Is my YogAlign practice enough?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

The answer to this question is my YogAlign practice all I need to stay healthy and in shape is no and that is what my opinion/ answer would be in regard to any yoga practice.

I will say that my personal YogAlign practice is the foundation that enables me to continue to enjoy all the everyday activities I have participated in as a youth now into my fifties.

I started practicing yoga when I was pregnant with my now fifteen year old son to alleviate some of my back pain and it worked. I continued to practice Hatha Yoga and went on to a five hundred hour teacher training certification in Hatha Yoga.

In my thirties practicing and teaching Hatha Yoga worked with my lifestyle at that time. My regular physical activities complimented my Hatha Yoga practice with hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, mountain biking and chasing a toddler. That synergy enabled me to live at a high physical level with great health and mental clarity.

In my forties I transition into a different lifestyle and began co-hosting a yearly yoga festival and retreat. In this new ventures infancy I spent endless hours sitting in a chair on the computer. Although I continued my regular Hatha Yoga practice the synergy I once had was no longer there. The regular activities I was participating in at this time (when I could fit them in) were swimming, kayaking, hiking and walking. I felt I was operating at a lower physical level with poor physical clarity.

I became aware of YogAlign and the method having been birthed on the very Hawaiian Island I was currently residing on Kauai. I enrolled in a two hundred hour teacher training with the founder and started feeling the synergy building between my lifestyle and physical activities once again. The positive benefits were the same however, I was moving my body in my yoga practice a completely different way.

The first thing I noticed when I started my YogAlign practice was the ability to get length and fullness in my frontline with the diaphragm (SIP breath). Which of course felt amazing after sitting at a computer with a collapsed chest and rounded shoulders. This breathing method alone supported bringing back my mental clarity. I then began to learn how to move from my core which immediately created this feeling of full body strength in a solid foundation. My posture shifted quickly and I could start to feel the muscles in my back getting stronger and a feeling of buoyancy when I walked.

After many successful years with the festival and retreat I stepped away and began teaching YogAlign regularly on island when I was not traveling. I began adding some running and a lot of snorkeling into my regular activities and I have noticed I have more breath capacity, stamina and muscle strength. I could feel a huge difference in my bodies performance in every day life as well. Traveling can be exhausting with flying, camping, sightseeing, rails and buses however I did a two week snowboard trip to Japan this last winter and a two week Grand Tetons, Yellowstone adventure this summer and never felt better.

I will be fifty years old in a couple of months and I feel the best I think I have ever felt. What I say to new students and existing students in my YogAlign Classes keep doing all the activities you enjoy doing and let your YogAlign practice be your foundation for life.

http://www.innerbreathyoga.com

Rise of the golden yogi – why the over-50s are embracing yoga.

By 

We’ve become a nation obsessed with downward dogs and cat cows. Britons are now spending a staggering £790 million a year on yoga classes. But you don’t have to be a twenty-something in stretched lycra to benefit from it. Increasing numbers of middle aged people – so-called “golden yogis” – are discovering the benefits of the ancient practice.

These benefits are being increasingly proven by science – and arguably, those who stand to gain the most from yoga’s advantages are the over-fifties. Last week, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found a three-month course of yoga and meditation was more effective than brain training exercises for minimising age-related memory loss; another found it could improve sleep in breast cancer survivors who had an average age of 54. It’s also an excellent way to stay fit and supple in middle age: last year, Nigella Lawson, 56, credited her slim figure to practising Iyengar yoga – a slow form of the practice, with a focus on alignment and posture.

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When Lucy Edge, 53, a former advertising executive, fell into a deep depression, she opted for yoga instead of the anti-depressants she was prescribed. “I took a six month career break and travelled to India to learn yoga and founded the website yogaclicks.com – the website includes a section called Yoga Meds that lists over 300 clinical trials demonstrating yoga’s benefits, for conditions ranging from arthritis to insomnia to obesity.

“Yoga was so beneficial for my depression, I wanted to tell the world about its joys. But as the daughter of a scientist [Lucy’s late father was Professor Gordon Edge, creator of the Cambridge Cluster] I didn’t want to make mad claims, I wanted evidence and found so much of it for yoga,” Lucy remembers.

Here are some of the ways yoga has been shown to benefit mental and physical health, plus how to get started (lycra leggings optional):

Stimulate grey matter

If crossword puzzles and sudoku have been the extent of your memory training to now, it could be time to sharpen up your warrior pose. The recent UCLA research took brain scans and memory tests, comparing the effects of 12 weeks of memory exercises with a course of yoga and meditation on 25 adults over 55. The latter not only had better improvements in their spatial and visual memories, but also more reduced depression and anxiety and increased resilience to stress. “Although this study is small, it suggests that we should be doing more research into the benefits of yoga and meditation as additional ways to keep our hearts and brains in good health as we age,” says Dr Clare Walton of the Alzheimer’s Society.

