Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shoulders and back bending


You guess it already. Shoulders are an evening filling topic. Never touch this topic when out with me, except you like to talk about it for hours.

A reader asked me about a shoulder opening routine and shoulder opening asanas.
Here is shoulder opening post1 and here post2.

Also the back bending asanas intend to open the shoulders. It's not only about opening the shoulders, also the front and the back of the body become more flexible.

My shoulder opening example is ustrasana: This pose is not only about reaching the feet with the hands and to stretch the hips forward. In addition the legs are active, the shin bones and feet press into the floor. The little toe goes towards the floor, too. With the hands this can supported. Press your hands against the inner sides of the soles and move them outwards. The feet show resistance. When doing so the shoulder blades move to each other, the chest opens and the shoulders gain flexibility. Doing this consciously fastens the progress......

Not only ustrasana, but all the back bending asanas open the chest, enlarge the flexibility of the shoulders and make the back flexible.

Another good example is urdhva dhanurasana. Press your feet against the floor. The weight of the body shall be on the hands and feet equally. Shoulder and chest open.

Shift your awareness from the hips and strong legs to the shoulders next time when you practice back bending asanas. This deepens this movement. The mind can help, too.

Enjoy. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Twists open the shoulders, too


Twists open the shoulders, too. When doing twists one shoulder moves forward the other backward. The shoulder that moves backward opens finally. Twists turn the spine, the chest remains open. Back muscles can be engaged and can support the process. To lengthen the body seems important to me.

Most poses look  so easy, but when I practice them I realize how challenging they are.

Am I happy that I can live again according to my own rhythm. I can practiced as long as I like, it will be 2 hours probably in a Mysore class today. I so enjoy it, this is pure luxury.

The shock experience 2 days ago, the 5 hours spent as an accountant in a company showed me again that I don't want to spend my life in such an atmosphere again. I want to fly on my own. The challenge for the time being is that I don't know the outcome of my activities, writing this book that is in my mind for 3 years already. I'll be able to live with this insecurity. Simply writing it is what needs to be done NOW.

Time and yoga: All my planning how to organize my life filled with yoga and a job in a company was redundant, but it made something clear to me. My yoga practice is even more time-consuming as I thought it would be. I lied to myself: commuting time is not 30 min one way, but 45 min. I've to add the time I need to change my clothes. I must shower, I blog about my yoga. I don't want to give this up. This all makes my passion for this yogic life style time consuming.
The consequence is that I really must take care where my time goes. My time management must improve. It has already, but there is still potential. I will make it a topic here, as I think most Ashtanga yoga practitioner face the issue, that it can be a challenge to be a committed yogini/yogi and to follow other interests and needs, too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to open the shoulders.....



If I know a yoga routine that opens the shoulders I was asked lately in a comment.

The pictures show how one can use the arms as a lever. The shoulder open and one can go deeper in a forward bending asana. To consider is that it's important to bring the shoulders down and than backwards. The arms help, but also the imagination to open the chest AND to bring the shoulder blades together. Use the strong back muscles consciously.
A lever is always very powerful. Apply it with care. I overstretched my hamstrings once with such shoulder opening poses.

I've also seen yogis using a strap for some exercises. They held a strap in their hands over the head and brought the stretched arms  to their back over the head.

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

I'm fully recovered from my job adventure of yesterday. I slept very well.
Focus shall be my book again.
Money will come in again.
I must believe in myself and my abilities to live as a free bird.....:)


Monday, June 27, 2011

No, no, no......


I terminated the contract that I've signed this morning. That was it.
Thank you I don't need that anymore, that unfriendly atmosphere. Every day.
Five rules alone how the employees shall behave in the restroom. It was posh, all in white and fire red. Sure, but this is not everything.

There are other ways to survive.
It was the correct decision, nevertheless I feel depleted. It was an attempt. It failed. So far this was the shortest job I ever had: 5 hours. It shall not be. I know it for quite some time already. I must find other occupations. The company life is not my life anymore. Again I tried it. It would be too long to describe all reasons in detail why this job could only lead to a desaster. I'm over it already.

I walked home after the job and I was not at all in the mood to sit down for a coffee to celebrate my first day. I couldn't see all the beauty of this summer day. I was done.

Source you must find something else for me. This didn't please me at all.
I don't know what I shall do right now. I've zero energy even though I've eaten the third vanilla soy pudding already.

Tomorrow I'll practice yoga and I'll write the next chapter of my book.
Today I'm sad about this outcome. Nevertheless all is OK. I know this was the best what could happen to me.


Monday - fine-tuning



Monday: Pictures how I want to spend my Monday became clearer during the last days. I need a shower after a sweaty yoga practice and before working. I don't want to put a wet towel on a hanger at work because I showered at the shala and I cannot leave my towel in the handbag. This would be impossible. I also don't want to gobble down anything in a restaurant and brush my teeth there in the restroom four times a week. I want to eat something healthy and I need something. To be without food the entire day is not possible for me.

I need to go home after yoga to shower, to eat something,to brush my teeth and  to dress differently.

