Category Archives: Posture

Chair Pose Redefined For Integrated Efficiency!

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Do you lead with your butt back or do you feel totally balanced above your feet?

This weekend, I worked with a teacher who had been teaching for a few years. She still experienced muscle and joint discomfort so I had her go into her expression of Chair Pose to assess what was going on in her way of practicing yoga.

She was working so hard muscularly at controlling her body in ways she had been taught that her body was a war zone of conflicts which fed her aches and pain. For instance, she was leading with her butt going back (like most people these days) and got herself off balance which was revealed by her struggling with preventing her toes from lifting off the ground and by a lack of integrated team work in her body as a whole.

Unfortunately, she is not alone in this struggle.

Chair Pose is one of the poses often disliked by yoga teachers and practitioners I have worked with and there is a reason for it. The way it has been taught comes from body builders of the 19th century influenced by the Industrial Revolution. They approached fitness viewing the body as a machine made of parts to be exercised in a controlled way.

In the same live webinar, a yoga teacher in training described the quads strain she felt in her chair pose as “natural strain” because what we get used to comes to feel more “natural” than the natural way itself.

The truth is that when muscles stand out by their hard work, this is a sign that the yogi in this pose is not using her body as the coordinated self that it is. The strain is actually the body communicating to you that you are in stress mode. Holding against your whole-body intelligence warning comes with risks of injury and chronic tension.


Do you search for the seat with your butt and use your hands for help one way or the other when you sit down?
Or do you feel absolutely relaxed and balanced all the way through?
And do you notice a parallel between your Daily Body and your Yoga Body way of moving?

An integrated efficient practice of chair pose keeps you easily balanced on your feet because you are released and the energy can flow up and down as it is designed to do. As a result, you develop the flexible strength of the cat!

In doing so, you are not losing any opportunity to strengthen. All you lose is the excess tension that gives you the illusion that you are creating more strength.

If you want to receive feedback on your chair pose to experience the ease and efficiency of an integrated chair pose like these other webinar teachers did, attend my free webinar too by clicking on this link: https://offthematyoga.lpages.co/free-live-interactive-webi…/

For those interested in a more integrated yoga practice for increased efficiency, at the end of the webinar, I will introduce my online course and make a special offer for participants only.

I will soon be closing the door to this program designed for an intimate group of yoga teachers and committed practitioners who want to journey with me for 10 weeks and learn about this breakthrough approach to yoga called the Body Intelligence Activation Process or B.I.A. Process to transform and revitalize their practice!

Want to learn more about how to activate your whole-body intelligence guidance 24/7?

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar

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.

To Engage or To Allow Engagement? A Crucial Difference On & Off the Mat!

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Every time I go to a yoga class or attend an online class, I am struck by the lack of distinction between “engaging” and “allowing engagement”. Do you use your mind to control your body muscles as if it knew better than your whole-body intelligence? Maybe you are so used to it that you don’t even know you have another option to stretch and strengthen that is more efficient? Then read on!

When you are spontaneously running, dancing or simply walking, you don’t need to tell your body what muscles to engage and when to release the joints. It has a postural mechanism, an ambassador for your whole-body intelligence, designed to handle it all for you. Its job is to manage your best balance, coordination and posture.

 

This mechanism works at its best when you don’t interfere with it. Children and animals are good examples of this perfectly functioning mechanism.

When you are on the mat, your mind can decide what pose you want to go into. After that it is best to let your postural mechanism handle your muscles and joints activity for you as you go into the skeletal expression of the pose. I know, it requires having trust in your whole-body wisdom to be there for you!

The thing is that when you “allow engagement” by your whole-body intelligence, it knows exactly what needs engaging and how much to engage so that the pose is good for all parts of your body. When you “engage” specific muscles and joints, you create unnecessary body tension that interferes with the best expression of your pose.

Releasing excess tension is neither going limp nor decreasing how much strength you are building. It is preventing building body stiffness while you are building strength!

Want to learn more about how to activate your whole-body intelligence guidance 24/7?

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar 3)  90 Day B.I.A. Process Program.

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.

