Studio mixes yoga, chiropractic care for stress relief

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Erika Putnam inside what will become The Bend, a chiropractic clinic and yoga studio, on West Second Street. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

During daily life our bodies bend, twist, squat and absorb stresses of all kinds, says Erika Putnam.

Putnam enjoys offering an integrated solution to making sure her patients are able to enjoy life and the activities that come along with those daily stresses. Through her new chiropractic clinic and yoga studio in Whitefish, The Bend, Putnam hopes to help patients through both disciplines.

“I began to incorporate the chiropractic and yoga for patients out of necessity,” she said. “You can do a lot of adjusting with people, but getting them stable is a different model. The stress factor is high in a lot of people’s lives and yoga is a really good way to manage stress. People manage their physical bodies better when they manage their stress.”

Putnam has more than 20 years of experience in the chiropractic field and has a 500-hour yoga instructor certification. She is a graduate of Western States Chiropractic College.

After selling her practice in Nampa, Idaho, Putnam was looking to make a fresh start. After years of traveling here each fall for writing retreats, she decided Whitefish is where she wanted to call home.

While her chiropractic clinic and yoga studio are connected, they operate somewhat separately. Chiropractic patients are treated with a standard exam and medical history, Putnam said, but for patients looking for ways to improve their health further she often suggests other remedies such as practicing yoga.

“I do chiropractic care, but as we try to get them more stable I might offer exercises such as yoga or strength training,” she said. “The yoga is more for the people who are already into it or for those who are interested in it.”

Yoga also seems to offer another avenue for her to assist patients in becoming healthy. Putnam tells the story of woman who practiced yoga after having had a shoulder injury that required surgery and because of the injury she was unable to lift her baby, and even decades later that memory remains tied to her shoulder. Putnam says learning to let go of some of that emotional pain may empower her to try something the woman thought she couldn’t.

“We do carry stress and emotion in our bodies,” she said. “People can carry things for a long time in their body. I tell people when practicing if they feel discomfort in their body, let that story go. They often say they didn’t recognize they were carrying that in their body, and were able to find a way to address it. It can be really meaningful.”

Putnam offers specialized yoga classes for movement and stress relief, but she also has classes tailored to specific activities, like for cyclists and for hunters and hikers.

She says hunting is an example of an activity that requires flexibility and strength for specific movements.

“If you’re going to get in the saddle of a horse, can you lift your leg up there?” she said. “If you’re going to sit looking through a spotting scope for hours, how’s your posture? If you’re a bow hunter, you need to have flexibility in the chest.”

Putnam has been practicing yoga for a half dozen years. She discovered yoga while attending a writing and yoga retreat in Mexico. She previously taught aerobics, was active in weight training and CrossFit, and does nutritional counseling with patients.

“I think it was a natural fit,” she said of yoga. “I’ve always been on somewhat of a personal growth journey. It was the right fit as I transitioned through life.”

“Some of the yogi life principles are good life principles,” she added. “That means they are good healing and health principals.”

Putnam has been operating her practice from a temporary office in the EDR Financial building on West Second Street. She is remodeling the nearby former Whitefish Animal Hospital building and expects to begin practicing there this month and offering yoga classes in July.

For more information, visit www.thebendatwhitefish.com or call 888-6044.

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