Yoga Medicine is pleased to feature our Share Your Story yogi Dr. Francis Castiller. Francis is a critical care doctor based out of Poughkeepsie, New York. He was introduced to yoga by his wife Debbie, a 200hr Yoga Medicine graduate, after a marathon training left his low back compromised and in pain from tight hamstrings. While Frank considered all the Western remedies for low back pain including pain medication, he opted for a more holistic approach that included acupuncture and daily yoga to help alleviate pain.
Read all about Francis’ insightful revelations regarding Western vs. Eastern medicine and how he uses yoga as a healing modality for his athletic lifestyle.
Balancing Western & Eastern Medicine as a Doctor
I’m a practicing critical care doctor and often, unfortunately, see the end stages of what chronic health issues can have on the human body and soul. I often wish I could intervene before chronic illness ravages the bodies of my patients. One common problem I see is back pain, which can eventually lead to people to adopting an unhealthy lifestyle. Back pain can eventually push an individual to a lifelong habit of not doing anything and blaming it on “back pain” to the extreme of becoming dependent or addicted to pain medicines. It is true that some forms of back pain are complicated i.e. structural spinal diseases but most are muscular in origin. I would like to share my personal story and how I became a believer and now promoter of “Non-Western” methods of well being.
I am blessed to have a beautiful and inspiring wife who Tiffany has recently trained, Debbie. As an avid runner, I always neglected the benefits of what yoga can bring to my training. One week prior to a marathon, I bent over to pick something up and had the most unbelievable back pain set in. It literally paralyzed me. Later, laying in bed, I thought about how many of my medical colleagues might treat me. Certainly, I would be given prescriptions for anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and, if the pain was severe enough to warrant it, narcotics. I imagined the countless patients that presented in a similar way, which ultimately resulted in a cocktail list of prescriptions. I then thought about the patients that would fall into the habit of demanding and seeking this cocktail.
Exploring Eastern Medicine
I decided to seek other remedies and turned to my wife. There I was, a practicing internal medicine and critical care doctor seeking advice and relief from my newly trained yoga instructor spouse. I asked, “What would Tiffany recommend?” My wife knew the answer.
Firstly, I went to an acupuncturist. I was always skeptical of these folks but I went in with a lot of pain and an open mind. I saw results immediately. In fact, I was astounded by the results. The pain was better but I was still stiff and she recommended yoga. My wife used “yoga medicine” and taught me some basic maneuvers. Initially, I would have never thought how effective child’s pose can be for back pain. Within a few days, I was feeling a huge improvement. Ultimately, in one week, I was at the start line for my marathon. My wife had diagnosed my root problem. My tight hamstrings and resultant tight back muscles have been setting me up for recurrent back pain.
As a result, I now incorporate yoga into my daily training routine. It opened my eyes to the power of what you all can do. The challenge is reaching and touching the unmotivated, the chronically ill and those dependent on western medicine i.e. medications to make them feel better. Sometimes the power within and the guidance of practitioners like you can have profound healing effects. I am now a believer and will do my best to bring others to a better place.
Thanks, Yoga Medicine!!!!
Dr. Francis Castiller