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Try it:

There’s no need for hours and hours of headstands to benefit. In this study, volunteers did just one hour of Kundalini yoga a week. This is a gentle form of yoga that incorporates breathing techniques, meditation and some chanting of mantras. The latter may feel silly at first but can be easier than other forms of meditation. The study participants also did 20 minutes daily of Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation involving chanting, hand movements and visualization of light. You can order a copy of a 12 minute Kirtan Kriya mediation CD for $20US from the US Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. Find a Kundalini yoga teacher at kundaliniyoga.org.uk

Protect against heart attacks

We’re often told to plod the pavement with walking or jogging for the health of our hearts, but a large body of evidence suggests the more gentle option of yoga may be just the ticket. In 2014, a systematic review of yoga and cardiovascular disease published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology showed that yoga may help lower heart disease risk as much as conventional exercise such as brisk walking. This is likely to be because yoga reduces stress – a big contributor to heart disease. Stress hormones raise both blood pressure and heart rate, increasing the likelihood of blood clots. “The benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established. It has been shown to help with anxiety, stress and depression, conditions which affect many people who have suffered a cardiac event or have undergone cardiac surgery,’ says Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation. “Previous research has shown that practising yoga is associated with some improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, which are all risk factors for heart disease.

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Try it:

In her book The De-Stress Effect, yoga teacher Charlotte Watts sets out a stress-reducing series of gentle yoga poses, perfect for beginners. Another great way to reduce stress is to practice Restorative yoga, suggests Anna Ashby, a senior teacher at Triyoga Studios in London. “Postures are supported with bolsters and cushions and held for up to 12 minutes,” she explains. “This gives the nervous system a break and is like a fast-track to stress reduction.”

Beat back and joint pain

Sarah Shone, a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and yoga teacher, was so convinced of yoga’s benefits that she incorporated classes for the over-50s into her Primary Care Trust’s rehabilitation programme for back pain. A staggering 87 per cent of participants reported a reduction in their pain. National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines now recommend yoga and stretching as a useful form of exercise for lower back pain. Shone says its benefits go deeper and is now aiming to train more physiotherapists in using yoga in their clinical work with this age group. “The over 50s are the category we’re trying to capture in NHS physiotherapy, to try and treat or even prevent problems in later life such as osteoporosis and arthritis as well as back pain. Its benefits of flexibility, core stability, support, balance and strength have been shown to help those living with chronic conditions. “Yoga has also been shown to help keep incontinence at bay because it specifically targets the muscles of the pelvic floor, along with other muscles in the body and is weight-bearing so can help increase bone density. Plus, it can be adapted in so many ways to make it accessible for all.”

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Try it:

“If you’re over 50 and just getting started, tell your teacher about any health problems and choose a style such as Hatha or Iyengar that is more gentle, rather than some of the stronger more flowing or ‘power’ versions, at least to begin with,” Shone suggests. “If you have a specific condition such as back pain, talk to your doctor to see if you’re eligible for a course of subsidised yoga on the exercise referral scheme.”

Get flexible | What type of yoga should I try?

  • For better sleep: Find Yin or restorative yoga classes, usually done under candelight with the support of blankets, cushions and bolsters.
  • For weight loss: Vinyasa Flow classes are energetic and tend to link postures to breath in a dance-like sequence. Don’t be afraid if you’re a beginner as moves can be adapted, but do tell the teacher.
  • For muscle toning: Try Iyengar yoga, a precise style of yoga that holds poses for up to 20 breaths and focuses on the alignment and detail of each posture. It’s great for beginners as you use props to help you get into poses.
  • For a mood boost: Anusara yoga, a modern form of yoga originating in LA, focuses on alignment but with flowing movements often done to upbeat music.
  • For pain relief: Yoga Therapy is practiced by teachers trained to use yoga to help heal injury or illness.

Taking my YogAlign practice on the Road.

by Renee’ Fulkerson

Once again my regular YogAlign practice has proven invaluable in supporting my body during a two week non-stop action road trip with my husband Peter and 15 year old son Joaquin.

Everyday life can create challenges in showing up for any regular exercise class however, a road trip including weather, camping and ever changing locations has lead me to many insights.

  • My YogAlign practice is beneficial and feels good no matter where or when I practice.
  • My YogAlign practice can adapt to the weather (put more clothes on/ take more clothes off) simple.
  • I cannot be attached to an outcome in my YogAlign practice. (meaning time is of the essence). I maybe able to carve out 20 minutes or 2 hours depending on the day.
  • Prioritizing my YogAlign practice to meet my immediate physical and mental needs. (maybe only leg tuner or only arm turner maybe both) however SIP breath is a must!
  • Some days my YogAlign practice in the physical sense is just not going to happen (and that is okay).

On the days my YogAlign practice did not and could not happen I was able to fill in the gaps with breathing techniques, meditation and mantra (singing/chanting) practice. All of the above mentioned could easily be practice while driving in a car, breaking down or setting up camp, sitting around the campfire and cooking a meal.

Most days my physical needs were met with a variety of physical activities, while having proper posture and breath. My mental status felt more challenged with less hours of sleep than usual, long hours in a car as a passenger in a tight spot and being with my husband and teenage son for two weeks straight. LOL

All in all I love road trips, camping and YogaAlign as well as experimenting with putting all three together. I look forward to my next road trip adventures with a body I can trust my beloved husband Peter and our miracle son Joaquin. See you on the mat!

Yoga keeps the mind and body young, 22 clinical trials show.

Published
A review analyzing the results of 22 randomized clinical trials has found that yoga practice can improve many aspects of physical and mental health among older adults.

