The Pulse of Balance – Winter 2022

Written by: Sonia Tan

November 23, 2022

The Pulse of Balance
The Pulse of Balance
Welcome to our Seasonal Newsletter!
  • Seasonal thoughts from Tan Shifu
  • Balance Acupuncture Case Study
  • Ways to Learn – New and Current courses



By now, we’ve gone through three-quarters of the year of the Water Tiger. You may have felt its change-making, mover-and-shaker energy. As I say in many of my posts, it’s important to remember that the Tiger is a benevolent animal at its core. It wants to create light and positive change. If you are unable to see or feel what that is just yet, it will come. This may be months, years or decades later that you can look back on this year, and see what new trajectory or course-correction it was trying to make for you. It’s important for you to listen, learn and be kind for the benevolence of the Tiger to help you. Be aware, and attune, align and allow.

The Tan Academy of Balance is also feeling this change. For some time, I’ve always wanted to have more meaningful connections to my students and those that wish to learn with smaller cohorts and cultivation of a community. This creates not only more support and foundation for development skills, but also for a more integral way of passing on the knowledge. This ancient wisdom is a treasure, passed down traditionally from master to apprentice when right to do so, and it’s in my belief and lineage that we continue to do so.

With that, I’ll be slowly transforming The Tan Academy of Balance to be more focused on a boutique school of Mentorship programs. Some of them will have a Certification option (testing and feedback mechanisms), and some with just a completion option. I myself was interviewed on one of his visits to Vancouver by Dà Shī 师 (trad: 師) Great/Grand Master Richard Teh-fu Tan before he Certified me as one of his Gold Level Practitioners. I know being on the other side of what this means in terms of confidence by both the practitioner and the student. Furthermore, it’s my desire to have smaller cohorts and more direct interaction and exchange with the teacher-student. Mastery comes from a solid and refined foundation of a focused area, and then building upon those building blocks. With this it is through repetition and mastering the basics where skills shine. If you are curious to continue learning about any one or all of the the Sān Cái 三才 (Three Essences) areas that our school focuses on: Acupuncture & Chinese medicine, Chinese Astrology, Feng Shui, then I look forward to seeing you and having you joining us in your lifetime journey of mastery of the Sān Cái 三才 in Chinese medicine and Acupuncture.

Until such time that we meet, take this Winter Water time to tune into your intuition and senses and go with the flow. That is what Water does best. Be kind to yourself if you change things up, and be kind to others if you need a change. There is light ahead, so keep swimming.

Wishing you a Winter full of connection. Zai Jian 再见 (再見)!

See you online, in-person, or on our HUB

Dr. Sonia F. Tan, DAOM, RAc, RTCMP

Founder, Principal, Chinese Medicine & Metaphysican Illuminator.

Balance System Acupuncture Case Study

Presented by Suzanne Williams, MBA, RAc

A senior patient with stiffness in her hands has just passed the two year mark of acupuncture treatment, and I consider her one of my “model patients”. She is now on a maintenance program of acupuncture and self-care that she follows diligently, motivated by the fast and incredible relief she feels from treatment. 

She initially sought help for stiffness in her back as well as her hands. She’d been diagnosed with mild osteoarthritis in her hip and SI joint a number of years before, and had been managing it well with exercise. Her hands had recently become stiff, and she was concerned that OA was sitting there. She also came with a secondary complaint of a feeling of uncomfortably strong heat every day at 6:00 AM.

The patient now only feels minute stiffness in her hands on occasion, and in certain weather conditions (more on that below). She has been taking piano lessons and now feels agile and unrestricted when she plays. Her back stiffness flares marginally when she really pushes it in the garden or (unsurprisingly) in certain weather conditions. The uncomfortable feeling of heat all but disappeared after one treatment, returning only twice during the first month of treatment and never again.

What were the key factors in this successful case? Why, Balance System Acupuncture (BSA), of course! However, BSA alone can’t take all the credit. It was a combination of BSA at the right frequency, using the right balancing channels, with the right images, plus the patient’s self-care and self-awareness. With that combination of care, this patient’s results have been remarkable. Let’s look at these components a little more closely.

Right frequency of treatment

The patient’s treatment schedule was as follows:

·   four treatments within first 10 days to inject the healing effects of acupuncture into her system and provide strong relief

·   a five day interval for one week as her symptoms had reduced in frequency from daily to every third day after the initial round of treatment

·   a one week interval for two weeks as her stiffness dropped from every few days to once every two weeks, and I wanted to expand her interval of relief

·   monthly sessions for nine months when her stiffness returned every 3-4 weeks

·   treatment every second month for three months when her stiffness returned every 6-8 weeks

·   monthly treatments through water season (hint on her triggers!)

·   treatment every eight weeks during spring, summer and fall as that is now her maximum interval before the hint of stiffness returns outside of water season

·   monthly through water season

This demonstrates the importance of the initial course of treatment for symptom relief, adjusting to prevention, and then titrating for maintenance of healing through the year depending on a patient’s triggers.

