Posts In: yoga practice

The word yoga means to yoke to bring together.  So it’s fitting to look at bringing yoga and the black community together.  When I talk about yoga to those who don’t practice I always hear the same things.  Oh, I can’t do yoga.  Isn’t it hard?  But I’m not flexible.  Do I have to chant om?  I can’t be in class with those skinny girls.  Is it a religion?  And this is just from “white people”.  So I asked my yoga trainees of color, how can we break down the stereotypes of yoga for communities of color?  How can we make yoga more inviting and less intimidating?  I hear others in the yoga community talk of making yoga more affordable to people of color and I think now that’s stereotypical.  To assume just because of the color of someone’s skin that they don’t have money?  So, if they are Jewish we should charge them more?  Everyone needs a break now and then but it shouldn’t depend on the color of their skin.

I appreciate the #yoga5BLM and all the Caucasians standing up for people of color and yes we DO need to raise our voices.  It HAS gone on too long.  It IS injustice.  But, I have to ask, who among you has a black friend?  Who among you have reached out to your black co-worker to find out “how are you with all this?”  Does your child have black friends?   Maybe their aren’t many people of color in your area but if there are, are you really reaching out where you can?  Are you really there to emotionally support those you know of color?  Have you really been a true neighbor?  Have you asked, do you need anything?  Because, until we are together as friends and neighbors this #yoga4BLM is only a moment. Where those people posting slick Instagram images get to feel powerful for standing up for something, which is great don’t get me wrong, but back it up.  Put some muscle into it.  Don’t let it just be the statement of 2020, the post on your feed, that time period when…  Let your commitment be real.   Take a virtual class from Afro Flow Yoga™, or somewhere else that looks interesting, start making friends and neighbors of color, for now and all the days to come and your life will be much much fuller.

 

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 and 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 or book at https://BookWithFullerYoga.as.me/Pilates

We look forward to working with you and help facilitate your journey our of pain.

Meet Kristina!

June 5, 2018

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What brought you to yoga? About 7 years ago I began training for and completed a ½ marathon. I was so psyched that I began training for a full marathon almost immediately afterwards. I went for a long run on a cold January day and in an effort to complete the run, I sprinted the last mile. As I ran I felt like something snapped in my left hip area and immediately felt intense pain in my knee and had a hard time walking. I came to find out that I pulled my IT band. I went through PT, but needed something to keep myself stretched and toned. I took my first yoga class and I fell in love with the connection between body and mind. I loved the meditative qualities as well as the mindfulness and focus. The strengthening of my body was also a huge plus!

In what ways has yoga impacted your life? Yoga has helped me to refocus more quickly after life throws curve balls at me. Even if I lose my temper or emotion gets away from me, my training has taught me to always return to the breath.

Why did you decide to enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training? While I was a Police Officer, a friend asked me what I would do if I wasn’t Police Officer. Without even thinking “become a Yoga Teacher” came out of my mouth. I wasn’t even aware I wanted to teach! Well, after the birth of my daughter almost 4 years ago, I decided I wanted to retire and there happened to be a Yoga Teacher Training starting that fall at the studio I was practicing in. I signed up and have not regretted one step of this new journey.

Looking back what advice would you give to yourself the first time you stepped onto a yoga mat? Stop trying to compete with others. Enjoy the moment. Be curious about the practice and where the teacher is trying to lead you. SOFTEN! Oh, and none of the other students are watching you!!

What activities do you enjoy outside of teaching? Spending free time with my Step-sons, husband and daughter doing something fun like hiking or going to the beach, I love to go to the beach with my daughter. I love to garden, going to amusement parks, AND if I can find the time, I love to read.

What advice would you give a beginner? Be kind to yourself and try not to judge. Everyone has a starting point when they begin yoga. Don’t aspire and wish to be in the difficult postures immediately. Those take time, but be present in the moment and be patient with yourself about where you are in your practice. The teacher is there to help you.

What is your favorite pose? My favorite pose constantly changes. Sometimes it’s wheel, sometimes Balancing Half Moon, but I think most consistently it is Warrior II. I love the grounding and strength of the posture. It is a conscious effort to be in such a strong posture, but at the same time to soften the gripping.

What surprise have you found about yourself or others from being a teacher? I found that I do love to teach. I wasn’t sure as I went through training if I truly did want to teach, but once I began to teach, I loved it. When I center my class, I can truly let go of what is happening beyond the studio walls, no matter what went on in life before I walked through the doors. As the class and I begin to breathe in unison and the class begins to move, my tension melts away and I begin to soften. Teaching is a big part of my yoga path.

Join Kristina as she leads you through #108SunSalutations

Sunday June 24th from 3-5pm. Fee $35

Sign up with this link.

 

If you think a yoga teacher training isn’t for you think again. It’s a life changing experience!

Whether you’ll ever teach or not it’s about doing the work and transforming yourself into a more authentic version of yourself.  You deepen your knowledge of an activity you love and as my teacher Alison West told me. Yoga will change your life. And boy was she right.

So I’ve put together the Top 10 Reasons you would want to take the Fuller Yoga Teacher Training.

  1. Learn more about the yoga practice you love. The history, the philosophy, lifestyle choices in being a “yogi” and why they work.
  2. Learn more about your body and how to keep it safe. Those who dive into a yoga practice without having good knowledge of body mechanics get injured more quickly than those who know how the body should and shouldn’t move.
  3. You get to throw around big fancy words like dosha, citta, samskara and vashistasana and actually know what it means.
  4. You will get an opportunity to understand yourself better. Fuller Yoga teacher training is about diving deeper to understand what makes you tick. As Socrates said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
  5. You will get to do more yoga than you ever thought possible. Our training requires you to practice, practice, practice, and keep a record in order to get credit for all those hours on the mat.
  6. You will know how to teach to everyone. Our program is comprehensive. You won’t graduate only knowing how to teach to one type of yoga student. Whether they are beginners, devote practitioners, injured, or in their advanced years you will know how to teach a class specific to that demographic.
  7. Make new friends. Yoga Teacher Training is about sharing the love of yoga. Bonding over tea and texting each other to ask how you pronounce Utthita Hasta Pandangusthasana. Besides, these friends are embarking on a journey of health and well being which will be a great influence all around.
  8. Gain confidence! Whether you end up teaching or not you will gain more confidence being in front of people, sharing your experience and taking a leadership role.
  9. Giving is getting. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing someone say, “ah, that’s just what I needed, “or “thanks, my back doesn’t hurt anymore.”
  10. Make some money. You probably won’t retire on your yoga earnings but teaching and continuing to practice will keep you out of the old folks home with a little extra change in your pockets.

For more information on the Fuller Yoga Primary Yoga Teacher Training please contact or click here.

Recently this question came across my yoga mat.  I fear I can hurt myself in back bends but I’m curious about your  All Levels Back Bending workshop would this be appropriate for me? What are the benefits of back bending?

Well quite honestly you can hurt yourself stepping off the curb.  Anything you do without awareness can cause injury or pain.  However, with a qualified instructor who guides you into and out of your postures anything is possible.

Back bends are a great way to stimulates the central nervous system, revitalize the organs and counter balance our way too forward bending culture. They bring awareness to your back body, create better posture and help open the heart which can also help with depression and anxiety.

Back bends can be simply lying on your back with your feet on the floor lifting your hips up but they can also be so much more.

Should you take a workshop?  Absolutely.

Yoga workshops are the best way to do something correctly and get the most knowledge out of your instructor.  You will learn how to safely go into and out of back bending sequences as well as understand how “warmed up” the body has to be to properly achieve any back bend. Workshops start slow and it’s a focused effort on one or two postures so everything you do will be toward the end set of back bending postures. Plus, there are usually less people than in a regular group class so you will have the extra time to ask questions and get the help you are looking for. You will also find out what set of muscles are limiting you from a more expansive back bending practice.

Sign up and take a back bending workshop, ask a lot of questions and bend over backwards with the pure joy of it!

Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible. ~Bob Harper

For class and workshop information visit www.fulleryoga.com

 

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The worst thing you can do is expect the next person to be like the last.  I find it all the time especially in the business of being a small yog studio.  Teachers expect the new studio they begin teaching at to be like their previous or current one.  I find myself reminding them often Fuller Yoga™ Studio is not xyz studio and we do things differently here.

