Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jumping forward


In Ashtanga yoga we usually practice vinyasas between the asanas. Vinyasas are dynamic movements that connect the asanas. Usually we jump forward from downward dog. It's worth to have a closer look. How many different ways exist to jump forward. I love to have a survey:

Primary series has three different ways to jump forward:
1. The classic form is to jump forward between the arms without touching the floor. Legs are crossed or stretched when jumping through. Then the legs stretch and quickly one has to prepare the next pose. I prefer to jump through with crossed legs. It has something to to with the body portions.
2. In order to prepare tirieng mukha eka pada paschimottanasa the one leg bends and the toes point backwards, the other leg swings through and stretches forward.
3.  One flies forward and the legs wrap around the arms, the feet don't touch the floor. Three asanas require this: bhuja pidasana, kurmasana and supta kurmasana.



Second series has some more variations:
4. I mention them here, but they are easy. One jumps forward and lands on the flat feet (pashasana follows) or the knees (ushtrasana ff.)
5. The most challenging forward jump seems to me to jump from downward dog into bakasana.
6. Another variation is to jump forward  and one leg swings through the arms the other leg lands on the upper arm (preparation for eka pada sirsasana).
7. To prepare parighasana, one leg bends and the toes point backwards, the other leg stretches to the side.

There is a lot to exercise. Ashtanga yoga is never boring.

Birthday.....


Haha, I opened my birthday present from E. I got a new camera, exact the one I had wished, the one in silver and  attached was a card. I read it and ha, he confused the 5 with the 2. My E. congratulated me to my 25th birthday. I fear this was on purpose to tease me. This devil!

It was nice at the Afghan restaurant tonight. We were 5 people, friends we know for more than a decade and it was funny. We  teased each other with the little weaknesses we know about each other: weight (can be seen quickly), jobs (simple questions give answers), trips (where to go, one was everywhere), deadlines (again postponed?), hair (especially that that does not exist anymore), watches (only the now exists, why expensive Swiss watches) were the topics. Spicy food, wine (Shyrah) in an oriental atmosphere made the evening round.

It's almost midnight. I'll stay up  another 30 min, I don't feel tired. I mean tomorrow is my yoga free day.

I'm relaxed. Not only relaxed, I feel joy to be here on earth. I'm curious what comes next, I feel lively and ah, it can go on for some time, if you ask me.

I'm so happy about the friends that I have, and that I can practice Ashtanga yoga and that the sun is shining and that it rains from time to time  ...and.....and......and!    :)


Friday, April 29, 2011

I watch.......the wedding of Kate and William


I change the roles, I'm a voyeur today.

I enjoy the wedding of K & W.  What a grand theatre.

What flowers will he give her. How is her hairdo, the dress, OMG.

Oh, and the public kiss, the highlight,  observed around the globe. How fucking exciting. I mean really. It must be a kiss, but not too much kissing, not too less, the folks want to see it, but it shouldn't be too long either.

And the relatives, the invited guests.........oh my.........I expect gossip at it's best.

.....no, I won't miss this event. :)

I saw Diana's wedding, her funeral, and I watch Kate's wedding........

Thursday, April 28, 2011

One leg behind the head. Or both?

You cannot make anything wrong in yoga, I read lately. I disagree. One can make a  lot of mistakes and one risks to get injured.

Leg behind head is an asana one has to understand. Too much ambition is not needed here, but perseverance and understanding.

Eka pada sirsasana opens the hips. The leg moves backwards and backwards and backwards till one should try to bring the leg behind the head and put too much pressure on the knee.
It should be possible to bring the knees on the floor next to the body when lying on the back before one tries this pose.

Btw, have you realized already that marichyasana A is a preparation for this advanced pose. When this is seen, it's also clear that the foot of the bended leg is not close to the stretched leg, but the rim of the foot is in line with the outer body!

Understanding how important it is to move the leg backwards and not forcing the lower leg behind my sensitive neck helped me to practice safe. I don't want to hurt my knee.
It's easier to do yoga nidrasana first, then eka pada sirsasana. Yoga nidrasana becomes even a bit easier when it's practiced on the bed first.

To consider three further points improved eka pada sirsasana. I read at least 2 hints in the book by Gregor Maehle.
1. I point  the foot nowadays. This makes a huge difference.
2. The chest opens, I learned.
3. The back muscles are challenged. When the back muscles are active the chest opens. It's all interconnected. Alone the awareness of these points improved the asanas.

Fact is, the further down the leg is the better it is. If it's too high it can be that too much pressure is on the neck.

Today I practiced primary. Primary has already one pose where the legs should bo posed behind the back. It's supta kurmasana. For those who have not soooooo looooooong legs it's difficult to cross the legs in front of the head. In order to practice supta kurmasana (for those with the shorter legs) it's necessary to do dwi pada sirsasana first (both legs behind the head while sitting). Then one can lower the body and the legs are crossed behind the back. The fingers can then hook behind the back, too.
This is the reason why I practice these second series poses when I practice primary at home.



Yes. I need the sofa to get into that pose. I lean against it when I take the legs in the dwi pada sirsasana position. This pose can only done when I manage it to keep one leg in position without holding it. I think I progressed here.

Yeah, Ashtanga yoga...hahahaha......:)

Have fun and don't forget to buy your amazon products via my blog.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A hint that improves every asana.....


Be conscious of the body parts that touch the floor and press them against it. This improves almost every asana. When the hands touch the floor not only the fingers, but also the palm of the hand presses against the floor. Also press the feet press against the floor as if you want to make the earth move a bit faster. Almost all balancing poses improve that way. Think of bakasana or pincha mayurasana. In pincha mayurasana also the thumb plays an important balancing role. To do the forearms.

First check which body parts touch the floor and then press them against it or let your body weight do it.

Urdhva dhanurasana becomes easier for me when I press the feet against the floor and the hands.

The asanas become stable and powerful.

To realize which body parts touch the floor made me understand the twists. The twists deserve extra posts.....:)

Explore it and see the difference.
Let me know if you realize an improvement of the asanas. I do.

Picture: It's marichyasana D. The knee of the bended leg is much further to the floor than years ago. The picture gives me ideas what I can test. Perhaps it's possible to bring the foot higher. Then the knee should approach the floor even more.

My practice was excellent today. Already one kilo less makes a huge difference. That the weight plays a crucial role know all people who work with the body. Being disciplined does not only mean to practice on a daily basis, it also means not to eat too much.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An analysis and next steps

 An analysis of second series, the middle part:
1. Pashasana
I can bind, but I put a blanket under my heels in order not to role backwards. This pashasana needs a slim body.
- To weight 46 kg would be perfect.
- The ankle between shin bone and upper feet must become smaller. This can be exercised when stepping the feet back in down dog.
- I can also put a blanket under my balls of my feet while sitting.
2. Krounchasana
3. Salabhasana A,B
4. Bhekasana
5. Dhanurasana
6. Parsva dhanurasana
7. Ustrasana
8. Laguhu vajrasana
9. Kapotasana A, B
Repetition, repetition, repetition
10. Supta vajrasana
11. Bakasana A
11. Bakasana B
12. Bharadvajasana
13. Ardha matsyendrasana
14. Eka pada Sirsasana
15. Dwi pada Sirsasana
16. Yoga nidrasana
17. Tittibhasana A, B, C
18. Pincha mayurasana
Practicing it away from the wall.
19. Karandavasana
20. Mayurasana
21. Nakrasana
22. Vatayanasana
23. Parighasana
24. Gomukhasana A, B
25. Supta urdhva pada vajrasana
26. Mukta hasta Sirsasana A, B, C
27. Baddha Haste Sirsasana A, B, C, D

Red means I need a prop or adjustment and I feel still far away.
Black means I've sometimes the feeling I get close to how the pose is supposed to be.


Shall I focus on improving pashasana.
Back bending: repetition, repetition and staying optimistic is all I can do.

My practice was excellent this morning. It took me a bit more than 2 hours even though I made no breaks. Some sweat pearls ran down my body. It's always good to have practiced.

I can prepare the Mysore class tomorrow. Drinking water and eating modest is best preparation.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday


The sun is shining here, but it's too fresh to practice outside. I woke up without alarm clock, nevertheless I feel still a bit tired and the body feels sore and stiff. I wonder why. A modest practice, even a lousy practice is better than no practice at all, I think. I'll give my body a bit more time to wake up, then I'll step on my mat in order to attempt second series.

Nature is beautiful here. It's all green, two lakes are in walking distance and the forest a few steps away is so inviting that fear does not come up.
The cats are wild and from time to time they hunt mice. From us human beings they expect some tenderness. Also not always, but they are able to make clear when they want to be caressed. Then they approach and press their little bodies against the legs, they look up and wiggle through the legs. It's already as if they caress themselves using a human leg. I don't let myself beg very long. Then I play with these little monsters with my hands. They stretch the head forward and turn it when I crawl their necks. They make a hump, when the hand glides over their backs. When they have enough they walk away. This was it then. Till next time.


The plan beside my yoga practice: We'll eat out today at a Thai restaurant in a beautiful village. Then E and I will drive to Munich. I hope that there won't be too much traffic.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Easter practice


It was wonderful to practice outside this morning. A fresh wind cheered me up from time to time. Birds were watching me and my father was watching me, too. He: It's like circus. Hahahaha. Fact is it was hard this morning. I cannot remember when I've been so stiff lately. Brave I was, I did all asanas of primary and all vinyasas.

I must think the other way round: Instead of realizing during my practice that it would be good to live more modest, it could be good to think: what can I do off the mat to make my yoga practice a good one.

It's sunny here, wonderful Easter weather. Time to stroll around. The castle is not so far away, there are also 2 lakes. We'll stay another day here.


Picture no 1: Easter eggs for the conservative readers.
Picture no 2: An Easter egg for the anarchos among us.

Up, I'm the first here....


I must really thank my E. He managed it to delete the virus troja and repaired all my data and programmes. Sigh. What a joy. I wouldn't have been able to do it. It was not that easy.

Oh, it seems that the breakfast routine starts here. Time to shower.
Then follows my yoga practice. Yep. I insist, I practice today.

Then strolling around is on the schedule, too. Today our destination is the close castle.


The close forest here smells so good. It's a healthy forest. It's very relaxing to be there.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pictures from a day at the Isar



I slept long. It's OK, why not. Ah usual when we drive to my parents we leave Munich after lunch which is my 2nd breakfast and E's first.


The yoga practice yesterday was indeed very intensive, I can still feel it in my body. Even my back is a bit sore. Saturday is my day off, but will I practice at my parents home? I want to do some sun salutations, only because it's so wonderful to practice with the balcony doors open.



A day in the nature is like a little vacation. I rediscover the beauty of Munich. The climate is not very exciting here, but so it is bearable. A few summer days, spring and autumn and many winter days, but not so cold give us some change and something to talk about or should I write something to complain about? It's a good start to exercise the mind in relation to the weather and learn to think positively. Why thinking of terms like bad weather and good weather. Making the best out of each situation is a more uplifting approach.
I remember a conversation with a former colleague. I asked him if his 3 children have preferences re the weather. They hadn't. And how is it about rain, I wanted to know. Also when it's raining they want to play outside, he enlightened me.


Yesterday the weather was warm not too hot, there was sunshine and shadow. Hahahaha, I loved to be outside close to the Isar. Water, grass, trees, people, animals, everything could be admired.  



Time to go on with my morning routine: writing my journal and stepping on the mat.
Happy Easter Saturday.

Primary: Extra atttention will be on the (1) vinyasas, jumping through and forward, (2) supta kurmasana (I want to go into that pose via dwi pada sirsana) and (3) urdhva dhanurasana.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Concentration again.


I've a virus. Not myself to be precise, but my PC and this is even worse. "Trojan" is this virus called and it spoiled all my programmes. I already paid about 80 US Dollar in January this year. I got an alert that I've a virus on my PC and in order to remove it I should buy this anti-virus software. I bought it and now I've the same problem. This was the virus already. This drives me crazy.
So this morning I could do nothing, I was not able to open the internet browser and my E wanted to sleep and he needs his sleep.

Then I remembered what I read lately on concentration. Concentrating means to fade out the outer circumstances and the inner life, too. The mind focus on something one wants to focus on. It was the breath. I was able to forget everything, but not the breath. I had an excellent practice. Primary was on the schedule. When I think of my practice this morning I become enthusiastic, so good  was it. Concentration creates flow. The body is hot and bendy when I practice without breaks and this allows me to go deeper and deeper in the asanas.

After my practice E woke up, too. He helped me to run a virus programme. The issue is not yet fixed. I use another browser now, FireFox and tomorrow we'll continue repairing my ill PC. Till then I'll focus on the breath. What else is important.

We had indeed a very nice afternoon. I could forget my PC and the landlord, too. We strolled along the Isar. Some people started barbecuing there, others sunbathed, others cared for their babies. The sun was shining, the grass was green already, so the trees. We walked in the shadow till we stopped at an Italian restaurant.

Yeah, and tomorrow we'll drive to my parents. I hope we can fix my PC soon.

"Don't go naked to the office".


Has he really written his book by himself or has he had a ghostwriter, was our evening discussion yesterday in the Croatian bar round the corner. The stories in the book by Oliver Kahn are so entertaining that E doubted he has written them by himself.

The title of this post is a subtitle of a chapter in his book that will say: Are you prepared when you're going to a game, a meeting, a yoga workshop, a Mysore class.

For Oli it didn't matter who was the opponent. He always tried to give his best, he wanted to be prepared for each match. Prepared in his case as a goal keeper  also meant to have a disciplined life style. He controlled his weight, he took care that he had times to relax. And here we have it again. A passion can have influence on our entire life.

Being disciplined means abandonment. Fast satisfaction (via food i.e.) or fast relief (via alcohol i.e.) are abandoned for a higher goal that might be accomplished in the future. This is why it's so important to know what motivates us. Oli loved it to jump behind the ball, throwing his body in the mud. OMG. I love to hear, what my relative said to me: People like you don't exist anymore (because most people at my age are stiff and a bit overweight).
Know what motivates you, know your trigger, then it becomes easier not to eat that ice cream. Then it becomes easier to exercise abandonment, being disciplined.

Being prepared, what does this mean for my yoga practice I wondered:
- Having a clean yoga place
- Drinking alcohol is part of our Western culture. For yoga it's better to limit those days with wine and Champagne. Yep, my birthday next week is a Veuve Cliquot day!!!! I insist. But not every dinner must be accompanied with a red one.
- Eating modest.
- Sleeping till one is well-rested.
- Practicing positive self-talk.
- Practicing breathing or some asanas/vinyasas beside the regular practice to study it.
- Planning the time when the practice shall start the evening before.
- Thinking of a focus
The possibility to prepare are endless. Some preparation measurements have more influence, some less: attitude, weight is of a higher importance than knowing what to dress for the practice.

I'm disciplined. I'll step on my mat soon. Primary is on the schedule..........

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Concentration


To focus about two hours on the breath is a concentration exercise.

To improve concentration means to be able to focus over a period of time on one thing.
The mind learns to fade down all the distractions that might be around, the other yoginis, the noise outside, the hair that is falling in the face much too often. But also thoughts are supposed to fade down. Where to eat out for lunch should become unimportant during the practice time. The periods that we're able to focus can be prolonged. This is the challenge.

Concentration has so to say 2 aspects: First the the thing we want to concentrate and the length we are able to focus on that  object.

I watched parts of the Mysore class when Sharath was in NY. It can be seen easily who has focus, concentration and who is distracted. It's not necessary to look at others. Me too, I adjust my hair much too often during my practice.

The reward when we're able to concentrate over a period of time is that we're likely to experience flow. And this feels great.

Currently I'm reading the book by Oliver Kahn "Ich, Erlofg kommt von innen" (available only in German language). Concentration is dedicated one chapter. Oli  tried to watch the ball during the entire match. He didn't like to lose it with his eyes for a second. That way he was always prepared if the ball came close to the goal. This was his concentration exercise. He had to fade down spectators, but also the weather, sometimes it was minus 15 degrees. He only saw the ball, nothing else. Here one of his tips: When you want to improve your concentration, you must eat well, don't drink too much alcohol,  be well-rested.

This is all true for Ashtanga yoginis and yogis. A healthy life style with breaks, enough sleep, healthy food improves the practice, the ability to concentrate. Ashtanga yoga can in fact serve as a coach, a guide in life. The starting point might be the wish to practice and perfect asanas. Soon it will "spoil" the entire life. I went to bed earlier i.e. to be relaxed in the morning when it was clear that Ashtanga yoga is so important to me that I'd be willing to make major life style changes. In my case this was getting up early in the morning. It was part of my self-image that I, this Ursula-thing likes to sleep long. Things changes, even my sleeping habits changed. I don't miss watching TV. So, it was only difficult in the beginning.

Ashtanga yoginis/yogis shall focus on the breath. Isn't it more suited for the auditive yoginis among us, i.e..  Today I focused on my throat where I can feel the breath. I also listened to the sound, which always reminds me of incoming and outgoing waves of the sea.

I practiced with the CD by Sharath till navasana, then I switched it off. I wanted to experiment with
my self-timer. The technique is easy, but one has to understand and experiment. I did this today. My timer and I started becoming friends. Sigh, not an easy approach.

Picture: I'm a bit confused about the position of my hands. The goal is now to move the hands and feet so far together that they are both totally on the mat. This seems to me a doable goal.

Time to enjoy the sun.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

According to my own rhythm.....


I practiced according to my own rhythm today during the Mysore class. Mysore classes allow me to repeat the asanas that I can not yet practice, but that I'm learning. Pincha mayursana is such a pose.
I was able to give my best today. Concentration was excellent.

In the underground I saw a young boy under 1 year. He sat on a bench with straight legs, he bent forward with straight back and posed his head between his legs. It was all easy going. "And I exercise this every day, and he's just doing it", I said to his mother. The boy looked up and smiled. I enjoyed to see this perfect paschimottanasana. Everything easy-going his smile told me......:)

I'm a bit lazy to write more. To write about concentration is on my list. But the sun calls me, I want to go out. I also want to bath to relax my muscles. They still hurt a bit. These overstretched leg muscles need time to heal. Yeah, and this evening my E and myself celebrate his birthday in one of our Italian restaurant. Ah.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Second series with David Swenson


I wanted to challenge myself, today, I wanted to experiment.

From time to time I practice with a CD. It can substitute a led class, so I think.
Listening to someone who guides me through one of the series has the advantage that I don't have to think at all what comes next. I follow the voice. I also do not have to motivate myself to go on, the voice that I hear makes me doing the next breath, the next move.
The challenge is that the asanas must be held a bit longer as I do when in a Mysore class or at home alone. The vinyasas and going in a pose has to be done faster. Cheating becomes a bit more difficult. Focusing on the breath and the voice brings me in a meditative state.

My challenge should be to practice second series with a CD, Swenson's CD.
David Swenson guides the yoginis/yogis through 5 surya namaskara As, 5 surya namaskara Bs, the entire standing sequence, the closing sequence and relaxation. Half vinyasa is counted.
Usually I practice 5 surya As, 3 surya Bs. I stop the standing asanas after utthita parsvottanasana. I practice full vinyasa.

Variations keep the mind attentive.

I think it makes sense for me to practice till kapotasana. Then I should switch off the CD and I should repeat this deep back bending asana. Kapotasana needs extra attention, repetition. I'm learning it. Simply to do it somehow, not giving extra effort to it doesn't satisfy myself. An alternative could be stop the CD and then to switch it on again.

My direction when practicing alone after having practiced with the CD:
- Going faster in an asana.
- Holding the asana longer.
- Vinyasa is supposed to be done faster, too.

I practiced. I interrupted a beloved routine. This is always good as it interrupts sleepwalking. Ashtanga yoga is an awareness exercise.

Ashtanga yoga teaches me discipline, it teaches me to be content with what is. Something was missing: modesty. This practice makes me modest.......:) I was challened. Indeed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My favourite Ashtanga rules


1. Practice in the morning. (Means: after a small breakfast and after having emptied the body from the delicious food I ate the day before.)
2. Practice daily. (Means: 6 days a week and one day break) I don't know moon days, but unfortunately lazy days.
3. Don't omit asanas. If an asana is not yet possible I imagine it. This counts, too.

Of course I apply the typical Ashtanga method (these are last but not least also rules for the yoga practice: uddjay breathing, linking the breath with the movement, no asana without vinyasa, gazing at a point, engaging certain muscles, engaging mulha bandha, letting go of the rest. It's all known. Beside this, see above.

As soon as I write down rules exceptions come to mind. So it's always with rules, they are made to break them: 
Yesterday i.e. I didn't practice. I dawdled in the morning and then I wanted to go out with my E. The practice this morning was hard, I don't exaggerate here. I had 2 days off from yoga, this was one day too much. The Italian food also didn't help me today to perform a perfect pashasana. Such is life.  New resolutions are made. Life goes on.............

What are your favourite Ashtanga rules, you never want to break?

You can also read this blog on facebook or twitter. Links are on the right side of this blog. Have an excellent start in the week.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A day off from yoga.......


It's good for me to have a day off from yoga once a week. Yesterday was such a day as it was Saturday. It's probably very good for the body. But more than relaxing my body I appreciate that I've time for other important activities, like cleaning, and desk tasks. Much more relaxed I begin another yoga week when basic tasks are done.

In the evening I read in the book by Matthew Sweeney "Ashtanga yoga as it is" and I found again some goodies:
"Do not be in a hurry to reach the finish line, for there is none."


This is one of the sentences that takes away the stress and pressure from the practice. There will be always something to learn, to improve, to work on. As soon as an asana is managed it can be refined and the next asana appears at the horizon.

I also loved what Matthew Sweeney wrote about self-practice (page 18 ff in "Ashtanga yoga as it it"):
"The level of your yoga is particularly obvious when you practice alone."

1. He summarizes the advantages of practicing in a group: motivation, concentration and increased energy.
2. "Solitary self practice is a practice of inner contemplation, self discipline and self reliance." (page 19, same book)

"A sign of a true yogi is being comfortable in your own skin - the ability to be alone." (page 19, same book as above)

I agree with all that. Practicing yoga alone teaches to rely on oneself. Alone on the mat my own awareness becomes my teacher. Ashtanga yoga challenges all my senses. When I practice I feel the limits in my body, I have a gazing point for my eyes and I listen to my breath. How exciting.


Here is the book by Matthew Sweeney "Ashtanga yoga as it is":


Friday, April 15, 2011

Sweating is part of it


Sweating is part of the Ashtanga yoga system.

Our bodies are all different. It is said that men sweat more and easier than women as they have more perspiratory glands. We all are able to sweat more or less.

To practice in warm rooms facilitates sweating.

I usually do not sweat much, but sweating during my yoga practice developed like my practice. Beside the hot room the reasons why this is so is firstly I breathe deeply during my practice. I used to forgot it in the first years. Secondly I'm much more able to reach my limits. I've learned how to put energy in a practice, how to exhaust myself, how to be focused. I go on when it gets tough. This develops with the time.

Oh, I had an excellent practice this morning. Urdhva dhanurasana was fantastic, I had the feeling it will happen that I stand up from this pose during my life span.
I could jump into buja pindasana.
What drives me crazy is that I feel like napping in the afternoon. I sleep like a dead person. Also my naps intensified. Perhaps my entire life became more and more intensive...hahahaha.

I rediscovered the book: "Happy yoga" by Steve Ross. I recommend it for those who are interested in 7 reasons why there is nothing to worry about. Inspiring book, inspiring yogi.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Primary at home


Primary has still a lot of challenges:
- The vinyasas are one of them. I'm ready for the next step. So far I was able to lift my body up with an inhaling, crossed my legs and could swing the feet through the arms without touching the floor. Then the balls of the feet quickly touched the floor. My next challenge is to hold the position without touching the floor. This develops strength that I need. The legs must finally fly back.

- Bhuja pidasana: Several times I tried to jump forward direct into the pose, ready to cross the ankles as soon as the legs landed on the upper arms. This dynamic movement is no more so scary, it seems to be doable. It seems to be balancing skill.

- Supta kurmasana: I added several poses, like leg behind the head poses. Our bodies are different. For me with relatively short legs and arms in relation to the upper part of the body, it's better to cross the legs behind the head or neck than to cross them in front of the head, which is not possible.

Forward splits after supta parsvasahita were painful, as my legs are not yet 100% OK. Time to eat again pineapples and green food.  Yes, yes, this shall help to keep the muscles soft. I know this from three reliable sources.

I also added pincha mayurasana.  I added it before the headstand. M warned me. I'll soon have to fold into padmasana when in that pose and this means I've to be very stable in that pose (which I'm not yet).

I know I need more strength: I don't cheat anymore in the last post, utpluthih. I hold it for 10 breaths (no, not 108 breaths). 10 shall be enough. Even Sharath counts till 10 in his led classes and not till 100 something.

My practice this morning was excellent. I practiced with the CD by Sharath first.
Ah, I remember another week point during my practice. Perhaps I should practice this also: I need too much time to get into marichyasana C and D. I must find out why I need so much time.
After navasana I stopped the CD and practiced alone, full vinyasa then.

The advantage when it's difficult: One learns to learn and one learns to become patient. Perseverance is learned. The joy when a pose is finally mastered is much greater than when it's all easy going and not at all a challenge.

Asthanga yoga, because it feels good. Ashtanga yoga because you're worth it.

The sun starts shining, time to go out a bit. Fresh air is good for the teint.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eka pada sirsasana


I had a wonderful practice. Wonderful because I didn't make any breaks, concentration was good.

My pain in the overstretched legs was felt only a bit. I'll take a bath and I'll put rubbing alcohol on it now after this practice. This morning I also took two magnesium to keep my muscles relaxed and in peace. No extra stress is planned for them for a while, no split poses.

If I want to improve my practice, my asanas, my vinyasas, my breath, my concentration, my relaxation, I must practice, practice, practice. This is the open secret.

The eka pada sirsasana on the picture does not convince me. But that's the current status. My chin must move forward. I don't know what I shall tell my leg so that it remains behind my head, without holding it. Answers will come. Till then I work on engaging the stretched leg and moving my chin forward. Next time I will check if I engage my bandhas. This could help, too.

I exercise this pose also while lying on the back. Then the neck pushes back the leg and opens the hips much more than I'm able to do it when practicing the above asana. When lying on the back this pose is easier and my leg remains behind the head without the support of my hand.

In the afternoon I wanted to take a nap, but the book by Gregor Maehle on second series fell into my hand, and then I couldn't stop reading anymore. These leg behind head poses strengthen the back and the upper chest and they make the hips flexible. It's a "no" pose re to him an anal pose. Back bending are "yes" poses as they open the front side. To apply the theory of Sigmund Freud on the Ashtanga yoga is really interesting.

It's the next morning now, and I'm really motivated to practice in a Mysore class. I've taken my magnesium already.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ashtanga yoga and the classic method how it's taught


"I'm so afraid that I'm not able to do all these asanas." This told me the woman who had placed her mat next to me during the Ashtanga workshop the last weekend. Almost the same song I heard from the yogini on my right side.

Ashtanga yoga has the reputation: It's difficult. Hardcore yoga. Beginners fear to make themselves ridiculous when going to a class.

Ashtanga yoga is a method.
How to learn it is also a method. But unfortunately most people don't learn it regarding the classic method, but via led classes.

The classic method how people were taught and how I've seen it in India in THE shala:
An aspirant was shown the surya namaskaras and the first poses. He was taught only so many poses he /she was able to handle somehow. The next day he/she practiced again those poses. Saraswathi gave adjustments (hands on adjustments), minimum for the pose which was the last one, because this was the one the yogi/yogini struggled the most. If the asanas were understood and could be practiced the next pose or poses were shown. The student needn't be able to perform a pose perfectly but he/she had to know how it goes. Students advanced rather fast. They were not stopped for an eternity at a pose.
Every week was a led class offered and students were supposed to come. Those who weren't taught all the asanas of a series, stopped practicing at their last given asana. Then they waited till the closing sequence, which they practiced then again with all the others.

How most people learn Asthanga in the western world:
Today people learn Ashtanga yoga often via a led class. When they are lucky they get one or two adjustments. There are other yogis in the class, too who want attention and correction. Many poses are never shown correctly. Poses are done not correctly often for years.
I give you an example: In marichyasana A I placed my foot of the bended leg  very close to my stretched leg. After years I was told that the outer side of my foot is in line with the body. Slowly I started understanding the pose. It prepares even for "leg behind the head pose" (eka pada sirsasana), it opens the hips.

Teacher know the diffuculties to guide 30 people through a led class and half of them are bloody beginners. Often only half of the first series is offered (till navasana). Never more. Or the teacher makes breaks, which interrupts the flow, but which is surely necessary.

This all said I try to find a last sentence:  Ashtanga is better than its reputation.
If learned correctly it's still demanding, but it's no more frightening.
If learned correctly (from an experienced teacher) mistakes are avoided and with this injuries in the long run.

Adjustments in Ashtanga yoga are mainly hands-on adjustments. It's ideal learning for mainly kinestetic people (like me). It can be supporting to watch videos for the more visual ones. There are also teacher who love to talk, they are for the more audible people. :)

Time to step on my mat.
Self-study is important and part of the learning. Show responsibility for your own practice........
Enjoy!

MAKE THE BEST OUT OF EVERY GIVEN SITUATION AND BE CONTENT!

PS: The first series I learned in led classes and via books (after navasana). To be precise, it was the book by David Swenson.
Since  some time I'm so lucky to learn the series according to the classic method, one asana after the other in a Mysore class. Each new pose is shown to me, I get hands on adjustments. Ah, I'm such a child of fortune.

PSS: You can follow this blog also on facebook or twitter. Links are on the right side of this blog.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back to daily work, ah, yoga........:)

Mysore class this morning was fantastic. I've the feeling as if my body gets used to practice second series. This makes the series a bit easier.

I was so conscious what luxury is offered to me. Three times Mysore class with wonderful yoginis and yogis and a very experienced and committed teacher. I'm so thankful for this. I will fight like a lion if this way of living is threatened. I do only what I want to do for the time being. Not a second in my life is a duty, it's all pleasure, joy, fun, entertainment. This is what Ashtanga yoga can do to you, I learned during the workshop last weekend......hahaha. (and Advaita philosophy, I want to add) It can change also your life for the better. Start with surya namaskara A.........

Picture: me pretending to work.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

Drishti


I discovered the drishtis relatively late in my Ashtanga yoga practice.
They are important and make a difference:
- To keep the eyes motionless and to gaze towards a point helps me to balance.
- It also directs the body in the wished direction.
- It calms the mind.

I could clear something during the workshop: In downward facing dog i.e. it is said that drishti is the navel. It would be better to say:  look towards the navel. It needn't be seen and often the gazing point cannot be seen. Better to keep the neck relaxed than to really see a gazing point.
Generally spoken: It is, that we have to look towards a point (toes, navel,....), it needn't to be seen.
What a relief.....hahahaha.

Many yoginis close their eyes when they go deeply into an asana. But in Ashtanga yoga the eyes are open.

It requires concentration to practice asanas with the correct dristhi.

Lino Miele: I practice Ashtanga yoga because it feels good.

I final quote by Lino Miele: love yourself.

This was a bit of the workshop by Lino Miele, how I've experienced it.
Yes, it was exciting.
Ah, and to meet all the yoginis and yogis, what a joy.

In this sense enjoy your weekend.

Lino Miele's book about Ashtanga yoga, here is it:

Thank you for buying it via my blog.

The dangers of workshops.


Before going to a workshop I program my mind to practice modest. Workshop seduce to overdo, to exaggerate. I practiced modest this morning in the led class with Lino Miele. "Jump through", he said and too quickly for me he announced the next pose. I only blame myself. I should have taken the time I needed for my jump throughs. What I did was: quick quick through. I used my travel mat, which is very sticky and suddenly I heard a noise and felt a pain in my second little toe of my left foot. I was stopped by my mat, the second toe was the victim of this crash. OMG, I thought and feared that this could force me to stop practicing.  I could go on as always. At the end of the class my toe was blue and now I've something to show.

Responsibility was a word that Lino mentioned. We have responsibility for our own practice (not any other person.) So true. :) I must laugh. Yeah, it's all OK.

The little red point on the big toe was caused by summer shoes. Barefoot I'm happy.

Setu bandhasana: Many of the yoginis and yogis of the workshop didn't practice Ashtanga yoga for a long time. Lino showed a variation of setu bandhasana that everybody should do as this pose should be too dangerous for the neck if someone cannot do it correctly. The hands were posed next to the head so that the weight was also on the hands and not only on the head.
It is true, in the first years my neck hurt when I practiced setu bandhasana. The reason: my body was too weak. During my trip to India I gained a lot of strength. One day I met with a yogini and we wanted to take pictures of each other (click on the link and you shall see one of it). I was so amazed when I realized that this pose felt wonderful and that I could hold it for 5 breaths and even longer. The muscles must be engaged when doing the pose. The weight is not only on the head, the feet press into the floor, the bandhas are engaged, leg muscles are engaged. When this is practiced that way, this pose feels great.

To practice the vinyasas makes sense, they develop strength that is needed (not only to avoid injuries, also to be able to perform asanas.)

Ashtanga yoga is about strength and flexibility.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lino Miele and his technique class


This man is a show, a one-man-show. I was entertained from the first minute on till the last one. It is said that he comes from the theatre. This he cannot hide. Lino is an actor, a pantomime. To every question he answered with a little pantomime, a little story, and it was convincing. I had so much fun.
Ah, and here is his first message: Enjoy yourself. This is it. Practicing Ashtanga yoga is joy.
Ashtanga yoga is life changing: After some years of practicing Ashtanga yoga people are asked what they are doing for a living and they do nothing else, but Ashtanga yoga, because this is what they love and want to do in life. Somehow it works.

One must experience Lino Miele for sure. It's a man in his sixties, full of energy, present, lively, vibrating. He has been practicing Ashtanga yoga for more than 30 years with P. Jois. I don't know so many people, so healthy, so powerful. This is what Ashtanga yoga, his practice has done for him. If this is not convincing, I don't know what else can convince. To see him in action was worth going to the workshop, it's so motivating to go on with this crazy practice.

The breath was an expected topic. Lino emphasized also to finish each breath and then to move on. To go into an asana happens with a breath. The breath allows to lift up the body. The breath, the breath, the breath, and yes in the Ashtanga system the breath has a key role. So do the bandhas.

We were shown how to give some adjustments. Here I could see how deep his understanding of the human body is. Adjustments needn't hurt, they needn't be done with power, if one knows how to do it. He gave examples even re urdhva dhanurasana, the results were amazing.

Trikonasana: In the Ashtanga yoga system the toe is held right from the beginning on. It's not like in other systems where the hand is moving down the shin bone slowly. The toe is held and then the upper body opens according to the possibilities of the yogini.

There was of course  much much more.
When I remember to breathe deeply and to enjoy my practice it shall be enough.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when a led class with him is offered.

Here is his book, that every Ashtanga yogi/yogini needs:






Preparation for the workshop with Lino Miele this afternoon


1. I'll take a bath to relax the muscles.
2. I'll massage my legs with rubber alcohol, as my legs are still a bit overstretched. I decided not to take an Aspirin, I want to feel my body. I want to stop stretching when it hurts.
3. Workshops seduce to overdo. My attitude will be: take it easy, have fun.

......and I'm listening to Italian music......hahahaha.....this is probably the best preparation.

Wow, am I curious now......:)

Lino Miele's book: I recommend it. You can buy it via my blog at amazon.

Friday, April 08, 2011

It's all perfect as it is.


Sharath in in NY and he just gave a led class which was broadcasted word wide. He wants to spread his knowledge about Ashtanga yoga worldwide. It was amazing. More than 750 viewers around the globe joined and watched. It was an opportunity to see how a led class is given in India.

My friend Claudia participated and took notes about the conference after the led class. Here is the link. Enjoy.


The next surprise: Yep, I got a place in the workshop by Lino Miele for both classes, the technique class and the led class. As it comes it's perfect. I'm so relaxed. I know life is out of my control. I watch and enjoy. It shall obviously be that I'm part of this workshop. And I shall be present.

And tonight I see my bf again finally. We'll have dinner together in the Greek restaurant and tomorrow morning he'll leave me again for another business trip.

Picture: one of my desserts.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Tja........


What a wonderful morning


Morning? Haha, we're approaching lunch with high speed. The sun is shining and I smile. I saw the latest French movie with Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu yesterday night. It was a comedy, I had to laugh. Alone because of the Deneuve it's worth watching the movie: Das Schmuckstück.
I want to move to France.......hahahaha at least a few months every year. This is now on my list.


Two goodies of yoga:
- It always leads me back to a healthy life style. Me too, I'm seduced by all the products that can be eaten and drunk on the market. And sometimes I give in and then I get back to a more healthy life style because I feel that this is better for me. My yoga practice tells me this with each movement.
- It is said, that those who practice yoga experience that life needn't to aggravate with age. It's possible to stay fit till death comes. This is in my opinion the greatest gift.

I'm looking forward to my home practice today.

My camera gives up. It served me very well. I need a new one, my birthday is coming....:)

Thanks for buying products in my shops on the right side of this blog.




Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Content


I was glad when my yoga practice was over today. Sometimes also practicing in a Mysore class does not better the practice. Today it was hard. This is not a tragedy for me. I'm familiar with the daily ups and downs. I observe and move on. Tomorrow is likely another opportunity to practice. Let's see what will happen tomorrow.
Yesterday I didn't practice because I was busy with my finances. Also here decluttering is important. Do I really need a legal protection or a houshold insurance or my daily newspaper that I scarcly read?

It's more likely that I'm productive when I don't practice from time to time. Yoga is time-consuming. It's now 1:42 pm and I've done nothing else but yoga and I had lunch. I ate well, I had prepared a salad.

Practicing yoga 2 hours every day is a life style.

Practicing contentment is part of the practice, too and I'm content with what is. Time to nap.

Picture is taken by Paz. Hens, such beautiful animals.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Lino Miele in Munich


I think in my case it's more important to have a daily practice than to go to workshops. I can go to Mysore classes 3 times a week, I can go to a led class once a week and I get adjustments in the poses I'm learning from people who know my body. It's simply perfect. This was not always so ideal.

When Lino Miele is coming to Munich (this weekend, Friday through Sunday) even I must go to a workshop, I thought. Yesterday I wanted to book 2 classes at airyoga, a led class and a technique class but it was fully booked. I'm now on the waiting list. It's all OK how it is. In workshops I tend to overdo and this is not at all good for my overstretched legs.

I'm sure it's worth to meet yogis who practice this Ashtanga style for 30 years or even longer and who have had close contact to Pathabi Jois. Lino is such a yogi, he is a heavy metal in the community, for sure. I also would have loved  to see who else is practicing Ashtanga yoga here in Munich. Lino is a fan of correct breathing. It's good to be reminded. He also encourages yogis/yoginis to do full vinyasas, I've heard. What else he likes to spread, I won't learn.

For those who miss his workshop, here is a link of someone who visited a workshop with Lino.

Time to practice.


Here is the book "Ashtanga yoga" by L. Miele that I highly recommend. Especially good is that the book contains the correct vinyasa count for every asana. Every dedicated Asthanga yogi/yogini must have this book. Point.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Before - after (my spice corner)


A kitchen must be clean, minimum. I expect this when I eat out, I want to have the same standard at home.
How I enjoy the difference. This corner is now cleaned and organised. The spices stand in alphabetical order. :) Throwing things out is the first step, cleaning the rest is the second step and organising the goodies is the last activity to a simple life.

Important is also to finish things. What can be seen took me longer than one hour. I set a timer but I wanted to finish what I've started. The fridge is clean in addition and 2 cupboards. This was perhaps a bit much cleaning. The result is nice. Might be that some activities need more time than I expect.


Simplicity is beautiful.
Simplicity makes my life easier.
Simplicity gives me time for the things I love to do.

Experience with injuries


Interesting experience: In last posts I wrote about my overstretched legs. I travelled to my parents and made a break of three days. Secretly I hoped my legs would be better afterwards. Yesterday I went to a led class and it was worse again. The conclusion. It would have been better to practice modestly and with care than not to practice at all.

Ashtanga yoga is for every day.

In my opinion are injuries more likely after years of practicing. In the first years I avoided the edges, my limits. Unconsciously of course. I didn't know the correct technique. When I couldn't reach my toe with my hand, I bended the knee i.e., to overstretch the leg is impossible that way, but this pose also won't do much, flexibility won't improve. The limits are neither really felt nor pushed. I surely also bowed the back.
Nowadays I engage my muscles, the leg is stretched when I bend forward. And I try to keep the back straight. That way my muscles on the back side of the legs get stretched.

Despite this pain in the legs, I did rather well yesterday in the led class. To practice in a group gives energy.

I don't know when it happened that I overstretched my legs, but I think it was when I practiced sanumasana, side split at home. I pushed too hard.

Poses develop slowly. One has to be patient.

To relax the leg muscles I took a bath yesterday and I massaged my muscles with rubbing alcohol. I will take a magnesium or two as well.

Good news: urdhva dhanurasana is more and more a joy. I think it will take another year till I'll be able to come up from this pose. It's OK. To have fun practicing it seems to be progress.

Mysore class this moring for me, I'm looking forward to it.

Picture: A hen. What a beautiful animal.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

I blame yoga for everything.......


I blame yoga for almost everything in my life. Fact is, how I practice yoga it's time-consuming. The practice alone needs 2 hours. Commuting time to the Mysore classes and led classes, showering, washing and ironing the clothes is not counted here. I often nap after yoga and it seems that I need this, too. I don't want to give it up to practice so much. But I also don't want to spend more time with yoga.
I reflect from time to time how I can organize my other life better. The feeling not to have time is not a good feeling. I want to have it easy. Simplicity is a key word. My life must be simple, as simple as possible. This is true luxury nowadays.

- My space clearing activities were a good step. It's an ongoing process.
- Cleaning is another task in every household here. Delegation is a possibility, but not everything can be delegated. It's too expensive and I also don't want it to have staff here every day. And to be honest, nobody works so profoundly like me.
In every room I've a place that shall be clean, always:
- When I get up I make my bed, except my boyfriend is still in it - hahahaha.
- My sink in the kitchen is clean, I do the dishes after having eaten. Always.
- My sofa must be able to breathe, no clothes or books shall be on it. This means I must iron my clothes as soon as they are dry.
-I also like to have a clean sink in the bathroom.
These  places shall shine and have an influence on the other areas.
In addition to these hot spots I work 25 min in one of the rooms on 6 days every week. It's amazing what can be done within 25 min. I think it's good to set a limit to every activity because the work at home can be endless, if one doesn't set a limit.
Once a month I even have help.

Since I don't work in companies anymore my flat is so much cleaner and better organised. I enjoy this daily. 

To live in a clean surrounding, a surrounding that is simple but beautiful is luxury. When I decorate, I decorate with lively flowers.

The sun is shining today. I'm already happy with what is done.

My mind is not burdened with thoughts what I all still have to do. Light-heatedly, I'll go to a led class after a break of three days. It's an easy start to start in a group. The breath shall be my focus.


What are your tips?

Pictures: the luxury hens of my brother.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Making the best out of every situation......


I've a title. It's written down and the first question comes up. What IS the best situation????? Often afterwards one knows what would have been the best. Or perhaps exactly as it was, it was the best situation even though we couldn't see it.

I consider my current situation as perfect: Three times in the week I can go to a Mysore class with an excellent teacher, once a week I can go to a led class. 3 times in the week I practice on my own.

Better it cannot be for me. I know yogis/yoginis who wouldn't be happy with this, because they want to travel to India to Gokulam to THE shala in addition every year for months. I know yoginis who want to go to Mysore classes every day to consider a situation as ideal.

In my first Ashtanga years I could go to a led class till navasana once a week. Later I could go to a Mysore class once a week in the evening for 7 months every year only. This forced me to establish a stable home practice. In addition I went to Jivamukti classes from time to time. I didn't find this optimum. My practice progressed slowly, but I developed discipline. This is very much. I started this blog to support my home practice and it became so much fun for me. I feel connected to the Ashtanga yoga community, made friends. My English got (hopefully) better and I discovered my passion for the word. These were the surprising goodies.

The best situation, yeah, what is it? Surely a heated room is wonderful, but when we are able to practice in a cold room (warmly dressed of course), we see our passion our dedication......

The mind is judging all the time, this is how it is working. It compares and knows quickly the differences to past situations or imagined future situations. Quickly it is found out what we like and dislike. This is OK, it is as it is. It can be helpful to make decisions. Knowing how the mind works helps not to take the thoughts too seriously. We can use our brain cells for finding solutions to improve the situation, and we can be detached from judging.

In each situation lies something that can help us and support our yoga path:
- In my first years it was that I established a stable home practice. Sometimes I'm even admired because of this. My ability to perform the asanas developed slowly (very slowly).
- Since a bit more than 1 year (after 7 years!) I have an excellent teacher who offers Mysore classes 3 times a week and my yoga practice leaped ahead. But from time to time I travel and I'm not in Munich and then I've my home/hotel practice available.

Be creative. There is always something that you can improve. Nowadays so many learning tools are available: books, youtube videos, cameras, and and and......enjoy the trip.......

A positive attitude towards the asanas, a can attitude supports the ability to learn asanas, so it is with the entire situation. Making the best out of every situation is an art. Thinking positive keeps us in the best mood to step on our mat, daily.

Thank you Quentin for inspiring me for this post.

PS: I'm in love with the luxury hens of my brother. More hen pictures will follow, stay tuned.

Thank you for buying your amazon product via my blog.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Blogger sold to google....


....and I wanted to write about the luxury hens of my brother and that I'm back in Munich.

It is said that everything gets better and that blogger will exist in future years, too. Only better. I hope so. I tried wordpress, but I wasn't convinced. Too complicated. I love the simplicity of blogger. With so much google-money in the background perhaps blogger has a chance to survive in the online-blogging-jungle.

The blogosphere won't disappear. Too many people like me like to make some noise, like to add another voice, like to express another facet of life to all that exist already.

Yep, I'm back in Munich from a visit at my parents home. The quick trip was very good idea. I enjoyed the days with my parents. It was all excellent, wonderful, delicious, relaxing and filled with common events that I will love to remember. To feed the luxury hens of my brother and to caress them is such a common event, but also the visits downtown, the common breakfasts, dinners and lunches at home and at restaurants, the shared chocolate in the evening......

I'm here again in my tiny flat in Munich and I'm looking forward to daily life, getting up in the morning, sipping coffee, practicing yoga at my favourite place, going to Mysore classes.

I arrived, physically and mentally. The tanks are full of energy. Life can go on. It does.