YogAlign Bird Dog A Weight Bearing Movement.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Some weight-bearing movements where your bones support your weight are walking, dancing, stair climbing, and gardening, to name a few. I love to do all of these activities. Well, maybe not stair climbing so much. I also find when using my 5lb weights for 20 minutes at least twice a week. My arm, back, and chest muscles stay toned. By stressing our bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Men can also get osteoporosis. To learn more, click on https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/men

We all come in different shapes and sizes and find enjoyment and various benefits in different ways of moving our bodies. Even something like weight lifting plays a different and unique role for each individual. For some, weight lifting is serious business. Men and women of all ages going to great lengths to achieve a competitive body ready for competition. And those more mature using 5lb free weights to fend off osteoporosis. We can use our body’s weight to our advantage. Did you know the femur is the longest/ strongest bone in the body and the heaviest? An average human being weighing 150lbs leg weighs 26lbs. Much heavier than a 5lb or 10lb weight. And the weight in the arm is 8lbs. Three more pounds than a 5-pound weight. And just under 2 of a 10-pound weight. 

Bird dog is a posture you can use your leg and arm weight to your advantage. Bird dog promotes proper posture and increases range of motion. Improving balance and stability and strengthens the core, hips, and back muscles. Anyone can do the bird dog including, the more mature set. (and lean muscle does diminish with age)

YogAlign Bird Dog:

  • Begin by starting on all floors also, known as table pose. Be sure to distribute your weight evenly front to back. This balance will take the extra pressure and weight off your wrists.
  • Next, focus on your head/ neck posture. Imagine putting a marble in the long crease in the back of your neck. Place it right between your hairline and the top of your shoulders. When you begin to drop your head too far forward (chin to chest). You will lose your marble. If you lift your head too much, you will also lose your marble. The goal is not to lose our marble. 
  • Extend your right leg back with the top of your foot gently touching your yoga mat. Toes pointed, begin your SIP inhale (breathing through a straw), and slowly with purpose, raise your leg. Bring your leg only as high as the rest of your body, not higher. Making sure you are not lifting/ twisting your right hip towards the ceiling.
  • Smile and start your sss-hale like a snake and slowly bring your leg down and back to starting position. You can begin moving from side to side with conscious breath, posture, and pointed toe. Taking it to your edge and then come down and rest on your forearms. 
  • Take a nice inhale and exhale through the nose.
  • Now add the arms (jet plane arms) with palms facing down and fingers spread. Create gentle resistance by pushing your arms down towards the floor. Be mindful not to let your shoulders creep up towards your ears. Left leg/ right arm and right arm/ left leg.

It is more important to move slowly with proper alignment with less number of times. Then, rushing through the posture with more times and little to no benefits. After all, can you imagine the possibilities in a body you can trust?

Aloha

Fitness, Movement, Health, and Fun!

By Renee’ Fulkerson

What words would you use to describe your fitness routine? Everyone seems to have their vision of what fitness means and what it looks like; Fitness, movement, health, and fun are the four words that come to mind when describing my YogAlign practice/ classes. In my opinion, the YogAlign method meets my definition of fitness. The postures put me in proper alignment. And create a good physical shape for my body and structure. I can trust my body when performing a specific task or purpose. I want my fitness program to support and enhance my abilities to perform daily activities pain-free. Have you clearly defined what you want from your fitness program?

Movement, I love all kinds. I think dancing would be my favorite. I could dance for hours without much thought; I get lost. The movement of walking is also underrated and has endless benefits mentally, spiritually, and physically. To learn more about five surprising benefits of walking. To learn more about five surprising benefits of walking.

When I think about my health, it is not merely just the absence of illness or injury. It is the complete package addressing body, mind, and spirit. I rely on my YogAlign practice to keep my immune system up as my diet. In my everyday life my, mantra is all gain and no pain. Our minds allow us to think and feel. We want and need to feel good during and after our practice/ class to fill up our spirit. To keep wanting to come back. One of the main things we can do to be healthy is to have conscious breathing. Our lungs work all day and night, whether we are awake or asleep. That’s 20,000 or so breaths per day! 

Fun is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “Light-hearted pleasure, enjoyment, or amusement; boisterous joviality or merrymaking; entertainment”. Although particularly associated with recreation and play, fun may be encountered during work, social functions, and daily life. There is something to be said for having a laugh and a good time. I remember when I took my first YogAlign training with Michaelle Edwards (founder and creator). She recommended having a few jokes up our sleeves. And sure enough, jokes and having a good time were encouraged. I know myself and others have commented I did not arrive with a smile but, I am leaving with one. Are you having fun with your fitness?

