Friday, July 29, 2011

Just a thought........



Again a twist on the picture. My camera was too fast (10 sec), I had discarded this picture already. It can serve as an example that one has to adjust the twist to the own body. In order to put the hand flat on the floor, I've to move my hand a bit further under the leg. The arms serve as a lever and turn the spine. A flexible spine means youthfulness.

The old yogis have realized that when the body is in pain and weak it becomes our main interest. The mind is occupied with the body and with healing or with standing the pain. For spiritual quests is no room anymore if we feel ill and when the body is a burden. This is why one of the main intentions of the yoga practice is to keep the body and the mind healthy.

The health aspect is often forgotten.
Twists  massage the inner organs.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

I woke up...


I woke up and I suddenly realized: It's Thursday, it's the day I practice primary usually. Only primary. I jubilated. What a relief. This seemed doable. I got up, rolled out my mat and started with sun salutations. Yep I practiced each and every asana and I also did the vinyasas. No asana without vinyasa. It was again a practice that was hard. Sometimes the body feels like embittered. My left hamstring is still overstretched. Sometimes it feels as if my heart is on the back of my leg. It pulsates there and believe me, I know better feelings.

I don't ask, why it is sometimes hard.

The question is, does it make sense to switch to a more modest practice when it's so hard. I know how easy it is to cheat oneself. So much was possible today. I would have been far under my possibilities if I had done something soft. In order to stay motivated it might be good to do less than on good days. I think it shall be allowed without feeling lousy to take it easy from time to time and to do a modified practice.

What is a nice modified practice?
I think the following questions might help:
1. Have I done a warm up for my blood circulation and to avoid injuries?
2. Have I done a few standing asanas?
3. In the middle part it can be enough to do the different types of asanas: forward bending, back bending, balancing poses seperated by twists.
4. A short closing sequence, consisting of salamba sarvangasana, halasana, matsyasana, sirsasana and padmasana will do.
5. Relexation.

The moon sequence by Matthew Sweeney is of course also a wonderful softer practice than one of the Ashtanga series.

In sum a modified practice may last 45 min. A shorter practice equals less exhausting practice. Why not.
This is also flexibility to change the practice from time to time.

Tomorrow is primary day again. I miss my luxury mat. The one I've here is light, but not good. It stops me when I want to jump forward. This might also be an exercise to stay flexible and to be content with what is. How happy will I be when I'll dance again at home on my black luxury thing.

My practice was lousy, but I feel so good now. I know that it will be easier to step on the mat tomorrow, because I practiced this afternoon.


Google+ still keeps me busy. I'll write about my experiences with this new platform in my next posts.

Picture is taken in the Indian restaurant where I had my first meal here. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ardha matsyendrasana, another twist....


Life has so many distractions. I get reminded how important it is to focus. Focus intensifies life. It helps that things get done. It's easier  to get results when I focus. A trick is to limit the time that is dedicated to an activity. Wow, this speeds up all activities. :)

To understand google+ takes some time. But now is enough. Time to practice. The cleaning woman were here already. Nobody will disturb me anymore.

Hours later: No practice happened. Instead I walked around in that little town in Austria. The sun was shining and the day became a shopping day. I also found a very romantic Italian restaurant where I want to go with my E on one of the next evenings.
I feared my practice would be as awful as it was the last two days. It's not that I feared that my asanas weren't great enough, but sometimes there is such an uneasiness in the body, in the joints. Not that it really hurts, but it's not pleasant either. It's so difficult to describe. I don't know what it is, often I blame wrong nourishment for this. I tried to avoid this feeling today. I was not in the mood to be a hero and to practice anyway.
Sometimes it's better to do a soft practice than nothing at all. It's also in yoga not all or nothing. I hope I remember this the next time. The moon sequence by Sweeney would have been appropriate.
Now I feel better, I stretched the body and I even feel like moving and practicing, but the time is too short till dinner.

My twist picture is up already. So what.




Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Google+ versus Facebook


The yogis and yoginis don't live in caves and forests anymore. Many are connected via social media platforms. Here they exchange ideas, videos, literature, pictures, what they eat and drink, their likes and dislikes and banalities. The yogini/yogi of today has a flexible mind in a flexible body. A new social platform is in the make: GOOGLE +.

