Join the Women's Health Online Training

Learn More

Most Popular Articles

Month: June 2016

6 Ways To Boost Your Metabolism As You Get Older

Meghan Rabbitt for Prevention shares 6 ways to keep your metabolism going strong as you age. Learn how meditation can help boost your metabolism and help you shed some unwanted weight. Prevention.com Meditate

6 Ways To Keep Your Metabolism Revved As You Get Older

Feel like you can’t seem to lose weight as quickly as you used to? Notice that at each birthday, you have a few more lumps and bumps than you had the year before? You’ve likely heard that your metabolic rate—or how many calories you burn on a daily basis—declines as you age. But the good news is that there’s plenty you can do to give your slowing metabolism a big boost, says Matt Tanneberg, DC, a sports chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist in Phoenix.

“It’s never too late to start making changes that can have a huge, positive impact on your metabolism,” says Tanneberg. “Some of my 70-year-old patients have faster metabolisms than my 30-year-old patients. Proof that if you take care of your body, it will respond”. Take the right steps to boost your metabolism and keep it humming as you get older, follow this advice. (Lose up to 25 pounds in 2 months—and look more radiant than ever—with the new Younger In 8 Weeks plan!)

Meditate

Stay with us here. This one might sound like a stretch, yet an increasing body of research is proving meditation’s undeniable role in optimizing our overall health—which includes our metabolism, says Tiffany Cruikshank LAc, an acupuncturist, yoga teacher, and author of Meditate Your Weight. “As we age, our stress load becomes more layered with complexities, which can slow our metabolism,” says Cruikshank. “Meditation is a great way to combat so much of this stress. It has been shown to have a hugely positive impact on everything from our metabolism and eating habits to optimizing cognitive function and heart health.”

Click here to read the five other suggestions managing a healthy weight with age or visit the Yoga Medicine website to learn more about Meditate Your Weight: a 21-day Retreat to Optimize Your Metabolism and Feel Great.

Invisible Disabilities: The Importance of Listening

YogaMedicine’s Alice Louise Blunden shares her experience with having an invisible injury, how it affected her to have her pain ignored, and why it’s important for medical practitioners to listen to their patients.

Just Listen

Living in pain can be exhausting both physically and mentally. Whether it’s recovering from an acute injury or something more chronic, the body is working in overdrive to do its best to heal and restore, while the mind is constantly asking anxious questions. When will this pain go away? How can I make this better? The reality isn’t much fun. Especially when you are doing your best to live, love and enjoy your precious life as much as possible. Because, let’s face it, living in pain is a big reminder of our inevitable mortality.

In some cases, the cause of the pain is clear. The truth can be hard to deal with,. But, at least by knowing the root cause of the pain you can (hopefully) start making steps to treating the pain in the most appropriate way. However, in so many cases, it’s often difficult to identify exactly where the pain is even coming from. X-rays, MRIs and other examinations can show that there’s absolutely nothing wrong on a physical level, yet the pain persists. This can leave you feeling lost, confused and even more frustrated with the illusion of pain.

Either way, the onus is on the individual to tune into their bodies, tap into their sense of mindfulness and follow their intuition. Taking on the injury as a personal enquiry to investigate how and what you can do to support yourself through this painful process.

An Injury with No Clear Cause

In August last year, I had a kitesurfing accident. Every single muscle in my spine went into spasm and I couldn’t move. However, results from the x-rays showed no signs of any fracture or injury to my spine at all. Over next month, the muscles in my spine started to release. I slowly began to be able to move my body once again.

However, I continued to have this lingering pain in my neck and Thoracic spine that I simply couldn’t ignore. From October last year to February this year, I visited both my GP doctor and physiotherapist on five separate occasions. Each time, I was turned away and simply told that it was nothing to worry about; I didn’t need another scan, the pain would go. After each visit, I left feeling even more confused, powerless and lonely. My intuition knew something was wrong but no one was listening.

It wasn’t until I discussed the details of my pain to Yoga Medicine teacher Dana Diament that I had the confidence to follow my intuition once again. Dana had recently completed the Spine module as part of her 500 hours. She listened carefully to my description of the feelings that I was having in my neck and in my spine. Then, she advised me to go back to my GP and insist on having an MRI scan. Having someone genuinely listening and giving me educated suggestions of what could be causing the pain gave me the confidence and power that I needed to take control once again.

