The Yin and Yang of Well-Being

As alternative therapies move into the mainstream and options expand, 
it’s harder than ever to know what choices make sense for your health. Nicola Ross went on a personal journey to find out.

March 23, 2015 | | Leisure

yinyang_stethoscope1Before attending A Weekend in the Woods in Hockley Valley last August, I scanned the program for the “outdoor wellness event” and realized that, in addition to familiar offerings such as yoga, massage and reiki, the lineup included workshops whose descriptions, for me, may as well have been written in Swahili. So I asked organizer Deborah Kolody to suggest some sessions.

Her response? “I recommend looking at the event schedule and asking for guidance from your higher self. Then choose the ones you are drawn to without engaging your mind.”

Silencing your mind so you can listen to your heart is a recurring theme among those who seek out complementary and alternative therapies. Complementary therapies are used alongside conventional treatments, whereas alternative therapies replace conventional ones. Similarly, balancing your energy is central to many treatments recommended by naturopathic doctors and may include acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology, clinical nutrition and colonic irrigation.

These practices or “modalities,” as they are known, are founded on the principle that true health requires the body, mind and spirit to be whole – or balanced – and that wellness comes from within. Naturopathic medicine focuses on overall or “holistic” wellness by finding and dealing with the underlying cause(s) of an ailment or illness rather than simply treating the symptoms.

This view of medicine can be alien, if not anathema, to mainstream Western culture with its focus on physical health, so my Western-influenced higher self opted to avoid workshops titled “Biophoton Light Therapy” and “Neuro Linguistic Programming.” Instead, I signed up for “Are You Ready to Let Go and Be the Real You?”

Titles can be deceiving.

The workshop introduced the audience to quantum sound therapy. For $2,000, you can buy an IQube that creates a set of personalized audible tones “that open your heart to love.” IQubes “synergistically combine Scalar Vortex Miracoils, zero point generators, sound healing frequencies, inert noble gases, 24 karat gold, pure silver, [and] flower essences to create zero point energy in your home or workplace.”

For me, listening to the monotonous drone created by and for our small group for 30 uninterrupted minutes was akin to being forced to sit in a classroom while the teacher clawed the blackboard. But others have clearly found the therapy transformational. A woman who suffered from Lyme disease gushed about how she was symptom-free for the duration of the treatment. More to the point, her husband, who I had assumed was there to humour his distressed wife, also raved about the effects.

yin yang medical bagDon’t get me wrong. Though I’m more apt to visit a doctor who practises allopathic – conventional or mainstream – medicine than a naturopath, and though I have yet to experience the “energy” practitioners involved in A Weekend in the Woods go on about, I practise yoga regularly, occasionally do a cleanse and often use probiotics, digestive enzymes and supplements. I’ve witnessed the painless insertion of inch-long acupuncture needles into my arm to treat tennis elbow, and I’ve been amazed by what an iridologist found lurking in the nooks and crannies of my irises. I also took seriously what Kathy Shackleton, a registered holistic nutritionist with a practice called Wellness In Balance, discovered by examining my fingernails. Heck, I even eat more grapefruit because a psychic told me to.

And it turns out that I’m not alone. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 70 per cent of Canadians regularly use some kind of complementary and alternative medicine. The agency notes that there are hundreds of these therapies, including vitamins and minerals, Aboriginal healing, chiropractic, naturopathy, reiki, acupuncture, massage, reflexology and yoga.

Spending is also on the rise. According to a 2006 Fraser Institute report, Canadians dished out an estimated $7.84 billion on complementary and alternative therapies in the previous 12 months, up from a total of about $5.37 billion in 1997. About 68 per cent of the $7.84 billion was spent on practitioners and 32 per cent paid for products including herbs, vitamins, books and classes.

This trend is reflected here in Headwaters. Among the long-established dental and optometry offices along First Street in Orangeville, for example, there are now three naturopaths, a traditional Chinese medicine clinic and several other providers of alternative therapies and supplements.

In Ontario, legislation is finally catching up with the market reality. Though naturopaths in the province have been regulated under the Drugless Practitioners Act since 1925, the 2007 Naturopathy Act is slated to become law this year. When it does, the College of Naturopaths of Ontario will be a professional self-regulating body that will manage accreditation, complaints and disciplinary procedures.

