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Month: November 2017

Rachel Land Interview: 500HR Yoga Medicine Trainer

The Native Society does a feature on Yoga Medicine instructor and 500HR graduate Rachel Land. Learn about her life, her biggest successes, and why she loves her phone.

Rachel Land Profile – The Native Society


Rachel Land is a Yoga Medicine instructor who teaches vinyasa and one-on-one yoga sessions in Queenstown New Zealand, and works internationally as a Yoga Medicine teacher trainer. Passionate about seeing real-world benefits from her studies in anatomy and alignment, she uses yoga to help her students create strength, stability and clarity of mind. Rachel has completed her 500hr teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank and Yoga Medicine and is currently working toward her 1000hr certification.

What do I do best?

No matter how much I learn, I’m keenly aware of how much I don’t know. As a yoga teacher, this is a great help because it reminds me to offer from what I know, but keep my students in charge of their own practice.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Hard work is one of my core values. I’m always trying to learn something, or develop in some way. Hopefully that means I keep on growing and improving.

What are my aspirations?

My aim is, and always has been, to be happy. Happiness for me encompasses both the little joys I experience in the moment, and the feeling that my life is heading somewhere meaningful. I assess all the decisions I make against this compass.

My Biggest Success?

I feel incredibly lucky to have been in a relationship with my partner, Steve, for almost thirty years. We met in school, so we’ve seen a lot of changes together, and somehow it has made our bond stronger. He is very honest with himself and others, completely down to earth and in the moment. Being with him constantly challenges my tendency to think in limited and linear terms, and nudges me out of my comfort zone.

My Most Challenging Moment?

I’ve been really fortunate in my life (knock on wood) and haven’t had to face any huge obstacles. So the challenge I struggle with the most is simply to find balance in my life. It often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things that are important to me – to spend time with the people I love, look after my health, study, do the work I find so rewarding, and meet my other commitments. That’s where a yoga practice is so powerful because it reminds me that life isn’t about the end result but about experiencing the process and allowing space for exploration and imperfection along the way.

My Motto?

Herman Hesse’s line from Siddhartha: “within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself” speaks to me. I’m reminded that no matter what happens around me, I can access a core of quiet within that is unruffled and unchanged.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I’ve mentioned my partner, who keeps me pretty grounded. I’m lucky to also have my mother, Lynne Brown, and her partner, Mark Hunter, as friends and mentors. They’ve worked in health and wellness for years and are a constant source of advice, support and inspiration.

My teacher, Tiffany Cruikshank, is also a huge role model for me. She offers freely from her education, experience and expertise but at the same time creates space for each of her teachers to find their own way. Her positivity and open-mindedness have created an inclusive family of Yoga Medicine teachers all over the world, encompassing many yoga styles, approaches and professions.

I learn a huge amount from my students too. Some of my private yoga students are older, and working through significant injuries or medical conditions; they teach me what it means to keep showing up for practice with courage, commitment, and compassion.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

It’s hard to beat waking up at home; that’s where my heart is. I live in Queenstown New Zealand, surrounded by the Southern Alps. A five-minute walk out of town and I’m immersed in nature, lake and mountain views as far as the eye can see, and everything is instantly in perspective.

Yoga Medicine training is my home away from home. My idea of an amazing holiday is not a destination but the opportunity to learn, and to spend time with people who want to make a positive difference in the world.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

This probably won’t be a popular answer, but I have to say my phone. No matter where I am, I can access the world. Not just to stay in touch but to have amazing books, music, podcasts, and other resources literally in my pocket.

My Current Passions?

I’ve just mentioned how useful I find my phone; I’ve heard it said that most of us know more about the apps on our phone than we do about our own bodies. My passion is to help people get to know their bodies and minds, to take control of their physical and mental health and feel more powerful and positive.

The Definitive Yoga Guide for Everyone

Tiffany Cruikshank and the  Yoga Medicine Team share a comprehensive yoga guide with Healthline. Check out this guide for in-depth information and advice for all levels of your yoga journey.


Get your Yoga Start with Tiffany Cruikshank’s Yoga Guide

Tiffany Cruikshank is a teacher’s teacher, international yogi, author, and wellness expert. Tiffany Cruikshank founded Yoga Medicine as a platform to connect people and doctors with experienced yoga teachers. Yoga Medicine trains their ever-expanding community of teachers to understand body anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, and the traditional practice of yoga.

With this fortitude of knowledge, they’re able to create individualized, effective yoga programs for each student.

