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Warning, you might get stuck on this page.  YOGA LAGNIAPPE will unglue your stickiest yoga questions in our Sticky Mat section.  You’ll hear from local teachers and students about the challenges they find on and off their yoga mats.  Plus enjoy great articles on all things yoga and wellness related. If you have a question or suggestion for the Sticky Mat contact us.

Alternative Healing Series: What is Acupuncture?

By Nikki Carter

Acupuncture is a practice in which specific points of the body are stimulated, most often with thin needles. I tried acupuncture myself for the first time last year, with good results for the management of anxiety and muscle tension. If you’re interested in trying it for yourself or looking for a practitioner, I highly recommend Monica Gilliam of daMata Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in the Bywater. She has over 15 years of experience in body-based therapies and has been a licensed acupuncturist for 3 of those years.

daMata offers a variety of services; I started off with a private session (because I was nervous and did not know what to expect) which ran me about $100, and after that I began seeing her for community clinic. The community clinic is similar to the community classes in yoga, in which you pay a fee of your choosing (in this case, the sliding scale is $20-40) and receive acupuncture while relaxing for about one hour in a shared room with other patients.

Here is a Q&A with Monica to give you more insight on her and her wonderful practice.


Monica Gilliam administers acupuncture to a patient (photo courtesy of Monica Gilliam)

NC:  Why did you decide to open a practice in New Orleans?

MG:  I moved to New Orleans from Seattle in the fall of 2012. In the state of Washington, there are over 2,000 acupuncturists. In the entire state of Louisiana, there are only around 30! This is precisely why I decided to move here and open a practice. I believe very strongly in East Asian Medicine, both as a supportive adjunct to Western Medicine and as an alternative treatment option. New Orleans felt like the perfect place for me; I felt that my efforts could truly make a difference in the healthcare options of the community.

On a side note, I wanted to be much closer to my family, who live in Texas and Brazil. While Brazil is still a long way away, it’s closer … and, after years spent in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve also realized just how much of a Southerner I truly am!

NC:  What are the biggest benefits a patient can receive from acupuncture?

MG:  I find myself in a very fortunate position, as I am practicing in the community model. Because the rates are low, people are able to come more regularly. This means we can really begin to get to the roots of the different ailments they are experiencing. I am able to be a supportive witness to the process of healing that is rarely discussed in our fast-paced, fix-me-now society. People come to me for all sorts of issues: pain, fatigue, menstrual/fertility difficulties, anxiety/depression, and the list goes on. Over the course of several treatments, we are often able to look at not only the most immediate symptoms, but the way in which everyday activities such as diet and exercise are impacting their concerns (in both positive and negative ways!).

Many of my patients report great improvements in their original complaints, and they then feel inspired to share other issues with me that they hadn’t considered could benefit from acupuncture. We tackle those too! At the end of the day, though, my ultimate goal is for my patients to not need to come see me, and to instead know more about how to take care of themselves in a holistic way.

NC:  What is unique about practicing here in New Orleans?

MG:  There is much more education that I do with each of my patients here than I did in the Pacific Northwest. We cover all sorts of topics, from acupuncture to food, movement, and herbs. I love this! It is such a pleasure to share some of the information that I have been studying for so many years now with people who have not yet come across it. Someday I may just open up a school!

NC:  What would you tell a first-timer who is nervous about acupuncture or the needles?

MG:  I generally like to start out with all different types of physical assessments in order to get a sense of what is happening from a Chinese Medicine point of view. Sometimes I do things that may seem strange, such as looking at the tongue, taking the pulse, and feeling different points on the wrists and ankles. If at any time any questions come up, I would encourage the patient to ask me! And if, when it comes time for the needles, anything feels uncomfortable, please let me know. Communication is a wonderful, empowering tool for everyone in the healthcare process.

I think the biggest thing people fear, especially with acupuncture, is what they imagine things will feel like and that they will have no control over what is happening to them. I see myself as an ally for their healing process, and I believe that working together with each patient is what will bring about the best possible results.

 

Book Review: Awakening Shakti

By S. Brooke Bailey

Sally Kempton’s most recent book, Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga, explores feminine energy from the tantric perspective. My yoga book club has been reading the book for several months now, usually discussing one goddess at a time. I must admit that I wasn’t drawn to knowing more about yogic goddesses until I started reading this book.

Sally is an eloquent writer. In the past I read her book Meditation for the Love of It, which I highly recommend, as well as her frequent contributions to Yoga Journal magazine. While there are some aspects of Awakening Shakti that I don’t care for, such as the modern day analogies of women who represent the qualities of each goddess and the language used in some of the meditations, overall this book has been well worth the read.

Once I began reading Awakening Shakti I realized that the goddesses were a missing piece in my personal study of yoga and tantric philosophy. It was like studying art history without having read The Bible or other scriptures. Where, for example, you can appreciate a painting for it’s visual beauty but don’t necessarily get as much out of it as you could if you knew the backstory of it’s subjects.

The book devotes a chapter to each goddess, 11 goddesses in total. There are also a few opening and closing chapters that help the reader make sense of the all encompassing Goddess MahaShakti, as well as what it means to study the goddesses and invoke their unique energies for your yoga practice. Sally highlights both the positive aspects and dark side of each archetype, giving examples of when these energies can be taken to extremes and get out of balance.

