Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ashtanga yoga and nutrition

What and how people eat is important. It reflects the society. Wrong nutrition can make ill. We are so lucky in the Western society to have enough food here. Our challenge is to make wise choices.

There is no group without eating and fasting rituals. The Muslims have Ramadan, the Christians have fast days, too. It was Friday. Not so many Christians fast on Friday anymore. This ritual got lost is my observation. Nevertheless it exists. In India I realized that some groups don't eat eggs.

I see two rules re nutrition for Ashtanga yoga practitioners:
1. Ashtanga yoga is practiced on an empty stomach. This is why it's practiced early in the morning.
2. All Yoginis are vegetarians, mainly for ethic reasons.

I'm very conscious that even these two simple rules are already fallen into oblivion. Sometimes I speak with yoginis and they have never heard about Ahimsa (nonviolence). They've never heard about any rule re nutruition, they just do asanas.
Yoginis eat vegetarian/vegan because they care for animals. The effect of practicing asanas is very limited when they are practiced isolated. A life style supports this art of this practice.
Also the second rule often plays no role anymore in modern Yoga and even Ashtanga Yoga. Yoga is a business and owners of yoga studios want to offer classes all day long till late at night.

I think  practicing Ahimsa (non-violence) is very important. It's a pointer also for our asana practice. The asanas are not performed with force. This makes the practice safe and can avoid injuries.

Many yoginis might think being thin or super thin is most important, because then it's easier to perform the asanas. A healthy non-violent diet comes first, being slim is just a consequence.

When practicing anything 7 days a week anything becomes a serious sports. 
Then it's time to think in greater detail about what to eat.
One can learn a lot form other sportive groups. Nutrition is a key to top performance.
1. A vegan diet is perfect. There are top athletes who are vegan.
2. Protein is important for the muscles.
3. Good carbohydrates give energy.

Food can support our activities, it can also make us ill. It can make tired. Food has an influence on our moods..........

Above all food is a pleasure. Enjoy your meals.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What can I do for my muscles?

I think it's not only the SI joint that is not functioning as usual, also the muscles around it suffer in the meantime.

How can I pamper my muscles, I wondered?
1. Muscles love warmth. Then they relax. I was at the sauna again.
2. I take Magnesium and Kalium.
3. I eat more protein, that is red lentils, red beans to name a few edible plants.

4. What is also important  is to rest. This is often overlooked. Muscles need time off. It's nonsense to practice every day 2 and a half hours. Even those who prepare themselves for a marathon do this within shorter practices before the running. It's dangerous and not effective to practice that long every day.

I often go to bed after midnight because I read and read and read. There is so much knowledge outside, knowledge that has not yet reached the Ashtanga community.

This morning I practiced primary. When I'm on the mat I want to find out what is possible. I cannot practice lame. It was possible to take my legs behind my head. I did yoga nidrasana instead of supta kurmasana. This stabilizes the back. This calmed me that I was so flexible. Only setu bandhasana was not possible. My practice was not pain free, but I AM recovering. I AM RECOVERING.

Time to rest. And tomorrow is a day off. Halleluja.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Warmth is good

When I learned that warmth shall be good for my aching back, I had at once an idea. I went swimming and I added a visit to the sauna. Indeed the warmth felt very good. In the heat of this sauna room one feels nothing else but the heat. Breathing is difficult, but deep breathing is recommended in the sauna, too. Finally I sweated. And I breathed. The body relaxed.
After 15 min I yearned for an ice cold shower.

I cannot remember when I had slept so good.

When warmth is good and it seems so I'll repeat this. One day of rest is good. But tomorrow after primary I'll go again.
It's time-consuming. Sometimes priorities move. I'm recovering, but it's all not yet over...

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Modern Times - Controlling

Fitbit Charge HR:  I joined this community.

A few times back I read in a magazine that students of a university have to wear a Fitbit Charge HR. They have to walk 10 000 steps every day. Sport is part of the marks with 20% priority.

