There are many things I miss about living in Austin, and Hiatus Spa + Retreat is one of them. For those who are not familiar with Hiatus, they have a super awesome membership program where as an H-Circle member you pay $59/month and receive one Essential Service – a massage, facial, mani-pedi, body glow, or body wrap – each month. It’s a great deal for any of these top-notch offerings.
Just a few months ago, Hiatus added a new Essential Service to their menu, acupuncture. How rad is that? I have always been intrigued by but have never tried acupuncture, so I jumped at the opportunity to give it a whirl and report back to all of you.
Caroline is the new acupuncturist at Hiatus in Austin (they have been offering acupuncture at the Dallas location for a while). Here’s her bio:
Hiatus’ new acupuncturist, Caroline Chen, L.Ac., is a University of Texas at Austin graduate. After earning her Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MSAOM) at South Baylo University in Anaheim, Cal., Chen headed to Tianjin, China for nearly 2 years and practiced at Tian He Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Xing. There, she gained further experience treating a wide variety of disorders including pain management, stress management and more. She then went on to practice independently in Houston for eight years before back to Austin.
Caroline’s experience and excellent table-side manner made me feel at ease for venturing into the traditional Chinese medicine unknown. As she would with any new acupuncture client, Caroline took me through a comprehensive consultation. She carefully reviewed the health profile I filled out, going over every single item I checked on the list of possible ailments I’ve experienced in the past 12 months.
After reviewing my answers, Caroline then looked at my tongue, an important diagnostic tool in Chinese medicine. My tongue is yellowish, and she said that I have a “damp heat” constitution. Just by looking at my tongue, she correctly diagnosed that I often feel hot. To combat this “damp heat”, she recommended I avoid dairy, bananas and cold foods and drinks. She also felt my pulse and took my blood pressure and concluded that my digestive system, along with my self-proclaimed neck and shoulder tightness, would be the main issues to address during my acupuncture session.
I asked Caroline, what is her typical acupuncture treatment plan? She explained that for people suffering from a chronic issue (that wouldn’t be me), she’d recommend a once a week session for five weeks with periodic follow-ups. She explained that the Chinese view the body as a system of channels, and acupuncture helps keep these channels open so that qi, or energy, can flow freely. Having previously studied feng shui, this made a lot of sense to me.
In anticipation of the session, I wore a sleeveless top and skirt, so that Caroline would have access to my lower arms and legs. I have to admit I was a tad nervous at first, but once she placed the first needle right between my eyes and I didn’t feel a thing, I was fine. She also placed needles on either side of my neck, along my left arm and hand and around my lower legs and top of my feet. After placing all the needles, she gave me a remote in my right hand to page her just in case I needed anything. Then she left the room, and I had 15-20 minutes to myself. Per her suggestion, I did some breathing exercises to relax. I even nodded off for a bit. Relaxation accomplished.
Caroline returned and then pulled out all the needles, waving her hands over my arms and legs several times to be sure she got every last one. Before I left, she gave me a bonus treatment of auricular therapy. Like your feet, there is a map to your body in your ear. She placed three “ear seeds” in my right ear. The seeds adhere with medical tape and have no topical benefit but stimulate acupressure. Over the following five days, I gave myself mini-doses of ear reflexology by massaging the seeds to augment my in-spa acupuncture session.
With just one session and no one specific issue to alleviate, I can’t present indisputable evidence for you of the effectiveness of acupuncture. But without a doubt, I felt great afterwards. I would absolutely do it again. Caroline is well-trained, professional and made me feel at ease. And kudos to Hiatus for adding this as an Essential Service. It’s a perfect fit for a holistic approach to wellness. Add “try acupuncture” to your New Year’s resolution list!
Images: author’s own – taken by acupuncturist Caroline