Tree Pose, Yoga Practice & Flamingos!

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Biologists have long wondered how the flamingos can stand on one leg for so long. Researchers reported that these pink birds have a unique anatomy that makes their posture almost effortless. Whereas humans need some muscles activity to balance on one leg, the flamingos unusual skeletal and muscular systems essentially let gravity do all the work.

And that is a great lesson for us because, although we are not flamingos, we are reminded that the skeleton plays a major part in our standing up and our body strength even though we tend to assume that muscles are our sign of strength. The truth is that you need to let your skeleton and gravity do the bulk of the work for you! Yes, you can!

Muscle engaging is good when it is chosen by your whole-body intelligence to keep your skeleton in a pose. When your mind directs your muscles to control your skeleton, it actually creates excess tension rather than adding more strength or stability to a pose. It is like you are fighting with yourself and you actually trigger your stress mode even if only underground.

I have experienced this personally and professionally. This is why I am encouraging you all to revisit your “muscle obsession” which may not serve you as much as you think it does. Next time you are on the mat or involved in an activity, play with this idea that your mind’s intention of movement initiates your skeleton to make a move while your necessary muscle tension goes on for the ride in perfect harmony with the bones, keeping you feeling strong, fluid and light.

A tree pose is only a tree pose, no need to control every aspect of the movement to get there. Trust your whole-body intelligence to know how to find a place for your foot anywhere along your leg and to keep you grounded and expanded. No need to press and force anything to go anywhere it is not going willingly. When you do not engage your muscles as you go and stay into Tree Pose, just by standing relaxed on one foot with your arms extended up and out like branches, you are still building up the strength of your necessary muscle tension and bones. The only thing you are losing out on is Unnecessary Muscle Tension. Why would you want excess tension anyway?

When you do not muscle your way to go and stay into Tree Pose, you are still building up the strength of your necessary muscle tension and bones just by standing relaxed on one foot with your arms extended up and out like branches. The only thing you are losing out on is Unnecessary Muscle Tension also known as Stiffness. Why would you want to build up stiffness anyway?

Try this and let me know how it felt! And if you are a yoga teacher, teacher trainee, or a committed yoga student and you want to explore this work with my help, sign up for my Free Webinar this Saturday afternoon by clicking on this link: https://offthematyoga.lpages.co/free-live-interactive-webinar-04/

 

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her B.I.A. Process to assist yogis in enhancing 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 in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with Bliss-life Press, San Diego California.

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The Yoga Of Vulnerability!

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What is your relationship with feeling vulnerable? Does it make you go into freeze or fight mode? Or do you overcome the feeling most of the time? Do you have memories of childhood that come back to the surface in some situations even though the danger is no longer there? Would you like to learn the yoga of vulnerability so you can be more who you truly are so vulnerability has less of an interfering impact on you? This is what I have been working on with live videos although using my BIA Process to get me through it! I am feeling the fear and doing it anyway and am not there yet when it comes to Live FB videos!:)

This topic around vulnerability came to me since yesterday because of a 21-day challenge I chose to commit to. I had decided last new year’s eve that this year was supposed to be my year to become visually visible. I have become very visible with my writing over the last few years, partly my blog with 25 000 views to date and my weekly FB posts which are viewed by 3000 to 7000 people. And there is my incoming book which I still hope will get published this year if everything goes according to plan. But since my decision for 2017, I had only made baby steps to be more visually visible.

Yes, I do like to challenge myself and I also know I have cutting edge knowledge and experience that I am meant to share to an increasingly wide audience if I am want to bring about the impact my work could have. Only FB Live video were a bit too much I thought and I kept postponing telling myself my book came first.

Day One: https://www.facebook.com/cecile.raynor/videos/10209922694120100/

Now that I am in the final stage of it, I no longer have a choice if I want to be accountable to myself and I just jumped on this opportunity to join others in embracing this challenge even though I knew I would feel quite vulnerable at first. So far, I am two days into it. And although I am pretty confident in general and have been on TV and radio before feeling at ease, as my gut told me, going live did trigger some feeling of vulnerability even though I know intellectually that there is nothing to fear.

Have you done jumps of the sort? How did it work for you? 

Like most people, you probably don’t enjoy the feeling of vulnerability and for a good reason, it was designed as a warning sign to alert you that something is not safe in your environment so you become extra careful. Your stress mode gets turned on and everything shuts down to be in protective mode. Depending on your personality, you may feel like getting ready to fight or flee or you tend to freeze or try to appease the source of trouble when possible.

All this is perfectly normal and appropriate.


Day Two: https://www.facebook.com/CecileRaynorAlexanderTechniqueThaiYoga/videos/1428922337187848/

However, like most of us, you may have integrated this way of feeling not only when you are truly in danger but also when you perceive you are in danger even when you are not. Your body can’t tell the difference. It follows your mind perception. You are not alone if you avoid situations that make you feel vulnerable. Even when you know on some levels that you are not in a life and death situation, it just feels like it and that’s enough to recoil.