In general I think it's good when students, people move. Yet I always thought it's rather part of the fun live than a duty.

I got interested and realized that much more but only steps can be measured. Steps, floors, sleep quality, activities, calories, heart rate.....Especially the heart rate interested me. During Christmas time I measured my heart rate and it was above 100 and I was only sitting at the breakfast table. I know now thanks Fitbit, that all is normal. My average heart rate is 77.

It's possible to join the fitbit community. Different groups formed. It costs about 50 Euro extra. Then it's possible to compare the own data with the data of the community, which is interesting.

Above you see my sleep data. It takes 40 min till I fall asleep. Twice I woke up and 16 times I was uneasy. So I was 8 hours in bed, but slept only 7 hours.
This is exactly how my sleep feels. It's not really calm, too often I feel uneasy.

This tool that is like a wristband has also an alarm clock. It's vibrating to wake up. This is very attentive if one is not alone in bed.

The system gives also rewards and tips.  I'm sure it's motivating. Observing means changing. Observe your breath and at once it's deeper. I live in the fifth floor. Yesterday I took the steps already..... and I always take the elevator.

Oh my, this is funny. For me this is modern times.

Do you 'fitbit', too?
Comments are welcomed.

PS: I found out why my sleep is so uneasy. My back hurts when I turn around. I have to support my back with my hand.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Average heart rate during primary

Today I practiced primary. To practice second series feels better. Yet this is another topic. I wanted to know my heart frequency during the Ashtanga yoga practice.

There is nothing that one cannot meassure these days. So my heart rate goes up till 117. Especially in the beginning and the end. I guess this was urdhva dhanurasana at the end.

The average heart rate is 103. This is not spectacular. Yet this is yoga. The even breath that is a goal during the entire practice doesn't allow that one reaches limits.

On yoga rooms

It often begins with Ganesh, the Indian God who shall be able to remove business obstacles. He often seems to do his work well. So the next step of the owners of yoga shalas is to buy props for the students. There are mats, rolls to relax. Capitalism is not lazy and tries to read from the eyes of the yoginis every wish they might have. In the meantime there exist also props for headstand. They are place-consuming. Soon the storage rooms are overloaded with stuff. What to do? There is still the entrance room and the practice room.
Soon stuff uses up room there, too. This invites to leave also music instruments there after classes. Some teacher don't put the gadgets back to a place where these gadgets belong to. Or is there no room anymore? So other teachers try to move the gadgets from other teachers in a corner.
The better Ganesh works, the more yoginis come and they leave their mats in the shala.

Every shala also needs a shop. Yoginis want something to drink, the latest magazines and of course fancy clothes. Books, jewelery, lotions, parfum...... you name it, you get it in yoga shalas.
Not that I damn this. It's often necessary to have a shop in order to being able to finance the shala. Soccer clubs do merchandising, too and this IS the income source.

Ganesh is only the first God who has the honor to reside in yoga rooms. Soon other Gods are allowed to move in. Oh yes and each yoga style has gurus and masters and pictures from last events. They need a place in the shala in form of pictures on the floor and on the wall.

Some flowers please? Flowers give a yoga room something fresh, isn't it?

Slowly but surely the yoga rooms become a mess.

Who is cleaning behind all that stuff standing around everywhere? Nobody. The next step is that the shalas get dirty. Is there a God who takes care of dust clouds and hair of yoginis?

My personal taste:
A yoga room is empty.
A yoga room is clean.
A yoga room is warm.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Gulp that frog!

Yesterday I met a friend, a yogini and we talked about our yoga teachers during the last decade. We realized a pattern. Every time when we studied with a new teacher we were enthusiastic. This is my teacher now for the eternity (at least for the next decade), I thought. Yet after a year or two the strength and the weaknesses of each teacher and the teaching couldn't be overlooked anymore.