Yoga refers to a series of mind-body practices that originate in Hindu tradition.

However, they are growing in popularity across the world as an alternative well-being practice.

Statistic show that in 2015 in the United States alone, as many as 36.7 million people practiced yoga, and by 2020, estimates suggest that this number will have increased to over 55 million people.

People who practice yoga often share anecdotes regarding its beneficial effect on their mental and physical health. Intrigued by such reports, some scientists set out to verify whether the benefits are real.

Indeed, some studies have found that different yoga practices are able to improve a person’s general sense of well-being, as well as various aspects of their physical health.

For example, a series of studies from 2017 suggested that people who joined a yoga program experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression.

A study from 2016 found that practicing yoga correlated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment in older adults, and research from earlier this year concluded that 8 weeks of intense yoga practice reduced the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Now, investigators at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom have conducted a review, analyzing the findings of 22 randomized and cluster-randomized clinical trials that assessed the benefits of yoga practice for healthy older adults.

The trials considered the effects of varied yoga programs — with program durations between 1 and 7 months and individual session durations between 30 and 90 minutes — on both mental and physical well-being.

‘Yoga has great potential’ to improve health

In the review, which features as an open access article in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the researchers conducted statistical analysis to assess the combined findings of the 22 trials. They compared the benefits associated with yoga with those of other light physical activities, such as walking and chair aerobics.

The team found that among people with a mean age of 60 years or over, practicing yoga — compared with not engaging in physical activity — helped improve their physical balance, flexibility of movement, and limb strength. It also reduced depression, improved sleep quality, and boosted their vitality.

Also, the researchers noticed that older adults who practiced yoga perceived their own physical and mental health to be satisfactory.

When compared with other light physical activities, such as walking, yoga seemed to more effectively improve older adults’ lower body strength, enhance their lower body flexibility, and reduce their symptoms of depression.

“A large proportion of older adults are inactive and do not meet the balance and muscle strengthening recommendations set by government and international health organizations,” notes Divya Sivaramakrishnan, the review’s lead author.

However, yoga can be an easy, adaptable, and attractive form of physical activity, and since the evidence suggesting that it can be beneficial for health is building up, joining a yoga program could be a good option for older adults looking to stay in shape — both physically and mentally.

Based on this study, we can conclude that yoga has great potential to improve important physical and psychological outcomes in older adults. Yoga is a gentle activity that can be modified to suit those with age-related conditions and diseases.”

Divya Sivaramakrishnan

4 Tips to Enhance a Staycation Yoga Practice

By Charlotte Bell.

For many of us, summertime spells vacation time. Vacations are an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and experience something new. But vacations do take lots of preparation. And when we return, the catchup time can be anything but relaxing.

This is why many people choose to vacation at home, at least some of the time. “Staycations” give us the opportunity to spend quality time in our homes. Sometimes that means tackling long-neglected projects. At other times it means rekindling friendships with lunch dates that are so hard to fit into our work schedules. It could mean taking advantage of our communities’ unique gifts—museums, concerts and here in Salt Lake City, hiking. We can also simply enjoy the homes we’ve worked so hard to create and nurture.

But sometimes it’s a challenge to decide how to dedicate this newfound time. We can easily get lost in simply wanting to do nothing—which can be just what we need as well. I’d like to suggest using at least a portion of your staycation to regenerate your energies. Staycation yoga can be a part of this process.

Staycation Yoga Practice

Many of us are able to maintain a regular yoga practice even as we work full time. But for some, practice is spotty at best. There are several ways to approach a staycation yoga practice. One is to attend some extra classes during the week. Another is to recommit to your home practice. It’s the latter that I’ll focus on in this post.

Here are some suggestions for enjoying a fulfilling staycation yoga practice:

  1. Pick a time and stick to it. Practicing yoga first thing in the morning sets a calming and energizing tone for the rest of your day. You don’t have to get up extra early—it’s your vacation after all. But do commit to practicing before you start in on the rest of your day. It’s all too easy for a yoga practice to be crowded out of the schedule once you start doing other things.
  2. If you don’t have a dedicated yoga space in your house, just for the duration of your staycation, leave your yoga mat and other props out so that there’s no setup involved. This can help make your practice an integral part of your staycation.
  3. You’re already stepping out of your daily routine, so why not play a bit with your practice? It’s easy to get stuck in a practice that features only our favorite poses. Play with changing your practice. Try different poses in a different sequence and be mindful of the aftereffects. This is a great opportunity to learn about your practice and yourself.
  4. Take a nice, long Savasana. When we’re in the midst of our busy lives, we often don’t recognize just how tired we really are. We simply power through our days because we have no other choice. When we slow down, we often discover how depleted we’ve become. Take the opportunity of having a bit more time than usual to lie in Savasana for 15-20 minutes. A longer Savasana allows the benefits of the pose to integrate more deeply and comprehensively—in body, mind and spirit.

A staycation is a great opportunity to reflect on your daily life and make tweaks that can help you live more gracefully when you go back to work. A daily yoga practice can help give you the clarity to decide what works and what doesn’t.

The Best Way To Build Strength For Your Rock-Climbing Workout.

Hang on to this one.

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Rock climbing basically screams mental and physical challenges. Not only do you need strong muscles from head to toe (your upper body gets a workout, as well as your core and legs), but it also requires a confidence and fearlessness to make it to the top.