Right channels and images

Initially, I diagnosed the patient’s blocked channels as SI, LI, SJ; HT, PC, LU (primary) + GB, BL (secondary), i.e. a LOT of channels. As you can likely guess, I started with Magical 12 for a series of four treatments close together, focusing the images on her L 5th finger, which was the stiffest. The delayering process was quick. Her heat all but disappeared after one treatment. By visit five, the main blockage had reduced down to the SI and HT channels. I was then able to pare the treatment down to Mag4 Heat plus single balance. Although the heat symptoms were gone, the balancing channels of Magic 4 heat addressed the main blocked channels quite beautifully. I did some strong imaging work on three leg yin channels of the patient’s toes (youch!) to reinforce the balancing effect. I was able to work within Magic 4 Heat or adjust single balance approaches as needed if the patient’s back or SI joint felt stiff on a particular visit.

As we moved through treatment, the patient was able to identify key triggers for flares in stiffness in her hands or back and hip. This led me to adjust my treatment approach to a Seasonal Balance as needed through the year. Which brings us to the next factor in the constellation of care…


Initially, the patient did not report any clear causes for the stiffness in her hands, other than a history of OA. However, a freak rainstorm during the first few weeks of treatment caused a stronger flare than she had experienced before, so she thought this might have been a trigger. Her suspicions were confirmed when the weather in Raincouver grew increasingly damp, and after she drank some wine and had cake in one evening (a rarity for this patient). Enter the beautiful magic of Seasonal Balance! I have continued to use this approach through the water season, and as/when the weather is unusually damp. This year we also did preparation sessions during metal season. The adjustment in approach happened in large part because the patient paid close attention to the waxing and waning of her symptoms, and reported this back to me with accuracy. 

Damp weather is a key trigger for her stiffness, and since she cannot control the weather, she knows that treatment is critical for maintaining the supple, smooth sensation she feels after acupuncture. Wine and sugar are also triggers, and since she can control consumption of both, she does. She plays the piano and it has helped with her agility and…


The final piece of this patient’s successful relief is her diligent self-care. Her compliance is remarkable. She applies moist heat to her hands each morning, holding her hands over the steam of the tea kettle. She uses a topical ointment for muscle and joint pain that we sell in our clinic. It is easy and convenient to use and smells amazing, so that helps entice the patient to use it, but more importantly it helps extend the effect of her treatments and can be used for flares in stiffness or muscle tightness anywhere on her body. The patient is active and understands that movement is medicine. She avoids alcohol and sugar most of the time, and knows that she might “pay the price of admission” if she has them. She can’t control the weather, so she schedules her acupuncture treatments at my recommended interval during water season – yes, scheduling and coming to appointments is a form of self-care!

Far reaching results

The effects of this patient’s success have extended beyond the treatment room. She has referred numerous patients to me, most of whom are now on a preventive tune-up schedule. She talks up our topical products and has gifted them to her friends and family, many of whom buy them on repeat. She has inspired her spouse to pay closer attention to his health and seek preventive care, not just reactive care. For this patient, it all came down to BSA at the right frequency, using the correct balancing channels, with strong images, plus the patient’s self-care and self-awareness. It really can be as simple as that! I incorporate these principles into every treatment I provide, using it to inform my treatment approach and inspire my patients to take control of their care. BSA is indeed amazing, and with this approach, it often feels more like magic than medicine!

— Suzanne Williams, MBA, RAc

Certified BSA Practitioner, First Cohort Graduate and Certified BSA Teacher.

Suzanne Williams, BA, MBA, RAc, is a Registered Acupuncturist, Certified Tui Na practitioner, a Certified Balance System Acupuncture Practitioner, and a graduate of the first cohort! She is also one of Tan Shifu’s Certified BSA Teachers. Balance Acupuncture has changed the way she practices and she looks forward to passing the knowledge on!

Balance System Acupuncture (BSA) Certificate Mentorship Program

The Balance System Acupuncture Certificate Program includes all Advanced levels of Balance Acupuncture(3-9) and Grand Rounds classes of cases, adjunct topics, and guest lecturers. The program dives deep in exploring the advanced Balance Acupuncture strategies to effectively deliver more immediate, lasting results. 

Based on a long lineage of ancient, authentic teachings and applied channel theory, the Balance Acupuncture Certificate Program teachers brings Acupuncture to life.

Hybrid Program: 

The Balance System Acupuncture Certificate program is hosted at Langara College and has been transformed to a hybrid style of learning. This is combination of online and in-person delivery and provides more flexible learning options, especially for individuals living outside of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland.

Study Balance Acupuncture from Near & Far!

How do you know if this is the right program for you?

The Langara Balance Acupuncture Certification is:

  • A layered advanced level 10 month program
  • An opportunity to learn channel theory acupuncture
  • An place to fill your gaps of knowledge and elevate your skill set
  • A higher quality of teaching focusing on:
    • Academic teaching
    • Classroom collaboration & case studies
    • Grand Rounds cases & adjunct topics
    • Real world stories & experiences
    • Optional online 1 hour study labs with a Teaching Assistant 
    • Fostering & grows your community
    • Guest speakers and TA support
    • A place to grow your proficiency and achieve more confidence

If this program is not a fit for you right now, we have other courses and webinars to support your learning and are actively working to create more Balance Acupuncture content in the TAB HUB. (let us know what you would like!)

