Friday, May 29, 2009

Wholistic healing keeps you sane

The economy's freefall has made some people suicidal according to a story in the Observer, but others turning to alternative therapy to relieve stress. Across the state, holistic practitioners say many clients are looking for ways to reduce stress or postpone costlier traditional medical care.

Jill Akbay, massage therapist at Om Enerji on Central Avenue, is one of the Charlotte-area business owners who have seen an increase in business.

Akbay said clients walk in and say, “ ‘Whoa, I was able to take a deep breath for the first time today.' ”
Her sister Jennifer Thompson, a sound therapist, said many of her clients feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

“They're just stressed out and just wanting some relief,” she said. “(They want) to feel some hope, to feel there really is something out there that can help them feel a little bit better.”

Their client’s problems are similar to what other practitioners report. Rebecca Fowler, publisher of Natural Awakenings, which covers Charlotte-area holistic businesses, says advertising and circulation has increased for the magazine in the last year. Jill Milunic, publisher and editor of Natural Triad Magazine, is seeing similar trends in the Greensboro-based magazine’s circulation area.

“I’m hearing everywhere …people in general want to take care of themselves ahead of time,” Milunic said. “They want to stay well and they want to be preventive.”

The economy’s downturn hasn’t translated into new business for all holistic businesses. Ginna Browning is the educational officer for the N.C. Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She said most members of the association reported a decline in business. Browning said many clients at the massage and acupuncture clinic where she works in Raleigh complain of headaches, anxiety and depression. Some hope to delay surgery because they don’t want to miss work.

“They don’t feel like it’s a good time to have any extended leave of absence,” said Browning.
Phyllis Rollins, owner of 8th Street Yoga Studio, tried to help her stressed students by exposing them to a variety of holistic therapies. Each week, for a month, a different practitioner – from yoga to Thai massage – gave a free lesson.

“People are interested in feeling better about themselves,” Rollins said.

Rollins says she has clients who've lost their jobs and are unable to pay. Some trade services for classes.

“I've tried to make a point of not turning anybody away because they don't have money,” she said.

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