Of course, you don’t have to pull an Alex Honnold and ascend sans ropes to gain the mind and body benefits of reaching a peak. Simply scrambling up an indoor rock wall will give you a massive sense of accomplishment.

“I always describe rock climbing as an ‘exercise in disguise,’” says Emily Varisco, ACE-certified personal trainer, head coach at The Cliffs Climbing and Fitness in New York City. “It truly is a full-body workout, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

And when she says full body workout, she means it—rock climbing works your forearms, biceps, triceps, deltoids, lats, traps, legs, and even your fingers. (Dang.) “Rock climbing is an especially great way to quickly build upper-body and core strength,” Varisco says. “And women tend to pick up the technical skills a bit more quickly because their center of gravity is lower and that can make for a pretty decent advantage in the sport.”

Whether you’re new to climbing, or want to up your game, Varisco curated a list of the best exercises to strengthen your arms, legs, back, and abs. Try ‘em out as a complement to climbing, and see how quickly you can scale that next obstacle that gets in your way to the top.

Do each of the moves below either after climbing or on off-the-rock days. “We do a lot of pulling in rock climbing, so when we cross-train, it’s important to work the opposite motions and antagonist muscles,” says Varisco. These moves will work the areas you need to climb higher, plus the opposing ones to keep you balanced as you go—all of which will help you reach peak performance.

1. Military Press

Important for… balancing out the pulls of climbing with presses overhead.

How to: Start standing, feet hip-width apart and knees not locked out. Bend your elbows 90 degrees, palms facing forward. Extend arms, pushing straight overhead until biceps are by ears. Slowly lower back down and repeat. Make sure your core is engaged and spine neutral. That’s one rep. Complete 8 to 12 reps.


2. Negative Pullup

Important for… strengthening the back of your upper body, which you need to lift yourself up.

How to: Set a bench or step under a pullup bar so you can reach it while standing. Grab the bar with both hands so that your chin is above it and elbows are out to your sides, pointed down toward the ground. Bend your knees slightly to hang, while keeping your pelvis tucked and core braced. Then, slowly lower down until your arms are straight. Keep your shoulders, lats, and abs engaged. Extend your legs to stand back on the bench or step and repeat. That’s one rep. Complete eight.

3. Dumbbell Chest Press

Important for… working the pecs—AKA the antagonist muscles of the upper body used for climbing.

How to: Lie down on your back with a 5 to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Straighten your arms and hold them over your chest. Make sure your wrists are in line with shoulders and palms face away from you. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, resting your triceps on the floor. That’s your starting position. Press up to extend both arms straight over your chest. Then, slowly lower the weights back down to start. That’s one rep. Complete 10 to 12. 


4. Dumbbell Front Raise To Lateral Raise

Important for… building shoulder strength.

How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart and arms resting on your quads with a 5 to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Lift the weights up in front of you to shoulder height, palms facing down and elbows straight (but not locked out). Slowly lower back down resisting the urge to drop your arms. Next, lift the dumbbells out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor, palms facing down and elbows straight. Lower them back down to your sides. That’s one rep. Continue alternating slowing between both exercises without letting your shoulders creep up by your ears as you move. Keep your core tight and back straight, too. Complete 12 to 15.

5. Goblet Squat

Important for… glute and core strength.

How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, holding one kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands at your chest. Lower in to a squat by sending your hips down and back while keeping your chest up. Press through the heels and squeeze the glutes to stand back up. That’s one rep. Complete 12 to 15.

Want another full-body workout? Try this quick routine: 


6. Wide Grip Lateral Pull-Down

Important for… strengthening the lats, a main muscle used in climbing.

How to: Use a cable machine with a long bar attachment for this exercise. Sit down at the machine and grip the bar overhead with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from you. Lean back about 30 degrees and maintain a tall posture. Draw the shoulders and upper arms down and back to pull the bar to your chest. Straighten the arms back out. That’s one rep. Complete 12 to 15.

7. Leg lower

Important for… learning to use your core to drive your legs up.

How to: Lie on your back with your hands by your side and feet extended straight up in the air at hip height. Slowly lower your legs as far down as you can without your lower back lifting off the ground. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.


8. Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Important for… strength in the back of the arms.

How to: Lie down on a flat bench on your back, with a dumbbell in each hand, held over your chest, arms extended but not locked out. Make sure wrists are in line with shoulders and palms face each other. Keep your shoulders stationary as you bend the elbows to 90 degrees and bring the weights toward your face, in line with your ears. Your elbows should stay in line with your shoulders the entire time. Reverse the movement by straightening your arms back out. That’s one rep. Complete 15.

9. Kettlebell Swing

Important for… explosive power, plus strength in the quads, glutes, and core.

How to: Start standing with feet a little more than hip-width apart and a kettlebell in front of you on the ground. Bend over and grab the weight with both hands while engaging your lats and keeping your back flat. Lift the kettlebell and swing it between your legs, maintaining a neutral spine and just a slight bend in the knees. Then, drive your hips forward and press through your feet as you raise the kettlebell to chest height with straight arms. Use your hips and glutes to drive the movement, squeezing your butt and tucking your pelvis at the top. Let the kettlebell guide you back down in to a deadlift-like position (flat back, hinged hips) until it’s between your legs again. That’s one rep. Complete 12 to 15. 


