Common ground: Conventional, alternative medicine meet in the middle

Asheville is the health care hub for Western North Carolina, and Mission Health is a major presence, dominating a swath of town that’s thick with doctor's offices. Since 2009, however, this bastion of mainstream medicine has boasted an Integrative Healthcare Department whose staff includes nurses trained in aromatherapy, massage, guided imagery and biofeedback.

Painter, instructor: Patricia James follows along as Michael Davis demonstrates a move during his free weekly tai chi class for Asheville Terrace Apartments residents.

Slow and steady

Every Thursday at 4 p.m., Michael Davis swaps the white cotton maintenance uniform with his last name stitched on the chest for a silky jacket with a dragon embroidered on the back. Then he hurries to the activity room at the Asheville Terrace Apartments on Tunnel Road, where he teaches a one-hour tai chi class. […]