Posts In: Beginner Yoga

It’s crunch time!  If you haven’t been exercising or keeping up your yoga and barre workouts then you’re late!  They say Summer bodies are made in the Winter but if you are just now rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, I’ve got an awesome arm hack for you.

My arms never saw definition until I started doing yoga on a regular basis.  And mind you I was dancing at least 8 hours a week and picking up heavy trays at the restaurant.  I love the way yoga incorporates one’s own body weight in such a dynamic way that it builds muscle strength, bone density and flexibility.

So here are my best picks for really toning up the arms for your summer dresses and tank tops!

Down Dog

Make sure your hands and feet start from plank pose.  Then rock back into down dog.  If your legs are tight and you find a lot of weight is in your arms then bend your knees so you can push your chest to the thighs.  It’s important to externally rotate the arms in down dog so you can really engage the triceps.

 

Side Plank

Often times students put their hand too far above their shoulder to gain any real strength.  So start in plank pose with your shoulders directly over your hands then turn to one side and stack your feet on top of each other to form one long line.  Use your inner thighs and core to keep your hips up and in line between your shoulders and feet.

 

Chaturanga 

Oh the illustrious chaturanga!  One of the most challenging arm positions in yoga. In this pose you want to keep your elbows in line with your wrists and do not round your upper back and dump your shoulders below your elbows!  As you get stronger you can bring your knees up off the ground!

 

Have fun and practice these for 3x at least 20 seconds each time.  Then we’ll wave to each other with no flapping in the wind!

I’ve been teaching yoga for quiet some time.  This year will make 21 years!  So along the way I’ve seen all sorts of people do yoga and I’ve heard all the excuses why someone can’t do yoga.  The assumptions people have about yoga are as many as the day is long.  Either they think it’s boring (usually the type A personality) or they think it’s too hard, or they think there is some sort of skill involved that they don’t posses.  But at the end of the day the truth (as cliche’ as it might be) is that if you are breathing you can do yoga.  The word yoga means “to yoke”.  To bring together breath, body, mind.  It’s definition is not; exercise that gets you into challenging positions to make you sweat or feel uncomfortable in the name of flexibility.  So if you are breathing and you can be mindful of your body you can do yoga. However, a yoga practice won’t be beneficial if you are inconsistent.  It really doesn’t matter if you are flexible, strong, injured, or out of shape.  The point is to practice.  To show up on your mat as often as possible to be present.  To breathe.  To slow down and check in with YOU!

Some of the best excuses I’ve heard are;

  1. I’m too tight.  Yes of course.  And whatever you don’t go to a yoga class to help with that.
  2. Yoga is boring.  Well then you haven’t been to the right class.  Yoga can be slow, fast, hard, gentle, sweaty, and deeply healing.  If you haven’t liked it yet keep trying.
  3. I wish I had time.  As I say, you either take time or time will take you.  It’s that simple.
  4. I have too many injuries.  The pharmacy industry is making a killing because you don’t think yoga can help.
  5. I couldn’t do that!  No you can’t.  You are in your 50’s and haven’t done much exercise but what you can do is start somewhere with something that works for you and stick to it.
  6. My mind is too busy to do yoga.  And so is everyone else’s. Just get on the mat.

One time in particular I got so tired of hearing a gentleman I had just met with multiple issues yoga could help with all his excuses I said, “You know it’s not your body that’s tight.  It’s your mind!”

 

 

 

 

Starting Yoga

January 31, 2019

Are you new to yoga and not sure where to start?  Or maybe you are a practicing and seasoned yogi looking for a community where you can expand your practice.   Not matter what your circumstances, finding the right home to practice yoga can be overwhelming. There are classes at gyms, local community centers, and a ton of studios with 32 flavors of yoga: want a practice full of heads stands and arm balances? Done. How about dance music? Or even yoga ‘boot camp’? Sure thing! There’s a class for every yogi, even if most of those things aren’t necessarily yoga.  But what’s important is that you find a studio with teachers that resonate with your needs; that provides you an inviting space to practice; that specializes in providing one-on-one attention to students in order to meet their needs; and that welcomes new yogis without making you feel like you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. This is what Fuller Yoga is all about.

 

At Fuller Yoga, we are focused on the well-being yoga can deliver.  We offer a range of classes to meet the evolving needs of our students, but we also specialize in helping all students achieve physical and mental well-being.  We are staffed with a team of seasoned, highly trained instructors that specialize in proper alignment and working with students who suffer from chronic pain and injuries.  We provide a clean, safe and judgement-free environment so students can learn the basics of a yoga practice, or take their existing practice to the next level, and experience all the benefits that doing yoga regularly can offer.  We love what we do and take pride in being there for every student in our community, ensuring that individual needs are being met.