10. Plank Pulls

Important for… core stabilization.

How to: Attach a resistance band to a stationary object like a pole or heavy weight and hold the other end with your right hand or place it around your wrist. Then, get in to a high-plank position, shoulders right over the wrists and forming a straight line from shoulders to heels. Lift your right arm, palm facing down. This is your starting position. Pull the band with your right arm, aiming to bring your elbow in line with your waist. Keep your spine straight and hips square to the ground. Straighten your arm back out. That’s one rep. Complete 10 to 12 on each side. 

11. Superman

Important for… strengthening your low back and posterior chain—a muscle group crucial to climbing, especially at steeper angles.

How to: Lie on your stomach, and extend your arms in front of you and legs behind you. Keep your palms facing down. Lift your legs and arms at the same time, hold, and release. Complete for 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.

OUR LONGING FOR EMBODIMENT

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We inherited a view of the body as something without intelligence: as something ‘beneath us’; as a tool for getting things done; as machinery operated by the brain; as a piece of equipment that needs proper maintenance if it’s not to break down. That view still predominates, to be sure, but it’s no longer the unchallenged orthodoxy. Since my first book, New Self, New World, appeared in 2010, I’ve noticed a growing appreciation for the body’s intelligence. Science, for instance, has brought us such relatively recent fields of inquiry as embodied cognition, the gut biome and neurogastroenterology, with findings that poke holes in the cherished idea that the brain in the head is the solitary intelligence in charge of who we are, what we experience and how we perceive.

I’ve also seen a growing awareness in people that they are living in their heads – and stirring within that awareness, a deep yearning for a more embodied way of being. We have been estranged from the body for so long, though, that we tend to imagine that embodiment is merely about sitting in the head and noticing the body, or ‘listening to it’ – as though being stuck in the head were some sort of anatomical given. We struggle to imagine that true embodiment seamlessly merges our abstract thinking with that of the body; that we can think with the whole of our being. We are even vague about what the body’s intelligence is. And when we are unclear about the nature of the body’s intelligence, the journey to reunite with it can be frustrating.

So first, let’s consider the nature of the secluded portion of our intelligence we’ve been taught to give our allegiance to: it is head-centric, analytical, abstracting, systematizing and adept at achieving perspectives and building structures of knowledge; but we should also recognize that it is fundamentally exclusive. It categorizes by excluding – excluding apples, for example, from the category of vegetables. It analyzes by breaking things into pieces and assigning each its exclusive function. It abstracts by isolating aspects of reality and considering them exclusive of their borderless context.

Any form of exclusion, though, involves a neglect of wholeness. Wholeness is all-inclusive: everything in our reality affects everything. Wholeness is all that is, and nothing exists outside of it. To imagine otherwise is to mistake reality.

To appreciate the nature of the body’s intelligence is to see it as the necessary complement to the excluding intelligence of the head. Where the head’s intelligence is exclusive, the body’s is inclusive. It feels wholeness, and its capacity for feeling the whole is its means of knowing the whole. The foundation of the body’s intelligence is its perfect understanding that it belongs to the world of the present. It recognizes kinship in the ocean’s waves exhaling along the shore, in the shifting sky, in the slender blade of grass, the scurrying ant, and in the tall tree so deeply rooted in the darkness of the earth. To reunite with the body’s intelligence is to find your being illuminated and clarified by all the particulars of the world around you; you feel how they belong to you and vice versa.

The body’s intelligence understands life; the intelligence that sequesters itself in the head understands everything but life. Its attempts to grasp life merely result in descriptions of its mechanics – never of life itself. Life is an emergent property of wholeness, and you cannot understand wholeness with an intelligence that depends on exclusion.

By extension, neither can you understand your self with that intelligence – for the self abides in wholeness and is inseparable from it. To seek to understand the self with only that intelligence is to consign yourself to categorical living – in which aspects of your life, your intelligence, your behaviour and your perceptions are compartmentalized and partitioned. In that divided state your being inevitably lacks coherence. To live in a categorical world is to live in a model or duplicate of life – one that has everything judged and labeled, but which fails to feel the wholeness that is found in each particular, and which ultimately makes each particular what it is. Feeling that wholeness, and the wholeness of the self it holds in its embrace, is the specialty of the body’s intelligence.

So the intelligence of the body attunes to wholeness. It resonates to the world around it. That is its true nature. Just as it is our true nature. Our longing for embodiment, then, is a longing to grow into our fullest reality: to put to rest our divisions and liberate our stifled energies and to finally feel the self and the world in the wholeness of the moment. What we long for is a homecoming – coming home to the self, coming home to the present. And it’s crucial in our head-centric culture to understand that you can’t achieve that homecoming by grasping any idea; it is a tangible, physical journey that drops your thinking out of the head and lets it come to rest deep in your body. When that happens, the energy of your being achieves coherence and attunes to the life of the present. You feel yourself embedded in an intelligence that guides and informs and clarifies – an intelligence that sings through your body not in a language of words, but in a language of sensational, borderless awareness. This is what an athlete ‘in the zone’ experiences, or an artist in the wakefulness of creativity. To join the body’s intelligence is to experience the world’s harmony singing through you.

