Posts In: Yoga

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

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

Meet Melissa!

March 1, 2018
image41. What brought you to yoga?
Years ago I found myself in a rut struggling with anxiety, insomnia and chronic
neck pain ​from a car accident in my teens.  Feeling a little down one day I asked myself “is this as good as it gets?” The universe seemed to respond quickly as I soon found myself in a yoga class breathing, twisting and turning without a clue as to what I was doing.

​ ​
Walking out of that first class was like experiencing a whole new lease on life that felt hopeful, healthy and vibrant! I was hooked, and that feeling has been bringing me back to my mat every day!
2. In what ways has yoga impacted your life?
The day after my first yoga class was quickly followed by a second class the next day, and the next day and then followed by three to five times per week. The effects of peace, calm and joy felt on my first day were confirmed again and again as each day I left class feeling fantastic! Anxiety and neck pain disappeared and I was sleeping great!
3. Why did you decide to enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training?
My desire to create beautiful things through art and design carried me naturally into the desire to share the beautiful effects yoga had in my life. Enrolling in training at Kripalu was a natural next step after a year since stepping into my first yoga class.
4. Looking back what advice would you give to yourself the first time you stepped onto a yoga mat?

​ ​Relax and have fun! Our mind and body tend to be at odds with new experiences. Quieting the mind and listening to the body allows one to begin to experience the body leading you into a new and wonderful world of peace. This can be challenging when our mind rules our world, but that is where yoga really shines.
5. What activities do you enjoy outside of teaching?

Traveling, paddleboarding, hiking and spending time with my family and friends.
6. What advice would you give a beginner?
Try it!  Let your body be the judge after a class or two.  Once we get out of our mind and allow our body to twist and turn releasing the tension and stress that we aren’t even aware of, the mind becomes more calm and centered which is a wonderful feeling! So many times people get caught up in thinking their yoga pose needs to be as perfect as the poses on the cover of yoga journal but it doesn’t. Yoga isn’t about perfect poses, yoga’s about connecting to your body and yourself.
7. What is your favorite pose?
I really want to say savasana because that’s my all-time favorite, but only after a full practice!  Dancer pose is my favorite! I love the benefits, it’s a great backbend and quad stretch!
8. What surprise have you found about yourself or others from being a teacher?
I never imagined myself being a teacher. Now my full time job is being a yoga and meditation teacher and a reiki practitioner. Yoga teacher training was such an empowering and confidence building experience that it has literally created a career I never knew was waiting for me.
To find a class with Melissa visit www.fulleryoga.com

For me it’s personal. headshot 2015

I was living in New York City, I was 26 years old and living my dream of auditioning to become a full time modern dancer and travel the world with a group of people that would become my best friends.

Audition after audition with other dancers who were far more trained than I took its toll on myself esteem and made me question the feasibility of my dreams.  I was waiting tables taking dance classes everywhere and fitting in at least one yoga class a week with Dharma Mittra.   My ballet teacher from San Francisco raved about how we should all take yoga as part of our dance training.  So although I had read Krishnamurti as a teen, my yoga practice was only focused on getting better balance in my turns.

Then a fellow dancer suggested I sign up for Yoga Union’s 200 hour teacher training with Alison West.  When I initially met Alison I noticed she carried herself well.  She was incredibly precise and with her British accent came across as strict and slightly intimidating.  In fact she still is unless you know her.  She is a stickler for form, safety and the health of every individual’s body while they are taking her yoga classes.  I liked her so much I signed up for the month long training.  This was to be part my career change and making my transition to Connecticut.  During the training I would stay 5 nights in the city and travel to Connecticut for one day and night to spend time in my new residence.

What always amazes me when I look back on these things is, how did I pay for that?  Both with the Yoga Union training and subsequent overseas yoga training, it always amazes me that somehow I pulled it off financially.  But you know how the saying goes, “if there is a will, there is a way.”

I remember Alison said to a new student one day jokingly, “be careful if you take a yoga class, it will change your life.”  And for me it did.  I never thought teaching yoga would be a full time job for me or that I would be good at it.  I had always thought I would teach the older populations thinking it would be easier.  Who knew I had a power yoga teacher hidden within?

