Category Archives: Breathing

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!
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Yoga Sequence Flow versus Inner Flow

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Are you into a Bikram style of yoga where you “hold” your pose for a while? Or are you into Vinyasa and the “flow” of a sequence? Whichever one you are into, do you ever focus on the inner flow in your body? Breath flow, and as importantly, the space for excess tension to flow through the muscles so your body can function as an integrated whole?

My experience is that although breath is mentioned in classes, not every yogi knows how to breathe in a consistent manner without being reminded. How consistent is your breathing awareness?

Also, how many yogis know that there can be a flow going through their muscles even as they strengthen? Do you? Or do you think only of the flow in a sequence of movements, flow designed to make you sweat and detox like in Ashtanga yoga?

Do you flow through life or muscle your way through it? That is a good indication of how you handle your body on and off the mat.

My experience is that when I do not keep space for inner flow in my practice or in my life, I am overdoing. SO when I do a Tree Pose or a Chair Pose, I don’t focus on controlling every body part till I feel stiff as a rock or till my muscles scream. Like in a good Tai Chi practice, I stay in the pose as long as I can release over and over through my whole-body, enlisting the support of the earth and the two way dynamic between the earth and my body. I allow for this inner flow going down my muscles and up my skeleton, over and over, till my whole-body intelligence says it’s time to move on to another pose! Have you ever tried to practice this way?

If you like this post and you think it can help others, please share it!:)

For more on how to practice any yoga style without causing yourself or your students some pain or injury, Sign up for this Thursday FREE WEBINAR by clicking on the following link: www.cecileraynor.com

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!

The Yoga of Vacationing!

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While on Cape Cod for a week vacation, I have been observing what it means for me, as a yogi, to vacation. And that is what I am sharing below hoping the spirit of my vacation can spill over your day!:)

First, it reminds me to take my time to do whatever I do without multitasking, a great skill with its downside. So I focus on eating only when I eat and I take the time to savor a cup of tea at the end of my healthy tasty meal without moving to the next thing with my cup in hand.

Second, it also reminds me that deep mindfulness can include every movement. When I was swimming, I was aware when I was breathing in, and when I was breathing out. I experienced my body moving through the water as I allowed my arms and legs to do their thing. I was doing laps but I was not competing. I was enjoying the poetry of swimming instead. While on my back, I felt like my arms were wings and I was a bird flying through the water effortlessly!

Last but not least, I realized that the spirit I associate with vacationing includes a depth of mindfulness the spirit of I want to keep in my daily life. I realized that I don’t need to be on vacation to chose not to rush. I can smell the roses even more than I already do.

I also realized that on or off the mat, on or off vacation time, it is always about standing in awareness as I go through life and its organic momentum. And that is what I want to focus on, today and every day when I am back home!

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!

“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!

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!