Sunday, March 01, 2015

The yoga week has started

It's the 1st of March today and Sunday.

I was a bit lazy this morning and even reluctant to get out of the bed. Yet then I saw this orange-blue sky. This opened my eyes, this woke me up, this filled my heart with joy.

During March we have a new teacher. M is indeed a master in organizing things. L just arrived from India, Gokulam.

When I entered the practice room, he, his girl-friend and our teacher S were still practicing. I love to see what dedicated practitioners we have as teachers.

There are so many ways to adjust kapotasana, I was curious how L would adjust me here. He sits behind me, guides my hands to his knees and I try o get deeper pressing the hands against his shin bones. M adjusted me this way,too.

I got also help in urdhva dhanurasana. We quickly found a rhythm. Swinging two times, and coming up the third time. I feel it, I'm so close to come up on my own. I really try hard to get my hands as close as possible to the feet.

The final goal is to do all the asanas alone. Till then I enjoy the luxury of the support of experienced teachers. Might also L have a wonderful time here in Munich.

Friday, February 27, 2015

We became such a sweet Ashtanga yoga community

Today was G's last day here. It was our last Mysore class with him. One can clearly say that he has left traces here in Munich. To experience an intensive learning situation without much talking was excellent. G created an intensive atmosphere. I got excellent adjustments, yet I got also advice how to improve my practice on my own. I think my practice leaped ahead in the last 2 months.

For me the workshop was very informative, too. I don't feel like traveling to India. Nevertheless I love to have a strong connection to this place of the world and to the teaching of Sharath. I want to be informed what's going on there. I know now some important alteration in the series. I wrote about it.

A big thank you to G for his generosity to share his experience with us.

On Sunday the show goes on - another excellent teacher will support us. M is very active in the background and cares that we can go on with our Mysore classes here in Munich.

Yoginis are flexible. Nothing can be held. Life goes on........with highest speed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The bandhas

Vinyasas: This morning I focused on the bandhas when I did the vinyasas. What a glorious idea. The vinyasas were excellent.

Laghu vajrasana: I moved backwards till the head touched the floor and I was able to come up again. This time the knees didn't drift away from each other like yesterday.I so engaged the leg muscles.  I didn't pause when down. I'll repeat this movement for some time and then I'll add one breath at a time.

Kapotasana was lousy. I asked G how far away my fingers were from my toes. When I saw the distance I got frustrated.

Urdhva dhanurasana: It feels good. G is convinced that I'm able to come up. I think he deserves that I come up tomorrow. This pose improved during his stay here in Munich. Both G and M worked a lot with me on this pose. When I see my back bending in pictures I so admire them because they don't give up on me. My back bending looks modest in pictures. Their optimism is contagious. This gives a lot of energy and trust. I believe now that I'll stand up soon from this back bending asana. Yep.

Tomorrow is another Mysore class. On Friday is the last class with G. Then our time with G is over. Too fast, I think. It was an excellent time.

Picture: Doors open.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Laghu vajrasana

I know I have to work on getting stronger legs. The legs have to do a lot of work. They do the main work when moving out of every back bending asana.

I had not much success with laghu vajrasana lately. As soon as my head was on the floor, my body was like a sack of iron. No way to come up. I rather collapsed.
I changed my strategy. I moved backwards and up. Today I moved back till my head touched the floor and then I came up again. The knees drifted apart, but I came up. I consider this as a success.

Later when we sipped tea after yoga a yogini friend gave me a tip. It was to work more on the strength of my legs. So right she is. I didn't know that it was so obvious that this is my weak point.

I enjoy the highlight of today.

'Are you tired?' G asked me today. But I wasn't tired. I go to bed on time, that is 9pm straight. I want to be fit for the practice. Only a few days are left with G. I'm not tired but the back bending asanas are volatile. The performance is changing: sometimes good, sometimes not good. Hahahaha.....

Modern Ashtanga Yoga - a summary

Three things have changed:

1. Surya namaskara: the arms move upwards and downwards in front of the body and not on the sides. We take care of our fellow yoginis.

2. Urdhva mukha svanasana: dirsti is the nose.

3. When binding the arms the one hand is slightly closed and makes an easy fist.

There are also other points that easily fall into oblivion.
- For instande the elbows are outwards when doing paschimottanasana. They don't rest on the floor. :)
- The vinyasas are important - the feet shall not touch the floor when jumping forward and backward, yet there is no handstand between the asanas.
- Feet are pointed during the closing sequence.

