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Month: July 2016

Quitting Birth Control Pills: A Guide

Erin Magner’s guide for Well+Good on quitting birth control pills while avoiding side effects. Yoga Medicine’s Tiffany Cruikshank shares tips on diet, exercise, and how an acupuncturist can help ease your body from the side effects of oral contraceptives.


Breaking up with your birth control pill is kind of like leaving a longtime love—it’s pretty darn complicated.

Maybe you’re trying to get pregnant or reconnect with your natural menstrual cycle. Maybe you’re finding the pill’s side effects (chronic digestive distress, anyone?) aren’t worth the rewards. Or maybe you’re just trying to limit the number of artificial substances you put into your body, hormones included. Whatever the reason, the decision to stop taking hormonal contraceptives is a really personal one, and although it’s the right choice for many women, there are lots of things to keep in mind before taking the plunge.

Click here to read the full article

Yoga Prison Outreach Programming

Amanda Bonfiglio Cunningham shares her story of bringing yoga to the Western Kentucky Correctional Facility and the rewards of touching the lives of female prisoners.

Yoga in Prison

I reached out to the Western Kentucky Correctional Facility to see if they’d be interested in offering yoga to their inmates. It’s been something I’ve wanted to offer for some time and since my recent travels had me in KY, the stars seemed to align.

Turns out the warden had been looking for local instructors but to no prevail. Western Kentucky is remote; the closest, largest cities (Nashville and St. Louis) are 3 hours away. The inmates had requested yoga as they came across a DVD many months ago and enjoyed both the physical and calming aspects of the practice.

This facility, also known as the Prison Farm, houses both men and women.  This is rare, as both sexes are not usually kept on the same grounds. It’s home to over 450 inmates, a 1000% increase over 20 years. Phones, cameras and props are not allowed in the facility, so we just had our mats and ourselves. A good reminder of what’s important.

I believe as yoga teachers we are here to serve, to share our teachings to all, without judgment. I always knew this but I believed it when we {Yoga Medicine} travelled to India for our Seva project this past December. India solidified my passion to give and to serve without expectation. We had the opportunity to visit Mother Theresa’s tomb whilst in Kolkata. She spent her entire life giving, dedicated to making this life better for others. I was humbled by the encompassing aura. For the first time, I understood that being a teacher was a gift. A gift to share with those who need it most.

Sharing the Gift of Yoga

The women and children in India were empty of things yet full in life. The women in prison shared this strong similarity.

I felt passionate about giving these inmates, probably for the first time ever, a space to become aware of their bodies and minds. It was important to me to offer them choices. To empower them by asking them to drop within and to feel, to choose. These women had their power of choice taken from them inside these walls. Some of the women had never felt strength, confidence or control. Some had never learned to love their bodies, or been given love.

A woman about 45 asked me why I wanted to come and teach them. She said “most think we are rapists or murders, they don’t care about us. But, we’re all good women who have made a few bad choices”.  Another woman, age 28 and serving the last few months of her decade sentence, was in tears after I assisted her into king pigeon pose. “I’ve been trying to get into that pose for 3 years, you’re the first instructor I’ve ever had.”

These women desperately wanted information to improve themselves. Mutually grateful for the experience, we parted ways feeling a new purpose. Everyone deserves the opportunity to explore their own depths. I was honoured to open that door for them. If you’re in the Western Kentucky area and are interested in picking up where I left off, please contact me at

Amanda is a Yoga Medicine assistant – click here to learn more about her.

50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness

By Amanda Jedeikin.

To say that someone is innovative does not fully express the depth of her nature. Innovation requires us to introduce something new to the world or challenge the status quo, and doing so necessitates a host of other compelling characteristics. In many cases, to be innovative is to be inspired, brilliant, insightful, purpose-driven, and pioneering. It also demands thorough mastery of a particular subject matter and the audacity to believe things could be done differently. The following wellness trailblazers demonstrate all of these qualities and more.

Each person featured on this list is doing deeply impactful work in his or her individual realm—from yoga and fitness to meditation, neuroscience, technology, and nutrition—and their contributions are shaping the future of these spheres. More importantly, their work is saving lives, changing lives, and helping us be healthier, happier, better. Taken as a sum, you’ll likely get the sense that the following 50 people might just change the world—and the truth is, you’re probably right.

