Posts In: yoga

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.

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10. Be willing to do lots of different things.  Take 30 days and go to a few yoga studios do DVDs, take a private pilates class.  In (more…)

#1 Fundamental Fear

October 20, 2013

Fingers of the UniverseWhat if who I am isn’t who I need to be to get what I want?  This belief, that at the core of my being I am flawed and my hopes and dreams are unattainable because I do not posses the qualities of those people who get what they want and do live their dreams.  I’ve come down with a case (yet again) of magical thinking. That there is some sort of way to be which is outside myself, or way to do things which is not like mine that I need to adhere to and morph myself into being because who I am just isn’t the right person to have what I so deeply desire.  I haven’t had the right education, I don’t have the right people around me, I don’t think the right way to create abundance, I didn’t have the right upbringing etc. etc. .  I suppose this is how many enslaved people must have felt. That no matter how strong their desire is the constructs of society and things outside of themselves will keep them in forever yearning.  This must be purgatory. This is torture.  What if it’s true and my whole life is for nothing but to be in a constant state of unrequited love if you will?  So then I remember this is a thought.  It’s just a thought.  A very powerful one but still just a thought.  I think of all the uneducated non-business degree people who have achieved their dreams. Colonel SandersOprah Winfrey (grew up poor), Lady Gaga (dropped out of college), Rosalie Mera (dropped out of school at 11 to become a seamstress).

On the other hand I say “Why would God be so cruel to insight such desire within me only to keep me from it because I lack the mental acuity or perspective to reach my goal?”    I do some Byron Katie 4 questions on it and I say to myself, “What if who I am is exactly who I need to be to get what I want?”  And for a moment there is relief, space and ease.  I relax and let myself be ok with who I am, the education I have received, the people I’m around and the things I want out of life if only for a moment this is enough.  Besides I’m not dead yet so there is still a chance.

Feedback for Fuller Yoga

October 14, 2013
It is so great to get feedback on people’s experience of Fuller Yoga™.  After almost 10 years of developing this style (which is hard to explain) I appreciate another yogi’s perspective.  Every time I teach or practice Fuller Yoga my body opens in many new ways and releases some long held tensions that normal yoga just hasn’t.  I find new spatial relationships and become an endless creator of movement and transitions from one pose to the next.
 
“I just took my first Fuller Yoga class, the first of many!!! This is a unique and inspired class! I loved Justine’s description of imaging the dome above the round mat-somehow the dome became sky-like.Great combination of classic yoga poses combined with movement-all on the round Fuller mat. A great physical and spiritual workout!I highly recommend!!”  – Rachel Siporin

Most of what’s on my Facebook Page is positive affirmations from various friends and colleagues.  This of course makes sense since I own a yoga studio and teach several classes a week.  However, what I’m realizing about this feel good world is that no one is talking about how to really incorporate these positive vibes into your body and not just your mind because there is something that happens after we speak the good stuff that no one is talking about and it creates a terrible obstacle to changing your life experience.

1.  The Back Talk– You will experience this immediately after your positive affirmation.  It’s the voice that says, “that’s silly no you can’t.”  “Yea right.”  “Forget it that’s never going to happen.”  You need to know to be prepared for this.  Expect your lower mind to bring up excuses to keep you where you are.  Change is scary for the ego because its main job is to keep the status quo.

2. Back Lash – This is when the back talk has integrated itself into your physical world. Back lash is when something good happens to you and you can’t hold it.  For example you identify that something good has happened to you.  Say you found a $20 bill in an old wallet.  This is great, you’re excited, and later that day you trip and fall on your knees.  Then you begin to justify the bad experience with the good one.  Basically saying “see I told you not to get excited.”  “You were too happy.”  “This is karma.”  “You should of given that money away.”  No this is the energy of the back talk playing itself out.  We set ourselves up to prove that we are unworthy and shouldn’t take joy in things.  We don’t deserve to be happy.  So the cycle begins. We do our affirmations, we don’t believe them and then we prove to ourselves that they don’t work.

3. The Witness – This is the stage where things get exciting.  When we cultivate witnessing our mind and thoughts we can easily catch the back talk and see the ego cycle playing itself out.  Then when good things happen to us we can take it in and say yes this is great I deserve this and consciously be prepared for the events and belief systems that are waiting at the helm to take us down. So when you feel that negativity creep up on you, you know you must have done something good for yourself.

