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Month: January 2015

Fight Insomnia Naturally with a Yoga Prescription

Insomnia can affect us all. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to fall asleep when you really, really want to. But popping a Tylenol PM night after night is a quick (and habit-forming) fix to a larger problem, and watching Youtube videos or scanning your Instagram feed, unfortunately, won’t help, either.

“To fall asleep, you need to get the nervous system to calm down,” Cruikshank says. “Watching TV and going on your phone will stimulate your brain waves. To get past that, do a simple relaxation to get the mind to turn off—and help you stay asleep.”

Click here to read more on Well+Good NYC.

Tiffany shows off a yoga pose to help fight insomnia naturally.

Interview with Dr. Frank Lipman- Author of THE NEW HEALTH RULES

Yoga Medicine is pleased to ring in the new year by sharing this incredible interview with Dr. Frank Lipman, author of The New Health Rules. This is one of our favorite books of the year and we believe it’s a must read for our community.


Q: What is your book about?

A: The New Health Rules is my personal compendium of integrative health’s wisest mantras, all wrapped up in a beautiful, easy-to-digest package. It’s a modern guide to wellness and happiness for a fast-paced world and time-pressed readers. Thanks to my coauthor, Danielle Claro, it gets to the meat of each matter  very quickly and inspires real change.

Q: What makes it different from other health books?

A: No other health book has distilled wellness into bite-sized, lushly illustrated, easy- to-implement pearls of wisdom on how to eat, how to sleep, how to breathe, how to think, and more—basically, everything you need to achieve a life that is whole and happy—in a format that’s really enjoyable to read.

Q: You practice integrative medicine. What does that mean? Can you describe your approach?

A: I just call it Good Medicine. Instead of just suppressing symptoms with drugs, I look for the underlying causes, remove those when possible and then improve function of the various organ systems. This approach is concerned with far more than simply treating disease. Instead, its focus is on helping you achieve optimal health.

Q: What are some of the easiest changes that we can make to our diets that will result in real improvement?

A: I’m not sure they’re the easiest, but by far the most important would be to cut out sugar and processed foods. You want to be eating foods as close to nature as possible. Foods that are altered in factories tend to cause problems in our bodies.

Q: You have strong feelings about sugar.

A: Sugar is poison. In spite of all the research, unfortunately not enough doctors agree that is the major problem it is. Most doctors have demonized the wrong white crystals: salt instead of sugar.

Q: What are strategies for breaking ourselves of sugar cravings?

A: Some strategies would be to take L Glutamine every few hours, have peppermint tea on your afternoon break at work, instead of something from the candy machine—and if you really want to get off sugar and kickstart your health, do the Be Well Cleanse.

Q: What are the staples on your own grocery store shopping list, week in, week out?

A: My diet is simple…lots of greens, good fats, and protein from healthy sources. So my grocery list would be all sorts of organic vegetables, lots of avocadoes, grass-fed meats, organic chicken, organic pastured eggs, wild fish, nuts and seeds. I tend to use a lot of coconut oil and eat less fruit these days (and when I do, I tend to eat berries, which are lower in sugar than many other fruits). I also usually generally have a protein shake for breakfast

Q: Yoga is a central component of your approach to wellness. Why?

A: Well, I believe yoga has been a big part of what has kept me healthy over the years. Not only does it keep you limber, it is a moving meditation, so it was my way in to meditation. And I particularly love restorative yoga, as it gives you the effects of the poses without exerting any energy. So it’s wonderful for when you’re rundown and tired. Not too many things can have that type of immediate effect.

Q: Your book mentions that it’s not just what we put in our bodies (food), but what we put on our bodies that affects our health. Can you explain?

A: Many cosmetics and personal-care products contain undisclosed toxic chemicals that are dangerous to your health and are known to contribute to cancer, nerve damage, and infertility. Your skin is an extremely permeable membrane, so these toxins enter your body very easily. The fewer of these you put on your body, the better. Be particularly vigilant about products that remain on the skin for long periods of time, such as moisturizer and makeup. The longer you’re exposed to chemicals, the greater the opportunity for your body to absorb them.

Q: What’s a big misconception about exercise?

A: The biggest misconception about exercise is that you have to go to the gym and spend hours on a treadmill or elliptical trainer. You just have to move your body. Find some sort of movement you love. It could be dancing around your living room by yourself to your favorite music or walking in the woods. And when you do exercise, to get the best results, try do intervals—meaning exert yourself in short bursts, and intersperse periods of milder activity.

Q: If people were to make only one change from your new book, what would you have that be?

A: If I had to choose only one thing, it would have to be to cut way back on sugar, gluten and processed foods. Just doing that would probably help most people feel better.

Q: Who do you think would like this book?

A: This book is really for everyone—anyone who wants to feel better; anyone who wants some inspiration to get or stay healthy; anyone who longs for a map of positive, simple, actionable, manageable, and even enjoyable steps toward wellness. This book is full of positive changes you can take right away, one at a time or all at once.

Yoga for Mental Health – Featured Yogi – Lara Swinarton

Happy 2015 from the entire Yoga Medicine team! To kick off the New Year we are celebrating our January Share Your Story yogi of choice.

This month’s winner is Lara Swinarton from Tuscon, Arizona. Lara’s journey with yoga began seven years ago. Her husband’s returned from Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At the urging of a friend, Lara took up yoga as a way to cope with her volatile husband. Yoga soon became the missing link that helped Lara re-connect to herself. The hope she found through her practice allowed her to leave her unhealthy marriage. Since then, she has become a full-time yoga teacher and started her own company, Southwest Adventure Yoga. Lara’s company is committed to helping others and offers donation classes in which all proceeds go to the local domestic violence shelter in Tuscon. There are so many great things to say about this ambitious yogini. She is a true role model for her yoga community, and a true embassador of yoga for mental health.

Check out Lara’s full story below.

Remember to Share Your Story with us yogis!


Yoga for Mental Health

Yoga is something that continues to evolve and be a safety net in my life. It started about 7 years ago. My then-husband had become incredibly volatile and abusive upon his return from serving in Iraq. His PTSD and the actions that surrounded it found me chain-smoking, overweight, and completely broken. I didn’t recognize myself at all anymore. Essentially, I was a shell of the vibrant driven person I had been. At the suggestion of a friend, I tried yoga. I was so emotionally and physically drained and weak. 15 minutes was about all I could do, but I did it.

Soon, 15 minutes turned to 20, then 30 … At the time, I couldn’t afford classes so I bought a book and would write the poses on paper and do them on my lunch break at work. I found a new hope in my heart that I could not explain! I began informally wanting to “teach” everyone I knew this amazing thing that had come to me. My friends and I started doing yoga in the park. I was running “stockroom yoga” at the retail store I worked at. Yoga helped me get the strength and rediscovery of self that I needed inside of myself to quit smoking, quit the job I no longer loved, and leave my very broken unhealthy marriage.

I enrolled in a teacher certification program, and between finding a better life for my kids and myself took a job at a rock gym that had a yoga studio and was full time in my certification program. I was literally without a day off for a year and a half but by this time, my practice had blossomed, I was smoke free, 40 lbs lighter, had more energy and a renewed hope and healing I had not known for years.

Moving on & Giving Back

I now teach full time and own my own outdoor company called Southwest Adventure Yoga where I take people into the wild places of our deserts and mountains to do yoga with the hopes of lighting a spark for others in regards to finding a love of yoga, the outdoors, the world we live in and our own lovely bodies and minds. I also teach yoga for PTSD and anxiety in hopes that people who were as desperate as I was can find the same hope through breath, clarity of mind and movement that yoga gave to me, and once a month my business offers a donation class where all proceeds go to the local domestic violence shelter here in Tucson to give back what they gave to me when I found myself on their doorstep 3 years ago.

I’m not going to say my life is perfect or free from worry, or that everything is always easy- it’s not, I still struggle with healing, relationships, etc, but now I have tools to deal with them…breath, my practice, my yoga community, a strong flexible body and a mind that finds quiet and reacts less. I am blessed to know this practice and celebrate sharing it with as many people as possible. Thank YOU for letting me share my yoga story.

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