This means my practice must be done within 90 min not 2 hours. Yep. I must compromise. I must be at the shala at 9am before our teacher arrives. Quickly I must change clothes. No dawdling, not too much chatting, I must step on my mat and I must start with the sun salutations as fast as possible. I'll bring an alarm clock with me. I want to avoid that I look every 5 min at the clock there. A bit more than 2 hours I'll have for commuting, changing clothes, eating, showering. I hope I won't feel like speedy Gonzales. I must test if it works before I can say more. Important is that I'll be on time today, my first working day.

Yoga: I felt weak yesterday at the led class, very weak. Perhaps my body was still dehydrated from the intensive sauna session. This can be.
Today second series. Breath by breath......:)


Hahaha, just changed my mind: I'll practice at home. I don't want to have a hectic first day. I need to know how much time it takes to get to the office. I want to prepare myself a bit more. The first day at a new company is always an exception. I want to have a relaxed first day.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Good routines, bad routines and doing something differently


Human beings are creatures of habits. Quickly we establish routines, most of them are unconscious. As yoginis and yogis we've favorite places in the changing room and in the shala, too. We all have eating habits. For others our behavior is predictable. Routines makes life easier. To make decisions is not necessary anymore. The body acts as usual, we can do anything, while thinking of something  else.

Some time ago I started drinking water in the morning with my black coffee. I don't want to miss this little habit anymore.
It surely makes sense to go through our routines from time to time. We all have routines, good ones and not so good ones. I'm sure.

My new job starting on Monday, messes up many of my routines (not all). I feel reluctance, even though I think it's not that bad to earn some money. However. Also when it's not YET with my book.
Make it a routine to step out of your daily treadmill, also when this treadmill is liked, I thought. 
The idea came up to go to a sauna where I've not yet been: The Olympic sauna came into my mind. I searched the web for the opening hours. It's open every day till 11pm. Wow. How to get there, I thought and I couldn't find the directions. I was close to give up. Finally I found it and I saw that I could use the tram a few steps away from my home and within 5 stations I'd be there. I packed my bag: towel, my red bath robe, a book, my glasses and one of E's hotel shampoos. Done. Quickly I left the house in order not to change my mind anymore and to stay at home. The tram arrived and soon I had to get off, but the Olympic stadium was still far away, I got lost. I asked a Ricksha driver for the way and he offered me to take me to the hall. We've bicycle Ricksha drivers here, too, ha. "It reminds me of India", I told the young man. Ah this was funny to sit comfortably in front of this bicycle feeling the wind in the face. And then I was there.

All my worrying thoughts were blown away as soon as I entered the huge Olympic halls. It was as if vacation has started. I stepped into a little paradise.

The sauna area is new there. First I tested the inspiration sauna. A smell of rhubarb-apple was in that sauna, a bit artificial for my taste. I was alone there and enjoyed it. 15 min I remained there and sweated. I relaxed for some time afterwards. The next sauna that I tried was called sanaro. It was not really hot, but one could hear a water fall  and birds singing. :) Very nice, very relaxing, but I want it hotter. After a while I left this sauna and tried the fitness sauna. There were the men sitting. Wow here it was 100° Celsius and I sweated like never. Water was running down my body. 10 min were enough. This hot room became my favorite one. I sweated there a second time. I was only body, thinking is not possible anymore in such a hot room.

I found an easier way to get home. It was already 9pm by then. Redundant to say that I felt excellent.At home I drank water, I was so thirsty and I had strawberries at home. I cut them and put a vanilla soy pudding on it.

It needn't to be yoga every day to do something  good for the body. My sleep was deep and relaxing.

Btw: Swimming and yoga fits best together.

A friend and daily reader of my blog asked me to publish again a salad on my blog. Shall her wish be fulfilled quickly: 


It's a potato salad (good carbohydrates) with arugula on top and cocktail tomatoes around that I had in a restaurant.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Planning,.......


My new schedule as I imagine it now:
Monday: Mysore class - second series starting at 9am till 11am- Work from 1pm till ?
Tuesday: Home practice - second series starting at 6:30 am till 8:30 - Work from 10am till 7pm
Wednesday: Mysore class - second series starting at 9am till 11am - Work from 1pm till ?
Thursday: My calmer day - Sweeney's moon sequence starting at 7am till 8am - Work from 10am till 7pm
Friday: Mysore class - second series starting at 9am till 11am - Time for my own projects
Saturday: Home practice - primary starting at 9am till 11am - Time for my own projects
Sunday: Led class - primary at 4pm till 6pm.

Four very busy days.......this is less than I had about 2 years ago.
It's a miracle that I can combine work without giving up my Mysore classes. I must appreciate this.
Will I have time for friends and all the other games I like to play in life? I think so.

A corset? Yes, Hahahaha........but a corset that allows to move (a bit at least).
I'm nervous.

It's good to have once a week a calmer day, also re yoga. Today is my calmer yoga day. I'll practice the moon sequence by Matthew Sweeney. Focus is here also the breath, but there are no vinyasas. It will be good for me to put my body in postures called asanas.

