NYC acupuncture clinic Area 25 was founded in 2018 out of frustration. Co-founders Amy Diaz (CEO) and Dr Robert MacDonald (chief clinical officer) felt the practice was wildly underutilized, and decided to make it less intimidating and more accessible in order to help individuals maintain their health, address pain and prevent illness. While still regarded as alternative medicine, acupuncture can result in patients take a more active role in their own wellbeing and become more in tune with their bodies—taking cues from subtle shifts in their behavior and feelings. While the clinic’s two locations—in Nomad and Midtown—are closed at the moment, many similar benefits of acupuncture can be achieved through acupressure. We did an online session with Area 25 acupuncturist Jessica Klein (LAc, MSOM) who led us through various pressure points and movements that can relieve stress and tension, elevate mood, increase energy and more. Klein also answered some of our questions about the practice.
Whether doing this yourself, with a housemate or family member, what are the benefits of this kind of touch?
Acupressure is essentially acupuncture without the puncture, and a tool used to promote our body’s own self-healing capability. Acupressure is an effective therapy to help to regulate mood and sleep, improve circulation, boost immunity, reduce digestive discomfort, and alleviate discomfort and pain. Touch is the language of love and compassion. While doing acupressure, we are sending this message to ourselves and showing up for ourselves as our own support system.
Do you have some tips for creating a mood to practice this at home? Perhaps where or how to sit; whether to use candles or oils; music, sounds, silence?
Acupressure is a great tool to use whenever you can’t make it into the clinic—all you need is your hands, your breath, and the space to disconnect from the outside and connect with your body. I begin all my practices by finding a comfortable position, seated upright to create space in the abdomen to allow each breath to oxygenate my organs. Before stimulating my points, I like to close my eyes and connect to my breath by taking three deep belly breaths, feeling the rise and fall of my stomach, and taking note of any resistance I feel throughout my body.
For morning sessions, I like to stimulate these points first thing when I get out of bed. I find a comfortable space by the window, surrounded by my plants, where I can see and feel the natural light shining through. As I take my first three breaths, I set an intention for the day—always being mindful to choose kind words that will allow for flexibility. If I incorporate oils into my morning treatments, I prefer to use more invigorating scents like citrus. For evening sessions, I like to bundle up in comfortable clothes in a dimly candlelit corner in my room. I find I like to go deeper with my breaths in the evening before stimulating, checking my body for restrictions with each breath and focusing on sending my breath to that area until I feel the restriction release. I continue with this breath until my body is at ease and I have shaken off the junk that has stagnated from the day. If I choose to incorporate oils in my evening treatment, I prefer to use more calming scents like lavender.
Can you tell us three acupressure movements that people can do each morning for energy or elevated mood?
These points will help to build energy, improve circulation, and regulate mood.
Large Intestine 4: this point is found on your hand in the webbing between the thumb and index finger. If you squeeze your thumb to your index finger, the point is found at the highest point of that muscle mound. Apply deep, firm pressure with your thumb (index finger in palm for support) and massage for 45 to 60 seconds, then switch to the other hand. This is a strong point and you may experience sensitivity. This point will help reduce pain (especially in the head and face), improve immune response, calms the mind, and helps clear the channel—which runs through the neck.
Stomach 36: this point is found 4 finger-breadths below the bottom of your knee cap (patella) and 1 finger-breadth outward (lateral) from the shin bone (anterior border of tibia). Massage this point with deep pressure for 45-60 seconds (can do both at the same time or one side and then the other). This point will improve your immune response, regulate digestion, and increase energy and stamina.
Liver 3: this point is found on the top of your feet in the webbing between the first and second toe. Massage this point (circles or in a downward motion toward your toes) for 45 to 60 seconds (can do both at the same time or one and then the other). This point will improve circulation throughout the entire body, decrease stress, regulate mood, and eliminate digestive discomfort.
What are three that can aid with stress relief and rest?
These will help to calm anxiety and stress, improve sleep, and promote grounding.
Yintang: this point is found midway between your eyebrows. Massage or tap this point with your index finger for 45 to 60 seconds. This point will calm the nervous system, relieve nasal congestion, and alleviate pain of the face.
Heart 7: this point is found by turning your palm up (inner side of wrist) and placing your thumb at the wrist crease in line with your pinky. Massage this point with moderate pressure (circular motion or downward toward fingertips) for 45 to 60 seconds, then switch to the other wrist. This point will promote healthy sleep and calm the heart and mind to regulate mood.
Kidney 1: this point is found on the sole of the foot between the second and third toe, about a third of the way between the base of the toes and the heel. Massage this point with your thumb for 30 to 45 seconds (can do both at the same time or one side and then the other). This point is great for grounding and will help to calm the nervous system and relieve anxiety.
Images courtesy of Area 25