Ready to channel your inner yogi?

Get your start with this comprehensive guide, crafted by Tiffany and her team of accomplished Yoga Medicine teachers, trainers, and contributors.

This detailed guide is for yogis at any stage in their practice (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and covers several topics including definition and history, motivation, basics and foundation, and many others.

Click here to read more.

Beat Holiday Stress with These Yoga Poses

Yoga Medicine teacher Dana Diament for Yoga Digest on some poses to beat holiday stress and find some moments of relaxation in the chaos.

4 Yoga Poses to Find Stillness Amidst the Holiday Chaos

Let’s face it – the holiday season is a time of year loved for its excitement but dreaded for its chaos. Despite how early we get started, the to-do list seems never-ending. The wild goose chase hunting down just the right presents. Late nights in the office meeting deadlines. Organizing the perfect holiday get-together for the extended family. We keep going and going, convincing ourselves we are the energizer bunny or its close cousin.

Caught up in the frenzy of getting it all done, it’s easy to forget about a small important detail. For best results, our batteries do need to be recharged. A yoga practice that encourages stillness can be just the right tonic to leave you feeling invigorated and grounded, and ready for another round of merrymaking.

Check out the 4 yoga poses here.

Postpartum Sciatica: Using Yoga to Treat Pain

Fiona Tapp for Prevention Online and Yoga Medicine founder Tiffany Cruikshank share some key yoga poses to help postpartum sciatica. Learn what might be making it worse, and some tips on treating it in the article below.

How Yoga Is Helping Me Manage My Postpartum Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the human body. It runs all the way from the lower back down the back of each leg, says Loren Fishman, MD. Dr. Fishman is the medical director at Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. And also an assistant clinical professor at Columbia Medical School.

While anyone can develop pain along this nerve for a variety of reasons (such as a slipped disc), it’s fairly common among women during and after pregnancy. For starters, weight gain can place pressure on the fragile nerves of the spine, says Alfred Bonati, MD, founder and chief orthopedic surgeon at The Spine Institute.

The sciatic nerve can also become irritated during childbirth itself. Especially during long labors, when women experience so-called back labor. Another risk factor is when the baby is in an abnormal position such as breech. This is all according to research from the European Spine Journal.

After childbirth, many moms are left with weakened back and abdominal muscles, which can lead to more pain. Poor posture and hunching—pretty common among those who are breastfeeding and cradling their baby—make the problem even worse.

Is yoga the best Rx?

Heat, massage, stretching, and yoga seem to do the trick for many people. Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine, who works closely with doctors to create pain management plans involving yoga, confirmed that the practice can definitely ease lower back pain and help prevent flare-ups.

Read the full article here.

Center for Compassion Studies: Tiffany Cruikshank

The University of Arizona Center for Compassion Studies interviews Tiffany Cruikshank on her life, why yoga is so important to her, and what it means to be compassionate.

A Conversation on Compassion With Tiffany Cruikshank: Yoga Teacher, Author, Acupuncturist

on Bridging Yoga and Healthcare, and the Power of Practice

Tiffany Cruikshank is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher, author, acupuncturist, and founder of Yoga Medicine, an advanced training program in yoga therapy and anatomy for yoga teachers. She’s also a former student of the University of Arizona. In this conversation, we talk about her early yoga and meditation practice in college. Then we discuss her early career training with Frank Lipman, MD, and her time at Nike HQ as the company’s yoga teacher and acupuncturist. Finally, we get to her latest endeavor, Yoga Medicine. Tiffany shares what sustains her as a healer. She also opens up about how yoga became a calling. And, how it makes her feel to help bring healing and compassion to communities.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Check out Tiffany’s books:

Deep Stretches To Ease Everyday Aches And Pains

Andrea Ferretti for Prevention Online shares 15 deep stretches that can help with everday aches and pains. These stretches allieviate stress in commonly injured joints, help correct back pain from office work, and can be done almost anywhere. Yoga Medicine founder Tiffany Cruikshank shares some insight on the importance of stretching as we age.

15 Deep Stretches To Ease Everyday Aches And Pains

Dealing with achy joints doesn’t have to be part of getting older. By improving your posture and doing gentle exercises to strengthen muscles that support your joints, you can avoid becoming one of the 100 million American adults who live with chronic pain.

