapy? Have you heard of or experienced tui na and other modalities, such as gua sha, cupping, and/or moxibustion? If not, keep reading. If you have, you might want to pass this article along to a friend. I am so passionate about traditional Chinese bodywork and I truly want to share the wealth and make sure that everyone knows about it and can try it. And yet, even after being an AOBTA-CP (that’s a certified practitioner) for over two years now, I’m still finding that people have no idea what Chinese medicine can do for them beyond acupuncture, the more well-known needle therapy. This is something that I hope to change because people who want holistic healthcare miss out by not knowing of these ancient and enduring modalities.
Are you ready to get healthy and to feel great?
If you don’t know about these modalities, you aren’t alone. It was only four and a half years ago that I first heard the term tui na. I had no idea what it was and what caught my attention at the time was the pronunciation. (My reaction at the time: “Twee nah? Huh? What’s that?”). My school program required students to either take a full program of medical qi gong (energy work) or tui na (bodywork) and I opted for the one with the funny-sounding name. I fell in love immediately, and even after I am licensed to practice acupuncture (more on that in other blog posts to come), tui na and other similar bodywork modalities will remain a pillar of my practice. Why? Because they work!
Tui na is great for many things. If you’re an athlete or a busy professional, tui na is for you. Do you want to try facial rejuvenation but don’t like needles? Well, I’ve got that covered. Do you have any chronic issues? Yes, there’s something for you, too. (I’m going to keep it brief here, but do check my blog if you want to read more).
Do you have aches or pains or muscle imbalances? If you are normal, you’ve probably had an injury or two over the course of your lifetime. Most people have one side or the other that is dominant and thus tends to tighter muscle (while the other side is a little weaker). If you are an athlete, you may find that you benefit greatly from regular massage as part of your wellness regimen.
Tom Bisio, a renowned martial artist and Chinese medicine practitioner, explains that “Traditional Chinese medicine includes very sophisticated massage methods that realign soft tissue and bone, energize the body, and treat internal disease. Being proficient in these methods usually requires study with an experienced practitioner of tui na, Chinese medical massage” (223). Indeed, tui na is a modality that requires considerable study and practice if one is to become worthy of the AOBTA-CP title.
My teacher, Dr. Fan, is a noted specialist in the field of traumatic injury. He guided me through not just the three obligatory courses plus two internship terms. I repeated two extra terms as an auditor and underwent way more internship hours than required. I also, of course, studied to treat injury with acupuncture from him. Why? Because when I work on my athlete clients or when I’m strategizing a plan to help someone with chronic pain, I want to feel confident that I am giving an authentic traditional Chinese treatment. This is not just any old massage that you can get anywhere. Nope. With tui na, you are benefiting from what is indeed, as noted above, a very sophisticated modality. If it’s going to be done well, it’s done by someone who has studied with care and respect for the tradition.
If you have an old injury, a chronic condition, a new nagging pain, or anything structural, do try tui na! It is like a massage, in that the techniques include rolling, pressing, rubbing, and other manual tactics that will loosen tight areas, bring flow and healing to weak spots, and generally soothe and strengthen the overall constitution. It’s even better because–as with any traditional Chinese treatment–your practitioner is looking at you from a holistic perspective and treating with an end-goal of balance in mind. For athletes, tui na and cupping (more on that in a minute) are of immeasurable benefit for just these reasons. (If you want to read my blog post about treating Spartan race athletes with tui na, go here; to read about cupping and the Olympic athletes, check this link).
What if you’re not an athlete? What if you’re stressed and just want to relax? What if you have some pretty common issues, like gut health concern, or insomnia? Traditional Chinese bodywork can help! By manipulating the body in such a way that its natural healing potential is activated, tui na is in fact similar to what you can do with acupressure.
Or what if you want to try facial rejuvenation but are not interested in plastic surgery, chemical injections, or even needle treatment with acupuncture? Me, I love facial acupuncture but not everyone loves needles. And there is definitely something for you in facial rejuvenation tui na if this is the case. In the photo, above, I referenced my training in traumatic injury. Dr. Wu’s seminar, for its part, focused on acupuncture and–though not mentioned in the title–he also taught participants ways to perform facial rejuvenation tui na. (I have written about this extensively, and you can find one of my more widely-read articles, here).
