Do You Trust Your Body?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Do you trust your body?

(Trust) a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

I asked myself this question when my husband and I began discussing a two-week spontaneous trip to Japan. Travel for us has always been more like an adventure race than a vacation. This trip focused on spring snowboarding at several ski resorts. And I knew this would mean not stop action.

Prepping for a trip always means getting a house/pet sitter for my two kitty girls. When I reached out to my girlfriend to house/pet sit, she said what are you doing physically to get ready for the trip? That comment took me by surprise. And I felt confident to say nothing but my usual physical activities. And then I thought, is that enough? And I am happy to report it was enough.

When I met my now husband in my early twenties, a spontaneous trip relied on adrenaline. I knew my youthful body, full of energy, could get me through a fast and furious trip. And recovery time would be minimal, if any. Now I am fifty-three, and youth is not on my side. But that does not stop me.

Teaching yoga and offering manual therapies, I see firsthand the limitations people face with their bodies. Some of it self inflicted, and some situations are out of our control. There is freedom in saying I trust my body! So how do we get there? How I keep my body sustainable my top three:


While walking, I can focus on creating proper posture habits. Good posture means everything when carrying my day pack or something heavier (like a snowboard). During my walk, I can also focus on proper breathing techniques. Full inhales and exhales allow my diaphragm to expand and contract. With efficient breathing, my upper body stays buoyant and lifted. And my feet, knees, and low back thank me. Walking reduces strain on my hips, knee, or ankle joints versus high-intensity workouts. And the best thing about walking is the more I do it, the more energy I have.

  • a cardiovascular physical activity
  • improves blood flow
  • lowers blood pressure
  • increases energy levels
  • low-impact workout


I bike inside on a trainer every other day 45min to an hour. Some days I feel more inspired than others. Biking is another opportunity to create proper posture and breathing habits. Strengthening my legs and lower body muscles will keep knee pain from sneaking up on me. Building endurance helps any activity be more enjoyable, like long days of snowboarding.

  • easy on your joints
  • burns calories
  • builds endurance
  • strengthens legs and lower body
  • improve cardiovascular health


My YogAlign practice keeps me in alignment. Good posture creates comfort in my body with no spinal compression on my low back. Without thinking, I move gracefully and with ease from the core center of my body. Showing up for my YogAlign practice allows me the time and space to get to know and support my body’s needs. I always look forward to creating space in my body.

  • functional breathing
  • strengthens posture muscles
  • builds strong core muscles
  • improves stability, balance & coordination
  • supports real-life movement

Along with the top three I also hike and swim in the ocean regularly to keep fit and healthy. Exercise is not always easy for me. But trusting my body is a freedom I am not giving up. I seek out activities I enjoy and not things I dread. I have been snowboarding with my husband since we were 23 years old (30 years now). And we look forward to many more years. 

Side note: the hot mineral Onsens every night and sake certainly helped. haha

Do you trust your body? 


Is It Time For Rest Or Action?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Is it time for rest or action? To this, I say both! Some days I need a sheet therapy day. And that is perfectly acceptable to support my mental and physical health. And other days, I am fired up and ready to conquer the world. All of these core thoughts, perceptions, and emotions take place in The Central Nervous System? The CNS controls all voluntary (speech/ walking) and involuntary (breathing/ blinking) movements. I know that two of the nervous systems I need to tap into for rest or action are parasympathetic and sympathetic.


The ways I can practice engaging my parasympathetic nervous system:

  • meditation
  • yoga/ YogAlign – taking time for resting pose (savasana)
  • deep breathing from the diaphragm (YogAlign SIP Breath)
  • nature walks
  • self-massage
  • music for relaxation
  • low-Impact Aerobic Exercises

I support my nervous system naturally by getting restful sleep and eating a healthy diet with fatty acids (which heals the nerves and nervous system). I have lived as a vegan/ vegetarian for most of my life. B vitamins ( B1, B6, and B12) support my mental and physical health via the nervous system. Along with vitamin E and C for anti-aging of the nervous system. 