This has been always that way. When I hear what B.K.S. Iyengar tells about his teacher Krichnamacharya, it's not only good stuff. He talks about serious injuries. He was forced to do split poses for spectators and he had never done these poses before, i.e..
Also P. Jois, whose teacher was also Krichanamacharya had horrible stories to tell. He could show scars that happened during yoga shows, when P. Jois had to perform asanas too long on an inappropriate floor with stones.

Each time when I thought that I've leanred everything from a teacher that I could learn, a new teacher came in town. My practice leaped ahead first. Yet the pattern went on. I learned a lot, but every teaching had parts that were even dangerous for my body.

Because this issue is so old like humanity, the wise yogis of the past found a solution. It's self-study. 

'Study what the teacher say,' I read somewhere. This tranlates: experiment with it, find out if it's true. Does it fit to me? Is my body able to integrate this movement. Is there any pain ? What are the tiny steps to learn something....

The teaching can only be a pointer.

Every teacher has a personality. Some are detail oriented, some are serious, others are very ambitious. There are also relaxed ones and so on. This influences the teaching and also the relationship to the students. It can fit very well, it can also create friction if the personalities of student and teacher are not matching.
The yoga experience of the teacher vary a lot.
Someone can be an advanced yogi/yogini, but a lousy teacher and the other way round is true, too.

My view in terms of people (teacher and studends included) is that everybody gives always the best at any given moment, also when it doesn't seem so.

It's easy to go to yoga classes every morning.
It's easy to blame the teaching for being able or being not able to perform asanas or vinyasas. Yet this is not a solution of the described issues.
It's so easy today to get all sort of information for free via the Internet. One day it's time to take responsibility of the own practice. In the beginning of all learning a lot of help and support and teaching is necessary, but after years of learning, one must become independant from this support.
One must learn to learn. This doesn't necessarily mean not to go to yoga classes or workshops, yet more and more the student of yoga must learn to walk by herself, to stand on her own legs.

Finally the student of yoga has to walk his/her path alone.
Self-practice must become part of the path. This is the frog to gulp.

Picture: Leg behind head poses are difficult because of my aching SI. So I practice marichyasana A instead.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

"Come back."

I got an Email from a yogini on Sunday. "Come back," she wrote.
This is a message from universe via this yogini, I think. I know that I want to practice in a group several times every week. But even more important is that I need a school with a teacher who allows me to  practice in a way so that my back is safe. Where can I practice that individually? I know it's teacher #2.

I was almost relieved when I realized that this is indeed a possibility.
Times have changed and what he offers is much more attractive than 2 years back. The Mysore classes start at 7am till 10 am, five or six times a week. I don't want to practice till lunch time anymore.
At 9am I'll be through my practice and I can go to the Viktualienmarkt to have a fruit drink there.

Yesterday I picked up my yoga mat from the 'old' shala. It was emotional difficult. I loved the atmosphere in the shala and also the committed yoginis and the enthusiasm of our teacher. I'll miss it.
The fact is that after 2 years of almost daily yoga practice there, I'm injured. Five years ago I was able to do much more than I'm able to do now.
But I have also learned a lot and what I've learned is very precious. I focus on one thing. It is to have strong legs when doing back bending.

After having picked up the yoga mat yesterday I stopped at a restaurant, it was rather a bar and I ate an awful salad. The leaves were swimming in sour dressing. I read 'Adieu Paris'.
Later I watched TV, so the sitting time was too long. I don't know how I made it to bed. To get from upright position to a horizontal position caused cramps. These painful happenings last not so long, but it's a sign that all can get worse. It limits how I live. I got assured that I cannot go on as usual.

This morning I practiced. Slowly. After kapotasana I did urdhva dhanurasana. This was it. It's easy to practice safe when at home. I hope that I don't feel forced to follow any rules that are not good for me when I'm in a group setting.

For me the Ashtanga rules have one intention: They are an orientation for the mass of yoginis. Individuality is cut out. But I am an individual. I feel free to adjust this practice to MY needs. Especially now.