Why all this????? I mentioned it yesterday, but it's worth to repeat it. My Ashtanga yoga practice keeps me healthy, the body and the mind. I feel strong and flexible when I practice, my mood is much better also. My practice guarantees a daily joy. I exercise enjoying the moment. I'm attentive of what happens now and my mind is not occupied about worries of tomorrow. This usually is experienced as relief. I don't want to give up my practice only because I need to make some money. It's possible to combine it. There are many alternatives.
One was offered to me on a silver plate 2 days ago and I said "yes". A balanced and satisfying life consists of different components. Many overlook it. Having time for friends, having time for healthy activities must be part of it, too (among other things). I know too many people who only work and work and work.
(I hope that illnesses and pain won't become a major topic in my life.)

I loved my life of the last 21 months. Now something new. It would be a lie to say there is no reluctance felt. I'll make a list today why it's "fantastic" that this change has come to me. Feeling a bit of enthusiasm cannot be wrong. Haha. One thing is sure, it keeps me flexible. This time it's an extra training for the mind to be open for new situations and to handle them.

Ah, is that all exciting. At the end of July I'll have a week off. My bf and myself will travel to Austria for a week. We want to relax...hahahaha.

Krounchasana is on the picture: Btw, each forward bending asana becomes a bit easier when pointing the feet. Knowing this can be important when the hamstrings are overstretched.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gomukhasana A


Picture: Gomukhasana A and B are balancing poses. Gomukhasana A has the nose as drishti. When practicing Gomukhasana B one has to look upwards. Front is not frowned....:)

Mysore class was excellent. I looked at my watch. I NEED 2 hours. I don't want to hurry through the sequence. This doesn't fit to yoga. There are fast practices and slow practices. They are both challenging only different challenging. But to hurry through a practice is something else. It's a contradiction to what yoga aims at. Yoga aims at relaxing the body and the mind. (This is only one good point and effect of yoga). From next week on I've to leave the shala fast. Two hours are between my saying "Thank you" at the end of my practice when I'm in samasthitih and the beginning of my accounting job.

2 hours: I crossed already out what I could cross out.
No gossiping anymore in the changing room. Ah, difficult.
I also won't shower, I simply don't smell bad. I'll dress every day new clothes and I'm showered in the morning, I use a deo and expensive parfumes, this shall be enough.

I need to eat.
I want to brush my teeth after that.
And I've to commute.

This is now the question how to organise it as it would be too time-consuming to stop at my home. It's out of question to eat a self-made sandwich in the subway. I want to keep up a bit of style. Oh, oh, I must find a solution. Perhpas I should measure the time that I need get there.

Yep, yoga influences my entire life. In order to manage it to have my daily dose of Ashtanga yoga I need to develop excellent management skills. My Ashtanga yoga is not a quick thing round the corner, it's my passion and time consuming. I love it. I always had time for the important things in my life. Always. And I have it till now.

Oh, I'm excited. Now where I've said "yes", I want to make a success out of it for both sides (for the company and myself).

Often people say that they have no time to do some sports or yoga. My suggestion: Start small with 15 minutes a day and let it grow. It's possible. Health must be one of the priorities in life. My friends who've nothing else to tell but about her illnesses become more and mainly the illnesses are caused through an unhealthy life style.
Find a healthy passion. It can happen that the entire life becomes a passion as this is contagious. Being passionate is an attitude.

Oh, yes, this change in my life, starting working outside my home again needs energy. I feel I have it. Perhaps it's also only the excitement that I feel. I don't know.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Primary with Maria Villella


I carried my PC to my yoga place and put it on the TV. I wanted to practice primary with the online DVD of Maria Villella. From time to time I had to move the cursor to see her practicing with me, but this didn't interupt my practice.

She counted me through 5 surya namaskara As and 5 surya namaskara Bs!
Urdhva dhanursasana was counted 3 times for 5 breaths. But she added also dropping back 3 times.

Within 1 hour and 14 min it was over. This is even faster than the CD by Sharath.

I hesitate before doing the vinyasas and I need too much time to get into an asana. This break gives room for thinking like: OMG now this challenging asana or hopefully my feet won't touch the floor and so on.

Marichyasana C: I saw that her arm was much higher behind her back than mine is usually. This might help to reach the wrist easier (and faster). This I'll try next time. When the hand has reached the wrist one can pull the arms down.

The highlight was that I managed it to get into supta kurmasana via dwi pada sirsasana. I realized how she lowered to the floor. The elbows show backwards not sidewards. In order to reach the fingers behind the back it makes sense to stretch the crossed legs forward. I could do it today and I was happy about it. This is fantastic!!!! considering the speed in which I had to do it.

"Pick it up", she uses to say. It means to lift up the body to prepare it to swing it through the arms into chaturanga dandasana.

It was challenging. I sweated. From time to time I checked if Maria was sweating, too. Not a bit. At the end she looked as fresh as in the beginning. Oh, oh. :)

Yes I recommend the DVD by Maria Villella very much.


Primary today.....and a girl needs cash.


