Category Archives: Breathing

“THE WISE WAY TO YOGA” Sneak Peek # 4: Bandhas, Bridge Pose, Block & Bones for Increased Flow!

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For those who have not been following me on FB, this was taken from Part Four of my soon to be published book for Yoga Teachers, Trainees, and Committed Practitioners!:)

Yogic bandhas are a form of energy activation via special centers in the body to temporarily contain the body energy (prana) in the torso. The three specific bandhas are Mula Bandha, energy activation at the perineum, Uddiyana Bandha, energy activation of the abdomen into the rib cage, and Jalandhar bandha, to energize the throat.

It is common to practice this energization by squeezing and tightening these centers to close the energy gates as a way to create energy flow when the tightness is released. Similar to a dam. However, when practiced, unnecessary tension can also be created from overusing muscles, either out of habit or because of cultural conditioning around the concept of more being better. But, as I have asked you before, is more always better?

Bandhas are about energy activation above all else. Although performed on the physical level, they are meant to function as an internal energetic process. The key is to not overexert muscle tension so that the energetic process can happen most efficiently and you can avoid building body stiffness in the process.


Lotus Pose

It is my personal experience, and the experience of yogis I have worked with, that when you focus only on the local area around the centers, you lose connection with the whole-body and the full benefits of its innate intelligence. You still can get results from your practice, yet you also develop or reinforce body tension and a habitual pattern to overdo at the same time. How can you avoid overdoing in this context? Stay connected to your bones and skeletal structure with an intention to not tighten all over your body! With a bit of experience in activating your postural mechanism, this is doable even when you do the three bandhas together.


Bridge Pose with Block Hugging

Overdoing with your muscles supersedes your skeletal structure and your bone strength. Try a yoga exploration using a block in your bridge pose. Explore energizing the root chakra with Mula Bandha by squeezing the habitual way. Then try it thinking that you are hugging the block with your bones. You can also explore this in mountain pose, lotus pose, or while standing in a forward bend. Then compare the typical squeezing to hugging with your bones.

Bone hugging instead of muscular squeezing prevents excess tension while connecting you with your complete skeletal structure and the support under it. It is helping you rise up from the roots created when you allow excess tension to be released into the earth. This way, your bandha activation permits your whole body to be engaged in an appropriate way, each part using just the right amount of muscle tension. The big outer muscles can let go, and the core muscles kick in, organically working with the skeleton and its support.

The energy activated by the bandhas is then both localized and generalized so that when released, the gates for the energy to flow through are wide open all over the body.

A yoga teacher in one of my class said that “squeezing the block involved a lot of effort and strain” for him, and it triggered a place in his back where he carries chronic tension. On the other hand, when hugging the block with his bones, he felt “more stable, supported, and at ease,” and it also relieved the tension in his back. What I saw when he switched to bone hugging is his alignment between head and knees improved organically and his butt was no longer collapsing down to the floor.

Ready to embrace the Wise Way to Yoga?
Go check the Manifesto of the Wise Yogi on this page of my blog:
https://offthematyogablog.com/the-wise-way-to-yoga/

You can also sign up for my FREE EMAIL SEMINAR by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/bll8hL

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. 

And her book, THE WISE WAY TO YOGA,  is to be published in May 2018! To be followed!

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Letter to my followers!

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How are you doing?

I have been so very busy getting my manuscript to my publisher that I have totally neglected you. I hope you can forgive me. And now that the book is out of my hands, I’ve been sneezing, coughing and hibernating. It is like my body received permission to just let it all go, finally. Have you been there?

To ride on the topic of the last blog, feeling under the weather is often a time we wish things were different so we could keep going, as I did when it got started. However, it is also a perfect opportunity to surrender to what is. How do you handle being suddenly under the weather? It is so easy to see it as an inconvenience, and yet it is often the body’s way to take a break, cleanse and reset.

It is also a great time to practice gratefulness for what is right in our lives and what works well in our body. It is my secret to staying optimistic when the going gets tough. What’s yours? Have you tried giving thanks as a remedy? Of course, it is nice to practice this every day and I actually do in my own way. It may sound silly but I say thank you to the warm water when I shower every morning, or to a green light on my way to the office.

In my book, I talk about how we have various ways to experience our mind and our body. From the inside, while it is in process, or from the outside as a witness. Do you know what I am talking about? For instance, sometimes I notice myself getting frustrated because a driver in front of me is slowing down at a green light. On occasion, I still react and beep in discontent. Often, I witness myself wanting to beep but I choose not to. It feels good to respond instead of letting myself react. Other situations are not so easy but I have experienced that the more I live my life from the witness place, even in small ways, the less I indulge into reacting and the more I feel the real me is in the driver’s seat.

Would love to hear how you deal with common things like that in your life. For me, reflecting on these things, choosing how I want to handle them and then taking action is practicing yoga in a deep way. Doing yoga asanas on our mat or studying yoga philosophy is especially helpful if it helps us live our lives with more centeredness, equanimity, and peace. More awareness and compassion for ourselves and others!

How do you practice yoga in your daily life when you are off the mat?

Looking forward to hearing your challenges and success stories!

Cecile:)

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. 

And her book, THE WISE WAY TO YOGA,  is to be published in May 2018! To be followed!

