Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dwi pada sirsasana - I enjoy


Being able to do this pose is a success, and I enjoy. I could do dwi pada sirsasana in the middle of the room today, without support of the sofa. I could balance rather long, more than 5 breaths. I had to wait till my self-timer made klick. It lasted an eternity. I take a break and I celebrate. This pose is the body work of years. I'm a stiff person by nature.

As it is with these little successes. As soon as one has reached something the next goal and the next wish arise.
May I make a few remarks on the picture. This doesn't diminish my joy. I see the direction. I preach it and it can be seen clearly on the picture. The upper body needs to lengthen, shoulders are supposed to go backwards, the chest is supposed to be open. This can be all improved with deep long inhaling.

Awesome this pose. :) :) :) :)

Primary de luxe


Primary can be practiced so lala. It's also possible to make this first Ashtanga series really challenging. It can be dressed up to an exercise de luxe. 

- To be able to practice the vinyasas comme il faut can be a challenge for years. I learned that one jumps back without bringing the legs in position. Example: When practicing marichyasana B, that's the starting point. The body is lifted up that way. It's not that one stretches the legs forward first to make it "easy". 
- One can try to bring the chin to the floor instead of the front when practicing bhuja pidasana.
- It's possible to integrate handstand, after the standing sequences i.e. or after supta.  kurmasana.
- Having an even, focused practice can be another challenge. 
- Respecting the correct vinyasa counts can be another aspect that can keep primary interesting. 
- I usually focus on urdhva dhanurasana at the end (posts will follow).

I watched youtube videos yesterday. It's a time-consuming fun. But from time to time I find a raisin. Yesterday I stumbled upon the videos of Maria Villella. Her videos are very analytic and helpful (see above).

Time to step on my mat. The second series is on the schedule. Hahahaha.

Feel free to follow this blog an facebook or twitter. Links are on the right side of this blog. Thank you for reading. 


Monday, May 30, 2011

I cannot hear anything....


"I cannot hear anything", M said. I wanted to add, me too, I could hear nothing. It's so basic but true. My inhaling is still weak, especially when my body is in asanas and when pressure is on my chest. A deep and long inhaling shall bring me from urdhva dhanurasana to samasthitih. Haha......the breathing will surely get again some extra attention.


More than ever I see that forward bending starts from the hips. The upper chest remains open. The body must lengthen. This is the trick when I want my leg to remain behind my back.

Summertime is very good for a yoga practice. I enjoy. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Moon sequence again, even though I practiced in the morning.


I will go to a led class this afternoon. We'll be led through primary.
A calm practice in the morning could be good in addition, I thought.

I practiced again the moon sequence choreographed my Matthew Sweeney. Despite it's calm, I sweated. I feel that my hips are challenged. Very cautiously I practiced. Practicing poses that I scarcely do makes me modest again.

This sequence supports my Ashtanga practice, so much I can already say.

It feels good to practice a pose, holding it for 5 breaths and then going to the next pose. Not practicing vinyasas between the poses is relaxing. To take it easy from time to time is good. Yoga has so many facets and aspects.

The whole fun lasted about 1 hour. This allows to add pranayama and meditation......next time. For today this was enough. I put back my mat. It's good to have a clearly defined starting point and an end, too. Between these tow points - beginning and end  - intensity can be experienced.

Wow, it's still before noon. I can be prolific. Chapter 6 is waiting......:)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moon sequence


Saturday is my Ashtanga free day.......but I wanted to move my body.
I know that when I want too much it's very likely that I do nothing at all. Calmer sessions will do, too from time to time.

To learn the moon sequence by Matthew Sweeney is on my list for some time. Today I put this huge book on my sofa and practiced the sequence. It's important to learn it by heart when I want to practice it again and I want to do this. To check what to do next every 5 minutes interrupts each practice.
I felt reluctance when I saw that I should do asanas I was not so good at it. But I also knew that I could trust Matthew. He practices Ashtanga yoga for more than 30 years. When he has created a series it's supportive for the Ashtanga practice. So I did all the asanas, the moon sequence is a great choreography respecting the basic rules, like doing counter poses.

Indeed the practice gave me something that I don't find in my challenging Ashtanga practices. It's much calmer. In the beginning some dynamic movements wake the body up, but then one asana follows the next ,without vinyasa. This makes the practice relaxing.

To do something new needs extra attention. It'a amazing how the Ashtanga series became a routine already.

The sequence has a lot of hip opening asanas. The hip joints are challenged.

Learning something new reminded me how important it is to observe precisely. How is the feet position? The hands? Does the body turn to the left side first or to the right side? How is the breath?

When writing and taking pictures observing precisely is very important. It's helpful in yoga, too. Picture help a lot. I had an attentive practice. Happy Saturday. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Inhaling....