Primary is on the schedule today.
I bought an online DVD by Maria Villella. It's a perfect DVD as she doesn't talk too much, she simply leads through the series. Less is more. I bought this DVD as I wanted to study the vinyasas. It can also serve as a led class. I want to test it today at least till the end of the standing poses. Then I prefer to do full vinyasa.
This could really be an idea for one of the Ashtanga gurus: producing a primary CD with full vinyasas (no explanations, simply counting!!!!).

When I practice at home it's different than when I practice in Mysore classes. In classes I stick to the series and practice it comme il faut.
At home my practice transforms to a learning adventure: 
I add asanas (leg behind the head before supta kurmasana, split poses, handstands).
I repeat asanas like upavishta konasana.

I'm looking forward to my practice today.

------------------------------------------------------
I feel calmer today. My life will change again dramatically. I got a job offer as an accountant. It fell into my lap so to say. So many of my criteria are fulfilled I had to say "yes": It's downtown and a branch that I like. I'll work 30 hours "only" and I can decide when this will be. This will allow me to go to the Mysore classes as usual.
I don't know if my "decision" is a good one. Who ever knows this. It's also not so much a decision than going with the flow, showing no resistance. It's more saying yes to what is offered on a silver plate.
This job will also allow me to work on my book project. My life will surely intensify again.
A girl needs cash. I've no choice. Life happens.

My efforts will focus on making my life simpler and simpler. Less is more. This is true almost always.
I'm still working on being better organised.
My first working day will be the Monday, after the Mysore class......hahahaha. What shall I dress????

It was an exciting day yesterday for sure. I will need energy and I have it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mayurasana


Ahhhh.
Here is the history of this asana. Between the first picture and this picture are more than one and a half years!!!
Mayurasana is one of the poses I thought I'd never be able to do. It's a men's pose was my conviction. This might be true, but women can do it, too.

Once I saw a Youtube movie of a woman, 80 years old doing this pose. I was amazed. It must be possible I thought.

Often I only imagined this pose. I was on my mat put my hands in position and this was it. And then came the moment and I could balance for a fracture of a second. This made me optimistic again, very optimistic. I tried again and failed again and again and again.
For quick 3 breaths I can hold this pose now. I wobble, I don't care. I'm sure now also this pose will improve.

The trick is: Tthe hands must really press into the floor. The elbows should be kept together. The weight of the body moves forward. Abdomen must be engaged. The back is rounded, nevertheless I try to open the chest. This movements in different directions must give stability.
Strength is needed for sure.
Mayurasana is a balancing pose. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to develop a critical mind?


Self-study is part of the process. Whoever wants to improve his/her own practice must develop a critical mind (not a criticizing mind).

Here is a collection of methods what oneself can do to improve the own practice. 

1. Being aware can help. The intention to observe the breath might already improve the breath. Once I said to my bf: And where is your breath? A sec later I saw how his belly moved. Alone thinking of the breath caused a deeper breath.
2. Taking pictures of oneself is very recommended. One can go a step further and compare the own pictures with those of more advanced yogis/yoginis.
3. Tiny movies even reveal more. I was not aware how often I play with my hair during a practice before I saw it in a movie.
4. It might be good to focus the attention on single body parts. A first question could be: Do I know how the feet position is? Second question could be: And how is my feet position. (Examples: Are the feet really hip width apart in down dog?) That way one can scan the body: knees, hands, hips, legs, chest, head. It's recommended to focus on few things during a practice. After a practice one can ask oneself if one has checked what one wanted to check. Often it falls into oblivion. This has something to do with routine and the ability to concentrate.
5. The focus can also be the bandhas, the thougths that accompany a practice.

Feed-back from the outside from an advanced teacher is necessary. For sure.
Having a critical mind can also help to improve the own practice.

Knowing how an asana/vinyasa has to be does not mean that one is able to do it correctly.

I eat well and I've enough sleep for the time being and therefore I had a very good practice yesterday. Sometimes I eat well and I sleep enough and I've a lousy practice. Good practices are a gift from heaven. It seems so sometimes.

My focus today shall be the correct vinyasa count. I realized that I dawdle before I do a pose. There is no break or an extra breath between jumping through and doing the pose. One jumps directly into the pose.

How I remember the names of the asana: When I stand in samasthitih I always remember the name of the asana. When I've forgotten the name, I look it up later at home.





Monday, June 20, 2011

Sore legs!


Sore legs!!!
I cannot remember anymore when I had sore legs the last time. I blame laghu vajrasana for my sore legs. I worked on that pose yesterday. As it was impossible to come up when my head was on the floor. M recommended to put a block under my head. This helps. I can even remain there for a few breaths and then come up (not down and up, this is somehow easier). Nevertheless, this challenges me. A lot. It seems as if I really fought yesterday. It's so good to experience that it's possible to come back on the knees. The hands support the movement. They hold the ankles and press them down and the hips forward.

This will be a funny practice in the Mysore class this morning. Haha.

PS: It's possible to use 2 blocks or 3 blocks. It helps to come up - this helps to understand the movement. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Convinced.