 

“THE WISE WAY TO YOGA” Sneak Peek # 3: Why & How Can Surrender Make You Stronger!

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“THE WISE WAY TO YOGA” Sneak Peak # 3!
taken from Part Three of my soon to be published book
for Yoga Teachers, Trainees, and Committed Practitioners!:)

Image may contain: drawingSweet Surrender in Child Pose is Only One Way to Surrender

             It is common to feel constantly pressed for time. You may be rushing to get somewhere or to get something done, focusing on an outcome in the future. Maybe you are on your way to your yoga class. All the while, you are not present to yourself in the now. You are letting habitual patterns of body and mind control you, and in these moments, you are acting as a slave to your habits. In this common scenario, actions create lingering body tension and no matter how much yoga you do, it is never enough to address the effect of your daily behavior when unattended. Besides, it is tension that you do not perceive because the habits and the tension register as normal to you. In fact, you bring it to yoga with you and it affects your practice in ways you may not be aware of.

When creating the space to attend to yourself, combined with learning how to activate the guidance of your whole body intelligence, not only can you discover and acknowledge these habits, you also have the opportunity and the means to unlearn them. Consequently, you can increasingly behave as your true self because you are increasingly more present to what is happening, while it is happening and guided by an infallible source. And, most importantly, you realize that you are always equipped to handle any of the body or mind challenges coming your way.


Surrendering can happen in Tree Pose or Any Pose!

             You have to be ready to do this work. It is always your choice. You are free to keep rushing and creating tension for yourself throughout your life. Or, you can choose to explore how to manage your body and life differently and do your best. It is about taking ownership and being responsible for your experiences. It is an ongoing journey, leading you to find more peace by accepting what is, rather than resisting it. And by trusting your body’s ability to function optimally instead of micro-managing its every movement. It is a journey toward an increased ability to fully embrace the yogic practice of surrender as an act of trust and courage.

Similarly, at the core of yogic yoga practice is the ability to stop functioning according to old hardened habits, and the ability to let them go. As you exercise introspection and discernment, you develop the ability to choose and develop habits that support the health of your body, mind, and soul.

Learning to activate the guidance of your whole-body intelligence is a great tool to reach your yogic goals. It allows you access to a part of yourself that knows better than human-imposed rules and regulations. It develops trust and brings about change, not from a mindset based on these old habits, but a mindset based on what is truly possible in the moment. Your mindset is the key to the flexibility and strength of your body.

Are you READY to work on your challenges NOW? If yes, simply send me a message to schedule a free online time and assess if my ONLINE INTERACTIVE COURSE is good for you and if you are a good fit for it. It can transform your life for the better not only as a yogi but also in your everyday life. Check the content of the course by clicking here:

https://offthematyoga.lpages.co/no-payment-options-for-90-day-body-intelligence-activation-copy/

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. THE WISE WAY TO YOGA is to be published soon! To be followed!

THE WISE WAY TO YOGA Sneak Peek # 2: The Body Awareness Journey & Yoga!

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Excerpt from my book soon to be published,
Part Two on How is Your Body Image and Body Awareness Relationship Affecting Your Yoga Practice?

“We are in a mind-driven culture. So, our mind tells our body not only what to do but how to function as if it knew better than our whole-body intelligence. Hence, the increasing need for us to develop our body awareness towards a more unified and balanced functioning of our body and mind.

This journey leads us to realize, beyond our intellect, that our body is not separate from our mind even though we often unknowingly act as if it was. The reality is that the way we think and behave affects our body functioning and how we use our body affects what we think and how we behave, whether we are aware of it or not.

I am still working on this myself, as it is an ongoing process. I have enough experience with it to understand and write about it, yet I have my own journey to keep attending to. And, I have come to realize that it is not from increasing my practice of yoga postures or meditation alone that I can go deeper into the amazing, peaceful experience of being. It is by working on deep self-acceptance, embracing all of who I am, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the pleasurable and the painful. Otherwise, it is so easy to function, even on the yoga mat, from a place of “I am not good enough” which fosters our overdoing energy.

Fully connecting your mind and body is a major achievement on your human journey. It creates more balance and peace in your life. The different stages of awareness are all connected in a personal and complex web. They each prepare you for your next step in the discovery process of your body awareness journey. It is a beautiful journey, with ups and downs, tears, laughter, and moments of blissful awareness and deep understanding of who you truly are. These moments keep you motivated to continue.

And that is true yoga, this union or alignment of who you think you are with who you truly are, alignment of the individual and the universal, the separate and the pervading oneness of all things.”

I have a few more Sneak Peek in store for you before my book is launched. Stay tuned!

Also, coming up is one of my last couple FREE virtual class on the Drishti-Balance-Posture Connection which can help reduce or eliminate your lingering neck tension. If you are READY to work on this NOW. Join other yoga teachers and committed yoga practitioners from around the world by clicking 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. THE WISE WAY TO YOGA is to be published soon! To be followed!

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.

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.

From Muscular Control to Whole-Body Efficiency in Yoga: A Personal Journey!

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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.

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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!

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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 practiceDue 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.

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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?

Join my blog site, attend my online or local events and learn about the Body Intelligence Activation Process. You won’t regret it!

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar 3)  90 Day Virtual & Interactive Pilot Launch.

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/