Years of hunching over can put pressure on the soft disks between vertebrae. Tissues that surround joints lose elasticity as we age. But, thankfully, these changes can be remedied, says Steven E. Sampson, a sports medicine physician at Ortho-Healing Center in Los Angeles. “Stretching improves blood flow to muscles and tendons, which can tighten with inactivity,” he says. “Strengthening the muscles around our joints helps alleviate stress and inflammation.”

These simple moves can be done almost anywhere with minimal equipment. Work them into your day three times a week to ease aches or head them off before they begin.

Read the rest of the article here.

Yoga for the Thoracic Spine

The Thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae (T1-12) from the top of the spine to the bottom rib. The boney structure of the Thoracic vertebrae and the attachments to the ribs means that this is the region of the spine with the least range of motion in flexion and extension. Support provided by the Thoracic spine and ribs is essential for protecting our vital internal organs, however, this region of the spine can become notoriously congested. Less range of motion in the Thoracic region can cause an increased range of motion in the Cervical (neck) and Lumbar (lower) spine, which can become problematic over time as these more flexible regions of the spine begin to overcompensate. Here are 4 simple yoga poses and technique that have been most beneficial.

Thoracic Extensions

GOOD FOR: Releasing tension in the muscles and connective tissue, Thoracic spine extension and vertebral disc hydration.

You will need a foam roller, block or tightly rolled up mat for this pose. Lie on your back and place the block (or other option) at the back of the ribs under your Thoracic spine. Bend both knees and keep your hips on the floor. Engage your core muscles by cinching in around your waist and drawing your front ribs in. Interlace your fingers and support your head with clasped hands. On your inhale, peel your shoulders and spine off the block. On your exhale, let your spine lower down again. Repeat ten times, moving slowly with your breath.

Myofacial Release

GOOD FOR: Releasing the tissues on either side of the Thoracic spine to help release tension in the muscles and connective tissue.

You will need two yoga massage or tennis balls for this myofascial release technique. Lie on your back, bend both knees and draw your feet in towards you as if setting up for Bridge pose. Place the balls on either side of the mid Thoracic spine in between the shoulder blades and the boney prominence of the spine. Avoid the actual bones. There are often several points of tension in this region of the spine so listen carefully to your own body until you find a tender spot. Once you have found this point of tension, relax your whole body and allow the balls to sink through the layers of connective tissue and muscle to release tension. Less is more when it comes to myofascial release. If it is too painful and you cannot relax the muscles, you may end up causing more tension – so be mindful of this.

Table Twist

GOOD FOR: Rotation of the Thoracic spine and vertebral disc hydration.

Come into a Table Top position with your knees under hips and hip width apart and shoulders stacked over the wrists. Spread your fingers wide. Keep your neck long and ensure that you are not letting your head drop down. Stabilise your core muscles by cinching in around the waist and drawing your belly button in towards your lower spine. Place your righthand to the back of your head. Keep your belly button pointing down towards the mat and on your inhalation twist your Thoracic spine towards the right. On your exhalation, tap your elbow to the opposite elbow. Repeat for ten breaths on both sides.

Cobra Pose

GOOD FOR: Thoracic spine extension, strengthening the muscles in this region of the spine and vertebral disc hydration.

Lie on your front with your legs straight. Firm up the muscles in your legs and have your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointing behind you. Firm up in your legs and push down through your pubic bone to engage your core muscles and the support portion of the spine. Place your weight onto your forearms. Ensure that your forearms are parallel to one another with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Make sure that your neck is long as you look straight ahead. Hold this pose for 10 deep breaths, breathing in and out through your nose.

Seated Cactus Twist

GOOD FOR: Circulation around the Thoracic spine.

Find a comfortable seat. Raise your arms to the side and bend the elbows into ‘cactus arms’. Sit up tall, cinch in around the waist and relax your shoulders. On your inhalation rotate your Thoracic spine to the right, keeping your belly button pointing straight forward. On your exhalation, rotate your Thoracic spine to the left still with your belly button pointing straight forward. Repeat this for 20 breaths.

Depending on how congested your Thoracic spine is feeling, add one or all of these postures/techniques to the start of your yoga practice to help bring awareness and restore mobility to this region of the upper back. Remember that consistency is key to making a change. If you want to notice a real difference to the range of motion in your Thoracic spine, you will need to practice one or all of these postures on a regular basis.

Other articles by Alice:

Yin/Yang Balancing Yoga Sequence for Fall

Shannon Stephens, Yoga Medicine Teacher shares how fall is a great reminder of the importance of balancing Yin/Yang. Then, practice this Yin/Yang balancing sequence of poses.

