Thursday, September 03, 2015

The break

During our holidays in Austria and Slovenia I practiced only once in a studio in Vienna. This was one of my highlights.

Most hotel rooms had a carpet and this is not inviting. Space was so limited. No, I didn't like to crawl there on the ground.

The break has had good aspects, too. I don't feel the pain in my back anymore. Almost. It's so incredible much better. I'm so relieved.

Back to the highlight, the practice in Vienna. I got feed-back from a teacher with a lot of experience. And I know he is right. I could sign everything that he said to me. I had almost a private session there. The feed-back about single asanas was useful, too. Yet the general feed-back will change what I'll do from now on.
A lot went wrong in the past, the last 12 years. I don't care. I pick myself up where I am.

There is a huge difference between my forward bending asanas, twists and back bending. This developed over the years. In India I once heard a yogini saying: Too much primary. Now I know what it means. I practiced too long primary.
This gap between my ability to bend forward and to bend backward won't change by it's own. To close the gap in order to have a balanced practice again I plan the following:
On Sundays I'll practice at home. I'll do second series. I'll repeat the back bending poses. I'll do extra back bending poses. As they come first now, I'll have the energy.
For me it's no more enough to hold kapotasana for 5 breaths and then doing the next pose. That way I can try this pose till I'll be 100 years old.
Also in Mysore classes I'll hold the backbending poses longer, I hope I'll have the energy for this. In Mysore classes I practice half of primary first. This gives me the opportunity to work on the vinyasas.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday I'll join our group. On Friday is primary. This is a fixed ritual.
Yet on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday I'll try to close the gap, so that one day backbending and forwardbending are equally developed.

Yoga is about balance. My practice is not balanced. I could realize this so clearly. I'm ready to change this.

Time to is just a new start, a soft beginning, after a break.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Does it make sense to apply the Pareto principle to Ashtanga yoga?

In short: The Pareto principle says that with 20% activity 80% success is accomplished. It is more or less to find out what these 20% activities are. Applying this principle saves time and energy.

I just wondered if it makes sense to apply this principle to yoga and I came to the conclusion that at least when time is short it can make sense to focus on a few exercises that need special attention.

In my case it's trying to stand on my hands, legs bent. It's not necessary to do a warm up, because this is the warm up. Not so much space is required either.

It's Sunday the yoga week begins........

Saturday, August 22, 2015


To hang in a pose is not enough for me. I don't know how often I've heard: Open your chest. Surely, me too I get deeper a bit, when I hang backwards. Gravity helps. Yet when I want to learn such an advanced pose like kapotasana more is necessary.

I use a wall when I want to deepen my back bending. Psychologically it's easier to repeat this exercise with the legs a bit closer to the wall each time when I repeat it. Yet when I took this picture below, this was the limit. My first attempts ended with my hands much higher.

This might surprise, but my first goal is that doing these back bending asanas must feel good. Of course stretching discomfort must be felt, too, if one wants to progress. Yet when breathing properly it should disappear.
This pose feels good. When I get out of it it feels even better. It is as if my spine got an intensive massage.

I'm a fan of slow and steady progress.

Friday, August 21, 2015


The goal is to have the feet on the floor next to the body. Then one can work on opening the chest because there is stability. Trying to bent backward in this pose feels a bit awkward. It's good to lift the knees higher. It stretches the muscles of the legs. 

This is the exercises that I do before bhekasana when I practice at home. I sit between 2 blocks, then I put my feet on it and lie down. I recommend to do this exercise with a lot of care. As soon as the knees hurt one must stop doing it. Yet one can also feel a sensation on the muscles of the legs and this is wished. This exercise helps me to get deeper into the pose called bhekasana. 

Primary series today

At 6:30 am I was on my mat. It's exactly the time when the Mysore class starts. I was not sure if I should go or not. Yet when I was up, I could feel my back. The decision was clear then. It's all so much better. This part of the body that is in trouble is recovering for sure. If there is any pain in my body, I don't speak about discomfort, then this part dictates my day.

I practiced with care and slowly. My practice lasted 2 hours, even though I did only primary and no extra exercises.

Urdhva dhanurasana: I used to lift up and stayed in urdhva dhanurasana for 5 breaths. Then I went down on my head  and walked my hands closer to the feet, then I lifted myself up again.
I have change this a bit. I go down on my head and lift up, then I walk my hands closer. That way I get the feeling how it is when at least one hand doesn't touch the floor. There is no support from the head either. Only the feet and one hand are on the floor for a moment. I want to get used to shift the weight to the feet. The goal is to come up.

Friday is primary (only) on the schedule (worldwide) and it's OK to end the week modest. This makes the practice safe. After an exhausting week the body is exhausted. I didn't drop back today.

I'm glad that I practiced the familiar poses of primary again. As I don't practice the second part of the middle part during the week, I was curious how it would be. It was all OK.

And tomorrow I'll enjoy a day off.

Practicing Ashtanga yoga is a life style.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Repetition is a secret to success

I really take my time for back bending asanas when I practice at home. The three main ingredients to all back banding asanas are:

1. strong legs
2. flexible hips
3. flexible shoulders

I always engage my legs when I do back bending.

Extra asanas are performed to stretch the muscle in front of the hips. To be precise, I do the splits.
Before performing kapotasana I also use my dharma wheel in order to stretch the upper front of my body. The picture shows clearly that I'm stuck here. Pain in the right shoulder prevented me from going further.

I repeat and repeat any exercise that I do.

What I see is that my elbows won't be on the floor when I reach my toes. My path is longer than thought. I must reach the heels. Haha.....

The pose looks much better than years ago.

Repetition, repetition, repetition is the secret to progress.......

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When I get impatient with myself....

When I get impatient with myself I look at my old pictures. In 2011 I had to hold my foot that is behind the head. I had not yet found out how to keep it behind the head without holding it. The trick: The leg must be engaged. It's even easier if the toes are pointed and when the leg moves in this direction. 

All of my forward bending asanas improved because I get a perfect adjustment in paschimottanasana after urdhva dhanurasana from M every day when I practice in the shala. I want to add that I didn't exercise eka pada sirsasana for about 2 years. I started exercising it again since one month. Nevertheless it improved a lot. 

I wanted to write about something else: How to learn?
I think one must study the asanas. If one doesn't question the own practice it can be that one is stuck for decades. When a pose doesn't improve after let's say 3 years something goes wrong!

Examples: Practicing handstand against the wall leads to nothing but frustration. It's the wrong method to learn it. 
Another example: I used to take a strap around my legs when I practiced laghu vajrasana. My ability to come up from this pose faded away that way. My legs got weaker. Instead of keeping the legs parallel with my own strength, they drifted apart, but the strap prevented this. To come up didn't happen either. 

One can use props, but one must really know how to use it. Before using props one must have understood the pose.