When & Why You May Be Overdoing Unknowingly?

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Life Is Not Meant to Be So Hard When You know What Drives You!

Instead, it becomes efficiently productive on and off the mat. You can enjoy any kind of yoga you like even power yoga, yet you are safe from promoting injuries and you get the best out of your practice.


Overstretched back and compressed neck

Overdoing can be easy to change when it is not intertwined with cultural and emotional attachments to doing things the hard way. And when intertwined, this underlying motivation interferes with your best practice of yoga and your general well-being on and off the mat.

That is why overdoing is not as clear-cut as it sounds!

1) You may choose to overdo because you see it as pushing your limits in a good way. When practicing yoga, you may even consider pain something to ignore to build mental strength and to better your practice. This way of practicing and teaching comes from an old interpretation of the yoga teachings that have come to you from teachers who learned from teachers who jived with extreme asceticism. However, many new and experienced teachers are totally letting go of this approach to yoga, others are in the process of letting it go. Buddha himself had to overcome that way of thinking before he could get to enlightenment. Where are you at on that journey?

2) You may strain without wanting to but you do not know how to not strain in a given pose. That often comes from the way poses are still currently cued to you in your yoga classes or yoga books. Any encouragement to willfully “engage” specific muscles or body parts is overdoing because it is interfering with the natural movement design of your whole-body. Instead, learn to let your whole-body intelligence handle the muscle engagement of your whole-body for you within each pose or movement you chose to do. And till you learn, stay present to your whole-body whatever the pose you are in, it can help already. Nature works as a whole, not in parts.

3) You may strain your body without even being aware that you are doing so due to “unconscious habits” you have brought from your daily life onto the mat. The thing is that your mind may have pre-conceived ideas around what it means to “lengthen the spine” for instance. Mainly, your habitual way has come to feel more natural than the natural way. So as you are straining,  it “feels right” to your habit even though it may not be natural or beneficial for your body at all.

And these 3 ways of overdoing are often combined or overlapping in various ways.


Over-arched back and over-tensing of the quads.

Most likely, excess tension brought you to your first yoga class. And am with you, it does feel good in the moment to stretch the tension with various yoga poses. Or it feels good to strain some if you associate straining with positive effort to gain strength.


Overstretched back, locked hip joints sockets, over-tensed calves and compressed neck!

The truth is that if you are straining, you are not letting your postural mechanism do its job. And it is designed to handle your best balance, coordination and posture with no strain and with vitality.  Instead, you may compensate for it by creating unnecessary muscle tension or by overstretching your muscles to the point you meddle with your muscle tone just because it “feels good” in the moment.

When you learn to let your whole-body intelligence be in the driver seat, you can regain accurate perception of your “feelings” and your yoga practice can be most efficient without straining. How do you do that?

The Body Intelligence Activation Process activates your postural mechanism so you receive reliable guidance from your whole-body intelligence 24/7. Each time you consciously activate it, and progressively more so over time, your feelings become increasingly reliable again, your balance, coordination and posture improve organically in the process. Anyone can do this and you can too!

Want to explore this further and learn more about this amazing natural skill that can be regained? Read more of the posts on this blog-site, sign up to my free email seminar or join my free live interactive webinar series which will be offered a few more times before I start my 90 Day Live Interactive Program in May.

1) Free Email Seminar 2) Free Webinar 3)  90 Day B.I.A. Process Program.

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.

When Is It Not Good To Perform Toe Standing Poses?

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You may have been told that Toe Stand Poses strengthen your abdominal muscles, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. Have you actually experience that without straining?

Going on your toes in Downward Dog or other poses using both feet equally can be fine, even helpful sometimes. However, poses on toes with a high level of imbalance is unlikely to be done by the average person without promoting injuries down the line.

When in a class using lots of these poses, I could not help but noticing in other yogis body distortions and compensations. Those, I knew, were causing muscles and joints straining which promotes body stiffness.

It is not because your yoga teacher can do a pose that the pose is good for your own body. Nor does it mean that staying in a straining pose is how you get better at it, it is how you get injured.

