Tiffany Cruikshank is the founder of Yoga Medicine and author of two books. With a Masters in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, she combines the wisdom of east and west to help her clients achieve optimum health and wellness. At one of her yoga workshops in Austin, she said, “I feel strongly that yoga belongs in our medical system. My patients who were yoga students, got better, faster.”
Both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda seek to find the root cause for imbalances that can cause dis-ease. About TCM, Kruikshank spoke about the overriding principles. “In a simple way, we treat the whole person…the root of what’s happening and symptoms,” which she referred to as the leaves and branches. “The body knows what to do to heal itself.” And, she added that healthy bodies have a natural flow. Call it chi or prana, it’s the energetic life force.
Another yoga therapist who combines the best of east and west is Dr. Saraswati Markus who leads Dao Flow Yoga/TCM Teacher Trainings. An Ob/GYN, and acupuncturist, she “weaves together Chinese medicine, and Yoga, along with modern medicine, into one healing cord.” She seeks to find the root cause of the problem and a lifetime solution. She says you can “use the body as a tool. Balance (yin/yang) becomes a game-changer.” And, it’s too often missing. Especially, when you consider that 70 percent of people’s issues are stress-related.
“We are wired to see our environment as a problem,” said Dr. Markus. “The sympathetic nervous system is being toggled on.” And, females seem to carry a bigger burden. “Women are natural multi-taskers. Most of us are very goal-oriented.” Following what she calls the disease of perfectionism, with no balance, things get out of whack. “We have to be very careful. Doing one thing at a time conserves your vital life force.”
As explained from a Western medical reference, Dr. Markus says that the endocrine system shuts down as a result of a hectic overburdened lifestyle. “Every time we break harmony, it leads a little bit of residue.”
For some, it’s easier to stay in harmony. For others, the slightest upset can wreak havoc on their body and cause pain. I’m very easygoing. But, I have dealt with stress-related discomfort most of my life. Fortunately, I turned to yoga and meditation for pain management when I was a teen. Now, nearing my 60th birthday, I take no prescription or OTC drugs. However, I reach for my different forms of yoga medicine upon rising, before bedtime, and throughout the day.
My personal experiences are what led me to be a Certified Yoga Therapist. I believe in teaching people about yoga medicine whenever possible.
One of my clients was a vet with a barrage of injuries and insurmountable pain. With the support of bolsters and cushions, he was able to relax his mind and body in key poses, and practice mindfulness and breathwork. He experienced a significant reduction in discomfort, improved energy, and sleep. That led to an overall improved state of being.
Lawrence M. Cohen, MD, says, “Pain represents an area of inflammation and ‘stuck energy.’ By doing stretches, applying sound eating practices, and using diaphragmatic breathing, both the causes of pain and the perception of pain can be lowered.” Cohen is the medical director of The Center for Complementary Medicine in San Antonio. He will discuss Yoga as Lifestyle Medicine at a free International Day of Yoga event at TriPoint on June 17.
Yoga therapy, Ayurveda, and TCM are individual rather than one-size-fits-all prescriptions. There is no handy Rx reference sheet for practitioners. Hence, client/practitioner relationships are important. For example, I try to do lifestyle as well as postural and musculoskeletal analyses. Then, seek root issues, and how to address them.
Additionally, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa has conducted ions of clinical research. For decades he has studied the efficacy of yoga medicine for Alzheimer’s, back pain, and a host of other disorders. I’ve attended workshops he’s led for yoga therapists in California. Now, he’s headed to San Antonio. For International Day of Yoga, Dr. Khalsa will lead a CME-Seminar for physicians, students, and healthcare professionals.
As is my preference, he endorses the many limbs of yoga. “Yoga practices that include all of the traditional components including breath regulations, deep relaxation and meditation/mindfulness in addition to physical postures and exercises are behavioral strategies that have a significant psychophysiological impact on physical and mental fitness,” he explains.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga, Ayurveda, and other mind/body practices focus on balance and wellness. Dr. Devraj Nayak is a cardiologist in Floresville, Texas. As an advisory board member of the upcoming Yoga as Lifestyle Medicine event, he quotes from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Chapter 2 Verse 16.
Finally, for some of my favorite forms of yoga medicine, check out my photo gallery that includes benefits and instructions.