The sympathetic nervous system signals the body to prepare for:

  • physical activity
  • mental activity 
  • the heart begins to beat harder and faster
  • opens the airways for easy breathing
  • temporarily stops digestion for faster action

Once my sympathetic nervous system kicks in, I am ready for action! I can train with stamina on my road bike and snorkel my day away in the ocean. Keep up with my husband (an endurance athlete) and my 18-year-old son snowboarding, hiking, and rock climbing. The central nervous system will support my activity’s full performance if it perceives it as safe. Otherwise, it will pull back on my muscle power. And to avoid CNS fatigue, know that rest and recovery are necessary! That’s my favorite part after physically or mentally challenging myself.

I have talked about rest and action, but what about a reset?


I have mentioned in a previous post I experience anxiety from time to time. It started at a very young age, and I did not understand the overwhelming feeling. As an adult, it is far and few. And I am grateful for that. I remember as a child/ young adult, and now I find myself in a series of yawns. Not because I am tired. I felt like I needed to sigh out for relief. What I realize is a deep sigh is my body’s brain’s natural way to release tension and reset the nervous system. Who knew? The sigh brings the over-activated sympathetic state back to a balanced parasympathetic state. Balance is a beautiful thing. Now, whenever I start a series of yawning or sighing, my body’s nervous system needs a reset.

Is it time for rest, action, or a reset? Only you know for sure. Depending on what the day holds for you! 


Why Do We Exercise?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Why Do We Exercise?

Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, to aid growth and improve strength, to develop muscles and the cardiovascular system, to hone athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, to improve health, or simply for enjoyment. 

If you asked me in my twenties, I would have answered because I can. And because it makes me feel good to challenge myself. My answer in my thirties would be to stay fit and maybe lose weight. And because it makes me feel great. My response in my forties is to lose baby weight and tone up. And because it keeps me sane. And now, in my fifties, I want to be healthy! To trust my body and continue to enjoy the activities I love. And because moving my body makes me feel happy and independent. Later I would understand exercising would help me bypass my anxiety.

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

When I was a child, I remember having moments when my body felt locked up, and my thoughts overwhelmed me. At that time, I did not understand I was experiencing anxiety. I spent most of my time outdoors as a child in constant movement. I felt happy and carefree during that time. When it was time for bed, I could feel the dread creeping into my head and the tension in my body. My heart began to race. 

Once I began junior high, I discovered running. There was a track at the YMCA by my house I would run almost every day. I was not driving yet, so bike riding long distances was also a part of my weekend life. I would experience the runner’s high. The endorphins made me feel euphoric. At the time, I did not understand anxiety, endorphins, or runner high. I just knew moving my body made me feel invincible!

Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.

In high school and my late teens, I began going to parties and clubs to dance. Oh man, talk about the high music, energy, and the freedom I felt when I moved my body. I love dancing to this day and still feel all the feels. I was addicted to that good feeling so much that I would go to the gym and workout and then go straight to the club to dance the night away. I soon realized that when it was time to go to sleep, I experienced no anxiety. Because I was so tired, I just crashed out. I began to understand the effects of movement on my mental and physical body. 

At this point, I knew if I exercised, I could bypass my anxiety. So that is what I did and do. How I exercise has changed during the different stages of my life. Running became too hard on my knees. My biking game had evolved from a child’s bike to a downhill mountain bike and now a road bike and trainer. I continue to dance. Swimming, Snorkeling, and hiking are my favorites. And when YogAlign piqued my interest, I knew I had found a piece of the puzzle. With YogAlign in my toolbox, I could up my exercise game.

I now had a method to move my body in proper alignment. The SIP breathing technique would strengthen my core from the inside out. The P.N.F exercises would reset the tension in my body. Yoga postures that would create length and strength in my muscles. Understanding and utilizing proper alignment to get the most out of my practice. And I could use this method in every other exercise and activity I practiced. 

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a more advanced form of flexibility training, which involves both the stretching and contracting of the muscle group being targeted. PNF stretching is one of the most effective forms of stretching for improving flexibility and increasing range of motion.

As a child, my anxiety was unknown to me. I felt it in my body and mind but did not understand it. I get it now. And understand through my training that improper body posture can also lead to anxiety symptoms. When sitting and forward head, carriage draw, the chin to the chest breathing becomes constricted. The front of the body becomes short and tight. The back of the body becomes stretched and tired. We exercise and use the Yogalign principles to bypass these symptoms of our lifestyle.