Staying in a pose using a tool to activate your whole-body guidance and get its 100% approval is how you prevent injuries and get the most out of your practice.

The first principle of yoga is “Ahimsa”, do not harm anyone. That includes yourself! And despite the widespread belief that strain is good for you, it is not so, this is only a “belief” that is getting outdated!

Strain may indicate that you are bringing unconscious habits of movements from your daily life to the mat. It is also the first step of injuries to come.

The Body Intelligence Activation Process or B.I.A. Process is an awesome solution to these challenges.

If you want to learn more about how to activate your whole-body intelligence on demand so you can prevent injuries on and off the mat and get the most out of your practice?

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 & The Body Intelligence Activation Process
(B.I.A. Process)
To sign up to my local or online offerings click at the top of this homepage

Straight Spine versus Upright Spine: A Crucial Difference!

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Whether you meditate or you practice yoga asanas, many teachers often recommend you to have a straight spine. Do you ever differentiate your back from your spine? Or your energetic spine from your physical spine? Do you see the difference between a straight spine and an upright spine?

These distinctions are crucial if you want to enjoy natural upright posture.

1) Straight Spine Focus
Although your spine is not straight and has natural curves, the shape of your spine changes somewhat with your movements. Your back may look straight, especially with poised sitting, but your spine always has some form of curving in it.

When you attempt “to straighten the spine” you are actually forcing a curve to straighten upward creating body stiffness and tiredness. This is why attempting  “good posture” that way is not sustainable and time and time again you find yourself right back where you started, in a slouch.

2) Curved Back Focus
You may be aware of this dilemma, and may tend to go in the opposite direction. This tend to promote the opposite misconception namely that it is a natural thing to have an arched mid-back on account of the spinal curves. Unfortunately, when you attempt to “straighten your spine”, you end up unknowingly “arching your mid-back”, so it pretty much come to the same thing manifested from a different angle.

3) Energetic Spine versus Physical Spine

I think there is a confusion between the physical spine (curved) and the energetic spine or Sushumna which can be thought of as straight when the focus is to direct energy up the spine!

Ancient yogis have told us that the spine could be thought of as a staff or a rod without making a distinction between your energetic spine they call the sushumna and your physical spine. However, we have the means to rectify this by letting our innate Whole-Body Intelligence be in the driver seat.

How can you do this?

4) Curved Spine & Straight Back can Happen together
Learn to activate your whole-body intelligence via the postural mechanism. It gets you out of the way as you let it decide what is right for you in each moment. Your whole-Body Intelligence knows better than your mind or your teacher’s mind!

Your individual body synergy cannot be changed one body part at a time and stay the way you want it.

For sustainable results, you need to address changes as the coordinated self that you are and move as an integrated whole.

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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 & The Body Intelligence Activation Process
(B.I.A. Process)
To sign up to my local or online offerings check the homepage: 
https://offthematyogablog.com/ 

Stretching the Same Tension Over & Over?

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There is a reason for that and it may not be what you think!

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You may be stretching for flexibility and doing strengthening exercises for strength, yet does this keep you tension free on or of the mat? Or the same tension seems to come back endlessly?

Focusing on stretching and strengthening as two separate qualities is doing just that, focusing on “Separateness”! Learning to focus on these two qualities as the two sides of the same coin is the way to focus on “Unity” and its benefits which is to keep you tension free on or off the mat as you keep getting strong and flexible.

How can you do this when you think that mostly your muscles are your main pathway to strength and flexibility? How can you attend to both at the same time and know how to assess how much of which you need?

Maybe your true strength is not coming from your muscles as much as your skeletal structure and your mind working with your whole-body intelligence? Maybe your joints and muscles are more of a pathway to your flexibility as they keep everything together? And maybe, learning to release your joints is more key to your flexibility?

Releasing excess tension is neither going limp
nor decreasing how much strength you are building.
It is preventing building body stiffness while you are building strength!

In fact, if your bones were suddenly melting, no matter how strong your muscles, would you not turn into a puddle?