 

So, if you’re wondering, or a friend asks you, here are 4 reasons why you should check out Fuller Yoga.

  1. Our goal is to utilize yoga and Pilates to support student who are committed to learning proper alignment or suffer from chronic pain or injuries.
  2. Our team of experienced teachers focus on a practice that will support proper alignment, your individual body mechanics, and build strength and stability.
  3. We take pride in creating a clean and judgement-free learning environment where each student can focus on the mind-body connection to reducse stress, anxiety and pain.  
  4. We love what we do!

Check out our new student specials or contact us directly for a private one-on-one yoga session.

How I got out of back pain.

January 14, 2019

You wouldn’t know this by looking at me but I have had low back pain most of my life.  Most of the time it didn’t bother me too much.  Just when I did too much or stood around a lot.  My family went on long car trips which was too much sitting and we visited lots of museums which was too much standing and those floors are hard!

Some days were better than others.  Some days I was ok and others I could hardly get out of bed and I would have to do stretches under the covers just to get my feet on the floor.  There was the constantly fiddle-ling with my hips, pushing them around twisting, shifting, anything to get relief.  When I did too much it hurt more, and when I did too little it hurt more.  But I never really took it too seriously.  I’m an active person and figured it was par for the course. Until the winter of 2015.  I believe when we got a snow storm every Monday and I took that time to sit and do my accounting for the business.  Boy was that a bad idea!

I hardly ever sit. And sitting that long repeatedly resulted in one day not being able to put my arm behind my back and feeling some serious numbness and tingling down my arm into my forefinger.  I went to the doctor, got an MRI saw some things going on to look out for in the future but it wasn’t until I saw the good people at Chiropractic Health Center of Glastonbury until I started to understand what was gong on.

First, I was loosing the cervical curve in my neck so my neck was flattening out; not good. And second, I found out I was born with a lumbosacral fusion and an additional fusion on the transverse process to the sacrum.  This was kind of a big deal and so many things started to make sense.  Now I understood why the left side of my back hurt more than the right.  Why I was constantly manipulating my left hip and why the left leg dominated when I was a young gymnast.

I also adjusted my yoga and pilates practice a lot.  I started to scale back on stretching my hamstrings too much which was beginning to de-stabilize my pelvis and work at strengthen my glutes and stretching my quads and hip flexors.  And in addition to starting chiropractic care which helped a lot.  I coupled that with massage and using The MELT Method and the Yoga Ropes Wall before before an adjustment.

I’m fortunate that I understand the body and know how to navigate around pain and spinal issues.  In the end my best advice is to tell you it’s a process. And be consider the following:

-Get an x-ray first and have someone knowledgeable explain it to you.. Manipulating the spine without knowing what is going on underneath the hood is not the best use of our time or money.

-Find yoga pilates and fitness professionals who truly understand the body.  If they have worked through injuries themselves then even better.

-Get chiropractic care and be pro-active around your appointments.  Stretch before hand or get a massage.  Even still learn The MELT Method.  These small practices can really advance your care as they tell the muscles that have been pulling on your bones to stop what they have been doing and relax so your adjustment can really take hold and get your spine back in alignment.

-Reduce your stress.  Take walks out in nature and remember this is a process.  Breathe In and Breathe Out. And finally…

-Never Give Up!

Now I can honestly say I am in less pain than I have been in in my whole life.  Sure there are moments that are not so good but they are far and few between.  Plus, when I start going down that slippery slope I know what to do.  Stretch, strengthen, MELT, massage and make an appointment with the chiropractor and do my practice!

To book a private session with one of our certified instructors please email: hello@fulleryoga.com.  We look forward to working with you and help facilitate your journey our of pain.

Yoga How to Start

October 9, 2018

In today’s social media star world it’s easy to get intimidated by the images we see of yoga.  Please be advised you do not have to be flexible to do yoga.  All you have to do is be willing to check your ego at the door.  As we continue to seek the fountain of youth we are realizing that the more we try to be 23 again the more the fountain is drying up.  That is when it is time to turn to exercise that is easier on the joints, increases blood flow and builds strong muscles and bones.  YOGA!!!  With it’s adaptability and use of props anyone truly anyone can do yoga.  However, if your ego keeps telling you you have to be perfect or not to look stupid then you just may miss out on all the wonderful benefits of a regular yoga practice.  Like less stress, sleeping better, eating better and even getting better at yoga.

