Saturday, July 31, 2010

At home again....

An 75 year old man married a 25 year old woman.
The best friend of the man asked his friend: "What have you done that she is so enthusiastic about you?"
He: "I told her I was 95 years old."



Yep, I had an entertaining evening. Quickly I must go to bed now. Tomorrow we drive to the Alpes, to Herzostand with E's relatives.

No yoga today, but cleaning, cleaning, cleaning....


Today is Saturday and it is my yoga free day. Not that I have nothing to do. I was busy till now and it is 4:30pm already. And now I need a break that I spend in front of the PC. It was my cleaning day. I built up the shelf. I needed my arm muscles to do this, was I glad that I am so strong due to my yoga practice.

It is so great here in my villa motley, it's clean here, and I could put a lot of books on the new shelf. One pile of books I must sell online. Only 3 piles of books are still under my desk. Ah, I'd say this was a successful day.

I almost broke my second toe this morning. This is a warning. Most accidents happen in the housholds. I stumbled over my own red handbag. The grip came between my toes and I couldn't walk anymore. In the last second before falling I could free my foot. It hurt, I even had to express this pain loudly. Till now it hurts. I just tested a surya namaskara A. Sigh, it is possible.

"To become essential" was the motto of the day. I gave away a lot of clothes, the process of decluttering must go on. I walk through the rooms and I am somehow satisfied, our work can be seen, and our work can be smelled. It's freshness that I sense everywhere. My balcony doors are also open. Ah.

There is still a lot to do: no coffee is at home and a few other things need to be refilled, too.

This evening E and I will meet relatives of him, very nice ones. We'll go to our favourite Italian restaurant. That was it then........:)

Friday, July 30, 2010

How often shall one practice the surya namaskaras?

How often shall one practice surya namaskara A and surva namaskara B? (Thanks to S I know this):

1. As long as a yogi/yogini does not practice the complete first series it is the rule that he/she does 5 surya namaskara As and 5 surya namaskara Bs.
2. Later, when the first series is complete, one practices only 5 surya namaskara As and 3 surya namaskara Bs.


This makes also sense, as the first series aims at building strength for different reasons:

1. Without strength some asanas are simply not possible.
2. Strength and engaging the muscles protect from injuries.
3. We need strenght also in daily life, not only flexibility.



How do we build strength when practicing the first Ashtanga series:
1. Strength can be build by practicing the surya namaskara As and Bs 5 times.
2. When performing an asana muscles are engaged, other body parts are open and relaxed, but there are always muscles that are engaged. An example: When doing paschimottanasana the thighs are engaged. Slowly this builds up strenght.
3. We build strength when we practice the vinyasa not only between the different asanas, but also between sides.
4. The bandhas are also muscles to be engaged.

To engage the leg muscles when I  do the standing poses and the sitting poses is something I discovered rather late. It makes a difference. The poses become stable. It is as if I give myself an adjustment. The feet come easy in the right position.

Today was the last Mysore class with M for the next two months. I will practice much more often alone during that time. I have a plan, but this is another post. I practiced with care today, as I am not 100% on top. Nevertheless back bending was excellent. I understand the movement now. Tomorrow is my day off and on Sunday I will practice as usual at home. My overstretched muscles and swollen joints and overstretched knee ligaments can relax and heal as I will practice a bit more modest at home than in a Mysore class. Surely.

David Swenson and his bible:

Last led class at yum yoga yesterday evening


During the day I way very busy with chores. I had to carry another book shelf to our home. Five times I had to go to the shop to get some shelf parts. At 5pm was our last led class at yum yoga, so I cancelled my own home practice in the morning.

We were four yesterday at the led class. My body is not at the top. Joints, right leg, left knee hurt. Nevertheless it is good to move the body, it is good to practice, but more modest, more attentively. All my discomfort is temporarily and this consoles me. I am very happy how resilient my body is, sometimes it is weak. I am in peace with it and give my body some extra love, like a hot bath with sandal wood salt yesterday in the evening.

Today is the last Mysore class before the summer break. Of course I'll go. I will practice attentively. It is likely good that summer break is coming. My home practices are more modest. My body can relax a bit more and it can heal.

Conclusion: Some discomfort does not mean that I have to stop practicing at all. Adjustments to the given situation are necessary, that's it.

Something for the mind:

Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How often shall a yogi/yogini take a shower?


This seems to be a sophisticated topic.
But even Mr B.K.S. touched the topic in his famous book "Light on yoga".
I have already written a review about this book:

Re showering and bathing Mr B.K.S. Iyengar writes in "Light on yoga", page 53, point 4 (freely translated by me):

Bathing: Asanas are easier to practice, if one has taken a bath before practicing. After the exercises the body is sweaty and one should take another bath after 15 min. A bath or a shower before and after the exercises refreshes body and mind.

* Of course I take a shower in the morning when I go to a Mysore class. This is also a matter of courtesy.
* When I practiced alone at home ,I thougth a shower afterwards would be enough. I change this, because it feels good to step freshly showered on the mat.
* If a shower is part of the ritual, it is also easier to start practicing.
* It's not about washing and cleaning the body. It is simply to rinse the sweat of the night and to feel refreshed.
* I know some yogis/yoginis who take a bath (with salts even) before practicing. It makes the body soft surely, even softer than a shower only. It is too time-consuming for me.
* I always shower with cold water at the end. This wakes me up refreshes me. It's a habit that I started decades ago.
* Too much soap is not good for the body, it dries out the skin. Take care. To clean the body once a day should be enough. In the evening I have my cleaning session in the bathroom, I wash my hair then, my feet get a special treatment. After having shrubbed them, I put oil on them.

