This personal story relating to my artwork illustrates the transformation that needs to happen in yoga practice and teaching so that yogis stop wrecking their body unknowingly whether on or off the mat.
It has to do with a change in mindset. Mine started with a very controlling mindset as I tried to get every drawing done to perfection (does this ring a bell?) and evolved into a trusting mindset that surrendered to what is, allowing my innate body wisdom to guide my hand effortlessly (does it not sound appealing?).
MY OWN MINDSET EVOLUTION
When I was a teenager, my friend loved the portraits I used to draw from a black and white picture they would bring to me. You can see that I was being very meticulous and used a lot of erasing pencils to get details of the hair, eyes and shirt just so. It was tedious work although still a way to express my creativity at the time.
These drawings were my attempt to reach an attractive yet illusive perfection by controlling every stroke. And my early interest was mainly focused on portraits maybe because then, the “head” was my familiar place of comfort.
It was not until later when I studied the Alexander Technique and connected to my whole body that progressively a new style emerged as you may have noticed in prior blogs and in this one. By then, I was connected not only to the whole body but to a whole body in motion. From then on, I had the most amazing feeling of freedom and fun creating artwork, which I actually sold in Open Studios and at a Gallery. Drawings of dancers, musicians and yogis in action!:)
That transformation from fear to not get it right to implicit trust in your whole-body guidance is what I can offer you. It brought me from drawing portraits with tedious mental and muscular control of the lines to drawings where I allow myself to free flow and capture the movement without even looking at my paper initially. In the process, I have developed full trust that my Whole-Body Intelligence & Awareness of Movement are always present to guide me and you can too.
I have learned to practice yoga based on natural movements in line with my whole-body intelligence which is the ultimate safety net and injury prevention on and off the mat!
And the beauty of this work is that it translates in everything you do!
MINDSET EVOLUTION & YOGA PRACTICE
Similar to my teenage drawings, modern yoga teachers tend to entertain some illusive idea that perfect form and anatomical knowledge are the answer to perfect yoga practice. Due to the Industrial Revolution and its focus on “Machines, Money & Appearances”, since the 19th century, the body is being handled as if it is a machine made of parts to workout. Teachers study anatomy in details and describe poses meticulously yet even those teachers get injured. Maybe we have been through the teenage years of modern yoga evolution. Yoga poses must be revisited so they can be done in line with our “Whole-Body Intelligence”, which knows better than our educated mind.
The difference between my teenage controlled drawings and my adult free flowing drawings is the difference I have been teaching yoga teachers so they can stop assessing yoga from a purely visual or analytical perspective. It helped their yoga practice and teaching because they no longer need to know everything with mechanical precision, they just need to know how to activate their whole body intelligence and guide students to activate their own. This way, they can guide or be guided effortlessly into the perfect and safest expression of each pose in every moment.
This breakthrough process can be applied to any kind of yoga style you are attracted to practice, from Hot Power Yoga to gentle Kripalu Yoga. It has to do with discovering and un-learning common unconscious habits you have developed on and off the mat, and also with learning to activate your whole-body intelligence in every movement or pose.
Want to discover and unlearn these common unconscious habits that interfere with your best yoga practice?
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Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her B.I.A. Process to assist yogis enhance their practice bypassing the intellect. She is also a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist and a Reiki Practitioner. Faculty at Akasha Yoga Teacher Training, she runs a 12 months Mastermind for Yoga Teachers with a Vision, and a 90 Day Virtual Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body better on and off the mat. Her blog read by over 20 000 people and her webinars have an international audience. She is currently writing her book on “The Yoga of the Future and the B.I.A. Process: the Missing Link to Drop the Strain and Keep the Gain.” with BlissLife Press, San Diego California.
PS: For those curious about my artwork, you can go to http://studiocecile.com/
Another great post, Cecile. When I first started learning the At I was working as an animator – traditional hand-drawn on paper. Very controlled and detailed. This became my first project – how do I change the way I draw, applying At principles, and still maintain the accuracy required for this type of detailed work? It involved giving up the familiar control and having faith that another kind of control, looser and requiring less effort, would emerge. It took time but it worked. The illustrator I always looked up to was/is Quentin Blake, who illustrated all Roald Dahl’s books. A great example of someone who draws in a lovely loose and holistic way.
I can see you’ve gone through a similar process. Did you ever read Betty Edwards’ “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain?” It kind of sums up the approach, but from a different perspective.
Thanks for sharing Rob! Yes I actually own a copy of that book and glanced at it a long time ago. Remember trying to do a drawing looking at the model backwards to avoid preconceptions. However, it was not enough for me to switch as deeply as I did via my AT process over the years. A good book with a good concept. I just had to get out of the arena of drawing to improve my drawing. This is also why what I teach is crucial to yogis because I take them outside of the yoga box for them to revisit their yoga practice from a different perspective altogether!:)