I'm thankful for every recommendation. Today in the Mysore class M told me to focus on the inhaling. To have a strong and long inhaling is very supportive for all back bending poses. To go into a pose is one thing, to get out of a pose can be a challenge, too. Inhaling can become more difficult when pressure is on the chest like it is the case in all back bending asanas. I feel it, my inhaling must become stronger when I want to come up from urdhva dhanurasana.

My attention will be the inhaling during my next practices. Exhaling happens alone. Inhaling is active, exhaling is passive.

So much is to learn......

Pranayama interests me again.......the breath can be so powerful.

Today I practiced primary. My left leg is still not 100% OK.

The vinyasas are interesting. It's possible to make primary really challenging. One can i.e. get from supta kurmasana to tittibhasana A to bakasana to handstand. Yes! This looks nice. Strong arms are necessary.

Friday evening........and it's rainy here. And cold. I stretched my foot out of the balcony door. Brrrrrhhhhhhh.

Picture: It's a dinner that I order in the restaurant round the corner. It's really not much, but sufficient. I love the picture.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

There are those days....


....which are beautiful, yes.

Nothing else happens.

I felt busy, very busy. To feel busy, needn't mean that I was busy. A few activities happened, oh yes, took E's mail to the post office, I ironed, wrote another chapter (It was bumpy today. It's part of it. I make no break, tomorrow I'll write the next chapter.)

Oh I missed my yoga practice..........I cannot imagine that I practice after sun set and call it a morning practice. This goes too far.
In the evening one has to use the left leg first, because then one greets the moon and when greeting the moon, it's the other way round. This requires awareness. This is too much today.

I call it a day.





Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Room temperature in different yoga styles


Sivananda style: A decade ago I went round the corner to the Sivananda studio. It was winter time. This didn't prevent the yoga teacher from opening the window. First I thought there was bad smell from a yogi or yogini. 10 min later the teacher opened again the window. In winter time it's cold here. The air in the room got rather fresh. Later I learned that fresh and clean air should come in. Brrrhhhhh......I doubt that the air in big cities is really clean, but cold it can be, for sure. The yogis were dressed warmly.

Ashtanga yoga: Sweating is part of Ashtanga yoga. It's wished and even mentioned in the "Yoga Mala" by P. Jois. Sweating helps to detox the body. The shalas are usually warm therefore. When several yoginis and yogis exercise this challenging practice in one room it can happen that the temperature goes up. This is wonderful, as this makes the body flexible. The danger to  injure oneself when going to ones limits is reduced when the room is warm and wet!
The wish to open the windows during a Mysore class has nothing to do with the room temperature, not in a cold country like Germany. It's because the mind has difficulties to focus on the practice. Concentration needs energy. I know this too well. I've my own habits to interrupt my flow and focus. At home I check my emails sometimes. It's not really important to do this during a practice. It's lack of focus. Knowing that concentration is what can be learned during the practice helps to get better here. To exercise the mind is as important as to exercise the body. It can be seen if someone is present.

I remember a story from India, Gokulam. I had spent the afternoon with an English lady. The next day I saw her in the shala and I greeted her silently, it was more a gesture, a smile than saying "hello". Afterwards she scolded at me: "Don't greet me next time, this bothers the others." Me: "I won't do that anymore."

Focusing on the breath, using the bandhas and sweating is not a burden, but tools that support the yoga practice.

Having made concentration as a topic improved my practice and my life off the mat. I experience flow also off the mat for the time being. My book is growing. The group helps me a lot to stay committed. I get up in the morning and I feel full of energy that wants to manifest. I want to deliver another chapter to get it reviewed and I deliver it. I forget to eat and to nap.  I work concentrated 25 min, and again 25 min. Being focused creates flow and this feels great. Exciting times. Something is moving.

Bikram yoga: The rooms are heated, the temperature is supposed to be 40° Celsius. This is much less than in a sauna, but much more than we have on a hot summer day. It's known that heat makes the body flexible.

At night in bed my bf to me: "It's so hot here."
He stood up an opened the balcony doors and the window. Oh, NO!

PS: The "Yoga mala" is a classic.  You can  click on the link in the text above to get it (amazon.com). Further links to amazon.de and amazon.co.uk  are on the right side of this blog. Thank you for buying via my blog. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Focus!


Focus is sooooooo important, on and off the mat.

There is so much distraction everywhere, it seems almost impossible to make reasonable decisions.
Sometimes I read 10 books at the same time. I don't watch TV, but I observed how people watch: they switch from one channel to the other in order not to miss anything. But it's also a lack of ability to concentrate, a lack of focus.