Balancing Sequence for Fall

At the heart of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the belief that we are a reflection of the world around us. Each season is marked by characteristics that can be seen in ourselves and in the natural environment. Grief is the emotion tied to the fall, and it makes perfect sense. The green, thriving landscape changes almost imperceptibly at first – a shift in the wind and a few leaves down. The transition becomes much more obvious when the leaves change and the air grows cooler. Without death, life cannot exist. Fall marks the end of growth and renewal, and the beginning of harvest season – a time for our bodies to gather energy for the months ahead.

A Yin Time of Year

We are approaching a Yin time of year. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fall is associated with the Metal element. This is a time to become more introspective and organized; a time to protect boundaries and guard what we hold sacred. Carefree days of summer are followed by the need for routine and structure. We become a little more solemn and reflective. If you’re feeling the need to stay home and turn down invitations, you’re not alone. This is the perfect time of year to tend to unfinished projects and to begin organizing your life. This is also a great time to deepen your home practice.

The Lung and Large Intestine are the internal organs related to fall and the Metal element. Taking in and letting go are characteristics of these organs. The sequence below offers a balance of Yin and Yang. It targets the Lung and Large Intestine meridian lines, which are like rivers or tributaries that flow through the body. *Note – The Lung and Large Intestine meridians flow primarily through the arms. Follow the sequence below to celebrate fall and honor the change it brings.

Yin/Yang Balancing Yoga Sequence:


Begin with a blanket roll or bolster set perpendicularly beneath the rib cage. Support your head with a block or folded blanket if needed. Allow the body to relax into the support beneath it. Breathe fully, but keep the ribs and chest soft and easy. Count to 5 on the inhale, 5 on the exhale. After 3-5 rounds insert a small pause at the very top of the inhale. Repeat several rounds.

Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose)

Continue to watch the breath and fan the arms overhead as you inhale, release the arms by your sides as you exhale.


Move through 5-8 rounds, then add side-to-side movements to bring awareness to the rib cage.

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Add arm circles and move in time with your breath.

Downward Facing Dog to Plank Flow

Move between these two poses with the breath. Lead with the chest and let your arms, shoulders, and core support you.

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Hook thumbs or interlace fingers behind your back. Draw the shoulder blades toward each other and lengthen your arms. Lift the sternum and upper ribs away from the floor. Soften and then repeat.

Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge)

Knit the ribs in and reach through the fingertips. Lift gently as you breathe in, ground as you breathe out.

Low Lunge Twist

Bend and lengthen top arm in time with the breath.

Vashistasana (Side Plank)

Arc side body and draw top arm up and over the ear.

Repeat steps 7-9 on the opposite side

Go through a second and third time to build heat and/or lengthen your practice.

Puppy Pose

Here you can shift gears and begin to move to the yin portion of your practice. Find stillness for several deep breaths.

12. Whales Tail (see image above)

Hold for 1-2 minutes on each side.


Place a folded blanket over your chest. Allow the arms to lengthen along your sides. Imagine lines from the center of your chest out to each thumb and index finger. Notice any sensation or warmth here.

Your Diaphragm is a Core Strength Game Changer

Yoga Medicine 500HR participant Gry Bech-Hanssen for Yoga Journal shares how your diaphragm is an often overlooked core muscle. Learn how your diaphragm could be a core strength game changers. 

Why Your Diaphragm Could Be the Core Strength Game-Changer You’ve Overlooked

Most yogis are familiar with their diaphragm in the context of pranayama practice, but core work? Not so much. Yoga Medicine teacher Gry Bech-Hanssen explains.

As a yogi, you know how important good breathing is for your overall health and wellbeing. Your breath affects all of your vital systems, right down to the cellular level. It impacts your sleep, memory, energy level, and concentration. But in a busy life, even for yogis, breathing well can be easier said than done. Poor posture (all those hours hunched over a keyboard or steering wheel), emotional stress, mental pressure, conscious or unconscious movement patterns, and lack of movement can all contribute to restricted, shallow breathing and tension in the diaphragm, your primary breathing muscle. Though you may not be aware of poor respiratory mechanics throughout your day, the effects can be profound. Did you know that the way you breathe (or don’t) also influences how effectively your muscles work?

Read the rest of the article here.

