Last April, it was my pleasure to share with you the work of my brilliant colleague, dear friend (and girl-crush), Dustienne Miller. Her first 2 videos on pelvic pain and incontinence have helped many men and women navigate tricky pelvic health concerns through gentle yoga. A few months ago, she released 4 NEW videos on yoga for pelvic health, each of which gives hope to anyone suffering from pelvic pain. Each video targets a specific issue, and they’re available right here, right now.
Furthermore, from NOW until my birthday, Dec. 12, 2017, she is gifting you 20% off when you use the code PHYSIOYOGA20
Hearing Dustienne’s expertise and passion around the videos was very inspiring to me and I wanted to dig even further into the content. So, once again, I interviewed her and here are her answers to a myriad of my questions:
Me: So thrilled to talk to you again Dustienne! Let’s dive right back in. You created 2 videos and have recently added 4 more to your video library that target interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, constipation, and endometriosis. Why did you create new videos and how are these different from your other 2?
Dustienne: It’s great to be back Shelly! And this question is a perfect way to pick up the conversation. I created my first video, Relieving Pelvic Pain, in 2011. It was designed as a gentle and non-intimidating way to start a home program that benefits a wide audience. Since then, I’ve received several inquiries from potential customers wondering if the program was right for their specific diagnosis. I figured if I created yoga flows that targeted these specific diagnoses, people would feel confident in knowing the program was gentle enough for them. So the new videos were born.
My second video, Optimizing Bladder Control (OBC) has a different focus from the others – it centers around strengthening the pelvic floor while also maintaining pelvic floor length (down-training). Without both, it would be like walking around with our hand in a fist all day; the hand muscles would get fatigued and appear weak when we try and write. Our muscles need enough length to have enough strength, and a chapter in the OBC video speaks to this concept – called “urgency flow.” The other aspects of this flow are focused on core stability beyond just the pelvic floor to include the whole canister of support: the diaphragm, multifidi, and abdominal wall. The OBC video is excellent for post-partum, post-prostatectomy, and for those with hip/back pain where core training is recommended.
Me: There are many pelvic floor conditions people may suffer from. Why did you choose these 4 issues specifically?
Dustienne: I find these specific issues are often interconnected. Constipation is often seen with many of the pelvic floor dysfunction diagnoses. When I designed these programs, I imagined that people could mix and match the yoga flows. For example, somebody with vulvodynia might notice pain is decreased when they’re not constipated. Mobilizing the fascia in the abdomen and calming the nervous system with breathing techniques are beneficial to both diagnoses. The ability to intermix the programs offers variety of movement, which the body craves. Having different movement options offers nervous system support which can help decrease stiffness and pain.
The Interstitial Cystitis flow comes from my desire to offer more lengthening through the front of the body for men and women with IC/PBS. When we’re in pain, our body’s response is to protect. This protective response can become an unconscious holding pattern. Over time, we see movement adaptations in our patients with pelvic floor dysfunction, and this can limit the mobility of the spine and hips. The IC flow is not only good for men and women with bladder pain but also for anyone who sits at the computer for extended periods of time. That’s a lot of us these days!
The 4th flow, for vulvodynia, has some core training components as well as muscle lengthening postures. Vulvodynia has many causative factors and this video addresses three of the ways to work with it – decreasing the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) with breath work, increasing flexibility, and increasing mindfulness. It’s important when we look at the multifactorial causes for vulvodynia to make sure that the entire system supports the core and that the pelvic floor muscles aren’t taking on too much of a workload.
Me: So it sounds like the videos can be interchanged and used even if you don’t have those particular issues that the video title says it’s intended for, correct?
Dustienne: You got it! Movement is movement and most of us need more of it. Therefore, while I designed these flows with specific goals in mind, someone with vulvodynia may also benefit from the constipation video just as someone with back pain might find the endometriosis video useful.
I posted the content of the videos on my website so customers can shop from an informed place. They can look at the postures, read what the benefits are, and then determine if the video is right for them, with the guidance of their healthcare provider. Additionally, physical therapists and other rehab professionals can help modify postures to tailor the program specifically to that patient. I also offer options within the posture sequence on the video and encourage people to listen to their body, modifying as appropriate.
Me: Would it be valuable for someone to buy and practice all 4 videos? Is each video totally unique or is there some overlap and repetition?
Dustienne: Yes, there is some overlap between certain flows because they are postures I consider important. For example, sphinx pose is in Yoga for Endometriosis, Yoga for Interstitial Cystitis, and Yoga for Vulvodynia. This is important for a few reasons. Many of us could likely benefit from more low back extension if we’re sitting most of the day. Also, during non-IC flare times or between painful periods, the connective tissue in the lower aspect of the abdomen and above the bladder and uterus would likely benefit from being lengthened. I could have easily justified putting it in Yoga for Constipation, but I chose to put in Warrior 1 and long lunge with a twist to target the front fascial line.
