I have long loved the way the world is so inherently connected.
Having one of the coolest days of my life a couple summers ago, I dropped Kino MacGregor off at Yoga on High's Ayurveda Institute and there met a kind woman with gorgeous floral tattoos—someone I had only heard the most glowing and raving reviews about as a masseuse, acupuncturist and stellar lady in the yoga community.
Over a year later, my fabulous friend and fitness mentor Charles Gibson reintroduced me to this wonder woman: Heidi Vanderpool.
Though I had never tried acupuncture before, I was intrigued to experience what it was all about. For me, it was sensational—literally, a powerful circular swirling and releasing of stuck energy and tension that reminded me of the glorious shifts I've experienced in yoga.
In between multiple yoga, cycling, and strength training workouts throughout the week, the deep release of my sessions with Heidi are mind-blowing.
If you live in Columbus, I seriously suggest hitting her up! Her space is heavenly and her personality/ presence is simply delightful.
Here's more about this AMAZING woman!
KS: WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH ACUPUNCTURE?
HV: I attended The American Institute of Alternative Medicine as a student studying Massage Therapy many years ago. The acupuncture students at the school were always welcoming us to get treatments in our down time.
I remember seeing the diagrams of the points and meridians and being in awe of the sophistication and mystery of this medicine.
I was baffled as to how acupuncturists actually understand what all those points mean and how to use them.
I started getting treatments for all sorts of issues and it actually worked!
My mom said that she remembers me saying "I wish I would have studied acupuncture" on the day of my graduation from Massage Therapy school, ha!
I'm grateful now that I practice both.
KS: WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU LOVED SO MUCH ABOUT ACUPUNCTURE?
HV: Acupuncture is incredibly simple and sophisticated at the same time. It resolves ailments that I thought I would have to live with every day!
The more I learned about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the more it made sense.
I fell in love because it explained so much where modern western medicine (allopathic) falls short. I have a deep reverence for all medical traditions but this one spoke to me.
KS: HOW LONG AND WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO STUDY TO PRACTICE ACUPUNCTURE PROFESSIONALLY? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING?
HV: My program was 27 months of full time graduate school with clinical observation and clinical practice hours (hundreds of hours in the clinic).
I also opted to spend a month in China where I did a short internship at an integrative medicine hospital where we observed acupuncturists that have been practicing for 20+ years and treating about 80 patients a day.
I graduated in June of 2014 and have had my license in the state of Ohio since September 2014.
Since I had spent many years as a massage therapist I already had a bodywork client base that was excited to have acupuncture so I immediately was able to start practicing acupuncture along with massage.
KS: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY FOR NEW CLIENTS TO CONTACT YOU?
KS: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK? WHAT DOES IT RESOLVE AND HOW, IN A NUTSHELL, DOES IT INSTIGATE HEALING?
HV: That's the question everyone wants to know! In my opinion, it's a matter of perspective.
Chinese medicine perspective says that if something is out of balance and causing a person pain, dysfunction, etc. that their qi (loosely translated "life-force energy") can be balanced by placing needles in specific points (acupoints).
Western medicine perspective may say that it's working within the nervous system to create different neural patterns that promote healing. Many people ask if it is the placebo effect. If it is... great! There is tons of science to back up the idea that placebos work.
I'm not particularly attached to a reason as to "why" or "how" acupuncture works.
When I see positive results from a treatment I am grateful that medicine exists that is time tested (acupuncture has survived thousands of years), has no negative side effects, and can be delivered affordably and regularly.
It can be used for just about anything that can go wrong with a human to support healing.
KS: WHAT REASONS COULD PEOPLE HAVE FOR SEEING AN ACUPUNCTURIST?
HV: Acupuncture can be used to heal almost anything to some extent.
People often seek it out because Western medicine has somehow not met their needs, or they are attempting to avoid the negative effects of many pharmaceuticals.
Most of my patients come for pain relief, sleep issues, digestive dysfunction, hormonal balance, emotional balance, and stress relief.