In sum I am under the shower 3 times a day: before the yoga practice, after the yoga practice and in the evening for a longer cleaning session. This shall be enough. Really!!!!

So and now I take a quick shower to prepare my body for a yoga practice and to feel fresh.

Comments are very welcomed.

B.K.S. Iyangar and his standard work "Light on yoga":

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last second series in a Mysore class before summer break


Today I'll go to a Mysore class again. It's Wednesday and I'll practice second series. Next week the summer break starts for two months. That means that some poses won't progress. Kapotasana probably will get worse, in best case I will hold my current level. But that's how it is, up and down.
It can be also good to practice on my own again, this is finally a goal.

Focus of the mind:
1. When I inhale I always focus on the breath

2. When I exhale
* first I check if I'm doing the asana as it is supposed to be (correct body position, relaxed neck, straight back, feet in the right position, hands?) and I am conscious of the breath,
* then I check if I use my bandhas and I am conscious of the breath
* then I check if my leg muscles are engaged and I am conscious of the breath,
* with the fourth exhaling I try to remember to relax the face and I am conscious of the breath,
* finally I enjoy being in that asana and I am conscious of the breath

I do not count, but I am sure I am 5 breaths in each asana.


Before doing the next pose, I try to remember the sanskrit name of the pose. This is also a good exercise for the mind.

The breath initiates the next movement, always...........

Thinking circles topics of my yoga practice. Nothing else, most of the time. Sometimes blog titles come up.

Afterwards the rest of my life comes into consciousness again.......all fiction, I think, all fiction.

Gregor Maehle: 

Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Laghu vajrasana




Laghu vajrasana: To get down is somehow always possible. The challenge is to come up from this pose.
My new insight is, that it is easier to come up when I press the hips forward and not upward.

I practice the pose twice (more often would be even better, to build strength):
1. First I arch back till the head is on the floor and I stay in that position  for 5 breaths. Once I am in that pose for a while, there is no way to come up.
2. When I practice this pose a second time, I arch back as far as possible with an exhale, with the next inhaling I come up. I use my hands as support. I engage my leg muscles as much as possible. The head is the last to come up.

Jed McKenna:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ashtanga yoga

I wanted to take a pic of myself doing yoga, but it was enough this morning. I went to a Mysore class and practiced second series. It was an intensive practice and my body has enough now. Haha.
I feel a bit stress for the time being (there is so much I want to do), but as soon as I stepped on the mat this morning, I was calm and I practiced slowly. I took away all the speed that I feel. Slowly I inhaled and exhaled and slowly I moved my body with the breath. I have time, I thought. The morning are dedicated to my Ashtanga practice. Nothing else. Afterwards I can hurry again.
When I practice slower all the asanas seem to be easier.

At the end I got surprised by M. He taught me the last asana of the second series. I have to look up the name: it is supta urdhva pada vajrasana (to remember the Sanskrit name of this asana is an exercise for the mind.). My Ashtanga wish for 2010 is almost fulfilled. I wanted to exercise all the asanas of the second series. Only the headstands are missing now. Oh, I am not able to do all these poses, but I exercise them. I am convinced: only when I exercise them I will finally be able to do them.

My practice was excellent today, not because it was a perfect practice. My arm joints hurt and were swollen. Why ever. My body has the right to hurt from time to time. My practice was a perfect practice because I was sooooooooo content with what was. Accept what is, I think so often, and today I thought it's great that I can be on my mat that I can move my body. I was content with my current level and possibilities. What was possible at that given moment was simply OK. I adjusted my practice to the moment and how I felt today (joints hurt). I focused on the breath and was attentive. I knew that it was good to practice and so it was. These Ashtanga series are a gift for the world.

The last week

It's the last week before the summer break, before M goes on holidays. Then we, the passionate Ashtangis here in Munich have to practice on our own. Some of us have organised already a room so that we can practice together at least once a week.

Yesterday I didn't practice. Yesterday is over. Today I will practice because I go to a Mysore class. I have the feeling that it would be good to schedule my day. This is already a plan for today. I will make a list of all the things I want to do and a list of all the things I have to do.

Back to yoga: Back to the breath, back to exercise focus. I don't know a better focus than the breath (also off the mat). Beside this I want to practice with a relaxed face while I engage my leg muscles when I stretch and balance.

So, due to lack of time, this will be a naked post without a picture, without an ad, without a link to a fellow blogger, without a link to an older post of mine. Hahahaha.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Workshops for Ashtanga yoga practitioners


Many yoga teachers travel around the world to give workshops, so do the Ashtanga students.

If you want to know what's going on worldwide, visit the side www.ashtanga.com .
Here are the workshops sorted by country: A bit of planning ahead is necessary as many workshops are soon fully booked.

The teacher who are offering the workshops have been practicing Ashtanga yoga for decades.
They have all been in Mysore to study in "THE SHALA".

Guruji: A portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois through the eyes of his students:

Primary on Sunday


It is Sunday and my Ashtanga yoga week starts. Primary is on the schedule.

My goal for today: Not to take breaks off the mat during the exercise.

My focus for today: The breath, deep even breathing and the correct vinyasa count.

My attitude for today: Enjoy, it's fun

(BTW, my vegan blog is updated and I cooked something really delicious yesterday.)

The heart of yoga: developing a personal practice by T.K.V. Desikachar:
Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I was searching for Ashtangis and I found artists


I was searching for Ashtanga yoga blogs this morning. (On Saturdays I do not practice.) As I recommended a few days ago I went to "my profile" on this blog and clicked on "Ashtanga yoga". A list of 1700 people came up, who mentioned Asthanga yoga as their interest. What I found out was that many of them are artists: writers, painters, photographers or a combination of it.