The legislation, similar to that already in force in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, will place naturopathic doctors who have graduated from a recognized program, which takes a minimum of seven years, alongside other health professionals under Ontario’s 1991 Regulated Health Professions Act. Naturopathic doctors – NDs – will be able to take blood samples, give injections and provide naturopathic diagnoses.

The move seems to make the Canadian medical establishment nervous, and opponents within the mainstream medical community have been vocal. In the National Post, columnist Jonathan Kay provocatively echoed their concerns. Referring to naturopathy as “pseudoscience,” Kay wrote that naturopathic treatments “generally share the common characteristic of being either well-intentioned placebos involving minerals, vitamins and ‘botanicals,’ or full-blown faux-medical scams that are actually quite dangerous.”

yinyang_stethoscope1With critiques like that in mind, I called Orangeville family practitioner Peter Cole. The former medical officer of health for Peel Region had been recommended to me as a doctor who offered a considered blend of allopathic, alternative and complementary treatments.

“I don’t call it complementary or alternative therapy. I call it holistic – natural healing – as opposed to allopathic medicine, which is what we learn at medical school,” Cole told me. He said he wasn’t alone in his approach, but he acknowledged that few of his medical colleagues shared his view.

Cole said his “aha” moment came when he witnessed how glucosamine relieved his dog’s arthritis. “Since there is no placebo effect in animals, I figured it was having an effect.” So he decided to see if glucosamine would relieve the pain in his own arthritic knees, but after treating himself for six weeks he nearly gave up. “Then one morning,” he said, “I realized it was working.” Some studies have dismissed glucosamine because it doesn’t “cure” arthritis, he noted, “but who takes a pharmaceutical and is cured of arthritis?”

Outspoken in his belief that medical professionals need to use all available treatments, Cole was critical of conventional doctors who are unwilling – or too lazy – to offer patients a broader spectrum of services.

That idea was reflected in my own experience.

One morning last spring, I woke up with some unfamiliar and uncomfortable symptoms, so I went to see my doctor. A test confirmed I had a urinary tract infection. Literally five minutes later, as I clutched a prescription for antibiotics, my doctor ushered me to the door, advising me to be sure to take the pills because a UTI can travel to the kidneys and become nasty. I went home, took the antibiotics, and before the day was out my symptoms had eased.

A month later, I was back in the same examination room with the same problem. The doctor prescribed a different antibiotic and was halfway out the door when I suggested she do a physical examination to see if something else was causing my sudden affliction. Hurriedly, she complied. “No, nothing’s wrong,” she declared before sending me packing.

Two months later, the symptoms returned for a third time. “Is there some sort of preventive treatment? Can we use anything other than antibiotics?” I asked as she wrote another prescription.

“Not really,” she said. “But there is a single-dose antibiotic you can take if you feel it coming on.”

“Nothing other than antibiotics?” I persisted.

“Some people claim cranberry juice works, but there’s no proof,” she offered.

“I read that a little tea tree oil applied topically could help.”

“Hmmm,” she replied, handing me my prescription.

Four days later, I described my challenge to Wendy Davis, a naturopathic doctor with Harmony Health Clinic in Orangeville. “Can I prevent this?” I asked.

“Tell me about your symptoms,” she said. Davis explained that, when ingested, a natural powder called D- mannose coats mucous membranes so that the E. coli bacteria responsible for my infections could not adhere to my urinary tract. The type she “prescribed” contains cranberry, a compound that also makes the urinary tract hostile to E. coli. In addition, she suggested I take a probiotic and eat raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut, both of which contain an abundance of “good” bacteria, something the antibiotics I had taken had probably wiped out along with the E. coli, exposing me to repeated infections. I left her office 30 minutes later after an in-depth discussion of the underlying causes and with a list of natural remedies.

Though I was pleased to feel I was getting at the root of my problem, the appointment cost $75 and was not covered by OHIP. Moreover, the D- mannose set me back more than $30, a reminder that the cost of naturopathic treatments is a barrier for people with limited budgets. Though many corporate health plans cover some alternative therapies, people with no supplementary health insurance must pay their own bills, though they can later claim the costs as income tax deductions.

A 2012 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggested that because our universal health care system provides no financial incentive for medical doctors to offer complementary and alternative therapies, this may account for their slow uptake by the conventional medical profession. The article noted that in the United States, where health care is more market driven, a growing number of hospitals offer these treatments. In 2010, some 42 per cent of the 714 U.S. hospitals surveyed provided some complementary and alternative practices.