Over the 18 years I have been teaching yoga I have seen yoga go from a practice on the outskirts of the fitness industry to a staple in every gym.  And with anything that becomes mainstream the details can get lost in hype.

That is why I am have dedicated the Fuller Yoga Primary Teacher Training towards the making of knowledgeable, sensitive, and discerning yoga teachers.   I have seen many “certified” yoga teachers know very little about anatomy and the body’s natural abilities and limitations in an individual.  There is also a lack of knowledge about how to modify or make accessible postures for those individuals whose body’s aren’t quite ready for the full expression of the pose.  I have even seen yoga teachers who have been teaching less than 4 years start their own teacher training.  And not to mention the incredible onslaught of social media pictures of women who are young and extremely flexible giving the average person something completely out of reach to emulate.

Fuller Yoga Primary Teacher Training is about so much more than turning out teachers and making a profit.  This training is about you, your practice and the gifts you can offer to others through the practice of yoga.  Our Training is designed in two tracks.  Track 1, The Foundation is to deepen your study of yoga and to learn more about yourself and how yoga can help you navigate the ups and downs that life has to offer.  You will learn anatomy, breathing, yoga philosophy and the alignment of each posture.  There will be study on the mind, its nature and how you can manage thoughts and emotions by using your yoga practice.  You will also be exposed to various styles of yoga and we are looking into a field trip to NYC.

Track 2, The Gift is for those who have made the commitment to become a certified yoga instructor.  This will be for 3 weekends.  In this portion you will learn how to teach a class, deal with multiple levels in a class, how to plan a themed class and the art of sequencing.
You will also learn how to market yourself and establish yourself as in independent contractor and how to create boundaries with students both on and off the mat.

I’ve learned so much within 18 years of teaching, anywhere from a gym, to a yoga studio, to a church basement and upon receiving your certificate will be well equipped to teach wherever the universe needs you.  Fuller Yoga Teacher Training will not teach you a system of yoga where one size fits all.  It is designed to help you know how to cater each posture and each class to either yourself or the students you teach.  You will graduate stronger physically and mentally, more confident and with skills that can assist you as a teacher, a parent, a co-worker, a boss, a partner, and a member of the human race.

For more information visit https://fulleryoga.perfectmind.com/SocialSite/retreatstrainings

or email info@fulleryoga.com

A True Yogi

June 30, 2016

It was 2 years ago that Patrick Williams came into our life as a student of the Om For Life™ class (bottom left).  2015-03-24 Om For LifeHe had recently been diagnosed for the second time with cancer.  The first time was with a brain tumor at the age of 2.  As these things go his doctor is also a student at Fuller Yoga and once she heard about our Free Yoga class for Cancer Patients and Survivors (Om For Life) she sent Patrick to us right away.  He was a pole vaulter, swimmer and skier and so took to yoga like a fish to water.  That was two years ago.

As he continued the program he began to take more and more classes.  Patrick would take everything from Heated Power Yoga to Gentle Yoga depending on how he was feeling that day.  As the tumor(s) grew in his abdomen and as the pain and nausea meds changed so too did his practice.  But what never changed was Patrick’s attitude.  He was always ready to greet you with a smile and ask “how are you?”

Patrick was a wonderfully willing student of yoga and it showed in his practice.  His ability to surrender to the day at hand allowed him to accomplish the 25 mile bike ride for bike 5 patrick and momCT Challenge last year as well as complicated postures with the most surrendered and grateful heart.  Patrick didn’t hide his illness nor did he seem embarrassed or ashamed.  He was gracious to talk about how yoga helped him through treatment and keep his mind focused on the present moment instead of making him crazy.

He got frustrated though and had to deal with not being able to do the things he once loved.  He mentioned that all his friends were moving along in their college careers and that he was behind.  He also got frustrated that his illness took away his strength and ability to use his body as he once had.

So this year we are dedicating our 2nd Annual CT Yoga Fest to Patrick Williams who passed away June 16th, 2016.  Patrick was a big heart and an even bigger yogi.Patrick Williams 2016.jpg

To donate to our Fuller Yoga bike team and raise funds for the Om For Life Program         Click here.

For more pictures of the CT Challenge ride and Patrick Click here

Fuller Yoga

I have to say it because I see it all the time.  Bad form in a power yoga class!

