The Power of Yoga to Change Your Life with Tiffany Cruikshank

In today’s episode, we welcome the remarkable Tiffany Cruikshank, a visionary in the world of yoga and wellness. Tiffany’s journey into yoga began as a teenager seeking solace and connection. She discovered a profound sense of coming home to herself, which has guided her through nearly three decades of practice and teaching.

From her troubled teenage years, Tiffany embarked on a wilderness program that introduced her to the healing power of nature. This transformative experience led her to yoga, where she found not only physical discipline but also a path to inner peace. Her early training was deeply influenced by the Yogananda lineage, instilling in her a reverence for meditation and spiritual simplicity.

Tiffany’s exploration of yoga is not just about the physical postures, but a holistic integration of body, mind, and spirit. She emphasizes that yoga is for everyone, offering various layers and dimensions that can evolve over a lifetime. Whether it’s the physicality of the asanas, the mental calm, or the spiritual depth, yoga meets each practitioner where they are.


  1. Holistic Wellness: Tiffany highlights the interconnectedness of physical, mental, and spiritual health. She believes that supporting our overall wellness allows us to show up better in our daily lives and meditation practice.
  2. Mindful Practice: Yoga is a guided meditation, a practice that helps us stay present and grounded. Tiffany encourages approaching yoga with curiosity, observing our sensations without judgment, and embracing the journey rather than striving for perfection.
  3. Humility and Growth: Yoga humbles the ego, fostering personal growth and self-awareness. Tiffany shares that yoga is not about achieving the perfect pose but about the process of self-discovery and inner peace.

In this profound conversation, Tiffany Cruikshank delves into the historical and cultural evolution of yoga, from its origins in India to its modern practice in the West. She touches upon the scientific aspects, such as the impact of yoga on the nervous system and inflammation, and the potential anti-inflammatory benefits of held stretches. Tiffany also explores the fascinating concept of the placebo effect and its relevance to yoga, highlighting the power of the mind in healing and transformation.

Throughout her journey, Tiffany has seen countless transformations in her students. She cherishes the slow, profound changes that yoga brings into people’s lives, beyond the flashy, quick fixes. Yoga, for Tiffany, is about cultivating a deeper connection with oneself, fostering resilience, and enhancing overall well-being.

As we conclude, it’s essential to reflect on the purpose and intent behind our yoga practice. Are we driven by ego or a genuine desire for inner growth? Tiffany’s insights remind us that the true essence of yoga lies in being present, embracing the journey, and finding peace within ourselves.

Please enjoy my conversation with Tiffany Cruikshank.

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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 066

Tiffany Cruikshank 0:00
Supporting our health and wellness allows us to show up better in our lives in our days and our meditation. And for me, that's why it's important.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
I'd like to welcome to show Tiffany Cruikshank. How you doin Tiffany?

Tiffany Cruikshank 0:21
I'm good. It's nice to be here. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:23
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I truly appreciate it. You wanted to really bring you on the show to kind of go deep into the weeds on yoga. We've spoken to about yoga a little bit on the show, but really have not gone deep into the weeds about the spirituality of yoga, the physical benefits of yoga, the mental benefits of yoga, and so on. I wanted to give the audience a little bit of an understanding about what yoga really is and what it really isn't. Because there's so much misinformation about yoga and what it is and like, Oh, I gotta wear Lululemon snap, I gotta do yoga, and, you know, all sorts of different things that, you know, especially guys listening to the, you know, think about yoga, like, oh, that's, that's a girl thing. I don't do that. And where it was, it's hilarious, because yoga came from India originally, and it was guys doing it.

Tiffany Cruikshank 1:13
Women actually weren't allowed a very, very long time for a few 1000 Ironic now, because it's all women.

Alex Ferrari 1:22
It started it started off as a male dominated thing. And now it is more of a female in the West, at least it's more female. But first and foremost, how did you start your journey into yoga?

Tiffany Cruikshank 1:35
Ah, well, the short answer to that is I was a troublemaker as a teenager and I, I went out on a wilderness program actually and fell in love with learn how to survive. And one of my, one of my guides was an herbalist. And he took me out on plant walks. And I just fell in love with being able to use our environment as medicine and kind of soon after I got back from that there was this, this little sign near my house that just said yoga and a phone numbers was pre internet. And when I I just remembered it, I couldn't drive it, I was 14, and my mom would take me and there was just something about it, that I was always very athletic and, you know, active and so obviously, there was a physicality that kind of drew me in but for me, I was kind of searching I think in my teenage years and feeling like most very uncomfortable in my skin. And for me it kind of looking back on it at least, I think it was this kind of coming home to myself and you know, as you stick with it, anyone who's done yoga for a while, you know, I think one of the beauties of yoga is that there's layers to it. There's so much you can bind and, and explore and different dimensions of what you can do you know, you can really stay on the physical sweaty or strength or stretchy or more spiritual, you know, there's so many different layers or even like I love fascia, and looking at how it influences the fascia, but there's just there's something for everyone. And I love that I love that it can evolve with you over time. And it really, for me has I've been practicing for think almost 30 years now and teaching. I started teaching soon after because I quickly finished high school. I was so sick of high school and went off to college at 16. And there really wasn't any yoga where I went. So I on my summer before I went I took a teacher training. I remember getting like a pamphlet, because I don't even know how I got them back then how did we get how did we get information? There were like two options. picked one. Yeah. So. So yeah, that was the beginning of my journey.

Alex Ferrari 3:43
And that was the beginning of your yogic journey. Now, when you when it because I mean I studied Yogananda Paramahansa Yogananda who brought yoga over to the west, from India. And can you imagine 1920s, an Indian guru walking around, looking the way they looked in the 20s with people like where are you from India, didn't even know what India was. It wasn't even like is that a country? Like it was such a nice talking about yoga. So do you know anything about can you kind of go back to a little bit of the history of yoga, how it came here from your understanding. You'll get a very deep, long conversation.

