Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Please check out our Holiday Newsletter for exciting news and upcoming events.
We wish you health and joy of heart!
All the folks at Sarana Community Acupuncture

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

End of Year / Holiday Schedule Changes and Practitioner Substitutions

Thanksgiving Weekend Schedule:
Wednesday 11/23: 9:30 am– 2 pm – Pam Chang, 2 – 6 pm – Donna Chang*
(Note - reduced hours – close 1 hour early)
Thursday 11/24: CLINIC CLOSED for Thanksgiving
Friday 11/25: Reduced hours 11 am – 3 pm only – Sarah Liners, NO massage
Saturday 11/25 and Sunday 11/26: Regular hours and practitioners
(Note - 11/26 is Ellie’s last Saturday at Sarana)
Wednesday 11/30: 9:30 – 11:30 am - Tatyana Ryevzina

December Schedule Changes:

Wednesdays 12/7, 12/14, 12/21 and 12/28: 9:30 – 11:30 am - Tatyana Ryevzina
Saturday 12/3: Tatyana Ryevzina
Sunday 12/4: Donna Chang*
Saturday 12/10: Donna Chang*
Saturday 12/17: Pam Chang
Sunday 12/11: 10 am – 12 pm - Tatyana Ryevzina, 12 – 2 pm – Mari Kubota
Friday 12/23: NO massage, 3- 7 pm - Donna Chang
Saturday 12/24 and Sunday 12/25: CLINIC CLOSED for Christmas
Saturday 12/31: CLINIC CLOSED for New Years

*Who is Donna Chang?
Donna is a community acupuncturist, preparing to open Alameda Community Acupuncture in December of 2011. She is a talented and sensitive practitioner and she will be occasionally substituting for us at Sarana.

More about Donna: I was born in Alameda, CA and grew up in Hong Kong, returning to Alameda when I was 17. From a young age I had an interest in Chinese Medicine and Taoism. In my twenties, my search for ways to improve my health led me to study natural medicine, self-care principles, nutrition, and ultimately to get a master's degree from Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley. I am passionate about building community and making acupuncture and Chinese Medicine accessible to more people.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A Time of Change and Transition…

Ellie Schafer: At the end of November Sarana bids farewell to Ellie Schafer as she moves on to work full-time at another local community acupuncture clinic - we will miss her and wish her all the best!
Ellie’s last day will be Saturday November 26th. If you want to stay in touch with Ellie, please ask us, and we'll give you her contact information.

Sarah Liners: Starting in mid-November Sarah Liners will no longer work on Wednesdays but will continue to work Fridays and Sundays.
This means that we are suspending Wednesday massage until further notice. The last day for Wednesday massage and acupuncture with Sarah Liners will be November 16th.
(We will continue to offer massage on Fridays with Sarah Lovett.)

Tatyana and Pam will be working on Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30 am and on Saturdays 10 am - 2 pm until we find another practitioner to join our crew. We will post schedule updates as they are confirmed

Thanksgiving Weekend Schedule:
Wednesday 11/23 –slightly reduced hours: 9:30 am - 6 pm
Thursday 11/24 – CLOSED
Friday 11/25 - reduced hours 11 am – 3 pm only, NO massage
Saturday 11/25 and Sunday 11/26 – regular hours

Monday, November 7, 2011

Our November 2011 Newsletter

Our November Newsletter can be found here. Please check it out for schedule updates and other fun stuff!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Help Us Move Toward Being Fragrance-Free

Several of our clients have illnesses that make them extremely sensitive to indoor air-quality. They may experience headache, migraine, irritated eyes, nose and throat, coughing, nausea, dizziness, chronic fatigue, or body aches after exposure to chemicals that linger in indoor air from smoke, building materials (carpets, plastic, adhesives, paints), and cleaning and personal-care products. Because increased exposure to man-made chemicals, especially petroleum-byproducts, has been associated with increased incidence of cancer, asthma, and multiple-chemical-sensitivity, we at Sarana would like to follow the Precautionary Principle and minimize our -- and your-- exposure to toxic triggers.

