Yin and Yang
Composite by Keith Hickey.

We all know the feeling. You just feel out of sync with yourself and others; your energy is low and you can’t sleep; your mind won’t shut down; you either don’t feel like eating or you want to eat every bagel in sight. You feel like you are competing with yourself to find yourself and it just isn’t working.

In medical terms, the body is constantly adjusting to create a state of homeostasis – constancy, balance and equilibrium. A simple example of homeostasis is the body's ability to maintain an internal temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, whatever the temperature outside. Our body and mind demand equilibrium, and a state of non-balance causes the pursuit of balance.

This quest for balance isn’t limited to the physical, rather it affects the physical … and the emotional and spiritual parts of our lives. Regardless of the terms one may use, the concepts are the same and the need for wholeness and balance is as true as day and night. Opposites attract and complement each other. This is the basis of what Eastern societies call Yin Yang.

When our Yin Yang is out of sync, our life is out of sync. It’s like a river or creek that has been blocked by logs and rocks and other debris. The blockage and imbalance reveals itself in the form of illness and/or stress.

Flagstaff’s Heather Bostian is an expert when it comes to helping people understand the extent to which everything we do is interconnected and interdependent. For more than 35 years, Bostian has worked as “more than a massage therapist.” She focuses on the whole person, not just an achy joint or muscle or overall relaxation. Her massage technique is deep and targeted.

“My goal is to find the imbalances in the body and then work to correct them,” Bostian explained. “Most of our physical ailments begin in our core or stomach region. The gut is the center of our body and it is the place of health and illness. It is also where we can begin to restore our balance and harmony, our Yin Yang.

“When we focus on the center of the body, we can open the areas of the body that are blocked or stagnant; it is more than intestinal and stomach issues, which usually are symptoms of other problems. Getting the organs and muscles in the abdomen to relax, move, release, breathe, produce and function opens the channels for the entire body to work better. We want to create fluidity, like an easy flowing river.”

When we are injured, ill, tired or stressed, the gut or belly is also in peril. We commonly feel anxiety in the abdomen and stomach when we are stressed, right? Perhaps, then, we should pay more attention to therapies that focus on this area rather than taking drugs for indigestion or pain.

Medical science tells us the abdomen is the center of our immune system. It is also where the production of serotonin, the hormone that affects how the whole body feels, takes place. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer and the chemical that regulates moods, sleeping, eating and digestion. It also helps reduce depression, regulates anxiety, heals wounds and maintains bone health.

Given all this information, why isn’t there more attention paid to the belly? Probably because it can be a bit awkward and uncomfortable. We may feel vulnerable there because the area is unprotected by bones, located next to our reproductive organs, and closely associated with cultural body image.

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Tom Montfort, D.D.S., a local dentist and longtime Flagstaff resident, agrees that at first the concept of Yin Yang, body work and energy release was new to him, and a bit awkward. Today, he believes in the work because the results are truly measurable.

“As a dentist, I had a lot of pain due to always bending over,” Montfort said. “I had heard about Heather and her body and energy work. Nothing else was helping, so I figured I might as well give her approach to healing and health a try. In just a few sessions, my pain was gone as well as some other health conditions. I continue to see her on a regular basis because the benefits are so great. I feel strong, healthy and balanced in my life. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is true.”

Edith Copley has worked in music and music direction for more than 20 years. After sustaining an injury to her neck, which was affecting her ability to conduct, she met with a surgeon. When the surgeon mentioned one of the risks of surgery could be damage to her vocal cords, Copley decided surgery was the very last resort. That’s when a friend told her about Heather. That was six years ago. After just a few sessions, Copley’s pain was gone and the need for surgery was eliminated. She still sees Heather nearly every week.

“There is nothing as priceless as our health,” Copley said. “I am convinced of the benefits of holistic bodywork that focuses on the whole body, not just a sore or injured area. Heather is my health maintenance plan.”

Is there a health topic you would like to know more about? Contact Starla S. Collins, health writer, at StarlaSCollins@gmail.com.

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