I wonder now if Ashtanga yoga makes us creative?
This would be an nice side effect, beside the flexibility and strength that we develop when we practice Ashtanga yoga.

Picture: an impression of the Greek restaurant.

Creativity:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ashtanga yoga, a mental exercise?


Ashtanga yoga a mental exercise? Yes, yes, yes, also.

It starts right from the beginning on.
1. Not to discuss if I practice or not is the first exercise.
2. Then I usually focus on the breath, but it can be also something else I focus on. And fact is it is not only the breath I focus on, but also the bandhas, the correct performance of an asana, the straight back, dristhi and and and......
3. To stay committed for the entire practice is the next mental exercise. Not to leave the mat has something to do with concentration, not only with needing a break because the body is exhausted.

Friday (today) was my last Mysore class of this week.
I had again a most intensive Ashtanga yoga week, my body needs a rest day tomorrow. Also the practice today was great. The attitude today was: take it easy. But as soon as I was on the mat, I was committed and went to my limits. I sweated a lot. I could be in handstand for 5 breaths without being held. Back bending felt good. When it was over I was glad. I know much more what it means to go to the limits. I engage the muscles i.e., I go into the asanas as far as I can, I breath deeply.
Yeah. A day off now.

I enjoy the fresh air. It is raining here and I wait till E will come home from work. We'll go to the Greek restaurant this evening. Finally a bit time for us again.

Manduka yoga mat:

Thursday, my most intensive yoga day


1. In the morning I practiced at home. I practiced till kapotasana. Back bending shall improve. At 11:30 my yoga session had to be finished as I expected a  plumber. Hahahaha. My body was flexible, I sweated a lot.

2. In the evening I went to a led class and this was also a very intensive yoga session. Very intensive and sweaty. My new yoga clothes (green and dark lilac) were wet afterwards. Sweating is part of yoga.
I complimented a yogi because of his progress that I've seen. He complimented me back. But it is true, we all improved. We all leaped ahead. This is the work of teacher M: His teaching is generous, individual, supporting, experienced, giving..............(I could go on and on.)
I know that my practice has improved:
- I got stronger, I engage my legs nowadays when practicing.
- I take care of the right vinyasa count.
- I practice much more asanas (second series) which had a positive influence on the asanas of the first series.I got more flexible.
- Especially my back bending got better due to the right adjustments.

Oh, and now I prepare myself mentally for a Mysore class, the last one of this week.
Shall my attitude be: take it easy.

E is back, and we'll go out this evening. Hahahaha, yeah, this is wonderful.

Picture: an ice cream parlor in the north of Germany, offering also vegan ice cream


Gregor Maehle:

How to find good yoga blogs.......


A warning in the beginning. Know that this can be a  long long reading session:

1. Yoga blogs, even Ashtanga yoga blogs you can find at www.asthangi.net .
2. Many yogis/yoginis link their blogs to other blogger with the same topic. Scroll down and often further blogs can be found.
3. Google: when you google "yoga blog" you will find me first....:)
4. Join twitter and search for "yoga", "Ashtanga". Yogis gather there, too.
5. Go to "my profile" here on blogger. Click on my interest "Asthanga yoga". Then further blogger come up with the same interest. The latest updated blog comes first.

And when you have read enough blogs, come back the next morning to my blog........:)

Problogger:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saraswathi Rangaswamy

Yes, you deserve to get the latest news from my blog.
Today I got an email (not only me, but me, too) by Daniel Heras. He accepted, I can forward it to you.
Here it is:


Just thought I'd let everyone know about Saraswathi's upcoming visit to NY!

Hope to see you there!

http://ayny.org/workshops

-----------------------

Ashtanga Yoga with Saraswathi Rangaswamy, September 8 - September 12, 2010

K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga USA (KPJ USA) and Ashtanga Yoga New York (AYNY) are extremely happy to announce that Saraswathi Rangaswamy will be teaching one week of Ashtanga Yoga classes in New York City from September 8 – September 12, 2010. Please note that classes on 9/8 and 9/12 will be led classes, and the classes on 9/9, 9/10 and 9/11 will be Mysore style. Location TBA.


Additionally, September 11 is Saraswathi’s 69th birthday, and we will celebrate by throwing a birthday party for her at 7 pm, at AYNY, 430 Broome St., 2nd floor.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
It is surely a great event. If I weren't in Brasil I'd be in NY........Have fun.

Guruji: A portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois:

Ashtanga yoga home practice


I quote:
"The next level of yoga is to develop a home practice. And if you never do that, well, it’s kind of like only seeing your husband out at bars. It’s like he’s hanging out at the same bars he’s been hanging out at for ten years, and his bar friends are getting younger and sloppier and more intolerable." Joslyn Hamilton in elephant journal.
Please note: this quote is out of context. The title of the article is: My yoga breakup. I only liked the metaphor and I think it is good to have a home practice.

One of the huge advantages of yoga  is: I only need a mat and some fancy and comfortable clothes, then I can practice where ever I am, whenever I want. It is something for independent people (free birds). The Mysore classes prepare for a home practice.

This would be my recommendation: From the first yoga class on, start also your home practice. It can be enough to do a few sun salutations. But this is the beginning to build something for yourself.

I am ready for a "morning practice". I am not sure if I can go to a led class this evening. I get something repaired here, and one never knows when these craftsmen arrive. Grghhhhh.

I will focus on back bending. It can be that I only practice till kapotasana........to open, to let go, to be fearless are the thoughts that accompany my back bending exercises.