In conclusion:

  • What words come to mind when describing your yoga or exercise class?
  • Have you clearly defined what you want from your fitness program? 
  • What kind of movement do you enjoy?
  • Do you finish your practice/ class with a smile? 
  • And do you keep wanting to show up for your fitness and health?

Aloha

Does Your Yoga Practice Align You And Build Core Strength?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I have found that it isn’t so important how you perform on your yoga mat regarding glamour poses. But, how those real-life postures you practice propel you into a healthy and active lifestyle. In YogAlign, we practice real-life yoga postures engaging muscle groups that you will need for all of your favorite activities and everyday life movements.

My friend Corrine has been showing up for YogAlign practice faithfully for many years now. She is an avid golfer and plays golf with a group of ladies of all ages and backgrounds at least once a week. Golfing is an activity she enjoys on so many levels. The social aspects, being outdoors, and the challenge of the game. I would not teach or advise her to practice Sirsasana or headstand to improve and enjoy her golf game more. What I do teach her is how to engage and build her core strength. Building strong core muscles will provide ease of rotation, balance, and power. Hitting her golf ball farther and follow through with a powerful golf swing.

It all starts with the SIP Breath (structurally informed posture). Breathing is an exercise that is at the center of all actions in which we engage. In YogAlign, learning to breathe from your core – using our primary breathing muscles, and balancing the muscles of respiration to free the ribcage – is one of the most important skills we can learn. (quoting Michaelle Edward’s creator of the YogAlign Method). When practicing the Core SIP breath, you begin to feel the length from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Not to mention Aligning you into good posture from the inside out.

Natural curves, spine alignment and soft knees.

The above image shows the spine’s alignment with the body’s natural curves. A cue you often hear in some yoga classes is to pull your navel to your spine. You are inevitably taking all of your spine’s natural curves away and restricting your breathing. We also take care not to practice yoga postures that require you to draw your toes towards you. Why? Because you lock out your knees and, we do not walk with straight knees. Keeping your spine’s natural curves with soft knees allows your body’s natural shock absorbers to give you the gift of lift.

Rotation without collapsing.

rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. In yoga practice, we would refer to this action more as a twist. You have heard the claim that yoga poses, especially yoga twists, detox your body. The liver is responsible for your body’s detox and happens mostly on a cellular level. In YogAlign, we think of our body as globally, not in pieces, and maintaining the ability to breathe when moving through the spiral line. What is so great about the picture above is the rotation/ twist is not wrenched. Meaning there is space between her chin and chest. The openness and ability to breathe have allowed her to engage her core. The Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal/ external obliques, quadratus lumborum. That core engagement will support her with the power she needs to hit her golf ball farther.

Powerful connection with the ball.

There is a level of confidence in knowing you can trust your body. Knowing that with every YogAlign practice, you are re-programming your internal software. Software/ habits that are going to bring you back to good posture. It takes more effort to be in poor posture than it does to be in good posture. Other muscles that are equally important are the hamstrings and glutes providing proper posture throughout your golf swing. With postures cues – draw your toes back towards you makes it impossible to engage your glute muscles. You will also have a hard time taking a full inhale. Pointing your toes enlists your hamstrings and glutes with ease. Come to standing and place one foot slightly in front of the other. Come up onto the center of your tiptoes engage your inner thighs to feel your glute muscles follow. Then switch feet and come up on to the center of your tiptoes. To add more challenge pulse, up and down by slightly bending the knees. Make sure to have some fun with it!

Balance and follow through.

In the above picture, Corrine’s balance is spot on! Our balance declines with age due to loss of muscle strength and joint flexibility. We spend our early years trying to achieve balance milestones first steps, riding a bike, hopscotch, cartwheels, and riding a skateboard. As an adult we are still achieving balance milestones in tennis, golf, running, and dancing. Maybe you are not the athletic type? Walking across the room or down the block requires balance. Standing from a chair, going up and downstairs, carrying packages. A balance posture in yoga is Vrikshasana or tree pose. However, there are so many other real-life ways to practice balance. Practice squatting instead of bending over (also protects your low back). Practice sitting down and standing up from a chair without using your hands. In YogAlign, we add limbs/ arms to our tree. Our arms move about at different heights and levels. For more of a challenge, we will also come up onto our tiptoes in tree pose. Try it! It can be more challenging than it sounds.

A birdie was achieved.