June YogAlign Classes On and Off Island

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Dance with the waves, move with the sea. Let the rhythm of the water set your soul free
-Christy Ann Martine

Aloha, gentle reminder Inner Breath Yoga – YogAlign will not be hosting any YogAlign classes in the month of June at either  location Anaina Hou Community Park in Kilauea or Hot Yoga Princeville. Inner Breath Yoga – YogAlign classes will resume as regularly scheduled time and location in the month of July. However, I will be teaching a few YogAlign classes on the mainland in my home town of Big Bear Lake while on Vacation – please feel free to pass on information if you know someone who would be interested. Be sure to follow Inner Breath Yoga on Social Media to follow all our Mainland Adventures. Aloha

Mainland Inner Breath Yoga- June Drop-in YogAlign Classes

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Big Bear Yoga

Friday June 14th, 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Saturday June 15th, 11:00 Am to 1:00 PM
Investment – $25 in advance/ $30 day of

Mats and blocks provided

Please bring a towel and water

421 W. Big Bear Blvd #663
Big Bear City, Calif. 92314
www.bigbearyoga.com 

www.innerbreathyoga.com

Private classes also available for more information please contact: renee@innerbreathyoga.com  / 909-747-4186

On Island June – Kauai Drop-in YogAlign Class

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Manayoga Studio

Wednesdays 8:30 to 10:30 AM

Investment $20 for locals

Mats and blocks provided

Please bring a towel and water

3812 Ahonui Place

Princeville, HI 96722
Manayoga Studio – YogAlign

Our Journey So Far…

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I ask that you please consider the vulnerability that goes along with sharing a personal story like this and why I believe in The YogAlign Method.  Thank you

Joaquin Fulkerson our miracle was born in December of 2003 a healthy happy baby boy.  Peter (my husband) and myself were over the moon happy as all new parents are. We did notice at birth Joaquin had a tiny curve in his sacrum area between his gluteal muscles but did not think much of it. The years past by in our then mountain home of Big Bear Lake California where we lead a very family active lifestyle. Peter and myself owned and operated a backpacking outfitting store and next door a yoga studio. Joaquin spent his first seven years of life hiking, skateboarding, rock climbing, skiing, downhill mountain biking, snowshoeing, BMX racing,snowboarding, zip lining, slack lining  and of course guiding groups with dad in the great outdoors or practicing in one of mom’s yoga classes. Joaquin born and raised vegetarian, with perfect annual health exams was again the picture of health (not even a cavity to this day)

Fast forward to the end of 2011 when the Fulkerson tribe arrived on the island of Kauai. Where as a family we continued to remain very physically active biking, hiking, swimming, golfing,boogie boarding, outrigger canoeing ,snorkeling, surfing and Joaquin continued his BMX racing on Oahu on the weekends. In 2017 Peter Joaquin’s dad started to notice Joaquin’s posture changing and not in a positive way. We both noticed a curve in his spine and a very forward head carriage. Joaquin is of the generation of Screenagers meaning his generation is spending a great deal of time in front of a computer screen. With my anatomy knowledge, YogAlign training and common sense I assumed the postural issues where coming from the amount of time Joaquin was spending sitting in a chair in front of his computer. Peter and myself became the posture police and tried reminding him to change his bad posture habits and to shift his body when we saw him out of alignment. In 2018 Joaquin was scheduled to get his annual physical exam before starting school and I had alerted his primary care physician about our concerns with Joaquin’s posture, curve in his spine and now what looked like a collapse in the left side of his chest.

This was the beginning of many Dr. visits on and off island between Kauai and Oahu. On that day at Joaquin’s routine exam he was diagnosed with Pectus Excavatum and sent for a spine x ray for Scoliosis. Then seen by both a pediatric surgeon and spine surgeon on Oahu where we was then diagnosed with Scheuermann’s Disease of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine.
Joaquin had many forms of x rays on his chest and spine and the results being his spine is healthy in regard to no cysts, tumors or abnormalities for concern however he will continue to struggle with the above mentioned Scheuermann’s Disease of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine. The Scoliosis is still within mild concern and the Pectus Excavatum is a surgical procedure fix which we would like to avoid however, this does not seem possible and surgery is on the horizon.

Meanwhile during this roller coaster ride I consulted with my teacher and creator of YogAlign Michaelle Edwards here on Kauai and we together came up with a course of action plan for Joaquin. Joaquin’s first YogAlign session with Michaelle took place at her home studio on January 14, 2019. The session was two hours long, began with pictures of his posture, a breathing tool to help him get the fullness in his diaphragm and a few specific YogAlign postures. Our goal was and is to continue to shift his current posture as he is fifteen and his body is pliable, wake up the left side of his pectus muscles, re wire his brain with new positive posture habits and create space in his short and tight front line. Joaquin has had three more YogAlign sessions with Michaelle once a month up until now including before and after pictures. In between those YogAlign sessions with Michaelle Joaquin and myself practiced YogAlign for one to two hours 4 times weekly with great enthusiasm (well most of the time).