Sri K. Patthabhi Jois: Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Practice slowly


"Practice slowly", M told us today in the Mysore class after our common chanting. I added for myself: "And take it easy". It was one of the practices where I was already happy only because I went through all these asanas. Already after having greeted the sun (slowly of course), I felt how a few drops of water were running down my body. "I am sweating," I thought.
Even on such a lame practice day I had highlights: pincha mayurasana was good i.e.
I knew that I would practice till the end, even though it was hard today. When in a group I don't stop in the middle of a practice (group pressure.....hahahaha).

To open the shoulders and the chest is my challenge. Some additional exercises are planned. It is important for urdhva dhanurasana and kapotasana. I have the feeling as if I need 4 more years till I'll be able to do kapotasana. However, to bend backwards feels good.
I do not carry around books in my handbag anymore, so that my shoulder can relax. I don't read anymore during commuting time as it is a bit complicated with my glasses that I need for reading. Why carrying books around then. I can observe my breath when I am bored.....hahahahaha.

Yeah, I'll take a nap now.

A portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois trough the eyes of his students:
Thank you for buying at amazon via my blog.

Learning the next pose, gomukhasana


I sit in virasana and exercise the hand and arm position of gomukhasna. Also gomukhasana is not an easy pose. To sit  on the heels while the legs are crossed is difficult. I am not sure if this is a healthy asana. I will have to find out which positive effect this asana has.

Oh oh oh , time flies,............
I am in a hurry now........

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eka pada sirsasana - preparation 2nd part


Yeah, when I am on my back the leg remains there where it is supposed to be. The left side is easier than the right side. I stay a bit longer than 5 breaths in that pose. Eat less, exercise more, I read in Gregor Maehles second book. Hahahahahaha.

Gregor Maehle:

Thank you for buying at amazon via my blog. :)

Eka pada sirsasana - preparation 1st part


I studied the book "Asthanga yoga - The intermediate series" by Gregor Maehle yesterday in the evening. I  found some good tips for eka pada sirsasana. I still must hold my leg when it is behind my head. It simply won't stay there alone.
In case one is not able to do eka pada sirsasana Mr Maehle recommends two warm up exercises before doing the pose. One is seen on the picture: The shin bone is supposed to be parallel (not 90°). The other leg is stretched. The hips remain parallel and go down to the floor.
Do this pose and you will feel it. It works.

Gregor Maehle:

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

The book is now available at amazon (US, UK, Germany).
Many of us have waited already till it's on the market. Now it is.
I order it now. Done!

Thank you for buying via my blog.


Sri K. Pattabhi Jois:

Titti A, titti B, titti C......


It's not titti A, titti B, titti C, but tittibhasana A, tittibhasana B, tittibhasana C.
It's not kapo, but kapotasana.
It's not laghu, but laghu vajrasana.
It's not eka pada, but eka pada sirsasana.

I have so much time to say the entire name of the asana.

Yeah, I am ready for the day.

Asthanga Yoga, The intermediate series by Gregor Maehle:

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Do you want a new pose?"


M: Do you want a new pose?
Me: Yes! It is Gaumukhasana then.
M: OK.

Yeah, I like to practice all the poses of the second series. One pose is still missing after gaumukhasana. It is supta urdhva pada vajrasana. It's good to get used of this name as soon as possible, it seems difficult to remember. And I won't forget these headstands. But then I am through. Then I can practice all the asanas of the second series. This was my Ashtanga yoga goal for 2010. No, I am not able to do all the poses as it is supposed to be. I am learning these asanas. I am convinced: only when I exercise them I will be able to do them one day comme il faut. I am not at all a fan of waiting. But if M wouldn't have asked me, I would have been happy as well. I am so far already. I was so supported during the last months. I got so much more than I could have expected. I am very very happy with everything. I mean I want to build my jobs around the Mysore classes, this speaks volumes. Nevertheless it pleased me to hear him asking. How nice, to ask.......:)

Ah, I had an excellent practice this morning. Especially urdhva dhanurasana was good, at least it felt so.
When I do tittibasana B I don't use a strap anymore. This is also progress. Oh yes, I sweated. Summer time is great for yoga.

And now I am studying the book by Gregor Maehle to get some additional information about this pose.

Monday

Yeah, up.
I practiced primary yesterday in the afternoon. I practiced with care as my right leg is still overstretched. It takes long till it is healed. I must be patient. This afternoon practice prepared my body for the intensive second series, today. Only 2 more weeks and then M is on vacation. Then I will have to practice alone without these perfect adjustments. I hope my back bending won't stagnate......

Yes, today I go to a Mysore class. It is as if I go to work, only much much better.

Yesterday I got a comment on a post from 2006. A reader started reading my blog from the beginning on and read about my challenge to be focused. He (Krishna) gave good advice, I like to forward it:

Ashtanga yoga is all in one:
1. This means we exercise the body with the asanas.
2. We do pranayama - uddjay breathing.
3. We exercise the mind with the dristhis and with focus on the breathing i.e..
This can be very challenging especially in the beginning. It can be helpful to practice these disciplines isolated. I think this is true.
It motivates me to integrate an short evening routine with a few sun salutations (so that sitting in lotus pose becomes easy), 10 min pranayama and 10 min meditation.

Thank you for buying your items via my blog:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ashtanga yoga

I got up at 6am. It is Sunday and my yoga week begins. Primary series is on the schedule.
Oh, I still feel a bit tired.

Soon I will step on the mat and I will exercise my body and my mind.
For my mind it is a concentration exercise, an awareness exercise. To have focus intensifies a practice. It is a useful ability off the mat, too.

A tip: Start your home practice from the beginning on. Especially Ashtanga yoga with the series and the Mysore classes prepare you for this.

