Monthly Archives: April 2017

To Engage or To Allow Engagement? A Crucial Difference On & Off the Mat!

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Every time I go to a yoga class or attend an online class, I am struck by the lack of distinction between “engaging” and “allowing engagement”. Do you use your mind to control your body muscles as if it knew better than your whole-body intelligence? Maybe you are so used to it that you don’t even know you have another option to stretch and strengthen that is more efficient? Then read on!

When you are spontaneously running, dancing or simply walking, you don’t need to tell your body what muscles to engage and when to release the joints. It has a postural mechanism, an ambassador for your whole-body intelligence, designed to handle it all for you. Its job is to manage your best balance, coordination and posture.

 

This mechanism works at its best when you don’t interfere with it. Children and animals are good examples of this perfectly functioning mechanism.

When you are on the mat, your mind can decide what pose you want to go into. After that it is best to let your postural mechanism handle your muscles and joints activity for you as you go into the skeletal expression of the pose. I know, it requires having trust in your whole-body wisdom to be there for you!

The thing is that when you “allow engagement” by your whole-body intelligence, it knows exactly what needs engaging and how much to engage so that the pose is good for all parts of your body. When you “engage” specific muscles and joints, you create unnecessary body tension that interferes with the best expression of your pose.

Releasing excess tension is neither going limp nor decreasing how much strength you are building. It is preventing building body stiffness while you are building strength!

Want to learn more about how to activate your whole-body intelligence guidance 24/7?

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar 3)  90 Day B.I.A. Process Program.

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 more efficiently on and off the mat. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with BlissLife Press, San Diego California.

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When & Why You May Be Overdoing Unknowingly?

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Life Is Not Meant to Be So Hard When You know What Drives You!

Instead, it becomes efficiently productive on and off the mat. You can enjoy any kind of yoga you like even power yoga, yet you are safe from promoting injuries and you get the best out of your practice.


Overstretched back and compressed neck

Overdoing can be easy to change when it is not intertwined with cultural and emotional attachments to doing things the hard way. And when intertwined, this underlying motivation interferes with your best practice of yoga and your general well-being on and off the mat.

That is why overdoing is not as clear-cut as it sounds!

1) You may choose to overdo because you see it as pushing your limits in a good way. When practicing yoga, you may even consider pain something to ignore to build mental strength and to better your practice. This way of practicing and teaching comes from an old interpretation of the yoga teachings that have come to you from teachers who learned from teachers who jived with extreme asceticism. However, many new and experienced teachers are totally letting go of this approach to yoga, others are in the process of letting it go. Buddha himself had to overcome that way of thinking before he could get to enlightenment. Where are you at on that journey?

2) You may strain without wanting to but you do not know how to not strain in a given pose. That often comes from the way poses are still currently cued to you in your yoga classes or yoga books. Any encouragement to willfully “engage” specific muscles or body parts is overdoing because it is interfering with the natural movement design of your whole-body. Instead, learn to let your whole-body intelligence handle the muscle engagement of your whole-body for you within each pose or movement you chose to do. And till you learn, stay present to your whole-body whatever the pose you are in, it can help already. Nature works as a whole, not in parts.

3) You may strain your body without even being aware that you are doing so due to “unconscious habits” you have brought from your daily life onto the mat. The thing is that your mind may have pre-conceived ideas around what it means to “lengthen the spine” for instance. Mainly, your habitual way has come to feel more natural than the natural way. So as you are straining,  it “feels right” to your habit even though it may not be natural or beneficial for your body at all.

And these 3 ways of overdoing are often combined or overlapping in various ways.


Over-arched back and over-tensing of the quads.

Most likely, excess tension brought you to your first yoga class. And am with you, it does feel good in the moment to stretch the tension with various yoga poses. Or it feels good to strain some if you associate straining with positive effort to gain strength.


Overstretched back, locked hip joints sockets, over-tensed calves and compressed neck!

The truth is that if you are straining, you are not letting your postural mechanism do its job. And it is designed to handle your best balance, coordination and posture with no strain and with vitality.  Instead, you may compensate for it by creating unnecessary muscle tension or by overstretching your muscles to the point you meddle with your muscle tone just because it “feels good” in the moment.

When you learn to let your whole-body intelligence be in the driver seat, you can regain accurate perception of your “feelings” and your yoga practice can be most efficient without straining. How do you do that?

The Body Intelligence Activation Process activates your postural mechanism so you receive reliable guidance from your whole-body intelligence 24/7. Each time you consciously activate it, and progressively more so over time, your feelings become increasingly reliable again, your balance, coordination and posture improve organically in the process. Anyone can do this and you can too!

