Friday, December 31, 2010

The last day of 2010 has come.....


The last day of 2010 has come.
I'm so happy to be at home on that last day of the year.
I got up early (at 6am) and prepared a strong cup of black coffee for myself.

I have plans for this last day:
- I have to do grocery shopping. I will prepare some Arabic food for my E and myself this evening: It will be Couscous and a salad and a dessert (?, perhaps fried banana). Finally we'll have some Champagne at midnight (I hope I'll get a Veuve Cliquot round the corner, my favourite one. Yes, I like the old widow, even though a wine dealer once said to me: You don't drink the old widow, do you???????).
My poor E is ill, he's got a cold and suffers a lot. I must care for him and console him. "I'm going to die," he said to me. I'm very glad that this is not true, I must cheer him up a bit. I'm good at this, he likes to be pampered with tea.
- Primary is on the schedule. Of course I want to practice yoga today.
- In the afternoon I'll watch a movie with a friend: It's a ballet: La Danse.
The evening is for E.

I wish you, who is reading this, a most wonderful evening.
Thank you very much for reading my blog.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back home....


It's always a moment of joy when I open the door of my villa motley. When the smell of oil essences chuckle my nose I know  I'm back home again. Here I can do and eat and not do and not eat whatever I like and whenever I like to do it.
I'm busy planning the last day of this year 2010. Midnight shall be sandwiched by 2 practices (morning practices). This is the best idea I've ever had. Hahahaha.

We'll be alone at home tomorrow evening, me and my E. I'll cook something for us, something healthy, something vegan. This IS an evening-filling programme.

Time to move on..........

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One highlight chased the next one.


Pashasana was possible this morning.
I was able to come up from laghu vajrasana. The head touched the floor and with the next inhaling I came up. Yepeeee. The knees might have been a bit too far apart from each other. Ah, I'm glad that I was able to come up, however.
Mayurasana: I can scarcely believe it, but I could hold this pose for 2 breaths, head and feet were not touching the floor. Wow.

One must give the body an opportunity to show what is possible. A daily practice is so helpful. Only when practicing regularly these peaks can be experienced. A daily practice is the basic work for the awesome practices. My practice was fantastic today.
I was also focused, no breaks off the mat happened.
I practice slowly when I exercise second series. This is so, why not.
Pearls of sweat rolled down my body. Sweating is an important part of the practice. It cleans the body.

I had fruit salad for lunch. I'm so happy about it. I don't need more. I don't want to burden my body with too much weight. With huge steps I return to a healthy life style. Yep.

Time to travel to Hannover.

Picture is taken on our daily walk to the sea.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Content


I'm content, because I practiced. I had time for all the asanas of the second series. And my yoga practice even happened before lunch.
Pashasana was more than difficult.  I don't care, that's how it is after these Christmas days where having big meals is a main contents.
I love the asanas of the second series. Back bending feels better and better the more flexible I become. I didn't omit urdhva dhanursana. To stand up from the pose is still a vision.

It's cold here, but I'll convince E how good it is to walk to the sea with me. It's beautiful there, see picture. The trip to Hannover is postponed till tomorrow. We really have to get up a bit earlier tomorrow.

Life is calm between Christmas and New Years Eve.

Inhaling, pause, exhaling, pause, inhaling, pause, exhaling...........

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Enough Christmas....


Christmas Eve is over and the high days and holidays are over, too. I'm glad. Too much food was offered as every year, too less self-discipline was exercised as every year. It's time to get back to healthy routines that feel so much better.  I want to eat tomatoes and carrots again.

I went through the days with a "let-it-be" attitude. It shall be so. Accept what is. Enough was accepted. Hahahaha. I was easy-going.

Tomorrow I'll get up early (after 7 hours of sleep). There is a banana in the kitchen, this shall be my breakfast. Then I'll practice second series (it will be hard). E has still a few days off and we'll travel to Hannover in the afternoon. I love this trip to that city, we do it every year. I also love to spend time with E. On Wednesday we'll travel back to Munich in stages, a stop will be at my parents home again. On Thursday we'll be back in Munich with the car that is parked at my parents home. Finally I'll be back in my beloved little villa motley.

Thankfully I'll fall on my knees:
It's over. I survived.

Too good.....


Too good for the archives only.

There is no bad weather.....


....only clothes, that are not appropriate. Brrrrrrrhhhhhhhhh.

Beauty of winter


Sometimes the beauty of nature is mind-blowing.

In the north of Germany....


We arrived in the north of Germany. It was necessary to take the train. Surprisingly all three trains were rather empty, we always got a seat. There is even more snow in the north.
Now we get pampered  from E's mother and E is happy to be here.

I managed it to step on my mat to practice primary. It was still before lunch but too late for an entire practice. I came till baddha konasana. Tomorrow I'll get up earlier. No back bending happened today. Nevertheless I'll practice second series tomorrow. I won't have a wall for pincha mayurasana. This serves not as an excuse not to practice. The wind comes from different directions. Excuses can always be found for a creative mind (solutions, too). Obstacles are always there. Who and what shall stop me to give my body and mind the daily love that it needs?

To travel means to get out of the comfort zone. One has to adjust to new situations. It keeps the mind lively.

Winter has beauty. I've convinced E to go out a bit, to stroll around. I love to move.

Picture: The airport in the garden of my parents.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winter


It's snowing again. This is winter at its best. My bf is yearning for his mother. So today we have to travel to the north. We'll take the train after lunch. G, his mother wasn't bored yesterday night. She wasn't even at home, probably the neighbours have invited her.

Here everybody is happy with the presents. This is very good. I'm even very happy.

It's Saturday, but I consider at least a few sun salutations. To sit on the sofa, to sit in the train, which is probably overcrowded is a bit too much sitting. And this evening we'll do nothing else but sitting around.

I'm sipping my coffee. My mother is preparing the big lunch. She is a perfect cook. My brother and his wife will join us, too.

Yes, I'll do some sun salutations. I owe this my perfect body.