Tiffany Cruikshank 4:25
Yes, I'm definitely not a history buff. I'm more of like a present moment person. But what I will say is I did do my first my teacher training was actually at the expanding light, which is Yogananda kriya Nanda. And that was my first introduction to yoga was through that so definitely steeped in the Yogananda lineage and very, I think, very different than I think a lot of what we do many of us do as yoga asanas today, but I think a great reminder of the simplicity and I remember Number they used to do, and I don't do this quite so much anymore. But they did a lot of affirmations, which was a really cool thing, because now we know it's science. I mean, we knew back then somewhat with sports psychology, but we're starting to learn more and more just how potent visualizing visualizations can be an affirmations can be for really changing, even changing the brain. And so that was interesting. They had it and way back then, but very much focused on meditation, and enlightenment, I was 16 years old. And for me, that was kind of overwhelming to even think about, but I would force myself to meditate. And, you know, for an hour at a time, can you imagine at 16, sitting for an hour, oh, my god,

Alex Ferrari 5:42
At 16. 36 it was difficult for me.

Tiffany Cruikshank 5:48
I have a little breaking up with meditation, I like forced myself to do it for a few years when I started teaching, and then I kind of moved away from it, which was good, because I was able to then come back and create a relationship with it of, of love and appreciation, rather than forcing myself to do something that I felt I had to do as a yoga teacher. There's something really brilliant in all of the practices, I think, each of them has something different. And, you know, if we allow it to, I think it evolves over this decades of our life to suit what we need. If we can become, you know, unattached to this idea what we think we need, I think a lot of us come to our yoga mat, and we think like, I have to move, I have to do Chaturanga, as I need to keep myself strong, I need to keep my mobility, or maybe people come for like stress proofing, but there's all these ideas of things we think we need. And for me, I kind of have to unpack all of that and really just see, what do I actually need now?

Alex Ferrari 6:46
Know what you're going based on a scientific question here. What happens to the mind during yoga, in your in your opinion, like, what endorphins what chemicals are being released? What does it do to your anxiety to your stress?

Tiffany Cruikshank 7:04
I think that's one, it's a really great question. First off, let's just start by saying I'll set the framework here. There's very little great quality research on yoga, the Austin apart. There's a ton on meditation, and mindfulness.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
What's one of the most researched things in the last five years is meditation, right?

Tiffany Cruikshank 7:26
And we can see different practices do different things, potentially, you know, we've got different styles of meditating, we've got stylized thing, you know, like, like, Transcendental Meditation versus maybe just more simple, you know, focused attention or open monitoring, or, you know, the Herbert Herbert Benson, you know, just kind of focusing on the one thing and repeating it, whether that's a meditation or a instrument to induce that relaxation response. But yeah, I mean, they can, they can, the jury's still out on exactly what each different modality does, but we can definitely see that it's enhancing things like GABA, which is a very, a calming neurotransmitter, which helps with anxiety and kind of helps us feel more, I always think of it feeling a little bit more grounded with gaba, more calm and at ease.

Alex Ferrari 8:19
And that's a real word. By the way, that's a real word gaba. That's not a made up word. That's an actual technical,

Tiffany Cruikshank 8:24
medical. It's the shorthand and don't ask me to say the longhand of that but gaba, you can look it up capital Gaba neurotransmitter,

Alex Ferrari 8:33
What I found when I did yoga, and I don't have a yoga practice, now, as much as I want to, in my mind is kind of like you and your meditation when you started out, like, it's like, I have to wrap my head around getting into yoga. But when I did do yoga, and I did yoga for a while, the thing I found that was really interesting about it is that when you're doing yoga, you generally are doing yoga. Like there's not a lot of wandering around in your mind, like you are focused on not falling over, you are focused on trying to get the posture right of the pose, right, making sure that you're not, you know, all you can think about is that moment you are in the moment, I think that's one of the really powerful things that Yoga does, more so than many other kinds of athletics are working out, if you will, if you're looking at the physical standpoint, is that you are present, like, the entire time almost almost depending on your yoga practice. But when you're in like this weird positions, you're just, you're not thinking about your bills, not thinking about your boss, you're thinking about like, this hurt a lot, or whatever. So I think that's one of the really great points of yoga. It is It grounds you and it centers you in the present moment, which very few things truly do that. Yes.

Tiffany Cruikshank 9:53
Yeah, I think Herbert Benson was the one that coined that you know, relaxation responses. Something that you can do that you can repeat. That is simple, you know, and repetitive and is non judgmental. So that you can also do regularly overtime. So, you know, you can get it when you're playing an instrument, you know, people can tap into that if they're gardening, but it's sometimes much easier to get distracted in some of those things. And even I will say, for people who have been practicing yoga regularly for a long time, especially if you go to a class that's a little bit more simple and familiar, I guess is a better word. Yeah, your mind can definitely wander around more, because now you're more familiar. And, and I agree, I think it's one of the things I love about yoga is it's, it's ideally like a guided meditation, the whole purpose is to kind of take you toward that state of being able to sit and meditate and have more of that mental and potentially spiritual equilibrium. But I think what people run into is the challenges of having a class that's finding a class that's accessible to them to where they can really drop into that because sometimes we get so caught up in the shapes and the things that we kind of, we start to put this pressure on ourselves, we start to kind of judge ourselves and then the rumination becomes something different. Why are my hamstrings so tight? Why can't I do this? I'm like, a flawed individual, because I can't touch my toes, or I think it takes just a little bit of practice. And I think there's some skill on the teachers and to but also on the students and of I always like to think of it I think one of my favorite words is curiosity is to approach it with curiosity, rather than what we approach most of our lives with is this analytical lens of how can I make this better? What's wrong? What do I need to do? What do I need to create? How can I get better, instead of just welcoming what we find and having this curiosity I was teaching this morning and I was kind of talking about it, as you know, maybe you go on a new hike, you know, exploring the sensations in your hamstrings or in your legs just like you would you know, when you go to a new area to hike around, or maybe you go to someone someone else's home that you've never been to, and you're kind of looking. But that ability to take it in, I think the sense of being versus doing which I think yoga is kind of this fine line in between because we're doing and the asanas different than meditation, we're asking you to kind of sit and really be in meditation. But what I love about the asanas is it gives us that physicality to chew on this thing that we can all relate to, we all have this physical body, you know, and different forms and shapes. But in our own way, we all have this connection to life and to, to the physical body as an entryway into, you know, the spirit and the mind and kind of how well you know how it was all kind of intended. progression.

