Category Archives: Will Power

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

Standard

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?

Standard

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?

Standard

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

Can Your Yoga Practice Feel Good & Still Wreck Your Body?

Standard

IMG_3910

Does your yoga practice keep you free from tension between classes or do you go back to yoga because your tension builds up again somehow? Or maybe you are addicted to yoga thinking it can free you from tension and prevent injury? It can, but does it? Is the stress of life creating your daily tension or how you manage stress does? And is the stress of life the only reason why you may experience tension or pain in the first place? Read on to find out!

Did you know that Lady Gaga, the famous singer and Bikram Yoga enthusiast, cancelled a music tour with hip pain so severe she could barely move and was unable to perform for over two years after hip surgery at age 27?

   img_5943

No, I am not claiming that yoga can wreck your body.  However, how you use your body while you do yoga (or any other daily activity) can absolutely wreck your body over time. I am not referring to how well you know each poses because if that was the case, yoga teachers would never get hurt and it is not the case, as you will see in the video below. Of course form matters up to a certain point. And anatomy matters up to a certain point as well. Yet, if anatomy knowledge was enough, doctors would be safe from injuries, which is not the case either.

By clicking on the picture below, listen and watch this teacher who is sharing her experience as a seasoned Ashtanga teacher. Listen to what happened to her, how it happened and what she learned from it.

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-8-32-51-pm

As Diane Bruni learned, even highly skilled teachers don’t always know what is right for your body despite their knowledge of anatomy or their mastery of yoga poses form. The thing is education is key because you can only be mindful of what you are aware of. So who to learn from if the blinds are leading the blinds? How did this even happen? It is partly to explain this that I am writing my book on “The Yoga of the Future”.

In short, yoga teaching has been influenced since the 19th century and even conditioned by the ideals of the Industrial Revolution. That is when modern fitness began and the love for machines gave birth to bodybuilding and a focus on fitness viewing the body as a machine made up of parts to exercise. Bodybuilding and Yoga influenced each other as more people had the financial means to travel.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-16-44-pm

In the department stores of that time, the customer was always right to promote business. In the yoga world, the teacher was always right because he came from a patriarchal culture. Yet not all yoga masters were equal. Besides, lots got lost in translation or reinvented and additions were made over the years. Your inheritance has been to focus on body parts, and to muscle your way through both strengthening and stretching. Mainly, you have been led to trust your educated mind more than your innate body intelligence.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-22-45-pm screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-30-27-pmscreen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-19-56-pm
Lahiri Mahasaya (One of Yogananda’s Gurus) versus Ascetic Yogis
All yogis were not made equal!

The truth is that you need to go inside to activate your inner teacher’s guidance available to you 24/7. It is never wrong.

This is the goal of the Body Intelligence Activation Process or B.I.A. Process; it teaches you how to instantly connect with your whole-body intelligence which is way more than just listening to your stretch edge or your pain edge as Diane was doing which led her slowly but surely towards injury. The B.I.A. Process on the other end empowers you to work with your whole-body intelligence hand in hand every step of the way. Notice the dash between whole and body. It is key to this process.

Without knowing how to activate your inner teacher, it is difficult to unlearn already established patterns that create excess muscle and joint tension. When you do know how to do it, you won’t even need to use a body braid as Diane does and recommends to keep your body properly toned and have great organic good posture.

If you want to learn more about this, join my blog site, attend my online or local events and learn about the B.I.A. 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 19 000 people and her webinar 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.

Self-Consciousness, Self- Awareness & Straining!

Standard

Do you know what really motivates you to exercise deep down?

IMG_4925

On the surface, it is easy to assume that you do it because exercise is good for you as doctors and scientists keep telling us. Could it be that it is not all that black and white? Not that I am discouraging you from exercising at all. You’ll always gain some benefits from exercising, but do you always get only benefits? And do you get the best out of your practice regardless of how or why you do it?

When I used to exercise out of being self-conscious about my weight or the way I looked, I was totally overdoing it. I was exercising with all the uptight energy coming from efforting to control my body, shape it, trim it, make it thinner. And although exercising was still beneficial to me in some ways, the problem was that it was motivated by a sense that I was not good enough, I was not lovable or attractive enough as I was and would not be till I reach this unrealistic ideal (for most of us) imposed by the media to all of us, especially women.

IMG_4923

Why is it a problem? It is a problem because when the underground reason for exercising is fear-based self-consciousness, you are actually stressing the body in a way that stems from and activates your “reptilian brain”. This results in the production of a stress hormone called Cortisol which affects both your mind and body into protective mode favoring holding and contraction. This tends to keep you in the fear based cycle of not feeling good enough unless you are pushing yourself. Exercise becomes an addiction of sorts. How do you truly feel when you reach your goal, do you appreciate it and relax or are you driven to keep going like the hamster on his wheel? Does this sound like a familiar cycle? You are definitely getting some good benefits from the physicality of yoga, but is it worth it to not examine the real reason motivating you to practice when it can actually strengthen your underground stress level in the process? Not to mention that this is what promote straining on and off the mat.

When practicing yoga is really love-based, you are truly nurturing your body in a way that stems from and activates the “pre-frontal cortex”. It creates a feel-good hormone called oxytocin or the “love hormone” which affects both your mind and body into open-mindedness and expansion. It also allows you to function as a fluid coordinated self. This develops flexible strength as one skill instead of focusing on stretching, strengthening or posture organizing as if they were separate from each other. The more you approach movements as a coordinated self, the more your body handles the perfect adjustments necessary for any chosen activity. Your Whole Body Intelligence knows how much to stretch this muscle, or strengthen that muscle and realign your postural balance for you all at once. Straining becomes unnecessary.