From the height of her peak balance back into proper posture with ease. The transition has become instinctual due to the kind of real-life postures practiced on the mat. By thinking of our body globally and not in pieces, movements begin to benefit us as a whole. Recap a squat engages muscles, builds balance, and protects the low back when picking things up. Tree pose a balance builder, move arms about explore proprioception. Then come up onto tiptoes and engage inner thighs and glutes. Don’t be afraid to question some of the postures you practice that do not feel good to you. Avoid practicing postures that pull you apart because you feel tight and possibly destabilizing joints and tendons. Practice postures that put you together create confidence, strength, and power. Point your toes like a dancer during leg circles stabilizing the hip joint. If you feel or hear a grinding stop, and re-adjust posture. Make a bigger or smaller circle, point-toe more or avoid that posture altogether. Evaluate your yoga practice. Can you breathe while in postures, see and feel the positive effects?

Does your yoga practice align you and build core strength?

YogAlign is simply the art of being in your structure and breath. It is pain-free yoga from your inner core. We actively seek out positioning, alignment, and movement that reflects how we move in daily life. To me, YogAlign is movement, health, fitness, and fun.

Cheers to you Corrine!

You Are Safe, You Are Loved, And You Are Not Alone.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

You are safe, loved, and you are not alone”, is a mantra I have been practicing more frequently these days. It helps to have a gentle reminder of these positive and powerful words when I need self-soothing.

Fear: is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something, is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

Loneliness: is a state of mind that can cause people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted.

Above is just one of many definitions of fear and loneliness I have come across and have felt myself. Not to mention there are so many different circumstances and situations where fear can arise in our day to day lives. What intrigues me the most are the feelings or ideas of fear. It is not only the mental effects but also the physical effects on the human body.

Some of the physical characteristics I have observed and experienced myself have been:

  • Tension in my muscles in the form of drawing my shoulders to my ears
  • Shortness of breath inhales and exhales become very rapid along with increased heart rate
  • Stomach ache and or poor digestion due to pulling the belly in creating a collapse in the frontline
  • Withdrawal and uninterest in activities or life, in general, leading to possible depression and anxiety
  • Sleepless nights leading to exhaustion that exacerbates the fear into a fight or flight bodily response

The list could go on and on as there are so many short term and long term possible effects on the physical body during trying times of fear and uncertainty.

I have found great relief when keeping with my routine regarding my YogAlign practice. I use the term regular loosely as we all know some days are easier than others. And some days I complete two hours and other days maybe an hour. The benefits outway the negative effects on my body being in the fight or flight mode for extended periods.

Loneliness is more of a state of mind rather than an emotion. Meaning your state of mind is your mood or mental state at a particular time. Example: when waking up you already feel off and then the rest of the day does not seem to go so well. Mostly due to the fact you woke up on what some call the wrong side of the bed. And then there is the snowball effect. Your state of mind or mood starts a bit unsettled. After creating several more stories in your head, you are feeling empty, alone, and unwanted.

The good news is we can change our mood and our thoughts – what a relief!

How can YogAlign support us physically and mentally through fearful and uncertain times?

Resetting the tension in our bodies while practicing YogAlign postures, breathwork, and self-massage brings our bodies and breath back into alignment. When we are aligned with the spine in the body’s natural curves, the body connects naturally as a continuum and, we begin to feel relaxed, balanced, secure, and peaceful. Creating the space to obtain and maintain a comfortable, and natural state of being (safe, loved and not alone).

I would love to offer some of my self soothing yoga techniques:

1. The YogAlign Full Body Stretch – ly on your back, arms stretched out overhead (keeping shoulders down), fingers spread and palms facing in towards one another. Allow your spine to arch creating space in the small of your back, lengthen legs and point those toes away from you. Now make the letter O with your lips and inhale like you are sipping through a straw (feel the ribcage expand). At the top of the SIP, breath tighten your entire body, fist your hands, and tighten your glutes. It is not so much your pulling yourself apart as pulling yourself inward tight, tight, tight. Now exhale (feel the ribcage contract) sighing with your tongue out (a.k.a lion’s breath) completely let your body go limp. Resetting the tension in the body, creating length in the front and back lines of the body. (repeat two more times)

2. Spine rolling on a small ball (75% inflated) – lying begin by placing the ball in the curve of your neck and slowly turning your head side to side sink into the ball. Work the ball down and around the shoulder blades and continue down the spine. Keep your knees bent (keeping pressure off the low back) as you move through the natural curves of the body. Lastly moving the ball into the arch of your back and sacrum. Be slow and gentle if you are a first-timer or have suffered an injury. Continue wiggling and squiggly up and down the spine with full inhales and exhales. You can also raise the arms gently overhead if that feels good. Either way, let yourself fall heavy on the ball and completely let go. Please do not overdo it 5 to 10 minutes total is perfect.