Doug Swenson: David Swenson and Doug Swenson are brothers and they both practice Ashtanga yoga. Doug was the first Ashtanga yoga teacher of David.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

David Swenson

A few days ago I wrote about my first yoga book. It was "Light on yoga" by B.K.S. Iyengar.
Twenty-five years ago only the yoga style by B.K.S. Iyengar was known here in Germany.
I haven't heard of anything else.

Asthanga yoga is a yoga style that becomes more and more popular. I discovered Asthanga yoga 7 years ago. I had to learn from books. My first Ashtanga yoga book was the one by David Swenson "Ashtanga yoga". I get back to it till now, and so I will do the next decade, shall I practice Ashtanga yoga so long (I fear I will.). This book deserves the title "The Ashtanga Bible".

Why is this book so excellent:
1. First and second series are described.
2. The book also contains "short forms" for busy people.
3. To each asana is a picture of the pose, the sanskrit name and the translation into English
4. The book is a spiral book. This has the huge advantage that I can have it open on my sofa. In the beginning of my practice I couldn't remember the order of the asanas. So this was very helpful.
5. David practices Ashtanga yoga for decades. The shown asanas are perfect.
6. He has recommendations how to learn an asana.
7. He also shows poses that can be practiced before the too challenging asana can be practiced.
8. It's a step by step guide, neverhteless easy to read.
9. I could go on and on.
10. Your comments are welcomed. I am sure many practitioners have this excellent Asthanga yoga book. Why do you love this book?

It is available on amazon.com, amazon.de and amazon.co.uk.

David Swenson, a passionate Ashtanga yoga practitioner has written down his experiences gathered over decades. Buy it, it's worth it.
It IS possible to learn from books.

Here it is:

Saturday evening


F greeted me with the words: "In my next life I want to be reborn as a woman and as the girlfriend of E."
He continued: "Then I could travel a lot, I would also write a book."

We laughed. F's wife envied me a bit because E wanted me to accompany him on his business trips to the US and everywhere in the past, while F travelled alone. I think F made more or less an allusion that I do not work for an employer for the time being and not that he could travel a lot as the girlfriend of E, because he is travelling a lot. His wife has seen the world, too, but I travelled a bit more.

I am so sure that F wouldn't be happy at all if he had to live my life in the last 13 years or now.
I am so sure we are all in love with our own issues, our own life challenges, our own problems, our own joys, nobody likes to have those of someone else.

F has gained weight again. He is convinced it is because of the beverages. And: He is playing golf now and no more tennis. This can also be a reason for the additional kilos. But we are all convinced that it is good to be in the fresh air.
I couldn't convince A to join me to one of my "hardcore" yoga classes. It would be so good for her back.

Our topics (as always) but always interesting: health, travelling, jobs, people we know, food, age (A has her 50th birthday this year and she is not so enthusiastic about it. It's not that bad, I tried to convince her).

We enjoyed the full programme as feared: starter, main course, dessert, wine, grapa. I tried something new yesterday: pasta with chantarelle. As so often I was surprised how good it was to try something new. It needn't to be penne al'arrabiata each time I am in an Italian restaurant. It's advisable to try something new from time to time, not only re food. The result can be surprisingly good.

Today I don't practice yoga. I love it. Suddenly I have time.......

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ashtanga primary series takes 80 min


Firday is my primary day. I went to a Mysore class. It was a sweaty practice this morning. Excellent so to say.
I looked at the watch:
1. For primary I need 70 min without 10 min relaxation.
2. For second series I need 90 min without relaxation even though 2 asanas and the headstands are still not practiced. When I practice second series I need more time, because I practice slower as it is more challenging than primary.

A dialogue with E


Me: Darling, do you know that I look rather similar to your mother? (Pointing at a picture of G.)
He: Your nose is more curved.





Hahahahahaha.........

An impression on what's going on at night in front of the Glypthotek


On the picture the building on the other side of the street can be seen. I was sitting in front of the Gypthotek. It was not less crowded there, but it doesn't matter. People sit there together, calmly, enjoying the warm evening. The place is almost downtown. I usually bring a blanket (one of the blankets that I wanted to sell a few years ago). The stones are a bit hard for me to sit there. Not that I am mollycoddled, but I appreciate a certain comfort.

Time to move on.......

At Four Points with B


B picked me up from led class yesterday in the evening. There was a reopening party at "Four Points" and she was invited. We like to go to such events. It's an opportunity to meet again, to chat and to enjoy free drinks....hahahaha. For me it was water, my favourite one: Pellegrino.
A few years ago we learned together about accounting in that hotel, we prepared this huge accounting test and passed it.

I couldn't convince her to try a Ashtanga yoga class. I fear our chanting was too esoteric for her. Hahahahaha.

At 10 I was at home. E was still out. Never he is at home when I come home later, I thought. Hahahaha. He was at a party, too. A minute later he was back and we went to the Glypthotek to sit around there for a while. It's party time there at night, too. Students bring their food and drinks. Sometimes someone plays the guitar. Some guys light candles. Some youngsters kiss each other in a way that one thinks that more will happen later. Party time in other words.

Of course I asked B if I may publish this picture.

There are other possibilites to move the body than doing Ashtanga yoga: To go by bicycle is one:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Start loving tomatoes


It's such a simple meal, it's even redundant to write down the recipe. During summer time it's easy to get fresh and ripe tomatoes. They taste delicious and yeah you can eat as much as you can.
This was my main meal.
I usually eat a small breakfast, one main mail (lunch or dinner) and one more time (a bit) when I feel hungry.

Hahahaha, this post was for my vegan blog, I confused the blogs, hahahahaha......

The vegan table:

Enough


Shall this be enough yoga in the morning. I practiced till kapotasana. All the surya namaskaras were exercised, also the standing asanas, then the asanas till kapotasana and urdhva dhanursana. I finished with a few closing asanas. I will go to a led class this evening. So this is enough yoga for now.