Want to explore this further and learn more about this amazing natural skill that can be regained? Read more of the posts on this blog-site, sign up to my free email seminar or join my free live interactive webinar series which will be offered a few more times before I start my 90 Day Live Interactive Program in May.

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar 3)  90 Day B.I.A. Process Program.

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 more efficiently on and off the mat. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with BlissLife Press, San Diego California.

When Is It Not Good To Perform Toe Standing Poses?

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You may have been told that Toe Stand Poses strengthen your abdominal muscles, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. Have you actually experience that without straining?

Going on your toes in Downward Dog or other poses using both feet equally can be fine, even helpful sometimes. However, poses on toes with a high level of imbalance is unlikely to be done by the average person without promoting injuries down the line.

When in a class using lots of these poses, I could not help but noticing in other yogis body distortions and compensations. Those, I knew, were causing muscles and joints straining which promotes body stiffness.

It is not because your yoga teacher can do a pose that the pose is good for your own body. Nor does it mean that staying in a straining pose is how you get better at it, it is how you get injured.

Staying in a pose using a tool to activate your whole-body guidance and get its 100% approval is how you prevent injuries and get the most out of your practice.

The first principle of yoga is “Ahimsa”, do not harm anyone. That includes yourself! And despite the widespread belief that strain is good for you, it is not so, this is only a “belief” that is getting outdated!

Strain may indicate that you are bringing unconscious habits of movements from your daily life to the mat. It is also the first step of injuries to come.

The Body Intelligence Activation Process or B.I.A. Process is an awesome solution to these challenges.

If you want to learn more about how to activate your whole-body intelligence on demand so you can prevent injuries on and off the mat and get the most out of your practice?

Join my latest FREE 6-part EMAIL SEMINAR:

“How to Unlearn Habits that Create Body Stiffness On and Off the Mat”
Based on the Alexander Technique & The Body Intelligence Activation Process
(B.I.A. Process)
To sign up to my local or online offerings click at the top of this homepage

Straight Spine versus Upright Spine: A Crucial Difference!

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Whether you meditate or you practice yoga asanas, many teachers often recommend you to have a straight spine. Do you ever differentiate your back from your spine? Or your energetic spine from your physical spine? Do you see the difference between a straight spine and an upright spine?

These distinctions are crucial if you want to enjoy natural upright posture.

1) Straight Spine Focus
Although your spine is not straight and has natural curves, the shape of your spine changes somewhat with your movements. Your back may look straight, especially with poised sitting, but your spine always has some form of curving in it.

When you attempt “to straighten the spine” you are actually forcing a curve to straighten upward creating body stiffness and tiredness. This is why attempting  “good posture” that way is not sustainable and time and time again you find yourself right back where you started, in a slouch.

2) Curved Back Focus
You may be aware of this dilemma, and may tend to go in the opposite direction. This tend to promote the opposite misconception namely that it is a natural thing to have an arched mid-back on account of the spinal curves. Unfortunately, when you attempt to “straighten your spine”, you end up unknowingly “arching your mid-back”, so it pretty much come to the same thing manifested from a different angle.

3) Energetic Spine versus Physical Spine

I think there is a confusion between the physical spine (curved) and the energetic spine or Sushumna which can be thought of as straight when the focus is to direct energy up the spine!

Ancient yogis have told us that the spine could be thought of as a staff or a rod without making a distinction between your energetic spine they call the sushumna and your physical spine. However, we have the means to rectify this by letting our innate Whole-Body Intelligence be in the driver seat.

How can you do this?

4) Curved Spine & Straight Back can Happen together
Learn to activate your whole-body intelligence via the postural mechanism. It gets you out of the way as you let it decide what is right for you in each moment. Your whole-Body Intelligence knows better than your mind or your teacher’s mind!

Your individual body synergy cannot be changed one body part at a time and stay the way you want it.

For sustainable results, you need to address changes as the coordinated self that you are and move as an integrated whole.

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When not aligned above support and relaxed, gravity promotes slouching.
When aligned above support and relaxed
, gravity promotes effortless good posture.

Do you want to learn more about this mind/body approach to natural good posture? 
Do you want to learn how to reclaim efficient moving for balanced living?
Join my latest FREE 6-part EMAIL SEMINAR:
"How to Unlearn Habits that Create Body Stiffness On and Off the Mat"
Based on the Alexander Technique & The Body Intelligence Activation Process
(B.I.A. Process)
To sign up to my local or online offerings check the homepage: 
https://offthematyogablog.com/