All activities that might last longer seem too difficult if we don't learn to concentrate.

Without focus it's almost impossible to finish anything. And this is not satisfactory.

On the mat I can exercise being focused. I'm rewarded with experiencing flow and intensity. Off the mat it can even help to survive.

1. First it's crucial to make a decision on what I like to focus.
2. It's very helpful to limit the time of focusing. Again and again. It needs energy to focus and I need to relax afterwards when I was focused for a while on one object, one activity. 25 minutes seems to be a good time, not too long, not too short. And then again 25 min focus on anything. Break.

My practice was excellent, it's warm here, this has a positive influence on the practice. Always. Nevertheless I had to finish earlier. E's mother is waiting for me downtown. We want to have lunch together and I'm looking forward to seeing her. I'm flexible.

Dhanurasana (see picture): The knees are supposed to be together. Should I use a strap next time? It could be helpful. I try to bring my shinbones parallel to the wall. Goal is to open the chest. There is always something that I can improve.


Monday, May 23, 2011

I need a strategy.......


I need a strategy for urdhva dhanurasana. I feel it's possible to come up from this pose. Soon. I'm very motivated to do even extra body work.

Today I dropped back again from samasthitih. It's been more than a year now that I've stopped doing it. I worked on opening the front side of the body. When I arched back I kept my feet close together, parallel. The adjustments helped me a lot, but also to drop against the wall.

It's important to me to be in control when arching back. Consciously I want to approach the point, where I cannot hold the pose anymore. Then I fall, this is the moment where the arms must stretch against the floor. It lasts less than a second. I've not forgotten how it goes.

I'm alone at home today. It could be good to add an extra yoga session. I could use my carpets. Instead of dropping to the floor, I could drop on the carpets. Every other day one carpet could be removed. I know that this is a good idea. Will I have the energy to do it? I'm not sure.
It's perhaps an idea for tomorrow, for my morning practice at home. Two hours Ashtanga yoga every day is really much. Shall this be enough.

Healthy eating and enough sleep supports my practice.

Claudia a passionate yogini and blogger has published a book on Ashtanga yoga: Klick here and you'll be on her blog where she presents her work. I think you deserve to get informed about the latest news and activities in the Ashtanga community. Enjoy.



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Primary


It seems to be a summer day today.The sun is shining.  I got up early to practice alone at home. My E is back and it's planned to go to a beer garden in the afternoon, while at another place here in Munich yogis and yoginis will enjoy a led class.

My practice was intensive, it lasted 2 hours. As always some asanas seemed to develop, others not. Vinyasa was lousy i.e., but I tried to jump forward and backward again and again without touching the floor. And again and again my feet touched the floor.

Do it lousy, but give it a try, I thought and tried dwi pada sirsasana. I was able to do it without leaning against the sofa. What a nice surprise. I prepared this pose, first I had practiced eka pada sirsasana, then yoga nidrasana. Ah, this is insofar important as this is how I want to go into supta kurmasana. It's all improving.

Also urdhva dhanurasana felt well, but I can be wrong.

It was a good start. Tomorrow second series. 


On the right side of the blog are shops in case you're in the mood to buy a book or a t-shirt. Thank you for buying via my blog. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the Ashtanga method....


This is another post on the topic of yesterday, but another approach:

The asanas are important. For sure. No doubt.

As important as it is to practice the asanas, it is important to practice uddjay  breathing  to have a gazing point and to engage the muscles (including the bandhas).  In the first years I forgot about it during my practice. I couldn't see yet that the breath and the drishti and the bandhas are not additional burden, but they help me to perform the asanas. Break. It's worth to repeat: Correct breathing, correct dirshti, using the muscles, comme il faut is a support.

I give you examples how important even the dristis are:
There is the challenging pose utthita parsvasahita. It's a balancing pose. To look downward makes it more likely that I tremble and fall out of the pose. To look to the side keeps the body upright and gives stability. Test it.
Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana: Drishti is the toe. The toe needn't to be seen, it's looking towards the toe. When I try to do this I stretch the body forward much more. To look at the leg makes it more likely that the back is rounded.

To look forward with open eyes keeps me alert. I feel fully awake when I do this. To close the eyes makes me sleepy. It might have the effect to relax. This is why eyes are closed at the end in relaxation pose. During the practice I practice awareness. When the eyes are stable, the mind calms down.

To see the breath, dristhi, bandhas, engaging the muscles as a support makes it more likely not to forget about it.
Test it, don't believe anything I write! :)

Eka pada sirsasana: Sometimes it's easier to perform an asana while lying on the back. Being on the back allows me to give myself an adjustment. I really have to lean against my bended leg. The hips, this huge joints open slowly.

I enjoy my yoga free day today.
My beloved travel monsters will soon return. I've prepared a second breakfast for them. I'm looking forward to seeing them both again.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Why it can be good to have it difficult in the beginning


If the asanas are all easy to perform in the beginning this can give the illusion as if the method of practicing yoga is understood. This can be the case, needn't be so. Simply being able to twist or being able to backband is only one part of the whole picture.

Those who struggle with asanas in the beginning have to find ways to learn it. It's likely that they discover how the breath can help to improve the asanas. With an inhaling the body can be lengthened, with an exhaling one is able to go deeper into an asana. Engaging the bandhas might also help to improve an asana. Appling these methods help when much more challenging asanas come.

The learning process might be faster after some years  for those who struggled in the beginning, while those who have it easy in the beginning might have to get back to the basic work and have to learn matching the breath with the movement, engaging the bandhas and the muscles, remembering the drishtis.

If the process is slow in the beginning it becomes very fast clear that patience must be learned. This is necessary for the more advanced asanas. Patience can be learned. 

I'm still absolutely in awe when I see what my body is able to do, I love to see others and myself in crazy body postures. Lately I'm equally  fascinated by the mind. It can be seen if someone has focus or not. This gives intensity to a practice.

You surely have seen it already: an actor is on a huge stage and the whole room is dominated by his/her presence. "He has presence", the spectators use to say: This is what focus can do.

Being strong, flexible, healthy is the one side of the coin, the other is the mind, the ability to control the mind. It's as difficult as back bending......


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thunder and big rain drops


Thunder here. I was out, had to pick up a few books. Big rain drops came down. They didn't wet me. I walked close to the buildings and under trees. It was pre-stormy weather. I could smell it. Heavy rain could be expected soon. My shoes only allowed me to walk elegantly. A rain shower would have entertained me. Dark blue clouds hang above the roofs in the sky, ready to let go. Temperature didn't drop. If this happens I love rain. Warm rain is the best.
Soon I was back home again, disappointed that I arrived villa motley before the clouds relieved themselves. My balcony doors are open. I admire the lightening, the sound of the thunder.

I turn off the radio, I prefer to hear the sound of nature.

A sad yogini.....:)


:)
No, I'm not sad, but it looks like that on the picture. I tried eka pada sirsasana (one leg behind the head while sitting and stretching forward. My leg didn't like to stay behind the head, it left it's position before the camera made klick.

Eka pada sirsasana is a complex asana:
- The stretched leg is supposed to be engaged.
- The foot of the leg which is behind the back is pointed. The leg is engaged, too. It must turn somehow, I still have to find out how. Sure is that the leg is not passive behind the back.
- The upper body moves forward, the chest shall remain open, so the back muscles are supposed to be engaged, too.
- Drishti is the foot, I look towards it. Towards means it needn't to be seen.

I try this pose also while lying on the back. It's easier that way and I can study that pose that way.

This is often the development of an asana:
1. First it seems impossible. Only the mind can visualize it. A positive attitude can be developped. "It's possible", is the motivating thought.
2. Attempts follow. Sometimes I add preparing exercises, easier variations of the asana.
3. The Attempts become better and better.
4. Then comes the day where the pose happens, but it's volatile. One day the body is possible to do it, the other day it seems impossible. This can be frustrating (see picture).
I go on exercising till I think about a pose: this is a piece of cake.....:)
(This all can take years!!!! No illusions here. I must laugh, yes years!)

Today primary is on the schedule, but eka pada sirsasana I'll practice, too. Usually I do it before supta kurmasana.
I'll also add split poses today.......

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The body and the mind........


During a yoga practice I obviously practice the body: I do forward bending, I twist, I jump, I do back bending. Even inversions I do.

Body and mind belong together.
The mind can support the body and the other way round.
* When I feel well-rested, well fed, it's easier to study i.e., it's easier to concentrate.
* The mind can support the body as well. I can be attentive i.e. and that way I can avoid injuries. I want to be a bit more detailed here. There is so much focus on the body and how to bind, jump through, balance. I think the mind needs some more attention.

What can the mind do to support the yoga practice?
1. We can remember the sequence and we can learn the sanskrit names of the asanas. Having a good memory can be exercised via using it. Looking up the next asana in a book interrupts the flow.
2. Thinking positive is another supportive action of the mind. To develop a positive attitude can take years, but the potential to become more positive is given. An example: I remember minimum 4 asanas of the first series, I was convinced I'd be never able to do: ardha baddha padmottanasana, marichyasana C and D, garbha pindasana, supta kurmasana, yoga mudra. I don't want to mention the vinyasas. After years of practicing them I'm able to do these asanas, of course they can still improve, but I'm able to do them. This makes it more and more difficult to believe that any asanas are not possible. The believe that things are possible is not a superficial sentence anymore, it's grounded in experiences. This takes time. That more can be possible than initially thought, can be seen in other areas than yoga, too.
3. The mind can learn to be focused on the breath i.e.. This calms the mind, which means thoughts become less, which is experienced as relaxing. Being able to focus on any object improves life.

In less than 25 minutes I've written this post today, because I was so focused on writing. Being focused saves time, intensifies life, I'd even say.

Shall this be enough "mind" for today.

Picture: This pose is called kasyapasana. I practice it as preparation for dwi pada sirsasana (both legs behind the head in sitting position). It's new that I don't have to hold the leg. :)

Thank you for reading.
Comments are always appreciated.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The path and the goal..


The path and the goal: I think they belong together. It's an endless path, that ends with the death. The path is not only plastered with seductions. From time to time we accomplish a goals, if we've defined some. It can be celebrated.
Each practice has mini goals for me. After each inhaling is a pause. After each exhaling is a little pause. There is no movement and no thought during this tiny pause. It's as if a mini-goal is achieved. It gives time to relax and to start afresh with either inhaling and lengthen the body or exhaling and letting go and going deeper into the body. This little pause, this little achievement can be seen outside. It gives the practice a clear structure, a rhythm.

Sometimes the movement (or path) from one pause to the next is long sometimes short. If it's short the movement is slow, if the movement is long, it must be done faster. The breath is even. It's not all porridge.

Kapotasana improved: Here is the history. I see that the elbows must come closer together.



Urdhva dhanurasana: At home I use a strap to keep the feet parallel. I thought I could bring the chest to the book shelf. I'm still far away from it. And I had a good day today. The feet must still be much closer to the hands. My picture tell me that I've still some body work to do till I'll be able to come up.

My practice was great. That's how it is. There will be always something to improve to learn. It's good to enjoy the mini goals.......the pauses between the inhaling and exhaling.
It's good to enjoy the path, the learning. It's an adventure.......surprises happen.......

PS: When an asana seems difficult, it's good to remember that it's of importance to create length (or room) first with the inhaling. This helps to get deeper into a pose no matter if it's a forward bending asana, a twist or a back bending.

Monday, May 16, 2011

10 people wanted......

Some of you might know it.
There is a book in the pipeline, a book about.......I hesitate to go on writing. First I thought it would be about staying or getting slim. This might attract a lot of people. But it 's more about living healthy, being slim and feeling beautiful is a side effect not the main goal. Does this topic interest you?

Why ever this book is not yet on the market, I don't know it.
I decided to  try a new approach.

My book will consist of 30 chapter (estimated and short ones), and it will consist of exercises.

If you're willing to read chapter by chapter during the next weeks and if you're willing to try the exercises and give me feed-back, write me an email:  sorry we're complete.
I'd appreciate:
- when you are patient to let develop the book.
- when you give me feed back on the chapters. I won't answer to the feed-back but of course reflect on it.

If this book will become a product and if you like it of course, you'll be mentioned in it.

In addition it would be good if you are on twitter. You can have a fantasy name there to stay anonymous. I'll give you a hash tag when a group of 10 people is formed and there you can exchange your experiences with the other readers. Nothing is more motivating than making changes in a group.

It's only open to 10 people: Please write to .................... if you're interested.
Thank you.

Next day:
We're 11 now, this is perfect. Thank you. The group is complete now....:) How wonderful.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday, the yoga week begins......


It will be a led class that will entertain me today.............my yoga week begins on Sunday with a primary.

My body is an endless source of joy!

More I don't need to be happy. My body. And my mind.

Consciously I'll move my body through all the asanas of primary soon. I'll feel and I'll engage my muscles, others I'll relax consciously, I'll hear my breath, I'll keep my eyes stable to calm down my mind. Space, silence I'll feel and appreciate. I want to experience my limits and then I love to push them a bit. Being lively, feeling energy, being curious, I enjoy.

Enjoy your body, enjoy your mind. Consciously. It's a source of joy. It's for entertainment at it's best.

A perfect Sunday.

Feel free to like me also on facebook or twitter. Links are on the right side of this blog. :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What gets attention grows....


What gets attention grows. If we don't give attention to anything it fades or diminishes or we even lose it.

My latest example: The landlord was here. My old fears arose that I'd lose my flat. The reason why she wanted to see the flat were of course not to use the flat for herself. In Germany it's very difficult to get rid of a tenant like me who lives in this flat for more than 15 years. In Germany is census of population, not everybody is questioned, but my landlord. She had to answer if in her property is a shower or a bath tub and she didn't know. She came with her son and was impressed how well I'm organised. Ohhhhhhhh.

She got my rent every month and she didn't care for anything. She didn't even make the annual accounting of the additional charges of a flat (water, current, heating and so on). Usually I had to pay something more as estimated. She neglected her own accounting and lost a few hundred Euros that way. In 2004 was my last rise of the rent. I forgot this last rise. It added up to a 4 figure sum. She will get it of course, so is the law.  It's not really a problem.

What I wanted to point out is that this is again an example how we can make anything grow simply by giving attention. Not giving any attention to anything often means that this object fades or diminishes.

This is true for so many things. When I give attention to positive thoughts they grow. When I move my attention to the breath it deepens and so on.........

Focusing on what we want makes sense. Simply given attention can already make a difference.

Party time for me tonight. I'm invited. Everybody shall prepare something. I mixed a salad. The palate buds of  the guests will explode when they taste all the good stuff that I put into the bowl. Only best ingredients were used. Yep, so am I. Hahahaha.


Happy Saturday......

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flow


Concentration on the breath is what can create flow. It's the feeling that one wants to go on and on and on. Intensity is felt. My concentration improved for sure. I didn't interrupt my home practice for taking pictures of yoga poses for this reason.

Being able to focus on the breath for as long as I practice intensifies my practice, I sweat much more than I used to a few years ago. This cleanse the body I've heard and it's important part of the practice.

In the meantime I see that my ability to focus bears fruit also in my private life. Worries are seen as worries, nothing else. They are created by the mind and they disappear when the mind is able to focus on anthing else. It's a skill, practiced on the mat, but also useful in daily life.

Urdhva dhanurasana: I drop back from standing position into urdhva dhanurasana again. It scares me again, but I do it. Legs are closer together than a few years ago. When will it happen that I can stand up? I practice intensively, but I'm relaxed about the result. All yoginis know the saying: the path is the goal. But I think the path and the goal belong together and support each other.

Happy weekend.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ashtanga yoga a spiritual exercise?


Is practicing Ashtanga yoga a spiritual practice?
Or is it simply body work?

It depends:
When we observe our thoughts, when we practice consciously a practice can indeed become spiritual.
When we focus on the breath, and when we ignore other thoughts, Ashtanga yoga becomes a spiritual practice.

Spirtitual I think means exercising the spirit, being focused, being aware, finding a positive approach to the exercises, thinking positive.

This implies that each action, each activity can become spiritual if done with consciousness.

How do you exercise your mind? How do you bring spirit into your daily life?


Mysore class: I feel much stronger than some months earlier. I feel that my practice has still a lot potential. I finish my practice usual in samasthithi: Thank you, I say silently, thank you, thank you. I'm so happy that I can do this practice every morning.

Action now. The list is long. Shall my pomodoro timer structure my day: 25 min action, 5 min pause, 25 min work action, 15 min pause.......

Monday, May 09, 2011

Vinyasa, details are important


Jumping forward through the arms with crossed legs is possible without touching the floor, also for me.

For years now I try to jump forward without touching the floor. In vain.

I engaged the bandhas. I learned how to balance on my hands. I inhaled when I jumped. I looked forward. Again and again one foot touched slightly the mat.

Then I saw a youtube video by Kino MacGregor. One has to look closely, but this is the difference.
When I jumped through by now, my ankles were together. The one leg put some weight on the other leg. When I keep the ankles apart from each other, one leg after the other swings forward. It's easier to keep the calves close to the upper leg and voilà. 

This tiny difference makes a difference. Test it and give me feed back.

Brrrhhhhhh, I hope I could explain it clearly.....

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A shift in thinking


Mini vacation at the Chiemsee and Tegernsee is over. Daily life has come. It's Monday. Yepeeee.

There is a shift in my thinking since I've read the book by Oli Kahn "Ich":
Instead of realizing on the mat that I lived ruthlessly (too much food, alcohol) and making resolutions on the mat again and again to get back to a healthier life style, I think now during the day: What can I do to make my practice a good one. What can I do for my body off the mat? What supports my crazy exercises? That way it's easier to leave food on the plate when I feel full and to order and drink water. To drink water btw feels very good.

It's more important to me to take the leg behind the head or to progress in kapotasana than to eat till I feel heavy and tired and relaxed. Food has relieving effects, it calms, but I know better methods like meditating, chanting aum, focusing on the breath, dancing to music.

Happy healthy Monday to everybody.

Picture is taken at the Chiemsee.

My practice was excellent on Sunday morning. I got new insights re the vinyasas, but this is another post. Later.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

I "forgot" to tell.....


Last Friday I dropped back again. From samasthitih, standing position, I arched backwards, arms were stretched above my head and I dropped back. I was excited. For about a year I haven't done this. The reason: I wanted to do it correctly. The knees must be parallel. I don't want to injure myself. The anatomy of my body must be respected!

In addition, I really think, even though there is a dynamic phase when dropping back, it's very important to have the movement of the body under control as long as possible. I got better here. For sure. I'm very thankful for the help and the adjustments I got.

To come up again will happen, too, I'm sure........

This dropping back was so intensive that I was glad for a day off. But today I'm ready again for a primary.

Vinyasas, supta kurmasana  and urdhva dhanurasana will get some extra love, energy and attention....:)



A rebel


I was reluctant, but E's mother wanted to go and our friends were enthusiastic about him. And so we all went to the hospital close to the lake where we attended a mass.

I made a plan what I would do if I got bored. My breath came into my mind and I wanted to  focus on my breath, I wanted to make inhaling and exhaling longer and even......but I wasn't bored. I listened to this man who spread so much love and inspiration.

The interpretation of the gospel was very modern: be conscious was the message. Joy can be found in daily life that way.

We shared bread and wine, which is very uncommon in the Catholic church. Usually those who like, can get a Host, but not a piece of bread and no wine. We gathered in little groups, ate and drank as a highlight of the mass. It shall symbolize not to forget to have joy in daily life and the wine symbolizes the special moments. Those who knows the Catholic church with it's strict rules know that this alone is a no no. The mystic of that all was that the bread also was the body of Jesus.

What a surprise to find at such a tourist place like the Chiemsee such an outstanding person who spreads so much hope, love and inspiration.

Back to my daily life: With consciousness I'll practice primary. Even though I think this part of my life, my Ashtanga yoga practice symbolizes more the wine than the bread.

Picture: taken at the Chiemsee.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Chiemsee


...and this pic was taken only 1 hour from Munich.

Time to go to bed.
Tomorrow I want to be fit for primary........

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Progress is inevitable...


Progress is inevitable if one practices on a daily basis. I was surprised today when I managed it to take my legs (both) behind my head without leaning against the sofa. The pose was weak, nevertheless a tiny step further in the right direction. I could also do eka pada sirsasana and the leg remained behind my head, my hands could both hold my stretched leg.

How that?

Daily practice of course, but also the understanding what what active stretching is helped me to progress.

In yoga we do active stretching. It's not that we simply bowing forward or hanging forward and letting the gravity do the job. We are active when we practice yoga not passive.
What is active stretching? There are always  muscles that we stretch and there are the antagonists that are active. When I put my leg behind the head, the chest shall remain open, stretched if you like. The antagonists are on the back. I have strong back muscles and I have the body feeling how to engage them. Engaging my back muscles helps me to lift up the upper body and to keep the chest open. This was it what helped me and what finally allowed me to keep the leg behind the head.

Feet position: Primary has a lot of forward bending asanas. I thought that it's important to have the soles of the feet parallel to the floor. But fact is we can adjust the intensity of the stretching with the foot position. When they are pointed (recommended for hanumanasana i.e.) it's less stretching, less intensive. Sometimes it's necessary to make the practice a bit easier, when we are injured i.e. I think it's better to alter the feet position than not to engage the muscles.

Urdhva dhanurasana: Among other exercises I lifted the body up while my hands were close to a wall. I wanted to bring the chest to the wall. I was surprised that I couldn't do that. Here I've to do some body work. The upper back is still not open enough.

Especially the knowledge about the feet positon I've read in the book by Gregor Maehle.














Wow, what a beautiful bird. It seems to be easy to fly. Thank you M for this beautiful pic.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ardha matsyendrasana


Ardha matsyendrasana is another wonderful twist. It took me a while till I found the correct foot position. In my case it needs to be close to the body when I want that the shoulders are even. I point the foot of the leg that is on the floor. It looks nicer.

I saw a variation of the pose, which I  like very much, too. Then the arms bind behind the back. One  arm stretches through the bended leg and can so reach the other arm and hold the wrist.

I can scarcly reach my leg with the hand that is behind the back. So the arm behind my back cannot turn me further into the twist. When the hand bind I can turn more. Explore both poses, it's fun to be adventures. It deepens the understanding of the poses.

Both sit bones are on the floor. The body is upright.

Twists turn the spine, which feels really good.
In addition it's a great massage for the inner organs.

I just wondered what we can do for our inner organs?
- We can eat not so much and healthy stuff.
- We can drink enough water.
- And we can do twists.....:)

How I enjoyed the Mysore class this morning. I'm crazy for Ashtanga yoga!

Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Playing around....


My practice this morning started very focused. The surya namaskara As and Bs and the standing sequence I practiced with the CD by Sharath. Then I switched it off. My practice remained intensive till after kapotasana. Then I remembered the led class of yesterday and the exercises we did. One of the exercise was to do headstand and then to split the legs. I really thought my legs were more than 45° apart. My pic told me something else. One leg even pointed upwards. I felt as if it almost touched the floor!!!! Pictures are so helpful.

This was my second attempt. The split was almost the same, only the position of the legs were different. My intention was to let one or better both legs touch the floor. I wanted to practice falling. It should take away the fear that I have. Finally I must do pincha mayurasana in the middle of the room. And I'm a bit scared. So learning to fall could take my fear away, I thought. I put my flat hand on the floor and bowed my knees. My back arched. It felt intensively, my pictures show me the opposite.


Then I fell and I survived!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing was injured, I was a bit shocked. A step forward???? Can be.
Next time I'll make the distance to the wall larger when I practice pincha mayurasna, till I'll be in the middle of the room. I know now, to fall can happen, but this is not the end of the world.
And then I tried urdhva dhanurasana and this all spoilt my flow.

It's better to practice an Ashtanga series in one session and doing additional exercises in an extra session. A few exercises can be added to each practice, but to explore poses is better to do isolated.

Yoga flow class


Yesterday in the evening I went to a yoga flow class. It's more or less a led class with music.

I was amazed how many yoginis and yogis came. The room was crowded. All places were occupied. I expected a hot session and so it was. Soon the room was very humid, rain-forest climate. I sweated and I became bendy.

To practice something that is not my daily routine requires attention. Asanas that I do not practice were a challenge yesterday.

I saw some really bendy yoginis. Talents? Naturals? Yoga has challenges for everybody.

Concentration is my topic lately. To stay calm in a pose for several breaths is a concentration exercise. With the inhaling the body usually stretches, length is created, with the exhaling one moves deeper into a pose. This is surely a movement. The body isn't like a statue. But to look around, checking the body posture with the eyes  again and again, scratching, playing with the hair, trying another variation of an asana because the asana one is practicing is too challenging, is too much movement. Then the mind moves from laserlike focus to being distracted. It shall be the other way round.

The inner life manifests on the outside. The state of mind, the attitude can be seen. A book title comes into my mind: Moving into stillness. Erich Schiffman has written this book. This is the direction for sure. Focus is powerful, directed energy. Issues, distrations outside of oneself disappear. Intensity develps and this has beauty.

I've found a focus for my practice today: Staying  calm for the 5 breaths that I hold an asana usually.

Erich Schiffmann's book is a recommendation. Thanks for buying it via my blog.







Thank you M for this wonderful dolphin in the Indian ocean. :)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bharadvajasana, a twist


The twists turn the spine around. Twitsts in my opinion also massage the inner organs. This feels good. With the inhaling the upper body stretches upwards, length is created, with the exhaling the body twists. The hips are erected.

It took me some time to understand the twists. If this happens, I check the basics:
- Those body parts that touch the floor are equally weighted. Both sit bones touch the floor.
- The shoulder are away from the ears and in line.
- The hips are erected, the upper body long.
- The chest opens.
- Engaging the bandhas when exhaling supports the execution of this asana.
- The gazing point is the side (and not downward looking). This helps to stay in an upright position.

Our bodies are different. Some of us have very long arms, others have shorter arms. My arms are not so long. This is why I put my hand closer to the hips under my leg. The knees are rather close together. Only that way I can guarantee that my body has not to move forward. Then the entire pose looks strange and feels strange.

Bharadvajasana is exercised twice in the second series. First before the forward bending asanas and after the back bendings. And it's the last pose before the headstands.

Mysore class today. I'm looking forward to it. How will it be today.

Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog. Links are on the right side.
Have a good start, it's Monday.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Jumping back.....


There are also different ways to jump back. The asanas determine how to do it. Usually we land in chaturanga dandasana. I want to get a survey:

Primary:
1. There is the classic jump back with both legs crossed, not touching the floor.
2. In the DVD by Sharath I saw that he left the one leg in lotus pose when he jumped back from ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana.
3. Another variation is when one knee is on one upper arm, half bakasana so to say. It's done when jumping back from marichyasana.....
4. Oh another jump back is when we are in tittibasana and go to bakasana and jump back from bakasana. To go from tittibasana to bakasana is the first challenge. To jump back from bakasana the second.
5. To flow through the arms while the legs are still in padmasana, lotus pose is the next variation.
6. Then there is chakrasana.



Second series:
7. I can make out only one more variation. It is when we go from pincha mayurasa into chaturanga dandasana.

Important:
- Forward jumping happens while we inhale.
- Jumping backwards has 2 breaths: First we lift up the body with an inhaling however the legs are. With an exhaling the legs fly back.