I even did some filming. It frustrated me. I thought I'd be able to arch back much more. Ah, this little movie made me modest again. Back bending, back bending......what a challenge.

Picture: Lolasana is seen. It is a preparation to jump through. It's a strength building asana. Yes, it is.

Pranayama with B.K.S. Iyengar:

Learning by studying yoga pictures

Yesterday I published two pictures: one of B.K.S. Iyengar doing navasana and one of me doing navasana. I compared the pictures and I learned a lot.

I realized:
1. In my first pictures I didn't engage the bandhas. This motivated me to take the picture again. The bandhas are important.
2. The finger of the hands are together, also the thumb does not point to another direction as the fingers.
3. I saw that my head goes a bit forward. This makes the pose probably a bit easier. Neck and back are supposed to be in line.
4. I saw that my feet are somehow. The soles of the feet of Mr Iyengar are parallel to the wall. This is not unimportant as it shows that there is tension in the entire body. There is control over the entire body.

Iyengar yoga focuses on the precise performance of the asanas, while Ashtanga yoga focuses more on the flow, the uddjay breathing, the vinyasas. I think the correct performance of the asanas is also important for Ashtangis. I can learn a lot from the Iyengar style.

I recommend "Light on yoga" by B.K.S. Iyengar. 
Thank you for buying your amazon items via my blog.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

B.K.S. Iyengar, the master and me




Light on yoga by B.K.S Iyengar was my first yoga book (fifth edition in German language, 1986) and I still use it. In the back of the book are 200 pictures of asanas performed by B.K.S. Iyengar. The sanskrit names are used and written to each picture.

Very interesting is the chapter about illnesses and healing asanas.
I juts looked up what is recommended if someone has low blood pressure: I read that Salamba -sarvangasana, sirsasana, halasana, karnapindasana, paschimottanasana and other asanas are good to perform. Next to each asana is a number so that the appropriate picture can be found easily.

The asanas are described very precisely and it is written what is the effect of each asana.

There is also a chapter about asana classes. I don't need this as I practice the Ashtanga series.

--------------------------------------------------------

Pictures are so helpful: I did the above pose without engaging the bandhas. I had to repeat it. B.K.S Iyengar's thumb has another position. To compare pictures can help to improve the own practice. Always my thumb....it has a life of its own.

Light on yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar:

Ashtanga yoga - second series today


Oh, my practice was excellent at the Mysore class. Second series was on the schedule. The heat here helps so much to bend the body in all possible and impossible directions. Oh, I sweated a lot.
When M says "good" when he makes kapotasana out of me, I do not answer back (also when it feels differently when I do this pose).
I gave my best. This is not possible each time I practice. But today oh, the body and the mind practiced together and supported each other. Ah this feels good. Even mayurasana improved a bit......

To practice daily is the best what one can do.

Two newcomers were part of the group. It's good when we become more.

V has bought. It was her last day with us. Change everywhere. Soon she will be in India. I will miss her. I loved her calm and steady practice.

Second series:

A morning


I am up early. At 5:30 I woke up already. I didn't sleep so well. It is sometimes so.

This morning before yoga class I will meet a fellow yogini. She has a one way ticket to India. In the middle of August she will fly and today is the last opportunity to meet. This meeting has the potential to bring me to India again to new places (next year perhaps). She will live in an Ashram somewhere in the north of India. There they practice Ashtanga yoga, too. I am very curious what she will tell me.

I'm looking forward to each Mysore class before the summer break. I need the adjustments in kapotasana and urdhva dhanurasana.

Eat healthy: Summer time is a good time to start with healthy eating habits.

Thank you for buying your amazon items via my blog. Click, buy and enjoy.

Buddha statue:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pashasana

Only my blanket separates my heels from the floor. But I still need the blanket, otherwise I roll back.
20 sec I had to get into this pose. This is so not at all much time: stepping on the mat, exhaling while going into the pose, going back on the heels, inhaling, done. To hesitate only for a fracture of a second means the 20 sec are over before I am in that pose. Yeah, the fingers hook, one day one hand will hold the wrist of the other hand.

1. Ah the heat is good and helpful.
2. My weight pleases me, too.

3. I think I can still work on the ankle between upper feet and shin bone. To do this I make downward facing dog, feet step away from the hands till the heels cannot touch the floor anymore. Then I try to bring them down. When they touch the floor, I step the feet a bit more backwards and again I try to bring the heels to the floor.

I'm up early


Also when I make the picture smaller, it won't become better. I must remove the table from the balcony.

It's a strenght building exercise on the picture. It can be exercised each time when I jump through. Bandhas are used. The hands are placed in the middle of the thights. It's a bit easier when the fingers point a bit inwards.

One minute before the alarm clock could wake me up, I opened my eyes and I felt ready for the day. I was in bed on time. This makes it easier to get up at 6 the next moring. Hahaha, what news.

This morning I'll practice at home, second series. The weather will help me. It's going to become a warm summer day again.

Oh I have a long to do list today..............shall I be productive today.......

Getting things done:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hips

During the last days I was thinking about hips. The longer I thought about hip flexibility the more I didn't understand the word opening the hips (perhaps it's a language misunderstanding). Flexibility of the movement of the legs is the goal, in all directions: forwards, sidewards, backwards.

Paschimottonasana: I tried to keep the back straight. It's a movement in the hips that is wished. This has an effect on the hamstrings. They are lengthened. To protect the body from injuries it is recommended to engage the leg muscles and the bandhas.