Google yoga studios in your area.  Find one that does an Introductory or beginner course in yoga.  You will learn the names of postures and various breathing techniques to help increase oxygenation and reduce stress.  You will also be in a group of other beginners.  And you may even make friends with people who are also looking to better their health and feel better in body while getting or staying fit.  Find a friend and do it together and if anyone misses a week they owe the other person a pair of Athleta yoga pants.  And at those prices you’ll be sure you both will show up.

Hesitate no more!  Isn’t it time to grow a little and achieve more and be around for the great grand kids?

Breathe,

How are your hips?  Do you feel stiff in your hips and low back?  Like they just don’t sway like they used to?  If you sit in a desk most of the day or stand on your feet you might be tight in your hips and low back that can cause a lot of pain.  Below you will find a simple stretch that can be done in stationary chair (no wheels please) that will alleviate aches and pains due to inactivity.  So pull up a chair.

Pigeon in chair hip stretch

Sit on the edge of the chair with your feet planted firmly in front of you and sit up tall.  Now cross your left ankle over your right knee, like a man would typically cross his legs.  If you are really tight your knee crossed over will point towards the ceiling and it will feel very awkward.  In that case put books, blankets or a higher chair underneath you so your knee of the foot on the floor is 90º, in this case the right knee.  Lift up through your spine to be as high on your sit bones as possible creating a flat back.  You may feel some stretching in your hip just by being in this position and if so just hang out there for at least 30-60 sec.

If you don’t get much sensation place your hands up a wall as high as you can,  or find something to pull on like a yoga ropes wall or a bar and lean forward keeping the spine straight until you begin to feel a stretch in the hip of the leg that is crossed over.  After 30-60 seconds change to the other side.  Repeat each side at least three times.  After you are done stand up and gently bend at the waist reaching forward towards your toes.  Then come back to a standing position and take a walk.  See if your hips have a little more swing to them.  Now put an alarm clock at your desk or workstation to help remind you to do this again at least two more times throughout the day.

You will find this stretch, when repeated often, will be very helpful in alleviating all sorts of hip and lower back pain.  As always, let me know how it goes.

Live Simply and Wisely,

Justine

Write to Justine at hello@fulleryoga.com or find on Facebook

Fall Back to School

August 8, 2018

Sarajean assist.jpgSeptember is back to school month.  That means a lot of changes.  Different schedules have to be put in place, more traffic and cars are on the road and that time we had to play, take a day trip or go to the movies is scheduled with activities, homework and the onset of the holidays.  So how can you keep the easy spirit of summer and carve out time for yourself as your whole life changes tempo?

Well, it’s not just kids that have to go back to school.  Us adults could you use the education as well.   One of the best ways to keep your mental acuities is to keep learning, studying and growing your knowledge in ways that interest you and broaden your horizons.

Where can you find a class or workshop on various subjects that doesn’t cost a mortgage?  The first place to look is actually not you tube or the internet but your town.  Many towns have a park and recreation department that provide various classes ranging from foreign languages, computers, cooking, art and even exercise classes.  As we age it can get harder and harder to meet people and create connections and companions around activities that interest us.  We can get isolated and the internet won’t help break through loneliness.  That’s why when you engage in your community you can meet people who have similar interests and are close by therefore after the course is over you could meet up for lunch or coffee.

Also you may want to branch out to your local community college.  They generally have lots of classes that pertain to personal development that won’t end up in a degree, unless you want that of course.  There are arts annexes and organizations that hold classes in painting, photography, sculpture, writing mixed media etc.  You can check museums or science centers that may be having lectures or workshops in conjunction with specific exhibits.  You can even look at your local yoga studio for classes or workshops in yoga, meditation, essential oils and to make a bigger commitment you can enroll in a 200hr yoga teacher training even if you already know you may not want to teach.

Sure we may have to do additional education for our job to keep up with trends but it is also important to find new things to learn that peak your interests and help you become a well rounded human being and a fountain of information.  Then when the details of what we’ve learned have faded into the background we will still have good friends with similar interests.  And that can last a lifetime.

 

For more information on workshops and teacher trainings with Justine at Fuller Yoga in either Glastonbury  or West Hartford please visit www.fulleryoga.com

Meditation…

July 22, 2018

2008-05-20 16.29.18Have you ever thought about your thoughts?  Have you ever thought about how your thoughts make you feel?  Often times it’s our thoughts that stimulate our feelings.  If you think about how someone disappointed you, you may feel sad or upset, however if you think about the person who helped you move something or watched your children while you ran an errand or some other good deed, then you may feel a sense of love and connection.  So it’s evident our thoughts have a lot to do with our feelings.  This week let’s take a minute to examine our thoughts.  Are they mostly positive or negative?  Do they leave you feeling good or bad?

