Is Your Yoga Practice Sustainable?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

SUSTAINABLE | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary
https://dictionary.cambridge.org › dictionary › english › sustainable
sustainable meaning: 1. able to continue over a period of time: 2. causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.
We could exchange the word environment for the human body.By the above definition, the question could be re-worded to – Is your yoga practice causing little to no damage to your human body? Will you be able to continue this yoga practice for a long time? The answer for me is yes at this current time as my yoga practice is The Yoga Align Method – pain-free yoga from your inner core focuses on proper body alignment and real-life movement.
I have found whether we are young or mature in age. We all want to feel good and be happy in our mind, body, and spirit. In my teaching and personal experience, most of us can connect to the physical body by touching it, seeing it and, feeling it. Whereas; the mind takes time to connect with meditation and stillness. The spirit for some is altogether unattainable in the tangible sense. They cannot find the connection. So doing some physical movement seems like a place to find some joy and happiness.
For some yoga, practice means only physical movement (asana). For others, it is only meditation they seek. Actually, in this day and age yoga, can come in many forms. For this blog, let us stick with yoga practice in the physical sense.

When you are in your next yoga practice/ class, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Am I able to take a full deep breath in this posture?
  • Do my spine and sacrum maintain their curves and integrity?
  • Does this posture simulate functional movement? Am I comfortable and stable?

In my public YogAlign class, I have found that some folks do not and have not ever felt comfortable and stable in a forward lunge. A lunge is a lower-body exercise that works several muscle groups at once. The targeted muscles include the glutes, hips, and butt, in addition to the hamstrings and quadriceps in your thighs. The calf muscles in your lower legs, your abdominal muscles, and your back muscles act as stabilizers during this exercise. Not feeling stable in the forward lunge restricts deep breath, alignment, and therefore is not comfortable or supported. The solution, to place a yoga block under the back foot for a double-duty purpose. One, getting alignment from the foot to the hip. Two raises the heel to a comfortable level and creates the stability the student was lacking. Once they are in a stable lunge everything, else falls into place.

Inner Breath Yoga Yogalign kauai hawaii

I have also had students lunge with the assist of a prop. Stepping their right foot forward and placing their big toe close to the wall. (but not touching) Next stepping their left foot back on a block or lifting their heel once they feel stable. (foot in alignment with hip) I have them check to see if the back of their head (the Occipital bone) and the sacrum are in alignment. Next, when we are in alignment and stable, we sink into the front knee. Placing the pads of our fingers (fingers open to turn on the arm muscles) against the wall to upper chest height and start our SIP breath. (structurally Informed Posture- informs our body of how to be in good posture by aligning from the inside out). Allowing this core breath to stabilize the body and drawing the shoulder blades together creates even more stability. Once we are aligned, in a posture with effective breathing, balance, and, comfort we can reap all the benefits. The above described YogAlign Power Lunge is sustainable for the human body as it ticks all our boxes.

If we are moving through a yoga practice that is harming or damaging our body, what would be the point? Although sometimes this may happen and, we do not even realize it is happening. Be careful when an instructor cues a posture is meant to be painful and to breathe through the pain. That may be somewhat true for a person who has had a debilitating accident and is in recovery (physical therapy) But, even then, I would question the motive and benefits.

We can create a happy, healthy mind, body, and spirit well into a mature age by putting our body in breathable, aligned, functional, comfortable, and stable yoga postures. Now go out and use your sustainable body for good!

Aloha

Hip Hinge And Bending Over – The Proof Is In The Pictures.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I recently attended Ohana (family) Day A school function for my tenth-grade son. That entailed building several garden boxes from scratch and then planting vegetables in the garden boxes. I began taking pictures of the beautiful moments. That was taking place between the diverse community that had gathered for Family Day. I looked through the camera lens I started noticing with greater attention how folks were moving their bodies. Observing the differences between young and old, male to female, and everyone’s visible health. The first big difference between young and old was how they each approached the planting of the vegetables. The younger kids/ teens almost always squatted down to plant their seeds while the parents/ older folks bent over into a C shape to plant their seed.

Inner Breath Yoga Yogalign Kauai

I flashed back to a time before I started training and teaching YogAlign. A time before knowing proper body mechanics and real-life movement in a yoga class. Where I would practice forward folds with straight legs. That at the time, I did not realize I was creating pain in my knees in my everyday life.

Flash forward to today, I realize I have come along way in my YogAlign practice. I have been able to overtime re-wire the bad habits that had become my daily improper movement patterns. I learned why it is good or bad to move my body a certain way. Example bending down to pick something up and bending down properly. I was looking through some pictures of a recent summer trip. I was pleased to see my regular YogAlign practice having positive effects on my daily life. It was natural for me to hip hinge while capturing water from a natural water spring. With proper movement hip hinging, my spine can stay in a neutral position. Meanwhile, my hips and upper legs support my body weight. When you bend at the waist (pictured on the right), the back curves, putting stress on the spine.

Inner Breath Yoga YogAlign Kauai Hawaii

“Bending at the hip takes the pressure off the back muscles,” says Liza Shapiro, who studies primate locomotion at the University of Texas, Austin. “Instead, you engage your hamstring muscles.”And by “engage the hamstrings,” she also means stretching them.”Oh yes! To hip hinge properly’ your hamstrings have to lengthen,” Shapiro says. “If you have tight hamstrings, they prevent you from bending over easily in that way.”

Food for thought:

The little’s younger than three years old are great hip hingers. They haven’t learned yet from our example to bend like a C. I know I am a work in progress but, I can imagine the possibilities in a body I can trust to allow me to continue enjoying all the activities I love well into my senior years.

Next time you take a trip down memory lane by looking at photos, take note of how you move your body. Hip Hinge and Bending Over – the proof is in the pictures.

Aloha

 

YogAlign Or Swimming?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

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

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

Swimming like YogAlign engages the entire body during the movement. That 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. Shortly after his diagnosis beginning in January of 2019. That was a one on one program, one to two hours per practice with YogAlign teacher Renee’ Fulkerson, AKA mom. We had a few challenging moments 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. Then as mothers and teen sons do we, started the debate on comprising. We began a new dialog on body movement (exercise). Swimming  Joaquin requested he can have the option of practicing YogAlign half the time and swimming the other. Swimming like YogAlign engages the entire body during the movement. It was the perfect solution to our required body movement regime. Now we are not only seeing postural shifts from the regular YogAlign practice. But also from Ocean swimming and hey if you are going to swim why not swim with the turtles?

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

YogAlign Inner Breath Yoga Island Kauai Hawaii (1)

Health Benefits of Swimming (web MD) Intensity Level: Medium -You will 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 muscles.

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

Legs: Yes. You will 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 are 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 will get stronger from the resistance in the water. That 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. You will float through your exercise session without putting pressure on your joints.

Aloha

A Quick Lesson From Real Life Movement.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I added these pictures for two reasons:

A. because these animals are beautiful, we were blessed to have come across them on our recent road trip.

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

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

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

YogAlign Inner Breath Yoga Kauai Hawaii Island

That 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.

Aloha

Is My YogAlign Practice Enough?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

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

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

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

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

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

One of the first things I noticed when I started my YogAlign practice was my ability to lengthen and create fullness in my frontline by breathing with the diaphragm (SIP breath). That felt amazing after sitting at a computer with a collapsed chest and rounded shoulders. This breathing method alone supported bringing back my mental clarity. I then began to learn how to move from my core. Which immediately created this feeling of full-body strength in a solid foundation. My posture shifted quickly. I could start to feel the muscles in my back getting strong and buoyant as I walked.

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

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

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