Category Archives: mastermind

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!
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Straining versus Challenging Yourself!

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Do you believe that you can’t challenge yourself unless you strain your body up to a certain point? And perhaps, you think that as long as it does not hurt, you’re good. Does this way of thinking sound familiar?

Know that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT if, even with your yoga practice, you’ve been feeling some recurring tension and a constant need to stretch or strengthen in the hope to feel better. It is partly the result of the widespread “No Pain, No Gain” approach that permeates yoga and fitness since the Hatha yoga revival and the birth of Personal Fitness in the 19th century. And although more and more people agree that “No Pain, No Gain” is no longer the way to go; still many abide by “No Strain, No Gain” which I see as the toned down version of the old saying. Does this make sense to you?

Personally, I see a big difference between straining and challenging myself. I believe that “Strain is Delayed Pain” whereas challenging yourself can safely strengthen all of who you are.


She is challenging herself yet she is straining herself in the process
How worth is it for her head to touch her foot if she compresses the back of her neck in the process?

STRAINING is your Stress Mode activating itself when you are treading in dangerous waters. The strain is a sign that you are working against the integrated functioning of your body. Your whole-body intelligence is telling you that you need to reevaluate what you are doing at that moment if you do not want to injure the muscle or joint that is straining.

Now you may wonder how can you challenge yourself without straining even a bit?

CHALLENGING YOURSELF is pushing your limits as a whole-body. It means that no muscle or joint is screaming out as if it was taking the bulk of the work. Just like a team player not cooperating with the other players is actually working against the team, when you allow one muscle or joint to scream for attention by the amount of work it is doing, that body part is working against the benefit of your whole body.

TIP OF THE DAY:
Drop the Strain, Keep the Strength!

If you want to maximize your yoga practice without fueling excess tension and injury, drop the strain and keep the strength. Drop the excess tension in any body part so your body can better work as a whole! You will experience less on the surface of your body, and benefit more in your core and whole-body.

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!

Controlling Versus Mastering

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Whether we are working on our BODY in posture-based Hatha yoga or on our MIND in meditation-based Classical yoga, it is common for yogis to attempt to control their body or mind. It is common to become a slave to the poses instead of letting the poses to serve us as best as our body can receive in each moment. And it is common to try not to think while meditating which creates more mind restlessness in the process. Are you familiar with any of these common behaviors? If yes, how is it working for you?

What difference do you see between controlling and mastering your body and mind?

The chart below is part of a bigger chart that illustrates the historical foundational influences of Modern Yoga.

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In my own experience, trying to control the body brings about conflicts of interest between body parts and resistance creating excess tension. Mastering the body or mind includes working with them so all body-parts work in harmony with each other. Mastering the mind means being a witness of the activity of thinking without engaging with each passing thought.

Controlling limits our efficiency in whatever we do. Same as a controlling boss at work.

Mastering promotes the highest efficiency through cooperation. Same as a good boss at work.

Let me know what you think about this distinction.

What is your own experience with this?
Do you try to control your body or mind or do you try to master them?
What are the rewards and challenges of this very yogic process for you personally?

If you like this distinction, you can find more in my book The Wise Way to Yoga available on Amazon

Also, look for my series of Free Live Webinar starting again soon. And this time, when you register, if you can’t attend, you can still get a recording!:)

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!

How To Avoid Injury While Practicing Yoga?

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Although the average yoga practitioner does not necessarily know about the 8 Limbs of Yoga, most teachers have been exposed to it. However, due to the spread of Hatha Yoga (Asana Yoga), very few teachers or students have a chance to follow the order recommended by the Sutras for their practice which has led to trouble for many practitioners and teachers.

As explained in the Yoga Journal magazine this month, the practice of asanas (posture yoga) is only the third limb. And there is a good reason for this, even though most yogis are led straight into asanas.

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The first Limb is Yamas which includes 2 important principles:
*  Ahimsa
(do no harm to yourself or others) 
 *  Non-grasping (no attachment to outcomes)

Without learning how to not be attached to outcomes, it is difficult to be kind to ourselves and sometimes to others. And it is also difficult to practice yoga without straining because it is common to buy into the “No Strain, No Gain”.

The second Limb is Niyamas which also includes two important principles:
*  Santosha
(learn to be happy with what is)
*  Tapas
(learn to be disciplined especially about the principles taught in the first two limbs)

What’s the connection with injuries?  You cannot enjoy your best performance and optimal safety without integrating the principles of these two first limbs because they teach you:
1) To not strain (which places you in stress mode),
2) To not be attached to the perfection of the pose shape (which is a guide rather than a goal),
3) To embrace where you are at in the now instead of always wanting something else belonging to the future.

So whether you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner, keep reviewing and practicing the principles of the two first limbs if you want to have an efficient and safe life-long practice!:)

To assist you with this task, you can learn how to activate your whole body-intelligence. It helps you prevent harmful habits or free yourself from habits you already have. Check how you can work with me either privately or in a group, locally or online by going to the Work with Cecile Tab at the top of the blog home page.

PS: For Boston locals, check last June event Saturday, June 30 in the artist section of Boston (SOWA)

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!

Challenging Yourself with Yoga The Wise Way!

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Many yogis would tell you that they do not believe in the “No Pain-No Gain” paradigm. However, they believe in the milder and modern equivalent “No Strain-No Gain”.

What do I mean by that?

It is common for yoga teachers and practitioners to believe that a strenuous practice is a good thing, not realizing that strenuous and challenging are two different things.

1) A strenuous practice includes muscles and often joints strain. In a strenuous practice, you play with the stretch edge or the strength edge of various body parts. By flirting with strain, you are actually placing your body in stress mode. Excess tension is being created at the very same time you are working on helping your body. Reaching your maximum edge is not necessarily the best for every body part. Although it feels good in the moment, as time goes, yoga teachers and committed yoga practitioners develop pain or injury. Hence my saying “Strain is Delayed Pain”!

2) A challenging practice is a whole-body practice where the focus is on releasing muscles and joints instead of engaging them. As a result, your whole-body intelligence is back in the driver’s seat. It micro-manages your muscles and joints to perfection in every pose. And yes, you can release tension even when practicing a plank. And your Cobra or your Warrior One does not include neck or back compression. As a result, you are developing flexible strength instead of stiff strength. Your energy naturally flows through you in every pose.

This is the wise way to challenge yourself towards best performance with optimal safety. It is the wise way to a life-long yoga practice for both practitioners and teachers.

Interested in The Wise Way to Yoga? Check my blogs, read my June article in the Natural Awakenings Magazine, buy my book on Amazon, or come to one of my events if you can! Also, share this blog with the yogis in your life, they will thank you for it!

AMAZON BOOK LINK:
https://www.amazon.com/Wise-Way-Yoga-Intellig…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

ARTICLE ON THE WISE YOGI EMERGING MOVEMENT:
http://www.naturalawakeningsboston.com/…/The-Wise-Way-to-Y…/

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.

“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!

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.