Taking Back Control

This experience of living in pain has highlighted to me how incredible Yoga Medicine is. As teachers, we are deepening our understanding of the body, allowing us to support Western Medical systems. This knowledge allows us to guide and empower our students to take responsibility for their health. Had Dana not listened to me so carefully and encouraged me to have an MRI scan, I would probably still be feeling like a whining hypochondriac, completely oblivious to the fractures in my neck and disc issues. Yes, it is true that simply knowing that injury is there doesn’t mean that it is healed. But, at least I can understand a little better where the pain may be coming from.

With the knowledge that we are acquiring through the Yoga Medicine 500 and 1000 hour modules, we have the ability to support the Western medical system. There’s no doubt in mind how incredible Western medicine is. But in the same breath, there is a huge demand on these systems and people in need are being dismissed as a result. It blows my mind that I had 5 separate appointments with doctors and physiotherapists in which I told exactly the same story and described the same symptoms. Yet it wasn’t until I spoke to Dana, a yoga teacher, where I actually felt like I was being listened to.

The Power of Listening

As yoga teachers, our power to listen to our students cannot be underestimated. I am sure that there are so many people living in pain who are feeling alone, lost and confused. While we are not in a position to diagnose, our detailed knowledge of anatomy, of common injuries and dysfunctions in the body, enables us to apply yoga therapeutically. It also allows us to give both advice and referrals when we think it is necessary. By simply pausing and listening we can truly support Western medicine systems and really support others in their healing process.

Caffeine Detox: Learn to Live Without Coffee

Gina M. Florio shares an article on Bustle.com about her experience of giving up coffee for two weeks. Learn about the impact of a caffeine detox on your health, and why you should try your own caffeine detox. Gina’s decision was inspired by a passage in Tiffany Cruikshank’s Meditate your Weight. 

Gina Florio for Bustle

I Gave Up Coffee For 2 Weeks & Here’s What Happened

Ever since graduate school, drinking coffee has been the only task I manage to accomplish every single day without fail. It’s what gets me going every morning, and it’s responsible for some of my fondest memories with my friends. So when I used to meet people who didn’t drink coffee, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. Like they were missing out on life in technicolor. Even though they seemed fine without it, I was convinced that without coffee I would be a tired, boring wreck who wasn’t able to accomplish anything of value.

Within the last few months, though, I’ve been forced to confront my one-cup-a-day coffee addiction. Like any big epiphany, it all started with some innocent Googling. Then I started reading a book called Meditate Your Weight, written by Tiffany Cruikshank, an internationally renowned health and wellness expert I trust. One of the first things she recommends giving up when you’re trying to live a healthy, balanced life is caffeine — particularly coffee. She writes, “Caffeine is the great pretender — it masks our true energy levels… Caffeine also excites the adrenals, the glands that regulate stress, which are already overused and overstimulated due to our hectic lifestyles.”

How does Coffee Impact Me?

I felt compelled for the first time to take a look at how coffee truly affects me. Here’s what I knew for sure: I can’t properly wake up in the morning until I’m caffeinated. I get a rush of energy from coffee.  But then, I feel like I’m on edge for a few hours after, and it leaves me feeling dehydrated. I also get the late afternoon crash from my coffee, which leaves me feeling so exhausted I can barely get anything useful done after 3 p.m. Finally, I’m a person who has struggled with anxiety for years, and I have to admit I get quite anxious after a cup of joe.

Clearly, none of these side effects are good, but maybe life without coffee was even worse. I was suddenly desperate to find out what would happen if I kicked my coffee habit.

Click here to read about Gloria’s journey through a week without coffee.

Perspectives on Nutritional Mental Health

Yoga Medicine assistant teacher Valerie Knopik shares her perspectives on nutritional mental health in a multi-part series on how the Yoga Medicine® approach might just change your practice, your teaching, and your life.

Perspectives on Nutritional Mental Health

In a recent article on “The Emerging Field of Nutritional Mental Health” Kaplan and colleagues state, “We live in a transformational moment for understanding the etiology of mental health.” The premise of the article was that the medical community is accumulating more and more information about how inflammation in our bodies, imbalances in our gut (digestive system), chronic low levels of stress, and metabolism affect the brain.  Moreso, the article was a call for the medical community to use nutrition, i.e., diet changes and dietary supplements, to alleviate pain and suffering.

As a scientist and researcher in the world of mental health, I read this article with nerdy fascination.  As a yoga teacher and assistant in the Yoga Medicine® community, I read this article thinking of the important variables that were missing.  And, as a someone who has personally struggled with an auto-immune disorder for the past three years and changed their prognosis, in part, by diet changes, I was thinking of how so much of what was said in that article applied to me.  But again, there was a key missing link.

Where was yoga?  Mindfulness? Community connection?

