A few months ago, I received some feedback about a teacher training session I taught (not a Yoga Detour training) in which one student (maybe more) found my approach to be “anti-yoga”. This feedback was brought to my attention in a way that implied I should reconsider what I was saying in these trainings and how I was presenting my material. It put an undoubtedly negative spin on things.

And yet when I heard it, that’s not how I interpreted “anti-yoga” at all. 

I saw it as a sign that people were recognizing what I do as different from the norm.

Because I have a solid grip on what yoga means to me (becoming more unified between mind and body), I know I’m not anti-yoga - at least not according to that definition.

But if someone else’s understanding of yoga includes any of the following, then yeah - you’re damn right I’m anti-yoga:

- Emphasizing flexibility over strength
- Chasing deeper postures regardless of the compensations needed to get there
- Seeing injuries as openings
- Relying on the adjustments of a teacher to make a pose “count”
- Overriding the signals of one’s nervous system in favour of making it through the practice
- Honouring the sequence on a piece of paper above one’s own intuitive guidance
- Paying more attention to the Sanskrit names of the poses rather than the actual physiological/biomechanical demands they place on the body
- Investing in non-scientific claims of organ detoxification and hormonal balancing linked to yoga postures
- Seeing yoga as “all you need” - the be-all-end-all of one’s movement lexicon

Consider this...
I recently taught an (anti?) yoga workshop in Los Angeles.

I enjoyed it more than any other workshop I’ve led in recent memory.

Want to know why it was so awesome?

Well aside from the obvious - that I was being paid to teach in the city that I consider to be the mecca of modern Western yoga - this workshop gave me proof that what I’m putting out into the world is attracting the right people - the tribe.

The yoga misfits.
The inquiring minds.
The bullshit detectors.
Students who don’t need to take themselves - or their practice - so seriously anymore.
The teachers who are ready to be agents of change.

A couple of times throughout the workshop I heard the “anti-yoga” adjective being tossed around. The way it was being used was like a battle-cry - an empowering means of standing apart from the boring, miseducated, over-commercialized yoga scene.

Those of us who spent that afternoon together know it was special. It was more than a yoga workshop - it was a coming together of powerful, intelligent people who are ready to take the leap into unknown territory

YD YTT Feedback

No more reliance on the questionable cues of the past.
Less emphasis on playlists and more emphasis on practical information.
More attention paid to quality movement.

An uncompromising focus on the needs of the individual as opposed to the demands of the practice.

Is it scary to take this Detour, to change course? You betcha. Especially if it means following a path that won’t be supported by the studio where we currently practice or teach. When income is tied to doing things a certain way - a way that no longer feels authentic or true to what we want to be putting out into the world - taking a risk to go against the grain is beyond stressful.

I get it.

But I still think it’s worth it.

When we remove the stuff from our lives that no longer serves us, it makes space for the stuff that will.

Open the door and let the clients who don’t get why you’re doing what you’re doing walk right through it

Keep it open so the ones who are looking for you can find their way in. Because they’re out there - and when they make their way into your class or into your studio, teaching will take on a whole new vibe.

You’ll be excited. 
You’ll look forward to each and every session.
You’ll wonder why it took you so long to make this shift.

Maybe it’ll feel like you’re anti-yoga. 
And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing...

If you're wanting to bridge the gap between everything you've already been taught and the things you now want to know more about, check out our Teachers Immersion Program

The program will take you beyond what your students expect and give you refreshing information that is going to make your teaching undeniably magnetic. 

Check it out here.

Yours in discovery,



I’m interested in people. It’s that interest that led me to study social anthropology - the study of human communities. 

When I was in school, I remember leafing through the course calendar and asking myself, “Ok...which of these courses is going to be interesting enough to get me out of bed?” All of the courses I circled were offered by the same department: Sociology and Social Anthropology.

Sociology is more about numbers - quantitative research. I didn’t love those classes. In social anthropology, it’s about qualitative research. When I enrolled in those courses, I learned that my mind thrives off story-telling.

What I love about qualitative research is how it requires thorough observation as opposed to objective measurement. In order to study people effectively, I had to learn how to ask really good questions and listen carefully to answers. I couldn’t understand society from a spreadsheet - I needed to be in the world, talking to people and learning from their experiences.

