Category Archives: Breathing

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/

How Your Body Image affects Your Body Use into Straining & Slumping!

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Have you ever consciously thought about what your body image is?

The one that drives you to eat, exercise, or dress a certain way? As a woman, do you want to look thin, sexy, professional? As a man, do you want to look strong and unaffected? Whether man or woman, do you think your looks and wealth equals your worth? For better or for worse, those values are actually 19th century by-products of the Industrial Revolution in a society that has been valuing: appearances, money and machines.

On a more personal level, where is your body image coming from?
 And is it serving you?

Considering your body image shapes your current beliefs, you may want to explore your thoughts on the subject. They are creating feelings and actions that are possibly holding you back. Once you uncover these thoughts and beliefs feeding your body image, you can choose to create new ones if need be and see your life change progressively; sometimes drastically. Check this inspiring one minute video with Kate Winslet:

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Unlike Kate do you remember words from a parent, friend or teacher that sent you on a specific body image path?

My Story with Body Image

My well-intentioned mom projected her limiting beliefs about weight on me at a very young age.  I became a slave to my body image around weight for decades.  The process to free myself from a body image that did not serve me started when I was pregnant with my first child.

One day, when very pregnant and quite absorbed in my studies, I caught myself in the library studying with my belly squished against the table. It was a powerful moment. I wondered about what I was doing to my baby and to my own body? And in a flash, that is when I realized something had to change. Being in my head so much as a PhD student only emphasized a mind/body disconnect that had started long ago with my compact body image. I saw this clearly then. My mind had taken over and I did not experience my body fully except as a number on a scale.

In short, this led me to a meditation practice, to a career change and to train as an Alexander Technique teacher in the hope to become a more integrated being. Although this tends to be a lifelong journey, training then teaching this work has made a serious difference. I have discovered my body from a different perspective and learned to appreciate many dimensions about it thanks to becoming more of an “embodied” mind.

One important thing I discovered was that my body image was affecting the way I was using my whole body, and the way I was using my body was affecting its functioning. On the other end, improving my overall functioning by improving the way I used myself seriously decreased the impact my body image had on me. Now, I can dance through life joyfully!

How Your Body Image Story affects Your Body Use

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Familiar slump leaning into the comfort of habits

 

Your body image is affecting how you use yourselves in everyday life and vice versa. When you are not happy with the way you look or feel, you consciously or unconsciously want to curl in, hide or cover up. Have you experienced this familiar slump where you lean into the comfort of your habit despite its cost? As you know, slumping often translates into back or neck discomfort, sometimes into breathing and digestive issues as well because your inside is being squished constantly interfering with the best functioning of your organs. Have you just been triggered to pull your shoulders back in an effort to straighten up because of what you just read? And yet, you know it is pointless since you go right back down in seconds?

Does this sound like you? Do you have muscles and joints discomfort, pain or tiredness? Are you prone to feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Do you tend to worry uncontrollably? It comes with the territory of this familiar pose. There is a reason for it as explained in this Ted Talk video. Luckily for you, there is a way out!

And it has nothing to do with you trying to control your body muscularly. Otherwise you may turn into a chronic holder when it comes to your posture and an over-doer on the mat.   Like many people, unless you strain on the mat, you may think that you are not doing enough, not strengthening enough, not stretching enough. And yet, you do not really want to strain, do you? You just want the benefits of exercising whether on or off the mat.

How to Stop the Straining & Slumping Cycle

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The difference between sitting in a balance way
and sitting with your gravity center behind your sits bones: A big difference!

 

What you really want is “Flexible Strength” and “Sustainable Good Posture”. And the secret to acquiring the flexible strength of the cat is to behave like one. No kidding! Do you see cats exercising one body part at a time? I don’t think so. They use their body as a whole when they move. And guess what? You are designed that way as well!

The truth is that you may not be moving and exercising your body as a coordinated self even if you know, intellectually, that all the parts are meant to function as a whole. The reason for this lies in a handful of common unconscious habits that interfere with your best efforts. Since you can only be mindful of what you are aware of,  becoming aware of and learning to overcome these common habits is the key to functioning with optimal safety and optimal performance,  the key to stopping the cycle from straining to be upright, to surrendering into your inevitable habitual slump.

Interested in exploring this further?

Check 1) My Free Email Seminar 2) My Free Webinar 3) My Beta 90 Day E-Course Special.