Alex Ferrari 13:00
Exactly. And it's, I always find yoga to be humbly no matter how, especially for guys, you know, got men and men always want to like, I got I must conquer. You can't conquer yoga, like you can't. And you could be the biggest, strongest guy, but the second, but you see this little like 95 pound woman next to you just doing these little things. And you're just like, extremely humble. I remember I took one yoga class, I never forgot this, this this yoga teacher. She was. I'm not kidding you 87. And she walked in. And she just walked in like she was 50. And she looked like she was 50. But she was 87. She was like the top of the gym at the time. And she walked in and I took a class with her. It was like a beginners class. It wasn't even like a crazy class. It was a beginners class. And I saw this little old lady do things with her body. And I was like 24, maybe at the time 25. So arguably like some of the best shape I was ever in. And I just I was mesmerized at the ability she was just too good to just flipping and, and so ease and like she was a rubber band. And it was just fascinating to watch. And you see something like that you're just absolutely humbled, absolutely humbled. And I think on a certain level, I think yoga is built to humble the mind and the ego. Because the ego ego does not like yoga egos like it does not like and it's there to I think by design there to kind of break down the ego to the point where you must just get in to the movement must give in to the pose. And then and like you were talking about earlier with what it was intended to be is. So many people in the West think of yoga as purely physical and there is an absolute physical component to it. No question. And we'll talk more about the physical benefits but it it's supposed to do for my understanding lead to a higher state of connection with oneself with a higher power with spirituality and, and take you to another place where as if you're doing the yoga but it's almost a meditative movement almost like I'm not comparing it to Tai Chi but like that kind of like meditative movement in the positions and everything. And I've seen some Yogi's do that they're just like, they're in. They're in another place like, um, they're not here. They're just another. I saw this one older I was watching a documentary this Yogi must have been. He says, he's 126 says he's 126 I, there's no way that I mean, I'm 126 How can you really tell? But the dude was old. I mean, I'm not he was old. And he was a yogi. And he goes to the to the river, the, the Ganges, the Ganges river every morning, sits and does. And everyone just sits there and watches this back, because everybody knows who he is. And he does yoga, but he's at a hole. He's doing something else?

Tiffany Cruikshank 16:06
Well, I think and it's an interesting thing, because you were talking about historically, I mean, my understanding not not way, way back. But one of my teachers was patottie, Joyce of the Ashtanga lineage. And he used to tell stories about how, you know, Krishna Macharia would come and do talks. And this is hard to imagine if you're not familiar with yoga, but he, probably Joyce would do a bath you he'd start on his knees is a pose where you bend backwards and grab your heels and put your head on the ground, which sounds crazy and ridiculous. It's always, yeah, it's a deep pose. But then Krishnamacharya would stand on him and lecture and give a talk. And but it was part of what I mean, it seems, it seems pretty extreme. But it was part of what brought it was their way of bringing some awareness and recognition to yoga. And, you know, the marketing of the time, hey, I think too, I one of the things I love about it, you know, like you said, for the for men, like I've worked with a lot of pro football players and like, you know, they're just sweating. And it's so much harder for them. But the humility, I think what you said, is, is such a big part of it. Because there's so many components. And whether you come in for physical or mental or spiritual, or whatever it is, you're, you're really working on all the layers of yourself. But that humility is such a big part of shedding our ego, which is what ultimately holds us back from really being in the poses. And for me, all the alignment and anatomy that I really love is really just a gateway into this consciousness and the body that we can all kind of experience we stretch our arms out, we reach through our fingertips, and again, it holds your attention, because I'm guiding you through like a like a guided meditation, but I'm just giving your body something to chew on. So that you can really be in it, and be there because the whole purpose is again, to find this. You said this clarity what what you know, is often called enlightenment, I think of as freedom from from suffering in any form. I mean, whether that's you being able to have some, some clarity and space are a moment of being able to be present. You know, for me that I think that's a form of, of spirituality, maybe maybe a form of enlightenment. I know when I first started hearing about it, when I did my yoga teacher training, it seemed like such a far fetched idea, this thing that, you know, Yogananda did or or, you know, people did where they could levitate and you know, we're an enlightened and it was this far fetched concept. But I really think for me, I think enlightenment are those, those moments where we could tap into something bigger than ourselves where we can sense into the connection through all people where we can start to feel the clarity in this present moment without all of the distractions,

Alex Ferrari 19:02
Right, and what yoga does it it is a tool to get you there? It's one of many paths as far as enlightenment is concerned. But it is

Tiffany Cruikshank 19:14
And when you say yoga, just to clarify, we're talking about the asanas.

Alex Ferrari 19:18
Correct! The physical yoga.

Tiffany Cruikshank 19:19
Yeah. Yeah. Because most people include, you know, meditation pranayama, all these things as yoga. But a lot of people and I think in the popular yoga world, think of yoga as the awesomeness. So,

Alex Ferrari 19:29
Right. Yeah. When you think of yoga, you're thinking of stretchy and you know, and then poses and you're almost about to fall over and all that kind of stuff. Generally speaking, especially in the West, is what they think about that you say yoga in India. It's a whole other conversation. It's a completely taking on a different place. But Yoga does, does break down the ego to a place where you can begin to start on a spiritual path if that makes any sense, because the ego is what stops you from a spiritual path. that spiritual path to enlightenment and then and yoga is just a, you know, it's a hammer, yoga is a hammer, it's not a subtle way of breaking down. It's, it's so humbling in the way that it does it. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Look, it's challenging to say the least. But like even when you're doing physical activities, if you're at a high level of, of athletics, where you're, you know, a world class athlete, you are in the moment, and you're humbled by the ability to throw the ball or hit the ball like baseball, one of the most absurd things ever, you like to hit a little ball going at you at 100 miles an hour, is it's insane, like 30%, you are a rock star. Like, what other sport is that, like, it's really that insane. But that is also another humbling another way of of being humbled, but on the physical standpoint. But to go into the physical standpoint, I've heard so many studies, and I've been reading up on on the different physical benefits. Inflammation is such a huge problem in our society. In general, we are fighting inflammation from everything from the food that we eat, and the stresses and all the things that you know, most disease, if not all disease come from a form of inflammation, can yoga help with physical inflammation?

