Loneliness and Movement Solutions? Sometimes you need to get creative.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Definition of lonely:
Being without company : LONE
Cut off from others : SOLITARY
Not frequented by human beings : DESOLATE
Sad from being alone : LONESOME
Producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation

I myself have had feelings of loneliness focus on the word feelings. When I verbally expressed this to a friend, she reminded me that this was a state of mind and not the reality of the matter. That got me thinking yes, I could reach out via phone, facetime, Skype or physically show up to another human being and connect.

Although that last part may be a bit more difficult given our current situation.

I have been able to continue to teach my regularly scheduled YogAlign classes and for that I am very grateful. Why because I work with a small group of regulars and one student generously offered to host our YogAlign classes at her home. Which of course has not been the case for many yoga teachers, students and beyond.

For the students including myself that meet several times a week for YogAlign this is part of our community, relationships and for some a lifeline. We are able to continue to move our bodies, fill our diaphragm with deep full breaths and best of all smile and laugh with one another. Keeping our spirits as well as our immune system/ body, happy and healthy!

My mom is a perfect example of a lonely state of mind. She is in her early seventies and has attended her regular exercise classes at her local YMCA for years. This weekly ritual has been her life line as she lives alone. She was able to join in community with others in group classes, socialize a bit before and after classes and then get her personal workout on. Due to our current situation and not having that resource she has an is having all the feelings mentioned above.

The solution?

Across the ocean on Kauai where myself, husband and teenage son live he too is feeling some degrees of loneliness. For him it is manifesting in feelings of boredom, unmotivated and lack of engagement. For most seventeen-year old’s school on a weekly basis is their life line. Meeting in community for classes, socializing during lunch, before and after school. With his school being completely virtual (online) he is missing out also on connection.

The Solution? Sometimes you haft to get creative.

We packed up all things precious to a seventeen year old (his gaming computer) and sent him across the ocean to his grammys. This was not necessarily easy for dear old mom and dad however, it felt right and he was all for it. Although none of us were sure how this would unfold? I haft to say we all have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome thus far.

It has been a little over a month now and there is more comradery, movement and breath on both parts. How? Aside from having a change they both are doing for each other. Meaning my mom is motivated to get up and get creative with cooking, work in the yard and take walks with her grandson. Joaquin is spending less time gaming (on his computer) out of boredom, also cooking, running errands and again taking walks with his grams. With more movement, breath and a few laughs this keeps their mind, immune system/ body, happy and healthy.

Remembering loneliness is a state of being (a feeling) is half the battle.

I have mentioned in other blog post that we are able to connect with the physical sometimes easier than spiritual as it is more tangible. That being said we can connect with unpleasant feeling just as easily to pleasant feelings such as joy. Once we are able to get motivated and get our bodies moving be it gardening, going for a walk or practicing YogAlign some level of joy is going to follow. You have everything on your side to succeed breath, purposefulness and movement. Maybe you won’t always have a partner by your side however, you still can create joy. I find listening to music with headphones or book on tap/ podcast while participating in activity proves to be a great companion.

Movement does not always haft to be a grand gesture. Washing the car is a pretty good workout.

Being a YogAlign teacher does mean I am going to follow a certain guideline of postures to teach and practice during class. That being said I never show up to teach with a planned class I teach to the energy of the students. During these last 6 months the energy has varied from day to day. With some comments before class being, I am just happy I am awake and got here. To follow up comments after class “am I going to be a lump today”? YogAlign was my big accomplishment for the day. To I now feel motivated to get others things done after my YogAlign class. All good stuff and I recommend honoring how you feel somedays you need to be a lump and other days a firecracker.

Playing with my pal Max.

I like to be playful when the energy feels heavy. Example after travel has opened back up some of my students who also happen to be grandparents will be traveling to see their precious grandchildren. Some of those grandchildren are infants and toddlers who of course spend most of their independent time on the floor. Because they are starting to lift their heads out of curiosity and necessity to create the natural curves in their spines. Littles are born with a C shaped spine and with head lifting and crawling they start to create the natural S curves in their spine. That being said we practice YogAlign postures that will allow them to get down on the floor, move around comfortably and trust their bodies to preform pain-free doing something they love with someone they love. When students are laying on their back on the floor getting in their last full body stretch or self-massage thinking savasana (final resting pose) is next I instruct to come to standing. And we all agree that there are not too many times during the day when you come to standing from lying on your back on the floor. Then we have glorious and well deserved final resting pose.