 

The Secret to Ultimate Safety and High Performance on the Yoga Mat!

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“Striving Yogis” by Cecile Raynor

Since 2012 when the New York Times published an article called “Can Yoga Wreck Your Body?”  followed by a Huffpost interview with Glenn Black,  many yoga studios and teachers everywhere have been innovating to increase safety on the mat. Teachers have been learning how to assist yoga students. Practitioners at risk have chosen gentle forms of yoga, while many others shy away from yoga all together.

In the meantime, yoga studios are filled with a big majority of young yogis with forgiving bodies who still handle a lot of strain. For them, “no gain without pain” has been replaced by “no gain without strain”. Pushing to their limit just because they can (whether stretching or strengthening) is seen as a good thing. So they follow their teachers guidance and are satisfied to push and pull to their heart’s content as long as it feels good and they pay attention to not reach their pain threshold.

NO GAIN WITHOUT PAIN has become NO GAIN WITHOUT STRAIN

But is that enough for ultimate safety on the mat and is it even the best way to reach highest performance? Are yoga studios safer than before? Is yoga practice enough to keep yogis bodies strain-free and their minds able to manage stress gracefully between classes? How is it for you? Which part of your yoga practice is sustainable in your daily life and which is not? We all know yoga is not what wrecks people’s body, so why do many people still get hurt on and off the mat even when they exercise in the gym or on the mat?

For one thing,  some of the assisting has been questioned to the point that some studios have created special tokens or cards used on mats to signal teachers whether they are welcome to assist or not.  True, some yoga assists have turned into well received massage moments although some yoga students simply do not care to be touched and always want the option to say so; mostly, students asking for tokens have gotten hurt by teachers assisting hands. Why is this happening?

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There are 3 main reasons for this happening.  Despite the numerous assist workshops given out there, the first reason is a lack in quality touch experience in teachers as well as a lack of awareness of the mind-body foundation of all movements. These happen to be strengths of Alexander Technique teachers who have a 3 year training of 1600 hours before they get certified. Yoga teachers start teaching after 200 hours of certification with little training if any in these two aspects. Secondly, there is the way teachings were passed on through generations of teachers suffering from loss and misinterpretations which led to some asanas created only in the past century to be widely embraced even when not necessarily appropriate for everyone nor always in line with our innate body intelligence.

Last but not least, since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, men have been focusing on appearances, money and machines. We have come to think of the body as a machine with parts to exercise and replace when necessary. For all the buzz on holistic health, the norm remains to focus on body part exercising across the fitness world. Do you catch yourself chronically holding your back trying to sit or stand upright to slouch only seconds later? Could it be happening because it is neither comfortable nor natural to being up that way?

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Organic good posture, no conscious efforting involved!

Many are disconnected from their “whole body” wisdom as they are exercising their “body parts”. Do you go to yoga to improve your posture, strengthen and stretch? Yet do you still experience neck or back tension, or strained knees on or off the mat? As it were, there are more gadgets than ever on the market to address “bad posture” and its consequences: neck, back, shoulder or joint discomfort or pain. However, are they only band-aid solutions or do they produce sustainable results?

Much of the teachings on posture tend to equate alignment with good posture which results in a static expression of aligned posture.  Like posture gadgets, they also imply that muscularly correcting posture is the ultimate solution. The reality is that there is more  to good posture than alignment. “Good Posture” is a dynamic and organic happening like in children!

Learning to activate your postural mechanism is the secret breakthrough skill that can lead you to improved posture with no neck, back or joint straining on or off the mat. It is a reflex-like system we are born with that is activated when we step out of our own way to let our body intelligence do its job. And every time we release excess tension without sacrificing our skeletal height, it gets activated. You probably stumbled unto it before when you suddenly reached your effortless balancing spot. Only it is a skill you can learn and access on demand based on undoing conscious and unconscious habits of movements. When under your belt, that skill allows you to approach every yoga poses from a totally different angle where straining is not necessary to strengthen or stretch with ultimate safety and to reach your highest performance!

FREE LIVE EVENT:  BREAKTHROUGH SKILL
 << Not taught in Yoga Trainings >>
 March 16, 2016 @ 7.30pm EST
 

It is to bring you an experience of this breakthrough skill that I have been learning about webinar and e-course technology. I am now happy and excited to invite you to my first webinar offering and I will personally introduce you to this breakthrough skill which can help you open the door to ultimate safety even within high performance level! You will be given a chance to engage in some experiential activities and I am scheduling time for Q & A as well. I will also explain how this skill can lead you beyond band-aid solutions, to sustainable results.