Tiffany Cruikshank 21:20
Well, I think one of one of the ways we know the nervous system and the immune system, the immune system is what's regulating inflammation. And we know that the nervous system and immune system are very intimately connected almost almost difficult to totally separate. They're both influencing each other. And so one of the obvious ways that I think we can probably all agree on because like I said, there's not a lot of great yoga research for a lot of reasons. There's, there's a bunch of it out there, but not a lot of it will hold up in the medical community as far as looking at really high standard research. But I think we can all agree on probably the effects on the nervous system, and that ability to enhance what's called the vagal tone, or the parasympathetic response, basically, our relaxation response by training it and now, I'm saying that without hesitation, because there are so many different forms of yoga, I believe, we experienced as in probably, most forms of Asana, like even the ones you're talking about the really active ones, probably more in shavasana, right? When you're able to finally relax, there's this like, I hate it.

Alex Ferrari 22:26
When I'm lying when I'm just lying there at the end, oh, my God, it feels like,

Tiffany Cruikshank 22:31
Yeah, versus there's other classes where you know, the whole class has a relaxation, maybe there's a restorative practice or a yen practice, where you're kind of stret, doing some stretching, held, stretches, passive stretches, maybe there's some Pranayama or meditation as well. But I think all of them are going to have a really potent effect on this capacity to enhance vagal tone, this relaxation response. And, and really, you know, we're not made to be relaxed all day, we want to be able to go back and forth, there's a important place for that, you know, sympathetic stress mode, the busy mode, it's just that we kind of lose that ability to go back and forth. So by retraining that vagal tone theory is that we're able to more seamlessly ebb and flow between them. The other side of it, that's really interesting, I think is is a newer race newer research in its in its infancy by a woman called Helen long Levine, she's, I think she's still out of Harvard, I can't remember now, but she's a very well respected scientist in the fascial realm and for stretching research and acupuncture research, which was my other my profession as a Chinese medicine doc. But she's done some really interesting studies looking at held stretches. Now, keep in mind, this is I think, on mice that she was doing it on mice or rats, I think it was mice, how was she stretching mice. And so and so she was doing this for 10 minutes, and they had this contraption, where they would, I think somehow they got the legs and they did this in an in a nice way. They didn't, it wasn't anything,

Alex Ferrari 24:10
They forced yoga onto.

Tiffany Cruikshank 24:13
They had it somehow like the I forget how they did it, but somehow the back legs were, you know, on some mat or something and then they grabbed their front legs and kind of pulled them into this extended position from basically from head to toe. And so it was a gentle stretch, but they held it for like 10 minutes is my my memory now of what the the study was. I think for this one, she's done a few so I'm getting a little I might be mixing some of them up but But what's interesting is what she saw was they saw some of the markers for anti inflammatory cytokines I think it was in the body interest and as a result of that, now again, that was after so a pretty long stretch. They also saw saw signs of anti fibrotic fibrotic. So fiber osis is this kind of like, accumulation of fibrous tissue, I think of it like, think of it like Velcro or adhesions, all your tissues have to be able to glide past each other and move separately. And so it had an anti fibrotic effect and an anti inflammatory effect. And again, that's, that's preliminary research. But I think it's very important to keep in mind that even just these held stretches, we probably need to stay for a while, not only are they having an impact on the nervous system, and down regulating it, but also maybe on inflammation, which is really important. I'll just jump into another one that was interesting that came out recently, which was on the effects, they just were looking at people who had a regular stretching routine. So it wasn't specific to what they did, or how long they did it. But this was an older population, I believe. And they were looking at the effects on arterial stiffness. And they found that the people who had a regular stretching routine had decreased arterial stiffness, which is a huge finding, I think it was a year ago or something, it made a really big splash. In the, in the research world, and in my world, looking at, hey, maybe these stretching practices, again, when done regularly over time, maybe are even having effect on the heart, and the cardiovascular system, the leading cause of death. Right?

Alex Ferrari 26:27
It's, it's insane. I always find it fascinating that no matter where we are in, in the course of Humanity, we always think we have it all figured out. 1000 years ago, you couldn't have told anybody that any different, you know, 500 years ago, you could have said anything, anything any different. And today is no different. And I find it so fascinating that we are now science is starting to catch up to things that were discussed 3000 years ago, you know, 2000 years ago. I mean, they're talking me talking about acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It's been around for 3500 years or something like that, if I'm not mistaken, if not longer. And, and yoga, come on yoga has been around for over 2000 years, if I'm not mistaken. And meditation Jesus, no pun intended Jesus. But meditation as well. Like, I mean, 50 years ago, you people looked at meditation as like, oh, that's some new age hippie stuff. You know, I remember, I remember my mom meditating in the 70s. And she and my, my, my Latino family was like, she's lost her mind. Last term, she'd like would get there sit on the porch and meditate. Can you imagine meditating in the 70s? And you know, Cuban, a Cuban Mother, you know, with a newborn? And she's like, No, no, I'm gonna go meditate. And they're like, what, like, it literally would be like Yogananda walking down the street in the 1920s. It's just something so so weird. But now science is finally caught up to like now know, everything that they've been saying and the Yoga Sutras. Kindness,

Tiffany Cruikshank 28:05
If you had told me in the 90s, that meditation was going to be a popular trend, I would never have believed you.

Alex Ferrari 28:13
I mean, it's not a it's not good on paper, it's not a good pitch on paper. You know, meditation is generally you're gonna sit alone quietly and not think about anything for an hour. It's not a it's not a it doesn't marketing's not good. But now it's different. And now, like you got CEOs meditating, you've got MIT, you know, world class athletes meditating, and all that kind of stuff. So yoga, so that there's lack of research to support yoga has health benefits, other than the physical, dozens, 10 years from now, it'll be a completely different conversation.