Me: Are the videos meant to be practiced in a certain sequence? Are these 4 videos a progression from your other 2?
Dustienne: Great questions Shelly! Each video is designed to be an entry point. Anyone can start with any video. In fact, if someone is brand new to yoga I designed these videos to be a jumping in point. If people would like to create a longer practice, I recommend pausing the video and practicing a few reps of each posture before moving forward. The progression that does exist in my video library is increasing the challenge of the core, which includes the pelvic floor muscles. As you know, it’s important that we consciously use our pelvic floor muscles, but in balance with being sure we are able to release and relax when we don’t need them. In this case, it might be appropriate for people to sprinkle in the uptraining video, Optimizing Bladder Control, once a week to see how things feel.
Me: Ah, great tips! Now, I follow you on social media, and it sure looked like you had an exceptional amount of fun filming these. Who helped you, and was there any particular reason you had such a blast?
Dustienne: Oh my goodness. This creative project was a blast and a challenge! I was juggling a lot as the project manager – being responsible for renting the space, catering, costumes, set decoration, travel arrangements, and other logistics. Then I had to flip the switch when we were getting ready to film. Luckily I had put in enough “meditation chips” in the months prior to filming so I was able to ground myself and be present.
I was surrounded the whole time by a terrific group of friends! Brandon (IC and Constipation flows) is a very positive person and showed his support by creating a beautiful food spread and keeping the coffee brewing. The entire day was around 12 hours and replenishing the healthy food was important. Abbie (Vulvodynia and Endometriosis flows) is a dear friend and I not only appreciated her energy, but she also ended up doing my hair and makeup. There was something so special about women supporting each other in a creative space.
The film company I hired in LA is co-owned by one of my best friends from high school. It was magical to see her behind the camera and feel so supported in my vision. There was so much authenticity in the room. Melissa (of Long Haul Films) has a robust yoga practice and she started off the day by taking a moment to ground us all and create an intention for the day. That moment was particularly important to me – it was as if I had been driving the bus full throttle and then was invited to sit on the couch and have a cup of tea. The moment of pause reminded me of my purpose and motivation for this project. Abbie, Brandon and I celebrated the wrap with a play day in San Diego and enjoyed the beauty that the Pacific Ocean had to offer. It was very therapeutic.
Me: Sounds like a really special group of people. And I must say, your centered and purposeful energy shows in your work. You are an integrative PT who uses yoga to help patients. What do you most enjoy about your work?
Dustienne: I see how much my personal yoga practice has changed my life. I love that it is portable, modifiable and always accessible. Having seen how much of a role the nervous system plays with pain and other musculoskeletal conditions, it’s exciting to offer movement that’s centered around practices that regulate the nervous system and can help keep me (and my patients) centered, grounded and present.
Me: Well said!
I’d like to thank Dustienne once again for sharing her work and passion. The way she combines her love of movement with clinical expertise, yoga instruction and her own joyful spirit is beautiful and effective. She brings a sense of comfort and joy into all her programs – I’m very happy to recommend her new videos.
Remember to use the code PHYSIOYOGA20 for 20% off her new Yoga Videos for Pelvic Health
And while we’re at it, I’ve also activated the code Physioyoga20 for 20% off my Creating Pelvic Floor Health Yoga videos also until Dec.12th, 2017!
But remember: This deal ENDS on my birthday, December 12, 2017!
As practitioners who genuinely want to help you live well and thrive, Dustienne and I hope you enjoy our videos and we hope you find they make a difference in your life, even in some small way.
**These videos are not meant to act as treatment for you. Please seek guidance and advice from your licensed healthcare provider before participating in these video practices!**
About Dustienne: Trading the skyscrapers of NYC for the hills of Sonoma County, Dustienne set up her clinical practice in Santa Rosa in 2012. After a wonderful year filled with sunshine and amazing food, she moved to Beantown to be closer to her family. Her clinical practice is located in lively Copley Square, right on the Green Line. She is a board certified women’s health clinical specialist recognized by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. Dustienne weaves yoga postures and breathing into her clinical practice, having received her yoga teacher certification through the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.
Dustienne had the honor of speaking at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association in 2013. Her lecture, titled “Yoga for Pelvic Pain,” was met with such enthusiasm that another session was added to accommodate her interested colleagues. Her love of movement is apparent not only in her physical therapy and yoga practice, but also in her career as a professional dancer.
Dustienne danced professionally in New York City for several years, most notably with the national tour of Fosse. She bridged her dance background and physical therapy working for Physioarts, who contracted her to work backstage at several Broadway shows and for Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Dustienne passionately believes in the integration of physical therapy and yoga in a holistic model of care, helping individuals navigate through pelvic pain and incontinence to live a healthy and pain-free life. She is the creator of six yoga videos: Your Pace Yoga: Relieving Pelvic Pain, Optimizing Bladder Control, Yoga for Constipation, Vulvodynia, Interstitial Cystitis, and Endometriosis. Check out her website, Your Pace Yoga, where you will find her blog.