There are multiple meditations for each goddess in the book, as well as on an accompanying CD. At the end of each chapter the reader is provided with a summary of other names the particular goddess is known under, what elements you can recognize each type of goddess energy in, which circumstances are good for invoking each goddess, as well as the bija (seed), invocational and Gayatri mantras for each goddess. Getting all of this information from other sources would likely take extensive research and you would be reading material that felt more like texts than non-fiction.

While the emphasis is on feminine energy, this is not a book for women only. As Sally explains, both Shakti (feminine) and Shiva (masculine) are part of the story of creation. Thus men can also find value in the goddesses, as their stories are often more about human nature than sexual identity.

This book improved my understanding of the role Shakti plays in tantra, the cultural significance of these goddesses and their stories, how archetypes like the goddesses help us recognize our own strengths and weaknesses, and the roll mantra and meditation can play in uncovering aspects of yourself that can be recognized or empowered through practice. Awakening Shakti is an interesting read that offers many opportunities for contemplation and discussion. In fact, we would love to discuss it with you further on Facebook or Twitter. Please join us on social media with your own review of this book and the goddesses of yoga.

Book Review: Awakening Shakti

By S. Brooke Bailey Sally Kempton’s most recent book, Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga, explores feminine energy from the tantric perspective. My yoga book club has been reading the book for several months now, usually discussing one goddess at a time. I must admit that I wasn’t drawn to knowing… [Continue Reading]

Alternative Healing Series: What is Cupping?

Cupping involves skin being drawn into glass or plastic cups via suction (Photo: Valerie Viosca)

You may have seen celebrities with the trademark circular bruising that is caused by cupping and wondered what in the world had happened to them. I talked with Valerie Viosca, a New Orleans licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist who is certified to perform cupping therapy, to gain more insight on the practice. Valerie says, “In… [Continue Reading]

5 Things to Add-In to Help You Clean-Out!

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By Sheena Mannina of Raw Republic It’s generally simple to advise on internal cleansing as our bodies naturally begin to detox in the absence of the inflammatory items we consume regularly, namely processed foods, caffeine, sugar, soda, meat, dairy and medications. For this reason, we cleanse when we sleep. Though you would benefit significantly by… [Continue Reading]

Alternative Healing Series: What is Reiki?

Amberly Fox is a Level-II Reiki Practitioner in the New Orleans area (photo courtesy of A. Fox)

By Nikki Carter January 29, 2014 Each month in 2014, YL will seek to help you understand a certain type of alternative healing method. For this feature post, I chose Reiki and spoke with Amberly Fox, a local yoga teacher and Level-II Reiki practitioner. Reiki is a Japanese technique that literally means “spiritually guided life force… [Continue Reading]

5 Yoga Poses to Do at Work

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By S. Brooke Bailey Working at a desk all day can have negative effects on your body, breath and mood. While going to a yoga class a couple of times a week or more is a wonderful way to undo the stress of the workday, it’s also helpful to take the skills that you learn… [Continue Reading]

3 Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

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By S. Brooke Bailey January 8, 2013 It’s a new year and you’re ready to create a new you, or maybe simply make one lasting positive change this year. Now that you’re a week or so into this commitment, you may feel as if there is already a brick wall standing between you and your resolution(sankalpa… [Continue Reading]

Let’s Talk Competitive Yoga

krystall snemyr

An Interview with Krystall Snemyr, by S. Brooke Bailey Together with USA Yoga, Bikram Yoga New Orleans is hosting the USA Yoga Southeastern Regional Championships in New Orleans on January 4, 2014 starting at 5p.m. This is the first time the championships will be held in New Orleans. Participants will come from Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky to compete in… [Continue Reading]

A Review of the Documentary Enlighten Up!

elighten up

By S. Brooke Bailey Last weekend was so cold and foggy, I felt like I was in London instead of New Orleans. It was the perfect weather to stay indoors and watch a good movie.  That’s when I came across the documentary Enlighten Up!  The filmmaker, Kate Churchill, decided she would pick someone who had never… [Continue Reading]

New Orleans Yogi Gift Guide

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If you’re looking for great gifts to give the yogis in your life, shop local. We’ve selected a few of our favorite items from across New Orleans. You might even want to add them to your own holiday wish list! Pictured items from top left to bottom right: Maduka Pro Mat, reCAP Mason jar lid,… [Continue Reading]

Gulf Coast Yogis at Mahabhuta Yoga Festival

Mahabhuta Yoga Festival 2013

This past weekend the Sanders Beach Community Center in Pensacola hosted a few hundred yogis from across the Gulf Coast and even some from as far as Chicago and Annapolis. It was an exciting weekend. This was the second year of the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival so there was a sense of reunion for those who… [Continue Reading]

Book Review: Being of Power by Baron Baptiste

being of power

Review by Nikki Carter I wasn’t extremely familiar with Baron Baptiste prior to reading his latest book, Being of Power: The 9 Practices to Ignite an Empowered Life. I had been a subscriber of his newsletter since a local yoga teacher introduced me to his 4o-day programs, and the newsletter is how I found out… [Continue Reading]