One of the jewels of acupuncture is the calming effect on the mind.
Almost all modern people are suffering from long-term high level stress.
Stress is a huge factor in many diseases, so if high stress can be managed, then many issues can be mitigated.
Acupuncture can be used even if there is no specific ailment presenting at the moment. It is wonderful to have a tune up!
Resting with the needles and feeling the movement of qi in your body is a special way to calm the mind and listen to the body.
KS: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, HOW WOULD YOU SAY PRANA (OF YOGA) AND QI (OF ACUPUNCTURE) ARE SIMILAR, CONNECTED, OR CONTRASTING?
ANY INSIGHT INTO THE INTERCONNECTED NATURE OF THIS ART AS AN EXPERT AND YOGA PRACTITIONER?
HV: In my opinion prana and qi are the same thing but called different names.
The traditional practices of Asia are specific to their regional populations and how they experience their environment.
Both Ayurveda and yoga of India and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) look to nature and the elements to understand the body and therefore medicine.
The equivalent of yoga in TCM is qi gong and/or tai qi.
Both styles incorporate breath control, body movement, and meditation to bring about states of higher consciousness and move energy.
KS: I KNOW YOU HAVE SOME EPIC BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS AND I'D LOVE TO KNOW YOUR FAVES!
HV: I'm a voracious reader, I always have many works of literature I'm reading at the same time. A few of my favorites (in no particular order):
- The Sun Magazine (it's a happy day whenever it shows up in my mailbox, ha!)
- National Geographic
- "Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes
- "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass
- "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant
- "Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World" by Bill Plotkin
- "Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall Rosenberg
- "Acupuncture is Like Noodles: The Little Red (Cook)book of Working Class Acupuncture" by Lisa Rohleder et. al.
- "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran
- "Day of War Nights of Love: Crimethink for Beginners" by Crimeth Inc. Workers' Collective
- "The Places that Scare You" by Pema Chodron
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" by Phyllis A Balch, CNC
- "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda
- "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed
KS: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE HOBBIES IN THE WORLD? THINGS YOU LOVE AND MAKE LIFE MEANINGFUL FOR YOU?
HV: I love being in nature. Everything revolves around my connection to the natural world. The more I'm in nature the happier I am. I love hiking or sitting on a rock with my eyes closed listening and feeling the vibration of everything around me.
I also relish traveling and try my hardest to travel as much as possible (big THANK YOU to all my clients that excitedly await my return after every adventure).
Also cooking, getting sweaty, street fashion, dance, DIY projects, cycling, gathering friends, swimming in natural bodies of water, camping, reading, working in my garden, networking.
I have a 12 year old son and I try to involve him in many of these activities too.
KS: WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED? WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO COLUMBUS? WHAT IS IT YOU LOVE ABOUT OUR CITY?
HV: I was born and raised in Norwalk, Ohio and came to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University.
I finished my double major in Sociology and Criminology, worked in the human services field for a very brief time before I had my son.
When my son was two I needed to go back to work but definitely didn't want to return to the 40 hour a week grind (for me it was soul-sucking).
So I got into bodywork and the rest is history.
I love our city because of the community. It's a big city that has the friendly feel of a small town. Everywhere I go, I see people I know.
KS: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES OR MANTRAS?
KS: MUSIC YOU RECOMMEND?
HV: Anything you can dance to! I love hip hop, electronica, and folk music.
KS: COOL THINGS YOU LOVE AND WANT TO PASS ALONG TO OTHERS?
HV: I love it when I take a leap out of my comfort zone.
Buy the plane ticket, tell someone I love them, dive into a new adventure, whatever! It almost always brings positive rewards into my life.
I also love self-discipline... it's a tool for true freedom in almost every area of life.
KS: ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D CARE TO SHARE?
HV: I'm grateful for the community in Cbus that continually supports my work.
If you've never tried acupuncture, take a leap and give it a try!
You'll likely be astonished by the results.