Tiffany Cruikshank: Founder of Yoga Medicine

Tiffany Cruikshank is a yoga instructor of international renown. Over the last 20 years she has crafted a methodology for teaching and practicing yoga. She teaches a practice that melds the Eastern and Western notions of medicine. Cruikshank’s teaching is held up by her work as a holistic health practitioner, acupuncturist, and sports medicine expert. Based in Seattle, Cruikshank teaches regularly for YogaGlo, and travels extensively around the world. She is also the author of the books Meditate Your Weight and Optimal Health for a Vibrant Life. Her approach has helped thousands of yogis around the world see their practice in a new light.

Read about all 50 of the wellness innovators here.

Body Awareness: Relax, Bust Stress, Boost Metabolism

In this podcast episode, we explore where Eastern and Western medicine intersect with international yoga expert Tiffany Cruikshank.  As a result, we discuss how cultivating body awareness can put your nervous system in “Relaxation mode,” how meditation impacts your metabolism, the lessons Tiffany has learned from more than 25k patient visits, and how to jump in and start yoga TODAY as we demystify and examine some of the science behind the practices of Yoga!

In this Episode

  • Firstly, we learn how to put your body in “relaxation mode”
  • Then we explore the science behind the parasympathetic nervous system (and why it’s so important)
  • How to cultivate a mind-body connection and why you should develop body awareness
  • We learn some practical tips to start yoga today
  • The impact meditation has on your metabolism
  • The differences between yoga and meditation
  • After that, we dive into all the lessons Tiffany has learned in more than 25,000 patient visits
  • And more!
If Yoga has interested you and you don’t know where to start – or you just want to learn how to become more relaxed – listen to this podcast!
Tiffany Cruikshank is an international yoga teacher who has been teaching for over 20 years, an author, health and wellness expert, the founder of Yoga Medicine, and she is internationally known for her focus on fusing the two worlds of eastern and western medicine together and apply it to the practice of yoga in an accessible and relevant way.

Tension Headache Relief with This Quick Stretch

Rene Lynch from the LA Times shares Tiffany Cruikshank‘s tension headache fix. You know that blinding tension headache you get after a long, annoying day at the office?  Try this stretch for some quick relief.

What it does:
Activates a series of “trigger points” along the back of the neck that contribute to tension headaches. Also good for just relaxing the neck, shoulders and upper back.

What to do:
Place a yoga mat or blanket down on the floor, someplace quiet where you won’t be disturbed. Lie down, and place a yoga block on its side, just beneath your head, and then play with positioning: You want the head and the base of the skull to rest on the block.

From here, “let gravity do the work for you,” Cruikshank says. Breathe slowly, deeply as you relax into the position, imagining your neck “draping” toward the floor. You’ll also feel the muscles start to relax and unravel.

You can enhance the stretch by gently turning your head to the right, just as far as is comfortable and resting there for a few deep breaths before returning to center. Repeat on the left side.

How much:
A few minutes at the end of a long, hard day is all you need.

Go online to see Cruikshank demonstrate this move at La Times, where you’ll also find more videos from top health and fitness experts.

Meditate to Control Cravings and Lose Weight

Tiffany Cruikshank for Further Food discusses how meditation can make the difference you’re looking for in your weight loss journey. Learn more about how meditation can control cravings, stop binge eating, and rewire your self-esteem.

Tiffany Cruikshank mindful eating

Yoga Expert Tiffany Cruikshank On How You Can Meditate to Lose Weight and Control Cravings

Meditation has long been a powerful, reflective tool to help us develop a heightened sense of awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. But now, it’s possible to meditate your way to a healthy weight by using this method of self-reflection to become more mindful– when it comes to eating! In many ways, mastering mindful eating is the ideal way to lose weight. Oftentimes, we find ourselves eating not necessarily because we are physically hungry; rather, grabbing a snack or a sweet treat can be a coping mechanism for dealing with a variety of emotions.
Once you learn the art of meditation, this therapeutic practice can help you to understand your own physical and emotional cues. This can help kick those unnecessary cravings and eat the right foods at the right time. Ultimately, this may be just the weight loss tool you’re looking for. But it doesn’t stop there!  Aside from facilitating mindful eating, deep self-reflection can also help you feel better about yourself, body and mind. Tiffany Cruikshank lays out the ways you can eat better and feel better simply by learning how to meditate.