Why mark your calendars and sign up asap? It is a global offer to yoga practitioners and teachers in the world, yet I am only offering 50 spots. Participants will be accepted on a first come basis.  At the end of the webinar, participants will be given a chance to sign up for my 90 Day Interactive E-course First Launch at 50% off which includes loads of bonuses as well. Available only to 25 people!

So here is the link to sign up to the Free Webinar: https://offthematyoga.leadpages.co/free-webinar-breakthrough-skill/

Hope to meet some of you in cyberspace!

Cecile Raynor
Alexander Technique Teacher, Thai Yoga Therapist & Kryia Yoga Initiate

Vision/Posture Connection & Drishti

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This time of year seems appropriate to talk about vision for various reasons.

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On the physical level,  the health of your eyes is a precious thing you may take for granted especially when they don’t give you any trouble. However,  they can affect your overall health depending on how you use them in your everyday activities. Neck craning forward or head tilting back while slouching at the computer for instance can actually create compression or over-extension of the back of your neck and rounding your shoulders.  On the mental level, you envision a specific future for yourself. New Year’s Resolutions for example require you to have a vision of the future you want to see happen. Or you may have a personal vision on a work project or on how to solve a given issue. Such vision guides what you manifest in your life or not. Spiritually, vision is a reference to your ability to see with your intuitive heart beyond what is visible. It refers to your inner vision.

Yoga teachers may talk about “Drishti” (vision), and 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 using this yogic technique called “Drishti”.

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However, although using your vision to stay in the now or come back to it is an excellent tool, there is something important to consider in “Drishti”. Along with this intention to gaze so as to step out of your over-active mind, you need to always make sure the gaze direction does not lead you to sacrifice your spinal length so the kundalini energy can flow through it.

The woman in the triangle pose above is using her vision well to support an integrated triangle pose. As she is looking towards the tip of her fingers and beyond, her head neck and torso remain nicely aligned. However, there is more to good postural balance than perfect alignment, there is dynamic alignment.  Dynamic postural alignment implies the harmonious relationship between the various part is respected so that the energy can flow back and forth through the muscles into the support and up the skeleton then able to expand in its full space.

Straining interferes with getting the benefit of any yoga pose. Having space to release while in a pose is the most dynamic way to engage in a pose. It challenges the muscles to work without adding body stiffness to the mix. If you have gone to a place where release into your support is no longer an option, you are doing too much.

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These women engaged in a seated twist are using their vision to lead their seated twist as they stay balanced and centered above their supported sits bones. Led by the direction of their vision, each is going as far as they are comfortable without sacrificing their skeletal height.

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On the other end, the instructions for the seated twist on this picture are incomplete and it shows on the model illustrating this pose. The sits bones are arched a bit like a rocking chair so it is not enough to feel your sits bones, it is crucial to be aligned above their balancing point. Otherwise, any attempt at releasing your back will take you into a slouch.

Here it is clear that she is not balanced because her gravity line is behind her sits bones. As a result, she is slouched in her twist. It is straining her back, squishing her internal organs, limiting her breathing and how far she can go into her seated twist. Although she certainly seems like a happy camper on this picture, she is not getting the best out of her yoga pose! 

Even in daily life, you need to know how to do this. Whether you are siting on a chair or in a car, you can hurt your neck if you do not apply these principles as you turn your head to look behind yourself.

Helpful Tips

1) To maximize a seated twist, connect to the balancing point of your sits bones so your head is still above them without loosing your skeletal height which comes by sending your sits bones into your support rather than tensing your back muscles. Then look in the direction you are turning moving from the joint at the top of your spine first.  As you go, keep releasing neck and back muscles straight into your support. This prevents you from creating body stiffness or muscle straining.

2) Do not fix your gaze, a fixed gaze creates a fixed body which is not the purpose of yoga, keep it soft and wide using your peripheral vision as in driving. Keep it connected to the rest of you! You are on the mat to stay present and to tune in, not to tune  out!

3) When doing asanas, just do asanas. Don’t start to think about the meaning of life or anything else but what is happening right there and then. Your vision, your breath, your kinesthetic senses are all ways to anchor yourself in the present moment.