Tiffany Cruikshank 28:44
Totally. Yeah, I'm, we're learning so much. And, you know, I think if people if I think it's amazing that people are into meditation, and if that's all you want to do, great, you know, like, the whole purpose of the asanas was to help prepare you, you know, to sit and meditate. However, I do think we're finding we all know now as far as you know, non spiritual stuff aside, you know, we know how important it is in the in the health realm, health and wellness from just moving like sedentary is kind of the new smoking mouse. So I think what's beautiful about the Austin as is it also fills some of the spaces which, you know, our health and wellness, really, supporting our health and wellness allows us to show up better in our lives and our days and our meditation. And for me, that's why it's important. And I've worked with a lot of patients over the years 1000s of patients over the years and there's always this kind of feeling of, of, you know, wanting to get to this place wanting to feel better or do something or, you know, lose weight or whatever that might be but for me what's important is thinking about how it's going to change your life, how you're going to feel like what are the real tangible changes because if I can anchor to that, you know, I can I can start to see it through and yoga starts to do that it starts to work on a lot of the different layers physically, physiologically, there's a lot of, you know, practices we can do to support Oregon Health and physiological health, nervous system health, you know. So I think there's a really important place for the asanas too, even though traditionally it's like, Oh, if you can meditate, you don't need to worry about the other stuff.

Alex Ferrari 30:21
It all goes into it all goes into the same bucket, if you will, without question. Another thing I think that I didn't really think about, and as I, as I get older, you start thinking about things is something like bone health? And how yoga is helping? Is it helping bone health as well as strengthening bones? Keeping bone strong?

Tiffany Cruikshank 30:43
I think the jury's still out on that one. I mean, I think, probably there is a place for some of the other fitness modalities for stuff like bone strength. I think we're gonna learn a little bit more about that still, but probably better to do you know, more impact and resistance training kind of stuff for bones at this point,

Alex Ferrari 31:04
At this point, I mean, doesn't hurt added added into your regimen, if you will.

Tiffany Cruikshank 31:08
I mean, we know that the connective tissue that surrounds the muscle connects to the bone, and it pulls on it and has some influence. That's the whole idea, right. But from my understanding of the research, so far, there's not a lot of support to that it having really significant impacts, like, you know, Plyometrics, or, you know, resistance training and things like that.

Alex Ferrari 31:31
Now, on on your own podcast, you had a couple episodes on the placebo effect, and how that relates to yoga can can you dig into that a little bit?

Tiffany Cruikshank 31:42
I think it's such a fascinating topic, because there's a man who's kind of an icon in the acupuncture world, Ted Kaptchuk, he is in charge of this Department at Harvard called the Department of placebo. And he's kind of spent the second half of his career studying placebo. And for me, he and he, and I'm forgetting the other man's name that runs it, too. They have some talks on Youtube Cash, what's his name? I'm forgetting his name. But if you wanted to, you could go to the Harvard, you know, Department of placebo and find them on there and find some YouTube videos, I'm sure. But for me, the placebo effect is the power of the mind, right? Well, we're doing basically, it's such an interesting thing and research, it's something we're always trying to eliminate, to prove that our drug is better than you know, than doing nothing. But the reality is, even if you think you're getting a drug, and, and this is interesting, even if you know you're getting the placebo, so they actually give placebo medications that actually have an impact that actually help people even knowing it's a placebo. You can buy supposedly, you can buy placebo pills on Amazon. And it just kind of captures for me how potent it is. We talked about, you know, affirmations and visualizations, really capturing that. And you know, science never questions. We never question the placebo effect, the potency of it. However, they never really think about it either. But it just messes up their studies. Yeah. which rightfully so most of modern medicine is focused on keeping people alive. You know, if you're in a car accident, don't come to me, go to them. And then you know, you want to have all the medicines that are very potent and strong, that aren't just a placebo effect. Like

Alex Ferrari 33:31
If you're shot, don't meditate.

Tiffany Cruikshank 33:35
But, but it's undeniable. You know, it's it's such an interesting thing. There's a book and it's called, I think the cure, I think it's Jo Jo Mert merchant or merchant. There's a bunch surprisingly, there's a bunch of books called the cure. But the the one by Joe Marchant, or merchant I can't believe I'm butchering that. But that's a great book, if you're interested in placebo. She talks all about so many of the placebo studies that have been done. It's a really fascinating, fascinating area to look into,

Alex Ferrari 34:08
And how does that connect to yoga and the placebo effect?

Tiffany Cruikshank 34:12
Well, I mean, I think that's a lot, a lot of what we do, I mean, I believe as a health care provider, it's, you know, even I think there's a lot of physiological benefits to acupuncture, but I think part of it is also placebo. We know that people do better when they not only have confidence in their healthcare provider of acupuncture not have confidence in it, you know, Are on board with it. I when I'm training our teachers, I'm always like, you know, make sure that they're on board with what you're, you know, tell them what your goals are, make sure they're on board with it, explain it, the Educate, educating people, which is what I love doing, whether it's in, you know, the classes we teach online, or working with our teachers, that education is also creating the framework of what you might think of as like a healing map. If I understand a little bit about what's going on in any context, you know, and Eastern concept of the body or Western concept of the body, then I can start to kind of create this map back into health. And so that's one way I think in yoga part of it is the visualization I love, I love to have people, whether that's visualizing qualities or asked for, you know, mental affirmations, or experiences. In meditation, it's a lot more, but you can do it in a physical asana practice as well to kind of capture that, like, I guess, an example. One example I would say is one of my favorites is when someone's injured, or they're unable to do a movement, and this is a great hack for you, for anyone who goes to a yoga practice, because at some point, if you practice regularly, there's going to be something that's injured for whatever reason, you know, maybe something beyond yoga that you can't do. And so one of my favorite things, and there's a lot of good science and research behind this in pain medicine now is to have people sit and visualize doing that thing. as vividly as they can visualize doing it pain free, I'm creating this neurocircuitry to reshape that pain response over time, too. And so, there's a lot of different contexts, I think you can use that. Visualization. I wouldn't call that necessarily a placebo response. But it's kind of along that line of the power of the mind.