I wanted to get to know google + (modern yogini I am and I like people). It's supposed to be the competition to Facebook. And it is. So far it's in the test phase. One needs an invitation from someone who is on that platform already if one wants to use this social networking software. One of my fb-friends added me, hahahaha.........but soon I realized a lot of my yogini/yogi-friends are on Google+ already.

What is better at google+:

1. The pictures are larger when they are uploaded when they can be seen on the scream (wall).

2. What I write now is a more important item. Persons that I add I add to circles (friends, relatives, yoginis, only following) right from the beginning on.No friendship-request is required. One can add as much people and circles as one wants. It's possible to add a person to more than one circle. Interesting is and this is different to Facebook, that the people don't see in which circle they are. :) This is important. Look: We all have likes and dislikes. I don't consider everybody as a friend who is a Facebook friend, no matter if I've seen this person in real life or not.  Do I really want to tell to somebody that he/she is only an acquintance for me? No I don't. I don't like to reject people, I don't want to be impolite. The consequence is that all my Facebook-adds are under one list: friends. When I share private information, everybody gets it. I don't like this. Strangers, people I don't feel so close, people who only want to be a friend with me because they want to sell me anything, all get my private info. It's possible on Facebook to filter, but fact is I don't do it, as it's too complicated.
On Google each time when I publish something I decide for which circle it shall be seen. It's easy to select all circles. It's also easy to make the post available for all people in the web. But I can also decide that a post is for friends only or yogis and not for those voyeurs and salespeople who cannot even say "hi" when they want me to add them.

3. It's easy to view the info of those circles I'm interested in. This helps not to miss what my true friends tell, feel or  do.

4. What annoys me at Facebook i.e. is how people want to be friends with me. They send a request and expect me to add them and I don't even know them. Many do not say hello, or anything, they even have a fake name. They want to go through all my private pictures without saying one single word to me. This is insolent. This is bad manners. I add people whom I don't know when I think they are nice (profile picture, common friends, common interests, but this needn't to say much). Most of the time I send a few polite words. Some don't even answer to such a friendly email. I want to be generous and I love to talk to new people. But if they don't talk it makes no sense to have them in my fb-list. Once I've added someone I rarely delete (but even this had to be several times). Idon't collect people like stamps. Networking, being interested in people in general is something else, but adding as much people as possible to Facebook. It's not necessary to be in contact all the time, but a bit of communication is nice, I think. What happened: I have fb-friends, I don't like their approach, I don't know them and they get all my private information. Grgghhhh.
Google + has found a solution for this. One can add people without asking and waiting for approval. I can do the same if someone added me.This saves a hello-ceremony which I expect on Facebook, it's true. This is a bit like on twitter. I move this added person to a circle. If a communication starts with this first unknown person, I move him/her to friends. The word friends is quickly used in English language. For my special and beloved friends I've created another circle "mon entourage".  This does not mean that I don't love the others, hahaha. With my few true friends the really hot stuff is exchanged. Just a joke, hahahaha. Google+ allows me to add a person that added me to be polite, bu to forward onle the information I like to. It's easy to filter, as any person is in a circle already right from the beginning.  If the contact becomes more intensive I can move this person to another circle.

5. The hang-out function is great on google+, even better as on google-mail. Facebook saves all my conversations. I've to delete them one by one. It's so time-consuming. Fact is I try to avoid using Facebook for chatting.


6. Google + allows me to be friendly. I don't have to reject someone who wants to be connected with me.I can even add this person to be polite. If this person is not really a friend he/she will be in a circle with whom I don't share so much information. That's a perfect solution.

7. Yogi/yogini celebrities: Not everybody of these famous yogi/yoginis have a fan-page. If one wants to get info from these yogis/yoginis one must be a friend. Some of these celebrities are a bit naive. They don't know that they are only allowed to have 5000 friends.This is sometimes reached very quickly Sooner or later they start with a fan-page. Then they have 2 pages to handle and to feed. My experience is, it's better to separate business from private affairs. Often it's a bit boring to be a friend of such a celebrity as they post nothing but workshops. Friends and myself, too, use the number of friends of this person to post on their walls to draw the attention to the own website/blog.That's it what I see on many walls of  "celebrities".  I don't need to be a friend with someone whom I find great and whom's work I admire. At google+ I have the possibility to put such a person to the circle "following only". Why shall I present my private life to someone who shows almost nothing of himself/herself.

We all have to handle more people nowadays that we thought. This can become a challenge.