In this multi-part series, we will explore each of these topics.

Part I. Yoga.

In our daily lives, the majority of us live in our sympathetic nervous system, or what is more commonly known as “Fight or Flight.”  Whether you work as a stay-at-home mom, a full-time yoga teacher, a corporate attorney, or anything in between, we live in a culture that is go-go-go. We’re running from here to there, trying to make ends meet, trying to stay afloat, constantly promoting our businesses on social media, and addictively texting and checking email.  We are screen-obsessed.

This constant bombardment affects our blood pressure, our metabolism, our heart rate, our brain waves, our entire being.  Indeed, we are, as a culture, depleted.  Depleted in mind.  In body.  In spirit.  And some of the ways in which that chronic stress and depletion might show up in our physical bodies is via inflammation, imbalances in our gut, and in our metabolism – which, in turn, can lead to mental health and physical health imbalances.

The etiology of these imbalances has been shown to be due, in part, to the biological pathways brought up by Kaplan et al (2015) and, in part, to our genetic predispositions; however, what I see in my own work is that people forget that our environments are just as important.  The amount of stress that we are under is an example of one such environment.  (There is also research to suggest that some of us may have a biological or genetic predisposition to consciously or unconsciously put ourselves in stressful or challenging environments, but that can be the topic of another forum article.)

Yoga as a Mental Health Treatment

As a yoga teacher, I know that yoga can offer, at least part of, a solution.  Pranayama, or specific breathing techniques, and Asana, the physical postures of yoga, can elicit the Relaxation Response and turn on the parasympathetic nervous system (i.e., Rest and Digest).  This is particularly salient for restorative yoga, yin yoga, and gentle flow classes; however, many seasoned practitioners might also find this Relaxation Response in more powerful classes. And that is just it. 

We have the capacity to change our physical environment and we have the capacity to change our internal cellular environment and in turn, modify our mental landscape.  One such approach to changing our internal and external environment is yoga – and for the purposes of the article, when I say yoga, I am referring to Pranayama (or breath practices) and Asana (the physical postures).  I will address mindfulness and connection in separate forum offerings as part of this multi-part series.

This is not to suggest that yoga can be the end-all-be-all cure to mental health concerns.  But, I am suggesting that practicing something as simple as basic breath awareness can calm our nervous systems, and in turn, ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Adding a handful of yoga postures can further bolster that Relaxation Response and bring our bodies back into balance.  Here is a 20-30 minute mini-sequence to try whether as a student or as a teacher guiding your students.

1. Basic Breath Awareness 

Basic Breath

Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and at least hip-distance apart.  Once comfortable, place a hand on your abdomen.  Begin to just notice your breath.  Does your breath feel strained or smooth?  Just observe your breath without judging whether or not you’re doing it right or wrong.  Gradually begin to make your breath as relaxed as possible.  Introduce a slight pause after each inhale and after each exhale.  Now begin to bring your awareness to your hand on your abdomen.  Notice that with each inhale, your abdomen rises, and with each exhale, your abdomen contracts. Without being forceful, just begin to gently try to expand the abdomen on the inhale and contract the abdomen on the exhale to support the natural movement of your diaphragm.  Continue for 6-12 breaths.   

2. Supported Bound-Angle Pose (stay 5-15 minutes)

Restorative Supta Valerie Knopik

This is one of the most relaxing of all restorative poses and while it requires some props (and time) to set yourself up comfortably, it is well worth the effort!  In the picture, we used several bolsters and blankets, but you can use a combination of pillows, couch cushions, towels or blankets to set yourself up similarly.  Sit at the small end of a bolster (or a stack of blankets, pillows, or cushions).  The bolster should be close to the tailbone.  Bend your knees and place your feet firmly on the floor. Use your arms to lower yourself back onto the props.  Your entire spine should be supported.  If you feel any discomfort, decrease the height of the props. 

Make sure your head and neck are adequately supported as well – place a towel or blanket under your head and neck to raise the head slightly.  Your forehead should be higher than your chin, your chin higher than your collarbones, your collarbones higher than your pubic bone.  Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open.  Place bolsters or blankets under the outer thighs to support the weight of the legs.  The object is not to stretch the inner thighs here, but rather to support the body for relaxation. Once you are set up and comfortable, this is the perfect opportunity to come back to your Basic Breath Awareness.

