Category Archives: Body Stiffness

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 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/

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.

 

Beware Of The Drishti & Alignment Connection!

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Yoga teachers may talk about “Drishti” (vision). On the mat, they often refer to it as a form of gazing in the distance to focus your mind in the present moment. Focus is fundamental in yoga practice. Focusing your eyes and your attention is practicing the yogic technique called “Drishti”.

However, even though using your vision to stay in the now or come back to it is always an excellent tool, there is another important dimension to consider in understanding and properly use “Drishti”. Along with this intention to gaze so as to step out of your overactive mind, you need to always make sure the gaze direction does not lead you to sacrifice your spinal length.

When Drishti is used properly, there is no neck or back compression and the kundalini energy can flow through you as it is meant to.

Pay attention to what is happening in the back of your neck when you look up in any given pose. Many poses do not require you to lift your head up as it is commonly cued by some teachers. Often, you are cued to “look up” in a way that is not necessary for the movement at all.

This cue has been passed on over the years from one teacher to the other and yet it was not necessarily an appropriate cue to start with. If you can look up with your eyes without compressing the back of your head, you’re good. Otherwise, don’t feed neck compression, it never is worth it for your body.

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If you are having trouble with this, know that by activating your whole-body intelligence, you can always find the best way to do any pose in alignment with your whole-body intelligence. Even Crow Pose can be done with no neck compression! Yes, it is doable and much better for you!:)

If you want to learn more about this breakthrough way to approach yoga so that your poses are always performed in line with your whole-body intelligence, check my blog site, read my blogs, sign up for my free email seminar or webinars. They all offer great value to help you practice yoga, even power yoga with optimal safety and highest results.

If you are a teacher or a committed yoga practitioner interested in joining my 90 day online live program where I teach the Body Intelligence Activation Process, reach out to me for an online free consult!:) https://offthematyogablog.com/

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar

Call or email for Private Sessions with Cecile locally or online!

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.

Chest & Heart Opener Poses Revisited

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Anyone practicing yoga has heard of “Heart or Chest Openers”. It sure sounds good which is why people go for it. But what is a chest or heart opener pose? Does the way you go about it really matters as long as it feels good?

As I was pondering about that, I realized that when chest openers and heart openers poses are brought up in class, they are not always done in line with our whole-body intelligence.

Whether you are in a restorative class chilling on pillows, fabric boulders or blocks to “Open” your heart or you are pulling your “Shoulders Out”, do you open the front of the torso at the expense of the back?

For instance you may be encouraged to squeeze your shoulder blades to open your shoulders or you may be in a pose on the floor that tend to exaggerate your mid back spinal arch while your shoulders open back past your collar bone line.

Is it desirable to go that far just because it feels good in the moment? How can you enjoy these poses without sacrificing any part of your body for the benefit of another part?

Look at the Indian who posed on a horse for this statue. His chest and heart are fully open in this stance as he is addressing his Great Spirit! Yet his shoulders and arms are neither rolled forward nor pulled back. His torso is open in front and back equally. As a result, the neck part of his spine is gently arching back but his head is not compressing the back of his neck.

That is what I call a healthy chest and heart opener pose!

1) Any opening that does not include every part of your body into expansion is not helping you as much as you think even though it may feel good in the moment.

2) Forcing the body into expansion, even gently, when it is designed to do so on its own is not the most efficient way to attain and benefit from expansion in a sustainable way.

3) If you don’t know yet how to make your body do its job so you can enjoy strain-free muscles and joints & good effortless posture on and off the mat, find out how to do so instead of correcting the same issue over and over.

Enjoying the Guidance of your Whole-Body Intelligence is easy when you learn how to activate your Postural Mechanism anytime, any place, on or off the mat!

And it has nothing to do with forcing your body into what you think is “Proper Alignment” because there is way more to good posture than proper alignment!

Want to know more? Check my blog site, sign up for my free email seminar, join my next online course in the Fall or contact me for private session in person local or online so I can help you revisit your own expression of your poses!

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar

Call or email for Private Sessions with Cecile local or online!

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.