Practicing getting up and down off the floor from a lying on your back or stomach posture a few times. It’s all about movement.

That is the beauty of practicing YogAlign pain-free yoga from your inner core it is all about real life movements. Practicing movements that reflect who you are and how you live and want to live your life. We all have the ability to tap into feeling joy instead of loneliness and movement with breath is a beautiful way to get there.

See you on the mat.


The Yoga Mat of Shame

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Let’s start off this blog by becoming familiar with the definition of shame by Merriam-Webster:

Shame – a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

Yikes! The thought of wrong or foolish behavior in some yoga classes could send chills down your spine. (lol) Especially in the thoughts of folks new to yoga or simply someone who tends to be a perfectionist. I agree going to a yoga class for the first time can be extremely intimidating and yet on the other hand it could feel like the perfect fit.

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman in regard to expectations. Expectations in a yoga class to expectations of going to get a massage. This guy did not consider himself a spiritual person, had never attended a yoga class and had received a gift certificate for a massage. He had concerns about feeling humiliated or distressed with the idea of attending a yoga class or using his massage gift certificate. Which then turned the conversation topic from expectation to participation.

I got the impression he felt he needed to be a spiritual person to participate in a yoga class. He started to then speak with an example (the what if):

What if a guy has no idea what he is getting himself into when he thinks of attending a yoga class?

I replied: This guy you speak of would have to have lived under a rock to not have any thoughts or ideas of what would be entailed in a yoga class or massage (he laughed).

At that point as a yoga teacher, mother and human being I knew he needed to have the yoga talk.

I could only speak for myself and the way I teach the YogAlign method. I do my very best to put new and existing students at ease. I let them know please stop me if you do not understand what I am saying or asking of them. I let them know this is their time and not mine to stand on my soapbox. He seemed intrigued and even his body shifted to a more receptive posture.

I continued by explaining that I did not take a spiritual approach to teaching YogAlign (I feel spirituality is very personal). That is not to say the student may or may not connect with something or someone outside themselves during their practice. My approach especially for a new student is purely physical. I know everyone can take one hand and touch their arm and it makes perfect sense however, not everyone can go into or believes in a meditative state. I explained when we move through the physical YogAlign practice we begin feeling more comfortable and relaxed in our breath and body. Feeling more joy physically allows us to then feel more joy mentally. Which in some cases can lead into a meditative place of peace without even realizing it is happening. At this point I could see the gentleman becoming even more at ease with the thought of participating in a yoga class. He was starting to loosen his grip on the idea he would do something foolish or wrong (shameful) on the mat.

I myself never want a student of any level to feel they are standing on the yoga mat of shame in my classes and yet it happens. I have seen the frustration in a long time YogAlign student when she could not do a properly aligned push up. I reminded her there are other postures that will give the same result we are looking for in the push up. My job is to support students in feeling empowered not shameful. I also see new students struggle with watching other students be able to move their arms more from their back and not from their shoulders (like they keep doing).

Everyone reacts different to stressful situations when they feel they may not measure up. When the shame starts to creep in I see students shut down, start giggling and get hot/ sweaty. These and others cues lets me know a student may feel they are standing on the yoga mat of shame. I want to shift that perception immediately or that could be the first and last time they ever try yoga again.

We all create a story about something we have never tried. Sometimes that narrative may even come from what we have heard or seen on television. Whatever the expectations we have created for ourselves or the experience once we decide to make that appointment and show up for that class shows we are willing to participate. A willingness to fall on your face however, you need not fall into the shame game.

Take some time and research what yoga class/ style would create favorable conditions for your success. I myself teach many mixed level classes meaning someone new to yoga who needs more of the class (to be taught) to long time students who need more of the practice (moving through the postures) not all teachers/ styles of yoga can accommodate that type of experience.