3. Simple Spinal Twist (5 breaths each side)

Simple Twist Valerie Knopik

Lay on your back.  Gently pull knees into the chest.  Let your arms relax on the floor like a “T”.  Take your knees to the left, stay for at least 5 breaths. Practice Basic Breath Awareness here. Extend your Basic Breath Awareness as follows: With each inhale, envision length and space in the torso and spine.  With each exhale, gently soften (do not force) the right shoulder blade and right rib cage closer the floor.  After you have completed at least 5 breaths, gently pull the knees back into the center of your chest.  Repeat the entire series taking the knees to the right.

4. Supported Forward Fold (10 breaths) 

Supported Forward Fold Valerie Knopik

Place a bolster (or pillows, couch cushions, or blankets) under the knees.  Gently forward fold.  If needed, additional blankets/towels can be placed between the tops of the legs and the chest for extra support.

5. Savasana (at least 5 minutes)

Keeping bolster under the knees, lower yourself down onto your back.  To increase the feeling of groundedness, place a folded blanket across the abdomen/hips.  If your feet are not grounded, place a blanket under them to bring the floor closer to the feet, or remove the bolster.  You want to feel grounded during savasana.

6. Reflection

As you awaken and rise to a seated position, notice how you feel.  Allow yourself to take a ‘feeling moment’ and acknowledge any changes or shifts that have been made by unplugging, breathing with purpose, and slowing down for as little as 20-30 minutes.

This emerging field of “Nutritional Mental Health” can be so much more than just how diet changes or supplements can assist in overall health.  This is not to say that nutrition is not important, because it is, and research supports this.  But, nutrition is just one part of a much larger solution.  In the Yoga Medicine® community, we are on a mission to change the landscape of traditional health care. 

The vision is to create a community of impeccably well-educated yoga teachers that can work alongside Western and Eastern modalities of medicine to treat the overall person as opposed to treating just the symptoms.  We have the capacity to make real and lasting changes in our own lives and for our students and clients.  These offerings are intended to be an innovative perspective on the term “Nutritional Mental Health” – specifically, nourishing the mind, body, and soul not only via food or supplements, but rather via a combination of movement, meditation, breath, and community outreach to offer true connection and deepened community in order to cultivate happiness and well-being.

Check back soon for Part II of this series:  Community Connection

Suggested Readings:

Kaplan, BJ, Rucklidge, JJ, Romijn, A, McLeod, K.  (2015).  The emerging field of Nutritional Mental Health:  Inflammation, the microbiome, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial function.  Clinical Psychological Science, 3(6): 964-980.

Lasater, Judith (1995).  Relax and Renew:  Restful Yoga for Stressful Times.  Rodmell Press: Berkeley, California.

Shaw, Scott (2004).  The Little Book of Yoga Breathing:  Pranayama Made Easy.  Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC:  San Francisco, California.

Energy Boosting Meditation: 5 Minutes to Recharge

Meditate Your Weight - Amazon

By Tiffany Cruikshank.

You work to strengthen your body, so why not the mind? From the founder of Yoga Medicine comes this insightful guide to a complete mind and body reboot. Read on for an exclusive excerpt from Meditate Your Weight: A 21-Day Retreat to Optimize Your Metabolism and Feel Great By Tiffany Cruikshank.

5 Minute Meditation
Today, for the first minute or two, settle into your breathing and your observer stance. Notice your energy level today and how it affects your posture and your mood.

Then, as you’re noticing the breath, I want you to visualize taking in energy. Visualize your breath as pure energy coming into the cells, oxygenating the cells; see it as the fuel that drives the cellular process that creates energy in our bodies. Then, on each exhale, visualize letting go of fatigue, dullness, or anything that weighs you down mentally or physically.

Remember: Rather than trying to actually deepen or control the breath, you’re just watching the natural pace of the breath; this isn’t a breathing exercise. As you inhale each time, you’re visualizing energy coming in naturally and just acknowledging that energy comes in through the breath into your body to invigorate you. And then as you exhale, you’re letting go of anything that weighs you down.

Do this for a few minutes, then drop back to just noticing and observing the experience of your breath in your body. If you enjoy this and lose track of time don’t worry, you can do it for the entire 5 minutes if you like whatever feels comfortable to you. When you reach the end of the meditation, once your timer  goes off, take a moment with your eyes still closed, just to notice the change in your energy level and how your body feels.

Mind Makeover
Today you’ll journal about your energy and vitality.

1. Write down what you ate yesterday, and note any dips in your energy during the day.
2. Based on the past few days’ experience, what have you learned about your habits, and how can they inform today’s eating? Write down a general meal plan for the day.
3. Decide on a few specific moments today when you will check in with your energy, and write them down.

Today’s mantra: I am energized.

