Category Archives: Meditation

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!

The Wise Way to Yoga On Kindle & Other News!

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THE WISE WAY TO YOGA is now Available on Kindle, in color no less!:)
Get a special when you get the combo paper book and kindle.

I started receiving amazing feedback from people who read this book and got to the end already. Would love to hear from others who also read the book. So please don’t hesitate to share your experience of the book.

Soon, there will be a YouTube Channel for me to share the Wise Way to Yoga in 2 minutes slices! I will keep you posted. For those who signed up to my Free Webinar and could not make it, not only will I offer them again but a recording will be available for those who can’t make it. Still, those who make it will get a special offer at the end!:)

Yoga has become a widespread activity to help you handle your health and fitness. And you gain your best results when you practice yoga regularly, in a “Wise Way”. So far, you are all familiar with the “Hard Way” and the “Gentle Way” to practice.
However, the “Wise Way” to yoga is a new approach that enhances your practice and guides you to your best performance with optimal safety. It can be applied to all styles of yoga regardless of body type or fitness level.
The Wise Way to Yoga is the Yoga of the Future! It started the Movement of the Wise Yogi that has been long overdue! Be a part of it! If you resonate with this, go to the following link and ask for the Manifesto of the Wise Yogi Free Scroll!
Till we connect again,

Namaste!
https://offthematyogablog.com/the-wise-way-to-yoga/

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!

Yoga & The Hidden Dance in Your Practice

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As the well-known children song reminds us, the foot is connected to the head and neck via a series of bones and they all work as one unit. So any movement of any body part affects us from head to toes.

Do you listen to this hidden dance of your body when you do your yoga practice? Do you notice how each move you make affects all your muscles and joints from head to toes?

In my own practice, observing and allowing that dance to do its thing is more important to me than getting the perfection of a pose. I let the ideal pose be a guide, not a goal. If I get there, great! If I don’t because I allow the natural functioning of my body to do what it needs to do, I’m fine with that too. It is what it is at that moment! It does not define who I am or the quality of my practice whether my knees are released into a bend in Downward Dog or not. That is provided my hip joints are released which lengthens my back automatically! And this is better for your body than to have straight legs and a rounded back!

 

This approach to practicing reminds me of my favorite Rumi poem so I will share it with you. Let me know if either my post or this poem resonates with you and why? What is your experience when you practice?

Seek the wisdom
that will untie your knot
Seek the path
that demands your whole being.

Leave that which is not, but appears
to be
Seek that which is, but is
not apparent.

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!

Yoga & the Spirit of Discrimination

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The recent study referred to in the article below concludes, based on emergency room reports, that only yogis of age 65 and after are at risk for practicing yoga. Why is this rather misleading?

                  https://www.yogauonline.com/yoga-research/new-study-charts-yoga-injuries-over-13-year-period

I personally do not think the conclusion of this study is accurate. The poster child for pioneer yoga teachers in North America, Diane Bruni, and many other teachers and practitioners have been injured when much younger in their practice. Their injuries and challenges motivated their deep commitment to start a yoga revolution to improve the practice of modern yoga as it is still developing. The current flaws are nobody’s fault. Among other things, they are part of the evolution of an eastern practice in a western world.

Injuries don t always make it to the emergency room and older yogis are more likely to report to the emergency room than younger folks who may feel invincible and trust their injuries will heal quickly. Also, I personally know loads of young teachers and practitioners who would not last without serious injury if they were not going to their chiropractor and massage therapist periodically. Lastly, yoga injuries do not always manifest while on the mat. When the body is not used in line with its whole-body intelligence, it promotes excess tension and injuries can happen anytime, anywhere!

In fact, yoga injuries are often caused by misuse of our body off the mat as seen in the pictures below. As a yogi, you may think that you can fix your “Daily Body” by engaging with your “Yoga Body” on the mat. The truth is that you only have one body and it is crucial to learn how to better handle your body in daily activities if you do not want to promote excess tension and injury down the road. Ignoring slouching in daily life hurts your yoga practice. And tensing your back to sit or stand straight on or off the mat contributes to your irresistible need to slouch. Just know that there is a more organic way to do this as you well did when you were children. And the ability to do so is still in you, available 24/7. You simply need to learn how to activate it!

In the meantime, let’s not close our eyes to the danger still present in the way many practice yoga today. Yoga is not the problem of course, how it has been taught since the 19th century and how we use our body practicing yoga is. How we bring harmful habits from daily life to the mat is. How our physical sensations rule our practice is as well given that yoga warns us to not trust sensations alone. Besides, it is not because we can do something to an extreme that it is good for all our body parts.

We need to develop discrimination! And with it, yoga injuries can decline steadily!

We must face the underlying roots of these injuries so yogis can practice yoga the wise way (regardless of their body type, age, fitness level or yoga style), and keep injuries at bay.

It is a given that younger people bodies are more resilient and can handle more misuse. But is that a reason to assume their practice is flawless and safe?

Studies are helpful up to a certain point. Yet studies proving opposite points can easily be found if we look carefully. So we must use our spirit of discrimination when we read the conclusion of studies. We must learn to connect with our whole-body intelligence in a way so it can be activated on demand and offer guidance for what is right for us, individually, in each moment. And questioning outside information no matter where it comes from is part of yoga!

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!