IMG_4930 IMG_4929

And in this process, your synergy changes to be more functional without needing to strain or push yourself in the usual sense of the term. You challenge yourself by choosing and staying in a specific pose or activity yet you let go of the strain so your body can step up to the plate and do its magic! The idea is to let your body do its job and trust its innate intelligence. It knows better than your mind and the results are safer.

I once was totally off balance for months. As I got out of my overthinking mind to observe my every movements , I was able to discover and then let go of habitual patterns that were straining my body. While letting go, I was also rebooting my whole body synergy using my Body Intelligence Activation Process (B.I.A. Process), a way to allow the natural way to take over. As a result, my own body reorganized my very twisted posture into perfect balance in a month time when constant visits to chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists had not given any sustainable results for a period of 6 months.

IMG_4924

Acting on and off the mat from a place of “Self-Consciousness” is not serving you because it is rooted in a feeling of inadequacy that you feel you must overcome,  product of your intellect judging your self as not good enough.  I know because I have been there and it is easy to revisit that familiar place when we are not in the now. Instead let’s be rooted in the present moment, accepting of what is. Acting from a place of “Self-Awareness” outside the intellect is the way to blossom into whatever you choose to do on or off the mat.

And learning to activate the Intelligence of your Whole Body is an awesome key to letting go of  self-consciousness and embrace self-awareness, it is a process that allows your mind and your whole-body wisdom to be team partners, living in the same time zone in a way that gives you optimal safety and best performance whether you are on the mat or in daily life. It positively affects your level of self confidence and  self appreciation while you get the most out of your yoga and out of life.

Interested in exploring this further? Then check:

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

Physicality, Embodiment & Yoga

Standard

Do you feel that unless you strain when you exercise, you are not doing enough?
Are you sure that strain is necessary to get strong in body or mind?

Do you think you are connected to your body because you exercise or practice yoga?
Are you sure that being physical means that you are well connected to your body?

What if strain only added body stiffness to the strength you could build without the strain?
What if being physical was not enough to be fully connected to your innate body wisdom?

IMG_20160203_122745161IMG_20160203_122936107
On the left she tightens and creates body stiffness in her outer muscles,
on the right she allows space to relax and let her core muscles strengthen themselves!
My  journey from physicality to awareness of disembodiment

When I started exercising and decided to eat right, I was motivated by wanting to look the best I could and keep my weight down. I used to exercise 3 hours a day. Half of that time was walking to and from campus for 45 minutes each way and the other 90 minutes were at the gym, running or an aerobic dance class plus using the universal machines of the time.

I thought I was very connected to my body and although I never strained to the point of hurting myself, I did judge the amount of appropriate tension by how much I was pushing myself. Burning calories was high on my list as I have a compact muscular body and always wanted to trim it down.

However, I had a profound realization that changed the course of my life. One day, while finishing grad school and being very pregnant with my first child. I found myself leaning on the table at the library so my belly was totally squished against the edge of the table. Noticing that was like a wake up call. I asked myself ” What am I doing to my baby? And what am I doing to my body?”. I started noticing other such instances. Maybe I was not as connected to my body as I thought? It made me realize that physicality was only part of being fully connected. I became aware that my physicality had been driven by my mind that acted as if it knew better than my body.

My journey towards embodiment of my aware mind
 DSC_0405

That profound realization led me to practice meditation and let go of a promising career teaching French Literature at the college level for which I had just studied several years. Everyone thought I was crazy. But academia was going to keep me in my head so I had to find another more holistic type of teaching, and I did. Although embodiment is a life long evolution, working in a mind/body field with the Alexander Technique has made a huge difference in my life, especially combined with my meditation practice.

Over time, I realized and experienced that my addictive straining was only adding body stiffness to the strength I was building. It was true in the gym or on the yoga mat. I found it to be a mindset that reveals itself throughout all aspect of my life as self-created stress if I let it. And when I am flexible and strong in my mind, I can enjoy flexible strength in my workout or my yoga practice.

It became clear that I wanted flexible strength and that flexible strength starts with an aware and embodied mind. When your mind is embodied, there is no room for strain when you are being physical because you are in harmony with your innate body wisdom. And this is a whole body affair through every movement and every moment of the day. When you focus mainly on physicality, you are missing a dimension and the door to injury is still wide open whether you are at your computer, in your kitchen or on the mat.

When your mind is embodied, there is no room for strain when being physical
because you are in harmony with your innate body wisdom.
IMG_2643

Connecting to your body in a holistic way means that you are not tending separately to the mind and the body. You are aware of both whether you meditate or exercise. It also means that you allow your whole body wisdom to guide you as it is designed rather than controlling your skeleton muscularly according to the dictates of your mind as if it knew better than your innate body intelligence. It means organic good posture takes care of itself in a sustainable way like it does in children.

There is a breakthrough process that can help you access your whole body wisdom with ease whatever type of exercise you enjoy doing. It helps you to be embodied in a way beyond focusing on your stretch edge or your pain edge which represents only a small percentage of your whole body wisdom. It helps you reclaim organic good posture and strain-free living.

Interested in exploring this further? Then 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!

Standard

IMG_3910
“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?

IMG_3906

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?

IMG_3752
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