Swing time

Tone Cardenas

Photo courtesy of tone cardenas

Meet Tone Cardenas, a physical therapist with 30 years of experience who specializes in the healing abilities of movement medicine and proper circulation in the body. About eight years ago, Cardenas moved to Chico and invented the Yoga Swing, an anti-gravity cotton contraption that allows the body to invert. Four years ago, he created the Yoga-Swing Gym, a nylon swing that allowed for an increased range of body movement. He created his most recent “evolution” of the product—the Omni-Swing—as a solution to relieve his own back pain. Now, the Omni-Swing exists in homes throughout the world. For those interested in the swings, log onto www.yogaswing.com.

What is your background in yoga?

I’ve been doing yoga for maybe 15 years. I’m a physical therapist so naturally I’m into movement and all its forms. The type of yoga I teach is also a new form but it’s actually the oldest form, which I call “intuitive yoga” because yoga, I think, tends to get too organized, too formalized and you get too much in the head. So you really need to learn how to get out of the head and let the body guide you about what it needs and what it wants at any given time.

How did you come up with the concept for the swing?

The reason I invented it was for my own back pain. I had a few back strains and stuff, so I designed it to rehab my own back and I realized it had all these other functions and benefits as well—it does pelvic tractions, spinal mobilizations and other things. It’s great for in-home rehab and self-treatment of back pain. I mean, 80 percent of Americans have back pain at some point in their lives.

How are the swings used in yoga?

It’s great for anti-gravity yoga, but it’s also the best inversion-therapy device, hanging upside down. There are a few inversion devices around, but they’re all extremely limiting—you can only do one or two things, such as invert and turn upside down. None of them allow you to exercise, stretch and mobilize the entire body.

Why is yoga such good exercise?

Yoga is a subcategory—my thing is movement. Movement medicine is what I do, and the yoga is just one component. The main benefits to the swings are that they increase circulation of blood, lymph and energy. Any time you contract, stretch muscles and mobilize joints, you increase circulation in the body. The better your circulation, the better your health.