Baddha konasana C: I leanred it rather quickly, but via a method I do not recommend. It was during my karate time. After an intensive warming up, we were in that baddha konasana position. A heavy man stepped on my legs and they went down to the floor. Done. I recommend: exercise this position as often as you can. Sit in front of the TV in that position. When it starts hurting stretch your legs and then do it again.



Baddha konasana A is even a bit more demanding. It is also an exercise to increase the flexibility of the hips.

Padmasana, lotus pose also opens the hips. When I watch TV I usually sit on the floor in lotus pose. I change legs from time to time. A timer can help to motivate you to stand this pose a bit longer as usual. 10 min are comfortable for me. Afterwards I feel discomfort.

Ushtrasana: When exersising back bending asanas I try to open the front of the body. The body can become flexible between legs and body. The hips again allow to move backwards. Fact is that in daily life we don't do arch back often. This is why it is challenging when bending backwards.

My main challenges are urdhva dhanurasana, laghu vajrasana, kapotasana. It is important to lenghten the front of the body when arching back. Back bending means lengthening front of the body and opening the chest.

I see the importance to be able to move the legs freely.
My attention is often at the hips when I practice. I know that I want to bend from here. I don't want to arch the back when I bend forward i.e..
Additional asanas I do is side split and forward split (hanumanasana). I use blocks and blankets as a support. Gravity helps me.
To protect the body it is important to engage bandhas and leg muscles. I have mentioned this already, but it doesn't matter to repeat this.

Manduka mat:

Second Ashtanga series

Only 9 times Mysore class before the summer break. This is not much. Then I'll be on my own for 2 months. Perhaps we ambitious and committed yogis and yoginis rent a room again for our practices. To practice with a group intensifies the own yoga practice. To meet my yoginis at least once a week would be great. Let's see. I also like to practice on my own. Then I can take pictures of myself. This was always useful.

Practicing first series yesterday prepared my body for an intensive yoga practice today. I'll practice second series again.

World Cup is over......:) It has been a lot of fun again to watch.

I'm sweating.

Oh, I'll have a lot to do this week........The pile of papers was just smiling at me........OK, I'll smile back and attack it this afternoon. It has to be.

Mr Iyengar:
This was my first yoga book. I bought it more than 20 years ago. I still have it and from time to time I look into it. I have the German edition. It's good because of the pictures. Iyengar shows 200 asanas. And I like it because it is mentioned which positive effect each asana has on the body.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Excellent practice


I started before 12 o'clock with my morning practice. It is so helpful when it is warm or even hot outside. My practice was excellent. The body was bendy. I didn't need breaks.

Jumping forward: I tried to balance a bit on my hands before getting the legs through the arms. The position of the feet must change, when I don't want them to touch the arms. The toes must point forward. To engage the bandhas (belly in) helps a lot.

After the standing sequence I exercised handstand against the wall. The hands /finger help to balance.

My right leg is still overstretched and hurts. This didn't hold me back to put my legs (one after the other ) behind my head after supta kurmasana. Ambition!!!!! At least I practiced slowly and with care and attention.

I practiced full vinyasa to develop strength.

After such a good practice I consider to do a second yoga practice in the evening. Not in order to do the full programme but to exercise 2 or 3 asanas, that I'm learning. Let's see, perhaps I manage it this evening to practice.

We'll stay at home. It's hot outside. In our rooms it is comfortable, even cool........

Primary series:

Yoga time


I will start the week with primary.
Yesterday was my yoga free day.
After such a lazy day I am again very motivated to move my body. 

Let's see how it will be today.........:)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yoga injuries


Yoga injuries, a series topic today. It exists, less than in other "sports", but as I see it, I couldn't avoid these injuries 100%.

What injuries did I have in the last 7 year (7 years I practice Ashtanga yoga):
1. My hamstrings were overstretched. It depends where it hurts, it can take months till it's healed. It happened while practicing these deep forward bending asanas like supta kurmasana. This is the only injury that I had several times  during these 7 years.
2. Once I fell (D from M, please don't read point 2) when I practiced sirsasana (headstand). This wouldn't have caused any injury if not the corner of my wall was in my way. I got a bruise on my thigh.
3. Once I pulled my right lower back while practicing eka pada sirsasana (leg behind the head).
4. When I started with second series my pectoral muscles hurt. Were they overstretched or simply sore? I don't know, but it hurt and pain is always a sign that something is injured.

No, this is not much. I listed really everything.

Five situations, that make injuries more likely than others, so take care then:
1. after a long break
2. when learning new asanas
3. during workshops
4. when feeling especially ambitious
5. in cold rooms

Three tips what to do when it's too late, when injured?
1. My experience is: it's good to practice, but with more care. To practice around the injury is good. It shall not hurt (not too much). Deep breathing and being patient, I recommend.
2. A hot bath is always good.
3. Find out by yourself what is best for you. Yoga is also to get to know your body.

Nine tips how to practice in order to avoid injuries?
1. to practice with awareness
2. to respect the limits of the body at a given time
3. to engage the muscles when stretching. This point is very important.
4. Doing the correct order of asanas: Surya namaskaras first to warm up the body. Practicing a counter pose after an asana (it's the vinyasa in Asthanga yoga). Twist poses first when practicing back bending after forward bending asanas (or the other way round).
5. Observing the breath. When a yogini/yogi stops breathing the limit is probably reached.
6. to remember that practicing Asthanga yoga is meditation, not acrobatic.
7. to develop a relaxed attitude is helpful, too. To enjoy the practice, to take it easy, to accept what is, is it.
8. Humor, to develop a bit of humor when the valleys happen is good and not to fight against it with even more ambition.
9. to heat the room where you practice.
Wow, what a list.