3. The two-block chest opener and neck elongator – start by sitting up and then set one yoga block on its lowest side (sideways) ultimately to be placed between the bottom of the shoulder blades. For women right around where your bra hooks sit but, everyone is a bit different and you will need to play around a bit till you find the most comfortable spot. Next, place the second yoga block upright at the highest point supporting the back of your head. Once the yoga blocks are in place lay back and adjust accordingly to find that sweet spot. Again, knees are bent to take any pressure off your lower back and support your body’s natural curves. Breathe, and you can also slowly rock your head side to side. Do not tuck your chin to your chest, as you will not be able to get full inhales and exhales. You should be feeling an openness, release, and a feeling of relaxation in the entire body. Let’s create even more space in the neck and shoulders by dropping the yoga block supporting your head on its side. It may feel awkward at first if your neck and shoulders are locked up (take your time). To come out easiest way is to roll onto one side or the other and remove blocks. Allow yourself a moment to lie flat on your back and feel the effects.

While moving through any or all of these offerings above make sure you can inhale and exhale effectively. If you are not breathing effectively come out or adjust your posture. Silently or out loud, repeat “I am safe, loved, and I am not alone”. Combining powerful words full inhales/exhales, and postures that create spaciousness in the body is a beautiful blend. Allowing us to come back into balance, peace, and love.

I hope you find something useful in my offerings and you and your beloveds stay happy and healthy.

Aloha

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary Might Be The Fountain Of Youth.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I recently traveled from my home island of Kauai to Oahu and then onto the island of Lanai. My solo mission was to reach and then visit the Lanai Cat Sanctuary located just minutes from the airport. This adventure is something I have wanted to do for some time. There’s no admission fee, but if you love cats, your tax-deductible donation will help them continue their rescue work and provide lifelong care.

If you know me or follow my, blogs then you know I am always observing body posture. And the visitors coming into the sanctuary were not immune. Although not a first because I was taken, with the beautiful property and all the cats. I did not start really observing or thinking back until I started looking at the photographs I had taken. Then all that joy and goodness came rushing back to me. I remembered how much I enjoyed watching the guest’s faces lighting up once they were inside. You do not need to be a cat lover to appreciate the endless hours and kindness it takes to care for over 600 cats. Now onto my incredible findings, thinking back and observing the photographs I had taken.

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary might be the fountain of youth. When I walked in the main entrance, a mature couple was bouncing from cat to cat. Gracefully, bending over easily feeding the cats treats. As the gentleman was bending over, one of the cats jumped on his back. And he could not stop laughing with joy. That is when I noticed how at ease he was in his mature body. He looked stable, balance, and pliable all at the same time. I thought this experience is bringing out the best in this couple in terms of their physical prowess. I became even more excited when I saw how he engaged his entire leg muscle instead of this low back to continue to bend and feed all the cats. If he had any physical limits he certainly did not show it during his adventure on that day!

I continued exploring the grounds when I happened upon CB. One, of I believe, ten full-time caretakers. He was moving about quite freely amongst the cats and visitors. I had a moment to sit and speak with him. I learned he was not yet a full-time resident on Lanai. He was from a mountain environment where it was cold and not short of hard physical work. His face looked heavy when he talked about the life he was leaving. When he spoke about being at the sanctuary full time, he lit up like a child on Christmas morning. As he continued his daily work, he had a spring in his step, bending, twisting, and even getting down on the ground with the cats. He was moving with ease and purpose in a child-like body. I could not help getting caught up in his love for what he was doing and how it affected his body mechanics.

I continued to visit with the cats petting them and feeding them with much-anticipated treats. I noticed a large-sized van pulling in with a full load of visitors. Everyone jumped out except for one gentleman who moved a bit slower with a cane. I later learned they had come over on the ferry this morning from Maui to go snorkeling. They had sometime before heading back to Maui and decided to head over to the cat sanctuary. Again they appeared to be of a more mature crowd. They entered the gate and, several of the ladies plopped themselves right down on the grass. Twisting, turning, and crawling to get to the various felines in front or behind them. It was a sight to see they looked like toddlers crawling on the ground in their playground. They laughed and smiled but mostly just moved with ease and grace. At one point, they all came to standing and began their exploration of the property. I sat fascinated with the way folks were using their bodies down on the grass and while standing, walking, and bending. Again I thought if any of these folks have physical limits, they were not visible to me. Not even a moan or groan on the way down or on the way up only, pure excitement.