So maybe you are starting to be curious about this–I hope you are!–and maybe you are wondering about cupping, and gua sha, too, and about moxibustion. Well, cupping seems to have entered the public sphere with the Olympic athletes (do you remember the circles on their shoulders, or the pictures of Michael Phelps?) but it’s not just for the pros. If you want to loosen tight muscles or get some help with pain or stress or chronic injury, having a traditional Chinese treatment can make a huge difference. If you want an aesthetic treatment that can smooth lumps, bumps, and dimples, aesthetic cupping can also be a wonderful thing to try. Tui na is a pushing therapy; cupping, on the other hand, pulls via the suction of the cups. Either one, or both in a single treatment, are ways to improve everything from circulation to function to sense of calm and inner balance.
When you experience the push or the pull of tui na and/or cupping you are experiencing a rich tradition of healing and health nurturance. There is more you can try if you want to genuinely experience Chinese bodywork therapies, though. Gua sha is a light scraping treatment that is akin to cupping–it breaks up congestion and enhances the body’s capacity to sweat out toxins and heat accumulations. This can be strong treatment that leaves marks (I like this link for a description of gua sha, complete with pictures, here) or it can be incredible for facial rejuvenation or other aesthetic purposes. I have to see the person before I can discuss outcome, but I’ve had excellent results when working with stretch marks, scars, and soft jawlines when I use the jade instrument for gua sha. Cupping for the face in conjunction with gua sha is, in my estimation, divine. Everyone tells me that they love how it feels, and the visible results are notable too. Win-win!
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention moxibustion. If pushing, pulling, and light scraping aren’t enough, did you know that a traditional Chinese treatment can also include heated herbs that are applied externally? Well, we can do that for you too. I think that one of my favorite moxibustion stories is about a hairstylist who thought they were going to have to take early retirement because nobody could fix their wrist pain. I worked on them with moxibustion and ignored the wrist in favor of the upper arm and neck. I spent a good bit of time in certain areas of the arm with my burning herbs. After the first treatment there was phenomenal improvement. After four treatments, this person was in great shape. They almost cried when they hugged me and thanked me for saving their career. I said, “Thank the moxibustion–it was just what you needed!” I have also used moxibustion to great effect with my hyper-mobile clients (if you’ve never heard of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or you have it and want to read about what I’ve done for my clients with this syndrome, check here).
If you have never tried tui na and want to find a practitioner, the AOBTA (our certifying body) has a find a practitioner link, here.
Are you in Austin, Texas? If so, you are in luck. I have a North office and a South office so that you don’t have to deal with traffic to get to me. You can book online, here:
I would love to see you, either for a single appointment or, after consultation, a series of appointments. One treatment can do wonders for you but a series can be even better. I’m always happy to take the time to discuss your options with you!
If you’re not here but someone to whom you’d like to give a gift is, you can contact me and purchase a gift certificate.
It’s simple–you tell me what service you want, I send you an invoice, and–once paid–I’ll send you your card with an activated code number on it. I’ve put a lot of effort into my gift cards so that they are not only a gift of health but also aesthetically pleasing. If you are in town, you can go by my South location at Heather Gordon Spa & Wellness or pick one up from me in person at either of my offices, too.
The gift of health and wellness is never amiss, don’t you agree?
Chinese medicine has so much to offer you. If you want holistic healthcare and wellness nurturing that can change your life for the better, you are missing out if you don’t experience what this ancient healing art can do for you. And for those who don’t want needles, well…now you know. There’s a lot more to Chinese medicine than just acupuncture.
I hope to see you soon, and here’s to health and wellness!
Bisio, Tom. A Tooth From the Tiger’s Mouth: How to Treat Your Injuries with Powerful Secrets of the Great Chinese Warriors. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
Have you ever though to try traditional Chinese bodywork? At present, I offer tui na (similar to massage) and other ancient Chinese therapies, including cupping, gua sha, moxa, and more. If you are looking for a holistic wellness consultant and coach, my services can entail short or longer term programs. You are your own best investment, and when you take charge of your wellbeing you invest in yourself now and for the benefit of your future.
Two Hearts Wellness is a local holistic health and wellness outfit with a passion for all things nourishing, including but not limited to: joyful living, great food, art, and literature, and–of course–traditional Chinese medicine. If you want to learn more about me, click here and do feel free to follow my blog and/or my Instagram, connect with me on Facebook, or contact me here to set up an appointment for personal training or health coaching services. If you are interested in Asian bodywork therapy, click here to book an appointment online.