Jay on How Yoga Can Improve the Health, Flexibility, and Mobility of Our Connective Tissue

by Jay MacDonald

     I started to notice that space and freedom in my yoga practice and certain poses was shrinking. It was gradual – over a period of time – so it was not as obvious to me that something was not right in my spine at first. I was in a workshop with Libby Hinsley and she observed in my downward dog that my tailbone was tucked under and my ribs were flaring… as she tried to correct these it was obvious to me that the muscles and connective tissue really resisted any realignment attempts. I worked on these issues for a few months but could not really get anything to hold… my body was fighting too hard to stay as it was for some reason.

    Fast forward to a 200 RYT weekend, I felt an electrical shock in my upper back and neck as I looked forward to jump from Down dog to mountain pose (just a standing forward fold). Then began the fun of dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck at C-7, which I was able to calm down by working with my knowledge of yoga and the awareness that my head position had drifted forward of my neck and my shoulders had also rounded forward… I did lots of massage, Restorative yoga, and any poses that would release my head and neck… all of which helped but I still felt the tension in my body fighting me every step of the way. I did get better slowly, but I still felt that I could do better but was not sure how to go about it. It did not escape my notice that the  tucked tailbone and the upper cervical spine issues were related but I was not sure which issue to address first or what area of the spine to start with… it was frustrating in that I would see improvement and start to feel better but it seemed to easy for my body to get pulled back to the poor posture and position of the pelvis and neck.

     I remembered that Tara Scarborough had been to a Myofascial Release seminar and when I asked her about it, she said that it was awesome and she offered to do a few practice sessions with me. Of course, I took her up on it and in the first session I was surprised at how gentle and unaggressive the work was on the body.  I did have a few monkey mind thoughts of “this is not doing anything” or “this is too easy” but I found as I started to relax that my body started to unwind itself and it was the wildest feeling… at the end of that session I stood up and my tailbone was untucked and I felt several inches taller. I did a few more sessions with Tara and I was shocked at how effective the sessions were, considering that they were not painful or uncomfortable at all. I started to experiment with trying to recreate the releases on my own so I could start to “hold” the releases so my body would not rebound back into the old patterns. She and I worked together to find some that worked and I played around and found some on my own that helped. 

     I stopped doing the sessions with Tara, no idea why, and I did keep getting better but I should have done more sessions just to keep the momentum going in my body. Tara reached out to me a few months later, and mentioned that she wanted to go to the MFR seminar again as a refresher and asked if I wanted to go…something told me I needed to go, so I signed up and we went together this past April to the John Barnes Myofascial Release 1 in Kentucky. It was a magical experience and just reaffirmed to me how amazing this technique was for releasing deeply held patterns of tension and compensation in our bodies. We did postural assessments and I noticed some things in my hips and pelvis that I think had been going on in my body for a long time. We spent all weekend practicing different MFR techniques and it was incredible to feel the effects of those in our bodies. It felt as if my body was reorganizing itself in the best way. By the time I came back from that weekend, I was even more hooked on the benefits of MFR and wanted to share my experiences with others. 

     Anyone would benefit from the knowledge of how our connective tissue and fascia can get stuck in holding patterns where the tension in the body can create all kinds of restrictions and limitations with movement over time. It has been life-changing for me and I look forward to sharing my own experiences and knowledge as Tara and I explore the fascial system and how it impacts our overall health and well-being in our weekend immersion on connective tissue this May. 

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  • “Jay takes time to answer questions, to give help when needed in performing movements and is a gentle, calm person which helps my yoga experience.”

    – Anita S.

  • “That special moment when your body, mind and spirit blend into a yummy synchronized yogic OHMMMMMMM……..yeah, YTT has given me like a hundred of those so far! You guys are awesome!”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “Jay is an always-patient, highly skilled teacher who makes everyone feel welcome and able to participate. Her class is always a joy and rewarding.”

    – Barbara S.

  • “Since I started taking classes at Waynesville Yoga Center, I can now go down the stairs ‘normally’, instead of one foot at a time. I’m really pleased with how these classes are helping me.”

    – Carol L.

  • “Amber, you’re an incredible teacher! You are a natural at creating flows that challenge and inspire your students.”

    – Michelle G.C.

  • I signed up for YTT thinking I had time to myself to focus on me, but the world has other plans. It’s still the best decision I’ve made, and I am so grateful that what I have learned has come to me at a time that I can apply it to so much real world trauma. This YTT has been a saving grace!