Flexible-strength as a skill where both strength and flexibility can be nurtured simultaneously is my personal and professional experience of what Patanjali recommends in his Sutras, namely that each yoga pose be practiced with “Steadiness & Ease”!

When you understand your body functioning in that way, you can build up muscle strength without building excess tension at the same time. When you learn to activate your postural mechanism, you can release excess tension while in a strengthening pose, as you build flexible-strength, prevent injury and reach your highest best without side effect like stiffness in your joints and muscles.

Interested in this way of thinking your movements and poses? Want to learn how to activate your whole-body intelligence via your postural mechanism, opt in my live offerings, local or online.

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

What’s Body Synergy Awareness? The Key to Heal or Avoid Injury!

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BODY SYNERGY AWARENESS

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This is a common self-reinforcing synergy in our modern world.
If your yoga practice is not affecting such habit organically, then you are missing a dimension!

Do you know what your own body synergy is? Do you know it can affect you on all levels of functioning from physical to mental and emotional?  Do you ever investigate why you use your body the way you do? Or do you tend to focus on the end result, like poor posture, and you try to correct it muscularly whether on or off the mat? How is that working for you? Is it changing your synergy off the mat?

Do you know that your posture is the result of how you use the rest of your body all the way to your feet? That is why forcing the shoulders to open up and the body to align according to a pre-conceived idea of “good posture” does not really work for very long, sometimes seconds only. Mostly you go from straightening up to slouching right back throughout the day. Sounds familiar? The thing is that “good posture” is not something to remember to do nor something to hold on to. It is designed to happen organically like when you were children.

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Whether playing on the beach or running down a hill,
children display perfect postural alignment without thinking about it.
This is organic good posture display!

Muscular correcting of the body is fighting against the innate intelligence of your whole body. That is why it does not stick with you. The synergy of your whole body automatically brings back your habitual way to use yourself as a whole as it was doing for me in the story below. With a more organic functioning synergy, not only you now have a chance to fully heal chronic tension or left over injuries, you can also prevent  injuries whether on or off the mat and whether you are into hot power yoga or gentle yoga.

To assist people who need help, I designed a process so you can activate your Whole-Body Intelligence in a snap. It is based on over 25 years of practicing and teaching the Alexander Technique, the best kept secret of famous performers and Olympic athletes. And here below is a true story that happened to me and illustrates, in a concrete way, the amazing power of our Whole-Body Intelligence who succeeded where both traditional and holistic practitioners failed.

MY HEALING STORY USING THIS PROCESS

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 I used this process to deal with a pronounced head and hip imbalance doubled with a back nerve pain that could have easily left me crippled. I had started spending more time at the computer on account of blogging and book writing. As a result, I had been in my head instead of staying present to my whole body. One morning, I got up and saw my head was stuck to the left and my right hip stuck off to the right.  Besides, I could not do yoga or even stretch without triggering the nerve pain in my lower back. I was in shock especially considering I help others avoid this type of problems.

Usually I try to figure things out for myself but out of sheer panic, I searched outside of myself for help, going to several alternative practitioners in the hope they could fix what was wrong with me. Six months and two thousands dollars later, it had not yielded any visible results even though going to chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists felt nice at the time.

Since nothing was yielding sustainable results, I took things back into my own hands. So upon coming home from my last visit, I asked myself what I would recommend a student of mine to do in such a situation and I heard my own voice answering “Watch yourself like a Hawk and Activate your Body Intelligence!”. I was back where I ought to have started, trusting my whole-body wisdom and my process to heal myself.

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I followed my own advice, got encouraging results in 48 hours and within a month with no stretching and no outside help I was completely healed. I was not only totally realigned properly but my back nerve pain was gone and the problem never returned.

Of course, watching myself like a hawk I noticed quite a few things I was currently doing especially relating to screen time that promoted the problem and I also figured out how the habit had been created when I had young children. It had survived in a subtle form for a couple decades most likely helped by the nature of my work. Nonetheless, choosing not to do the habit and constantly activating my body intelligence took care of it all, old and new habit!

What if you could discover your own unconscious habits and learn how to unlearn them so they stop wrecking your body unknowingly on or off the mat?

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.