Remember falling on your face is not always a bad thing in fact that is one way we are able to build self confidence. Resist the temptation to compare and compete in a yoga class. After all we as teachers should be holding space for your yoga experience to unfold in a safe and supportive environment.

See you on the mat.

Same Yoga Story Different Year.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I myself find comfort in the title “Same Yoga Story Different Year” knowing some things that are working do not need to be changed. Taking off some of the New Year resolution pressure and freeing up more space for gratitude.

As we approach the end of this year (2019) I am already hearing folks talking about their New Year’s resolution. I find the patterns always seem to remain the same in regard to the fitness New Year’s resolution. January comes in with high levels of new beginnings and fresh starts. Only to be followed by the distant reminder of what was to be.

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life. (Wikipedia)

I am not here to judge or saying we should not take opportunities to set goals to improve ourselves or our health. I know for myself I have made many a New Year resolutions in the past. Some stuck and some did not I would say that the majority did not. One thing that has remained the same is my dedication and commitment to my YogAlign practice. Why? Because I continue to feel the positive physical benefits, mental clarity and ease of life it provides me with daily.

Like many others interested in health and fitness I have tried and stuck with mostly things I have enjoyed or made me feel good. I firmly believe when it all comes down to it we all just want to feel good and be happy. That is why my yoga story will remain the same as we enter into this new year. Although, you might be thinking that sounds uneventful in regard to the possibilities of a New Year’s resolution or maybe even boring? I agree however, YogAlign is a yoga practice based on health sustainability thus constantly supporting me in possible new physical endeavors daily. As I continue to practice a method of Yoga that supports real life movements it keeps me unconsciously setting new goals and smashing them.

I find for myself with age I have a better sense of what is working for me and what is not and in a more timely manner. The years continue to roll by and few things do remain the same. Especially in the neck breaking speed the world is currently moving in. Change is good an inevitable and yet I find it ironic by keeping my yoga story the same it allows me to keep up and sometimes ahead of the game.

I like you, as well look, forward to the new year and all the opportunities just waiting to unfold and yes, I can imagine the possibilities in a body I can trust I hope you can to!

To that I end this blog by saying Happy New Year to you!

I wish you and your beloveds health and happiness ~ sending love and aloha

Shopping Spree or Living Spree?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Tis the season of holiday shopping, plentiful gift giving and festive gatherings with family and friends . Consumers are being enticed by Black Friday, Cyber Monday and a variety of deep discounted department store sales. Some might even refer to their shopping adventure as a shopping spree: a spell or sustained period of unrestrained activity of a particular kind.

I started thinking about how I have never considered myself a person who enjoys going shopping not even grocery shopping. I link it back to my childhood and to my family who were never over the top shoppers. We lived comfortably and had what we needed (and then some). I never felt I was lacking for anything. I also considered myself very physically active growing up. I definitely was more actively moving than actively shopping which rings true even to this day.

Some could argue that shopping especially holiday shopping is a physical activity and I would agree. There is a great deal of walking, lifting, bending and movement in general and at the end of the day we are exhausted. But what comes to mind for me is the poor posture, aching back (shoulders) and sore feet that come from a day of lugging packages and endless searching. I asked myself the question what would you rather be doing? My answer – having a Living Spree!

What would my living spree look like? Hiking outdoors which ironically comes with the same description of the above mentioned:

  • possible poor posture – from fatigue (shallow breathing)
  • aching back and shoulders – from carrying a backpack
  • sore feet – from a long haul

Although for me I have much more body mechanics awareness when I am on the trail then when I am in the department store. Mostly because when I am in nature I feel more connected to my settings. The esthetics are visually more pleasing and the surroundings are far more quiet. The natural light and fresh air make it easier to achieve a balance between relaxation and meditation. I feel less physically drained and more contently tired with my accomplishment. I naturally take breaks to stop, sit and snack in the beautiful spots along the way. I am purposeful about what I am carrying (weight wise) and the proper fit for my diaphragm. Can all of these mindful practices be applied to the Shopping Spree? To this I say yes!

