Do you trust your GUT?

by Renee’ Fulkerson

We are always looking for an external sign (including myself) to solidify our answer to whatever question is at hand.

Lately I have been pondering alone and with students in YogAlign class the idea and simplicity of trusting our own gut. Literally trusting our own guts aka internal organs.

Which brings me to a recent topic that was brought up by founder of YogAlign Michaelle Edwards. “Do any of you feel there is a difference between yoga pose alignment and postural alignment”? The above question sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts and research before I could answer the question.

The obvious answer to me was yes I do see a difference between the two. Yoga pose alignment is taught to you and postural alignment is programmed in your brain etc. Having said that Yoga poses taught to a student feel external (judgment and opinions from outside yourself) where as postural alignment comes from within be it programmed (a habit) you have your own judgment and opinion.

I started thinking about how the external and internal judgement affects us be it in our yoga class or pose and how we see ourselves our body image in general. How a yoga practice can support us in letting go of our own judgment (ironic).

I then started thinking about body images and body shapers aka Spanx or corset. I personally have never worn a body shaper myself and do not judge others if they have however, this topic too goes back to trusting our guts. From my research on body shapers men and women alike wear them under their garments for many reasons however, lets face it mostly for vanity.

Body shaper enthusiasts have written about the pros and cons of wearing this type of garment. Some say how they feel more confident, sexy and are made aware of their bad posture habits and adjust themselves accordingly or rely on the garment to keep them in proper posture. Others say the garment felt okay at first but by the end of the day it has cut into their skin, cut off circulation and they cannot imagine another minute in the garment. One comment in particular caught my attention I quote “3. Pro: I’m aware! Because I’m being held in I am naturally holding myself more upright. I consistently think about contracting my core–giving myself a subtle abdominal workout ALL. DAY. LONG! My posture is more erect”.

This is where the GUT comes in aka internal organs brains, lungs, liver, bladder, kidneys, heart, stomach and intestines. The obvious answers delivered directly to us from our guts is simply comfort or discomfort. Michaelle Edwards founder of YogAlign goes on to ask what is a correct pose? To which I give my two cents “I want the body to move as nature intended. “Everything thing has a place and everything is in its place”. Bones properly aligned which then allows muscles, joints and ligaments to follow and preform as intended. Allowing space for the vital organs to function properly keeps the nervous system happy – resulting in creating a sustainable body.

If you guts aren’t happy it cannot possibly be the correct pose. Which brings me back to the body shapers if your guts are not happy it cannot possibly create favorable conditions for your mind, spirit or body. The most likely bodily response you are going to achieve from holding your core in all day is exhaustion. Exhaustion of the sympathetic nervous system responding to the squeezing of your guts triggering the fight or flight response. Not to mention relying on a body shaper to keep you in good posture is counter productive as well as an illusion.

Bringing me to my conclusion trusting our GUT is the bodies way of communicating its yay or nay answer with comfort or discomfort. As my teacher always says “you are never going to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. See you on the mat.

A Quick Lesson from Real Life Movement.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I added these pictures for two reasons:

A.  because these animals are beautiful beings we where blessed to have come across on our recent road trip.

B.  because these animals bodies are in perfect balance and alignment.

  • the animals move with grace
  • they remain strong and agile with just the natural movements of their everyday life
  • they move they bodies with efficiency and effectiveness not slouching or slumping

If we where to see any one of these animals slouching, limping or out of alignment we would immediately become concerned for their health however, as humans we see ourselves and others living with all kinds of body miss-alignment that just becomes the norm.

YogAlign Inner Breath Yoga Kauai Hawaii Island

Which brings me to my conclusion I suppose we would not last very long out in the wild being out of balance and alignment. Unable to hunt for our food or take care of our young – food for thought.

See you on the mat.

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

DCIM100GOPRO

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

What are the best foot exercises for healthy feet?

Reviewed by 

Many people experience foot or ankle pain at some point. By keeping the feet strong, a person can alleviate soreness, and improve overall health and flexibility.

Regularly exercising and stretching the feet and ankles can help to ensure that muscles are providing the best support. These exercises may also increase the range of motion in the feet, keeping a person active for as long as possible.

Most foot exercises are simple and require no complicated equipment. They can be done at home or in the gym as part of a regular exercise routine.

Exercises for flexibility and mobility

The following exercises have been developed to improve flexibility and mobility in the feet.

1. Toe raise, point, and curl

Image of toe raise, point, and curl foot exercise

There are three stages to the toe raise, point, and curl.

This exercise has three stages and will help to strengthen all parts of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Keeping the toes on the floor, raise the heels. Stop when only the balls of the feet remain on the ground.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering the heels.
  • For the second stage, raise the heel and point the toes so that only the tips of the big and second toes are touching the floor.
  • Hold for 5 seconds before lowering.
  • For the third stage, raise the heel and curl the toes inward, so that only the tips of the toes are touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Build flexibility and mobility by repeating each stage 10 times.

2. Big toe stretch

Keeping a wide range of motion in the big toe is important. The following exercise also has three stages, and it was designed to stretch and relieve pain in toes that have been squashed in shoes.

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Bring the left foot to rest on the right thigh.
  • Using the fingers, gently stretch the big toe up, down, and to the side.
  • Remain in this position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat this 10 times before switching to the other foot.

Exercises for strength

The following exercises can help to enhance the strength of the feet.

3. Toe splay

Toe splay foot exercises

The toe splay helps with control over toe muscles.

The toe splay was developed to improve control over the toe muscles. It can be done on both feet at once, or on alternate feet, depending on comfort.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit in a straight-backed chair with the feet gently resting on the floor.
  • Spread the toes apart as far as possible without straining. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat this motion 10 times.
  • Once some strength has been built up, try looping a rubber band around the toes. This will provide resistance and make the exercise more challenging.

4. Toe curls

Toe curls build up the flexor muscles of the toes and feet, improving overall strength.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Lay a small towel on the floor in front of oneself, with the short side facing the feet.
  • Place the toes of one foot on the short side of the towel. Try to grasp the towel between the toes and pull it toward oneself. Repeat the exercise five times, before switching to the other foot.
  • To make this exercise more challenging, weigh down the opposite end of the towel with an object.

5. Marble pickup

The marble pickup was designed to increase strength in the muscles on the underside of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Place an empty bowl and a bowl of marbles (20 is good to start with) on the floor in front of the feet.
  • Using only the toes of one foot, pick up each marble and place it in the empty bowl.
  • Repeat, using the other foot.

6. Sand walking

Walking barefoot on sand is a great way to stretch and strengthen the feet and calves. This is a good exercise in general because sand’s soft texture makes walking more physically demanding.

To do this exercise:

  • Head to a beach, desert, or even a volleyball court.
  • Remove shoes and socks.
  • Walk for as long as possible. Increase these distances slowly over time, to avoid overexerting muscles in the feet and calves.

Exercises for pain

The following exercises can provide pain relief.

7. Toe extension

The toe extension is useful in preventing or treating plantar fasciitis — a condition that causes pain in the heel when walking, as well as difficulty in raising the toes.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Place the left foot on the right thigh.
  • Pull the toes up, toward the ankle. A stretching feeling should be felt along the bottom of the foot and heel cord.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Massaging the arch of the foot while stretching will help ease tension and pain.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times on each foot.

8. Golf ball roll

Golf ball roll foot exercise

A golf ball rolled under the foot may help to relieve discomfort.

Rolling a golf ball under the feet can help to relieve discomfort in the arches and ease pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Place a golf ball — or another hard, small ball — on the floor next to the feet.
  • Lay one foot on the ball and move it around, pressing down as hard as is comfortable. The ball should be massaging the bottom of the foot.
  • Continue for 2 minutes, then repeat on the other foot
  • A frozen bottle of water can be a soothing alternative if no suitable balls are available.

9. Achilles stretch

The Achilles tendon is a cord connecting the heel to the calf muscles. It can strain easily, and keeping it strong may help with foot, ankle, or leg pains.

To do this exercise:

  • Face a wall and raise the arms, so that the palms rest flat against the wall.
  • Place one foot back, keeping the knee straight. Then bend the knee of the opposite leg.
  • Keep both heels flat on the floor.
  • Push the hips forward, until the Achilles tendon and calf muscles can be felt stretching.
  • Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat three times on each side.
  • For a slightly different stretch, bend the back knee and push the hips forward.

Foot health and safety tips

To keep feet strong and healthy:

  • Complete a thorough warm up routine before exercising.
  • Wear supportive footwear for day-to-day activities and sports.
  • Replace shoes when they are worn down.
  • Build up strength and flexibility slowly, to condition feet and ankles.
  • Avoid uneven surfaces, especially when running. Try not to run uphill too often.
  • Listen to the body and do not overdo activities.
  • Prevent any recurrence of injury by resting and receiving appropriate treatment.

Keeping the feet and ankles healthy is always a good idea. The exercises above can help to ease existing pain, prevent discomfort, and reduce chances of injury.

YogAlign – Pain Free Yoga From Your Inner Core

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 we are aligned with the spine in natural curves, the body connects naturally as a continuum and we feel relaxed, balanced, secure and peaceful. We attain 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, and only utilizes positions that mimic functional movement

The basis of the YogAlign practice is to create and maintain posture in natural alignment and therefore the emphasis in on posture, not the poses.

What  differentiates YogAlign from other practices is its focus on rewiring of real-life movement patterning, rather that 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 your awareness, each inhale and exhale 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 muscle 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 leg is fixed. If constricted and weak, the psoas can not only cause back and hip pain, but can also engages the fight or flight nervous system, likely 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 spines alignment and your natural curves in YogAlign practice is yet another way to live a pain-free life. Since spine alignment is a major determinate of your overall health and quality of life, you should practice yoga postures that support and engage the natural curves of your spine. This is why in YogAlign practice all yoga poses stimulate good posture and functional, real life movement. Good health can be regained painlessly and quickly by addressing posture and breathing habits, in order to attain 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 where you are activating a specific muscle in order 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. By consciously tightening a muscle past its normal contraction, or tightening what is already tight, during normal exercises, the nervous system throws a switch that opens you up to more flexibility. PNF allows you to become strong and flexible at the same time, and this occurs quickly with no pain or strain to muscles or joints.

Freeing your fascia and knowing your anatomy are topics that are woven throughout the entire YogAlign practice. A 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 fasciareleasing 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. Don’t forget to drink lots of water to keep your fascia hydrated and pliable. After all we are mostly made up 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, a feeling of 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.

Gradually, as you practice YogAlign, you attain the innate muscle memory that allows you to stay in natural alignment without thinking about it-moving gracefully and easily 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 bodies authentic needs.

YogAlign was created by Michaelle Edwards on the Island of Kauai

Destress Your Holidays: 4 Ways to Develop Holiday Presence

by Charlotte Bell.

The holidays are a mixed bag. On the one hand, they’re fun. We get to turn our focus to reconnecting with friends and family. On the other hand, adding lots of extra commitments into our calendar can create feelings of stress. It’s not always easy to fit more commitments into our schedules. Then there’s shopping, wrapping, mailing, etc.

All these things can add up to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Yoga—including asana, pranayama and meditation—can help. Here are some ways to use your yoga practice to relieve potential holiday stress. I call it developing holiday presence.

4 Ways to Develop Holiday Presence

  1. Adjust your attitude: While we may indeed be overwhelmed with responsibilities at the moment, we don’t have to add to the overwhelm by responding with negativity. We have a choice. We can approach our responsibilities with resentment or we can approach them with appreciation. Truth is, generosity is a positive force. Being generous with our time, energy and other resources is a source of joy. It’s helpful to remember this.
  2. Restore yourself: Make restorative yoga your best holiday friend. It’s important to take time for yourself during the holidays. Think of it as a way to develop generosity. That this generosity is toward yourself doesn’t make it any less valid. Supta Baddha Konasana (Supine Bound Angle Pose) is one of the few poses you can practice on a full stomach. Practice it any time, for 5 to 20 minutes.
  3. Breathe: It sounds a bit trite, especially since humans breathe about 23,000 times a day anyway. But taking time out to practice long, slow, deep breathing can refresh and calm a frazzled nervous system. When you feel yourself becoming agitated, breathe slowly and deeply. Slow, deep breathing calms your nervous system, and therefore the rest of you as well. Breathing is the superpower we all have at our disposal. Use it!
  4. Gain perspective: Remember that whatever stress you’re going through at the moment will be but a memory tomorrow, or maybe even an hour from now. Mindfulness teaches us that everything changes, all the time. That drama that consumed you a week or a month ago—where is it now? When you feel drama starting to take over, step back, breathe deeply and tune into the sensations in your body. Let the sensations be. Relax into them.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already practice yoga. Put your skills to work, not just on your yoga mat, but in your daily life. Developing holiday presence will help smooth out stress and bring joy and gratitude to your holidays.

Exercise Wins: Fit Seniors Can Have Hearts That Look 30 Years Younger

By PATTI NEIGHMOND

We know we need to exercise for our health, but a lifelong exercise habit may also help us feel younger and stay stronger well into our senior years. In fact, people in their 70s who have been exercising regularly for decades seem to have put a brake on the aging process, maintaining the heart, lung and muscle fitness of healthy people at least 30 years younger.

Take 74-year-old Susan Magrath, a retired nurse practitioner who lives in Muncie, Ind. Magrath has been running almost daily for 45 years. She often runs outdoors and describes it as addictive. “It’s just such a release, just a wonderful release,” she says. “I ran today and there were little snowflakes coming down, and I was down by the river and it’s just wonderful. And I think it’s become more of a contemplative meditative process for me.”