The same is true for your practice.  Each time you come into Crow, Triangle Pose or Half Moon Pose and expect it to be like the time before you will most likely be disappointed that it wasn’t as good as before or shocked that you did it better.  Your expectations can set you up.  You may miss some really great things because you expect it to be bad or you may walk away feeling like crap because you expected it to be so great.

So how can Fuller Yoga™ help you manage your expectations? How can The Fuller Mat™ help you not get stuck assuming your current practice/studio/relationship should or will be the same as the last? It’s easy.  From the very beginning Fuller Yoga™ is designed to put you completely in the moment by focusing on the flow of your breath and your ability to move fluidly.  Unlike practices that tend to repeat the same sequence of postures, Fuller Yoga requires you pay attention to how you move from one pose to the next discover the nuances and shifts that  keep you open for discovery, inquiry and new experiences.

No Fuller Yoga™ practice can ever be the same.  Because it is so connected to breath and approaching the postures from movement rather than adjusting your body to the pose it will always be organic, flowing, and free from expectations.

Join me in discovering the next level to your practice with a week long Fuller Yoga retreat       Feb. 8-14th, 2015 at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Costa Rica.

Now that Spring is finally upon us, it’s time to twist out those cobwebs of Old Man Winter.  This will require a chair and humility.  Let’s first open our back a little before we start.  Go ahead and stand up tall, then soften your knees so there is a slight bend, then creasing at the hips fold over and hang your upper body towards the floor.  Let your head go and make sure you can see between your legs. Take 3 deep breaths.  When you feel ready slowly roll up one vertebra at a time.  Now we are ready for a twist.

You will need a chair with no arm handles so that you can position yourself properly to execute the twist.  Sit so that your right shoulder is facing the back of the chair and your right hand on the far side of the back of the chair.  Your left hand will be across your body and closer to you.  Lengthen your spine from the pelvic floor up through the crown of the head and inhale.

Then as you exhale begin twisting your abdomen first, then your rib cage, shoulders and finally your head.  This twist should move up your spine.  You don’t want your shoulders twisted if your belly button hasn’t moved yet.  Once you have gotten yourself into the pose take a deep breath in and as you exhale twist deeper.  Stay there for 3 more breaths.  When ready release from the pose slowly.

Staying there turn gently to the left to release the deep back muscles.  Now change sides by facing your legs to the other side.  You may repeat this if you like. 

As you are twisting it’s best to close your eyes and imagine your stress, tension and worries literally getting wrung out.  Squeeze out the bad vibes and when you release begin to inhale a new one and feel how your life would be without the stress you’ve been experiencing.

As always let me know how it goes.

Live Simply and Wisely,

Justine

Sure you can throw yourself around in bendy stretchy yoga postures 3-4 times a week but are you structurally sound?  Getting flexible is great and most of us need a lot of yoga but if you aren’t able to differentiate between strong abs and core strength you might as well do 12oz curls and call it a workout.

It wasn’t until I went to a class with Ana Forrest that it dawned on me.  We hardly ever do ab work in yoga.  From our traditional yoga upbringing, classes were gentler and more passive than they are today.  Now we have Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, Aerobic Yoga and Sun Salutations so fast your wondering if the class still aligns with the mindfulness yoga claims.  So of course with all that activity we should definitely do our ab work.  But if you are not understanding HOW to do this work then your missing the whole point, and still headed for injury.

Pilates not only teaches you how to engage your deepest core muscle, the transversus abdominis, but also teaches you how to breathe without loosing strength and stability in the abs.  By using post lateral breathing, some good visuals and proprioceptive props such as small weighted balls, therabands and magic circles pilates will transform your yoga postures into blossoming flowers of bliss.  Learning the difference between an imprint, neutral and an arched back guides me so that every posture has a strength, structure and an easily elongated spine.  Pilates will deepen your mind body connection from the inside out in profound ways as you understand your bones and muscles and how they work or sometimes don’t work together.

How long did it take me to figure this out?  A long time but it was worth the knowledge I now have in my body.  My yoga practice is  now a joyful exploration between movement and stillness, substance and space.   Using my core has helped me find ways to stretch and expand without overdoing it and pulling ligaments.

Pilates will transform your practice and re-shape even the best yoga bodies.  Find a class with a certified trainer preferably at a pilates studio or one in conjunction with a yoga studio or physical therapy office.

And don’t forget to take your powerhouse!

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

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