The day was drawing to an end and, I felt full of goodness on so many levels. I will never know if these folks I observed had a regular yoga or exercise program in the daily schedule. If they did, I hope they saw and felt the results of their practice like I did. But if not, I believe they found and experienced some of the fountains of youth that day. Even the gentlemen with the cane rejoined his group and got into the van with a bit more ease. I learn a lot about body mechanics by being aware of my own body and how it moves and observing others. Usually, you can tell when someone has an injury or something is hurting them. Just looking at the way they walk or lack of movement is a sure sign of possible limitations. I see many people who appear to be in pain when I am out and about in the world. On this particular day, that was not the case I saw and felt nothing but inspiration!

Aloha

Do The Yoga Teachings Translate?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

This question not only do I ask new YogAlign students but also long time practitioners. Do you understand what I am asking/does the information translate?

It can be intimidating to walk into your first yoga class with or without previous experience. But then not understanding what the teacher is asking of you is not only confusing but also frustrating. It takes courage and confidence to let an instructor know that you do not understand or ask why I am doing this posture? How is this benefiting me? So much so students will continue to try to do what is being asked of them even if it hurts or is very uncomfortable. I do not recommend continuing to move in a way that causes discomfort to your body, mind, or spirit.

So please stop and ask the question if not to the instructor to yourself:

  • Does this posture allow my spine to maintain its natural curves (shock absorbers)?
  • In the posture – do I have the ability to do deep, full, rib-cage breathing?
  • Does this posture serve my human design and create functional movement positions?
  • Does this posture cause me pain?

YogAlign translates to pain-free yoga from your inner core it is a practice I am confident to teach a mixed class of beginners and longtime practitioners side by side. Aside from having health concerns and needing a one-on-one session, the above-mentioned seems to sync beautifully. I also find YogAlign is an experiential yoga practice. Meaning I like to keep the verbal cues limited and relatable as we move through the class. Allowing the student the experience as well as building the trust and confidence of the practice. In a short time, my words will bring you to that Aha moment. The postures and the feelings that come with it will all connect.

Starting with the breath is a sure way to change your perspective from the outside world and transition into your yoga practice. I find most folks’ breathing habits come from the shoulders. With the muscles around the neck and shoulders lifted and contracted. The easiest and most relatable way to shift the breath from the shoulders to the diaphragm let your shoulders relax away from your ears. And let your shoulder blades ease down your back as you draw them slightly together. That allows the chest/ frontline to open up and pulls the breath deeper from the diaphragm. Also known as our primary breathing muscle. A muscle that also needs exercise.

Then some self-massage not only allows you to relax into your practice but also allows a connection to the nooks and crannies of the body that do not get much thought or exploration.

For example (have two yoga blocks or two small rolled-up towels available to you)

  • Starting by lying your back, shoulder blades underneath you supporting your body’s natural curves.
  • Start by bending your knees and placing a yoga block under your right foot. Then put your left ankle on top of your right knee.
  • Next, begin to press on each toenail bed on the left foot for a few seconds and then gently roll down the toe joint (drawing circulation down into the toes and feet).
  • Continue massaging the arch, heel, and top of the foot. And below the ankle on the inside of the left foot.
  • Work your way up the back left lower leg between the ankle and knee.
  • Then around the knee cap and into the large muscles of the upper left leg. Don’t forget the entire inner thigh.
  • Finally, straighten the left leg, push the block from under the right foot out to the side, point the toes of the left leg to activate the left leg muscle (keeping the hip joint stable), and begin to do leg circles in towards the body. We do not want to hear or feel grinding (bone on bone.) Let your hips move and your right knee.
  •  You will then hook that left leg over the right knee and roll onto your right side. The bottom right leg is straight (not locked out at the knee). The yoga block you pushed to the side earlier will now support your slightly bent left leg/knee. Grab another yoga block to place under your head. Be aware not to bring the left bent knee in too close to your stomach or bring your chin to your chest. Why? Because this puts you in a fetal or C posture and collapses the whole frontline, squishing your organs and inhibits the ability for full diaphragm breathing.
  •  Lastly, continue to relax the body by massaging your behind (gluteal muscles), outside of the leg (IT band), hip (iliac crest), up to your side into the chest (pecs), armpit (arm flexors), side of the neck (levator scapulae), the ear lobe and the side of the head. Massage back down the sideline while thinking and feeling the body as a continuum. Not in pieces.

As a student moves through this massage sequence, I can name some of the muscles, etc. While the student touches connects to them, and feels less intimated in the possibility of not knowing it all. Meanwhile, the longtime practitioners are getting a little deeper with their massage and maybe covering more ground. Then we repeat the massage sequence on the right side of the body, finish by laying on our backs with shoulder blades underneath us and prepare for three full body stretches.

Full body stretch may sound like we are pulling the body apart but, it is the exact opposite. Everything about YogAlign is to empower the body. Allow it to feel whole, and put together the pieces in a continuum.