Magrath may be living proof that lifelong exercise helps with cardiovascular and muscle health. She recently took part in a study at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University, also in Muncie, headed by exercise physiologist Scott Trappe. Trappe is among the first to study the enticing new population of lifelong exercisers.

After the running and aerobic boom of the 1970s, large numbers of septuagenarians stuck with it and have been exercising regularly for the past 50 years. In this population, Trappe says, “We were interested in basically two questions: One, what was their cardiovascular health? And two, what was their skeletal muscle health?

What he saw surprised him. “We saw that people who exercise regularly year after year have better overall health than their sedentary counterparts. These 75-year-olds — men and women — have similar cardiovascular health to a 40- to 45-year-old.”

” ‘Exercise wins’ is the take-home message,” he says.

In the study, Trappe divided 70 healthy participants into three groups. Those in the lifelong exercise group were on average 75 years old and primarily kept their heart rates up through running and cycling. They had a history of participating in structured exercise four to six days a week for a total of about seven hours a week.

The second group included individuals who were also, on average, 75 years old but did not engage in structured exercise regimens, although they might have participated in occasional leisure walking or golf.

The third group consisted of young exercisers who were, on average, 25 years old and worked out with the same frequency and length of time as the lifelong exercisers.

All participants were assessed in the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University. Cardiovascular health was gauged by having participants cycle on an indoor bike to determine VO2 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, which is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense exercise and is an indicator of aerobic endurance. During the cycling test, which became increasingly challenging, individuals exhaled into a mouthpiece that measured oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

The aerobic profile of the participants’ muscles was measured by taking a sample via a biopsy about the size of a pea, says Trappe. Then in the lab, researchers examined the micro vessels, or capillaries, that allow blood to flow through the muscle itself.

They also looked at specific enzymes that provide fuel to the working muscle and help break down carbohydrates and fats.

Although the study was relatively small, the findings, which were published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in August, suggest a dramatic benefit of lifelong exercise for both muscle health and the cardiovascular system.

“Lifelong exercisers had a cardiovascular system that looked 30 years younger,” says Trappe. This is noteworthy because, for the average adult, the ability to process oxygen declines by about 10 percent per decade after age 30.

“It’s kind of a slow decay over time that’s probably not so noticeable in your 30s or 40s,” says Trappe, but eventually as years go on, becomes apparent. People can get out of breath more easily and may have difficulty pushing themselves physically.

The age-related reduction in VO2 max is directly associated with an increasing risk of multiple chronic diseases, mortality and loss of independence. Maintaining a strong heart and lung system has been shown to decrease these health risks.S

As for muscle health, the findings were even more significant, says Trappe. Trappe says researchers were surprised to find the 75-year-old muscles of lifelong exercisers were about the same as the muscles of the 25-year-olds. “If I showed you the muscle data that we have, you wouldn’t know it was from an older individual. You would think it’s from somebody that’s a young exerciser,” he says.

David Costill, 82, was not part of the study but is a former colleague of Trappe’s and professor emeritus of exercise science at Ball State University. As an exercise physiologist, he has always known about the benefits of exercise and has been committed since high school.

He says he has spent about “60 years actively exercising.” Costill ran marathons for about 20 years until his knees started to bother him, so he headed to the pool. “And I’ve been swimming for the last 35 years.”

When Costill looks at his friends, he says he finds he can do a lot more physically than they can. “If I’m out with a group of my peers, guys who are near 80, and we’re going someplace, it seems to me they’re all walking at half speed.”

Trappe says the findings are clear: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day may be the key to a healthy life. But you don’t have to run marathons or compete in cycling events. “If you want to do 30 to 45 minutes of walking a day, the amount of health benefit you are going to get is going to be significant and substantial,” he says. “Will it equal the person training for competitive performances? No. But it will outdo the couch potato.”

Unfortunately, couch potatoes are the norm. Federal guidelines recommend two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Yet 77 percent of Americans do not come close to getting that amount of exercise.

Dr. Clyde Yancy, spokesperson for the American Heart Association and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says the findings suggest “a lifelong investment in health and fitness appears to be associated with a really sustainable benefit out until the outer limits of life.”

Since we are living longer, maintaining a good quality of life is more important than ever. While the study was small and the findings need to be confirmed, they present a “strong argument” for lifelong exercise that is inexpensive and accessible for everyone. “If you can swim, do yoga, cycle, or walk,” you can benefit,” Yancy says.