Taking care of our health is incredibly important. Every person’s needs are unique and require attentive and personalised care. To help people heal and focus on their wellbeing, businesses should pay attention to the type of care given and how that can be used as an effective tool to assist in their healing. I talk to Iga Michalowska, partner at The Taiyi Institute, about the benefits of combining various business models from different regions, the ethos behind the company, and the importance of principles as a focus in business to aid wellbeing and healing.

Can you tell readers about what your role in The Taiyi Institute is?

Yes, I can. As a partner in the company, my primary responsibility covers business strategy and business development for the Taiyi Institute.

Is there anything you can tell our readers about how the Taiyi Institute works and the ethos behind the company?

The Taiyi Institute essentially takes an ancient Chinese holistic approach to health, called Taiyi, and makes it accessible for modern Western audiences. A part of this mission is to continuously innovate on the ideas behind Taiyi with modern techniques and new treatment methods.

All our online healing experiences products are based on Xunhua Zhang’s four decades of experience in treating and practicing Taiyi. More than just the Taiyi Institute’s founder, Master Zhang is a thirteenth-generation Taiyi Master. This means that knowledge of Taiyi was passed to him by his grandfather. Currently, he is China’s official Representative Inheritor of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Taiyiquan and Taiyi Qi Acupuncture, a huge accolade from the Chinese government.

At the Taiyi Institute, we are dedicated to continuing the centuries of practice behind this ancient healing knowledge. For those unfamiliar with Taiyi, it works through qi, or lifeforce. This high-frequency resonant energy flows through each of us. The purpose of Taiyi is to balance and harmonize the human body’s complex mechanisms to restore and maintain good health.

While Taiyi is well-known in China, it is a little more obscure in the West. Our job is to blend ancient wisdom with modern innovation and technology so that Taiyi’s natural healing is accessible to everyone.

Our founder embraced technology as early as 1999, just a few months after China released its first IM software, QQ. Master Zhang saw that this technology meant he was no longer restricted to local clients and that QQ opened a new world of opportunity to help clients across China.

Just over two decades later, the Taiyi Institute is continuing this spread in the West. To date, we’ve developed new healing soundwaves – available on our website – and a sound acupuncture device called TYQA. TYQA is a genuine innovation that replaces needles with healing soundwaves; it can be placed anywhere on the body.

Ultimately, our mission is to modernize an ancient healing practice for convenience and accessibility in the modern world without affecting the power of the practice. Taiyi can help millions – our role is to make sure millions can easily access and benefit from it.

What do you think makes a business successful?

This is one question where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of correct answers! Only the leadership of any given business can define what success means to them. Perhaps it comes from maximizing shareholder value or becoming a market leader. For others, success might be measured by offering a meaningful contribution to their local community.

My answer to this question would be that a successful business never loses the personal touch. In other words, the leadership never loses the passion that started the business in the first place. In addition to that, I believe a successful business shouldn’t be measured simply by its profits, but by the difference that it makes to other people’s lives, particularly as a force for good.

What is your unique approach?

The Taiyi Institute is very much about the harmonious combination of opposites – a good representation of this is the familiar yin and yang sign. You can see this in just about everything you do: we combine Western innovation and business sense with the medical energy philosophy of the East as practiced by generational Taiyi masters.

That approach to medicine is unheard of in the West, where medical professionals typically undergo rigorous college and medical school training. The medical orthodoxy in the West is very much evidence-based with a scientific approach. In contrast, Taiyi could be said to be more ‘mystic,’ based on thousands of years of practice.

So, while Western medicine focuses on innovation, Taiyi focuses on what has always worked for thousands of years. There’s certainly a culture clash here, but it is my firm belief that combining opposites brings balance. Balance is one of the hardest things in the world to achieve, but also the best solution to so many issues in our lives beyond health.

The Taiyi Institute’s focus on balance, together with a holistic approach to decision-making in business strategy, makes our model unique, too. As a startup, growth is a focus. We want to make energy healing accessible to as many people as possible. In the West, this means following Western standards.

That’s why TYQA is listed as a medical device by the FDA. Recently, we are also obtained a patent for TYQA that “utilizes energy waves for preventing, alleviating or treating COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) coronavirus infection.”