  • We begin lying on our backs, shoulder blades underneath us and down towards the floor.
  • Place your hand in the small of your back and feel the space between your body and the floor. These are your natural curves or springs/ shock absorbers. That is what we like to call them in YogAlign.
  • Next, reach your arms overhead, hip-distance apart (shoulders relaxed do not squeeze your head). Fingers spread, and palms facing each other.
  • Point your toes away from you inhale through the diaphragm (SIP breath if you have learned it)
  • Tighten the entire body like you are laughing so hard you cannot breathe. Fist hands and pull down like you are pulling ropes towards you, this will engage your core, and they exhale or lion breath with tongue out (ssshale if you learned it) and completely relax the body. (2 more)

Why do we do this full-body stretch? To reset the tension in the entire body by tightening what is already tense. That allows us to get more length in the resting muscle. We can now come up to standing (slowly do not get a head rush), have a drink of water, and begin our standing YogAlign practice with hopefully some confidence and a better understanding of our body and the method.

Starting something new with a negative outcome due to not knowing or continuing with something that may hurt or you do not understand is a disservice we have all made to ourselves at one time or another. Your yoga practice or self-study is that time to ask questions. Get to know why you are doing what you are doing. And better yourself and most of all feel good before, during, and after your class. After all, looking forward to your yoga class and feeling better when you walk out than before you arrived is the whole point of the practice. To this, I say YES!

Aloha

Advice From A Doctor Advice From A Yoga Teacher.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

In my opinion, I feel there is value in having both, and I find in many ways their advice can and does go hand and hand. I thankfully have not had many reasons to visit the doctor except for mainly routine visits but, I know that is not always the case for everybody. There are also those times when we should go to the doctor but never do. That goes for yoga practice as well.

I have found my YogAlign practice has cured all that ails me. My YogAlign practice has had a domino effect on me. When I feel good physically, I feel good mentally. And I have a positive outlook on life. When I feel happy, I then naturally look at my food choices and daily habits. And lean towards what is best for me. Isn’t that usually what the doctor/yoga teacher would suggest and hope for

As many of you know or may not know my, soon-to-be sixteen-year-old son has some postural challenges. His postural challenges have led us on a journey we are still currently on. That has us as a family speaking with many doctors. I have noticed I have created this automatic habit of checking in with my Yoga Teacher, Michaelle Edwards after, every doctor appointment. I realize I value Michaelle’s verbal input, as equally as the doctors regarding my son’s postural challenges.

We tend to believe every word, thought, or idea that comes from our doctor’s mouth. And of course, there is good reason to, and many yoga students feel that way about their yoga teachers. Most of the time I’m, sure all goes well but, there are those many stories of circumstances that did not go well. I find comfort when talking with my son’s doctor and, having him spend time with Michaelle Edwards the creator of The YogAlign is priceless on so many levels.

It is not so much east meets west connection as both are judging, their recommendations on facts and outcomes and not on faith or opinion. Surgery or body braces is the doctor’s defense as long as the procedure would benefit the postural challenges. And the re-wiring of the brain from negative posture habits to positive posture habits with a committed YogAlign practice is my yoga teacher’s first defense. Both equally have the best of intentions and are there for my son’s best interest. But, we always feel empowered when we finish a YogAlign practice and not so much after a doctor’s appointment. My yoga teacher gives my son back the power to move and breathe in his body in a way that allows him to heal his own body. The idea of placing a body brace on and waiting for the body to benefit does not compute. My son opted for the YogAlign practice and, we have seen some shifts. We also continue to see his doctor and, his postural challenges have not progressed.

Inner Breath Yoga YogAlign Kauai Hawaii (1)

Just as I believe in finding a doctor you can trust, who is qualified, and you feel a connection too. I also think it is important to seek these qualifications and qualities in a yoga teacher. In the past, I have changed my doctor and yoga teacher. Because I felt I was not benefiting from their practice or my needs had changed. On the flip side of that, I know folks who have stayed with a doctor or yoga teacher that they were not happy with and were getting negative results (or even an injury from the latter mentioned). I believe in the medical community and the yoga community and feel we are uniting in ways we have not seen in the past. I find some doctors are getting away from only external fixes. By embracing the internal systems of the body. Such as diet, meditation, and our connection with nature. Some yoga teachers are getting away from selfies, glamour poses and teaching their students functional movement and proper posture habits. These are all positive signs of change and benefit us all for the greater good. Maybe next time you see your doctor or your yoga teacher, let them know how much you appreciate their contribution to your and others’ lives.

 Aloha

 

The Quality Of Your Health Is A Reflection Of Your Independence.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

in·de·pend·ent
/ˌindəˈpendənt/ adjective – not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.
“I wanted to remain independent in old age”
synonyms – self-sufficientself-supportingself-sustainable.
 