Fast forward to today May 30 Th Joaquin and myself continue to practice YogAlign four times a week (mostly). He is even willing to now participate in one of my public YogAlign classes. He has practiced the YogAlign method once on his own with the support of his dad – proud mama moment. Joaquin has become very in tune with his anatomy, posture good and bad and how his body feels when in it is in good or bad alignment not to mention the self confidence it has given him. He will always need to be very physically active and practice YogAlign in order to maintain a happy healthy body able to do all of the things he enjoys in life well into his senior years. I am proud of his commitment and grateful for the YogAlign Method as well as Peter and myself for being proactive in a challenging situation.
Joaquin will need in the near future to have the Nuss procedure to fix his Pectus Excavatum but until then anything is possible – the proof is in the pictures (4 months of YogAlign practice).
Much love, respect and gratitude for all the love and support now and as the journey continues.

What Kind of Exercise is Healthiest?

By Todd Hargrove

Physical activity is now considered one of the “big four” lifestyle factors (along with smoking, nutrition and drug abuse) that have major effects on health. In 2015, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report summarizing the benefits of exercise, calling it both a “miracle cure” and a “wonder drug.” [1] The report observes that regular exercise can prevent dementia, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression, heart disease and other common serious conditions — reducing the risk of each by at least 30%. This is better than many drugs.

A recent analysis of data from more than 60,000 respondents found that people exercising 1-2 times per week had a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to those who got no exercise. There was a 35% reduction for people who exercised 3-5 times. [2] Similar studies have concluded that a sedentary lifestyle is a primary cause of 36 diseases, and that exercise is an effective treatment to prevent them. [3, 4] Numerous experts have observed that if exercise came in a pill, it would be the most effective and widely prescribed medicine ever developed.

While the evidence supporting the health benefits of exercise is undeniable, I don’t find the metaphor of it being “medicine” totally appealing. First, medicine is something most people would rather not take, so the marketing is not very good. Second, the term medicine suggests cure of a particular disease, which is misleading. Physical activity can improve your health in many different ways, just as light, water and soil will nurture a plant. But it’s not a targeted intervention that “fixes” a specific problem.

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I think a better metaphor for the benefits of physical activity is one recommended by Katy Bowman and Nick Tuminello: movement is like food. This analogy works on many different levels. First, nutrients in food are beneficial when consumed in some goldilocks amount — not too much and not too little. For example, you need a minimum dose of iron to avoid anemia, but too much is toxic. Many kinds of inputs to the body follow this pattern, even water. With physical activity, some minimum amount is essential, too much is toxic, and there is a broad range of happy mediums.

Another analogy between food and movement is that you need a well-balanced diet of many different nutrients, all of which have a different optimum dose. If you have a deficiency in Vitamin A, it won’t help to double up on the Vitamin B. The same is true of physical activity. The bench press is a fine exercise, but if that’s all you ever did, you would become deficient in other areas of physical function.

If movement is like food, how do you eat a balanced diet? Part of the answer is that … it depends. A twenty-year-old athlete will need a different diet of movement than a 65-year-old with knee pain. In fact, two 65-year-olds with knee pain might benefit from completely different programs. To find what works best for an individual, you will need to explore a wide landscape of different options. The good news is that some parts of the landscape are more worth exploring than others. To get a rough idea where they are, we can look to two sources of data: (1) formal recommendations from government health groups; and (2) research analyzing the physical activity of hunter-gatherers living in natural environments. I think of these guidelines as major landmarks for orientation on the movement landscape. Fortunately, they both point in the same basic direction.

Recommendations from Health Groups

Numerous governmental agencies, including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health Services, and the National Health Service in the U.K., have published physical activity guidelines. [5, 6] They are based on expert analysis of the voluminous research looking at physical activity, fitness and health. Here is a brief summary of their advice, which is almost the same for each source.

The amount

The guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes per week of “moderate” physical activity, or half as much “vigorous” activity. (See below for definitions.) But this is just the minimum, and a better goal would be 300 minutes of moderate activity per week. Adding more exercise may continue to reduce mortality until as much as 750 minutes per week, after which point the health benefits of physical activity seem to flatline. [7]

“Moderate” activity defined

Moderate activities are usually light aerobic exercise — continuous cyclic movements done at an easy pace. Examples include:

  • brisk walking

  • hiking

  • gardening or yard work

  • jogging, cycling or swimming at an easy pace

Moderate exertion feels like you are working, but not in a way that is unpleasant or difficult to continue. Heart rate is about 60-80% of maximum, and breathing rate is elevated to a point where it would be difficult to sing, but easy to talk. You may break a light sweat but will not become significantly overheated. After finishing a session of moderate physical activity, you could probably complete another one if necessary.

“Vigorous” activity defined

Vigorous activity is higher intensity work that can be either continuous or intermittent. Examples include:

  • resistance training with weights, machines, bands, or bodyweight

  • sprinting or high intensity interval training on a cycle or rowing machine

  • continuous running, cycling, swimming, or rowing at a challenging pace

  • heavy manual labor

During continuous vigorous activity such as running or cycling, you are approaching the fastest pace you can sustain for twenty or more minutes. Your breathing rate is high enough that you cannot have a conversation. Intermittent activities like weight lifting, sports or sprint- ing cannot be performed continuously, but only in intervals. Vigorous physical activity feels hard and requires willpower to continue. When you are finished, you will probably want to rest at least a day before completing a similarly tough workout.