Closer to home, the Brampton Naturopathic Teaching Clinic recently opened in the Brampton Civic Hospital, becoming the first facility of its kind to be established inside a Canadian hospital. This means that more medical doctors will receive training in naturopathic treatments and may add them to their toolkit.

yinyang_garlicMeanwhile, I was still searching for a better understanding of the help I could receive outside conventional medicine.

The day after seeing Davis, I interviewed Andrea Basedow at her House of Healing near Palgrave. Basedow is not a licensed naturopathic doctor, but she is trained in an astounding array of practices. Her home-based business focuses on self-healing, and the walls of her clinic are lined with certificates for reflexology, colour therapy, acupuncture, clinical nutrition, colonic irrigation and more. She also has shelves of crystals which, when placed strategically on the body, are believed to allow good energy to flow in and bad energy to flow out.

As we sat down for an interview, Basedow placed a heating pad at the back of my chair and put a tall glass of water filled with lemon and cucumber slices at my side. The room overflowed with green plants, and I felt miles away from the sterile treatment room where I had been handed the prescriptions for antibiotics.

After Basedow told me about growing up in Germany, her six children and her extensive training in places such as Sri Lanka, I asked her what she would do about my UTI if I were her patient. “I help people get in touch, to silence the mind a bit and go into the heart,” she explained before announcing, “I don’t diagnose or prescribe treatments.”

After letting that sink in, she said, “Tell me about what’s happening.”

She listened intently, then said, “You know what is causing it.”

What do you mean? I wanted to say. But before I had a chance to voice my protest, she added, “Your urinary tract infection is there for a reason” – and she didn’t mean because of E. coli.

“Should I take the treatments my naturopath prescribed?” I asked.

“Oh yes, yes, yes,” she said. “But the body won’t absorb them if you only use your mind.”

That’s when I had my “aha” moment – about the way crystals and reiki and balanced energy align with sauerkraut and probiotics, and even chemotherapy. Many complementary and alternative therapies, I realized, are intended to harmonize the mind and body and heart – to remove blockages to the energy that flows through the body – to help people get into the right “space” so that other treatments, naturopathic or allopathic, can do their job.

In my interview with Cole, he echoed the concept that “patients have an infinite ability to heal themselves.” The physician’s role is “to give them some tools,” he said. And to listen. “Some doctors limit the number of patient complaints to one per visit. They put up a sign that says, ‘One major complaint per visit.’ But people often come to see a doctor with a list of problems, and buried in the middle somewhere is the real one. You have to create an environment in your office that is supportive.”

The tools patients need are often right in front of – or below – our noses. Though the growing preoccupation with food and food allergies can be challenging if you’re hosting a dinner party, Helena Ovens, a naturopathic doctor with more than 20 years’ experience, has had her greatest success with clinical nutrition. Described in complementary and alternative therapies as the relationship between nutrition and wellness, I think of clinical nutrition in terms of “you are what you eat.”

“I put all my patients on a detox,” Ovens explained. After they spend time on a restricted diet, she instructs them to reintroduce foods, and in this way she is often able to clear up their problem without needing to take any remedies. Shackleton, who had diagnosed my zinc deficiency at the Weekend in the Woods by analyzing my fingernails, believes many people can improve their uptake of nutrients by taking a digestive enzyme.

In addition to detox, glucosamine, D-mannose and sauerkraut, the naturopathic toolkit is full of “proven” treatments, assuming you believe anecdotal evidence. And this is another cause of friction between mainstream and naturopathic medicine.

Whereas many medical doctors require “evidence-based proof” that a treatment works, naturopathic doctors may suggest remedies even if the evidence of their success is anecdotal, though they do so with the caveat that a specific therapy may not work for everyone. Cole said he also trusted intuition, believing a person is more than a physical body – that mind and spirit are also integral to human health.

Thinking back on my UTI, I probed more deeply into my doctor’s unwillingness to suggest I take cranberry juice despite what a naturopathic practitioner might view as overwhelming “evidence” that it helps treat and prevent this ailment.

In an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Matthew Stanbrook, MD, addressed the topic by referring to a clinical trial involving postal workers with an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study’s authors concluded that the workers’ risk may have been reduced when their conventional medical care was supplemented with naturopathic care that included health counselling, nutritional medicine or adding nutritional supplements to their diet.