My experience with this has happened within this last year and got me looking around at folks moving through their daily lives.
 
I grew up in Southern California and spent every summer (June, July, and August) in Baja California. At my grandparent’s house on the beach until I was well out of high school. In both geographical locations, the weather was mostly sunny and warm and, I am a fan of warm and sunny. I spent most of my days wearing cut-off Levi shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. In other words, closed toes shoes, socks, pants, and jackets were far and few in my everyday life.
 
I do everything in my flip-flops (called slippers here on the Hawaiian islands). Not the best option for most of my outdoor projects. When I was thinking back to my 16 years living in Big Bear, I still spent a great deal of time in my flip-flops. I had a large yard/ garden in the mountains like here on the island. Consequently, digging, raking, weeding, etc. yes in my slippers. I have also done many hikes, walks and, dancing in my flip-flops. Side note ipanema slippers are my favorite.
Inner Breath Yoga YogAlign Kauai Hawaii (1)
 
Last June as my family and myself were preparing for our annual summer mainland – mountain road trip. My flip-flop existence took a turn for the worst. I was outside in the garden digging with a shovel pushing down on the metal piece with the arch of my foot and, I felt a stretch and pull of discomfort and, my heart dropped as I knew I had injured my foot. I hobbled into the house and began icing three to four times a day with a frozen bottle of water, lightly massaged the surrounding areas (directly rubbing a soft tissue injury may make it worse), and slept with my foot wrapped in an Ace bandage.
 

When arriving back on Kauai and to this very day, September 9, 2019, I continue to feel some pain in my foot. I have continued my normal daily activities at home (although I wear shoes and socks now while gardening). YogAlign, snorkeling, and continuing icing and wrapping have kept me comfortably active. In my humble opinion being sedentary after an injury is the wrong way to go – the body wants to heal and, circulation is necessary. I have purchased a new style of flip flops during the healing process OOFOS Recovery Footwear.

 
Inner Breath Yoga YogALign Kauai Hawaii
 
As I began looking around me one day while I was out running errands in my OOFOs feeling comfortable, confident, and mostly pain-free when I noticed how many folks were not stable on their feet. Young and old, small and large, black or white. It did not matter their health or lack of was hindering their independence. Canes, wheelchairs having to be pickup or dropped off from the car, and needing a partner’s arm for assistance was what I was seeing. Again these were not just mature folks (who can also stay very independent). That’s when it hit me the quality of your health is a direct reflection of your level of independence or lack thereof. I think most of us would agree it is hard enough to ask for help. Much less be reliant on somebody to get you around physically. I could not imagine my life without my physical independence.
 

What have I learned:

  • Directly – flip flops/slippers have a time and place. 
  • Staying physically active is a necessary component of independence. 
  • Moving in proper posture and alignment while performing tasks keeps you less likely to get an injury. 

When I teach SIP-ups in YogAlign class, students prepare their bodies by moving into proper alignment for optimal results. Injuries are less likely to happen when the body is in proper alignment. 

  • Students begin by lying on their backs with their knees bent toward the ceiling. 
  • Then they place a yoga block between the meaty part of the inner thighs. 
  • Their shoulder blades under them create and support the natural curves in their spine. Do not draw the belly button to the back body (flattening our natural spinal curves). 
  • They place hand over hand, palms facing up and supporting the Occipital Bone on the back of the head. 
  • When they lift the elbows, they raise them high enough to see their Peripheral vision turning on the arms. 
  • With a lion’s exhaling, they let out all their breath. 
  • Next, they look up at the ceiling, take in a full diaphragm SIP breath, squeeze the block between their knees, engage the core, and lift with the SIP inhale. (maintaining an open front line – no chin to chest). 
  • And S-hale like a snake before they come back down. 

I may see a student pulling from the neck with their hands or rounding the spine by pulling their chin to their chest. I would request they come out of the posture immediately. Why? Because they would be doing more harm than good to their body. We do not want to rob Peter to pay Paul. Again it is more important to practice a yoga posture correctly to receive the optimum benefits than doing more harm than good.

I wish us all to be proactive in maintaining our independence – you don’t know what you have until it is gone.

Aloha

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

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

YogAlign – Pain Free Yoga From Your Inner Core

By Renee Fulkerson

In YogAlign, we actively seek out positioning, alignment, and movement that reflects how we move in daily life. We avoid uncomfortable, unnatural, and compressive positions that restrict deep breathing or that cause spinal compression. When aligned with the spine in natural curves, the body connects naturally as a continuum. We feel relaxed, balanced, secure, and peaceful. We can be in a comfortable and natural state of being, connected to our true essence.

