Tiffany Cruikshank is an internationally acclaimed yoga teacher, author, meditation, and health and wellness expert. She has a pre-med bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Plant Biology and Nutrition and a master’s degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine with a specialization in sports medicine and orthopedics. She is the founder of Yoga Medicine and has treated more than 25,000 patients from around the world using yoga, acupuncture, nutrition, meditation, and holistic health

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Not to worry so much about what other people think. That one took me a long time. When I finally realized that there is someone and something out there for everyone and that I just need to stick to what I know and what I’m good at it, that was a really powerful and liberating moment for me.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Almost anytime I hear someone say “never” do this or that I cringe. As a healthcare provider and after doing many cadaver dissections over the years, I know firsthand that each person really is so unique and each body is so different. This makes it almost impossible to give blanket answers. What I love about yoga though is that it teaches mindfulness so that we can each tap into what really nourishes us and helps us show up better in the world.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

My teenage years were hard, I had some pretty dark times in my early teens. I was teased a lot! Kids can be awful to each other, I had all sorts of nasty things happen. I tried drugs, I tried to find friends who understood me.

I have some dark moments in my past and some vivid memories that serve as reminders of my work since. Yoga was a big part of what helped pull me through, just feeling comfortable in my skin for a moment was huge.

Also, I think finding something that I was passionate about at a young age helped me focus my energy on something positive and constructive, and at the same time gave me a sense of purpose.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Not trying to please everyone, getting clear in what I’m good at, what my unique strengths are and how I can use that to be of service to the world. Remembering that it’s not about me. I often guide my students to look at where their strengths and passion intersect with what the world needs and to keep adapting to that. For me that has been huge!

What is your morning routine?

I usually wake up around 7 a.m, however when I’m not traveling sleep is precious so I don’t usually set an alarm. A few minutes of snuggling, if my fiancé and I are both home, is crucial to a good day. Next mandatory item is to let the dog out, make a morning smoothie, meditate and then we usually play with our dog for a few minutes.

She loves to play with toys in the morning and I always think to myself, “everyone should start their day like this, who wouldn’t be happy after playing with a cute dog?” Next it’s yoga time to get my cortisol up early in the day, then off to my computer.

When I’m not traveling, I work from home most days and spend most of the day on the computer managing the business, writing new content for our trainings, creating online courses, articles, interviews, emails, etc.

With all the travel I do, I really need a schedule, sticking to it really helps my body and my energy levels. Sometimes I also do a short restorative practice in the evening if I’ve been traveling a lot or feel burnt out to help nourish my adrenals.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Meditation, hands down. It helps me in so many ways- managing stress, mental efficiency, mental clarity, decision making. I rarely talk about it because I don’t feel like it affects me much anymore but I was diagnosed with depression and ADD when I was a teenager and took medication for a couple of years. I credit meditation and yoga for keeping me focused, healthy and efficient since.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

It’s all about lists for me.

There’s never moment where there aren’t a million things happening and they all seem critically important and time sensitive. I keep a prioritized list of the things I need to do and highlight what I need to do each day. Then I block the rest out. I should probably have it on an app or something but I like paper.

Also, food is crucial. Finding the right balance of protein/fat/carbs to keep my blood sugar balanced and maintain a steady fuel for my mind and body through the day.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Either 1- Meditate, even a couple minutes is helpful, 2- Get a fresh perspective by changing tasks or 3- Move- I have a small trampoline that works well for quick breaks, if I’m really dragging I do a bit of yoga. I also love to get upside down to revive my mental efficiency.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I have multiple bookshelves overflowing with books so I’d say all of them, books are my life. I love being able to grab a book anytime and sit down and fill my brain with information. I rarely read fiction, I read to learn so mostly read educational books, it’s not uncommon to see me pawing through a hefty textbook.

I recently really enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air by Paup Kalanithi, some other books I love are: The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, Molecules of Emotion by Candace B. Pert, and so many others.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“Just do it”. I worked at Nike for over 6 years and this always spoke to me. I’m not one to sit around thinking about doing things. Though I do take great care in planning, I’m a ‘get things done (now)’ kind of person.