Don’t just say the affirmations and try to feel them you also have to be an ego slayer. Prepare for the evil twins Back Talk and Back Lash.  Witness consciousness is your kryptonite. Your ego and negative mind is Lex Luthor trying to take over your entire world.  Call on your witness to destroy the misguided ego.  The world is safe and good and loving you every second even when it isn’t it still is cause this ride it temporary and we aren’t human forever so enjoy every last happy rocky road of it.

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

This week we are going to learn how to stretch our neck.  Seems easy enough but there are lots of small movements we can do to make the stretches more effective and long lasting.  Again you can do this seated or standing.  (Hint: I recommend doing this with a friend who can read the instructions to you as you do them.) Start by centering yourself using the Durga Breath we learned last week.  Go ahead I will wait……

Ok to begin, gently lower your chin to your chest.  Make sure you do not let your shoulders slump forward though.  It’s important to keep your spine long and just stretch the neck.  Your head is anywhere from 12 to 14 lbs. and more if you’re stubborn; so let the weight of your head hang forward.  You should feel a gentle pulling on the back of your neck.  Breathe.  Now roll your right ear to your right shoulder NOT your shoulder up to your ear!  Keep your ear in line with the shoulder you should be looking forward not down to the floor or up to the ceiling. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths.  Feel how the left side stretches?  Each time you exhale focus on releasing tight muscles; whatever that means to you.  If you have to imagine a puppy or a happy baby to think light then do so until you understand what it means and feels like to relax.  Now to release roll your chin back to your chest.  There are lots of small muscles in the neck and we do not want to strain them after having taken such a deep stretch.

Lift your head up from center and look straight ahead.  Close your eyes and feel the difference between the right and left sides of your neck.  Pretty cool huh?  Now repeat on the other side.

If you feel tightness in any area of the movement from chin to your chest to ear to your shoulder go ahead and stop where it feels tight, breath and allow your neck to relax.  Be kind to your neck, it has to hold up all that wisdom, intelligence and maybe a little stubbornness. 

Live Simply and Wisely,

Justine

The Bad Yogi

December 21, 2012

People do crazy things just look in the news. Some people lie, cheat, steal and kill to get their point across and yes even some yogi’s do it too. Just look at the shooting at Lululemon, but being honest with who you are and what you are feeling and wanting may avoid such atrocities or even white lies that insipidly harm ourselves and others.

A yoga instructor accused me of saying things I did not say, made demands she knew I could not comply with and made me out to be the bad guy. As much as I tried to resolve the situation in the best way I could she just wasn’t willing to communicate. So, I accepted my role of bad guy that I was to be to her. Like many others in her life I was one of many people who have done her wrong and so there really was no way of resolving anything as she was determined to be a victim.

What leads us to these kind of behaviors? Fear, lack of courage, low self-esteem, and a whole slew of misguided ideas of ourselves that the ego has projected to keep us in a role or category that we could name “safe” or “comfort zone”. If we could be really honest (satya, what we learn in The Yamas) with ourselves and communicate our findings and feelings to others who would really listen then we might live in a more mature and peaceful world. But when we don’t have that courage we find any excuses to leave, cheat, or begin to view someone as the enemy in order to do what is right in our heart’s to do, the ego’s view of ourselves, get away from a particular feeling or satisfy, if only temporarily, a need. Even if that need is to continue to be the victim or (any other label here).

In traditional yoga school most are taught to set Warrior I up with the heels lining up.  The front foot is facing forward and the back foot is turned to a 45 degree angle but both heels line up with each other.  Not only that we are also taught to turn both hip bones or ASIS‘ to face forward.  However, years of teaching have taught me several things about Warrior I.

First, I had to take into consideration that yoga was practiced by men only.  Since men’s hips are more more narrow than a woman’s it makes sense to have the heels line up and therefore the hips would follow to face forward. 

Second, women’s hips are not as narrow.  This means that when we try to put the heels on the same line in can wreak havoc on balance and if your hips are tight you’d have to take a wrench to get them to both  face forward.  Fuugettaboutttit!

Third, every “body” is different.  I suggest to anyone whose hips are tight or where the hip bones are more wide, to place the feel wider apart.  So instead of having your heels line up with each other try putting the heels spaced apart as if you were on railroad tracks.  This should give you ample room to turn the pelvis forward to the front foot in a very square manner. Now, with the feet wider and the hips able to turn you will find more space for the lower back to release thus giving your abdominal (core) muscles the space they need to contract, lengthen and support the lower back in this pose.

Being able to access your core muscles is key to a dynamic and invigorating practice.  Once you are able to turn the core on in your postures you will find your shoulders, hips and neck release easily as the power of your core supports you.  And a little more core support can translate into radical confidence both on and off your mat.

Breathe,

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