My research looked at the role of mindfulness in sexual health education within the Shambhala Buddhist community of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was fascinating and took me through not only an undergrad degree, but also a Master’s thesis. I’ll tell you more about that another time…

My research taught me to be curious about the world around me. It showed me how everyone has a story, and that every story can tell us something about the communities in which we live and work.

How do you express curiosity? When you ask someone “What are you up to today?”, are you actually interested in their answer?

Do you ever assume that you already know everything you need to know about someone else? Or encounter someone so different than you that you can’t imagine even trying to get to know them?

I get it. I’ve been there.

Around the same time I was falling in love with social anthropology I was also being seduced by Ashtanga yoga.

The first yoga practice I ever walked into was an Ashtanga half primary class. From the get-go, I was enamoured. Something about it—the intensity, the challenge, the shapes, the way it made me feel—hooked me immediately. I was a goner.

In the early days of my relationship with Ashtanga, I was completely infatuated. The sweat...the deep breathing...the glistening muscles...the practice swept me up and before long it occupied the centre of my universe. 

In the years that followed, I would watch more experienced students wind themselves into knots with such prowess I couldn’t help but want to be them. I revered my teachers, believing they had the answers to all my problems. I obsessed over getting each new pose, thinking that when I mastered them all I’d experience what’s it like to be...what? Happy? Invincible? Immortal? Was that what I was after in this photo? I don’t even know…

But one thing was for sure. When I was drinking the Ashtanga Kool-Aid morning, noon and night, I believed that everything about that practice wasright. I had no interest in venturing beyond my familiar Ashtanga community. The people who practiced alongside me became my friends and those who didn’t fell away into the backdrop of my life. All other forms of yoga fell short. Anyone who didn’t practice with the same intensity that we did just didn’t get it. I looked down on it all - Iyengar, yin, Anusara - they were all inferior. My path was the path to be on, and if you chose something else you obviously weren’t worth knowing.


I was listening to this podcast the other day about a reformed white nationalist and immediately saw the similarities…

I used to think Ashtanga was the superior race.
I didn’t recognize the need for diversity or variety.
I’d forgotten how others’ experiences are the gateway to understanding the big picture of this world we live in.

I had whittled that big picture down into one tiny bubble that revolved around a set sequence of postures. I became an Ashtanga Evangelist. Thank god my body finally broke down in rebellion. It had had enough. The Kool-Aid was toxic.

Getting injured prompted me to start asking questions.
I became a researcher again. I remembered how exploration can be way more fun than repetition.
I relinquished the rigidity in favour of resiliency. 

The questioning hasn’t stopped and now I encourage others to do the same. I seek out the curious and nurture the shit out of them because those who are curious are going to generate change—they’re the ones who aren’t satisfied with simple, one-dimensional answers. They want more.

If reading that makes you jump up and down and yell “That’s me!!! I want more!!!!” then we should probably be working together.

If you’re in Toronto and you’ve already done another teacher training program (that in all likelihood fell short), you need to enroll in our Teachers Immersion Program. This is the perfect opportunity to experience the incubator of Detour training, but in a room full of experienced, DIVERSE learners. No tire-kickers. We start in September, so to make sure you’re in that room on day 1 click here.

If you’re not in Toronto, here are some other options:

- Find me in the UK. Next weekend’s workshop in Ireland is sold-out but you can still get in on the action in Cheltenham and Edinburgh.
- Apply for Mentorship. I’m taking on one more summer student and if that should be you, tell me why here
- Consider joining us in Costa Rica for a weeklong Detour journey in the jungle. We escape next February and spots are filling fast.

But more important than all of that is this:

I challenge you to be more curious. The next time you’re out for dinner with friends, dive beyond the surface conversation. Try something like:

What was the best part of your day today?
What’s the best thing you’ve read or listened to in the past week?
What’s part of your job do you enjoy most?
What are you most looking forward to right now?
If you were to move tomorrow, what would you miss most about home?

And because I’m curious about you, I welcome you to send me your answers to any of the above. 

Or if you have questions about me, send away!

Here’s to embracing the anthropologist in all of us.