    – Kim T.

  • “YTT provided me with the tools and knowledge to deepen my own yoga practice and help others with theirs. This program challenged me in unforeseen ways and I am so thankful to have experienced this journey with such incredible teachers and fellow students. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

    – Hayley P.

  • “I haven’t felt this good since I got my puppy, ten years ago!…”

    – Steve S.

  • “With all of my health issues, I never would have believed I could ever learn to teach yoga. WYC’s Real Yoga for Real Bodies built my confidence as a leader, reminding me that my journey is my strength, and I will actually be a better teacher because of the challenges I’ve experienced. Thank you so much for creating a program that encouraged us to bring the beauty and the beast through this incredible transformation.”

    – CJH

  • “What has set the program apart for me, as well, is the approach to teaching that encourages us not to focus on a “perfect” pose, but rather perfecting a pose within our bodies and the bodies of our students. This means everyone’s expression of a pose will be slightly different, and there is such beauty in that. It runs counter to so much that we are taught elsewhere in life.”

    – Kristen, B

  • “Jay is a wonderful yoga instructor; has great variety in classes; is always dependable (there and on time); is kind and understanding; and always available to answer questions and give additional instruction if necessary. She is calm and classes are enjoyable no matter the challenge.”

    – Myndie S.

  • “I waited years looking for the right yoga teacher training program and WYC was definitely the reason why. I’m absolutely convinced I could not have found a program that was more creative, inclusive, or supportive. I would definitely attribute that to the meticulous design of the curriculum and incredibly talented teachers you brought in to lead so many cool facets of the course. You drew in some of the most amazing students with all this awesomeness and I’ve been so thrilled to learn alongside them this year so thank you, thank you, thank you for every last delicious bit of it.”

    – CJH

  • “My experience during my YTT at WYC has not only increased my confidence on the mat but has opened up endless possibilities and opportunities for a courageous, confident, and grateful life off the mat. “

    – Teresa F.

  • “I woke up one morning and realized I was 60 years old, that I could live well into my 80s and that I had to do something to improve my strength and stamina if I wanted a good quality of life. I was caring for small grandchildren periodically, and it exhausted me.

    As soon as I saw Waynesville Yoga Center was opening, I came. I am so thankful to Jay for a place where I feel safe, not self-conscious, and where I can attend classes that benefit me without feeling in competition with anyone else. Restorative and Yin have improved my flexibility and meditation skills; Beginner Flow, Flow Level 1 and Gentle Chair Yoga have increased my strength and balance and also challenged me, as has Barre and Balance!

    I feel better than I ever have – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have met so many new friends. All of the instructors I have had are wonderful and willing to share of themselves. Thank you, Jay, your endeavor is making a tremendous difference in so many lives!”

    – Terri M.

  • “WYC YTT has given me such tremendous depth in my practice of yoga on and off the mat. I’ve loved seeing my evolution this year as I learned all the ways I can add yoga to my home and work life. I started just expecting to build a stronger personal practice, but now I am so excited to see where this will all take me in the years to come.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “When I first began practicing yoga, it seemed like the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I bought a few books but still didn’t feel like a real student of the practice of yoga. When the 200 hour YTT was offered, I saw it as the perfect chance to really expand my knowledge. I have come to realize that with this deep dive into the practice of yoga, I have a strong knowledge bank that will allow me to continue to expand my knowledge of yoga for years to come.”

    – Jann F.

  • “Amber is an incredibly gifted instructor, particularly when it comes to yoga. She is calming, thorough, and provides that extra-added touch of essential oils, gentle adjustments, and themed practices. I love that Amber’s yoga classes are dynamic and she’s taught moves in her classes that I’ve never done in 15 years of practicing yoga. She’s a breath of fresh air in the yoga scene. I highly recommend her!”

    – Christine G.

  • “Jay met me prior to class to help me polish my yoga teaching skills. I really appreciate her willingness to meet and teach me to make me a better instructor.”

    – Brooke H.

  • “One of the things I have loved about the program is that we are not just learning how to teach certain poses; I have been learning things I didn’t even know I could learn about yoga in general, including about the subtle energies, how they tie to both anatomy and the philosophy of yoga.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “Thank you all so much for offering this. It has truly been a gift in my life and I am very grateful to be part of this class!”

    – Kristen, B

  • “After my first private session with Amber my body felt so good! Because of her guidance and personal assisting I highly recommend working with her.”

    – Barbara B.

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