Alex Ferrari 36:25
Yeah, what's fascinating is that, with the placebo does, in in everything we're talking about here, if it's yoga, or medicine or making yourself feel better, but what I find fascinating is that the placebo has shown us that if we release the bias, or release the negative talk, or the belief systems that we have, that our own bodies can heal themselves, in a way that is really no one understands. And that's what the placebo effect really does. Because if you know, I've heard stories, like, you know, people with cancer medications, and some, some were placebos, some weren't, and all of a sudden, the cancer is gone. And it's because they believed it. And then the moment that they found out, that was just a placebo, it came back, like, like the next week or something like that. And they were fine. They were free for like a year or two, things like that you hear these kinds of stories. And it's fascinating. We haven't even scratched the surface of what we can do for ourselves. If we're if we're just able to, and I think that's the purpose of meditation, yoga, and going down that spiritual path to quote unquote, enlightenment, is to release the ego release, beliefs, belief released kind of like this, the gunk of the physical world, if you will, because, yeah,

Tiffany Cruikshank 37:58
That's like what you first said that was like the mic drop, I was like, we could just be done now. Exactly what you said, right, it's so true. And I actually my second book that I wrote, it's called meditate your weight. And it's it facades as a meditation for weight loss book, but really, what it's about is changing how we see ourselves in relationship to food, to exercise to how we see ourselves, all the things that you're talking about that I feel. So my first book was about optimal health and was, you know, a cleanse and had yoga and meditation and nutrition and stuff. But what I found was that there were a bunch of patients, there was all this great news with the internet now, and a lot of people who did all the right things that just never felt great. And, you know, you know, besides our unrealistic expectations around body image, and things in the media, we'll forget that aside, you know, just to be healthy again. And I found that one of the biggest hang ups was how they saw themselves our negative self beliefs and, and so that book was all about kind of shifting how we see ourselves and also how we relate to food, food really being something to heal us and support us versus, you know, something that we grab for or try and fill maybe holes or needs or cravings, and other ways, which are interesting. They're not all inherently bad, and there's a place for everything, but yoga is for me what turns on the light, it's like, you know, going into your closet and picking out clothes in the dark or just turning it on and becoming aware of what I'm choosing, you know, so that I can actually pick okay, maybe I don't care about how I feel tonight, but I'm enjoying some wine with some friends or something with some friends and then other times, like, I really want to feel my best so I'm feeding myself with good nutrition, but also good surroundings, the people the environment, the you know the things I'm telling my Self.

Alex Ferrari 40:01
It's I think that's one of the most powerful statements you can make is that you're like, as Henry Ford says, If you believe you can't, you can't use your right. And just going back to yoga, I remember sitting in a yoga class and just looking over at that 95 pound woman doing things that I just couldn't, you know, and I started to judge myself, starting to get that negative talk, like, why are you even here, what you're never going to get to this place? What are you going to do, and it's just the negative talk of the mind trying to it's a negative bias that we all have in the mind, of trying to get you out of something that it's uncomfortable doing, because it only does not care about your spiritual journey. It doesn't care about you, in anything, it only cares about protecting you in the way it thinks it should be protecting you. And that could be comfort zone scenario, you want to stay in that comfort zone, until you can finally break free of what was like, if I'm sedentary for 30 years, a new workout routine is going to be extremely difficult to get started, you're gonna have to break through for that, I think it's, I think it's like eight weeks or 16 weeks, if you can do it for certain amount of time, it becomes your new norm. And if it becomes your new norm, then the mind starts like none unless you gotta go work out, you gotta go do some yoga, because it's now part of, okay, this is our new comfort zone. Okay, this is the new rules, okay, this is where we are, it's just that first part. That's why diets are so difficult to get started. And that whole concept in general. But it's about breaking through that and creating a new comfort zone for you, your mind is a very powerful thing. And it could, it's just like it could be could be used for good or evil. And I always I always I've said this on the show before, but I love saying this, I love saying this story, it's the cheesecake store. Have you ever heard of the cheesecake store. So one night you go, you go to dinner, and you eat a wonderful meal, you've stuffed yourself, it's you're good and put another word, put another bite in your body, and then all of a sudden they wheel out the dessert tray. And there's this beautiful piece of cheesecake. And then that self talk starts happening. And this happens that everybody on the planet at one point or another in their life, they your talks like, go ahead, go ahead, it's going to be fine, you work out a little bit more, you'll be okay about it. Enjoy yours, you deserve this, you've been working hard. We all just enjoy yourself tonight. And you're like I don't deserve this, I I'm going to have my piece of cheesecake that I dammit I work hard. So then you eat your cheesecake and you enjoy it. And it's wonderful. And you go home that night. And as you're taking your clothes off in front of the mirror, that same person that was in your head said you fat pig, I can't believe cheesecake gets you. Right, it's like that's the power of the mind. So once you understand that there is this person, this voice, that really doesn't care either way, it's just about avoiding pain and in gaining pleasure, it doesn't care about your dreams, it doesn't care about anything that you're trying to achieve in life, it only cares about those two things, then you can change the dynamic of the conversation, and you can start controlling it a little bit more. It's not easy, not easy, but at least you're aware that there's a conversation.

Tiffany Cruikshank 43:34
Exactly, I think that's a big part of it is it's kind of opening our eyes to notice these patterns. And maybe sometimes you want the cheesecake and other times, you're like, you know, I just want to feel good. And not crash at you know, noon today because it's in the middle of the day or but I think being able to notice that response. And you know, what I said before, is have that curiosity to welcome it and befriend it, which is such a hard thing. It's it requires what you're talking about is kind of letting go of the attachment to the outcomes. This having this unbiased observer who's seeing things and kind of like, I always think of it as them like laughing at it, because it's just our human tendency. It's not unique to any one of us, like you said, we all just want to be happy and not suffer. And we're all struggling with, you know, the same things. And if we can kind of notice those patterns, it unlocks. So, you know, obviously, part of this idea of enlightenment is, is being able to do that maybe ongoing all the time. And I've can't speak from that, but I can speak from, you know, having those moments of clarity where you can see that having that moment in a meditation or in a in a yoga practice where you fold forward and you can't touch your toes and you don't frickin care. Like interesting. Oh, that's an interesting sensation. I know for me, I've been I've always been on the more flexible end, which made some of it easier, which isn't necessarily a good thing, because you want some of that stuff to chew on. But I know when I go and do a lot of weights, there's something really nice about coming and having some of that resistance and feeling those sensations we all, we all have different things we like or don't like, but to be curious about it and to feel into it, rather than to instantly judge it, or try and push it away or fix it or tell a story about it. You know, we can just find it.

Alex Ferrari 45:31
Yeah. And that's the thing is, I think yoga is such a great analogy for for life in so many ways, because you can get angry at the pose, which I'm sure you I'm sure you've seen a few of those. You can get angry at the pose, literally, I've seen I've seen people get angry at the pose, not them, like who came up with this possible. This is built for you to just sift the fail all of these kinds of because your ego can't handle it. So it has to lash out at the bows. Yeah, it is. So you start getting angry at the pose or you you start looking if you could just understand I love what you said they're just like, oh, that's an interesting sensation. If you can just accept it is what it is. And really, truly to your into your inner soul understand that it doesn't have a negative or a positive charge. It's what it is oppose, has no charge no, no negative or positive charge to it. A yoga pose. It downward dog is downward dark. Cobra is cold. Like that's, that's, you know, that is what you know, it is what it is.

Tiffany Cruikshank 46:49
And by the way, if you can do CRO, and like you can do CRO and you know some of these fancy poses, but if you do CRO and you're still an asshole when you leave your mat, like it didn't do any good. It's pure ego, it's pure ego it is and then some of it can be can be a lot of tiptoes into that can be challenging. I think, again, it keeps coming back to why am I doing this? Am I doing it to show off and to look great? Or am I doing it like and teach your own? You know, I know in your 20s. For me, it was always like, it was about dedication and discipline and going further. And that was an interesting challenge man. And I do think there's a challenge for everyone because no one's good at all the poses. And so, you know, everyone has things that are hard for them. And for me, it's about relishing in the things that are challenging, because we know whether we're talking about physically or physiologically or mentally, that's where the growth is. That's where the potential is

Alex Ferrari 47:47
The concept of the concepts of the different perceptions of of an event. So something someone can look at a pose as a positive thing. And someone can look at a pose as a negative thing. So it's like a car accident. I always use a car accident as an example, car accident, the person who had the car accident, let's say everyone's safe. But who someone who had a Fender, a fender bender, oh my God, my life is over, I don't have the insurance, I don't want this or that. Now that person could look at that situation, which is what it is, by the way, the accident itself has no negative or positive charge. It's all about perception. But then you you take it over to the dealership that's going to repair it, they're like, Oh, this is great. So it's all about perception. So we are the ones that give a specific thing, a negative or a positive charge. It's truly it's us. So if that's the case, then I'll go really deep. If a tree falls in the forest, does it really make us that's kind of the concept like, you start going deeper and deeper. And I think again, going back to yoga, it is such a great analogy for that. Because if if you and your yoga practice, that practice, and the physical standpoint, can let go of all of that. And just be that's the first step into getting to that higher place that we've been talking about.

Tiffany Cruikshank 49:15
It really is. And as a yoga teacher, it's such an I feel like it's things that I sees I plan all the time, and it's just a matter of, you know, whoever's in class being in the right place to take it in. But it really is such a big part of the practices of letting go of our attachment to how the poses feel allowing us to be I often talk about it as like imagining yourself as a scientist in a laboratory, you know, you've got to take really good clear notes. You know, you're really sensing and feeling and watching and observing and taking notes about everything. You're totally hopefully unbiased to the outcomes. You're not you know, writing up a story about it yet until the end, maybe, but you know, when you're in that process when you're doing research, it's a, it's a really interesting thing. If you can approach your practice like that as well, I think there's, there's so much to it that doesn't really matter what the pose looks like, or, you know what you're doing potentially, as long as there's kind of some of the underpinnings of the basic, you know, a basic yoga practice in there somewhere the mindfulness, right, but the mindfulness, I think, is what really makes it yoga rather than you see so much of yoga showing up in the fitness realm now to and other realms. And, for me, it's the breath and the mindfulness that are really kind of the underpinnings that make it yoga.

Alex Ferrari 50:38
And what you said earlier was really profound is, why are you doing this? Huh? Why? Why are you doing it? You know, are you doing it to show off? Are you doing it for an ego standpoint, like I can do that insane pose? And nobody else in the class can? So obviously, I'm better than everyone else. Is that what your? Is that your purpose? Or is it just like I'm here for the journey, I have open to what this, this experience is going to teach me regardless of what what pain I might be in, or what sensations I might get.

Tiffany Cruikshank 51:12
And what I love about the yoga practice, too, and a lot of the philosophy behind it is that there's not even judgment about that, you know, if, if someone's in that place in their life, where it's empowering to them, and they get something out of it, and they're, you know, we're talking about ego driven, I think often has this kind of negative context in the yoga world is, it's kind of, it's hard not to put some judgment on it. But I think, you know, for us, in the yoga world, it's not so much of like, a good or a bad thing. Like, I'm happy if someone wants to come in. And if they're into, you know, doing fancy stuff. And I just always assume that, you know, if they hang around long enough, they'll find something more, you know, you can't just go through the motions forever.

Alex Ferrari 51:55
You're absolutely right, you're 20 years, you're not going to be doing this for the ego like that. That's not a thing. It's just too hard, it's too hard to do. So you need to find something deeper in. But that's life, though, life is just in general, you know, if we would have gotten everything we asked for in our 20s, we will all die at one point or another. So I'm glad that I believe that there is some sort of universal, whatever you want to call it, kind of guiding us and not giving us everything we want when we want to can you imagine if we get everything we want? What do we what do we asked for it in our we would have married the wrong person, we would have gotten the wrong job. We wouldn't like it just the wrong career gone to the wrong school, whatever. It's it's very interesting to say the least. Now, you've been teaching for so long and seen so many transformations, I'm assuming in your in your in your journeys, what is the most inspirational, transformation, physical, spiritual, mental, that you've seen a one of your students and or teachers that you've taught?

Tiffany Cruikshank 53:03
Gosh, that's a hard one, especially after two years of not seeing anyone.

Alex Ferrari 53:10
So you gotta go back in the archives?