I am 52 years young, and I have never felt better physically and mentally. I still exercise for all those reasons mentioned above. With age, I will add I exercise because if I don’t use it I will lose it! And on an emotional level, it is easy to get frustrated with aging limitations – let’s keep those Endorphines firing! 


What Is Your Fundamental Truth About Health And Wellness?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I realized my truth of health and wellness is the practice of health and wellness – physical fitness, movement, and inner peace. Health is not merely the absence of illness or injury. It is the complete package addressing body, mind, and spirit. Including but not limited to exercise, quality rest, eating real food, staying hydrated, contemplation or reflection, and focusing on being in the moment. Gratitude, relationship, and community also play a role in health and wellness. But it is not only what I believe regarding health and wellness that is valuable but how I apply this in everyday life that keeps me healthy.

We all can agree exercise comes in many forms and, thank goodness for that. Prioritize your movement in your life now. When starting a YogAlign practice, I encourage folks to start where they are and not compare where they have been or tirelessly try to perfect where they are going. Realistic expectations keep us inspired and coming back to the practice.
I am the first to admit I have had popcorn for dinner on more than one occasion. I am also the first to admit my body, mind, and spirit were not thrilled. Eating real food is necessary to gain strength, stamina, and mental clarity food is fuel. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables and moderate serving sizes will help maintain a healthy body weight.
It is also necessary to hydrate and stay hydrated because when you lack hydration, the body does not have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. Headaches and muscle cramps can be your body’s way of telling you you need more water in your daily life. YogAlign classes encourage and create space to drink water during practice.

Quality rest in this day and age with everything moving so quickly and needing to be available 24-7 is beyond challenging. But mandatory when it comes to health and wellness. Practice your coping mechanisms now. Good rest can improve your mental health, concentration, and ability to cope with day-to-day stresses. Strengthen your immune system and maybe even put you in a better mood. At the end of a physical YogAlign practice, we leave time for savasana or resting pose by taking a moment to contemplate and reflect on the effects. It feels good to move through the body, especially if you have been sitting or inactive during most of the day. Then we can sink into a more peaceful place and recharge.
Get, stay and be in the moment now. Letting go of any thoughts, ideas, or worries at that moment, we have created a space for choice. We can decide if we want to pick them back up or not at the end of class.

Calling in gratitude for the way our bodies carry us through everyday life. We can Acknowledge how we wake up in the morning our, brain and body know what to do. During YogAlign Practice, when we have aligned the spine in natural curves, the body connects naturally as a continuum. We feel relaxed, balanced, secure, and peaceful. Cultivate stable, long-term relationships now. And we can take the positive effects and peacefulness into our community into our relationships. We all know the way we feel affects everyone around us. Healthy habits, healthy boundaries, and respect for ourselves and others create favorable conditions for healthy, happy relationships. These relationships may lead to our communities practicing health and wellness not just for themselves but for everyone around them.

The practice of health and wellness does not stop when we step off our yoga mat. But continues and is just getting started.


Street-Smart Yogi Or Book-Smart Yogi.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Street-smart -intelligence gained outside of school

  • Getting Along With Others
  • Common Sense
  • Self-defense
  • BS-detection

Book-smart -having a lot of academic knowledge learned from books and studying, but not necessarily knowing much about people and living in the real world.

  • He’s book-smart but, he’s got no common sense.
  • book-smart people with no social skills

Street-smart -having the knowledge and experience that is needed to deal with the difficulties and dangers of life in a big city.

I know street-smart people, and they seem to adapt to their environment. And I also think this is necessary when teaching yoga. Situations and circumstances are not always going to be ideal. My first Hatha yoga teacher training was with Scott Miller, founder of Western Yoga College. I could feel the love radiating off of him when we met. Scott is well-read and knows the name of great thinkers, scientists, and other famous people in history. He is a book-smart yogi for sure. But Scott is also a street-smart yogi. And he can hold space when a thought, emotion, or reality plays out in yoga practice. And they do and, they will. During his teacher’s training, I learned to trust myself and adapt. Trust my intuition when adjusting a student in a posture. Teach to who shows up and their abilities. Be vulnerable and let my actions come from the heart. To believe in the power of community and chanting in community. I find I align easily with the street-smart yogi. But I cannot always live in my comfort zone. And I am a better person and teacher when pushed out of my comfort zone.