If I weren't so convinced that the moon sequence by Matthew Sweeney is a perfect complement to my Ashtanga series, I wouldn't practice it. But I am convinced.

The series is without vinyasas, yet challenging. It lasts about 1 hour, herewith it's shorter than an Ashtanga series. It's a perfect series on moon days and yoga free days or on lazy days. Today it served as a preparation for the led class this afternoon.
The hips are the focus of the moon sequence mainly. It's a very balanced practice.

The pose on the picture is called eka hasta ustrasana B. It's one of the poses that challenge me. It can serve as a preparation for kapotasana.

For the rest of this year the moon sequence shall be enough. I won't even attempt to add the fire sequence by Matthew.

My body is ready for an intensive led class this late afternoon. It's still early. Fantastic. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On learning a new series.....


I wanted to learn a sequence of asanas for the calmer days in my life. The fire sequence created by Matthew Sweeney was in my mind. I wanted to practice it this evening. The open book (huge one) was already on my sofa. But that's it already. It's not possible to practice a sequence from one day to the other. It can only be learned step by step. I got a feeling of the fire sequence tonight, it's challenging, oh yes. Pose by pose I'll approach it next time - on the calmer days, my Asthanga free days. The Ashtanga method is a good approach here, too: It makes sense to learn (and remember) one asana after the next till the creation is complete. It makes no sense to hurry, it makes no sense to be overzealous. I know this already.

The asanas looked all so easy on the pictures. They aren't easy.
The poses of the sequence look so beautifully, I want to learn them. They support the Ashtanga series, they work so to say from the background.

It's better to feel greedy than to feel overwhelmed because it's too much to digest.

You shall not betray yourself.


Picture 1: I was lying on the canopy swing half of the day. Lazy days were on the schedule. Then I had the idea to take a picture of myself doing paschimottanasana. The body was not warmed up, I had 10 sec with my self timer. What can be seen is NOTHING. The knees are bend. This also means that the legs are not engaged. The back is rounded. The soles of the feet are not parallel or pointed. The head hangs forward. I even think it does not look nicely. This pose will improve nothing. When I want to relax it's even better to be on my back. At least I couldn't injure myself that way.


Picture 2: This pose shouldn't be a pose, nevertheless it shows much more how it goes to bend forward than the picture on top. The legs are stretched. Muscles can be engaged and they are supposed to be engaged. The upper body lengthens. I look forward towards the direction in which I want to go. Bandhas? It cannot be seen if I engage them or not. Surely I do! Haha. The back is straight. Feet do not fall to the sides sloppily. Practicing that way the hip movements enlarge.
When the legs are engaged the hamstrings can be stretched safely. I do not make an attempt to reach the feet which could mean to stretch the shoulder forward. The shoulders remain down in almost every asana. The chest remains open.

A good question: When I practice an asana I ask myself of the goal of that asana. Where must I feel this discomfort that can be felt when I approach my limits.

Paschimottanasana strenghtens the legs and bandhas, it enlarges the movement of the hips, it lengthens the back side of the legs (hamstrings). It makes modest.

The benefits of this forward bending asana: It's good for the inner organs. It allows to relax the spine from the upright position.

Seeing myself on pictures helps to adjust myself. I think I'm often between the too extremes: totally sloppy or perfect. I engage my legs, but I want to fold my hands in front of the legs. This might cause a rounded back (not like in picture 1, but yes, rounded). I will check it again next time when I take pictures.

And here the master Mr Iyengar himself: 




What is true for paschimottanasana is true for every pose. It's so easy to betray oneself, but then we're likely to remain the same, not so much will improve.

Strength, flexibility, endurance, concentration, modesty, daily practice, fun, focus..........yoga related notions. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Intensity.


Sometimes when I'm distracted off the mat, my yoga practice is especially intensive.
Today is Friday and I practiced second series in the Mysore class. I feared it would be lousy as it is the end of the week and it could have been that the body needed it a bit more relaxing. But it was not so. My practice was very focused. I was strong. It's a good strategy to practice 4 times second series and twice primary.

Back bending: It helps to bring the shoulder blades together. This opens the chest and intensifies the poses. It also helps to become aware of the body parts that are on the floor. They are the fundament of the pose and give stability. Stability allows to go deeper into a pose. Practicing ustrasana it's the shin bones that are on the floor and build stability. Practicing urdhvha dhanurasana it's the feet that give stability and the active legs of course.

This Ashtanga yoga practice makes me happy. It gives me the power, energy and will to reorganize my whole life. I'm better organized already than half a year ago. I'm fine-tuning now, it seems so. After a prolific day often a not so prolific days follows. I have to accept this. Important is to go on. I will. I've no choice either.

Ah, I admit it, I checked the google followers here on my blog the last days. I was waiting for no 400. And today someone new has joined. Thank you for reading my blog. :)
You've the choice, I'm on facebook and twitter, too. Links are on the right side of this blog.

BE ENTERTAINED.