Optional TA Study Labs:

  • Online
  • 1 hour on Sunday mornings between the class & exam

It’s a great opportunity to bring your cases & questions and review discussions before the exam.


Earn a recognized certificate in this highly specialised area of acupuncture. 

At the end of the Program, you will have earned the status of Certified Balance System Acupuncture Practitioner from Tan Academy of Balance Inc, and a Certificate of Balance System Acupuncture from Langara College, a well-respected public institution of higher learning in Canada.

What’s Coming

BSA Refresher & Practical – Jan 15/23
Get practising with your hands-on practical skills you didn’t get to verify from the webinar, or fill the gaps of your skills in-person with Dr. Tan!

Prior approval required, email:

Become Certified- Equivalency Tests – Jan 22 & 29/23
Prior approval required, email:
Winter Season Learning Lab – Jan 18/23
Link to sign up available early December – stay tuned!

BSA Foundations Refresher & Practical Course

It’s been a while since you first studied BSA, you need some CEU’s, or you did it on-line as a webinar?

This course will help you:

Review and get hands-on practice with personalised evaluation.

  • Refresh & Review your Foundational Balance Acupuncture theory:
  • Level 1 – Single Balance
  • Level 2 – Multiple & Global Balance Systems
  • Earn CEU’s
  • Is a great hands-on practical skills refresher especially the new and alternate location acupoints
  • Prepare & Review to challenge the Level 1 & 2 exams if you are interested in earning your Certification.

It’s a great way to get personal hands on learning while meeting Tan Shifu and meeting the teachers & teaching assistants. Ask your custom questions and have a better understanding on how the Certification and the Certificate program works.

Sunday January 15, 2023

Where: Langara College – Vancouver, BC

Format: Live In-Person


Level 1 – Single Balance *

Level 2 – Multiple & Global Balance Systems *

Prior approval required, email:

* via approved Langara course, webinar or other Balance System class/instructor

Become Certified – Challenge the BSA Foundations Level 1 & 2 Exams

You have taken the Foundations levels and are ready for more Advanced skills.
Taking these two tess for the next great step!
Some of the reasons people have taken the tests in the past have included:
  • Getting Certified as a Level 1 and 2 (Foundations) BSA Practitioner
  • Improving your understanding & application of BSA & get feedback & improving proficency
  • Improved visibility of your practicing listing on the Tan Academy of Balance’s Find A Practitioner List (pre-requisite: Foundations levels and HUB membership)
  • It’s one of the prerequisites for the full Balance System Acupuncture (BSA) Certificate Program (all Advanced levels)
  • Receive feedback of your understanding and anchor your confidence!
If you are wondering about taking the Certificate program, this is a great example of how the program tests are handled & what you can expect them to look like. Just like the tests within the program, you will receive feedback on your test results & answers from the Teaching Team.
Future Dates: January 22 or 29, 2023
Host: Langara College – Vancouver, BC
Format: Live On-Line (adjudicated)
or call registrar office at604.323.5322
BSA Level 1 Equivalency Exam:
  • 9:00am, Sunday January 22 or 29, 2023
Level 2: Multiple Systems
  • 11:00am, Sunday January 22 or 29, 2023
* 15% discount to exam fees when writing at both levels at the same time

Winter Season Learning Lab

Link to sign up available mid-December – stay tuned!

Exciting Mentorship Opportunities beginning in 2023

Extra Channels and Vessels Mentorship – 1.5 years, 4 meetings per year, in-person only, Vancouver, Canada.

With Dr. Yvonne Farrell, DAOM

Inquire with for more information.


Certified Chinese Astrology Practitioner – 2.5 year mentorship, 3 meetings per year, beginning June 2023, by application only.

Inquire with for more information.

Webinars & Online Learning

Why We Love a Webinar?

It’s a great way to start learning a new topic. It can be completed on your own schedule

Lifelong Course Access = Review Materials When You Want
  • Please remember that while webinars do discuss the basic principles being taught, they can lack the normal exchange of energy and/or ideas that case studies and classroom Q&A’s can bring.
  • Unless otherwise noted, webinars are offered through Net of Knowledge, and purchases are automatically redirected to your host country’s provider.


Dr. Sonia Tan continues to write!
  • What topic would you like to hear more about? Let her know!
  • Updates also available on the Books page on the website.
The International French Version of The Foundations of Balance Acupuncture is Now Available! 
Did you know as a member of the HUB, we maintain an up-to-date practitioner list on the website?

  • If you are a member and your office locations and/or contact information has changed, please update this in your member profile and notify us through email or the TAB HUB.
*Note: An Office address is required for Google Maps
Sonia Tan
Author: Sonia Tan

You May Also Like…