YogAlign encourages proper body alignment, builds strength, and increases mobility.

YogAlign can add longevity to your life by providing a template for the body to follow, allowing it to be functional and highly mobile well into old age.

YogAlign emphasizes maintaining natural body positions and the natural curves of the spine. Utilizing only postures that mimic functional movement.

The basis of a YogAlign practice is to create and maintain posture in natural alignment. The emphasis is on posture, not the poses.
What differentiates YogAlign from other practices? By focusing on the rewiring of real-life movement patterning. Instead of confusing the body with poses that do not necessarily stimulate real-life function or movement.

Capture me

The practice of YogAlign is centered on eight principles:

  1. Create the Foundation with SIP Breathing.
  2. Learn to Activate the Psoas Muscle-“The Core of Your Core.
  3. Establish Spine Alignment.
  4. Learn Concentric/Eccentric PNF Neuromuscular Postures.
  5. Free Your Fascia and Know Your Anatomy.
  6. Learn Self Massage and Sensory Body Awareness.
  7. Practice Presence and Awareness Now.
  8. Know Your Bodies Authentic Needs.

The Core SIP Breath or Structurally Informed Posture inhalation creates an extension in the body and an engagement of your waist muscles deep in your core. When you exhale in YogAlign, you will practice keeping this length in your spine and waist rather than letting the contraction movements of exhalation collapse your waist and pull your sternum and breastbone down.

With awareness, your inhales and exhales; can be used to traction, align and strengthen your spine and the muscles that act upon it. Using this breathing process can support you in achieving natural alignment. That will free your neck and shoulder muscles from the constant strain and overuse that occurs when breathing and posture are less than ideal.

The Psoas Muscle ~ The Core of Your Core ~ What does that mean? In YogAlign, the psoas is just one of the four muscles we will be referring to as the core muscles. The psoas major joins the upper body with the lower body. It forms part of a group of muscles called the hip flexors, whose action is primarily to lift the upper leg towards the body. When the body is fixed or to pull the body towards the leg when the legs are stable.

If constricted and weak, the psoas can cause back and hip pain. And can also engage the fight or flight nervous system. Creating feelings of anxiety, Why is it important to learn how to engage, activate, lengthen and relax this muscle/ group to live pain-free from your core.

Establishing and supporting your spine’s alignment and your natural curves in YogAlign practice is yet another way to live a pain-free life. Spine alignment is a determinate of your overall health and quality of life. You should practice yoga postures that support and engage the natural curves of your spine. That is why in YogAlign practice, all yoga poses stimulate good posture and functional, real-life movement. Good health is regained painlessly and quickly by addressing posture and breathing habits. Supporting natural alignment during yoga, fitness, and life’s daily movements.

Learning and practicing Concentric/Eccentric PNF Neuromuscular Postures is simply tightening what feels tight. PNF is an acronym for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. It is a technique activating a specific muscle to relax the muscles around a joint. So, you can decrease the stiffness around a joint. In YogAlign practice, we refer to this as resetting the tension. The PNF essentially outwits your habituated stretch reflexes and resets resting muscle length, which determines your level of flexibility. Tightening a muscle past its normal contraction or, tightening what is already tight, during exercise throws a switch in the nervous system creates more flexibility. PNF allows strength and flexibility at the same time. Quickly with no pain or strain to muscles or joints.

Freeing your fascia and knowing your anatomy are topics woven throughout the entire YogAlign practice. Basic knowledge of anatomy will grow as you begin to relate the yoga poses and their benefits to your body. Fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. YogAlign uses the inner movement of deep breathing to bring blood flow and fascia releasing where it would be otherwise impossible to palpate or massage your structure. The YogAlign combination of SIP breathing, self-massage, and yoga postures can be very effective in freeing your fascia. Drink lots of water to keep your fascia hydrated and pliable. We are made mostly of water and space.

Sensory Body Awareness and Proprioception in YogAlign practice allows you to pay attention to the sensations of tension and/or release in the muscles. Feeling where the body is in space and time, and become aware of the kinesthetic sensations while moving through your yoga poses. Sensory Body Awareness and Proprioception will support you in practicing presence and awareness in the now ~ staying in the moment.

Practicing YogAlign, gradually, you attain the innate muscle memory that allows you to maintain natural alignment. Without thinking about it-moving gracefully and with ease from the core center of your body with a toned, flexible spine and strong stabilized joint functions. Showing up to YogAlign practice will allow you the time and space to get to know and support your body’s needs.

Michaelle Edwards is the creator of the YogAlign Method on the Island of Kauai.

Aloha