What is the style of acupuncture that you teach? AJ—Acupuncture defines points in the body to stimulate healing. The style I teach in Japanese acupuncture, it’s unique from TCM in several ways. Traditional Chinese Medicine is what all acupuncturists are trained in, in the West. TCM is our governing body. Japanese acupuncture provides a few extra techniques on top of TCM is how I like to think of it. Through additional training, I’ve learned techniques that are more focused on palpitations and Japanese Meridian therapy. In Chinese medicine, we have the meridians, which are energy lines in the body. There are twelve main meridians with the corresponding internal organs. In Western Medicine, we might relate the energy lines to the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that encases the muscles and organs and, essentially, everything in the body. Each meridian corresponds to an internal organ; for example, the lungs are in my chest, but the lung Meridian goes along the arm. When I’m looking at a person, I might assess that some lung symptoms are happening and then check the Meridian for tight or tender points or the nodules or changes within that connective tissue. Those are points that I would work on in the acupuncture session. In TCM, we learned about the meridians; it’s something we focus on, but sometimes the diagnosis goes straight to what’s going on in the organ, and then there’s a point prescription. In Japanese acupuncture, there’s a lot more space to check the person through touch. The practice of Japanese acupuncture is more tactile. A lot of traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists will pop the pins in and leave the room and wait. With Japanese acupuncture, I’m in the room the whole time as I’m checking and rechecking the body and the pins. I’m assessing based on the abdomen; it’s called Hara diagnosis. That’s a system of reflexes, which tells me which points to do. Through Hara diagnosis through the abdomen, we literally feel a blockage in the organs or meridians. I like that immediate feedback. Hara is listening to our guts. Your body will give you little signs from the subconscious you may or may not be aware of. The beautiful part about Hara diagnosis is that there’s a moment of feedback where the patient is on the table, and I feel a difference: what had been tight or tender finally releases. That’s the key difference for me as an acupuncture practitioner; there’s so much feedback and information presented right away that’s useful in reading the body’s response.  We assess based not only on touch but also on observation. You might evaluate the colour in their cheeks or see the person breathing deeper. What’s the most common injury or ailment you treat? AJ—The most common is stress-related things, and then hormone-related issues and chronic injuries. Back pain, mental and emotional distress, hormones are all prevalent. A classic part of Chinese and Japanese acupuncture is examining the root branch. We take a look at the root of the issue. If the roots are strong, the roots will nourish the branches. If Hara, the center route is clear, we’ll look at the branches. Sometimes local treatment is needed, say if your shoulder is sore, we work on that specific area, but it depends. Sometimes the branch is so loud; only that area needs relief. Someone might come in with neck pain, and I’ll work on their feet because that’s where the meridian’s root needs to be nourished and treated. The roots of the meridians typically start at the feet and work up to the head. The yang, the deep inner meridians, generally work from the ground upwards.The other thing to keep in mind is posture, to ask what the spine is doing and see how the posture is affecting the injury. There are so many ways we create imbalances from improper posture, from walking to sitting; it’s all about the placement of the heel strike and where the toes land. Gait issues tend to throw off the hips and shoulders up to the neck because the neck is the lightest point. We have the most mobility in our cervical spine. So pain in the neck could be linked to an issue at the roots, which would be the placement of the feet.