My mind thinks book-smart equals scientist while street-smart equals someone who adapts. Neither one is better than the other just, different opposite. Much like inhales and exhales, one is not better than the other we need them both; they are just opposites. I would say I am a more street-smart yogi than book-smart. That is not to say I have not read my fair share of yogic materials. And continue to seek out written information to learn from and get inspiration. Ideally, a balance of the two would be the best outcome.

I am currently teaching the YogAlign Method filled with facts and information. Before and after pictures are taken to see the shifts in the body. I know anatomy in a way that most of my students do not care to know. And statistics about yoga injuries and beyond. This information was not my cup of tea until I met my teacher and founder of the YogAlign Method, Michaelle Edwards. Her interpretation of the information made sense to me. I consider her in many ways a yoga scientist. She is testing her theories and comparing and contrasting. Her work has made it easier for me to get the results I am after with my students.

Stepping into being a book-smart yogi, I can appreciate the body in a whole new way. Understanding the diaphragm with the SIP breath and how it aligns the body from the inside out is genius. And how the gluteal muscles get amnesia from sitting too much. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation can help with resetting the tension in the body. And knowing which postures benefit scoliosis or osteoporosis. I have gained confidence in tapping into my book-smart yogi, although that is not where I would want to live all of the time.

In yoga, you will find two schools of thought dualism and nondualism. We are all one -we are all connected. And then teacher-student superiority. In the first part of my yogic student/ teacher career, I leaned very heavily towards we are all connected. I was in the honeymoon phase. Then I felt a pull towards being challenged in my thoughts and ideas. Would what I thought and believed in about yoga hold up? I did feel tested when going to the other side. I read different books and materials that approached my practice/ teaching differently. I began to appreciate and understand more about being a teacher figure in class than just everyone’s friend. Today I feel like I have found more balance between the two schools of thought. But since the pandemic, I long for those yoga gatherings and festivals where we are all connected. lol

My thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and perspectives have changed with age. I have gained more experience and insight. Yoga is not black and white. I needed to get out of my thinking head and into my feeling body. That is the way I can determine if the practice is benefitting me. I could read yoga books to my students all day and, they would not know how to practice yoga. Yoga requires thought and feeling. Some of my students are more comfortable and aware of their bodies than others. And when asked how a posture, feels one can answer. Others only want the logic of why we are doing the posture. They do not feel the difference from one side to the other. I appreciate the diversity its’ a learning experience in its self. I will never learn only through reading or only through experience but both. Street-smart yogi or book-smart yogi, some may say we are the same we, are all connected.


Yoga And Self-Care.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Self-care is very much a part of the YogAlign method. And taking care of yourself during your in-class or home practice is necessary on so many levels. 

  • Drink water during your in-class or home practice

I recently just had a conversation with a longtime student/ friend about this very topic. We were discussing the importance of drinking water during our YogAlign class/ practice. And that we both agreed that in many yoga classes we had attended there, was simply no time to take a water break. The yoga instructor and students were moving along so quickly through posture after posture it was already a challenge to keep up. I began to think about most yoga classes I had attended in the past. And having anything beyond your yoga mat was discouraged regarding space constraints. The instructors always made it clear they needed space to move about the room without obstacles in their way. I subbed a class for my teacher Michaelle Edwards at her yoga studio here on Kauai and saw firsthand how lack of water affected a student. 

This student had traveled to Kauai from another country and attended her first YogAlign class with her mother. Upon reading her and her mother’s release form, they both were in good health. They were both interested in learning the YogAlign Method to combat the effects of sitting too much. We began with the instruction of the SIP Breath. Which in itself can be very intense when you are not used to breathing so efficiently. I had noticed mom had brought a small plastic bottle of water for the both of them to share. And I always inform students there is water available and cue during class when to stop and have a water break. 

As we continued, I noticed the mom finding her rhythm while the daughter was struggling. I locked eyes with her and, I could see she was going to fall to faint. And sure enough, she collapsed to the floor. Gently she floated to the floor and lay there with her eyes open. Not sure what just happened? Of course, the entire class paused and came to her side. 