The Institute is also looking to break down some old conventions in this area too. Today, many people who use alternative medicine do so in person – think acupuncture and massages. Online healing has mainly been limited to physical exercise routines and taking prescribed medication. With the technology we have now, we can put many old ‘offline treatments’ online and massively scale up business withoutcompromising our healing methods while reaching more people.

This is a net benefit for everyone, and we see what we are doing now as a beginning. Our team is already working on further medical research to support our healing methods – new products and services from that research are already on the horizon.

Beyond these business goals, one thing remains important to us: keeping it personal. This business started as a traditional 1-on-1 personal contact with each client. We intend to retain as much of that as possible with a wider growing audience. Feedback is vital to improving our business – it helps us continue delivering what our customers want while informing future developments.

Has the Taiyi Institute faced any issues during your time at the company – and how have you overcome them?

When we started, the biggest challenge was our offer of online energy healing. Before this, Master Zhang was primarily dealing with clients on a 1-on-1 basis in his clinic. Many of our clients were over 60 and had developed highly personal relationships with the Master; it was hard to see how this would translate well to the internet!

Despite this, Master Zhang knew that online services were the best solution moving forward because of the options it offered. Clients could enjoy daily healing at an affordable price while he could help even more people.

Starting was a challenge, as we started from nothing and had to quickly learn – and provide training – on using online services, using websites, paying, and using video conferencing software. It wasn’t easy, but we realized we had something good when many of our older clients joined us online. This was only reinforced when many people joined our Zoom healing sessions during the pandemic lockdown.

The personal touch remained – it was now just being proven to work on a more virtual platform. Our primary concern is to make everything as straightforward as possible while also using the best service providers throughout this time. Quality is essential, but a fast adjustment to issues is even more important!

Of course, our younger audience and clients are very supportive of online healing. One thing we noticed was that many of them couldn’t keep up with our daily routine. After looking at our website, we decided that the issue wasn’t their timekeeping but our complexity. So, we simplified many processes and also focused on developing specific healing plans for specific issues. Now, the only thing a client has to do when they log in is to open a daily healing plan that addresses their health issue and follow the routine.

The Taiyi Institute combines elements from Western business with those of Eastern healing practices – can you explain to our readers how this has impacted the way you developed the company?

Eastern medicine, specifically Chinese, takes many things under consideration when evaluating the health of an individual. These can include checking the tongue, smelling the throat, listening to the voice, and checking the pulse. Questions will be asked, and emotions analyzed, along with a check on all major organs, the balance (or lack of) in the body, and the original constitution type of the patient. All are equally important in coming to a final diagnosis.

What this means in practice is that Eastern doctors can offer very different diagnoses to their Western counterparts. One of the most significant differences between East and West is that Western medicine looks at symptoms of disease and treats those based on evidence-based science that divides issues into smaller pieces. Eastern medicine is more concerned with the root cause of a medical issue and healing the whole instead.

In the West, it’s typical to read the latest disease research; often, there are new cures as new research changes the understanding of a disease. In the East, the focus is on organ dysfunction, psychological aspects, and energy blockages; there are more lifestyle adjustments to be made than medication to be taken.

Western business sounds like something that won’t mix well with the Eastern approach to medicine: scalability often means a uniform product rather than individual care! However, I believe the Taiyi Institute has found a mix that works and makes our business stand out.

For example, our online healing plans are focused on balance – although our standard plans aren’t personalized, they include energy waves to remove blockages in the body together with qi gong exercises to boost the level of qi and meditation exercises. The result of these sessions is to help the human body address a lack of balance, while meditation addresses emotional imbalance.

This makes for a highly structured online healing process. When we first launched, we had some trouble with the complexity of the materials; we didn’t want to sacrifice the power of holistic Eastern medicine, but it was hard to find the right balance between accessibility and delivery. With feedback and time, we’ve been able to simplify our approach without affecting the power behind it and introduce individual healing plans personalized to the individual with adaptions made each month based on progress.

What benefits has combining practices from each of these two regions had?

Considerable benefits in our experience, particularly when it comes to reaching out. So many of our clients had run into a brick wall where Western medicine couldn’t help them;. At the same time, they knew of Eastern medicine but they might not have the time or inclination to visit a TCM doctor or were simply afraid of acupuncture needles or unknown herbs.