Building Awareness
As you go through  your day, recall your mantra, noticing any changes in energy as an extension of what and how you eat, so you can start to construct  your own food map. Study yourself as if in an experiment. How do you feel when you eat certain foods? Does your fatigue limit you? Remember that sometimes cravings are our bodies telling us they need something nutritionally different. Also recall that by doing simple things, such as chewing better and slowing down during meals, we can increase absorption of nutrients and indirectly increase energy and decrease cravings.

Click here to see the original article in Best Health Magazine.
Click here to learn more about Meditate Your Weight.

Self-Myofascial Release: Yoga Flow

YogaMedicine’s Allison Candelaria shows off how to use yoga postures to perform self-myofascial release. Increase flexibility and relieve pain with this series of postures.

Allison Candelaria demonstrates how to perform self myofascial release with yoga postures.

Free Your Back Body Like Never Before: A Flow for Your Fascia

Do you practice yoga regularly but somehow still feel “stuck” in certain spots?  Senior Yoga Medicine teacher Allison Candelaria created this fascia-freeing flow to tune up the whole backside of your body.

The back side of the body takes on a lot of tension. Our postural habits, stress and natural tendency to move mostly in the sagittal plane (forward, specifically) can all be to blame. Sitting, standing, and walking make the external rotators of the hips, hamstrings, and calves tight and weak. Our low backs tend to house discomfort from sitting. Another culprit could be over-exaggerating the curve in the lumbar spine (hyperlordosis). It could be something as simple as sinking your weight into one hip while standing.

Moving up the body, the rhomboids (the muscles between the shoulder blades and spine) become weak from our tendency to round the upper back. And the upper traps (top of the shoulders and neck) are notorious for holding stress-induced tension. To top it all off, our necks have to work very hard to hold up our heads, so tension can get trapped in the base of the skull and sometimes send referral pain to other areas in the body.

Read the full article on the Yoga Journal website.

About the Author

AllisonCandelaria_YogaMedicine_HSAllison Candelaria is a senior Yoga Medicine teacher and the owner of Soul Yoga studio in Oklahoma City, where she resides with her husband and two children. For Allison yoga was a perfect transition from her previous dancing career and complement to her professional work in the nonprofit sector. Her vinyasa flow classes are anatomically informed by years of study and uniquely incorporate myofascial release techniques to balance the mind, body and breath.

She is currently working on her 1000-hour certification with Yoga Medicine. She has also had the privilege to be personally mentored by Tiffany Cruikshank herself. You can find Allison leading 200-hour training with Yoga Medicine around the world. She also teaches workshops, classes and privates in the midwest. Learn more on allisoncandelaria.com and soulyogaokc.com.

Improve Fascia Flexibility to Boost Overall Flexibility

Allison Candelaria of YogaMedicine shares the basics of Fascia, how the flexibility of your fascia impacts your overall flexibility, and how to improve it.

Allison Candelaria using a ball to treat tight fascia. Learn why your fascia flexibility might be able to improve your overall flexibility,

What is Fascia? The Flexibility Factor You’re Probably Missing on the Mat

From your big toe mound to your Crown Chakra, there’s a lot to think about on the mat. So we can’t blame you if you’ve never given your fascia flexibility a second (or first) thought. Senior Yoga Medicine teacher Allison Candelaria explains why you will want to start now though.

Fortunately, aware of it or not, every time we step onto our yoga mats, our fascial system benefits. Fascia, which means “band” or “bundle” in Latin, surrounds, connects and supports our muscles, organs, bones, tendons, ligaments and other structures of the body. Fascia is similar to the membrane around each section of an orange. It both separates and connects body parts. These tissues have nerves, so they also serve as a layer of protection and body awareness.

Read the full article on the Yoga Journal website.

About the Author

AllisonCandelaria_YogaMedicine_HSAllison Candelaria is a senior Yoga Medicine teacher and the owner of Soul Yoga studio in Oklahoma City, where she resides with her husband and two children. For Allison yoga was a perfect transition from her previous dancing career and complement to her professional work in the nonprofit sector. Her vinyasa flow classes are anatomically informed by years of study and uniquely incorporate myofascial release techniques to balance the mind, body and breath. She is currently working on her 1000-hour certification with Yoga Medicine. She has also had the privilege to be personally mentored by Tiffany Cruikshank herself. You can find Allison leading 200-hour training with Yoga Medicine around the world. She also teaches workshops, classes and privates in the midwest. Learn more on allisoncandelaria.com and soulyogaokc.com.

Join The Yoga Medicine® Community

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with
our latest trainings and resources.

Yoga Medicine
Scroll to Top

Find Out More