4) The spiritual dimension of “Drishti” can only come from the practice of being present yet non attached to thoughts, body senses and sense pleasures. Mind grasping or muscular grasping (the two sides of the same coin) take us away from such practice. So stay in touch with yourself and don’t tense your muscles. Body stiffness is not body strength. Body strength remains flexible, like the strength of the cat!

5) Stay aware of the direction of your vision as often as possible. When lost in your thoughts or in your body feelings, you may be gazing in a way that stiffens your neck. So watch out for your neck by making sure your vision choice does not conflict with the need of your neck to stay free of tension. This will give you an integrated movement connecting you from head to toes.

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When not aligned above support and relaxed, gravity promotes slouching.
When aligned above support and relaxed
, gravity promotes effortless good posture.

Do you want to learn more about this mind/body approach to natural good posture? 
Do you want to learn how to reclaim efficient moving for balanced living?
Join my latest FREE 6-part EMAIL SEMINAR:
"How to Unlearn Habits that Create Body Stiffness On and Off the Mat"
(Based on the Alexander Technique Principles and Facts)

Wishing you a wonderful New Year,
filled with Gratitude, Health, Prosperity and lots of Laughter!

https://offthematyogablog.com/

Mastermind for Committed Yoga Teachers with a Vision!

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BODY SYNERGY LAB
 The First Mastermind For Committed Yoga Teachers with a Vision

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A Mastermind is an awesome journey for a small group of people with a similar focus. All participants have an interest to serve and support each other, personally and professionally with an intention to deepen personal accountability as they learn and grow, during the time frame of the Mastermind, towards a specific goal (or in a specific direction) that also happens to benefit Humanity. It is a journey that allows each member to blossom towards their deepest inner goal with the committed support of all members in a spirit of harmony.

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As a participant, you bring your own life experience and professional experience to support the others to attain their chosen goals. My contribution to this mastermind is my life experience and professional experience as a Facilitator, an Alexander Technique Teacher, a Thai Yoga Therapist, Kriya Yoga Initiate (through lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda) and Kinesthetic Artist. As a result, you will receive a Body Synergy Lab Certificate of Completion for studying one year of Alexander Technique-Based Yoga with Cecile Raynor (even though this is only part of the benefits you will gain from committing to this Mastermind!).

My work sprouted from my 25 years teaching the Alexander Technique, the best kept secret of famous performers and Olympic athletes who swear by it because it allows them to reach their highest potential without straining or over-stressing while enjoying effortless postural balance. As applied to yoga, it is the best tool for ultimate safety, and optimum benefits even within high performance practices. These benefits naturally spread over your daily life and include improved posture and flexible strength.

My contribution to this Mastermind supports and complements the yoga training you received with an uncommon perspective that makes your practice safer, your teaching more impactful on and off the mat, while giving your career a unique edge.

Here is a testimonial by Anthe Kelley, Founder and Director of Akasha Yoga School 
and Akasha Studio in Jamaica Plain, Boston MA

“The enormous impact that Cecile makes in a few hours at the start of each 6 month yoga teacher training program I run has never ceased to amaze me.  I’ve witnessed students completely transform through the insights gained from her work.  Teacher trainees approach all subsequent material through a lens that encompasses and continues to revisit Cecile’s work based on the Alexander Technique as applied to yoga practice and teaching. 

 The profundity of this phenomenon is nothing short of remarkable!  Any yoga teacher trainee who gets to experience her hands-on attention, the breadth of her insight, wisdom and postural understanding will be well-served in their career as a successful, evolving, present and sensitive yoga teacher and human being.”

Here is also a testimonial from one of the yoga teacher graduates 
 about the work we have done together and the impact it had
 on her own yoga practice and her yoga teaching practice right from the start.

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Click here to listen to Sara!
Discover strain-free yoga whatever yoga style you are attracted to 
from Kripalu yoga to power yoga, hot yoga or any other style!
 Discover the joy of a strain-free body On and Off the Mat!

To be part of this journey designed for a small number of selected teachers with a vision, simply apply for it by going to this link !

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me at cecileraynor@gmail.com.

Yoga Body, Daily Body & Sensory Perception

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 Do you see a difference between your Yoga Body and your Daily Body?
Would someone observing you (without you knowing it) perceive a difference?
What is your Yoga Body focused on while on the mat? Core strengthening? Flexibility? Proper Alignment? Relaxation?
All of the above? What does your Daily Body remember between classes?
Does it remain strong, flexible and does it display sustainable good posture? Or not?