Thursday, June 16, 2011

Breathing, concentration and sweating


It's warm here in Germany now,  about 24° C (75,2 F). This is not too hot, but warm and the weather is dry. Nevertheless I sweat like never when I practice Ashtanga yoga. Pearls of sweat are running down my body here and there. My clothes are wet after each practice. I detoxed, I think. Sweating is part of the Ashtanga practice.

I sweat so much that my yoga mat becomes slippery. This has the consequence that my elbows drift apart when I practice pincha mayurasana. My feet slide away when I jump back or when I do the headstands at the end of second series. Suddenly I understood why the yogis and yoginis in India (where it was even hot and humid) put a blanket on their sticky mats after the standing poses. The blanket absorbs the sweat and this allows a safe practice. I'll try this.

Why do I sweat so much I wonder. I think it's because my breath is deeper than years ago and that I'm able to focus on the breath during my practice. My concentration improved. I don't forget the breath anymore like in my first years of practicing Ashtanga. I think this is the reason.

Picture: Laghu vajrasana can be seen. Good is that I have the correct dirsti. It's so seductive to look upwards when bending backwards. But the dristi is the third eye, between the eyebrows. This is in my opinion also a concentration challenge. It's still a challenge to come up from this pose. Once the head has touched the floor, my body becomes heavy like a van. M's suggestion is to use a block under my head and to come up from there for a while. I'll try this from now on. It's important to come up, I know this. I've to come up from kapotasana, too. Strength is needed, in the legs. Brrhhhhh, hahahaha. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Self-portrait


Mysore class this morning, second series.


On the picture parsvottanasana D can be seen. The variations of asanas are endless. With the arms behind the back they serve as a lever and they help to keep the back straight. It's an intensive asanas. Practice with awareness (to avoid injuries).

My schedule on a regular week: 
Mo: Mysore class - second series
Tue: home practice - second series
Wed: Mysore class - second series
Thurs: home practice - primary
Fri: Mysore class - second series
Sat: a day off or moon sequence
Sun: led primary

Twice a week I practice primary now. My idea is to repeat those asanas of primary at home that need more attention like upavistha konasana. The vinyasas need extra time and exercise, too.

Lately I made very good experiences with repetitions. It's amazing how much better an asana is when I do it the sixth time. Taking picture forced me to repeat an asana again and again. Each time it was easier and better. Suddenly I could be in an asana with one breath only, come il faut.

Yeah, to have so much time for the things I love to do I call luxury.

The sun is shining. Big smile.
Time to move on.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back bending asanas and the knees


20 sec. Ah. I will go downtown today to the photo shop. Shall they explain me again how to use the self-timer. I need more than 20 sec. I even risk injuries when I've to be that fast.

In all back bending asanas the knees are supposed to be close together, as close as possible. I was shocked when I saw my first pictures this morning. There was no closeness at all. This will surely be my focus next time. I will even use a strap. This must improve.

Again and again I get surprised about the difference how something feels and how it looks on a picture. Hahaha.

Repetition is the secret.

My joints hurt. I got the message: back to a strict vegan diet as quick as possible.

PS: I'm not sad, only focused....

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lazy or not lazy?


Today is Monday. I cannot make a decision. Shall I practice here at my parents home. Or shall I practice later when we'll be at home in Munich again? I don't know. And when I don't know, I know that not much will happen here.

At least a few sun salutation should be possible......

I could film myself in the garden, if it were warmer......(if, but it's fresh here).....

Today is one of the days that reminds me that when the mind has too much time to think, not much will happen. I admire the creativity. The discussion where it's better to practice, at home or here, could go on endlessly. The mind surely has it's precious tasks. I.e. it could be good to find out how to use my self-timer.

A look at my watch tells me the truth: I'll practice at home in Munich.


My purring black monster, ah .................:) luv u my sweetie.........

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Down dog in the garden...


The grass is such a soft lively ground. For the surya namaskaras and for the standing sequences no mat is necessary. For the sitting poses it's a bit too wet. Also the vinyasas wouldn't be easy on the grass. Nevertheless to practice without anything  is simplicity pure.

How less is still enough?
A good question.

It's playing around what can be seen on the picture, it's not a serious practice.
Tomorrow my yoga week will start again. 

How to focus....


For many activities I use my pomodoro. It's a timer that looks like a tomato. I can set 25 min and after these 25 min it rings. It's time for a little break of 5 min. Then the play can start again. To have a clear start and a clear end intensifies my work.  I use this timer when I'm working on my book, when I'm reading and when I'm doing housework. I wondered how I can apply this technique to my yoga practice.

In August and September I'll be on my own again. No classes will take place. I'll be confronted with myself again. What will help me to have satisfying practices, I wonder. I will set a time, for sure. It must be clear when I begin and I'll set a time when it shall be over. Two hours without relaxation shall really be enough. Knowing that time is limited shall eliminate all the dawdling and distractions.

This morning I practiced the surya namaskaras and the standing sequence on the grass. The grass was so soft like a carpet. I didn't slide. It was a most simple practice even without a mat. Soon neighbor's cat arrived and relaxed in my shadow. I caressed this little black monster. Soon she was distracted by a butterfly. This cat has no focus. :) Purring cat I call her. "My purring cat you're a black monster," I told her. She didn't care. Ah, life is good for this cat. For me, too. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The moon sequence on my yoga free day.