YogAlign Shopping Spree Tips:

  • Breathe

In YogAlign we use the SIP Breath (structurally informed posture). Start by forming an O with your lips, sip in like your sucking on a straw and feel your diaphragm muscle (ribcage) start to expand and lift (keep your shoulders down away from your ears). Pause at the top of the SIP Breath and as you SSSSSS hale like a snake smile and feel the goodness that is breath. Use this SIP Breath technique like fine chocolate not every breath will be a SIP Breath but a gentle reminder or as we like to call it rewiring the brain to practice full inhales and exhales.

  • Posture

In YogAlign one of the ways we check in for proper body alignment is the occipital (back of the head) and sacrum (low back) line up. Start by taking the palm of your right hand and cup the protruding bone at the back of your head. Then take your left hand flip it over and place the back of your hand on the small of your back (around top of underwear). As you check the lineup stand straight with shoulder blades down. You can then remind yourself (rewiring the brain) to keep the frontline open allowing for ease of breath and less overall body fatigue.

  • Balance

In YogAlign we think of and move our body as a whole. We move from the center or core of the body with our eyes gazing forward thus allowing for our eyes to communicate with our brain more effectively. When we pile ourselves up with oddly shaped packages and possibly a purse it can really throw us out of balance. Stop and take a moment maybe in front of a mirror or glass while you are shopping and check your balance. While carrying your load are your shoulders even on both sides with your shoulder blades down away from your ears. Are your hips squared and level not allowing uneven weight to dump you into one hip or another. Are you standing on the full of the foot or more on the toes or the heels? When walking with this load are you moving from the center of your body? You can tell this if you are able to comfortably take a full inhale and exhale while walking. If necessary take the time to put packages in your car and ease up your load.

  • Savasana (stillness)

Yes you can take a shopping savasana (get off your feet) after all it is a form of stillness (between relaxation and meditation). You can find a quiet spot either indoors or outdoors and sit (depending on the space maybe even lie down). Pull out a small bottle of your favorite essential oil put a dab on the end of your nose and enter into mindful breath. If you have a Mantra or Japa practice this can also happen here silently reciting or chanting your mantra. Pulling out and unraveling your mala (beads) and again silently going through your meditation (eyes open or closed). If you just cannot stop for a shopping savasana pull out your small bottle of rose water give yourself a spray and keep breathing,

Rounding out these YogAlign holiday shopping tips would be to stay hydrated and fortified with healthy food and snacks.

I wish you a very happy and healthy shopping spree and or living spree!

Are You Equally Flexible as Strong?

BY Renee’ Fulkerson

I was sitting on one of my favorite beaches this past weekend after a heavy rainfall that had affected all of the Hawaiian Islands and I could still feel the weight of the moisture in the air. As I sat there I noticed all of the familiar picturesque surroundings that make this particular spot so beautiful. One in particular is a grand palm tree however, on this day it looked very different to me. Most days the palm tree stands tall and proud and depending on the season with our without coconuts. Today the long trunk was almost completely parallel to the ground and engorged with coconuts. My first thought was wow the picture of flexibility and strength right in front of my eyes. It got me thinking about teaching my next YogAlign class.

The next day when long time YogAligners walked into class I asked them the question would they consider themselves equally strong as flexible? They all kind of took a few moments to digest the question. One response was “yes, I do feel equally strong as flexible since I have been practicing YogAlign”. Others choose one over the other, some did not have any response and one student asked what do you mean by flexibility? I quickly responded what I don’t mean is the image you get in your head of Stretch Armstrong being pulled completely apart (we all laughed). Flexibility is no laughing matter when it comes to yogis pulling themselves apart much like Stretch Armstrong.

I then began to elaborate on what my idea of flexibility is and in what context I was asking them in the above question. Flexibility to me is being able to move though your everyday life in a pain – free flow. While walking arms, hips and legs propelling you forward with ease, being able to reach up and gab a glass out of the upper cupboards, maneuvering in and out of the car easily and bending down to pick something up from the floor gracefully. These are just a few examples of flexibility in everyday life.

