International yogi, author, health and wellness expert and former Nike World HQ acupuncturist, Tiffany Cruikshank, has come a long way since her days as a 14-year-old herbalist apprentice.

The founder of Yoga Medicine has a bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Plant Biology and Nutrition and master’s degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine with a specialisation in sports medicine and orthopedics, and has treated more than 25,000 patients from around the world using yoga, acupuncture, nutrition, meditation and holistic health.

The LA based teacher now travels the world to lead trainings, workshops and retreats on how yoga and yoga medicine can help students heal and transform.

We sat down with Tiffany ahead of her 25hr myofascial immersion at BodyMindLife in July!

Tell us about Yoga Medicine?

Yoga Medicine is a teacher training system that fuses science and tradition to train yoga teachers to work within the medical systems internationally. We train our teachers in more orthopedically focused injuries as well as internal medicine focused illnesses and general health and wellness.Our teachers are trained to see the body through both an eastern and western lens to be able to apply the practice to the individual and see that every style/technique has its place. We train our teachers to think for themselves and to be leaders in their community.  

Can you share some of your experiences with using yoga as a healing modality?

I’ve used it both personally and professionally to work with a variety of concerns.  The most common things I’ve worked with are orthopedic or sports medicine issues as well as women’s health, fertility, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroid, disc herniations, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, headaches, MS, neurologic issues, insomnia and many others.

What have you seen the practice achieve with some of your students?

The beauty of yoga is that the effects aren’t limited to the chief complaint, they often encompass many different areas of our lives. Yoga is a gift of mindfulness that we give to our students, tools that last a lifetime.  An overall increase in quality of life is a common side effect associated with a regular yoga practice and the healthy lifestyle it emcompasses.

How did you get into the world of holistic health?

I began apprenticing with an herbalist when I was 14 years old and fell in love with the ability to find medicine in the environment around me.  I was so excited to study more I quickly finished high school and started college when I was 16. There I apprenticed with an acupuncturist and grew to appreciate the depth and breadth of Traditional Chinese Medicine that treated not just the symptoms but the whole person. As soon as I finished my pre med undergrad degree I went on to do my 4 year degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and continued on to complete a specialty in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.  

What do you think some of the biggest health issues are for people today?

I think the nervous system, immune system and connective tissue are three big areas to look at that are often overlooked when it comes to health and wellness. Lucky for us the nervous system is getting a lot of press these days as it relates to the effects of stress. With that said I still think this area is underemphasized. To the untrained eye it seems we have this system all figured out, however there is so so much we still don’t know about the nervous system.  What we are figuring out, thanks to many research pioneers, is the power of the mind! The power of the mind to not only change our perspective but also to create measurable biochemical changes. Something we as yogis have known for so many years that is finally starting to come to light in the scientific communities.

Pain is also a huge issue in the healthcare world that yoga can have a profound impact on.  Another area we actually know very little about and the information we do know is quickly changing and pointing to the power of our perception. We now recognize that pain isn’t often an issue in the tissues but rather a communication issue. Lucky for us the brain usually errs on the side of caution when interpreting signals, to keep us safe. However this leaves a large margin for error as well. Some of the best info on this is coming out of australia from Dr Lorimer Moseley and Dr David Butler. The beauty of all this new research is that understanding this information can be empowering to teacher and student, and gives us powerful access points for change in the system.  

The neuroimmune system and how inseparable the two systems are is also a really interesting area to me. Then you layer in the fascial system its encased in and the power of the mind over the whole thing and we see a scientific view of our innate body wide intelligence. In my opinion this is where we see a lot of the effects of yoga and meditation, and I believe it’s part of the reason why yoga is quickly becoming so popular both to the mainstream and in the medical world.

Can you share a few health/wellness tips on how to create a more balanced lifestyle?

Well, in addition to yoga and healthy eating, I’m a big fan of meditation and myofascial release as powerful self tools for health and wellness.

We’re so excited to have you in studio in July for the 25hr immersion, can you tell us a little more about myofascial release and the benefits?

There’s a lot of new information coming out on the fascia, so much so that the it’s being called its own organ – the interstitium. There are so many health implications in this tissue from immune health to body wide communication to cancer implications and much more.  What’s typically taught are techniques to break up scar tissue and increase range of motion but there are many other, maybe even more important, uses and techniques in this tissue that have far reaching implications for our health.

The health of this tissue is a huge influential factor in our movement, tissue integrity, injury prevention, pain reduction and prevention, body wide communication, immune function, proprioception, range of motion and our overall sense of both strength and ease in our body.  I have personally used these techniques for over 15 years with both patients and students, as well as myself and find it to be an effective modality, especially in conjunction with a yoga practice and an excellent self care tool.

Who is the training designed for?

Anyone interested in learning self care techniques for themself or to use with students/clients. It’s open to yoga teachers and non-teachers with an interest in fascia and wellness.

We often have a variety of attendees from yoga teachers looking to use it with their students, to those with no prior experience looking to use it as self care or with friends and family, to a variety of healthcare providers looking to use it with their patients.

And, what do you plan to do in Sydney while you’re here?

Enjoy the sun, food and wonderful people!

 

For more on connective tissue health and myofascial release, see this article Tiffany wrote for Well Being Journal.