Stanbrook took exception to this finding. “Some might be tempted to use this trial to justify a conclusion that the nutritional supplements that formed part of naturopaths’ recommendations have now been validated as effective for reducing cardiovascular risk,” he wrote. Pointing out that the study was not designed to single out the effect of nutritional supplements, he added that it also failed to provide information about both the nature of participants’ conventional medical care and whether they changed their behaviour in ways that might also have contributed to their cardiovascular health.

yinyang_syringesAs I understand Stanbrook’s argument, he would say my taking D- mannose may or may not be the reason I have been infection-free since starting this treatment. Though I doubt my lack of symptoms is the result of the 30 unbearable minutes I spent listening to that IQube, I acknowledge my improved health may result from other factors, including eating unpasteurized sauerkraut and drinking unsweetened cranberry juice.

Or perhaps it’s a combination of all three. Or maybe it’s because I took Basedow’s advice to heart and dealt with the underlying cause. In other words, there is no “scientific proof” that D-mannose was the solution. Though I get this, Stanbrook’s argument seems a bit lame when countless people have responded similarly to this supplement.

Nonetheless, he concluded that if allopaths and naturopaths are to become partners, “naturopathy will have to submit its practices to the same standard of scientific validation as other health disciplines.”

I do, of course, recognize the wonders of conventional medicine, as do many of the practitioners of complementary and alternative therapies with whom I spoke. Cole, for example, eventually had his arthritic knee replaced, and many Canadians were saddened by the recent death of a young Aboriginal girl whose parents chose to treat her leukemia with alternative therapies despite her high chance of surviving if she had received chemotherapy.

“If I have a patient with high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease, I’ll do whatever I can do to get their cholesterol down,” Cole said. “I may start with natural treatments, but they don’t really work for very high cholesterol.” Cole noted that five of his patients had elected to treat their cancer naturally. “All have since died – prematurely, in my opinion.”

High standards have resulted in artificial hips and knees, laser surgery to strip cataracts and zap kidney stones, and heart transplants and other treatments that save or improve the quality of our lives. But one wonders if “prescribing antibiotics as if they were M&Ms,” as Basedow suggests, provides the most effective care when D-mannose and cranberry and glucosamine are known to work. And, as is becoming frighteningly clear, when the antibiotic free-for-all is having a serious impact on the ongoing effectiveness of those important drugs.

In addition, there is no question that despite scientific research, Western medicine has chalked up its share of big misses. The controversy over the effectiveness of annual flu vaccinations is just one current example. Every fall, health professionals roll out public awareness campaigns urging people to get that season’s flu shot. Yet they also acknowledge that deciding which flu strains to include in each season’s vaccine is a bit of a guessing game, even if their guesses are educated. More disturbing, however, is emerging research that indicates getting a flu shot year after year may actually reduce people’s immunity to some pandemic strains.

The underlying message of naturopathic medicine is that we need to take a more active role in safeguarding our own health. This requires active participation on our part, such as improving our diet as well as our physical and mental fitness.

Back at A Weekend in the Woods, I ran into Julie Baumlisberger, whom I knew because I had once written about her mushroom business. She had given up mushroom farming to focus on producing GMO- and soybean-free animal feed, radiated good health and was practising reiki, so I signed up for a 30-minute session. I lay down fully clothed on a massage table, and she covered me with a cozy blanket, as the day’s grey skies had given way to a bone-chilling drizzle.

Baumlisberger, who has since become a certified reiki master, practitioner and teacher, explained the therapy helps balance a person’s energy. As a practitioner, her job is to channel energy to relieve stress and promote relaxation, which triggers the body’s own natural healing abilities.

yinyang_mortarpestleI closed my eyes, and for the next half hour, Baumlisberger performed what I would call a “laying on of hands.” Starting at my head, she moved down my body. She spent a lot of time with her hands cupped around my ears and then stalled at my knees. She told me some patients feel a tingling as a result of her treatment, though I didn’t feel anything – except the blanket’s warmth.

When she finished, I asked what she had found. Explaining that the practitioner should be neutral, she said, “I’m really only the conduit for the energy.” Then she told me there was something going on around my ears, which I found interesting because I had recently recovered from a nasty viral infection in one ear.

Once past my ears, she found everything was “flowing well.” My energy level was good. Then she came to my knees. “Below your knees was leaden,” she said. “Everything just stopped.” She worked there for a bit and said she had managed to get everything moving to her satisfaction. I was good to go. “Drink lots of water,” she advised. Water helps flush toxins released from the system by the treatment.