Asanas, I developed deep respect:
All these asanas with one or two legs behind the head: supta kurmasana, eka pada sirsasana, dwi pada sirsasana, yoga nidrasana.

Injuries remind me to practice with care and awareness.
It reminds me to be patient and to accept the limits at a given moment.

Injuries heal and 99% of the time, it's only the stiffness that is felt from time to time that drives me crazy.....:)

Next time I want to write about yoga as a method to heal, to become healthy.

Developing a personal practice:


Friday, July 09, 2010

Ah, these Italian seducers......


I love it.....
And this was only the dessert.





Tomorrow I "cook" again: I will cut some tomatoes, I will add some slices of cucumber.....:)

Ahhhhhhh.......

......it's evening. And soon my body will be horizontal. I just came back from dinner with E. We were at an Italian restaurant and enjoyed the full programme (starter, main course, dessert, wine, water and grappa). OK. We sat outside, it was still warm here at night. My topic: ipod, ipad. I know now I need none of these toys. A light PC is enough for me.

I was busy the entire day.
Mysore class was great in the morning. My right leg is still a bit overstretched. That's part of it.
Ahhhhh, I am tired. I must sleep now. I don't care that it is not yet night, but daylight outside.

Tomorrow is my yoga free day. Also good. ........I am too tired to have any opinion........hahahahha.

Led class


Full of joy I walked to the led class yesterday in the afternoon. I knew it would be a good practice. And so it was:
1. The weather was good, means hot. This helps the body to become bendy. And it guarantees a sweaty practice.
2. The weight is approaching a figure where I won't talk about the weight anymore.
3. It was the afternoon. Later of the day the body is softer. (Nevertheless I prefer morning practices.)
4. The group would give me energy, only by doing the same like I do.
5. I felt light-hearted.
6. I knew I'd get adjustments when doing this most important asana urdhva dhanurasana.

No reasons are necessary to feel good. Sometimes I think I know why I feel optimistic.

I managed it yesterday to jump forward and the feet didn't touch neither the floor nor the arms.
Urdhva dhanurasana, the wheel gets better.
I was in sirsasana (headstand) for 2 min.

It's important to engage the muscles when I practice. Most of the time it is the leg muscles that are engaged when I practice primary. This protects the body from getting overstretched.

Today I'll practice primary again. Wonderful.
I will go to a Mysore class.......:)

Instant enlightenment byDavid Deida:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Chanting

A word on chanting:
Chanting is between speaking and singing. The text is chanted with one voice that remains even.
Many yogis/yoginis make a song out of the opening prayer. The voice goes up from time to time and down at other times. Each yogini/yogi creates his/her own song. This gives me the impression, when I listen to a group of "chanting" yogis/yoginis that I am amongst individuals, that love free style.

But chanting is not singing.

Last time I listened to Sharath very carefully. Of course he is chanting. The voice remains the same during the entire opening prayer, only the words change.

To chant can be a concentration exercise. Yoga is controlling, it is also controlling the voice during the opening prayer even though the voice might like to sing perhaps even an aria.

My preference:
A very experienced yogi once said "the entire practice is a prayer, why chanting?"
Instead of chanting in the beginning of my Ashtanga practice, I prefer standing in samasthithi for a while, palms touching each other in front of my chest, while I listen to my even breath, that I want to maintain during my practice. I prefer to think on the focus of my practice.
But sometimes I chant.

Not to chant is free style as well.

Ah, what a morning


What a wonderful morning. It's calm here, the sun is shining. It's a perfect day to practice at home.

First things I did this morning was to go to my flowers and to admire their beauty. It's a daily joy.
Next thing was that I read the international press. As expected it was positive re the German soccer team and how they played as a team. This won't console them. Lost is lost.

Discipline is a word I heard often in the last days. To have discipline is also helpful for Ashtanga yoga.

Two things motivate me today:

1. to blog (I like to write about yoga, so I have to practice)
2. the knowledge how difficult the practice is after a break of more than 2 days.

I am ready. I will practice second series today.

I started reading the book "Healthy at 100" by John Robbins and it is surprisingly more interesting than I thought it would be. I was astonished that the attitude re ageing has such an influence on how long we live. It can make a difference of 7 years.......Oh.
Perhaps I will become a living proof that it can be fun to be 60, 70 or 80. So far I feel young......hahahahaha.

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins:














Thank you for buying your amazon articles via my blog.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Difficult asanas


Yeah, there are difficult asanas and easy asanas. At least we think so. What is quick to learn is easy, what takes time to learn is considered as difficult. That's how we often view these body wrenches.

Time to write about the advantages of the difficult asanas, those that need not 1 year, not 2 years, but perhaps 3 or 4 years till they are accomplished as they are supposed to be. Improvement of course never ends.

1. Ahhhhhh, what a feeling when I've exercised an asana for more than 5 years till I am able to do it. Urdhva dhanurasana is such a pose, also kapotasana.
2. Not only the asana is learned, but also patience.
3. When it takes time to learn an asana, I often learn how to learn to do it. I get to know additional exercises.
4. I am more prone to study the asana and so I learn about anatomy.
5. Other aspects come into mind, like the importance of the breath.

Oh, how good that not all asanas are easy for me......:)

To be finally able to do a difficult asana is like being on the Mount Everest.
Being able to do easy asanas is like having bought the newspaper round the corner.
What do you prefer? (Ha, ha, ha,........)

Picture: M showed me an exercise to learn kapotasana. It is for opening the chest. I am on my knees and arch back till the hand touch the wall (in my case it is a wardrobe). Then I stretch the arms. It is not so important to have the hand placed close to the floor, important is to stretch the arms.

BTW: my vegan blog is updated.

The art of yoga: