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Acu-Light, Acupressure, Acupuncture, Acupuncturist, Aikido, Alexander Technique, Algotherapy, Allopathic Medicine, Alternative Medicine, Amma, Ananda Yoga, Aromatherapy, Ashtanga Yoga, Ayurveda, Ayurvedic massage, Ayurvedic Medicine

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Definitions of  Massage, Bodywork, Energy, Alternative Medicine & Healing Modalities

No statements in the definitions below should be considered to be medical advice or taken as advice against seeking medical treatment, but are provided purely for their educational value. In the case of  serious acute, chronic or degenerative conditions immediately seek competent medical advice from your primary health care provider.
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Acu-Light Therapy  as in light pen therapy using acupressure points (see Esogetic Colorpuncture )

Acupressure - like acupuncture , is based on the the principles of energy (chi) flow through the 14 meridians (energy channels) of the body which are a fundamental concept of Traditional Chinese (or Oriental) Medicine (TCM).  This ancient Chinese technique involves the use of finger pressure (rather than needles) on specific points along the body to treat ailments such as tension and stress, aches and pains, menstrual cramps, or arthritis.  The system is also used for general preventative health care.  Although sometimes used as a synonym for Shiatsu, acupressure is usually applied to a limited number of points to treat a specific condition, while Shiatsu, as practiced in the West, is generally given as as a whole body massage addressing as many points as possible in the time allowed.

Acupuncture - In acupuncture, fine needles are inserted at specific points to stimulate, disperse, and regulate the flow of chi, or vital energy through the 14 meridians (energy channels) of the body and restore  a healthy energy balance.  It is based on Traditional Chinese (or Oriental) Medicine (TCM). Often used in the United States for pain relief, acupuncture is also used to improve well-being and treat acute, chronic, and degenerative conditions in children and adults.  Doctors of Oriental Medicine (DOM) are licensed in New Mexico after completing a three year post bachelor's degree program.  Medical Doctors (MD), Doctors of Osteopathy (DO), or Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) require no additional licensing in New Mexico to practice acupuncture. Training as as Doctor of Oriental Medicine includes much more than placing needles.  Always ask what specific training a practitioner has had if they claim to do acupuncture, but  are not licensed as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Acupuncturist - one who practices acupuncture.  They may or may not be trained in the full range of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Furthermore, they may or may not be licensed in acupuncture by your state. See Chinese Medicine.

Aikido - like other Japanese martial arts, is both a method of self-defense and a spiritual discipline.  The goal is to harmonize one's chi (vital energy) with that of one's opponent, so that the opponent's strength and weight are used against him or her.  Many of the moves are flowing and graceful, similar to those of tai chi.  See also Martial Arts.

Alexander Technique - was developed by actor F. Matthais Alexander, who created the method after concluding that bad posture was responsible for his own chronic voice loss.  Practitioners using gentle hands-on guidance and verbal instruction, teach simple, efficient ways of moving as a means of improving balance, posture, and coordination and to relieve tension and pain.  For a more extensive discussion of Alexander, Alexander technique, Alexander training and who may benefit, check out The Complete Guide to Alexander Technique Website.

Algotherapy - The use of algae ( either fresh or sea-water derived ) in skin care, baths, body scrubs, wraps, etc.

Allopathic Medicine - (often referred to as Western Medicine or the Medicine of Science) relies heavily on modern technology for laboratory tests, X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Interferometers (MRIs), Electrocardiograms (EKGs), and Electro- encephalograms (EEGs) for diagnosis of a wide range of acute and chronic as well as degenerative illnesses.  They often treat symptoms of pain and illness with the prescription of medically approved drugs, surgery, radiation or physical therapy.  These methods and treatments are usually considered invasive and disruptive to the natural healing processes of the body by alternative health care therapists. Allopathic medicine is not a system of Natural or Alternative healing!  It is defined here to provide a contrast to these systems.  While  Doctors of Medicine (MD's) often specialize in treating specific systems of the body or types of diseases, they rarely practice preventative medicine.  However, if you have a serious or life threatening condition, you are advised to seek medical advice from your licensed primary health care provider.  Doctors of Medicine are licensed in all states and are regulated by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Alternative Healing - ( Holistic or Wholistic Health ) encompasses a philosophy of comprehensive body, mind and spirit total care of the client. The needs of the patient in all areas, such as physical, emotional, social, spiritual and economic, are considered.  Alternative Healing is a very broad term that could include almost every system of healing defined on these definition pages except Allopathic or Western Medicine and Physical Therapy.