Though the treatment had warmed me up and people rave about Baumlisberger, I walked away feeling somehow inadequate because I didn’t feel anything as a result of my 30-minute session. Hoping to better understand what I was or was not supposed to experience, I spoke to Abby Campbell, a Belfountain resident who is a massage therapist, reiki practitioner and certified acupuncture practitioner. When I told her I had felt nothing during my session, she assuaged my concerns. “Any energy work is subtle. It took me about ten years to realize how subtle it is.” She added, “I thought I was missing it too.”

“So why do it?” I asked.

Campbell, who practises in Georgetown, explained that reiki can be difficult to understand because we are so used to the big stuff: the cure, the easing of my UTI symptoms within hours of taking a single dose of antibiotics. These are the miracles we expect. They may fail to get at the root cause of an ailment, but they make the symptoms disappear with the pop of a pill. Leading me back to the idea of the importance of balancing energy, she said, “If your emotions are balanced, it has a positive effect on your physical being.”

Basedow’s assertion that she was trained in so many modalities because all people are different was making more sense. Maybe reiki just wasn’t my thing or maybe I just hadn’t given it a chance. Moreover, the concept that health is not just a physical manifestation was starting to sink in.

These ideas, however, conflict with our search for the quick fix. The treatments my naturopathic doctor prescribed to combat my weakness for UTIs might take time to kick in. My healthy flora wouldn’t repopulate overnight, and Cole almost gave up on glucosamine before he felt its effects. The label on my D-mannose bottle warns, “Use for a minimum of 4 weeks to see beneficial results.” But months later, what Jonathan Kay would no doubt define as a “well-intentioned placebo,” in combination with some conscious thought, appears to be getting at the underlying cause.

When I asked Cole about my medical doctor’s hesitation to suggest naturopathic treatments, he explained she was doing exactly what she and her medical colleagues are trained to do. But he was optimistic that change was under way.

Lloyd Oppel, a Vancouver doctor who monitors alternative medicine for Doctors of BC, seemed to support that view when he told the Canadian Medical Association Journal, “Go with the things that are shown to work and discard the ones that don’t. Anything that is proven to work isn’t alternative medicine.” This seems like sound advice for all doctors, allopaths and naturopaths alike.

yinyang_stethoscope2It was a message I wanted my doctor to hear.

Antibiotics alone were not likely to rid me of my UTIs for good. If naturopathic practitioners are right, treating the symptoms only gets you partway there. Consider stress. Many scientific studies now show that stress makes us more prone to the flu, cold sores, stomach upsets, headaches and other repetitive ailments. A growing body of evidence indicates it may also contribute to the onset of more serious illnesses including shingles and even cancer. So why wouldn’t a mental blockage be behind my recurring UTIs?

“Self-awareness,” said Campbell, “is the first step to health.”

To me, the Brampton Naturopathic Teaching Clinic is on the right track. It is a satellite of the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic, named after the trailblazing founder of Bolton-based Husky Injection Molding Systems, and is part of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. The Schad clinic’s website sums up its philosophy: “Promoting wellness and prevention, naturopathic medicine harnesses science to unleash nature’s healing power.”

The new clinic’s location in a hospital brings much needed credibility to naturopathic treatments and, importantly, makes them accessible to mainstream doctors. By doing so, it is moving closer to the holistic model advocated by Cole.

Silencing my mind and listening to my heart won’t happen overnight, but Kolody was right – my higher self selected an array of sessions that took me on a fascinating journey. Though I can’t help feeling that selling $2,000 IQubes preys on desperate people, I realize that for some, such as the woman with Lyme disease, this therapy could bolster their yin and yang so other treatments can be more effective. “Never underestimate the power of the placebo effect” isn’t a time-honoured cliché for nothing.

I’ve taken to heart Basedow’s assertion that I know what is causing my UTIs. I may not have entirely rid myself of whatever is blocking my energy flow, but I’m working on it and will likely give reiki another shot. But I’ve long known that nothing makes me feel better than a simple walk in the forest. Perhaps it’s in the woods that I’ll find the peace I need for inner health – but I will visit my doctors too.

Thanks to Lisa Watson, an advocate of complementary and alternative medicine. Her encouragement and research were key to the writing of this article.