The workshop with G really helped me to be up-to-date without traveling to India. :)

Modern Ashtanga Yoga - Dristi in urdhva mukha svanasana

Here is another important message from the workshop last Saturday with G, who is authorized and who practices regularly in India with Sharath.

Dirsti in upward facing dog was third eye.
What happened: The yoginis moved upwards, the eyes looked upwards, too, the front was in wrinkles. In the last years I tried to pull my eye-brows down so that my face relaxed. Nevertheless 99% of the yoginis including myself pulled their faces.

Dristi has changed: it is now the nose in urdhva mukha svananana. 
This is so much better, because one looks downwards slightly, the face remains relaxed.
Today I talked about this change with a yogini. She even thinks that breathing becomes easier when the eyes look at the nose. I agree.

Upward facing dog or urdhva mukha svanasana is a pose that we do rather often as it is a counter pose to all the forward bending asanas of primary. It requires concentration to change the dristi. As it feels so much better I'll integrate this in my practice. It will be a focus of concentration during my next practices, for sure.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Modern Ashtanga Yoga - Surya namaskara B

These days the arms raise in front of the body (and not on the sides). 

This respects the space of the yogini on the next mat. It allows to focus on the own practice because one doesn't have to take care not to interrupt the practice of another yogini. 

Modern Ashtanga Yoga - surya namaskara

Last Saturday we had a workshop with G who is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher. He informed us how Ashtanga yoga is taught these days in Mysore/Gokulam.

Some alterations make so much sense.

When I did the surya namaskaras I usually moved my arms above the head on the sides of my body. This is absolutely OK when the shala is not crowded. Sometimes when one mat was next to the other with a few inches distance only, I took care. So my attention was divided. Sometimes I raised my arms in front of me, sometimes on the sides. But why make it so difficult.
Sometimes one had to fear that the arms of the yoginis next to me met me and the other way round, too.

In India the shala is always crowded. There is almost no distance between the mats. The arms rise above the head in front of the body these days. That's what they teach. It feels absolutely perfect. In Ashtanga yoga we don't arch back. We stretch the body upwards. To rise the arms in front of the body doesn't make the movement more difficult.

When folding forward the arms remain stretched. There is no prayer position in between. I saw this not only once. Yet this is not what one shall do.

I think that this alteration is also an improvement. It respects the space of the yogini next to us.

Modern Ashtanga Yoga - about the details

On Saturday we had a workshop with G who is studying Ashtanga yoga with Sharath. Many times he was in India, Gokulam. He wanted to inform us how the rules/guidelines are these days.

Sometimes it's also about the details.

I think a decade ago the details were neglected. But with so many students these days and everybody wants to know exactly what to do, Sharath also gave guidelines re the details.

The fist: So, when binding and one hand holds the wrist of the other arm, the hand of this arm closes slightly to a fist. I used to stretch it. It feels comfortable to close the hand slightly.

This alteration feels good. I'll integrate it into my practice.

Oh, when doing the twists of primary (Marichyasana C and D) the hand reaches for the thigh or leg, no easy fist here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Primary today - I flew through the series

Surprise, surprise.

This morning I flew through the series.

It's always a highlight when flow is experienced.

Four times I lifted the body up to exercise urdhva dhanurasana. I held the pose for 5 long breaths. On Fridays I don't drop back. I enjoy these days when I take it easy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Don't push too hard, when you are tired.

My practice lasted 20 min shorter today than usual. I was indeed tired. The mind always tries to find reasons why something is so. Perhaps 3 excellent practices in a row were enough and the body had to integrate the depth of these practices.

No adjustments for kapotasana today, which was very responsible and I was glad, almost relieved. I exercised this pose 3 times on my own, of course with energy (without energy I cannot do this pose) yet without pushing.
I took it easy today. Indeed.

Urdhva dhanurasana was great, I didn't aim for the limits either, but I always want to do this pose:
- I lifted myself up from lying on the floor - 4 times - each time I brought my hands closer to the feet.
- I dropped back 3 times alone
- I dropped back 3 times alone, yet I got help to come up. My understanding of how to stand up gets better every day.
- 3 times I moved backwards, arms crossed in front of the chest. We get hold to do this back bending asana.
- Then I moved backwards with arms crossed in front of the chest, yet in the last moment one stretches the arms. For this position one gets held, too. I walked closer to the feet with the hands. The adjustment is to pull against the hips. One holds against this. This strengthens the necessary muscles. And up....

Thirteen times I did back bending. This shall be enough. And this was a tired day today.

If you want to see some of my pictures click on:

Don't forget: Tomorrow is a moon day.