Author Archives: Cecile Raynor

HOW SAFE IS YOGA?

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I want to share a video that I just watch on YouTube on the safety of practicing yoga.

Anthony Davis

And OMG! I love this yoga teacher! He is addressing the elephant in the yoga community room and says it like it is: practicing Ashtanga yoga and Iyengar yoga to the letter can and will eventually hurt your body! In this first video, he focuses on the common issues regarding flexibility, hypermobility, and joints.

We all know teachers and committed teachers who have badly strained their body or who had to have surgery at some point. The danger is that younger yogis may think they are not affected because often, damages happen slowly and progressively till it is too late and crisis strike.

The truth is that we need more teachers sharing those truths to prevent new yoga teachers and new students to injure themselves at some point or another. Teachers in training and yoga students need to be educated about the fact that being comfortable with the uncomfortable is totally a misunderstanding of yoga when it comes to asana practice.

Although we come from a different perspective, what Anthony says in his video goes right along with what I teach to the teachers and yoga students in my free masterclass or local and online courses. Namely, always remember the yoga principle of Ahimsa: do no harm to yourself or others. And to respect that, you better know that strain is delayed pain!

What he says in this video aligns with what I write about in my book The Wise Way to Yoga where I offer a new and very practical way to prevent injury and enhance performance. This approach supports the healthy evolution of modern yoga, away from the misunderstandings and misconceptions that currently permeate modern yoga teaching.

I reached out to him as I sense we could do great work together, along with other like-minded teachers and mind/body practitioners. We all have an important piece of the puzzle and together we can do more than each on our own. This is called forward thinking. It is called a win/win scenario. And I am all for it!

My piece of this puzzle is my awareness and expertise with the postural mechanism, an unknown aspect in the mind of most yoga teachers or fitness trainer. And yet, we all agree how good posture is so critical for enjoying efficient movement on and off the mat (or gym).

Let’s yoga practice be safe once and for all by being aware of some not spoken about truths. Kudos to him for starting this video series. Will be checking the following ones!:)

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her Body Intelligence Activation Process™ (B.I.A. Process) to assist yogis in enhancing their practice towards best performance with optimal safety. 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 Live Online Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is also the author of a June 2018 publication called THE WISE WAY TO YOGA which is available on Amazon or from Cecile if you are local to Boston!
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YOGA, JOINTS & FAKE JOINTS

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I read a post from a yoga teacher who was listing all the ways yoga teachers can unknowingly hurt their students. And she was wondering what happened to the principle of Ahimsa, a deliberate choice to avoid creating pain (to ourselves or others).

Of course, no yoga teacher chooses 
to hurt themselves or their students on purpose.

So HOW DO THEY GET INJURED or promote injuries in students? Why are EXCESS TENSION and POOR POSTURE off the mat such common problems?

One of the reasons for this is a LACK OF CLARITY as to how to use joints appropriately on and off the mat.

UNKNOWINGLY CREATING FAKE JOINTS causes much tension build-up in your muscles and a common habit to lock your real joints both on and off the mat.

And these habits become a vicious cycle!

When you use your NECK AS A HINGE to initiate a head motion, you unknowingly create tension in your neck because your neck is not a joint.

When you use your BACK AS A HINGE to move your torso, you unknowingly create tension in your back because your back is not the joint to move your torso from.

THE TRICK IS
you may not always be doing 
what you think you are doing!

So, you go from unknowingly stressing your muscles and joints to stretching them – till you run the risk of killing their natural tone.

Your “fake joints” (usually muscles) eventually complain that you’re giving them a job that’s not theirs to do. All the while, you wonder why your neck or back hold such a level of tension when you work so hard at stretching your tension?

That’s one vicious cycle that keeps your body uptight in daily life, even when you’re not even stressed out! Being stressed out will naturally enhance this tension cycle.

FLEXIBILITY STARTS WITH YOUR REAL JOINTS 
being used appropriately and without excess tension. This promotes you functioning as the integrated whole that you are whatever you are doing. 

FOR NOW, START TO OBSERVE YOURSELF. Next time you go about stretching a muscle, check if your body is in a state of expansion or contraction?

How can you lengthen muscles when your body is in a shortened state?

How can your energy flow through you if your joints are locked while in a pose?

Want to change how you use your body and practice yoga more efficiently? Want to promote a state of expansion within which your muscles and joints can truly release? Want to experience natural good posture (even when you are not thinking about it). 