Relaxed days for everybody.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Healthy Christmas.....


I was practicing yoga and had just finished the standing asanas, when it was lunch time. At exactly 12 o'clock lunch was ready. My father asked me how long it will take till I would have finished yoga.
Me: Oh, this takes still 45 min minimum.
He: We cannot wait so long, you must interrupt it.
Me: I won't eat lunch, I want to be hungry for dinner.
I went on with my practice, while my mother brought the meals from the kitchen. My father got a vegetable soup. E and my mother ate white sausages with mustard, my E had a dark beer to it.

My father:
You are addicted to yoga.
When you are in Hawaii most important is yoga.
When you are in Russia most important is yoga.
When you are in France most important is yoga.
When you are in Brazil  most important is yoga.
When you are in India most important is yoga.
When you are in Italy most important is yoga.
Me: Have you ever practiced yoga in Hawaii? This is most beautiful.

He: When we don't know where you are, you are at the yoga place.

He: Some people do yoga to stay beautifully, some people get beauty surgeries, some get piercings for themselves.
Me: And what is the best?
Me: Now I know what I get you for Christmas next time: A piercing.
He: No, I don't need this.

He: You used to say you are like your grandma, but your grandma would have never ever practiced yoga.

In the meantime I practiced garbha pindasana. E saw how my hands held my face and how my arms went through my legs which were in lotus pose. He laughed. (As if he has not yet seen this pose.) He pointed at me: "Look, look." My father and my mother turned their heads toward me and laughed, too. (Me thinking: very good, belly muscles are used when laughing).

My father: This is not healthy anymore what you do.
Me: Papa, you are not a role model for me regarding health. (He is above 80, but has problems to touch his toes.)
He: My spine wouldn't have been better when I practiced yoga.
Me: Yoga is all about the spine.

Me to my bf: There was a message behind the message that my mother always cooks for 2 more people who might come surprisingly. It's always too much. Not everything must be eaten.

I went on with my practice. Btw it was an excellent one. Wow was I bendy.
Ha, and I managed it somehow to omit one meal.

The shower was great afterwards because the cold water here is really cold. What a pleasure to feel the cold water on the skin after the hot water.
I wanted to stroll around with E. He came to me with a smile on his face, kissed me on my mouth and said: "It's raining outside." Me: Then we postpone our strolling around, it will surely stop raining later."

My yoga time, my time on my mat is over. I'm so happy that I practiced.
Now I'm theirs. Shall they do with me what they want. Hahaha.
Enjoy your yoga practice, my fellow yogis and yoginis. Wink, wink.

Healthy Christmas.

The weather, the weather, the weather.....


The streets are icy and as smooth as glass. The trains are overcrowded. A train even was bogged down in the pampas in the middle of last night. The overhead contact line was frozen. Airports are closed. The situation won't change today.
It's very reasonable that E stays here with me and my parents. He was sad because this means that his mother will be alone this night on Christmas Eve. The brother won't come home to her either due to the catastrophic traffic situation. The mother is relaxed I learned even though she'll be alone tonight. We'll call her again later to wish her a "Merry Christmas". And tomorrow we'll take the train to the north to see her. After lunch!!! I'll come with E how wished from him.

(I love  that he will stay here. Hehehe.)

"You'll have another robber baron here for dinner tonight," I said to my mother. She loves it, too. She always has food for 2 more guests.

The heater is on, I feel warm. Give me another 30 min and then I'll step on the mat in the living room. It's Friday and primary is on the schedule. Not to practice on such sofa days would be a big sin.

Merry Christmas to everybody. Stay relaxed.
....shall everybody be happy with the presents, might you like them or not. If you get nothing be even more happy. This saves space clearing next year. Being in peace needs no special circumstances.
My grandma was the best. She unwrapped her presents. If she didn't like it she gave it back a min later with the words: "You like it more than I do."
She did most things a bit different than everybody else.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I preach it....


...and when I follow my own advice, it's great. Despite the time pressure I stepped on my mat. I had 45 min, I used them for an intensive primary. Some asanas I had to omit, but how better do I feel now. Even if I had only practiced sun salutations, it would have been better than not to have practiced at all.

Still 90 min and we'll be on the road again to my parents. My suitcase is not yet packed, but my taxes are done and mailed. Ah, I postponed this duty 8 months. To begin needed the most energy. It took longer as I thought, this is so with tax declarations. But now it's done. To start with anything is the crucial point.....

I make some resolutions for the Christmas days:
- It's good to start with a big breakfast with home made jam.
- One warm lunch has to be. Who wants to starve?
- I'm so glad that enough cookies are everywhere, the gap between lunch and dinner would be too big without anything between the teeth.
- Dinner is an important meal when the family is together, this is not so often. I will show that I like the meal and I will eat double as much as usual.
- Yes and at night I'll eat Mon Chérie while watching TV. A glow wine at the end wouldn't be so bad.

Oh, time flies, I'm in a hurry. I must pack my suitcase........

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last Mysore class this year....


This morning I'll go to the last Mysore class this year. Second series is on the schedule. I'll get last adjustments in kapotasana, karandavasana, urdhva dhanurasana and probably even some other asanas. What a luxury. When I write this down I know why I don't want to give up these excellent morning classes. I'll build my life around these Ashtanga yoga hours also in 2011.

Yesterday I bought a book on anatomy. It's the book by Ray Long. The pictures are very funny. Seeing only bones doing yoga poses made me smile.

Bones, muscles, some tendons...........our body.......
Oh, I'm late already.........

Shall it be a relaxed practice today.......strong and bendy........hahahaha.
Good that I don't know how it will be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Everything is temporarily.....


Seems as if I start working again, already in the first week in January. It's a mini job, I don't care. Money must flow back to me. And I don't want to work 8 hours a day. I'm sure this job will discipline me again to work more seriously on my book projects and the other projects that are in my mind.

I returned from the interview and I had another job offer on my table (a very interesting one). I'm curious how this will develop. Seems as if  "someone" wants me to have money for my Indian trip. Whatever. It's good to be busy. These jobs are all temporarily, what I appreciate. Also life is limited, yes, yes, yes, but I won't become philosophical here, only practical. To get paid by hour is a dead end road. However money comes back, ahhhhhh it's good to have it. I can go on working on having  passive income. This is my dream, doing what I like and becoming rich while lying in bed.
Main feeling: I'm glad that something is happening. This IS excellent. I feel the energy. It keeps me busy. I'm also recovered from my last job, I can scarcely remember. Action now, action. New challenges and new life is waiting for me.

Yoga needs a lot of time. I want to have my daily dose of Ashtanga yoga. I want to have time enough for either primary or second series, no abbreviations here. But sometimes I feel like a sannyasin because I do only yoga. I must write down this critical remark: I wish I'd feel refreshed after my practices, but this is not so. I feel excellent, for sure, but I feel also hungry, I want to take a nap or a bath. I give in and nap and bath and then it's already late in the afternoon before I can start with anything else.
Admitted:
- Often I waste time. It takes too much time to step on the mat when practicing at home. Hours are sometimes wasted. I must find a way to eliminate this dawdling.
- Within 2 hours each practice must be finished. No breaks off the mat during a practice.
- When I get up at 6am and Mysore classes are at 9am, I must use 1 hour for prolific work.
Possibilities for improvements can be seen. Shall they happen. Hahahaha.

Yeah, I'm working hard on a schedule that allows a lot of fun and exercise. But there is more in life than taking my legs behind the head, there is more that must be done and enjoyed.

Today I didn't practice, all the other duties had to be done. Chores had to be done, too. I'm satisfied now that I could cross out some items on my list. It remains my own tax declaration.

Time to read another chapter in the book by Timothy Ferriss "The 4-hour workweek". Yep.
It's so nice to dream........
Life goes on in many areas without me doing anything. This is the most important sentence of this post!

Picture: Munich, Nymphenburg in winter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last week.....


It was a joy to observe the children, the young ones and the older ones, to move on the ice. Downtown is this ice rink. The body likes to be moved. The body needs to be moved. And I will move my body, too, today. Yesterday I watched others while sipping one of these glow wines. Today and on Wednesday are the last Mysore classes for this year. The countdown of this year 2010 has started.

Yesterday I did some brainstorming about possible topics next year:
- Vinyasas: it's much more than jumping forward and backward.
- Pranayama: it's also more than inhaling and exhaling
- The mind, the mind, the easily-distracted mind:
- Anatomy: I want to know exactly what I stretch.......
- Advaita: perhaps a bit courageous to touch this philosophy.
- Asanas of course, asanas, asanas.
- Yoga of the mat.

Focus of my practice today: I want that it looks easy.....hahahaha. My weight tells me it will be not easy today.......(48 kg and this just before Christmas......)

Thanks for buying your amazon Christmas presents via my blog. Links are on the right side of this blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What exactly do I practice........


The goal is to practice as close to the series as possible. This is not always possible, because of lack of time, injuries, difficulty of an asana.........
It's the goal not to interrupt the series, because then the flow is interrupted. With flow the whole exercise becomes meditation in movement.

Not to omit an asana is important. There are exceptions, i.e. when injuries do not allow to do a pose. It can be possible that a yogi/yogini has to practice a similar exercise, because the body does not allow to practice the asana of the series, but this shall be temporarily. If we omit asanas, it might be that we refuse ourselves the experience to say one day: Wow, more is possible than I thought.

The inner game of Ashtanga yoga as described in my last post is more important than to add asanas. Correct breathing, lengthening the body when inhaling, going into the pose when exhaling, engaging muscles and bandhas, gazing at a point is what makes Ashtanga to Ashtanga. This is what helps performing the asanas and vinyasas.

Primary:
- Before starting with the sun salutations I jump against the wall from downward dog with bent legs. I stretch them then so that I'm in handstand. This is new, but one of my focus is the vinyasa and this helps me to jump forward, It gives me trust that I don't fall over when I jump.

- I do full vinyasa nowadays at home and at Mysore class. Before my trip to India to THE shala in Gokulam I was not able to do vinyasas between sides. I was too weak. The practice is work in progress. I got stronger, I know I need more strength for certain asanas.

- In Mysore classes I get help for kurmasana and supta kurmasana. It's classic that yogis/yoginis get adjumstments here. When I'm at home, I add eka pada sirsasana, the second series asana (leg behind the head) and yoga nidra (both legs behind the head while lying on the back).These leg/legs behind the head asanas  are important asanas, that's why I give it some more attention. Supta kurmasana needs improvement, too.

- Upavishta konasana: I hold this asanas longer than 5 breaths. In former times asanas were held 8 breaths. My chin does not touch the floor. I want to keep the back straight. Sometimes I repeat this asana, then I use my Indonasian chest to pull me forward.

- After supta hasta padangusthasana I exercise hanumanasana, this forward split pose, when I practice at home (not in Mysore classes). I use a block under my body. This surely interrupts the flow.

- Urdhva dhanurasana: I use a strap at home. I drop back against the wall. I arch back as much as possible. So I do a bit more here than simply going into the pose for 3 times.

In Mysore classes I don't use any props when I practice primary. I see that others do. We are all learning. The goal remains to stick to the series as close as possible!!!

When I practice second series, I need some more modifications and more adjustments. The goal is to get closer and closer to the series. They are very nice, I don't feel like changing them. If a yogi/yogini likes to add some asana if it fits, why not. The primary has 20 asanas in the middle part, this is enough for me. I rather think to add pranayama and meditation at the end. But so far savasana is my last post.

Each practice is new and different.

Eat healthy and do your practice.

Picture: My favourite grocery store round the corner.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The inner game of Ashtanga yoga


We all have to start somewhere:
First we see an asana, a vinyasa and we want to bring our body in the same position (if we want to practice Ashtanga yoga of course). My bf is not so ambitious to sit in lotus pose or to do headstand. Hahahaha.
What can be seen at first sight is the surface.

When my practice has progressed (after years), the attention has moved from the surface to what happens inside myself. To play the inner game of Ashtanga yoga helps to improve the surface:
1. Engaging the bandhas (mulha bandha (pelvis floor) and uddyjana bandha (navel in)) gives strength. It helps to stretch forward and gives stability.
2. The breath not only calms the mind, when steady and even and deep. The deep inhaling allows me to lengthen the body. The exhaling allows me to go deeper in the pose.
3. Engaging the muscles protects from injuries.
4. The attitude that we exercise on the mat has also an important influence on what we are able to accomplish. Thinking "it's doable", "being committed, but relaxed at the same time" is supportive.
5. The movement of the eyes, drishti, belong to the more subtle parts of Ashtanga yoga. 

The outer form is important. For sure. The inner game of Ashtanga yoga supports to perform the asanas and vinyasas. The practice becomes more intensive when it comes from the inside. It can be seen if someone has shifted the practice to a deeper level, but one has to look closer. If someone breathes deeply, if the bandhas are used can be seen. If the body is forced into an asana or if the movement comes from the core of the body can be seen, too. Enjoy the inner game of Ashtanga yoga. It's more subtle than the surface, but equally beautiful.

PS: It can be a question when practicing an asana/vinyasa: Do I play the inner game of Ashtanga yoga?

My last two primary sessions at home were great. I'm a bit less distracted than I used to be.
The mind will be surely a topic of next year.

Much fun with the inner game of Ashtanga yoga. Stay relaxed with a slight smile on your face.



Friday, December 17, 2010

Jumping through, an exercise


M showed this exercise to a yogini in a Mysore class lately.

My jumping backwards especially needs some attention, too. I watched carefully.

It is said that inner strength, bandhas are needed. For sure. So I try to remember them in each asana.
So far I manage it to bring the crossed legs through my arms, without touching the floor (not always, but sometimes I can do this). But how to bring the legs back to a stretched position. I was told that one has to bring the head close to the floor. This means to bend the arms and this is my difficulty. 

This exercise helps. It's amazing. I try everything. Each new exercise refines the body feeling. It helps me to get to know my muscles separately.  

Try it, I'm curious how you find it?????

I'm on facebook, too. A link is on the right side of this blog. Thanks for joining.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Early guests


Smiling. Today I buy the delicatesses. They were sold out. Luxury food for my birds.....:)

Only to start requires some additional energy.....


Sometimes only to start is the critical moment. As soon as I've started with almost anything it can develop to something that is fun. It's so with my yoga practice, with other activities, too.

Yesterday I went out again and it's freezing cold here. Icy wind blew the little snow flakes into my face, the only body part that is uncovered. The sidewalks were full of snow, under the snow was ice. I had to walk carefully in order not to fall. This year I wanted to be a bit earlier with my Christmas shopping activities. I also realized that it makes no sense to wait for warmer days. This time we shall have white Christmas.

I found the presents that were still on the list: black pearls for E's mother, another book for E, a red swatch for my mother, a book for my father (not sure if he'll like it).
Each time when I go shopping, I find something for myself: Yesterday I found a dark blue skirt with white spots and a shirt. Perhaps these fancy clothes found me, this can be truee, too? I was not too lazy to put off all my winter clothes, that is my coat, my scarf, a pair of trousers, stockings under the trousers, a pullover, a t-shirt, socks. The fitting room was so small that I scarcely found a place where to put all these clothes. Then I tried it on, this tiny nothing. The skirt is a summer skirt. It was love at first sight. Yes, now I have this one, too.

On my way home I stopped at Sendlinger Tor (see picture) to have a glow wine there. This Christmas market is one of the smaller ones. I prefer those. The hot wine with the spices warmed my hands and my stomach. Then I walked home. At home I put proudly all my hunted objects on my Christmas table. Oh, to pack everything will take some time. I want to use silver paper this year. Everything shall be packed in silver and tied with colorful bows. Only to start will be the moment that needs some more energy........oh, I'm such a lazy bone.......

My yoga schedule for the next two days is clear:
- Today I'll practice primary, full vinyasa with some extra asanas.
- Tomorrow I'll switch on the CD by Sharath.

Christmas presents from amazon can be bought via my blog. Links are on the right side of this blog. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tittibasana A, B, C



Tittibasana A is already known from primary. Here it is a transition, part of vinyasa. It's part of bujapidasana and kurmasana and supta kurmasana. This only to remind you. In the second series tittibasana A is a pose.

To say it right away: I don't try to go from tittibasana A to bakasana. This is too much for me in the current moment.

The poses on the movie require a lot of strength and flexibility!!! I must mention this. It looks easy, it isn't. Again we have a variation of supta kurmasana, this time in standing position. To walk while in this position really makes the leg work hard.

My comments on the poses seen on the video:
(If you click on the name you can see my development of these poses. Oh yeah, progress can be seen.)

Tittibasana A: It's important to take the shoulders behind the legs. This helps enormously. When I stretch the legs I imagine that the inner sides of the legs are stretch and stretch and stretch. To engage the bandhas is very helpful here.
Usually I jump my feet in front of my legs, due to leg of room this was not possible in the video. Even more advanced it is to jump directly into the pose. I do not yet try this either.

In order to hook the fingers behind the back, it helps me to bend the knees a bit. It seems to be easier when I can bring my arms closer to the shoulders. A year ago I still used a strap. It should be possible that I can make the steps a bit larger. This part requires a lot of strength in the legs. Afterwards I usually take a few extra breaths!!!
I have to find out how the breathing goes.

This pose is rather the balancing pose. It developed in the last year, too. When I hold it for 3 breaths I have usually enough. My efforts today shall be to hold this pose for 5 breaths.

Yes, work in progress, but what I see is already nice.
No, I wouldn't have invented this pose. Our old yogis were really inventive and a bit crazy.

Today is the last Mysore class of this week. I will practice second series. Wow, how I love it.

Tips and comments are always welcomed.

Happy Christmas shopping: You can do it at amazon via my blog: Thank you.
Links are on the right side.

PS: Lately I was asked re full vinyasa. At the end the arms don't lift. They lift again when starting again with the next pose.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ardha baddha padmottanasana


Ah, a standing pose: ardha baddha padmottanasana. In the second series this pose is needed again. It's worth not to do it sloppy.

Some crucial points:
- The knees are next to each other. I realized on one of my pics that my bent leg is  not 100% next to the knee of the standing leg. I could correct this easily.
- The neck is relaxed!
- The shoulders remain parallel. This is one of the main challenges of this pose.
- Using the bandhas helps to keep the back straight. It also gives stability.
- The standing leg is engaged.

So this was it for today. I filmed a bit and this is so time-consuming. I'm behind my schedule, much behind. Christmas shopping has to be done. And at night I'll meet a friend (or two), I have to be on time. It's our classic Christmas meeting at Rotkreuzplatz. There is a tiny but nice Christmas market. I'll have my first glow wine today, for sure, somehow I must keep myself warm. It belongs to such a meeting. Enough is said.
Stay cool, stay relaxed......inhaling, exhaling.

Don't forget your amazon gifts can be bought via my blog....:) Thank you. Links are on the right side.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Extremes attract


An Ashtanga yoga practice combines so many extremes:

- The leg muscles and bandhas are engaged, but the face is relaxed.
- Especially when practicing the standing poses the feet are grounded but a hand is pointing to the ceiling or the wall. To emphasize these extremes improves the practice. To stem the feet against the floor makes the difference. Upper body part is relaxed.
- In the beginning of a practice I'm often stiff at the end I'm flexible.
- There is movement (vinyasa) and there is remaining calmly in a pose.
- We bend forward in paschimottanasana, but the back and the legs are straight.
- In the beginning I sometimes have to convince me to start, when it's over, I'm glad.

I'm sure there can be found even more extremes. To focus on these extremes can be an exercise. Enjoy.

My practice this morning was hard, oh was I glad when it was over.
Karandavasana: I was shown an additional exercise today to approach this pose. I try now to bring my legs that are folded in padmasana a bit up to my upper arms, while the forearms are on the floor. My tip: Use your bandhas. This exercise requires really strong bandhas.

Today is my shopping day: I'll go downtown to buy the wished gifts.....:)
Thank you for buying YOUR amazon gifts via my blog:
Perhaps it's a kindle?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Sundays my yoga week begins....


A day off feels good. Yesterday I haven't practiced Ashtanga yoga. My body feels relaxed and I'm motivated again (even more motivated, hahaha) to step on my mat today.

To think 'it is possible' is so much better than to think it is not possible. Not everything IS possible. But so much more is possible than we or I think sometimes. What is true for yoga is also true for other areas of life. (This remark was for myself.) To focus the mind on the positive aspects is surely an exercise for the mind.

Sometimes there are weaker forms of limitations. To think that it takes years to learn an asana, i.e. when it in fact can be learned within a week is also a limitation. To be realistic can be difficult sometimes.

Self-talk can be limiting ourselves. It can be good to observe what we say to ourselves.

Often our dear fellow men are not shy to spread limiting opinions about what is possible and what not for themselves and for others. Yesterday I was searching for a strategy how to handle this. It is as if one has to apply advanced sales techniques to convince some people that a more positive view is more fun and means to have a lighter life.
- To say the opposite creates negative tension.
- To present solutions how something could become possible is the beginning of a long discussion. People who see problems, see problems everywhere.
- It's possible to avoid the contact with some people. Sometimes I do this, but it is not always possible.
- To pretend to listen while dreaming of something else is often a strategy of men when they don't want to hear something. I'm not so good at it.

The solution: Finally we can be glad that we are all so different. How lively is this world with all these different views and opinions and thoughts. And all is fiction. Hahahaha, what a cosmic joke. I rediscover this little flower called "humor".

Sometimes it can be even refreshing to read some negativity. When I read these tweets on twitter, I think so. All these positivism, good tips, smart quotes, it drives me crazy sometimes. How relieving it can be to read: It's all crap.

And what is the message of this post: It's all good as it is. Nothing must be changed. To accept what is, is the liberating solution. Being entertained is all we can do. Playing, observing, having fun is it.

Inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling......


Don't forget to buy your Christmas presents via my blog. A kindle could be an idea. Thank you.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

For Quentin: on travelling to Mysore as a goal for 2011


Thank you for your comment Quentin:
Ursula, you mention going to Mysore AYRI as goal for one considering next year. Please advise cost, fees, where to stay and meals, local transportation, type visa required, how to get there from the airport and what to do on days off from Ashtanga Yoga daily practice. Is it mandatory minimum 30 days? Does one have choice of yoga upstairs or downstairs with Sariswwati or Sherath?

Here are my answers:
To travel to Mysore can be a possible goal. You don't have to go to Mysore. There are many many other exciting goals, i.e. exciting workshops are offered everywhere. It's important that YOU have this goal. I simply wrote down some ideas.

Where to stay?
This depends on your budget. There are 5 star hotels in Mysore and more modest places (like everywhere). I wrote an email to a member of the Ashtanga yahoo group lately. He had almost the same question, he was looking for a modest stay. I'll forward you this email, once you have your ticket.

Meals?
Hundreds of yogis and yoginis travel to Mysore every year. They are all fed well. Anu's internet cafe where many yogis and yoginis eat was even mentioned in the New York Times as a "best place". You won't starve. You can search my blog for further healthy restaurants. I was in Mysore in 2008 (August/September). Restaurant visits are affordable. You can eat for 2 Euro per meal.

Local transportation:
Rikshas are everywhere......

To get from the airport to Mysore:
Ganesh (the husband of Anu) is THE man for this. He organizes in a most professional way these shuttles. You'll arrive at Bangalore, you'll pick up your luggage. When you'll leave the security area in the airport an Indian man will waiting there for you with a sign with huge letters on it: QUENTIN. And then you will smile. Yes. It will give you trust and 5 hours later you will arrive safely at your hotel of your choice. Ganesh is connected with me via facebook. You'll find him.

Visa:
Of course you need a Visa. Please find this out by yourself.

Is it mandatory minimum 30 days?
I know a man who practiced in the shala for only 14 days. He loved it and he had not more time. I wouldn't recommend it. I stayed about 2 months. 1 month is absolute minimum I think, if you want that your practice develops. You also have to get used to India......

What to do on days off?
You won't be bored. You meet yogis/yoginis everywhere. Go to the coconut stand round the corner of the shala, have a coconut drink there and start talking to the yogis/yoginis. You can complain, you can share your joy and you can spread your messages there.
Have a book in your suitcase.
Make some trips in the surroundings.
Discover Mysore.....

Dear Quentin, I'm not so sure if travelling to India, Gokulam (the shala is in fact in Gokulam and not Mysore) is a good goal idea for you. You cannot organize your trip 100%, you must also trust that everything will turn out well. The clocks go differently in India. India is not for everybody.


You must want it baby, you must want to travel to India. It must become YOUR wish, YOUR goal, YOUR desire. You must burn for it.
My feeling (I can be wrong) it's better for you to go to a workshop in the US. You can also go to a workshop to Sharath. He is travelling a lot. More important than anything else is your daily practice. Enjoy.

Picture: Winter in Germany.

A Manduka mat can be a nice Christmas present:

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Friday, December 10, 2010

On goals


My Ashtanga goals for 2010 are accomplished:
I wanted to exercise first and second series. This is what I do these days.
- I'm sure I would have omitted the 7 headstands when I wouldn't have had a teacher. Times have changed. My practice possibilities are optimum for the time being: 3 times a week Mysore class, 3 times a week I practice alone and sometimes I go to a led class. Wow. This improved my strenght and flexibility. Motivation is great, too. I'm thankful for this situation in my life.
- To write about my Ashtanga practice is another activitiy that supports my yoga practices enormously.

What is worth doing, is worth doing daily, is my conviction.


This is the message of today:
Write about your practice. It helps to stay committed, it supports the learning process and it's fun. To document a practice is also recommended for other sports, like marathon. I have a book in hand "Non-runner's marathon trainer by David A. Whitsettt and others....I bought it once to learn about mental exercises. I will reread this book. For marathoners a log is recommended. To have a log, or a journal, or a blog is top advice when you practice Ashtanga. It needn't to be long or public. Everybody can do it. A pen and a journal is needed or a PC.

My Ashtanga goals for 2011:
- to continue the daily Ashtanga practice
- working on certain poses: Urdhva dhanurasana (coming up), kapotasana (reaching the toes with the fingers), vinyasa (floating forward and backwards without touching the floor)
- to practice pranayama and meditation (10 min) in the evening would be great

Possible Ashtanga goals can be:
- to start with a home practice
- to start a journal/log
- to enhance the learning tools: reading the well-known Ashtanga books, watching YouTube movies
- taking pictures of the own practice
- travelling to Mysore
- going to an Ashtanga workshop
- learning about visualization
- starting a healthy diet


Pictures: Winter time in Munich

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A slight difference


It was surely M who gave me the idea: When bending forward it can make sense to bind the hands closer to the toes and not close to the floor. Legs are engaged, this helps to keep the stretched foot in the correct position. The stretched foot shall not move outwards, the sole of the foot is supposed to be parallel to the wall. When the hands bind a bit higher it's even easier to keep the foot in this position. The shoulders move backwards, the elbows upwards. When doing this, the chest can remain open. Test it, the forward bending poses feel different that way, they feel better.



Yeah and after baddha konasana I gave up. I didn't like my pictures that I took today and was not patient enough to take them  again and again. I had enough.
It's so much more difficult to stay focused when alone. I'm so thankful that I have these Mysore classes 3 times a week and that we become more and more aspirants every month.
Nevertheless this practice today counts as a practice.

To remain relaxed is a challenge, too.
Not to get frustrated, is sometimes difficult. So many years I practice to jump forward trying not to touch the floor with the feet. And they touch the floor each time I jump (or float), it's so predictable like the Amen in the church. (Fuck it!)
Lately I read that sometimes we feel a stagnation in our practice, but this needn't to be stagnation in general. Simply going on, is it.
I'm looking forward to the Mysore class tomorrow morning. YES!

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

An answer to a comment

For Robyn:

1. Oh, it took me a while till I found the link where I bought Sharath's DVD. But I found it. It's here. It's the only yoga DVD, that I watched twice!!!!!!! It's worth having it and watching it, for sure.

2. Full Vinyasa: There is a slight difference to the classic sun salutation. When you come up at the end, the arms don't lift up. You simply come to a standing position (samasthitih) and then you start again. Hope this explanation is sufficient. Let me know.

Happy practices.
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Yoga mala:

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Learning by watching the DVD by Sharath


I watched again the DVD by Sharath this evening. He performs primary on that DVD.

° I was reminded what makes Ashtanga so special: It's the flow. It's moving from asana to vinyasaa to asana to vinyasa, without interruption. The perfect execution of the asanas comes second, so it seems.

° To watch Sharath jumping forward and backward between the asanas is a joy. These vinyasas will be a focus during my next practice. It must be easier to learn the movement in water, I thought, and tried it in the bath tub. Unfortunately my bath tub is not big enough.

° It's always possible to add some challenges to the asanas:
- For instance it can be a challenge to fold the legs to padmasana when practicing urdhva padmasana without using the hands.
- It's another challenge to take the hands to the face without the help of the other hand when practicing garbha pindasana.

° Sirsasana: Those who want strict rules are lost. Slight variations of the series exist. In the DVD Sharath practices 3 different versions of sirsasana.
- First the classic one, see first link.
- Then he took his legs to 90°, which is called urdhva dandasana.
- The third version was again with legs pointing to the ceiling, but the head was in the air. It's a good balancing pose and very relaxing for the neck. I'll try this the next time.

° Most difficult pose was supta kurmasana, for sure: I was curious how he crossed the legs and when. He crossed the legs while sitting. And this is very advanced and difficult. If the legs are not really long, like in my case, this is the way to perform this asanas. There is still some work to do.......

I'm very inspired.
But today second series is on the schedule. I'll go to a Mysore class. Oh.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Dhanurasana


Wow, I thought the knees were closer together. Feelings not always reflect reality. At least I don't look upwards to the ceiling. Dirsthi is the nose.

It also should be possible to bring the feet more backwards. This pose feels so intensive already. Back bending is the main topic in 2011, for sure.

Tuesday morning musing, nothing special


I'm up, too late, but what means too late. Nothing.
Much sleep is needed these days to feel well-rested.

A home practice is on the schedule today. I'm looking forward to it. Sharath will help me to get started. His CD is genius.

Progress comes slowly, but it comes. Shall this please me.

Monday, December 06, 2010

I'm a dancer, not a choreograph.


I'm a dancer not a choreograph, even though I know the basic rules how to create a yoga session for myself:
- First comes a warm-up. In Ashtanga yoga this is the surya namaskaras.
- After a deep forward bending asana comes a lighter back bending asanas and the other way round. In Ashtanga yoga we have the vinyasas for this.
- Twists neutralize. In second series are twists between the deep back bending and deep forward bending asanas.

I'm happy with the 4 Ashtanga series. I don't want and need anything else.
Today's topic came up as we discussed lately details of the series. How  are the rules exactly was the topic behind the questions re details of the practice:
- How many suryas shall I practice?
- How many paschimottanasana shall I practice?
- How long shall I remain in an asana, 5 breaths or 8 breaths like in former times?
- Why practice the yoginis half vinyasa nowadays? What shall I do?

I think there is a bit of a tolerance, that does not mean that the series are changed.

The question "why " is allowed here. It shows the way.

- The surya namaskara warm the body up and build up strength. If you feel still cold after 10 surya namaskaras feel free to add some more.
- If forward bending needs to develop, feel free to do 4 paschimottanasanas, like it was practiced a few years ago.
- To stay longer in an asana allows usually to go deeper. Upavishta konasana is in my case such an asana. I hold it for 8 breaths because my chin is not yet on the floor and I want that this pose improves. I also allow myself to repeat asanas.
- I heard that full vinyasa was given up, because too many yoginis travelled to Mysore. To make the students practice half vinyasa was an attempt to shorten the practice. In the Yoga Mala by P. Jois full vinyasa are described!!! I practice full vinyasa. I want to add, I practice full vinyasa since I understood the development and since I'm so strong enough so that I can do it. Before my trip to Mysore I wasn't able to do vinyasas between sides. I was simply too weak. I got strong in Mysore. Now I'm able to do full vinyasas.

The question "why" can help to make a decision. To follow a rule only because it's a rule, doesn't make so much sense to me. I don't feel like a choreograph when I adjust my practice to my needs and when I try to understand why something is done. I perform a perfect given chain of asanas linked by vinyasas. I do not create something new, but I practice with understanding.  I'm a dancer.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Instant relaxation


Yoga feels good, for sure. When my body is in an asana it's a good feeling. Even the stretching discomfort is a pleasant feeling for me. Really relaxed I'm at the end of an exhausting practice. When I'm finally in savasana in a state between being awake and sleeping, when my body and my mind do not move much anymore, then, yes, then I feel relaxed.

Yoga is a tool to enhance life, Swenson said in the book on Guruji.
Yoga can indeed be also a tool to learn how to relax.

- This feeling of relaxation happens when the body is free of pain, strong and flexible.
- This feeling of relaxation happens when the mind is able to focus on the breath (and not wandering around discussing the daily sorrows.)
- Breathing deeply is also a technique that helps to stay relaxed during daily life and how to breath deeply can be learned in yoga sessions, too.

Instant relaxed I am when I go to a sauna or when I take a bath.
Change of activities can be relaxing. Some mothers told me that they relax at work from the efforts at home and the other way round.
All the sports activities with a partner bring in my opinion faster relaxation than yoga. When I practiced Aikido I had to be present, otherwise I was beaten. It made me forget everything, I was focused to apply a technique to avoid the hit. Being present usually is felt as relaxation.

Reading a book can be relaxing. Watching a movie can be relaxing.

Unhealthy relaxation techniques are sometimes much fun, too:
Taking drugs i.e and each society has legal drugs.


This late afternoon, I'll go to a led class. I will have to go through an exhausting practice before I feel relaxed. The more exhausting I practice, the more relaxed I'll feel at the end. During the years I've learned to practice to my limits. This is not possible in the beginning, I think. This is why yoga becomes more and more a tool for relaxation the longer a yogi/yogini practices.

My instant unhealthy relaxation techniques:
Pralinés and red wine. Having too much food.
My instant healthy relaxation activities:
A hot bath, sauna, strolling around, shopping, cooking something.....

Relaxation shall be my focus during the led class this afternoon:
- Consciously I will engage my muscles, but the face I will relax.
- To think 'take it easy' and  'have fun' shall be the other relaxation technique.

I personally don't practice yoga to learn how to relax in general. It's for me a welcomed side effect to learn relaxation techniques. Mainly I want to exercise the body and the mind, when I practice yoga. The body shall be strong and flexible, the mind focused and calm. It's for my health.

It's nice that yoga has this reputation to be relaxing. It often makes me smile. When I observe yoginis in a Mysore class the idea that this is relaxing is far away.

Relaxation: It's an interesting topic. A good party question.

What relaxes you?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Two recommendations for the first Ashtanga years


My poll that was up lately told me that many readers of my blog practice up to 5 years Ashtanga yoga. I practice now 7 years. What advice can I give?

1. Start a home practice as soon as possible. Start slowly, let your practice grow according to your own abilities, but start. Why? Many of you will probably go to a led Ashtanga class. Not everywhere Mysore classes are offered. When you only go to led classes and then to a Mysore class it is likely that you do not know the order of the asanas (even though you've practiced them). The order of the asanas seem to be difficult to remember. Many Years Mr Swenson sat on my sofa (in form of his book). It was so difficult for me to remember which asana came next, not to speak about the Sanskrit names. Learn those, too. Your home practice makes you independant from circumstances.

2. In my first years I omitted a lot of asanas, or I practiced easy versions of some asanas. I thought that I'd never be able to practice some asanas, because, my arms were not long enough, or my calves too muscular, or because I were too old for some asanas. It turned out to be nonsense. I can do more than I ever thought. Right from the beginning on develop a positive attitude. Think: It's possible. This will help you much more to perform the challenging asanas of the Ashtanga series than the limiting thought: I cannot. Believe me, more is possible than you can imagine in the beginning.

The picture shows one example: In the first years I was convinced I'd never reach my toes with my hands when I cross my arms behind my back. It's possible now.

Digital cameras are a wonderful Christmas presents:

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Urdhva dhanurasana


For me it's more to understand a pose, to learn what a pose aims at than to cheat myself. For me urdhva dhanurasana is not about dropping back firstly. To be able to come up from this pose and to drop down is the consequence when the body is open. To do a pose correctly is also important because I want to avoid injuries.

Urdhva dhanurasana opens and lengthens the front side of the body, hips, chest.

When I practice at home I use a strap around my upper thighs. The knees shall always be parallel. I know that they tend to drift apart. Also the feet shall be parallel. Despite the strap they are not 100% pointing forward in the movie. I will take care of this the next time.

This pose is a challenge. I still have to convince myself to do it after all these forward bending asanas of the first series. With each repetition it becomes easier. By now I cannot come up from this pose. It's possible that this will happen next year. Hahaha. I'm curious.

The movie shows my current possibilities and how I exercise.
The inner work cannot be seen, so here still a few comments:
- I push my feet and hands as much as I can on the floor.
- Especially the inhaling shall arch my body more.
- I move forwards and backwards to open hips and chest.

I'm ready for a Mysore class now. Primary today. I'm looking forward to it. I'll practice full vinyasa to develop strength (and because it feels better). An asana begins with samasthithi and it ends with samasthithi.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

How many surya namaskara A and B shall I practice?



This post is for Tui:

1. As long as someone does not practice all the asanas of the primary series it is recommended to practice 5 surya namaskara A and 5 surya namaskara B. The reason: it is important to get strong.
2. When all the asanas of the primary series are practiced, only 5 surya namaskara A and 3 surya namaskara B are practiced. Often I practice with the CD by Sharath (the grandson of P. Jois). It's exactly how I wrote, he counts me through 5 surya namaskara A and 3 surya namaskara B.

3. Feel free to do what is good for you. Perhaps you feel cold during winter time. In order to warm up, it can make sense to practice more surya namaskaras. After a long break a yogini might be weak and he/she might not be able to do all the 8 suryas, then it is recommended to work on adding again one by one.
4. Sometimes there might be only time for surya namaskaras. Then that's it. Do as much as you like, it's a great warm up and it stretches the body as well.


Digital camera:

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Dristhi


On the picture I practiced a twist, ardha matsyendrasana. The topic today is drishti. I know that I have neglected this part of the Ashtanga yoga practice. The eyes remain calm, it's also important in which direction we have to look. On the pic I look downwards, which is not the correct dirshti.
Dirsthi for ardha matsyendrasana is the side.
To look in this direction helps to stretch. To look down shows me that I still struggle with this asana.

To practice the asanas with the correct dristhi is a concentration exercise.

- It needs all my concentration i.e. to do upward facing dog and not to look upwards but to the third eye. In most back bending asanas drishti is not upwards but the third eye!!!
- It needs all my concentration to look forward in ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana and not frowning.

A tip: study the drishtis. It's part of Ashtanga yoga.

I love to look around in classes sometimes (NOT ALWAYS). The practices of my fellow yoginis inspire me a lot. It gives me ideas for my blog.

Never look in the direction you don't want to go..........:)

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Up, yeah......


Yesterday was my yoga free day. The Source wanted me not to practice. What can I do then. When the Source wants to play with me........

Today I go to a Mysore class. This is good. It forces me to go out and it's freezing cold outside. I will put on my yoga clothes already at home. Then my jeans. This shall keep me warm. I don't want to feel cold still 30 min after having started practicing. Winter is not my time.

Second series today.
I discovered drishti lately. It makes a difference in which direction I look, I realized. Shall the breath and drishti be my focus. Engaging the muscles is also so important. I need to be strong.

Second coffee.
Ah, this is good, second series and second coffee.
Oh, time to call my bf to wake him up. I won't call him a second earlier than wished, I know how he adores his sleep, and how he needs it. He knows that I get up early. Hahaha. it's true, this has changed in the last decade. I go to bed on time, mainly far before midnight. I want to get up early to practice in the morning. For my morning practice I want to be well-rested. Even though sometimes I don't practice in the morning, but the habit to get up at 6 is good. I prefer to take a nap in the early afternoon when tired. This is not new, I know, but I just thought about it. Change always happens.

Today is the first December. Due to this Christmas euphoria here, I have the feeling as if the year is already over. But we all have still one entire month to do all the things we think that must be done.

I started planning 2011, and I look back. What happened in the last year, I wonder. At least I could enjoy this nothingness.
My yoga improved, I made new friends. This is wonderful.
My professional life is a disaster. I shall not give up. Shall the cosmos care for me. However. To delegate is good.

My yoga goals for 2011 are very clear:
It's working mainly on second series. All the asanas that were introduced to me must be exercised. Again and again.

A book that improved my mood yesterday night:
Satyam Nadeen "From pearls to onions". It's only something for people who want to wake up.
This book is a wake up call: