When Tiffany Cruikshank’s parents sent her off to a wilderness program at 14, little did they know their “troublemaker” daughter would blaze a trail for Eastern and Western medicine practices to work together to help people around the world truly thrive.
Cruikshank is the creator of Yoga Medicine, a training regimen and platform for yoga teachers to infuse and up-level their instruction with an understanding of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics to help their clients regain health and improve performance. For Western health practitioners, Yoga Medicine offers a way to help patients find the yoga instruction that will provide the therapeutic benefits they need.
At the wilderness program, Cruikshank encountered yoga as well as plant-based medicine for the first time—and was captivated by both. To the athletic teen, yoga initially had purely physical appeal, and plant walks with an herbalist at the camp sparked her interest in holistic medicine.
Back at home, Cruikshank found a yoga class (“a wooden sign with a phone number—this was before the internet”) and started apprenticing with an herbalist. Both practices felt empowering, and when she graduated high school at 16 and entered college in pre-medicine, she knew she wanted to go into some form of medicine.
“But I didn’t really know what kind of medicine,” Cruikshank says. “So I looked into Western and naturopathic and ayurvedic medicine, and I really fell in love with Chinese medicine and being able to look at the whole person. Yoga really went along with that: It was another modality of being able to work with the person who is in front of me and give them tools”—tools that didn’t require any fancy equipment, just body awareness.