Water was the first thing offered and, she quickly became more comfortable. I placed a bolster under her knees and had her lay there while continuing to drink water. As I spoke with her and her mother, I learned the time difference had thrown them off their eating (drinking) and sleeping schedule. Not drinking enough water mixed with sweating from the high humidity air was not a good combination. The more water she drank, the more vibrant she became and ended up rejoining the class for the floor postures. I encourage you to practice self-care in your yoga class by drinking water during your practice (you matter).

  • Take the time to use yoga props when you need them

I am a big fan of yoga props. Yoga props can come in many different forms. The yoga props I use in my home practice and while teaching

  •  yoga blocks (various sizes), yardstick, yoga strap the yoga mat itself, chairs, balls (all sizes) and, bolsters/blankets

I make it a point to keep my YogAlign classes small. So I can be aware of every student in the room and their needs during yoga class.

If you need more support in a lunge, getting your heel higher using a yoga block and be a great solution.
Getting yourself comfortable and in proper alignment is key to a successful practice and, a yardstick can accomplish that goal.
Rolling on an 80% inflated ball moving up and down the spine, neck, and shoulders can be very relaxing, releasing tension during practice or before savasana.
Yoga Props
  • Take a moment to rest and feel the effects of your practice

I also think this statement and suggestion rings true in our everyday lives as well. Life is moving fast and, we are moving quickly right along with it. I find some yoga classes are also keeping with this pace. I find myself constantly apologizing for not always getting the phone, responding right away to the text, or making things happen right that minute. Our in-person or personal home yoga practice is supposed to be the one place we can slow down. Take advantage of this time to stop in the moment and take a full-body stretch or pandiculate (stretching and yawning). It is necessary to stop and feel the effects of your practice to know what is working and what is not create a reset from the day from your mind and thoughts. As you lay on your back, feel the natural curves in your spine, notice the space between the chin and your chest and let your belly be full and soft. When lying on your stomach, bend your knees and let your legs make small circles massaging the low belly and feeling your diaphragm expand and contract against the floor. Place your fingertip onto your scalp and into your hair, massaging your head and earlobes. These are all simple ways to stop, feel good, and be in the moment.

Scalp Massage
Full Body Stretch

Creating new habits such as stopping to feel the effects of your practice or the effects of your day is a great way to come back into the moment. And to check in with what is working and what is not working. Self-care is not just a buzzword its a priority and, you matter!


When You Think Of Your Body, Do You Think Of It In Pieces Or As A Whole?

By Renee’ Fulkerson

When you think of your body, do you think of it in pieces or as a whole? Imagine a puzzle that always needs putting back together, especially after an injury. Or a pulley system that engages entirely when the body moves or stands upright. 

I used to think of or refer to my own body in pieces. I can think back to exercise, yoga, and fitness classes that almost always separated my body parts during practice. What does that mean exactly? Phrases like today is a leg day or, we are only going to work on these muscle groups today. Does this sound familiar to you? I never realized how disempowering these phrases and movement programs were. 

And, then I was taught to view my body as a whole and not in pieces. I cannot tell you what a game-changer moment that was for me. I went from pulling my body apart to its end range like Stretch Armstrong, a toy of my youth. Who, by the way, does not always go back together so quickly after so many pulls. To putting myself back together in what we refer to in YogAlign as a full-body stretch. The end range can be very misleading for most people, especially those who tend to be hypermobile. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.

I have a student who is hyper-mobile in her hip joints but not necessarily strong in this area. Does hyper-mobility affect strength? From what I have read and seen while teaching there, is sufficient evidence that hypermobility may be associated with strength deficiencies. An injury waiting to happen would be for her to continue to pull herself apart just because she can. We need to think about how this affects the body as a whole. Hip strength is necessary for the stability and prevention of injuries. 

My goal is to guide students through full-body movements creating balance, health, mobility and, strength. By reprogramming your movement patterns from piece to, whole we get the benefits of all body support, balance, strength, and mobility. Hanging in joints and ligaments to go a little deeper may feed the ego for a moment but does nothing for the rest of the entire body. Cons outweigh the pros in that movement programming or regular practice. 

A lunge, Ashta Chandrasana, or Crescent High Lunge Pose is a posture when hanging in your joints or ligaments can happen. I cue students to identify this possible hanging by checking in with the pelvic floor during a lunge. Is it hanging down like a hammock? With no support? To go deeper or closer to the floor. Are your shoulders lifted to your ears, making it hard to breathe? Is your ribcage flaring up, creating a backbend? In practicing this, way you are compromising pieces of the body and not benefiting the whole. Now let’s take that same posture and tweak it a bit.

  • Step your right foot forward and wiggle your back foot to get balanced between front and back bodyweight.
  • You will know if you are balanced by checking in with your hip alignment. Is one hip twisting to accommodate the unbalanced spread?
  • Make sure you are high up on the toes of your back foot.
  • Check-in with the pelvic floor. Does it feel unstable (hanging)?
  • If, so engage your inner thighs slightly and get the glutes firing. In doing, so you will feel to the touch your IT band fully engaged.
  • Again check hip alignment and think of your hip bones as two flashlights shining forward.
  • Draw your arms down and out into a V shape on either side of your body. With your palms facing forward and fingers spread.
  • And slightly press your hands forward like you are pushing against a wall firing the back muscles. 
  • Draw the sternum slightly down if the rib cage is starting to flare up.
  • Eye gaze is eye level and straightforward. Look side to side and stick your tongue out, relieving your neck of any extreme tension.
  • Once you are in the high lunge, bring your attention to the space on your sideline. Between the floating ribs and the top of your hip or Iliac Crest. 
  • There is a good amount of body real estate between these two bones. Easier to see on an anatomy skeleton but, you can feel it with your hands. We do not want to lose this space (collapse) on our exhale.
  • Recap – the back foot lifted, inner thighs slightly engaged, firing the glutes, arms in a V, palms facing forward, fingers spread, pushing against a wall, hips aligned, released neck a shoulder tension. 
  • Now SIP in like you are drinking through a straw fill the diaphragm muscle with air (engaging the core muscles). Make fists with your hands and tense your entire body. Pause at the top for a moment (neck and shoulders relaxed). Start your S-hale like a snake with your teeth together, then open your hands and don’t collapse by controlling the exhale. In other, words to the naked eye, from SIP inhale to S-hale there would be no change in your whole body posture. You would maintain your gift of lift, spacious sideline and, not collapse in your S-hale. 
  • Repeat 3, more times, and then change sides and repeat.

In practicing the YogAlign Method Lunge, you begin to move and relate to your body as a whole. Receiving and retrieving all the benefits moving and thinking in this way has to offer. You get to reclaim some of that precious real estate and space back into the whole body without having to pull it apart into pieces. 

I will leave you with this thought you use 200 muscles to take one step (Human Bones, Joints and Muscles Facts).


Pool Side, Poor Posture And YogAlign

By Renee’ Fulkerson

I recently was on a work trip with my husband and pulled him away to spend some time down at the pool. As I looked, around I saw various forms and figures of bodies in bathing suits. I know just the thought of putting on a bathing suit can create anxiety and fear. I am no stranger to the harsh criticism I can direct towards myself when looking in a mirror in my bathing suit. But what caught my attention was the posture of people’s bodies. I wondered if their standing and sitting posture are the same in their bathing suit as their regular clothing? I began to see some signs and symptoms of poor posture. Not only to the bathing suit but the lack of confidence in wearing the suit. The most common posture challenge for women when wearing a two-piece/ bikini was a collapsed frontline. This shoulder-rolled forward posture occurred in both curvy and non-curvy women. For men, the challenge seemed to be a difficulty of a full breath while holding in their stomachs to appear slimmer.

As I studied other postural challenges, I saw that bathing suit straps on women were problematic. The tieing around the neck almost always created forward head carriage and rounded shoulders. And the back strap creeping up to the shoulder blades also contributed to forward head carriage/ rounded shoulders. Like men, women also sucked in their belly buttons to their spine trying, to appear slimmer only to inhibit a full breath.

And then we go to the baggy men’s board shorts. All the men I saw wearing baggy board shorts needed to widen their leg distance and stance to keep their shorts up/ on. Their pelvis thrust forward, knees spread wide and, their feet rolled outward. Baggy bathing suits did not seem to be a problem for the women.

There came relief for these aching bodies in the form of a lounge chair. After all, getting to lay by the pool is a vacationer’s dream. Once they were all stretched out on their backs, they could breathe again and rest those rounded shoulders and heavy heads. It took me back to the question is their standing and sitting posture the same in their bathing suit as their regular clothing?

I began to think about my posture before I started teaching and practicing YogAlign. I am a curvy girl and had forward rounded shoulders and sucked in my stomach. Which I am sure was the same posture when in my bathing suit or any other clothing for that matter. Fast forward to today – I am still a curvy girl at 52 but, my posture has completely changed for the better. I now stand confident and tall in my two-piece bikini shoulders in alignment and, I can breathe without restriction.

It is hard to enjoy yourself when your body is in pain and breathing is restricted. For some, living in pain has become the new normal. And I am here to tell you being in pain is not normal. So we ask ourselves did the clothing create the poor posture, or has the poor posture always been there? It takes more effort to hold your body in a poor posture than it does to be in a proper posture. Once you can live your life pain-free in alignment, you might notice your clothes (bathing suit) looks different in a good way. And when your breathing becomes less restricted, you may also feel your mood improve. In YogAlign, we call that reprogramming the motherboard.

When you feel good on the inside everything, seems to feel better on the outside.


Imagine The Possibilities In A Body You Can Trust.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

When I think of trusting my, body one of the first things that come to my mind is balance. 

Balance – an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. “she lost her balance before falling”

Similar: stability, equilibrium, steadiness and, footing.

First, of all how and where does balance come from in the body?

The vestibular system (inner ear balance mechanism)

The balance system works through constant position detection, feedback, and adjustment using communication between the inner ear, eyes, muscles, joints, and the brain. The brain sends messages to the muscles to make any postural adjustments required to maintain balance. 

Balance is crucial in our everyday activities like walking, standing, and going up and downstairs. And more important to reduce the chances of falling or even injury. Often we are not fully aware that we may have weak balance until we try balance exercises. Anytime at any age is the best time to improve and maintain strong balancing skills. 

Yoga and everyday life provide many opportunities to practice and improve our balancing skills. Walking, biking, standing, and climbing up and downstairs, to name a few. Funny, the things we need balance for in everyday life are the same things we do every day (well, sort of). 

  • Have the tires on your bike gone flat from not riding it?
  • Are your new walking sneakers still in the box?
  • Do you take the elevator to avoid the stairs?
  • Are you standing up often once you have sat down?

And then there is yoga and Tai Chi. I have not done a lot of Tai Chi, so I will stick to what I know. And that is yoga postures to improve and maintain optimum balancing skills. There are many yoga postures to choose from, simple to extreme. I prefer to keep it simple. Work smarter, not harder. Here are a couple of balance postures I would like to share with you. I practice these postures with my students (one of the many yoga posture balance options).

Heron or Kickstand Posture:

  • Come into a heron posture or kickstand position by placing your right heel up and against your left foot. Make sure not to dump into your hip like you are holding a baby on your hip. If you start to feel wobbly, ever so gently engage your inner thighs to fire the glutes muscles and check that your knees are not turning too much inward or too much outward.
  • Draw some weight into the heel of the standing leg, in this case, the left heel. And then lift your left arm straight alongside your ear while keeping your shoulder down. The palm of the left-hand faces inwards with your fingers spread. 
  • Lift your right arm bending at the elbow and hook your fingers into the little valley right below the bulbous part of the back of the head. You can massage the area, which can hold a lot of tension, making sure you can see the tip of your right elbow at all times.
  • Now take your SIP to inhale like you are sipping through a straw and keep your shoulders relaxed. Pause and make a fist with your left hand and pull down like on a rope. Start your S hale sounding like a snake with your teeth together, release your fist back to spread fingers, and create a bit of traction with your right hand in the valley. Remember not to collapse in your S hale keep, the space between the floating rib and the top of the hip bone (Iliac Crest).
  • Practice this posture two more times on this side of your body. And when finished coming back to heron or kickstand posture starting position moving right into Tree Pose or Vrksasana (on the same side).