The truth is that most often than not, you are perfectly safe and you miss out on life for not choosing to feel the fear and do it anyway. Now, am not suggesting you ignore the feeling exactly. You can acknowledge it and have a talk with the part of you that feels that way. Yet you can also realize that not all of you feels that way and that you can follow the part of you that wants to be free from fear. That is the part you can choose to follow to reach more freedom from imagined fears.

So here it is in a nutshell why I had to take on this challenge. I have felt fear and did it anyway in other situations and it always turned out ok so am taking this to the next level for my benefit and the benefit of my tribe who gets to see me live and ask questions instead of only seeing a picture of me near my writing.

Besides, it is my true purpose to inspire and guide people to dance the joy of wholeness and that happens increasingly when we are freer from unfounded fears.

If you want to learn the process I use to make me do things I did not think I could do both on or off the mat, go to my blog site for my  Free Email Seminar  or other paid programs including private sessions locally or online:  https://offthematyogablog.com/

And if you are a yoga teacher, trainee or committed yoga practitioner, send me a message to see if you qualify for a free session with me.

Also, if you want to see me growing through this 21-day challenge and get inspired, go to my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/CecileRaynorAlexanderTechniqueThaiYoga/

Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her B.I.A. Process to assist yogis in enhancing 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 in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with Bliss-life Press, San Diego California.

 

IS STRETCHING YOUR NECK THE BEST WAY TO BE TENSION-FREE IN YOUR NECK?

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Stretching is the corner stone of modern fitness whether you go to yoga or at the gym. Yet is stretching the best way to be tension-free? Is stretching your neck the best way for your neck to be tension-free?

Wouldn’t you like to know? Well here it is!:)

Stretching is great but making the unconscious conscious is most helpful to gain sustainable results!

Neck tension is not due to texting or computer use, it is not due to sitting long hours on a chair either. Rather it is due to how you use yourself while texting, at the computer or sitting on a chair.

And these activities are affected by how you use yourself the rest of the time even doing simple movements such as looking right and left to cross a street, to check your environment or to check on your children running around.

If you are like most people, you are overusing your neck muscles to move your head instead of moving your head from the occipital joint at the top of the spine, or even higher for better results.

Whether you are on or off the mat, keep that awareness with you and notice how it changes your movement!

If you want to be tension-free in your neck or other places, you must prevent unknowingly building that tension by discovering unconscious habits that are feeding your level of tension. Then you can enjoy a whole body stretch just for fun instead of stretching the same tension over and over in various body parts.

Want to discover and unlearn these unconscious habits? Go to my blog site for my  Free Email Seminar  or other paid programs including private sessions locally or online:  https://offthematyogablog.com/

And if you are a yoga teacher, trainee or committed yoga practitioner, send me a message to see if you qualify for a free session with me.

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 in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with Bliss-life Press, San Diego California.

Is Shavasana Always Good For You?

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This is another option or a pre-shavasana to nurture your back best!

Even Iyengar said: Science progresses, Art progresses so must Yoga. He changed postures as taught to him by his teacher Krishnamacharya and he suspected his teachers would also help yoga evolve. My work is a tool to do just that!

All yoga practitioners have heard of Shavasana which comes at the end of their yoga practice. Those who do yoga because it is good for them even though they don’t like to move much love it for obvious reasons. Those who love more active yoga welcome it at the end of their practice for equally obvious reasons.

However, is it good for everyone? And is it necessary? Is there another way to get what people get from Shavasana?

How do you feel about it?

If you have any issues with your lower back, you may have not welcomed this last pose as much as others because laying down flat on your back legs and all may tend to trigger your lower back into discomfort.

If you have a tendency to hyperextend your knees, they tend to drop to the ground when in Shavasana reinforcing your habit which is not so good for your whole body. You may notice that your hyperextended knees can create a feeling that you are locked in your pelvis as a result. This depends on your body shape and size as well.

If Shavasana works for you, by any means go for it. If you have back issues, you may try to bend a knee one at a time like in a tree pose while on your back instead, no need to bring your foot way up hi on your other leg though. It is easier to do than adding a boulder under your knees when you are by yourself or your teacher is not attending to your need.

If you want to play it safe, don’t worry about what others may think. Do what works for you. And I recommend you start by lying in a semi-supine pose and then move into Shavasana if you choose to do so. Notice that when up on your feet, you always have some flex in your leg joints, you are not flat like in Shavasana. SO although Shavasana still feels great for many, it is not nurturing your postural balance as semi-supine does.

If you choose the semi-supine option even as a transition, you may need to add a folded towel under your head (not under your neck) to make sure that your head neck and torso are aligned and your head is not dropping back and compressing the back of your neck. You may also want to bring your knees to your chest for a second or two then drop them one foot at a time down onto the ground. Lastly, find a balance place for your legs so they are neither falling in or out.

There is way more to this practice to get the most out of it than how to lay down but just doing so daily even at home will bring great benefits to your postural balance, and back, muscle and joint health. And it can be a great way to end your yoga practice with as it restores your best posture automatically.

If you want to know more about this semi-supine way of practicing that is also called “Active Rest” or “Constructive Rest” in Alexander Technique language, reach out to me and you can receive a free gift focusing on this amazing practice.

https://offthematyogablog.com/

Is The Instruction “No Knees Past Toes” Always Appropriate?

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Many instructions are heard in yoga classes that have been spread over time without a valid foundation. “No Knees Past Toes” is one that is overused to a fault although accurate in some cases.

I could go through the poses for which it is true and the poses for which it is not and that would be promoting the very approach to yoga that is not serving you, namely letting your mind decide what is right for your body instead of trusting that your innate whole-body intelligence knows best.

So how do you know when it is a good thing or not? It is simple because your innate whole body intelligence always knows what is appropriate for you in each moment.

If you are told to keep your weight on your heels instead of your whole foot, you can be sure that the way you are guided to do the pose is not in line with your whole-body wisdom.

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A typical example is Chair Pose. By not allowing your body weight to stay balanced above the whole surface of your feet, you may think that it is a good thing because your lower body is screaming and you have been told it is the way to strengthen.

You are strengthening alright but doing it this extreme way, you are also creating stiffness all over your body and you are activating your stress mode underground. Not worth it when you can build flexible strength instead by staying balanced and released above your feet!

All you will loose is the building of unnecessary tension, not a lessening of strength building. Who would not want the flexible strength of the cat?

For more info about this approach to flexible strength building which gives you the “steadiness and ease” Patanjali talks about, read my blogs, sign up for my free email seminar or sign up for a private session in person or online by private messaging me directly.

https://offthematyogablog.com/

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 in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with Bliss-life Press, San Diego California.

TIGHT BACK? THE SECRET TO BACK LENGTHENING!

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Back and neck tension are totally connected!
Help your spine by releasing your hip joint socket and notice your neck releasing in the process as well!

Learn to allow your body to do its job instead of trying to muscularly control it!

When your back is tight, do you go into forward bends as a way to free your lower back from excess tension? Do you do them in the hope to lengthen your spine? And how are you doing with this? Does your back remains lengthened as a result or does it simply feel awfully good in the moment to stretch that tension but you need to keep stretching that same tension over and over?

The secret to back length is two-fold.

First, you need to focus on the lengthening of your whole torso, not just the back or part of the back. Of course, when you do so, your low back or other part of your back will lengthen on their own if need be.

Second, you can’t truly lengthen your torso or back without releasing your hip joint sockets. In fact, only your whole-body intelligence can truly lengthen your torso/back as a result of your letting go of hip joints tension.

Now, don’t you go do hip openers to free your hip joint sockets. That is not the same as using your mind to simply let go of the tension. Your whole-body intelligence responds more efficiently to thought that allow its functioning than to orders that muscularly forces its functioning.


Back and neck tension are totally connected!
Help your spine by releasing your hip joint socket and notice your neck releasing in the process as well!

Letting go is an intention, a decision that your body can carry out for you instantaneously when you know how to step out of your own way. By doing so, your whole-body intelligence can finally take action from the driver seat where it belongs.

If you want to learn how to activate your whole body intelligence, check my blog site offerings free or paid. If you are a yoga teacher, trainee or committed yoga practitioner, private message me to see if you qualify for a complimentary session with Cecile! https://offthematyogablog.com/

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 in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with Bliss-life Press, San Diego California.

To Tuck or Not To Tuck? Why Is This Even A Question?

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This is one of the most common instructions recommended to fix neck and back tension. “Tuck the chin so you can lengthen the back of your neck”. “Tuck your pelvis so you can lengthen your lower back”. ” Tilt is another word for it. “Tilt your head back to open your chest” etc…

Are you familiar with these tucking instructions? Do you find them helpful for every part of your body or just to give you a sense you are giving it your very best?

These instructions may not be as helpful as they may seem or as they may feel in the moment! Why? Because when you rely on this approach, you are going for band-aid solutions prescribed by your educated mind trying to make things better without having the big picture.

The consequence of this approach is that whether you tuck your chin down and your pelvis under, or you suck your belly in and you spread your feet flat on the ground, you are interfering with the natural functioning of your whole-body intelligence blocking your energy with every adjustment you make.

So when your teacher concludes the instructions by saying, “then make sure you are breathing and remain relaxed”, it is not really possible to have a full breath and flexible muscles with all that muscular engaging and holding in a specific posture. So you may release 10% of your perceived tension which makes you think you are relaxed when in reality, you only took the edge of tension away.

Tucking is not serving you as you may think. It only promotes the feeling each body part is separate from the rest of your body when in fact the muscular tension in your tucked pelvis is somewhat spreading through your body from head to toes.

And tucking your pelvis back is part of arching your back and lifting your chest. Tucking your pelvis in is part of rounding your back and shoulders.

Learning to activate your postural mechanism allows you to practice yoga in a way that makes all your body parts work together harmoniously, along with your mind and body cooperating instead of at odds with each other from a lack of deep communication.

Yoga is not about “Separateness” but about “Union”.

Want to learn more about the Body Intelligence Activation Process to promote optimal safety and highest performance on and off the mat? Sign up to my free email seminar, free webinars or online programs. If you are interested in my BIA Process Online Live Program for yoga teachers, trainees and committed Practitioners, send me a message through my contact info to set up a free consultation!:)

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 in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with Bliss-life Press, San Diego California.