Amma Therapy  - (sometimes spelled Anma) is the traditional word for massage in Japanese.  It comes from the Chinese system of Anmo which is over 5,000 years old. When Anmo was brought to Japan it was further refined into its own therapeutic system.  Amma is a system of bodywork therapy that uses traditional oriental medical principles for assessing and evaluating imbalances in the energetic system based on the 14 principle meridians or energy channels of the body.  Through the structure of kata (choreographed movement), Amma teaches us the importance of rhythm, pacing, precision and form in massage. 

Ananda Yoga - basically a form of Hatha Yoga, Ananda Yoga classes focus on gentle postures designed to move the energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.

Anma  ( See Amma )

Anmo  ( See Amma )

Applied Kinesiology - (See Muscle Testing)

Aromatherapy - is the use of fragrant substances (usually 'essential' oils distilled from flowers, resins, woods, and roots) to  treat emotional disorders such as stress and anxiety as well as a wide range of other ailments. Essential oils are either inhaled, absorbed directly through the skin or in some cases ingested.  It is often combined with massage since oils can be used to carry fragrances while also allowing more pressure to be applied to muscles. Aromatherapy can be used to support treatment for respiratory problems, skin disorders and immune deficiencies.  Many essential oils from botanical sources also have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.  Its proponents claim that health benefits are associated with specific choices of scent. For example, clary sage can be used to combat depression.

Ashtanga - (or Astanga) Yoga is the name given to the system of yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This style of Hatha yoga is physically demanding as it involves synchronizing breathing with progressive and continuous series of postures producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, flexibility, stamina, a light and strong body, and a calm mind. Ashtanga yoga is not for beginners. See also Yoga and Power Yoga.

Astanga (see Ashtanga Yoga ).

Aston-Patterning - is an educational process developed by Judith Aston in 1977 combining movement coaching, bodywork, ergonomics, and fitness training.

Astrology - is the study of heavenly bodies to learn what influences they may have on human life.

Auric Healing - is based on the principle that all living systems are surrounded by an electromagnetic energy pattern (aura) or (human) energy field that includes the human body. Present day scientists measure the frequency and location of this field on humans.  The aura reflects our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Ayurveda (See Ayurvedic Medicine )

Ayurvedic Massage - is part of a detoxification program from India called Pancha Karma, in which the body is cleansed and lubricated in all the areas you can reach, inside and out, to remove toxins from the system.  In the traditional way the body will be massaged on the outside with hot sesame oil and the powder and extract of calamus root.  The oil will also be poured into the navel, ears, and between the eyebrows.  Pouring oil in the ear is done only with the client's permission and an explanation beforehand that it serves to remove wax and dust, lubricate the ear canal, and to calm the mind and nervous system.

Ayurvedic Medicine - or Ayurveda ( often translated as the 'science of life') Practiced in India for more than 5,000 years, Ayurvedic tradition holds that illness is a state of imbalance among the  body's systems (physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual) that can be detected through such diagnostic procedures as reading the pulse and observing the tongue.  The system incorporates the concept of Prana or 'life force energy' similar to the Chinese concept of chi.  It includes 7 major chakras (energy centers); Root, Navel, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, & Crown and 72,000 nadis (energy channels) of which there are three major channels; Sushumma (carries Kundalini energy up the spine), Pingala, & Ida  (which carry solar and lunar energy respectively in a spiral around the Sushumma and chakras).  The practitioner uses the concept of a basic constitution or dosha for each individual, which may include aspects of Kapha (earth), Pitta (fire), or Vatta (air) and may be influenced by heat, cold, dryness or dampness.  Nutrition counseling, ayurvedic massage, natural medications, meditation, yoga, and other modalities are used  to address a broad spectrum of ailments, from allergies to AIDS.

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