1) Meditating will help you recognize the root of your cravings. 

Do you ever stop to think “why am I about to eat right now?” Are you about to sit down to a meal with friends or family? Do you have half an hour to kill and find yourself in the kitchen reaching for those chocolate chip cookies? Are you starving after a long day at work? The heightened awareness you get from meditation can serve as a spotlight on your motivation to eat. You may start to notice that maybe you’re craving sugar because you’re missing some sweetness in your life. Or you’re missing some attention from your family members, or maybe it’s because you didn’t eat all day.
Being aware of these emotional triggers helps you pause long to notice where the desire to eat comes from. Instead of just mindlessly reaching right for the chocolate bar or salty pretzels, this practice teaches you how to interrupt that reactivity cycle. Being thoughtful about our desires and motivations to eat can help us realize when we should– and should not– seek out a snack or a meal.

2) Meditation can help with binge eating.

In some cases, our emotions can get the best of us.  Emotional eating can become entrenched and morph into binge eating—a more serious condition, but one that meditation has also been proven to help relieve. One pilot study at Indiana State University found that seven sessions of group meditation helped cut binge episodes by almost two thirds and significantly decreased participants’ depression and anxiety.
Another study by the same group found that meditation helped obese binge eaters develop greater self-regulation and balance around eating. It also sustained improvement in binge eating, even four months after the end of treatment. The more meditation the participants did, the researchers found, the better they fared on their recovery.
People with binge-eating disorder react intensely to social and emotional cues and often have longstanding habits that are not easy to shake. At the same time, they tend to be disconnected from their own internal cues, especially those involving satisfaction after eating. While some of this can be attributed to genetic differences, researchers believe more likely it is the disconnection from our own internal experience that creates these patterns of mindless eating.
With traditional diet programs, we may lose five or ten pounds really quickly. But, their emphasis on a specific calorie restriction or “tricking” your body out of hunger further disconnects us from our internal signals. These external structures don’t allow personal flexibility or opportunity to relearn healthy habits, and they completely ignore the intensity of the cravings binge eaters experience.
Yet by helping us reconnect to those hunger and satisfaction signals, meditation can make all the difference in regulating eating habits as well as reducing depression and anxiety—which all can lead to healthy weight loss. Healthy mind, healthy body.

3) Meditation helps you change long-held assumptions/beliefs about yourself.

No matter how much we want to change, one of the hardest things to modify is our own self-concept. The images we hold of ourselves are remarkably stable and deeply rooted. This “cognitive conservatism” often means that we can behave in ways that support and sustain an image, no matter if it’s good or bad, or whether we do so intentionally.
If you’ve been clinging to a poor self-concept for a while, you may be frustrated with your inability to break this bad habit—but please know that lack of change is just your inner self’s bitter determination not to be destroyed. We humans are an odd bunch; we’ll cling to our self-image whether it’s hurting us or not, and no matter what type of self-sabotage might be required to maintain it.
The trick is to make this innate drive toward self-fulfilling prophecy work for you rather than against you. Deep self-reflection may be just the answer you’re looking for to break the cycle. Meditation can help you examine your own long-held beliefs about yourself, and question them: Is this true? Am I really X, or is that just my perception of what people thought when I was growing up? More importantly, do I want to stay like X?
If you start to loosen the vice grip of your negative self-concept and open yourself to the idea that you are a worthy person who deserves vibrant health and happiness, you can let those magical self-fulfilling prophecies do their work, guiding your behaviour toward choices that support your new, healthier self-image.
Learn more about how you can use the powers of meditation with Tiffany’s 21-day guide: Meditate Your Weight: A 21-Day Retreat to Optimize Your Metabolism and Feel Great.

Click here to see the original article published on Further Food.

Meditation to Improve Athletic Performance

Tiffany Cruikshank joins Jason Benavides, the founder of Octane Athletic Performance, on the Octane Podcast. She shares her experience in using meditation to improve athletic performance and endurance of athletes.

Tiffany Cruikshank on Octane Podcast to discuss meditation to improve athletic performance.

Octane Athletic Performance is an athletic program and online resource. OAP focuses on developing athletes’ speed and strength, and preventing injury. Octane’s podcast is home of world-class Athletes and Coaches who share their lessons learned, breakthrough moments and advice on skill development.

Click here to stream the interview or visit iTunes to subscribe to Octane’s free podcast.

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