Am happy to assist you in any way I can, no strings attached. It is my life purpose to inspire and guide you to DANCE THE JOY OF WHOLENESS.

Besides, there is nothing like a fresh perspective to UP-LEVEL YOUR PRACTICE.

You’ve got nothing to lose 
in exploring this approach 
but habits that no longer serve you!

Namaste!:)

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her Body Intelligence Activation Process™ (B.I.A. Process) to assist yogis in enhancing their practice towards best performance with optimal safety. 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 Live Online Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is also the author of a June 2018 publication called THE WISE WAY TO YOGA which is available on Amazon or from Cecile if you are local to Boston!

Can Fitness Goals On the Mat Decrease Wellness Benefits Off the Mat?

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Your fitness goals affect how you go about a pose
and how you feel once you are off the mat.

Fitness is defined as the condition of being physically fit and healthy. However, is it still the case when fitness is more about appearances than wellness? How does this fitness goal affect yogis and yoga teachers on and off the mat?

Let’s look at your experience!

Do you think that being fit means having a firm and defined body shape? Does it mean you can do challenging poses worthy of being posted on Instagram?

Do you push yourself as much as you can to reach these goals?
Or do you want more than that from your yoga practice?

In either case, how do you know that your fitness goals are not robbing you from your optimal wellness?
 

Simple!

When your practice keeps you feeling tension free off the mat and allow you to enjoy good posture even when you don’t think about your posture, you’re doing great!

When, despite a committed practice, you experience daily excess tension urging you to stretch your muscles or joints throughout your day.
When you feel muscular aches or pain lingering in your daily activities. 
Or when you experience slouching and poor posture
repeatedly and unavoidably while off the mat.

Then, you know you have been sacrificing part of your wellness in the name of fitness.

The truth is that, unknowingly, you have been developing excess tension and killing your muscle tone at the very same time that you have been strengthening and stretching…. which is why muscles or joints tension shows up in your daily life.

And yet, puzzled, you’re not quite sure
why you experience so much tension or poor posture
when you are so very committed to your practice?

Know that, if you are suffering from this common cycle,
you are not alone! And it’s not really your fault!
You are just a product of the evolution
of popular fitness and modern yoga since the 19th century.

The good thing is that, it is never too late
to approach your practice differently and avoid this cycle.

Becoming aware that you’re stuck in a cycle is the first step towards improvement since you can’t change something you’re not aware of.

It’s never too late to approach daily movements and posture in a more holistic way.  You just need to discover the unconscious habits that are keeping you in this cycle and learn how to unlearn them.

Such a discovery process anyone willing and ready can learn.

And if you’re a yoga teacher, new or experienced, this process will enhance your teaching skills to a higher level adding clarity and simplicity to your teaching process!

If that resonates with you.
If you’re open and ready to change, let me know.

I’d be happy to answer any question you have about what’s keeping you away from your natural good posture and optimal well-being. As a result, you’ll feel better in your body whether you are on or off the mat!

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her Body Intelligence Activation Process™ (B.I.A. Process) to assist yogis in enhancing their practice towards best performance with optimal safety. 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 Live Online Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is also the author of a June 2018 publication called THE WISE WAY TO YOGA which is available on Amazon or from Cecile if you are local to Boston!

YOGIS & THEIR POSTURE OFF THE MAT!

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A wonderful teacher off-duty enjoying a cup of tea!:)

We all know how important good posture is for our well-being. And at the same time, poor posture is a rampant concern for so many people. In fact, there is a booming industry of gadgets to straighten out poor posture and an endless number of yoga classes focusing on proper alignment as a way to help you improve your posture. However, as a yoga teacher and a practitioner, do you find yourself able to display good posture when on the mat (or in public) and twisted in a pretzel or slouched into yourself when sitting at your laptop for instance or drinking a cup of tea?

Although it is not your fault that you inherited an incomplete approach to “good posture”, it is now time to face this reality because it is impacting both teachers and students.

STOP IGNORING THIS DOUBLE STANDARD!

It is quite significant. It reveals a missing dimension in your understanding about good posture which is so fundamental in yoga and for your well-being.

I know you’ve been told that “good posture” is SOMETHING YOU DO and naturally that seems like the way to go. You are convinced that good posture is an effort,  something you must think about it if you are to improve it, hence all those posture reminder gadgets.

And this way has to do with positioning your shoulders back, squeezing your shoulder blades some, lifting your chin and chest up.