Flexibility – sports definition: the capacity of a joint or muscle to move through its full range of motion. Flexibility is specific to a particular movement or joints, and the degree of flexibility can vary around the body.

That same student ask what do you mean by strength? I responded not Mrs. Olympia. Strength to me means moving from the center (core) of your body in proper alignment allowing you the ability to pick up that bag of recyclables and get them to the redemption center, put the box of books in the car to take to the library, purchase the value size of detergent and pick up your toddler or grand baby. Again just a few examples of strength in everyday life.

Strength – sports definition : the ability to carry out work against a resistance. strength is the maximal force you can apply against a load.

It can be easy to take flexibility and strength for granted in our everyday lives when these physical attributes are in good standing order. When they are not our everyday lives can become limited in certain ways. As we become more mature in life we have this image of frailty in regard to flexibility and strength. I believe if we maintain a consistent full range of physical activities well into the mature years that alone will keep us independant, flexible and strong. For example I have always considered myself flexible maybe even to flexible in some regards. Before I was aware of flexibility becoming a liability (as Michaelle Edwards creator of YogAlign puts it) I would pull my body apart in certain yoga postures. Well beyond its full range and over time began feeling pain and discomfort in my regular yoga practice. As far as strength I would say my life has for the most part not be limited due to a lack of strength however, a regular yoga practice was not building my strength. Once I shifted to a regular YogAlign practice I have seen an improvement in my level of strength and beneficial flexibility. I would say this happened as a result of the Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching technique practiced in YogAlign.

PNF is a more advanced form of flexibility training, which involves both the stretching and contracting of the muscle group being targeted. … It is also excellent for targeting specific muscle groups, and as well as increasing flexibility, it also improves muscular strength.

When wanting to improve certain physical desires I suggest taking the time to think about if those desires are realistic and beneficial for your entire well being. Meaning if you are looking to build your strength and or flexibility not all yoga classes are created equally. I find that yoga classes that move a bit slower and with natural body alignment awareness, full diaphragm breathing and attention to moving from the core are your best bet. Finding a teacher who knows how to move through the posture with stable and strong ligaments and joints is high on the must have list. A teacher who instructs to your body as a whole and not in pieces (the posture needs to benefit the entire body). Attending a yoga class that is more than 10 students is going to lessen your chances of getting one on one attention for your specific needs. Sometime very large regularly attended yoga classes appear to me as a choreographed production. Verses a yoga class where the instructor gets to know your body personally, knows what is comfortable and beneficial for your build and can que you specifically for your needs. Remember you matter in your yoga class of choice and this is your paid opportunity for self study and teacher guidance in a proper and professional manner.

Now go out and use your strength and flexibility for good!

Taking my YogAlign practice on the Road.

by Renee’ Fulkerson

Once again my regular YogAlign practice has proven invaluable in supporting my body during a two week non-stop action road trip with my husband Peter and 15 year old son Joaquin.

Everyday life can create challenges in showing up for any regular exercise class however, a road trip including weather, camping and ever changing locations has lead me to many insights.

  • My YogAlign practice is beneficial and feels good no matter where or when I practice.
  • My YogAlign practice can adapt to the weather (put more clothes on/ take more clothes off) simple.
  • I cannot be attached to an outcome in my YogAlign practice. (meaning time is of the essence). I maybe able to carve out 20 minutes or 2 hours depending on the day.
  • Prioritizing my YogAlign practice to meet my immediate physical and mental needs. (maybe only leg tuner or only arm turner maybe both) however SIP breath is a must!
  • Some days my YogAlign practice in the physical sense is just not going to happen (and that is okay).

On the days my YogAlign practice did not and could not happen I was able to fill in the gaps with breathing techniques, meditation and mantra (singing/chanting) practice. All of the above mentioned could easily be practice while driving in a car, breaking down or setting up camp, sitting around the campfire and cooking a meal.

Most days my physical needs were met with a variety of physical activities, while having proper posture and breath. My mental status felt more challenged with less hours of sleep than usual, long hours in a car as a passenger in a tight spot and being with my husband and teenage son for two weeks straight. LOL

All in all I love road trips, camping and YogaAlign as well as experimenting with putting all three together. I look forward to my next road trip adventures with a body I can trust my beloved husband Peter and our miracle son Joaquin. See you on the mat!