Tree Pose or Vrksasana:

  • From heron or kickstand posture left foot is still anchored with weight in your heel. And your right heel is up and against your left foot. 
  • Arms come out on both sides of your body in a V. Palms facing forward with your fingers spread. Like you are pressing against a wall turning the back on.
  • SIP inhale like you are sucking through a straw and slowly slide your right foot above or below the knee. I suggest staying below your knee when starting this practice. Pause at the top of the Sip inhale and feel your ribcage expand (shoulders down and relax).
  • Fist your hands and then S hale like a snake with your teeth together (don’t collapse). Open your fingers and continue standing tall.
  • Repeat two more times on this side and come back into heron or kickstand starting posture 

Try not to judge yourself when it comes to practicing balance postures, remember every day is different. Stresses, distractions, and even a poor night’s rest can cause you to feel a bit more unstable than usual. 


Asking For Help In Yoga And Everyday Life.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

Help – to give assistance or support. To make more pleasant or bearable improve, relieve and rescue, save. To be of use to

I find it difficult to ask for help unless I am at my wit’s end. And from my experience, I believe others also struggle with asking for help. On the other hand, I have no problem with offering and giving support to others. Which I also find to be true of others around me. Why is it so difficult to ask for help but so easy to give support? I guess no one wants to feel like a burden to another.

Burden – defined as making heavy with a load or with emotion. Something carried a worry or sadness, or a responsibility.

I think this rings true in yoga practice. In a yoga practice, students have experience with the postures. In a yoga class, there is more time and instruction per posture. I enjoy teaching both and encourage students to stop me and ask for help or support in both cases. And sometimes help is needed in everyday life situations too.

Recently a long-time YogAlign student began having some challenges with her knee. She did not want to miss her regular YogAlign classes and continued to show up for classes. Of course, I was thrilled to have her and knew she would need to adjust some of our regularly practiced postures. When getting up and down off the floor, she would need some assistance. These were all easy adjustments I could support her with and, I felt good about doing them. She would always comment not to give her special attention. Or hold up the practice but, it never seemed to be a problem. After all, even though she had temporary challenges with her knee. It did not mean that she would not benefit from the yoga practice. Not showing up for her regular YogAlign practice and connecting with her body, breath and friends would have been a disservice to her healing process. We also added bi-weekly full-body massages to keep her spirits up and relieve her from aching knee pain. I hope you have found a yoga practice/ class where you can ask for help when needed. We all need a little help sometimes.

On my last trip to the mainland, my mom was suffering from debilitating back pain. She had twisted and jarred her back weeks before my visit. Upon arrival, I could see and sense her frustration with limited mobility. I knew she needed help but, would she ask for it? My mom lives alone and, so everything falls on her to do. She had not been able to take care of everyday tasks. And all of the things she likes to accomplish before I arrived. She had been spending most of her time lying down and feeling bad about not feeling good. Even though I am an advocate for moving, she needed to rest. Back pain is no joke! And usually, sleep is unattainable during a back pain flare-up. Without good sleep, coping skills and positive attitudes begin to decline.

When helping someone who suffers from back pain a, pillow under the knees is crucial because a good portion of their time is lying down. And without the pillow or wedge, there is more pressure on the low back. The support is also helpful for knee pain. Pain that occurs in the knee when the knee is kept straight.

Another way I could help my mom was by moving everything up. All of the things she regularly used got moved higher up. So she would not need to keep bending down to retrieve them. The constant pulling on the back from bending over was only going to prolong the healing process. When bending over you, want your knees soft and not locked out utilizing all the gluteal muscles and when coming up pushing: through from the bottom of the feet. With a bit of help, my mom was up and moving more comfortably. She began with short walks in the neighborhood. She began to enjoy lying down with a pillow under her knees and was getting some much-needed rest. When I left, I was confident she was on the road to recovery and, her spirits were up. A little help goes a long way.

I learned the benefits of asking for help recently. I had a pressing task I was not ready to face. I leaned on my husband for support. After a few weeks of my regular meditation, YogAlign practice, and space. I was able to complete the task.

Nobody wants to feel like a burden to themselves or others. Let’s keep showing up for our yoga class/ practice. And ask for help when we need it. We are worth it!