As the Taiyi Institute uses technology to introduce painless and non-invasive needle-free acupuncture with soundwaves that can be accessed online, important barriers have been demolished. Together with a reasonable cost for long-term healing, clients are coming to us.

From our perspective, none of this would be possible if Master Zhang could only focus on 1-on-1 patient care. By going online, our audience has expanded almost infinitely, enabling us to research new technology for more effective remote energy healing that people can use anywhere at any time.

Before, we had two types of clients. The first was those suffering from serious health issues who turned to us as a last resort; they had nothing to lose. The other was those who were already into holistic health – or familiar with the concept of energy healing – and who felt the difference Taiyi made to their overall health immediately after treatment.

Since adapting our business model for more convenience, our audience has become much broader – which means that we can help people who we may never have reached otherwise.

In your opinion, what are the most important aspects to consider when managing a company that is focused on the healing and wellbeing of their clients?

The most important consideration of all is customer support and service. Health problems are often unique to the individual, and personalized care is really not optional if you want to be effective in your healing.

This adds extra pressure to providers, of course – unhealthy people struggle daily with their conditions which often leaves them demoralized, frustrated, and in pain. Care and empathy are a vital part of treatment, even if that means reduced economies of scale, a lower market reach, or simply cost-effectiveness.

Those are sacrifices that the business has to make – but vital ones to succeed in this market. The Institute has a solid structure for both its business setup and offerings. Still, it is flexible based on client feedback.

Few businesses in any industry can adapt when their business scales quickly and often play ‘catch up’ – but I believe in this industry, flexibility is a strength that comes from the innate customer care built into the model. That’s our approach, and we believe that it works.

Are there any tips or advice you would like to offer to people running their business, especially those in the health and wellbeing sector?

Your healing principles, together with the practice that delivers the best results, should be your focus. Don’t make compromises on them for more money or because your investors are pressuring you. Now is the best time for our industry to grow – and those who can deliver real results will enjoy the fruit of their labors.

We’re living in a time where more and more people are opening their hearts and minds to holistic health and enjoying more free time and resources to their health. If you can deliver on this front, your business will grow as people see that your services and products are worth their time and offer positive health outcomes.

You were involved with the Oscar goodie bags this year – the gift bags that were gifted to the top 25 Oscar Nominees. Can you talk about what opportunities this has offered the Institute and its clients?

The clients we typically reach suffer from major health issues that conventional Western medicine has not helped. These people typically turn to alternative medicine in their quest for answers, support, and healing.

The Oscars gift bag gave us an incredible publicity boost and a fantastic opportunity to receive global media coverage. That means becoming visible to a wider audience and showing them a potential solution to their problems. More directly for us, we also received attractive cooperation offers.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, have you changed how you run the Institute? Has it forced you to rethink your approach?

The pandemic was a huge turning point for us. Our team was in New York in February 2020. Suddenly, we couldn’t go out and do 1-on-1 healing. It was really quite an incredible experience of shifted realities.

In reaction to this, and considering the seriousness of the pandemic in New York, we decided to offer online qi gong live streaming sessions with Master Zhang. We knew that with improved qi, and consequently a better immune system, people could easier prevent or fight the virus.

This was almost an experimental reaction to the situation around us, but it proved a powerful one. Our clients, now with more home time than ever before, spent one hour daily in training sessions with Master Zhang. After weeks of continuous training, we got a huge wave of fantastic feedback of how their health had changed – how much better they felt, not only physically but also emotionally. This was despitestaying at home all the time.

The pandemic freed up time for so many people and gave us a lot of insights – one of the biggest being that with more free time, people do and will spend more time taking care of their health. Once they see results from that, they continue to follow their health.

We also heard from clients who had contracted COVID. They commonly complained that they were struggling at home and that the hospitals had not been as helpful as hoped. They were turning to soundwaves in the hopes of help. What was really powerful for us was seeing the effect of our soundwaves on these clients, especially those who reported that their breathing improved.

Hearing these testimonials was an incredible confidence boost for us and pushed us to go online entirely. Coronavirus has changed priorities for a lot of people, and we’re no different. One thing that we insist on taking forward with us is accessibility and results. These are what define our business, and ultimately, our success.

How can our readers contact you and follow you on social media?

We love hearing from people – you can contact me at [email protected], or follow me on Instagram @_igami_