Two sweet cats that got left behind need your help.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Aloha,  my name is Renee’ Fulkerson and I am reaching out to you asking you would you be willing to support two sweet cats that got left behind – White Kitty and Orange Kitty find their forever homes? https://www.gofundme.com/two-sweet-cats-that-got-left-behind-need-your-help

In April 2018, a series of thunderstorms produced record-breaking rainfall on our island home of Kauai. The heaviest rainfall occurred on northern Kauaʻi where White Kitty, Orange Kitty and myself live. There, a rain gauge owned by the Waipā Foundation, just west of Hanalei, recorded 49.69 in (1,262 mm) of rainfall in the 24 hours between 12:45 p.m. on April 14 and 15.[nb 2] This was the greatest 24-hour rainfall total on record in the United States. The heavy rainfall produced flash flooding and landslides that covered roads and washed away several vacant houses. The floods damaged or destroyed 532 houses.

Needless to say many animals large and small lost their lives and in this case these to sweet innocent cats got left behind when there humans did not return.

I began feeding the two cats’ at their abandoned home’s during and after the storm in hopes their human would return to them however, that did not happen.  It is coming up on one year and their loneliness is heartbreaking. I have taken in two cats and I am unable to take in anymore due to my rental situation. These two sweet cats deserve a human and home to call their own and find the love they have lost.

I have reached out in many ways and the blessing that has come is through two animal welfare organizations here on Kauai –Kauai Community Cat Project and Kauai Animal Welfare Society.  KCCP is willing to transfer them to a non-kill shelter in Seattle, where they often get adopted within a week to their forever homes. The cost is usually around $250/cat ($500) which includes a rabies shot and health certificate from a vet, as well as the plane ride over. KAWS is willing to handle all flea, worm, possible dental and veterinarian visit cost for both cats. This is a gift as there are only so many homes for unwanted cats on an island the reality for a forever home for these to in within reach.

The cost as mentioned above is estimated at $500 I have set the goal at $600 to absorb some of the gofundme fees as I am not a non profit.  If less monies are raised we will keep working towards are goal in other ways and if more monies are raised than our goal the monies will be given directly to Kauai Community Cat Project and Kauai Animal Welfare Society to fund more animals left behind to their forever homes. The priority is to get these sweet cats transferred and into their forever homes AS SOON AS POSSIBLE they need your support their quality of life depends on it.

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The white female is friendly, very sweet, gentle and purr’s when you pet her. She is independent  however, she will snuggle up to you, lick your hands and toes. She does well with other cats (I am not sure about dogs) She loves catnip kitty treats, plays with toys / string and enjoys a good combing, All around happy girl and comes to the name white kitty.

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The orange male is very sweet, friendly and is a talker meow, meow, meow. He purr’s when you pet him and he loves to cuddle while sitting on your lap (lick your hands and toes). He seeks out lots of attention, is good with other female cats and is shy and hunkers down or runs away when he is approached by another male cat. He is a passive cat who could be an only cat but I think would enjoy a female cat buddy.

Much love, respect and gratitude for taking the time to read, share and support this Journey towards a happy ending. These two sweet innocent cats have weathered the storm literally and will finally be able to heal with their new human in their forever home with your  donation.  https://www.gofundme.com/two-sweet-cats-that-got-left-behind-need-your-help

Thank you for your support,
Renee’ Fulkerson

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold ~ when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade”. ~Charles Dickens

Inner Breath Yoga YogAlign Kauai Hawaii

New Class

Hot Yoga Princeville

Wednesdays 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Investment $15

Mats and blocks provided

Please bring a towel and water

5-4280 Kuhio Hwy suite b-201,
(above Bank of Hawaii and next to Pawriffic)
Princeville, HI 96722

Cancellation Policy: Hanalei Bridge Closure will result in YogAlign Class cancellation. Hanalei River Gauge Level

Private classes also available for more information please contact: renee@innerbreathyoga.com  / 909-747-4186