About the Author

Gry Bech-Hanssen is currently working toward her 500-hour yoga teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank. Based in Oslo, Norway, she has a background in contemporary dance and has been teaching movement for well over 10 years. She teaches yoga and pilates in groups and therapeutic private sessions, and is also trained in Structural Bodywork, massage, and Neurokinetic Therapy. Gry is passionate about using yoga in combination with all the other tools in her tool box to help people make lasting changes in their bodies and lives. You can find more about her at

5 Reasons to Amp up Your Yin Practice During the Fall

Shannon Stephens, Yoga Medicine Teacher shares 5 reasons why you should be practicing yin yoga for fall. Learn how Traditional Chinese Medicine and balancing Yin/Yang can help with your yoga practice.

Why Practice Yin Yoga this Fall

It’s officially fall and with this new season comes an opportunity to welcome its offerings. In teaching Yin classes season after season, I’ve observed that attendance fluctuates depending on the time of year. Numbers decline during the spring and summer, more yang seasons, and then steadily climb as we head into the Yin seasons (fall and winter). The correlation between cooler temperatures and larger Yin classes is no coincidence.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the idea that humans are inseparable from nature. We are a reflection of the natural world, ever changing with the ecosystem. To remain balanced, we first simply need to open our eyes and observe the world around us. In TCM, each season has a unique set of characteristics. Fall is associated with the metal element. Like metal, this time of year offers the chance to become more structured. Long, relaxed days of summer are followed by the need for routines and schedules. As the world becomes quieter, cooler, and darker, so do we. This is a good time to look inward; the perfect time to honor the need to be still and notice any internal shifts.’

Finding Balance

Among its many lessons, yoga teaches us how to know and respond to our bodies. Each time we step onto our mats, we are invited to fine tune our proprioceptive skills and observe our internal workings. Through the physical practice of yoga, we cultivate mindfulness and intuition. This keen awareness is like a light that guides us both on and off the mat. Yoga teachers commonly say, “listen to your body”. When something doesn’t feel right, we learn to modify and adjust the practice to fit the current situation and our unique constitution. Choosing an appropriate type of practice, whether it’s alignment based, flow based, Yin, restorative, or meditative, is as important as dressing for the weather. This isn’t to say that you need to abandon a more dynamic or vigorous practice, but it is important to make time for stillness when you hear the call to draw inward. Yin yoga is characterized by passive, time-held postures. It’s a practice that beckons us to become more introspective, quiet, and still. The following are among the many reasons we all need Yin yoga, especially during the fall.

1. The Yin practice helps with the transition.

Change can leave you feeling as though the rug has been pulled out from under your feet. The shift from summer to fall is a tricky one and you’re not alone if you are struggling with the change. Many of you may be moving from a more relaxed schedule to a stricter routine. Others may find it difficult to come down from the summer high and soften around the edges. A quiet, introspective practice may bring flightiness to the surface. Remaining still even when you feel the urge to fidget is a powerful practice that can soothe the central nervous system and leave you calm and grounded.

2. Grief is the emotion that correlates with fall and it makes perfect sense.

Trees lose their leaves, grass goes dormant, and the landscape becomes barren. Without death life cannot exist; without rest we cannot recharge. Yin offers the chance to rest in stillness and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The PNS helps the body rest, digest, and recover, and makes us more resilient to stress. More time in this mode equals harmony in the body.

3. Fall is a time to reflect on where we’ve been and to prepare for what lies ahead.

We’ve come out of a very abundant and productive time of year and now it’s harvest season – an opportunity to gather and store for the coming months. By aligning your own energies to the natural cycles of the earth you can surrender to struggle. Rest and contemplation go hand-in-hand with this more dormant time of year.

4. The Lung and Large Intestine meridians are the Yin and Yang organ pair associated with fall.

Taking in and letting go are characteristics of these organs. When we take a full, diaphragmatic breath we charge the body with life or prana. The exhale is symbolic of letting go; cleansing the body and releasing what we no longer need. Inviting slow, deliberate diaphragmatic breaths to your Yin practice is another doorway to the Parasympathetic Nervous System. A calm gut makes for a calm center. Slowing down with a Yin practice can help relieve tension in the belly, aiding the digestion and elimination process.

5. Balancing Yin and Yang energy is essential to our well-being.

Without Yin-type experiences, we run the risk of driving ourselves into the ground. Continue to practice other forms of yoga, but be sensitive to the call for downtime. The Yin practice is one that honors our inherent need to slow down and be still. It’s a practice that can help us create harmony with Earth’s cycles and with our own.

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