Tiffany Cruikshank 53:13
I don't know that there's one that stands out. I mean, I've worked with 1000s of people, but hmm, I think for me, you know, people love the flashy fancy transformations. But for me, a transformation that kind of slowly works its way through all the different aspects of someone's life is the most interesting, you know, it's like, whether whether they've had huge, magical, you know, effects or whether it's been something that's kind of slowly sunk into their lives. When I used to teach more, I don't teach a lot of local classes anymore. Most of what I do now is training teachers. But what I loved doing was seeing the people who studied with me over time, how they would grow and change and evolve and how it snuck into their lives. I think the easy thing as a modern society for us to do are the quick extreme transformations. We love the fast and fancy 30 day cleanse and detoxes and weight loss and whatever. But to me from both a both a spiritual and a healthcare perspective, the things that really have an impact are the small things that we can stay with. For years and decades. That's where we really see the potency. So I know I didn't totally answer your question, but

Alex Ferrari 54:34
So do you mean to tell me you can't get enlightenment in 30 days? It's not is that not of course, so we can sell. I mean, I went out with it. I will go in with you. I'm sure it's out there. So enlightenment in 30 days. You know, it's fascinating that and I think you only get this as you get older. It's not something you understand when you're young and many people don't get it throughout their life. Is that anything that's really worth having? takes time. Deep stuff, thing does that really mean something, a relationship, inner, an inner practice a spiritual? These things take years. I mean, if you study, you know, Yogananda or any of the spiritual masters, they didn't just come out, born enlightened. They went through some stuff, and they had to, they had to go, you know, Jesus was born, and then he didn't show up until he was 30. So there was something going on between the birth and 30, you know, so they, they go through these things, I think yoga is, again, a perfect example of that great analogy for life, because you might start off, not being able to do a downward dog. And, and 20 years later, not only can you do that, but you're at a whole other place, but it takes time, and you have to enjoy the journey, not not the pose, because if you're, if you're just hunting for the post, you're gonna have a miserable time.

Tiffany Cruikshank 55:56
It's true. Yeah. And hopefully, people are sensing that from, think some great discussions around that here. And, and, you know, the more you can reprioritize things, I'm such a for me, purpose is everything, whether I'm on my yoga mat, doing work, you know, whatever it is, I'm always trying to, you know, get really clear, it's the potency at the end of it, you know, we only have so much time on this earth. My dad was just in the hospital last week. So that was a great reminder to have our humaneness. And at the end of the day, you know, there's only so much time and as you get older, you start to realize that and having that clarity, and what's important to us, whether that be on our mat, like do I care about touching my toes? Do I care about doing these poses, and I think that's the gift of getting older, too, is you don't really care so much about that, or about what other people think. But what you really care more about is how you feel, and how you're able to interact with the people around you and support the people around you. You know, we all know like the oxygen mask, you know, we've got to take care of ourselves so that we can show up better, and help the people around us and do our jobs better and appreciate our lives. And that's, to me the essence. And so having that purpose. It's what I love about yoga, because there is, you know, we've talked a little bit about the research, but there's so much research around a lot of different practices, that can be really interesting, whether you're an athlete looking to enhance performance, or a woman trying to get pregnant or going through menopause, or someone who just wants to really stress and enjoy their life a little bit more. There's just so many different things that we can use yoga to help help harness some of that innate resilience that we've been given. And really appreciate our time on this planet more.

Alex Ferrari 57:43
If I may, quote The late great Betty White. When you're when you're young, when you're young, you dress to be sexy, middle life, you dress for success. And as you get older, you dress for comfort. Yoga, that's well, yeah, I mean, look, you want to talk about yoga, I mean, the pandemic, I don't know what the pandemic wouldn't people would have done without yoga. And make every right, everybody was wearing them. Now, I wanted to ask you really quickly what is yoga medicine and your company that you're doing?

Tiffany Cruikshank 58:18
So yoga medicine is my company. And basically what we do is we always we do a bunch of things now, but our main thing is training teachers in both the Eastern and Western concepts of the body. So they have, they have a much deeper training than most we do, like 1000 hours versus usually a teacher is maybe 200. And so they learn all about anatomy, physiology, pathology, as well as the traditional practices, the research, the you know, the the crossovers between them, and really specifically how to support the healthcare industry. So how to work with doctors, obviously, we're not medical care. So we're not, although about a quarter of our teachers are also healthcare providers that are some sort of medical background. Really, what we were doing is just creating a resource of teachers who can work within the healthcare settings, to support people who want to feel their best. And then we also have our online subscription, which is for people who don't necessarily have injuries or illness, per se, anything significant. We all have stuff we're working on. But people who can go and now help themselves with these purpose driven practices for we know we have anti inflammatory practices based on that research I was talking about or different recovery for athletes, or we've got stabilization and hips and you know, all this stuff, all the things you can imagine stress relief, we've got active practices and more passive and meditation. So it's kind of like you get to show up and pick what you feel you need to do you have that purpose driven practice. And then we have a lot of resources on our sites we have teacher trainer meanings. We have classes and courses and podcasts, and Risa all sorts of things you can get Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:08
Now, I'm going to ask you a couple questions, ask all my guests. What is your mission in this life?

Tiffany Cruikshank 1:00:15
Oh gosh, my mission. My mission is really just to help support this crossover between yoga and the healthcare world, there is no such a need for yoga within healthcare and a desire for it. And yet, we all know, it's kind of almost malpractice to refer someone out to yoga, because because they could be anywhere they could be jumping and hopping and hand standing, or they could be chanting or stretching, or, you know, anything in between. And so being able to serve as a resource of kind of bridging that gap of between, not only east and west, but really specifically yoga and the medical world to provide a lot of resources for people so

Alex Ferrari 1:00:59
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?

Tiffany Cruikshank 1:01:02
Oh, wow, I'm gonna have to like go and sit and

Alex Ferrari 1:01:06
Meditate and maybe do a pose or two.

Tiffany Cruikshank 1:01:09
I mean, I think it's to each his own to again, it comes back to this purpose of what's important to you. For me, I think one of the most important things in life is, is really being present in the moments we get so busy. And just that presents to me as a spiritual practice. It's a form of an offering to the person that we're maybe connecting with or speaking with to really be present with them. It's an offering to ourselves when we show up, and we're present with ourselves, maybe on our yoga mat. But the potency I think the appreciation for life is in that present moment, awareness and our ability to really pour ourselves into it to really take it in, take it in, because there's only so much

Alex Ferrari 1:01:52
And there's only so much time, there's only so much time. Tiffany thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you about yoga, and hopefully the audience has a little bit better understanding of what yoga is, what it isn't, and see if it can help help them along their spiritual journey and their their life's journey as well. So I appreciate for everything you're doing my dear, thank you so much.

Tiffany Cruikshank 1:02:13
Thank you, Alex. It was a pleasure. Such a nice conversation. Thank you!

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