I practiced the moon sequence created by Matthew Sweeney. It's a modest practice in comparison to a classic Ashtanga series as it is shorter and the vinyasas are omitted. Despite this it has it's challenges. Afterwards I feel that I've done something for the flexibility of my hips.

Simply to go from asana to asana has also calming effect.

I still have the book on my sofa. Soon I'll know the sequence by heart, then I'll learn the fire sequence.

Mind and body influence each other. I usually feel excellent after a practice. When I manage it to have a focused mind my practice is better, too. Together we're strong. This is true for the body and the mind.

I feel ready now for my little trip to my parents where I'll meet my bf. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

If you lack motivation...


.....then practice in the evening. It was late yesterday when I started my practice. Wow, this was great finally. The body was so flexible. One highlight chased the other. I managed it to get into supta kurmasana via dwi pada sirsasana. The secret really is to lengthen the body, to press the hooked feet against each other and to push them upwards to the ceiling. Bandhas are supposed to be engaged. I still have to work on how to go down. Where to place the hands, how to bend the elbows. I want to have a soft landing for my head.
As always I added eka pada sirsasana and my leg remained where it is supposed to be, without holding it. Ah, it was great. 

Jumping through was not so good, as my wrists still hurt. A lot. For my body it's very important to be consequent and not to eat milk products at all. This arthritic attack on my joints doesn't please me at all.


It's possible to find restaurants, where the food is healthy. The salads, vegetables with bulgur were very delicious (and vegan). This cost me 5,80 Euro. Impossible to prepare the same variety with the same price at home.

Today I'll practice second series. I'm looking forward to it, eve though I expect a more modest practice, because it's always so that it goes up and down. 

It's Friday and I'll be out of town during the weekend. I'll see my parents. 



Thursday, June 09, 2011

What I learn from the karate kids.


What can be seen on the picture is my new strap that I found here. The karate kids also need to do splits in their practices. A company has invented a strap that helps to learn side splits safely. It's even patented since this year.

Quick repetition: The body stretches when we relax. This is one reason why yoginis engage muscles when they stretch. It's even recommended to relax the face, to smile slightly, when we want to stretch to underline the message: The body is protected and safe now, I can stretch.

The strap gives stability, this gives safety and slowly one can slide a bit deeper into the side split. The hands that hold one end of the strap can give length to the strap. Brrhhhh, is this difficult to explain, but it works. I hope the picture explains what my words cannot describe.

Sooner or later we all want to learn the splits. :) This tool helps for sure. It's worth the 39,-- Euro including shipping costs. (I get no commission, hahahaha).

Of course it is important to warm up before using this strap. I'll integrate practicing the splits in my practices at   home. I think it fits after supta hasta padangusthana. This is also when I practice forward split already.

Time to step on my mat: Primary is on the schedule. I will give extra attention to the vinyasas.




Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Kapotasana.....


Thanks to grimmly's advice I somehow managed it to take a snapshot from one of my videos.
Pictures help me so much. Of course I see that the pose improved. My fingers were never so close to the toes like on that picture. Here is the history.

I realize that to reach the toes is nice, it feels even funny to feel the little toes from that side. When I want to take the elbows to the floor, comme il faut, I have to reach my verse, minimum. This is at least another year of body work.

The elbows drift apart from each other. How to bring them together is still a secret. Visualization shall help.

Then comes the challenge to come up from this pose. I'd say, I need minimum 3 more years for this. I enjoy the trip.

All in all, I'm happy as I see progress. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The door frame, my friend.


I saw this trick in the book "Cool yoga tricks" a few days ago. The authors recommend to walk the feet closer and closer to a wall (in my case the wall was a door frame). The door frame helps to keep the back straight. Also the neck can relax and is in line with the back. I'll do this exercise more often.It felt good. It's an adjustment that one can give oneself.

And then the nightmare started. I wanted to take some more pictures. From one second to the next my self-timer didn't work anymore. Again and again I did pashasana. Nothing. The camera didn't start. I tried it again, checked my camera, the timer. I couldn't find out what it is. Hours went by.
I made the experience that repetition really helps to go deeper into a pose. First pashasana was rather difficult today. After the 6th time I was very deep in that pose. What an epoch making insight!

Now my body has cooled down again. I'm not flexible anymore. A few sun salutations were necessary to make me flexible again. In the meantime it's after 12:12. What to do now? I don't know. I curse (silently).

It's part of it: the technique. I must learn more about the technical aspects of my timer and my camera. This is so important.  

Smiling......


The weather is sunny and warm, this makes me smile.
And this morning one of my YouTube subscriber made me smile, too. The wish still exists. I shall film myself doing baddha konasana with special clothes on. :) Yeah. It's time to learn how to use my new camera for filming purposes.

I'm sipping coffee right now. And I drink water. Ah, so good.

How is my body today, I wonder, and stretch my hands towards the ceiling.

Time to move on.




Monday, June 06, 2011

I try to remember......


I think it was a hard practice. My joints hurt, the wrists. I know how to focus on the breath and for a while the pain disappeared. A bit of pain is part of the game, it's part of every game. I know it will go away. Soon.
Each time when I practice second series I discuss with myself to omit the headstands. I practiced them and they become easier each time I do them. It can be that I don't use the blanket anymore next time. Nevertheless likes and dislikes are always present. I don't give it too much meaning.

M gave me a new schedule. Four times second series and 2 times primary. I'll stick to it. His advice is always best. My additional vinyasa exercises are not part of a series. I think it makes sense to practice more second series. I don't think that I can do primary, no, not at all. Nevertheless.........stillstand does not exist.

I wrote chapter 11 of my book today. Yep, this is done. To have this group helps me enormously to write at least anything. As always: a bad chapter is better than no chapter at all. A lousy practice is better than no practice at all.

It's evening, I think: no. Please, I need more time. 

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I rediscover primary....


As long as the vinyasas are not mastered, primary is not mastered.
Also the vinyasa count is part of the Ashtanga system. All the pauses and extra breaths are not really necessary.

The jump forward and jump backward is doable, I think. I need more strength. For a while I didn't know how to jump back, but now I know. When the crossed feet are through the arms, I've to bow the arms. This needs strength that I still lack.

Today I had to practice retention of the senses. My wrist joints hurt. Why ever. What have I eaten I ask myself then, what have I eaten. I survived a sweaty practice. I became stronger in the last year, but I prefer to work on flexibility. Yeah, I know what I have to do.

Shall I be content. This is an exercise of the mind, to be content. I am. Gulp. :)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Moon sequence on my yoga free day....


....and I practiced late.
It's a concentration exercise to do the left side first. This is doable. I can also remember the sequence already (almost). The body is not familiar with the poses. This requires patience, I tell myself, Be content. To do what is easy, is boring. Being patient is a precious skill. I exercise it.......:)

My left leg is still not OK. Patience is needed here, too.

It was my cleaning day today and to finish it with a calm yoga practice was good.
And I even sweated, I don't know why.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Deep deep inhaling, open the chest, pause, let go, pause.......


My focus during the standing sequence:
Deep deep inhaling, open the chest, pause, let go, pause.......

My focus during the sitting asanas of the first Ashtanga series: 
Deep deep inhaling, open the chest, pause, let go, pause.......

My focus during urdhva dhanurasana:
Deep deep inhaling, open the chest, pause, let go, pause.......

My focus during the closing sequence: 
Deep deep inhaling, open the chest, pause, let go, pause.......

This is not at all boring. Thinking of deep inhaling and opening the chest helped me to go deeply into the forward bending asana. It was a true detox session today. Never ever I've sweated so much. India remains an exception, there I sweated more. Today sweat pearls ran down my face and they chuckled me. My mat became even slippery. I blame the deep inhaling for this detox session.

The breath is supportive, more and more I realize this. It's not that uddjay breathing is an additonal difficulty when practicing Ashtanga yoga. Deep breathing helps to lengthen the body, it helps to balance, it helps to lift up the body.

On my way home I bought 2 bottles of water. This gives me India-feeling. :)

Do you have any topics you want me to write about??
If yes, please let me know. :)

Thanks for shopping at amazon via my blog. Links are on the right side of this blog. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I'm learning from my pictures.....


I can only recommend it: take pictures of yourself practicing asanas.
Lately I invested in a timer (100 Euro only). I can set now the time when the camera is supposed to take the picture. I give me 45 sec and this is more than enough to relax into a pose.

It's amazing, the poses feel often so intensive and correct. When I look at the pictures I see that my back is rounded or that the shoulders are not parallel. The pictures help me to adjust myself, they show me the direction I want to go.

Taking pictures spoil a practice, for sure. From time to time it's good to practice only, without taking pictures, to let something develop.


My photo session today told me that primary will keep me still busy for some time. Focus will be my hips. Deep inhaling and keeping the chest open while forward bending is what I will exercise.

In one of my last practices I realized that I can balance handstand with the gaze of my eyes. Gazing in the right direction also helps to adjust the poses. This is fine-tuning of course. When I bend forward, I also look forward and not downwards. (Exceptions exist.)

Yep, I learn from my pictures a lot.

Shall I be content. I am. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Vinyasa count


Yesterday night I practiced the moon sequence created by Matthew Sweeney and this morning I went to a Mysore class to practice second series. More yoga would be too much. The moon sequence lasts 1 hour, second series lasts 2 hours. :)

The moon sequence has very interesting poses that supports the asanas from primary. And it's a calm practice. I love it.
I just thought that I could take some pictures again from the middle part of second series. I mean one after the other starting with pashasana, then krounchasana and so on. Dwi pada sirsasana was not possible today. It's still a pose that is volatile.

I dawdle a lot when I practice second series. I need so much time to get into an asana.

It's Wednesday evening here and tomorrow is a day off. The weather doesn't invite me to go out, it's cold and rainy.

Not much is to write. This happens, too from time to time.