Editor’s note: Dr. Peter Cole died on March 4 from a sudden severe illness. While his methods and opinions were occasionally out of synch with the medical establishment, his patients and friends (there was frequently no distinction between the two) knew him as a compassionate and thoughtful ally in the promotion of their health, one who listened carefully, took time, and cared deeply not only for their individual well-being, but for human welfare as a whole. He was 69.

More Info

Glossary of terms

Here is a quick guide to some of the terms you’re likely to encounter if you seek out complementary therapies.


The ancient Chinese practice of inserting fine needles into designated points on the body to restore the smooth flow of energy, 
or qi (also chi or ch’i; pronounced like “chee” as in “cheese”), and to balance the forces of yin and yang.


A term often used by proponents of complementary and alternative therapies to refer to mainstream or conventional Western medicine.

Alternative medicine

Practices that replace conventional or mainstream medicine.


The use of flower oils and essences for their therapeutic properties. Depending on the type, oils and essences can be inhaled, ingested or used externally on the skin.


An ancient Indian healing system that uses diet, herbs, massage, meditation and yoga to maintain physical, emotional and spiritual health.


A form of manual therapy that involves the connection between structure and function – specifically focusing on the spine. Chiropractors perform manipulations of the musculoskeletal system to alleviate pain and encourage the body to heal itself.

Clinical nutrition

The study of the relationship between food and a healthy body. More specifically, it is the science of nutrients and how the body digests, absorbs, transports, metabolizes, stores and eliminates them.

Colonic irrigation

Cleansing the colon by using special equipment and several gallons of water to gently flush out fecal matter, toxins, mucous and even parasites that can build up over time. Mixed into the water may be enzymes, herbs, coffee or probiotics. This therapy is similar to an enema, but it treats the whole colon, not just the lower bowel.

Colour therapy

The use of various forms of colour and light to promote physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Complementary medicine

Treatments used in combination with conventional or mainstream medicine.

Detox diet

A diet designed to rid the body of environmental and dietary toxins. It often involves going through a period of fasting, then eating only raw vegetables, fruit, fruit juices and water. Taking herbs and other supplements may also be recommended.

Digestive enzymes

Naturally occurring or taken as supplements, these molecules work to help us digest the food we eat.


A practice that often involves taking minuscule doses of substances that in larger amounts would cause illness. The goal is to encourage the body to heal itself.


A practice that involves examining the patterns, colours and other characteristics of the iris to gain information about someone’s systemic health.


Using pressure and movement to manipulate muscles and other soft tissues, thereby allowing more blood and oxygen to reach affected areas and decrease pain.


Considered mind-body medicine, meditation is a conscious mental process used to release physical tension, relax the body and ease the mind.


A holistic medical system that focuses on supporting health rather than treating illness. Naturopathy encourages the body to heal itself through the use of diet, herbs, massage, joint manipulation and lifestyle changes.


Bacteria that promote a healthy balance between helpful and harmful micro-organisms in the intestines. Sometimes taken to counter the effects of antibiotics, which can destroy probiotic bacteria and allow harmful bacteria to thrive.

Qigong (chi kung)

A system of traditional Chinese medicine, qigong (pronounced “cheegung”) combines movement – or stillness – with controlled breathing and focus to promote health by improving the flow of qi, or vital energy.


A therapeutic practice designed to relieve tension, improve circulation and promote the natural functioning of the body by applying pressure to various points on the feet, hands and ears.


A form of energy medicine that originated in Japan. Practitioners place their hands on or near the patient with the goal of spiritual healing.

Tai chi

A Chinese martial art used as mind-body therapy. Sometimes referred to as “moving meditation,” tai chi involves slow, gentle movements and deep breathing.

Yin and yang

Terms from Taoist philosophy, which explains change as the interaction between two forces, yin and yang, that make up the whole individual or object. Often used to describe any pair of related opposites, such as hot and cold or hard and soft, yin and yang are neutral terms. Vital energy (qi), is thought to be generated through the interaction of yin and yang.


A mind-body practice that originated in India and combines postures, breathing exercises and meditation to promote relaxation and improve body functions.

About the Author More by Nicola Ross

Freelance writer Nicola Ross lives in Alton and is the author of the bestselling 'Loops and Lattes' hiking guide series.


1 Comment

  1. This article is wonderful, honest, and informative. We live in an area that is abundant with healers of all modalities, allopath and holistic. Lucky we are to have so many choices.

    Thank you Nicola Ross and In The Hills Magazine.

    Kathy Shackleton from Canada on Mar 25, 2015 at 11:24 am | Reply

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