Movements that challenge strength

Most guidelines recommend that the above weekly totals should include at least two sessions that maintain or build strength in all major muscle groups. Although the majority of research on physical activity relates to aerobic exercise, there is a large and growing number of studies showing equally impressive health gains from strength training. Some of these benefits are not available with aerobic exercise, especially preservation of muscle mass, which declines with age, often to a point where function is significantly compromised. [8]

Movements that challenge mobility and basic coordination

Some popular guidelines, but not all, recommend inclusion of movements that maintain functional ranges of motion, and basic movement skills like squatting or single leg balance. This doesn’t mean you need exercises specifically devoted to this purpose, such as stretching or corrective exercise. Many common activities challenge mobility and functional movement skills, including dancing, swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, climbing, calisthenics, or classic compound strength exercises like pushups, pull-ups, rows, presses, squats and lunges. On the other hand, if all you do is bike or run, you will not be challenging your mobility or coordination very much.

Physical Activity Levels of Hunter-Gatherers

Another way to approach the question of how to move is to consider the physical activity levels of humans living in more natural environments. This is the same logic you would apply to analyzing the health needs of any other animal. If you had a pet cheetah and wanted to know how much running she should do to maintain good health, you would try to learn something about how much cheetahs run in the wild. If you had a pet chimp, you would take him to the climbing gym, not the swimming pool.

Anthropologists who study hunter-gatherer cultures observe that they generally enjoy excellent health and fitness, and have low to non-existent rates of chronic diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. [9] They engage in high levels of physical activity, but certainly do not consider it to be exercise or medicine. [10] Movement is simply inseparable from almost every meaningful event in their lives. Although each hunter-gatherer culture has a different lifestyle, there are some general patterns and averages that are informative.

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Men usually spend the day hunting, which requires lots of walking, occasional jogging, and the odd sprint. They sometimes climb trees, dig to find tubers, and carry food back to camp, which must be butchered. Women generally spend their days gathering plants, and also caring for young children, who often must be carried. Back at camp, men and women engage in toolmaking, and food preparation. Down time is spent sitting on the ground in positions like squats that challenge lower body mobility. [9]

Although they are moving all day, the pace is not grueling. Recent studies on the Hadza tribe in Tanzania show that they do about 135 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. [11] That’s about 900 minutes of activity a week, just a bit past the point at which recent studies have found that adding more exercise stops providing any significant additional health benefits in terms of reduced mortality.

Some days involve hard work, but they are usually followed by easy days. Presumably some days will involve maximum intensity effort, such as sprinting or carrying a heavy load. Interestingly, activity levels do not decline much with age. The 65-year-old elders keep up just fine with the young adults. A good percentage of the total workload is walking 5-10 miles per day. If you think in terms of steps, this is about 10 to 20,000.

How does this organic, all-natural program for fitness compare to the standard issue government cheese? There are some obvious similarities. The majority of the work is moderate continuous movement like brisk walking. Vigorous activity is a smaller percentage of the whole, and includes work that challenges strength (climbing, digging, carrying, butchering) or power (sprinting). Many of the activities require mobility, coordination, and balance, such as walking over uneven terrain, climbing and scrambling, digging, lifting and carrying odd-shaped items, throwing, and sitting on the ground. One major difference is that hunter-gatherers do a higher volume of low intensity work, even compared to highly active modern humans. They are not doing more bench presses, but they are getting in more steps.

Interestingly, walking is exactly the type of physical activity that modern humans would probably like to do quite a bit more, if only they had the time. Paddy Ekkekakis studies motivation to exercise, and observes that although high intensity exercise is quite effective at delivering health benefits quickly, most people don’t do it because … (prepare to be shocked) … they don’t like it. But people tend to enjoy walking. Under the right circumstances, say being with a friend in a nice environment, they do not consider it to be exercise at all, but an enjoyable and invigorating experience that delivers immediate rewards.

Another notable feature of walking is that it provides health benefits with only a minimal risk of injury. More intense exercise (e.g., a set of barbell squats) offers a relatively narrow window between too much and not enough. The difference between a good workout and an injury might be just a few extra reps or plates on the bar. But the margin of error with walking is huge. After a healthy dose of walking, most people could double it and recover easily.

It makes sense that walking delivers the highest bang for your buck, because this is the movement we are best adapted to perform. Like any other animal, our primary physical function is locomotion, and walking is the most energetically efficient way to get the job done. If you did nothing else but walk a lot, you’d be in better shape than most Americans.

A Quick Summary

If you want to “play” with fitness as a way to improve general health, here are some “rules of the game” to keep in mind. Have as much fun as possible within these basic constraints:

  • Aim for at least half an hour and up to two hours of physical activity almost every day.

  • Movement should be varied in terms of volume, intensity and type. Most activity can be fairly light. Walking is the most natural and beneficial movement for human beings.

  • Every few days, include some high intensity work that significantly challenges your strength, power, and/or capacity to sustain high energy output for a short period of time. Climbing, running and resistance training are logical choices.

  • Include movements that challenge coordination, balance, and range of motion.

Or to put this in even simpler terms:

  • Move around a lot at a slow easy pace.

  • Frequently move with some urgency or pick up something heavy.

  • Every once in a while, move like your life depends on it.

And have fun!

Physical activity activity isn’t like taking medicine, you know.