Hundreds of people are replacing their gym memberships and Crossfit classes with a membership to a Power Yoga studio and for good reason!  A heated power yoga class is a great workout without the joint pounding of the gym.  Power yoga creates strong, long and lean muscles as oppose to big bulky and tight muscles.  However, if you have bad form you are just as likely to injury yourself in yoga.  Here are the top 3 most dangerous things I see people do when they start power yoga.

  1. Push yourself beyond your edge. This is not the gym.  You are not in competition with anyone except maybe yourself.  But if you injure yourself in the process then you have to take your next level back to zero and at that point your best will be a lot lower than your best before you went too far.  The body is pliable when listened to.  Stay tuned to how your body feels.  Know the difference between a stretch and a pull.  You will feel a stretch in the middle of the muscle and a pull will happen at the origin or insertion points of the muscle.  Yoga is intended to be practiced for life not just for a two year period while your friends think it’s the in thing to do.  Lesson:  Less is more, don’t push!
  2. Don’t listen or Do listen to the teacher! If you are not listening to your instructor you are missing out on some great cues on how to adjust your body to make your posture and your body feel awesome.  Conversely, if your instructor is inexperienced or did not get an education from a creditable source (look for RYS at the end of her name) you may want to not listen and tune into your body instead.  Never go into a posture in a way that doesn’t feel good because your teacher told you to.  That mentality is never a way to peace and ease in your body and goes against the first principle of yoga- Ahimsa; non-violence.
  3. Be above a workshop. Never think you know the postures and the alignment.  Take workshops, try an arm balancing, inversion or back-bending workshop.  You will get a lot out of focusing your time towards one aspect of the practice.  2-3 hours of arm balancing you say???    Workshops are never like a class.  They are slower; they explain, practice and try new things.  You will partner up with others, you will get to observe and talk about what you see and feel and most importantly you will get to ask questions.  By taking a workshop every couple of months you will completely change how you practice on a weekly basis and begin to truly feel like a yogi!

After 18 years of teaching and owning a yoga studio I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff but if you adhere to not going beyond your edge, listen to yourself or your teacher depending on what is appropriate, and committing to taking at least one workshop every quarter you will be amazed at the changes in your practice, your body and your life.

For more information on 200hr Yoga Teacher Training with Justine, workshops or in you have basic yoga questions email: info@fulleryoga.com or visit: www.fulleryoga.com

Yoga can be an exciting and challenging journey towards connecting or re-connecting to your body.  Most people begin a  yoga program not because they know the wealth of benefits it will give them but usually due to in injury, chronic pain or through the recommendation of their doctor or friend.  One of the biggest reasons people begin yoga is low back pain.  Caused by a mire ad of lifestyle and work choices low back pain can turn chronic and debilitating.  I put together this short sequence of posture that anyone can do to relieve stress and tightness due to sitting or repetitive movement.  Watch and repeat a few times if you are able.  Let me know what you think.  Did they help?

Fuller Yoga for low back pain

First find a  studio  that agrees with you.  And by that I mean do you like the decor, the staff, the layout, the colors, the smell?  All of these aspects are important as you will be asked to be fully present and absorb yourself in each posture, breath and sensation.  So if the front desk girl irritates you every time you come in or the smell is throwing you off then you may want to consider shopping around.  However, if you live in a small area and there is little to no selection you may want to use the source of irritation as a focal point in which to sand down those jagged edges until they no longer bother you.

Second, start with a Intro or a Beginner yoga class.   This may seem very slow in the beginning especially if you are an avid gym rat or cardio class person; think of it as your rest day.  It is better to slow down and get your alignment correct rather than taking a class that is too hard and risk injury or worse form bad habits that are difficult to overcome.   Gentle classes can also be helpful when you are just starting out especially if you are injured or limited in some way.   However, they tend not to focus on alignment, technique or basic yoga vocabulary.

Third, go to class as often as possible!  Frequency means a lot right now.  Your body will most likely be sore in the beginning and by going often the soreness will not last as long.  I suggest 3 to 4 times per week.  Frequency is key right now.  Think of your body as a new leather shoe.  The more consistent you stretch it out the more it will hold it’s new shape and the new natural state of being.

This is a journey and will not happen over night.  Enjoy the discovery, be playful and keep an open mind.

If you have any further questions please email  or comment below.

Breathe