This article is part of a series of Seattle Yoga News articles focused on interviewing local yoga experts in the Seattle area on a variety of yoga topics that are relevant to our readers. This week’s article is focused on Chiropractic care and features Dr. Lisa Ruiz.

SYN: Why focus your work on helping yoga practitioners?

Lisa Ruiz: Chiropractic has the potential to heal and promote health through integration and balancing of the spine and nervous system. My goal as a chiropractor is to remove interference and to restore efficiency.  Through my personal yoga practice and my study of yoga, I began to understand that the goals of chiropractic and yoga are virtually the same. This sparked the creation of Yogapractiks and my affinity towards working with yoga practitioners.

I enjoy working with yoga practitioners because they generally have a high level of body awareness and they are already on a transformative path. Additionally, yoga practitioners typically understand the deeper connection between the physical body and the mental/emotional state. These qualities have the potential to create a deep and rich environment for healing and change. I find this to be the juicy stuff! Most practitioners are also very eager to participate in their treatment and to prevent injury in the future.

Finally, if I am able to help a yoga practitioner facilitate change, it makes my heart happy to be able to serve the yoga community in some small way.

SYN: What are the benefits of chiropractic care for your practitioners?

Lisa Ruiz: The chiropractic adjustment is unique in its inherent ability to mobilize restricted movement and change irregular or inefficient neurological patterning, altering the feedback loop from body to brain and brain to body. This is the core mechanism of change and reorganization within the body. The same mechanism is accessed in yoga asana practice by challenging and changing the body’s limitations.  Chiropractic evaluation and treatment can often reveal and help to correct unconscious patterns. The inclusion of chiropractic treatment can be an invaluable resource to help a practitioner expedite recovery from an injury, enhance their practice and their overall well-being.

To quote Phil Earhardt, “The tensions that hold our misalignments in place are invisible to us.  If we know that the tensions were there, we’d probably release them on our own. This speaks to the value of going to classes or working one-on-one with a body/mind professional.”

SYN: What are the most common injuries that you have treated?

Lisa Ruiz: The most common injuries that I have seen throughout my practice usually stem from inefficient or dysfunctional movement patterns that have been unconsciously repeated, sometimes for many months or even years. The practitioner may attempt to maneuver his/her body into an asana, but they may not yet have the strength or stability for the asana. This can cause compensations and/or injury in various parts of the body.  Believe me; I have definitely learned this through my own personal experience!

Specifically, the most common injuries treated involve the sacroiliac joints, the low back, neck and shoulder areas.

SYN: When should a practitioner seek help?

Lisa Ruiz: My mantra is always, the sooner the better! Preventative treatment is always the best.  I realize that many practitioners lead very busy lives and they can find it difficult to carve out the time to seek help for themselves. In my office, I often hear the excuse: “I thought that it would just go away on its own.”

It is important to realize that pain is an indicator of dysfunction or perhaps an underlying condition. The amazing yoga therapist and creator of Functional Synergy Susi Hatley states it beautifully when she says, “When you listen to the body when it whispers, you don’t have to hear it scream!”

Early intervention usually results in a shorter recovery period with a decreased risk of chronic tissue damage.

SYN: What should a patient expect from a visit to a chiropractor?

Lisa Ruiz: I can’t speak for all chiropractic offices, but the general experience in my office usually consists of the following:

The patient fills out an intake form, either from my website or in my office, whichever is most convenient. I then sit with the patient to review the paperwork and to address their concerns. This is followed by a physical examination, focusing on the specific needs of the patient. Based on examination findings, a treatment plan is designed to meet the patient’s condition and health goals. A treatment plan often includes a series of treatments over time. A typical chiropractic visit includes a spinal adjustment and conjunctive therapies.

For yoga practitioners, I often include Yogapractiks sessions in their treatment plan. These sessions are one to one and a half hours long. I concentrate on bodywork, yoga asana and different types of sensory feedback to facilitate structural change to support their yoga practice.

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