Pectus Excavatum, Scoliosis and Scheuermann’s Disease.

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 was born in December of 2003, a healthy, happy baby boy. Peter (my husband) and I were over the moon happy, as all new parents are. We did notice from birth Joaquin had a curve in his sacrum area between his gluteal muscles. But did not think much of it. The years passed by in our then mountain home of Big Bear Lake, California. Our family lead a very family-active lifestyle and owned and operated a backpacking outfitting store and yoga studio next door. Joaquin spent his first seven years of life hiking, skateboarding, rock climbing, skiing, downhill mountain biking, snowshoeing, BMX racing, snowboarding, zip-lining, slacklining, and of course leading groups with dad in the great outdoors or practicing in one of mom’s yoga classes. Joaquin was 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. Whereas 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 saw 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 were coming from the amount of time Joaquin spent sitting in a chair in front of his computer. Peter and I 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. 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.

That was the beginning of many Dr. visits on and off-island between Kauai and Oahu. On the day during Joaquin’s routine exam, he was diagnosed with Pectus Excavatum and sent for a spine x-ray for Scoliosis. Joaquin saw by both a pediatric surgeon and spine surgeon on Oahu. Where then, he was 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 regarding no cysts, tumors, or abnormalities for concern. He will continue to struggle with Scheuermann’s Disease of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine. His Scoliosis is still within the mild range. The Pectus Excavatum is a surgical procedure fix which we would like to avoid. That 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. 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 still is to continue to shift his current alignment. He is fifteen, his body is pliable, and we want to start to wake up the left side of his pectus muscles, rewire 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 to 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 (most of the time).

Fast forward to today May, 30 Th Joaquin and I 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 and posture good, and poor, and how his body feels when it is in proper or poor alignment. Not to mention the self-confidence it has given him. He will always need to be very physically active and practice YogAlign to maintain a happy, healthy body able to do all of the things he enjoys in a life well into his senior years. I am proud of his commitment and grateful for the YogAlign Method. And Peter and I for being proactive in a challenging situation.

Joaquin will need in the near future to have the Nuss procedure to fix his Pectus Excavatum 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.

Aloha

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