Visit the Moon Room at Integral Yoga Institute


An interview with Acupuncturist Francesca Biryukov


-By Sarah McElwain

credit: Joan C. Denker.© 

You recently introduced three new services at the IYI Wellness Spa—facial rejuvenation, gua sha and cupping. 

They are all part of traditional Chinese medicine, and acupuncturists have always incorporated them into their practices. Facial rejuvenation is actually micro-needling of the acupuncture meridians that begin or end on the face. These meridians travel from the feet to the upper body and end on the head. Yang meridians travel downward from the head to the feet. Micro-needling uses very fine needles and makes very shallow insertions that affect the internal organs as well as the face. 

Gua sha (gwah-shah) means scraping or rubbing and is a folk medicine technique. Something we do instinctively with our hands on areas where we have pain. Many different tools are used. I use jade stones. The Chinese once used the ceramic spoons that you would eat soup with. Gua sha may be even older than acupuncture techniques. 

Cupping is the placement of cups that create suction over the back or a joint. People tell me their grandmother would put glass cups on their backs when they had a cold. It pulls more circulation into the area you’re treating and relieves pain. It’s good for any type of chronic muscular tension, and for injuries with scar tissue that you want to break up by pulling a lot of circulation into the area. For a client who may not wish to be treated with needles, as an alternative I might treat that painful area and release those muscle spasms with cups. 

credit: Antonkia Chanel© 

What can new clients expect at their first appointment?

Check in at the front desk at Integral Yoga Institute at 227 West 13th Street and take the elevator up to the newly-renovated Moon Room on the sixth floor. We always begin with an intake that gathers information about the client’s current condition: the reason for their visit, their health history, any chronic conditions. An acute injury is treated differently from chronic pain that they might have had for years. Dietary issues, lifestyle habits, the type of work they do that might be exacerbating or creating their condition are taken into account. It’s important to conduct a thorough intake to address the individual needs of a client. Chinese medicine should always treat the whole person, and every person is an individual. 

The appointment includes a yoga class at any level at IYI. I especially enjoy introducing clients to yoga and suggesting a level they’ll benefit from. I get to introduce them to a practice that I think is wonderful and unique.

Prices: 60 minutes–$125; 60 minutes w/cupping–$150; 60 minutes w/gua sha–$150; three 60-minute acupuncture sessions–$338. For more information, go to

Francesca Biryukov is a New York State‒licensed acupuncturist and a national board‒certified herbalist in the field of traditional Chinese medicine. She is a graduate of the Tri-State College of Acupuncture, served as the clinical director of the Yu Wen Acupuncture Clinic at the Swedish Institute for 15 years, and has more than 25 years of experience with classical Chinese medicine. 



Francesca Biryukov (01.jpg). Credit: Joan C. Denker©.


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Acupuncture treatment. Credit: Antonkia Chanel©.


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