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.

YogAlign or Swimming?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

To the question above my answer would be yes and yes.

Swimming like YogAlign engages the entire body throughout the entire movement this was the perfect solution to our required body movement regime.

Many of you already know my son Joaquin age 15 has been diagnosed with Pectus Excavatum, Scoliosis and Scheuermann’s Disease.

Refer to blog post https://innerbreathyoga.com/2019/05/21/our-journey-so-far/

Quick recap – I started Joaquin on a regular YogAlign practice schedule of three to four times a week starting in January 2019 shortly after his diagnosis.

This was a one on one program, one to two hours per practice with YogAlign teacher Renee’ Fulkerson AKA mom. Needless to say we had a few challenging moments to say the least until we found our rhythm. Joaquin is dedicated he knows YogAlign will be a part of his life for the rest of his life.

After roughly a few months Joaquin began attending my regularly scheduled public YogAlign Classes with a bit of hesitation of course. Then as teens/ mothers and sons start the debate on comprise we started a new dialog on body movement (exercise).

Swimming  Joaquin requested he be able to have the option of practicing YogAlign half the time and swimming the other. Swimming like YogAlign engages the entire body throughout the entire movement it was the perfect solution to our required body movement regime.

Now we are not only seeing amazing postural shifts from the regular YogAlign practice but also from the regular for us Ocean swimming and hey if your going to swim why not swim with the turtles?

YogAlign Inner Breath Yoga Island Kauai Hawaii (1)

My ConclusionPectus Excavatum, Scoliosis and Scheuermann’s Disease. have many symptoms that can benefit from a regular YogAlign practice and a good swim a few times a week.

See you on the mat.

Definition of swim: propel the body through water by using the limbs.

 Health Benefits of Swimming (web MD)

Intensity Level: Medium
You’ll use your lower and upper body muscles for a steady workout. You can make your swim harder by going faster or longer.

Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Swimming gives your entire body a great workout, including your core.

Arms: Yes. You’ll need your arms for most swim strokes, so expect them to get a workout.

Legs: Yes. You’ll use your legs to propel yourself through the water.

Glutes: Yes. Swimming uses your glutes.

Back: Yes. Your back muscles will get a workout, whether you’re doing the backstroke or a water-based exercise class.

Type
Flexibility: Yes. Swimming will make you more flexible.

Aerobic: Yes. Your heart will keep pumping as you use your entire body to move through the water.

Strength: Yes. You’ll get stronger from the resistance of the water, which is about 12 times the level of air resistance. Try using hand-held paddles, foam noodles, or a kickboard for extra resistance.

Low-Impact: Yes. Swimming is an excellent low-impact workout. The water gives you buoyancy, so you’ll float through your exercise session without putting pressure on your joints.

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

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.

Stilettos…A Pain In The ???

BY ERIKDALTON.COM

The biomechanical effect of heels in everything from running shoes to stilettos has puzzled researchers and fired controversy for almost a century. In a highly functioning body, the neuro-myo-skeletal system ‘hangs’ in dynamic equilibrium, each part balancing the other. But when a woman wears high heels, a new dynamic equilibrium occurs (Fig. 1) If one body part becomes ‘fixed,’ the whole system must compensate with altered movement patterns resulting in kinetic chain ‘kinks.’ Here’s an interesting experiment that’ll help you get a feel for biomechanical adjustments high-heel wearers deal with every day: • Stand barefoot with the back against a wall. Observe how your ‘upright’ body column forms a perpendicular line (ninety degree angle) with the floor (Fig. 2A).

* Slide a two inch wedge of some kind (phone book, etc.) under both heels and notice that by keeping your body column rigid, you’re forced to tilt forward from ninety to about seventy degrees (Fig. 2B).

* Now replace with a three inch heel wedge and straighten up so you’re touching the wall again and feel the dramatic myo-skeletal adaptations that take place. Can you feel your ankles shift from dorsi to plantar-flexion? In this standing posture, the knees are buckled, hips flexed, low back swayed, and the shoulder girdle retracted (Fig. 2C).

The brain, guided by foot, ankle and visual proprioceptors, must instantaneously make a whole series of myofascial and joint adjustments (ankle, knee, hip, spine, and head) to regain and retain erect stance and equilibrium (Fig 3). But high-heeled posturo-functional faults are not confined to the external milieu; they may also inflict compressional damage on the internal viscera…particularly pelvic bowl contents. According to research conducted by Diane Lee, excessive lumbar lordosis causes the pelvic bowl to dip anteriorly which raises the body’s center of gravity leading to reduced proprioceptive stability.1

Not only are we more unstable on our feet, but the increased anterior pelvic tilt squashes our poor organs. For example, when standing barefoot, the anterior angle (pelvic tilt) of the female pelvis is twenty-five degrees; on low, one-inch heels it increases to thirty degrees; on two-inch heels to forty-five degrees and on three-inch heels to sixty degrees. You don’t have to be a physicist to envision how increased heel height causes gravity to compress and distort abdominal organs (Fig. 4). Hopefully one day we’ll see a well-designed study testing the relationship of long-term high-heel wearing and ‘gut’ problems such as prolapsed colons, distended bladders, hemorrhoids, etc.

Many women love to wear high heels, and I might add many men like women in high heels. However, it’s true that some women suffer for their vanities. In young women, this is accommodated fairly well by ankle and hip mobility and low back stability. But, many high-heel wearing women find that as they age and the hip joints stiffen, shock waves shoot through the lumbar spine causing disc compression, ligamentous laxity and facet joint spurring. Women should be cautious about wearing heels constantly, or over long periods of time.

Clearly, the human foot was not designed to walk in stilettos… or cowboy boots for that matter. The foot is specifically constructed to land in a heel to toe ‘rolling’ motion whereby the arch, ankle, and knee absorb shock (stored energy) and release the ground reaction force up the kinetic chain to counter-rotate the torso and pelvis. The heeled shoe steals this propulsive power from tendons, ligaments and leg muscles. Not only do heels place the foot and leg under greater stress to achieve the demands of propulsion, but the borrowed power must be ‘leeched” from higher structures in the kinetic chain, i.e., knees, thigh muscles, hips, and trunk. As a small army of anatomical reinforcements are recruited to rescue the handicapped fascial tissues, the body continues to lose energy to the ground. Shoe heels of any height set in motion a series of gait-negative consequences, making natural gait — meaning the barefoot form — impossible. Don’t let your clients be a slave to fashion; fix their feet and give them back the natural spring in their step.

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