Salonpas sat down with Wellness Warrior, Tiffany Cruikshank, the founder of Yoga Medicine®, a community of teachers focused on fusing anatomy and western medicine with traditional yoga practices to serve the medical communities. She has trained thousands of teachers around the world, graced the cover of over 15 magazines, been featured regularly in major media outlets, authored 2 books, and released over 150 classes on various topics on YogaGlo.com. With a background in Acupuncture and Sports Medicine, Tiffany has worked with celebrities, athletes, and corporate professionals alike in her own private clinics and Nike World Headquarters. Tiffany also founded and continues to run two non-profits — one conducting research on yoga’s therapeutic benefits and the other supporting a shelter for women rescued from trafficking in Delhi, India.
Tell us how you became a yoga expert?
I’ve been teaching yoga since I was 16 and went off to college. At the time, the Internet wasn’t around yet and there weren’t really any yoga studios to go to so I found a teacher who trained me so I could bring my yoga with me as I went off to school. Yoga has been a huge tool for me, for so many things, over the past three decades of my life and my passion for sharing these tools has continued to grow.
When I finished my pre-med degree, I went on to complete a graduate degree in Chinese Medicine with a specialty in sports medicine. My fascination with the human body grew as I helped many athletes achieve their goals and support their health along the way. I’ve seen thousands of patients over the past two decades and trained thousands of yoga teachers around the world, but my goal has always been to help as many people as possible and share these tools with the world. I’ve seen so many patients and students shift from unhappy and unhealthy to feeling great and being able to appreciate the richness of their lives. That’s what I enjoy most, seeing people shift and watching them embrace their lives with a new perspective as their experience in their body/mind changes.
What is the primary ‘medicine’ that yoga provides?
Yoga can be therapeutic in so many ways. Whether that’s with more gentle, introspective practices like yin yoga, restorative yoga, meditation or more active practices like vinyasa yoga that challenge the tissues in a different way. The physical postures can help support the health of the tissues and there’s a mountain of new connective tissue research to support this.
For example, new research suggests that the passive, held stretches (like a yin yoga practice) can have an anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effect on the tissues. We also know that the more active practices load the tissues in a way that speaks to the cells responsive to loading (fibroblasts) and instigates healthy adaptations to this, like increased production of collagen & hyaluronic acid. Of course there’s also the importance of a healthy nervous system for stress resilience and its impacts on the rest of the body & mind. I’m a firm believer in the importance of supporting our internal, less visible, systems to support our underlying health capacity from that. The beauty of yoga is that, though it’s not a cure all, with a little guidance it can be a useful tool to support all these different facets of the body and mind.
Has the pandemic altered the training that YogaMedicine provides the medical community?
Like most industries it has left us finding creative ways to continue to support our communities. The need for yoga is stronger than ever, especially as people are stuck at home, sitting at their computers more and looking for ways to increase their health & resilience. We now offer all sorts of online trainings & classes for students, yoga teachers and healthcare providers to make our offerings accessible to anyone, anywhere. We also offer a unique platform of online yoga classes for anyone looking to for yoga practices to support their health. We have a new therapeutic line-up each week with a balance of both active classes & the nourishment of the more introspective practices as well as myofascial release, breath work, and so much more. I’m a firm believe in the power of education so each month we also offer an educational video with insights on how to get the most therapeutic benefits from your practice.
Is it more needed than ever?
The pandemic has shed some light on the importance of our health and the value of supporting that. Nothing can replace your health and there are so many simple ways to support it. It’s our mission to help provide accessible resources for those that want to optimize their health. What I love about yoga is that you don’t need any fancy tools or expensive gadgets, just your own body awareness and a commitment to your health.
What advice do you have to a yoga ‘newbie’ who wants to try yoga?
Try a bunch of classes and teachers; there’s someone out there for every person and every need. You just need to find what works best for you. I believe the best teachers empower their students through education and awareness to navigate the practice and listen to their body. There’s no need to be good at yoga to reap the benefits; in fact, sometimes those that struggle most get the most out of it. So, go easy on yourself, listen to your body and find what’s best for you. Only you know what’s helpful.
Also, I believe one of the most valuable things a regular yoga practice provides is a heightened sense of awareness. This awareness or mindfulness is what helps us better navigate our health and the endless stream of resources out there. I can give better insights to my doctor when I’m more aware of what’s working or not working. I can better navigate the endless nutritional options out there by listening and sensing what feels best rather than just depriving myself. When the body thrives all the systems benefit so health shouldn’t be about depriving or demolishing but about supporting what our bodies are designed to do… be resilience and adaptable! And mindfulness give us the capacity to fine tune our health.
Tell us about a typical day in your life from when you arise to when you retire.
I’m typically an early riser; I like to seize the day! First thing I do is savor some green tea. I like to sit and prepare for my day with tea and meditate to set the tone for the day. Then I like to dive into my work early, usually around 7 am. I LOVE what I do so I’m usually excited to jump in. At some point I pull my head out of work to make my green smoothie for breakfast. Then usually around noon, I do a more active yoga practice to get me moving. Sometimes this is a more energetic practice and other times it is more introspective nourishment in movement, depending on what I need. Around 5pm, I turn off my work to start cooking, I like to eat dinner early and be present with my family to enjoy the evening. Then early to bed as I like to get around 8-9hrs of sleep. When I’m filming courses or classes, it’s basically tea then filming all day and trying to remember to eat and drink water, lol!