Then you’re told to hold and relax at the same time. How do these instructions work for YOU? Are they sustainable off the mat?

Or do you collapse into a SLOUCH WITHIN SECONDS the minute you stop watching?

Maybe you go from holding up to compressing your body down. And you still experience nagging tension in your neck, shoulders, and back. Maybe you have digestive issues or depressive moments due to this compression in your torso for so many hours a day and you don’t connect the dots. All this because you are CAUGHT IN THIS CYCLE which never feels comfortable for very long if at all!

Why this discomfort? Because, as with children, good posture is not meant to be work, GOOD POSTURE just IS.

It is the expression of your body functioning at its best. An indication that your body functions in an integrated way.

And this means that your body parts are working together harmoniously FROM THE INSIDE OUT!

Positioning may feel good in the moment (or not), depending on where you are at with your posture.

The truth is that THERE IS A BETTER WAY that never fails to improve your posture. It works without the need for muscle control. And it always feels great too!

As a teacher, it is an amazing expertise to claim as it enhances your TEACHING SKILLS to a high level without the need for yet one more tip to memorize. It is equally helpful for any yogi to learn this.

If you want to know more about this better way, just email me and we’ll take it from there. If I think I can help you, I’ll offer you a FREE BREAKTHROUGH SESSION.

If not, I’ll share some helpful insights all the same! 🙂

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her Body Intelligence Activation Process™ (B.I.A. Process) to assist yogis in enhancing their practice towards best performance with optimal safety. 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 Live Online Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is also the author of a June 2018 publication called THE WISE WAY TO YOGA which is available on Amazon or from Cecile if you are local to Boston!

HANDS-ON ASSISTS Versus ADJUSTMENTS

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Assist in Mountain Pose

Hands-on work by yoga teachers during yoga classes is a hot topic at the moment! Teachers touching students (with no training to do so) can be a problem and it has created all sorts of challenges, including injuries.

As a matter of fact, it has been a serious problem for enough students that some studios now have consent cards so each student can let their teacher know how they feel. Not a widespread practice yet. And because they often place their teacher on a pedestal, or at least assume they know best, students tend to disregard their own body cues or won’t dare speak up in a class environment.

So injuries have happened. 
Students with a trauma history have been triggered. 
Many students have experienced discomfort under the adjusting hands of their yoga teacher.
And new yoga students have been turned away from yoga all together!

TEACHING YOGA IS A BIG RESPONSIBILITY!

Hands-on adjustments are not the only way students can be hurt by teachers. The cuing language has a lot to do with it! For instance, assuming that every student enjoys and can relax while in Child Pose is not being aware that different bodies have different needs. “Straighten those legs” when in a Downward Dog can be damaging to some students also. It is an invitation to adjust one’s body to fit the form of the pose instead of letting the pose be an opportunity for the student to stay connected to her body.

THE PERFECTION OF A POSE NEEDS TO BE A GUIDE NOT AN END IN ITSELF!

Hands-on adjustments were meant as a solution to yogis getting injured but the focus remained on the perfection of the form as a goal. It was assumed that injured yogis were not doing the pose correctly so adjustments would correct the body to fit the pose. And it certainly has helped many students. It also became obvious it was hurting many others in the process as the pose are there to help the yogis not for the yogi to be a slave to the pose.

Some teachers came up with the concept of hands-on assists, which is more gentle and helpful because the intention is to help and cooperate with the student’s body needs. This led to a wave of massaging hands and aromatherapy being used in the yoga class, making these classes very popular.

However, we are left with yet a couple unaddressed dimensions.

First, does massage belong in a yoga class? Are students coming to practice yoga or to receive massaging hands? Don’t get me wrong, those are wonderful to experience and fit a purpose. However, maybe such classes could be named differently?

Second, and more importantly, what is totally overlooked is what the teacher passes on to the student despite herself. I mean that when we touch others we pass on to them something about how we use our own body. And I have seen one yoga teacher after the other, rounding their back or craning their necks, or twisting their body to help a student lengthen his back?!

Yoga teachers know a lot about the poses and some know about yoga principles. However, they are taught to think in body parts. Teachers are not taught how to use their own body in an integrated way.

ADDRESSING THE TEACHERS UNCONSCIOUS WAYS OF USING THEIR BODY IS A MISSING DIMENSION IN YOGA TRAINING.