Yours in discovery,


Why Hyperextension is Something to be Owned Rather Than Feared

By Cecily Milne

A couple years ago in a Pilates reformer class I was told to unlock my elbows and turn the creases in to face each other. In response, I corrected my alignment to please the instructor rather than ask what is now my favourite question of any teacher: WHY?

After 10 years of yoga practice, I was used to hearing the cue "soften your elbows" and taking it for face-value. For ages I just assumed that teachers knew more than I did and had my best interest in mind, so their instruction must be correct. When I immersed myself in the movement world, which meant training with strength coaches, gymnasts, martial artists and clinicians, I learned that the much of the information I'd gained through yoga trainings was glaringly inaccurate.

Soften your glutes.

Don't let your knee go past 90 degrees.

Stand with your feet parallel.

These are just some of the cues I accepted for too long without questioning their validity. The list of things I don't say to my students anymore goes on, and I know this is the same for hundreds of other teachers as well. We've moved on from regurgitating outdated cues and have begun to teach from a place that reflects self-exploration and contemporary research. I’m writing this article to share some of my own self-exploration as it relates to elbow hyperextension and why "micro-bending" the elbows deserves to be reevaluated.

Before diving into the fun stuff, let's first make sure we're on the same page with what I'm about to talk about:

  • When I say "hyperextended" I'm referring relative hyperextension - the appearance of the arm straightening beyond 180 degrees. For many people, this is simply their natural end range or lock-out point.

  • Absolute hyperextension is an injury. Your joint would not be functional. Absolute hyperextension is painful and would require physical therapy. Relative hyperextension is natural end range.

  • What happens at the surface of the skin (what we can see just by looking at someone) vs what happens at the level of bone and joint aren't quite one and the same. It's important to remember that while someone's arm might look hyperextended, their actual joint architecture could be entirely healthy. Rarely do yoga/Pilates/movement teachers have the assessment skills to determine anything other than what’s happening at the surface.

  • Hyperextension is not always an indicator of systemic hypermobility (hypermobility and hyperextension are NOT synonymous). While hyperextension can occur when hypermobility and joint laxity are present, it's also possible to have hyperextension in some areas of the body without being hypermobile everywhere else. Hands up from all those with hyperextended elbows and tight shoulders!

  • I'm going to talk a lot about the benefits of training to end range of motion. When I do, I'm referring to INDIVIDUAL end range of motion - mine is mine, yours is yours. What's "regular" or "normal" matters less than what's going in in your unique structure.

Part I: If You're Not Locking Your Elbows, Your Handstand is a House of Cards

The yoga practice exposed me to handstands. That bug bit me hard as I became obsessed with both the freestanding handstand as well as the straddle press. I needed to get it. I worked at it tirelessly until one day, like magic, the hopes and prayers paid off and there I was standing on my hands when only a moment before my feet had been planted on the ground. I had reached unicorn status. Or at least that's how it felt…

That moment was about 2 years in the making. Sure, it happened, but I have to wonder if things would have happened far more efficiently had I known how to train handstands through skill progression.

"WTF does that mean?" That's what popped into my head the first time I heard Coach Sommer utter the phrase ‘skill progression’ at a Gymnastic Bodies Foundations seminar. That was in 2014 (I think?!), after I'd already worked with the Ido Portal team and Agatsu. I was spending more and more time around people who really knew what they were talking about when it came to hand-balancing.

They exposed me to the various components of a sustainable handstand which included:

- Wrist prep: mobilizing the wrists not only in extension but also in flexion, as well as countless palm raises

- Hanging work to build grip strength and beefier forearms

- Shoulder external rotation drills

- Acquiring full range shoulder flexion, meaning the arms can reach overhead without creating compensation in the spine and ribcage

- Ridiculous amounts of core work - hollow body holds, hollow rocks, hanging leg lifts...all the things that people crazy about handstands will subject themselves to

When I started working on these components in isolation, the handstand evolved as the sum of its many parts. By working on all the basic ingredients, performing the end-game skill was no big deal.


The other major difference when training handstands in yoga vs. the movement and strength communities was the fact that in the latter no one told me NOT to hyperextend my elbows. They acknowledged that fully supporting my body weight on my hands required the elbows to be locked.

Why weren't they concerned about hyperextension?

Because they promoted balanced training and acknowledged the benefits of progressive overload. That meant working on both straight arm and bent arm strength while allowing the workload to start small and gradually get harder.

Some days we trained all the handstand prep that required straight arms: palm raises, shoulder dislocates, hollow-body plank holds, Powell raises, active and passive hangs, etc. Other days we trained bent arm strength which included push-ups, chin-ups, pull-ups, ring rows, bent arm shoulder external rotation drills, falling and catching.

All of these movements were scaled, so if someone didn’t have control through full range of something like a push-up or chin up, they weren’t expected to just struggle through it. Instead they’d work on maybe just the eccentric portion of a chin-up, slowly lowering down as opposed to trying to pull themselves up. They might use the same approach to a push-up, or take the complete movement into an incline at the wall and progress that to a bench or platform until eventually arriving in a horizontal position.

Movement wasn't modified in a way that limited range. No partial push-ups, no partial chin-ups. Using modifications meant finding the TOTAL movement (full flexion and extension of the elbow) in accessible positions. While progression happened over LONG periods of time - weeks, months or even years - tissues had time to adapt to the complete range of motion.

When the elbows are placed under all sorts of progressive demands, the tissues around them are reinforced. These demands strengthen not only the muscles and their attachments, but the tendons and ligaments as well. It creates a bolstering support structure around the joint, allowing for controlled movement through full range of motion.


While it would be super convenient if yoga ticked all the movement variety boxes, it doesn't come close. That's likely not news to you - more and more yoga students and teachers have come to realize that the asana practice has some serious holes when it comes to balanced movement patterns.

One of those holes is joint prep. Yoga asana gets our bodies to move in lots of different ways, but rarely are we first preparing our joints to be the stable structures required to do things like arm balances, backbends and binds. Since the purpose of this article is to talk about the elbows, I'm going to refrain from going through all the ways we could be preparing the joints for what yoga demands from them and instead just focus on this one spot.

Truth: for someone who isn't aware that their elbows hyperextend (or doesn't know what that means) and/or someone who only does yoga without any cross-training, it's likely a good idea to address the pros/cons of locking out the joints.

Notice that I didn't say "a good idea to tell them not to hyperextend their elbows".

It's time to stop saying "Don't do this, you'll hurt yourself." Perpetuating these warnings cultivates fear and supports the view that the human body is far less robust and adaptive than it actually is.

There is a world of difference between telling someone not to do something vs. encouraging them to build awareness and understanding of their own body. As teachers, we can address hyperextension with an emphasis on agency ("You can do this in a way that's going to make you strong and capable!") and experiential know-how as opposed to simple repetition of all the cues we've heard before.

Let's say someone can straighten their arms to 190 degrees, 10 degrees past the ‘optimal’ 180. If we ignore that 10 degrees range of motion, we create a blind spot.

Compare that to the blind spot when you're driving. Regardless of whether you check it before merging, anything or anyone in that blind spot is still going to be there. Ignoring the blind spot doesn't make it go away. It just becomes a liability.

Rather than creating a body blind spot by ignoring or avoiding full range of motion, we can acknowledge it and do the work to create more awareness and strength within those 10 extra degrees.

How so?

Apply load that is within the capacity of the tissues. When load outweighs capacity, injury occurs. But when we stay at or just below that strength threshold and continually introduce greater increments of load, tissues adapt and get stronger.

If there's no strength at end range, then loading those tissues would be a bad idea. But by gradually introducing load to the range that CAN be controlled, that range will eventually grow as long as we keep moving toward its limits. Eventually it becomes possible to build strength into those 10 extra degrees and in doing so eliminate the blind spot - win!

We could apply this approach to the bicep curl in two ways:

  1. Gripping the weight, straighten your arm only to the point where it’s still possible to contract back up, keeping the work concentrated in the belly of the muscle. This type of work is suitable for those with systemic hypermobility and joint laxity despite the fact that it’s normally used by meatheads who care more about lifting heavy weights as opposed to moving through end range.

  2. Use lighter weight (less than 10lbs, maybe even less than 5lbs to start) and extend the arm to end range, focusing on contracting the muscle fibres near the elbow to return the joint into flexion. Do this with your elbow supported on the edge of a weight bench so that the upper arm remains fixed the whole time.

The idea is to communicate with all the muscle fibres, loading them in a way that generates an effective response as opposed to putting them at risk.

Outside of the gym, we can build controlled range through varied movement. We're designed to be hanging and brachiating, pushing and pulling, carrying things around and hoisting stuff over our heads.

When we do all of that with consistency, our bodies adapt accordingly. Conversely, when we only do some things consistently (like a million chaturangas), everything we're not doing (like swinging from monkey bars) gets put on a shelf in the back of the brain and labelled "Things I Don't Need Anymore". Energy gets directed away from the shelved movements and their requirements to better support whatever you've told the brain is the main priority.

To flush this out for you in a real world scenario, here's a mind-blowing case study from one of Yoga Detour's very own. Refresh your coffee and then c’mon back...


In 2013, YD alum Ashley Monaghan tripped and fell while walking down the street. She caught herself on one hand and dislocated that elbow. Her hyperextended joint gave out under the pressure, setting in motion of series of events and realizations that would change Ashley's life.

Hey Ashley...

How were you training before the dislocation happened?

I had been doing a combination of mostly yoga & crossfit before the dislocation happened. I would give each workout 1000% and would always push to go as hard and as fast as I could without much thought. Let’s just say my “strict strength” practice was non existent.

Had anyone ever told you not to lock out your joint in order to protect it?

Yes. Quite frequently actually. I was told to keep a micro bend in my elbow when doing downward dog, handstands or snatches. I would usually respond with “I don’t feel strong if I’m not locked out and I was encouraged to just ‘try it’ anyway.


What do you say to those who believe hyperextension is dangerous?

I usually respond with "well, that’s how I was born!” I’m not really ever sure how to respond to this comment. Each person’s anatomical set up is different, especially when it comes to joints. I don't push my elbow joint past its natural lock out because I find that painful, but I do lock out whenever I’m training straight arm strength. I think it’s important for those who naturally hyperextend to incorporate more bicep and forearm strength work, so that you are creating stability around the joint. If you look at the muscular anatomy of the elbow joint, you have biceps, triceps and brachioradialis (aka forearm) muscles surrounding the joint. If we can develop these muscles and tendons (the things that connect muscles to bones), they will help keep the joint safe. So, if you’re implementing accessory work to develop these muscles, it’s ok to train in your natural lockout, even if it looks hyperextended.

What would you include in a yoga or mobility class to help those with hyperextension use their full elbow range safely and effectively?

I’d start with wrist prep. Most wrist prep exercises incorporate some activation of the forearm muscles, which I spoke about earlier. We want to get these muscles (flexors and extensors) firing up. Palm raises, finger taps, and any other exercise that challenges grip strength will be helpful. If you have a pull up bar, hang from it. If you have dumbbells or kettlebells, do some farmer’s carries. If your studio has therabands, use them! There are so many amazing exercises you can incorporate into your practice including bicep curls (if you have access to dumbbells, even better), tricep extensions, and straight arm frontal & lateral raises. Getting the area warm/prepped is key. There are so many ways you can get creative in the studio and take a detour (excuse the pun) from the traditional sequences.

In Summary...

Start to unpack everything you've ever been taught. Give your teaching lexicon a software upgrade. Understanding is meant to evolve, not live in a vacuum.

If this article goes against everything you've ever been taught, I would encourage you to do some research and exploration. If you're a yoga teacher, that might mean seeking training and education from alternative sources - not that RYT 500 program you had your eye on.

Investigate the benefits of training to end range of motion. Begin to experiment with other forms of movement, especially the things you're not used to doing that make you feel "weak" or awkward. This type of exposure, stimulus and above all - learning from a place of experience - will help to expand your understanding of the body and open up a whole new world of what you can offer your students.

Special thanks to Ashley Monaghan for her contribution to this work!

Ashley is a certified Yoga Instructor (200hr YTT, Yoga Detour) and CrossFit-L1 Trainer who values movement and mobility as a means to a healthy, independent life. Working closely with each client to make sure all movements are executed safely and with integrity, she values an educated approach to fitness and always allocates time for mobility, rehabilitation and injury prevention. She has shadowed over 120hrs of clinical physiotherapy sessions which have added a unique perspective to her training. 

Incorporating yoga, gymnastics, strength training, kettlebell and high intensity interval training into her own regime has given Ashley a solid movement foundation. A diverse background in movement combined with her passion for human biology and anatomy & physiology makes her training approach unique. Ashley believes there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to fitness as every personality and body is different, therefore each client requires a customized program. 

Certifications include: 200HR YTT Yoga Detour, Level 1 Certifiation - Agatsu Lower Body Joint Mobility & Movement, Completion of The Freestyle Connection hosted by Carl Paoili, Certified Crossfit Instructor (CF-L1 Instructor)

You can catch Ashley coaching at Academy of Lions in Toronto. Her Mobility Flow class happens Wednesday nights at 6:30pm.

If you're looking to learn more about training to end range of motion and integrating that into yoga, join me March 24+25 at Downward Dog Yoga Centre in Toronto. 

Why We All Need More Strength

Why We All Need More Strength

Strength is something we all know we need, but finding ways to really work with it can feel complicated if it’s unfamiliar. What do you think of when you think of strength training? I’ve made it my job to show people that strength training shouldn’t be exclusive to sports, but rather it can be used as a healing practice to help maintain our tissues, confidence, control and overall physical health.

From Injury to Inspiration

From Injury to Inspiration

After practicing yoga for almost 20 years, I felt like I was stuck in a box of repetitive patterns and movements. My body complained about the intensity and repetition of my yoga practice with injury after injury, until I was in enough constant pain that I was forced to give up my (beloved, deeply ingrained) yoga practice. That is, until I reached out to Cecily in hopes of discovering how I might once again enjoy movement without the pain to which I'd become accustomed. 

Strength Isn't Something to Fear

Strength Isn't Something to Fear

Walking into a conventional gym for the first, or even third time can be a puzzling experiment. There is always the group of people in the weight room glistening and grunting, a handful of people sticking to the machines, a few seniors making the rounds through different exercises, and maybe a couple newbies like you.

It's Time to Adapt the Way We Teach and Treat ALL Bodies

It's Time to Adapt the Way We Teach and Treat ALL Bodies

We can expect the ripple effects of the growing 65+ population to include a greater demand on health care and hospitals. Never before have therapeutic wellness providers—those who focus on preventative measures as well as rehabilitative treatment (including movement!)—been better positioned to ease the influx of those needing acute care and hospitalization. By educating ourselves NOW about how we can better inform and prepare our parents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and all of their friends, we are taking necessary steps to support those we work with and care about to ensure their “Final Act” is one where pain, frustration and lack of motivation have been replaced with ease, fun and inspiration.  

5 Reasons Why the Detour is Different

5 Reasons Why the Detour is Different

Many teacher training programs revolve around the yoga practice. Yoga Detour takes a different approach whereby the human body, together with its many moving parts, sensations and emotions, is the pivotal centre piece of the training. 

Sitting with Struggle

Sitting with Struggle

The last eleven months of my life have been filled with yoga—yoga practice, yoga training, yoga research and yoga-themed work.  Each day of my immersion in this practice has simultaneously been an overwhelming privilege and an overwhelming struggle. I chose this practice, but have rarely felt like this practice has chosen me back.

Ditch the Hamstring Pain and Never Look Back

Ditch the Hamstring Pain and Never Look Back

If you’ve practiced yoga for any length of time, chances are you have some experience with that nagging pull in the back of your leg—you know the spot, right near the butt—that tells you something’s not quite right with your hamstrings. 

What causes this type of pain?

Why You Don’t Need a Certificate from Yoga Alliance

Why You Don’t Need a Certificate from Yoga Alliance

When we decided to launch Yoga Detour, a teacher training program that integrates extensively-curated information from outside the yoga community into the asana practice, we endeavoured to fuel future instructors with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and the kind of confidence that comes from gaining a thorough education. 

As applications started coming in, we received several inquiries regarding affiliation with Yoga Alliance, a globally recognized “charity” that bestows yoga instructors and teacher training programs with their “Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT)” and “Registered Yoga School (RYS)” designations. On our website it states:

“[W]e have made the decision not to affiliate with Yoga Alliance. It is our belief that the Yoga Alliance organization is far too removed from what is actually happening on the ground, within the yoga community, to have any appreciation or understanding of what it truly means to be a successful, respected instructor.”