As a Certified Green Business, we at Sarana already take great care to use environmentally-friendly natural products wherever possible. We use baking soda and vinegar for most of our general-cleaning. We use Marin County - based EO/Small World organic hand sanitizer, hand soap, and lotion without synthetic fragrances and we will be switching all of our natural-lavender sanitizers to unscented ones during the next few months. Our dish soap and laundry detergent are fragrance-free. We do have some CitraSolve citrus-based spot-remover that we use occasionally. We also maintain a BlueAir filter (located in the corner nearest the massage table) to help purify the air and we provide filtered tap water for tea.

While we know it is not possible to control the clinic environment fully, we do ask you to support our efforts to minimize indoor air pollution and accommodate the chemically sensitive members of our growing community.
You can help us by avoiding wearing perfumes and other scented products while at Sarana. You also might consider reducing your use of fragrances, scented cleaning products, pesticides, smoke, and petroleum products (plastics, solvents, gasoline, etc.) for your own health. Thank you!

For more information on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Fragrance-free issues, please see the following links:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Schedule Substitutions - Late Oct / Early November 2011

  • Sunday 10/30, 10 am - 2 pm - Pam works for Sarah
  • Wednesday 11/2, 9:30 - 11:30 am - Ellie works for Sarah, NO MASSAGE
  • Thursday 11/3, 11 am - 3 pm - Mari works for Pam
  • Friday 11/4, 11 am - 3 pm - Tatyana works for Sarah

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Schedule Changes and Substitutions

Sarah Liners has now taken over the Friday 11 am - 3 pm acupuncture shift.

Ellie Schafer continues to work Saturdays 10 am - 2 pm.

  • Sunday, 9/11 – 10 am - 2 pm – Pam works for Sarah
  • Monday 10/3 – 9:30 am – 2 pm – Sarah works for Pam
  • Tuesday 10/4 – 2:30 – 6:30 pm – Mari works for Pam
  • Wednesday 10/5 - 9:30 - 11:30 am - Tatyana works for Sarah
  • Thursday 10/6 - 11 am - 3 pm - Sarah works for Pam
  • Friday 10/7 – 3 – 7 pm – Tatyana works for Mari
  • Thursday 10/13 – 3 – 7 pm – Sarah works for Tatyana
  • Monday 10/17 – 2 – 6:30 pm – Sarah works for Tatyana
  • Wednesday 10/19 – 11:30 am – 3 pm – Pam works for Tatyana
  • Thursday 10/20 – 3 – 7 pm – Ellie works for Tatyana
  • Saturday 10/22 – 10 am – 2 pm - Mari works for Ellie
  • NO MASSAGE on Fridays in October (Wednesday massage available as usual)

Note: we will have regular hours on Columbus Day, Monday 10/10

Please remember:

Frequent and consistent acupuncture produces the best results:

following through on your acupuncture treatments plan is more important for progress than seeing a particular practitioner.

We all communicate with each other

and strive to give you the best possible care.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Schedule Changes for Aug / Early September 2011

  • Monday 8/15 - 9:30 am - 2 pm - Sarah Liners subs for Pam
  • Saturday 8/20 - 10 am - 2 pm - Sarah Liners subs for Ellie
  • Wednesday 8/31 - 9:30 - 11:30 am - Ellie subs for Sarah Liners, NO massage
  • Sunday 9/4 - 10 am - 2 pm - Tatyana subs for Sarah Liners
  • Monday 9/5 Labor Day - Reduced Hours and FREE acupuncture - 11 am - 3 pm
  • Wednesday 9/7 - 9:30 - 11:30 am - Ellie subs for Sarah Liners, NO massage
  • Sunday 9/11 - 10 am - 2 pm - Pam subs for Sarah Liners
Keep up with your treatment plan - do not hesitate to come in and see a substitute practitioner. We all read each others chart notes and are committed to take very good care of you. Show up and let the acupuncture do its work!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Schedule Changes for July / August 2011

Wednesday 7/13 - 3 - 7 pm - Pam Chang working for Mari Kubota
Thursday 7/14 - 11 am - 3 pm- Sarah Liners working for Pam Chang
Wednesday 7/20 - 3 - 7 pm - Pam Chang working for Mari Kubota
Wednesday 8/10 - 11:30 am - 3 pm - Pam Chang working for Tatyana Ryevzina

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our June 2011 Newsletter

Please check out our June Newsletter right HERE.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Schedule Changes for June / July 2011

Wednesday 6/15 and 6/29: Pam substitutes for Tatyana 11am-3pm
Thursday 6/16: Mari substitutes for Tatyana 3-7pm
Monday 6/20: Ellie substitutes for Tatyana 2-6:30 pm

We are closed Monday July 4th for Independence Day

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Schedule Changes for May 2011

  • Monday 5/16 - 9:30 am - 2 pm - Ellie works for Pam
  • Tuesday 5/17 2:30 - 6:30 pm - Tatyana works for Pam
  • Thursday 5/19 11 am - 3 pm - Mari works for Pam
  • Wednesday 5/25 11 am - 3 pm Pam works for Tatyana
  • Monday 5/30, MEMORIAL DAY - reduced hours: 11 am - 2 pm with Pam and 2 - 5 pm with Tatyana

Monday, April 11, 2011

"My Unexpected Career" by Pam Chang

We are sharing this piece that Pam wrote recently describing her personal journey of becoming a community acupuncturist:

In acupuncture school, I never knew how – or if – I'd ever practice Chinese medicine. In fact, all through my training, I never quite knew why I was studying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In August 2003, vaguely bored with my freelance architecture and civil engineering practice, I saw a notice of an acupuncture college open house in the local newspaper. I showed up on a whim. Throughout the presentation, I wondered why I was there while simultaneously recalling a play I'd just seen about the life of Alberta Hunter. Hunter was a jazz-age singer whose popularity faded in the 1950s when she was turning 60. Needing another career, she claimed to be 40, enrolled in nursing school, and worked as a nurse for 20 years before being forced to retire at age 80. She then returned to the stage for the last five years of her life. Inspired by Hunter, I could not come up with sufficient good reason for not enrolling in TCM school. True, the thought of sticking needles in people was not appealing, but I liked the idea of learning Chinese medicine theory and herb lore. I began studies for my masters degree in TCM that fall, just prior to my 48th birthday.

TCM school was a slog, a vast amount of rote memorization: Western medical concepts and terminology; Chinese medical concepts and terminology; acupuncture point names, locations, functions and combinations; and herb names, functions and combinations. Hardest was superimposing an Eastern mindset on a Western-trained mind. TCM entities were invisible functions rather than things. They were associated with certain symptoms but didn't necessarily cause those symptoms. And Chinese 'logic' seemed circular and slippery: a diagnosis was right if it led to beneficial treatment but a seemingly opposite diagnoses could also suggest beneficial treatment and therefore was right, too. Without supportive classmates and a driving thirst for soaking up knowledge, I would have dropped out – as did at least half of my starting class.

Despite not knowing why I was studying TCM, I benefited from my new-gained knowledge. Midway through my second year, I awoke one morning and noticed the indented imprint of my hand on my swollen left leg: pitting edema. By now, I'd completed enough anatomy and physiology classes to ask the right questions. After my Western MD ruled out deep vein thrombosis, I speculated on venous obstruction and began palpating my lower abdomen whereupon I felt an abnormal mass. Scans and surgery quickly followed and I was diagnosed with stage I ovarian cancer – my first major illness.

Becoming a patient changed my relationship to TCM. Before then, TCM was theory, something I studied out of curiosity and love of learning. Afterward, I opted for TCM over chemotherapy and experienced the process of gradually re-building my health by getting weekly acupuncture, boiling raw herb decoctions, taking powdered and pill-form herb extractions, renewing my qi-gong practice, altering my diet, and taking time for adequate rest. By the time I began my internship, I had received acupuncture from several competent clinicians and I had made many of the lifestyle changes that I would be recommending to my clients.

I can't determine how much of the confidence I was able to bring to the school clinic came from my experience of being a patient, how much of it was due to my age and having felt successful in prior careers, or how much of it derived from the comparatively quick point selection methods I'd learned in a meridian theory class. In any case, I enjoyed clinical practice and had several regular clients. Even so, up until my last trimester, I did not expect that I would continue to practice acupuncture except, perhaps, as a hobby.

The big stumbling block for me when I thought of opening a practice was cost, both mine and my clients'. Throughout school, the only practice model we saw was one that involved lots of time with individuals in a private room. We were trained to see at most one client per hour, asking the “ten questions”, feeling pulses and looking at tongues before inserting and manipulating needles, administering moxa or massage, and maybe prescribing herbs. I was afraid to run the numbers but I assumed that I would have to charge the standard $50-100 fee per visit to cover my rent, insurance, equipment, overhead, and profit. However, I wasn't comfortable paying $50+ per treatment myself. If I hadn't received deeply-discounted acupuncture at the school clinic, I wouldn't have been able to afford weekly treatments for very long. I didn't expect I'd be able to build up a practice at that fee among my friends, particularly those who earned, maybe, $25/hour, or who worked part-time, or were on fixed incomes. So I figured I'd keep on doing architecture for a livelihood and maybe do a few house calls per week, or be a substitute acupuncturist if my study-buddies ever wanted to take vacations.

Toward the end of my internship, eavesdropping on a conversation between a clinic supervisor and another intern, I learned about the community acupuncture (CA) practice model. In community clinics, one acupuncturist treats several clients, all seated in recliners together in one large room. Intakes are minimal and therapy mostly is limited to acupuncture at points on the head, neck, or lower arms and legs. Treating several clients per hour allows the acupuncturist to charge fees as low as $15/visit yet still earn $50 -100 per hour. Simultaneously, the low fees enable clients to afford more treatments – perhaps enough treatments for them to experience the often-gradual benefits of acupuncture. Community clinics typically offer sliding scale fees to all clients. They are for-profit businesses, supported by user fees, and they do not require the acupuncturist to spend time pursuing insurance monies or grants. Suddenly, I saw the possibility of acupuncture becoming my career.

In the months that followed, I attended a workshop on “the nuts and bolts of community acupuncture” sponsored by Working Class Acupuncture, the Portland, Oregon clinic that pioneered the community acupuncture model. I finished school, passed my licensing exam, and realized that if I wanted to be a community-style acupuncturist, I would have to open my own clinic. In September 2007, I started talking to Tatyana Ryevzina, the clinic supervisor from whom I had first learned of CA, about starting our own clinic. Six months later, we opened Sarana Community Acupuncture in an 800 square-foot storefront in a strip-mall in Albany, California. Furnished with one (later two) massage tables, three La-Z-boy armchair recliners, four folding recliners, and an assortment of used tables, lamps, shelves, rugs, wall-hangings, etc., the space looked more like a living room than a medical clinic.

From opening day onward, we attracted enough clients to cover our monthly expenses. Our first month in business, we were open twelve hours per week and typically saw 20-30 clients per week. Some of our clients came from Tatyana's prior practice where she'd been offering community-style treatment two days per week for several months. Other clients came through contacts I'd accumulated from having lived in the neighborhood for 28 years or because they'd seen the notices we'd posted around town. After two months, we increased our open hours to 18 per week and were scheduling about 40 appointments per week. In ten months, we had earned back all of our start-up costs. This month (March 2011), Sarana will celebrate its third birthday. We are now open 40 hours per week with four acupuncturists and we see 140-150 clients per week. Our clients are referred to us by other acupuncturists, non-acupuncture therapists, word of mouth, and Internet list-serves or web-searches. Not all CA clinics are this successful – some more so and others less – but based on the Community Acupuncture Network's ( current listing of 160 clinics –up from 80 in 2007– this model of practice is clearly spreading.

As a new acupuncturist, one of the things that was hardest for me was developing speed. For my first two months, I scheduled appointments at 20-minute intervals, then at 15-minute intervals for the next year. In May 2009, I started scheduling five clients per hour and since October 2009, I've been scheduling six per hour. The slow transition to six clients per hour was a mistake. It allowed me to be far too chatty with my clients. Chatting more, I've since learned, just means that it takes longer for a client to settle into the deep relaxation of acupuncture treatment. Moreover, working slower encouraged my tendency to spend too long selecting the 'perfect' point prescription. As my schedule sped up, I had to choose points without thinking about them so much – and learned that my 'on-the-fly' points worked as well or better than the TCM-diagnosis – based selections. My most recent colleague at Sarana began scheduling six clients per hour immediately. By this time, of course, we had trained our clients to need little chatter and we had created lists of point protocols for the most common ailments.

The other thing that was hard for me was becoming comfortable as a clinician. During my first several months, I felt that I was doing performance art, playing the role of acupuncturist, “faking it until I could make it”. I didn't feel that I was a healer. I didn't feel that I had the “magic fingers” that one of my classmates seemed to have in her instant ability to find ashi (sensitive) points. But one day, after I'd been practicing for 6-12 months, one of my clients burst into tears during her intake. In silence, I passed her the box of tissues, stepped back while she recomposed herself, then inserted her needles. She slept during her treatment, awoke in better spirits, went home and wrote me a thank-you note. She's still a regular client. I realized then that my gift for healing is in holding a space where people can feel safe and acknowledged. I can listen to them and bear witness of their struggles. What happens with the acupuncture needles, I think, is that people heal themselves but to do so, they must allow themselves to relax. I don't have “magic fingers” but it doesn't matter. My job is to be as trustworthy and caring a person as I can be and then to step aside and let people heal themselves.

So, having stumbled cluelessly into TCM and fortuitously onto the CA scene, I feel incredibly lucky. I thought I liked what I was doing when I worked as an architect, but now I feel I've found my proper life work providing a useful and widely-appreciated service to my community. Sarana provides my business partner and me a very modest income but it enables us to live well-enough and earn, probably, about as much as most of our clients. Our clinic also provides partial incomes and lots of practice to two other acupuncturists – a job option that was rarely available when I finished school. And we provide lots of acupuncture to lots of people. Last month, one of my clients told me that losing her health insurance may have been a blessing – relying only on weekly acupuncture and traditional medicines, she now feels less pain than when she was taking prescription pain-killers. When I was in school, one of my instructors said that he taught because school gave him the social interaction that he could not have in his doctor/patient relationships. I disagree. I give some 40-50 treatments per week and, even though I may share only five minutes of conversation per visit, I've come to feel very connected to my clients. They come in – regularly or sporadically – and bring their friends and family members, share news of major and minor events of their lives, offer us gifts and garden produce, and thank us again and again. But I am equally grateful – for having clients who support us and our version of affordable health care.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April 2011 Schedule Changes

Thursday 4/7
Pam 11 am - 2 pm
Mari 2 - 4:30 pm
Ellie 4:30 - 7 pm
(NO Tatyana)

Friday 4/15
Tatyana 11 am - 3 pm
Ellie 3 - 7 pm
(NO Mari)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Saturday Schedule Change

Pam will be substituting for Ellie this Saturday 2/27 10 am - 2 pm.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Happy Lunar New Year!

February 3rd, 2011 marks the beginning of the Year of the Yin Metal Rabbit. The Chinese horoscope is based on a cycle of 12 animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) and 5 elements, (wood, fire, earth, metal and water). Thus, a particular animal-element combination recurs only once every 60 years.

In previous metal rabbit years: (1831) Nat Turner's slave rebellion broke out, Charles Darwin embarked on the HMS Beagle; (1891) Carnegie Hall and Stanford University opened, basketball was invented, the US Court of Appeals was created; (1951) the Rosenbergs were convicted and the US anti-communist “red-scare” began, the first Univac computer was delivered to the the US census bureau, and “I Love Lucy” was first aired.

Famous rabbit people include: Confucius, Albert Einstein, US Chief Justice Earl Warren, Israeli statesmen Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Shamir, Senator Patrick Moynihan, labor activist Cesar Chavez, ice cream manufacturers Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and entertainers Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Depp, Robin Williams, and Sting.

The rabbit is typically a gentle, quiet, intuitive, peace-loving animal who seeks safety and domestic harmony. Perpetually bridging the space in the Chinese horoscope between the powerful tiger and dragon, the rabbit prefers to avoid conflict and to act behind the scenes. When feeling secure, rabbits can be capable managers, advisors, and negotiators. When threatened, they can become paranoid and vicious. Thus, this year has potential for both peace and violence. Following are prognostications offered by Daoist scholar Liu Ming.

  • General Recommendations: Daoist astrology is only loosely predictive. Individual conduct is most important now as this year, potentially inauspicious, is influenced by our collective behavior. This is a good year for looking inward and creating collaborative action. Real security and trustworthy leadership will emerge from our cultivating spontaneous kindness and supporting friends and family. Local generosity adds up. Work cooperatively to prevent the outbreak of fear-driven violence.

  • Politically, ethnic and regional identity movements will be important in the US, China, India, and the European community. Nations will act to protect their borders and economies but non-traditional, non-national communities will emerge via business, artistic, Internet, and other alliances. Behind-the- scenes diplomacy will be fruitful.

  • In business and finance, nations will place domestic agendas first thus straining international treaties and markets but real estate sales will increase and stabilize.

  • In regard to health, the rabbit's affinity for intuition leads to a reinforced mind-body connection. Poor health will heighten mental distress and vice versa. Conversely, mental security will improve physical well-being. Participatory healing practices that fully engage the imagination and intuition can be dramatically effective this year. This is a good year to start or renew a yoga, taichi, or qigong practice.

  • In the Inner Realm, religion will be less the focus of social and political identity. This isn't a good year to find a righteous cause. Instead, do your own authentic, individual, and intuitive practice.

The metal rabbit year ends and the water dragon year begins on January 23, 2012. How this year goes will be enlarged next year, so act as best you can to promote cooperation and freedom from fear.

Written by Pam Chang, LAc

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NEW Sarana Herbal Soup MIx

We are expanding our medicinal food offerings at Sarana!
In addition to the popular
Pam's Breakfast Grains, we now have Sarana Herbal Soup Mix. It is a pleasant-tasting, energy boosting herbal mix to add to your favorite chicken or vegetable soup recipe. Made with certified organic and pesticide free herbs from the reputable Spring Wind Herbs, the mix is available for $3 per bag.

*lotus seed (lian zi), *red ganoderma (ling zhi), *astragalus (huang qi), **coix seeds (yi yi ren), **goji berries (gou qi zi), **codonopsis (dang shen), **longan fruit (long yan rou), **solomon's seal rhizome (yu zhu)

*organic, **premium quality tested for pesticides.


All of these herbs can be used for general wellness. Astragalus and ganoderma help boost energy and immune function. Coix seed and codonopsis assist digestion and enhance energy. Lotus seed and longan are calming and nourish the heart. Goji berries are a blood tonic and assist eye health and also have some immune boosting function. Polygonatum helps restore moisture and nourish the lungs.

Preparation Notes:

The herb mix bag is enough for a soup recipe for 4 – 6 large servings. Use your favorite chicken or vegetable soup recipe and add the herbs to the water or broth at the beginning of the cooking process. For best results, simmer the herbs in the soup for at least 45 minutes. You can add fresh garlic, ginger, or any seasonal vegetables you like. All the herbs are edible, but some might be too fibrous, so you can discard them after cooking. If you prefer not to eat the herbs, place them in a cheesecloth pouch, boil the pouch in the soup and remove after cooking. Eat the soup daily for a week while recovering from illness or once a week to support wellness and boost energy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meditation Cancelled

Due to low attendance we are suspending the Sunday evening meditation until further notice - the last session will take place this Sunday 1/16 at 7 pm.

If you have interest in resurrecting this activity at Sarana and can commit to be a regular meditation leader at least once per month, please email us at and let us know.

Thanks to all those that have shown up to meditate these past few months!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

MId-Winter Mid-week Acupuncture Special!

Come in on Wednesdays during January and February 2011 for a great deal:


$15 acupuncture for new clients

$10 acupuncture for return clients

Tell your friends!

Make your appointments here.