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Yoga Body Sitting

Often, there is a bit of a discrepancy between those two bodies
and yet they impact each other greatly in a positive or negative way
depending on how in touch you are with your body wisdom.

DAILY BODY STORY
Do you find yourself slouching at the computer or on the couch? Do you find yourself crossing your legs always favoring the same side crossing over the other? Or if you are a parent, do you favor one hip over the other to carry your young one? Or maybe you crane your neck forward and down to read or send text messages?

640-01351420 Model Release: Yes Property Release: No Portrait of a mother carrying her son

Right hip locked to the right, left foot forward and to the left

As you sit at your computer, you probably try to stand more upright once in a while and you bring your shoulders back and lift your chest up. Doing so you may be arching your back and this feeling becomes a synonym for feeling taller, only is it sustainable for long? Not really, unless you are a chronic holder, seconds later, the synergy of your whole body reclaims the habitual slump. Does it sound familiar?

The fact is if you repeatedly spend time in a distorted position,  you start distorting your skeletal structure in a way that is so habitual that it feels more natural than the natural way. As a result, your skeleton is not organized for effortless balance, so your muscles are overworking creating stiffness and tiredness or giving up all together into an inevitable slouch. You can’t wait to go to your yoga class to stretch and strengthen yet why is your back not getting strong enough to stay upright in a sustainable way?

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The danger of regularly catering to harmful habits is that, although it may feel comfortable in the moment,
it weakens your postural muscles because you do not let them do their job.

YOGA BODY STORY

You finally make it to your yoga mat, it feels so good to stretch and move your body. Whether you do power yoga or gently yoga, you enjoy yourself because this is the style of yoga that speaks to you. But whatever the style, you are also bringing with you your Daily Body habits to the mat. You may be aware of some of them but habits can become invisible to your awareness after a time.

The confusing thing is that, you can still feel better on some level because yoga is a wide field of many colors, the asanas being only a small part of it. However, how you use yourself on and off the mat must be addressed if you are to get the most out of your practice and truly prevent injuries even if you choose to challenge yourself on the mat?  Stretching tension or building strength can be beneficial if done in line with your innate body wisdom. Overdoing can be seductive and often misleading because of the element of physical pleasure and instant gratification it includes. And this is true both for stretching and strengthening!

How can you know for sure if you are in line with your innate wisdom of your whole body when you listen to parts of you at a time and your sensory appreciation is no longer fully reliable?

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The woman on the beach is an example of distorted torso to gain the end of touching her toes.
An integrated pose that respects your innate body wisdom as the woman in purple is more beneficial!

SENSORY PERCEPTION & INJURIES

As mentioned earlier, your Daily Body sensory perception gets somewhat corrupted over time. As a result, it needs a bit of reeducation. Without regaining accurate sensory perception, you cannot truly rely on what you feel while practicing yoga or engaged in daily movements and yet most people do. As a matter of fact,  it is my experience that this is the real culprit in most yoga injuries. Whether they happen on or off the mat, the majority of neck back or joint injuries if you are a healthy yogi, tend to start with your Daily Body habits brought to the mat.


SENSORY PERCEPTION REEDUCATION & BODY WISDOM

Controlling your habits on the mat then catering to them the rest of the time
is not going to get you out of the tension cycle.
It is like collecting water from your dripping ceiling when it rains 
instead of fixing the roof problem in the first place!

On the surface, it may seem that tension is the problem and yoga the solution. However,  you will get more out of your yoga when unnecessary tension is dealt with for what it is, a symptom of something else that needs addressing to get lasting results. And sorry to say that no costly gadgets can get around the need to regain accurate sensory perception!

You have a wonderful mechanism in your body called “Postural Mechanism” and it is an ambassador to your Innate Body Wisdom. It is in charge of handling your posture, fluidity of movement and balance. When you learn how to stimulate it, you can stretch and strengthen without taking a chance to overdo. In fact, as you unlearn your harmful habitual patterns, you keep empowering that mechanism to do its job. And it is available to you 24/7.

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When not aligned above support and relaxed, gravity promotes slouching.
When aligned above support and relaxed
, gravity promotes effortless good posture.

Do you want to learn more about this mind/body approach to natural good posture? 
Do you want to learn how to reclaim efficient moving for balanced living?
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"How to Unlearn Habits that Create Body Stiffness On and Off the Mat"
(Based on the Alexander Technique Principles and Facts)