What they’re taught is to control their body by positioning its parts. That’s not the same thing nor is it sustainable. That’s why you can find many yoga teachers in the privacy of their own life, slouching into a pretzel when they forget about themselves. Yet good posture is the expression of a well-integrated body.

If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid these challenges as a yoga teacher, be it hurting students unknowingly or holding back from fear of hurting them. Be it holding yourself in “good posture” then finding yourself in an unavoidable slouch.

Join me on my next free webinar for yoga teachers called: Five Breakthrough Realizations to Transform your Yoga practice & Teaching. Hope to see you there!:)

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her Body Intelligence Activation Process™ (B.I.A. Process) to assist yogis in enhancing their practice towards best performance with optimal safety. 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 Live Online Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is also the author of a June 2018 publication called THE WISE WAY TO YOGA which is available on Amazon or from Cecile if you are local to Boston!

IS YOUR YOGA PRACTICE KEEPING YOU & YOUR STUDENTS TENSION FREE & POISED OFF THE MAT?

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This blog post is for yoga teachers who want deep transformation for themselves and their students.

Asana practice is meant to create ease and flow in your life both on and off the mat. As a teacher, it is meant to do the same for your students. Is it? Do most of you feel tension-free and poised off the mat?

Integrated Cobra Pose

If you (or they) find that the feelings of wellbeing and good posture don’t seem to last very long after you step off your mat, it’s because you’ve fallen prey to modern yoga’s addiction with “results” and “control”. As a result, you must make progress at all costs on the mat even when your body is giving you clear signals off the mat that this way is not necessarily working for you.

If you feel a constant urge to stretch, if your muscles or joints ache in some ways, or if you find that you go right back to slouching after making an effort to be upright, it means that your idea about strengthening, stretching or good posture is not complete. It is missing an important dimension.

How to be sure when enough is enough beyond the subjective experience of feeling good? How to stay poised without holding your body upright consciously?

Could it be that you are unknowingly overdoing? Could assessing how much is enough come from a deeper place in you than how your muscles feel on the surface of your awareness?

How can you build a trusting relationship with your body if you’re misinterpreting or ignoring its signs? You may blame your tension on the stress of life or on sitting too many hours in the front of the computer but is it the whole truth?

Intrigued by these questions at the core of your practice and teaching? I would be happy to talk to you. Just email me or sign-up below for my next webinar which addresses these questions more extensively.

https://offthematyoga.lpages.co/free-live-interactive-webinar-for-yoga-teachers/

Till then,
Namaste

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her Body Intelligence Activation Process™ (B.I.A. Process) to assist yogis in enhancing their practice towards best performance with optimal safety. 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 Live Online Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is also the author of a June 2018 publication called THE WISE WAY TO YOGA which is available on Amazon or from Cecile if you are local to Boston!

Tensing Is Not Strengthening!

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Tensing your muscles to strengthen them is a form of overdoing. It was started by the bodybuilders of the 19th century who were part of the foundation of modern fitness and modern yoga. However, as pioneers, they were not aware of the whole picture. They were not aware of the full effect of their tensing on their body. Their main focus was mind over body to bulk up which they saw as the only way to evidence their strength. Only it was one way to do it that had a side effect.

The thing is, although you DO strengthen when you tense up, you also add excess tension to your strengthening process. That is why you may always feel tense despite your yoga practice and you have an urge to constantly stretch whether you are On or Off the mat. Does this sound familiar?

The fact is that when you chose to tense up to strengthen, you are developing “stiff strength” instead of “flexible Strength” and that leads you to be addicted to stretching. It also limits you from reaching your highest strength potential. In truth, you can challenge yourself big time without tensing your muscles. Successful Olympic athletes and famous performers understand that and can perform with efficiency and grace.

To embrace a more holistic way to strengthen, you want to keep room for your muscles to release while you do a strengthening exercise. When you do it right, you suddenly feel the power of your body working as a whole.

And if you want to learn more about it, attend my next live Webinar for Teachers.

You can also listen to the recent podcasts below or buy my book The Wise Way to Yoga!

Cecile:)

WELLNESS INSIDER NETWORK Podcast

STELLAR LIFE Podcast

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her Body Intelligence Activation Process™ (B.I.A. Process) to assist yogis in enhancing their practice towards best performance with optimal safety. 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 Live Online Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is also the author of a June 2018 publication called THE WISE WAY TO YOGA which is available on Amazon or from Cecile if you are local to Boston!