It may seem weird to examine your thoughts but you will find that you gain clarity and peace of mind when you are more in control of what you are thinking.  Here’s an exercise you to help.  On a blank piece of paper draw a line down the center to make two columns.  Use the left hand column write down your “negative” thoughts then on the right hand column write a list of your “positive” thoughts. Your positive column may be small but notice how you feel when you think about those thoughts.

Now that you have separated your positive and negative thoughts you will begin to notice them more and more.  In fact carry your list with you throughout the day so you can add to it on either side.  Then at the end of the day cut your list in half lengthwise so the columns are separate and burn the negative side so all you have left is the positive side.  Then take the positive side and place it in a prominent place in your home or workplace.  Repeat the exercise everyday for 5 days.  You will end up with 5 positive lists.  Try not to repeat anything on the lists.  Now for the next two days keep reading your positive lists and let the good feelings affect your attitude, your relationships, and your connection to Universal Source Energy and all things good and beautiful.

 

Live Simply and Wisely,

Justine

For more information on meditation classes please visit

https://fulleryoga.com/events-workshops/

downdog flowTruly there is nothing like it.  I cannot seem to find a way to replicate the openness and length the body gets with the Ropes Wall.  Originally designed by B.K.S. Iyengar it has unlimited potential for ALL and I mean ALL.  For those just starting out it is good for support and structure.  For people who who have injuries, spinal issues or chronic pain the ropes wall can target areas traditional yoga just can’t no matter what style you practice.  And for the advanced yogi the wall helps the body access and deepen stretches to achieve postures like King Pigeon king pigeonand Wheel.  With all the sitting, driving and texting we do we have to find ways to bring ourselves upright and back into better posture.

The best way the ropes wall does this is by allowing us to be passive and soften into postures so our body can relax and unwind all the tension it’s been holding without forcing or pushing into something new.  Water does not flow the way you force it to but rather it finds the path of least resistance.  Our bodies aren’t much different.  They like to take the path of least resistance.  Just think of the effort it takes to get up and change the channel.  Ergo the remote.

If you think it’s not for you think again.  I’ve had 6’4″ men on it, students with scoliosis on it, 85 year old women on it and others who were terrified find their way to loving the wall and what it does for their body and getting them out of stiffness and pain.  In fact one student felt as though her organs had more space in her body.  This might be true.

There is a stillness when practicing on the wall.  I suppose it’s due to the space that is created in the body the joints and the mind itself for possibility and ease.  Find a class either with us or a studio near you, you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

The Cool Side of Yoga

July 6, 2018

swimming pool yoga 2I’m sure you’ve all heard about Bikram Yoga (yoga practiced in 108°), Hot Yoga, Sweat and Surrender Yoga and now even Hot Pilates and Barre classes so with all this hot yoga craze we may be missing out on the cooler side of stretching, breathing and relaxing.

There are several styles of yoga that are great to balance out summer activities and warmer climates so you can still get all the benefits of yoga.  The first one is restorative yoga. This therapeutic style of yoga is often called “Active Relaxation” which uses props to support the body while keeping it active with minimal movement in a relaxed, meditative state. These poses are used to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for balancing the body. The postures are specifically designed for when you are feeling fatigued, weak, stressed from daily life or when you just want to experience stillness. They are equally beneficial to alleviate depression, reduce chronic pain, migraines and the symptoms of insomnia, asthma and to help recover from childbirth.  The second style of yoga I recommend during the hot months is Gentle Yoga.  Gentle Yoga consists of a balance between slow repetitive and sustained stretching.  Standing postures are rare in gentle yoga and if they are performed they are to stretch rather than strengthen.  Gentle yoga can be an excellent way to begin a yoga practice and start gaining flexibility in a way that won’t set you up for failure.  The third practice is Yin Yoga.  Yin (soft) yoga, as opposite of Yang (active, strong) offers a slow paced movement and helps press pause on hyperactive life we are living. Yin and Yang are opposites, yet together they create wholeness while complimenting each other. The yoga postures will be held for short periods of time (2-4 min) with intention to create more elasticity in connective tissue, access deeper muscles, release stress from the body and mind and aid in overall relaxation.

With summer comes lots of activities and exuberant energy that needs to be balanced and grounded.  It is just as important to take care of ourselves when we feel good as it is when we do not.  These three yoga styles (Restorative, Gentle and Yin) are the perfect activity to do just that just look for these names of yoga at your closest yoga studio.

L.Justine Fuller

For workshop and 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training courses please visit;

www.fulleryoga.com