Definition of the word friend: In German language the word friend is used differently than in English. A friend in German language is really someone I can rely on.
I only want to use the English word "friends" when I've exchanged at least a "hello". People who collect face-book-adds like stamps are no friends. This can change of course, one can become a friend of a stranger......hahahaha, nothing is stable.

8. Another issue on facebook is the deletion of friends. Several times I had to delete people. If I told you why I deleted those people you would understand. I was deleted by people, too. No matter if I delete or get deleted this creates emotions. Google+ has a more elegant solution for this. It's possible to move people to unimportant circles. The adding is easy, the deleting is also easy.

These are my first impressions. I might change my opinion. It's for me also a learning phase how to use this new platform.

I'm curious how I filter my posts. My blog posts will be available on the web. How will I filter when I want to post that I need a second cup of coffee? Will all my circles get this info or only my friends? Poor friends, lol.


My wishes to social media platforms:
I want to stay in touch with friends around the globe.
I love to get information on topics I'm interested in but I don't want to get this info from official papers only.
I love to get to know new people.

This post should remain a draft, but a friend asked me to publish it. Feel free to discuss.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bharadvajasana - a twist.....


Most people like the twists as they feel so good. The spine is twisted. To be able to turn around is very useful off the mat, too, i.e when driving a car. Not only the spine enlarges the possibility to move, the hips are challenged, too.

During a yoga practice the twists neutralize the body. In second series they come after the the crazy back bending asanas and a softer balancing pose, bakasana.

I relax in the twists. I stay so long in those asanas that follow the back bending asanas till I feel fit again to move on. This can take some time. I need to be fully recovered for what will come, I know this.

Important is to lengthen the body before turning the body around. Inhaling means stretching, exhaling means going into the pose. Dristi is the side and not downwards. This helps to keep the body upright.

One has to play around with the pose in order to find a good hand position. Those with very long arms might have the hand rather under the knee. I push my hands under my thigh almost in the middle of the upper leg.
Knees are relatively close together.
Shoulders are down, they move forward and backward, but not upwards.

I'm so glad that I managed  to practice at least up to the twist today. It was hard. After two days of doing nothing but sitting either in the car or on a chair and eating and drinking, my body was stiff like never. I don't think that I've gained weight, pashasana was possible. Each movement was hard.

I gave up after the twists. I needed new pictures for my blog, but after having taken the pictures (again and again) and checking them and manipulating them, the body was cold again and all my work to make my body a bit more flexible was like undone. I stopped and plan another practice tonight as I'll be alone. This is a good idea.

I'm in Austria and I want to explore this little town. It shall have a lot of baroque buildings. I'll walk around till I'll have found a café where I can read and write.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Some more impressions of yesterday.


 The Chiemsee looks differently each time when I'm there. The light changes the color of the water and the ships.


That was already close to midnight. The invited guests danced.


Typical Bavarian.....


Hotel life: We're in Austria.

We're no party lions anymore....


...and perhaps we've never been.
We enjoyed the wedding party very much till midnight and then we drove to the hotel, while the other guests (more than 110) were still dancing, smoking, joking. We were tired and it was long enough for us.

The cake on the picture doesn't exist anymore and we're also at another place already. We arrived in Austria. A look at my PC watch tells me that my yoginis in Munich are led through primary right now. I want to step on my mat, too. I have to. It was a long day yesterday with a lot of sitting and eating and drinking and talking. Also today I sat most of the time in the car.

I fell like moving............:).
The hotel room is large enough to role out my mat. I'll be happy here. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Primary today


After the yoga session this morning I walked home from main station. It rained, the leaves of the trees served as an umbrella from time to time. I didn't care that I got wet when I was not protected by the trees. I was so happy that I can do this daily yoga practice. Today it was primary that has improved so much, also the concentration and the focus on the even breath has improved.

I want to keep that life style. I want to dedicate half of my days to the yoga practices.

Very motivated I wrote another chapter of my book this afternoon. Shall this enterprise finally be successful. :) I should write: Shall I finally bring this enterprise to an end. I'm approaching to a first milestone, for sure.

Tomorrow we'll be on the road again. We're invited to a wedding. I'd so love to put on a skirt or dress, but the weather is so lousy; I'll make a decision tomorrow. I'm a practical type, I don't want to feel cold.

Yoga: my bf sits on my yoga place and I don't want to shoo him away, hahaha. Taking pictures of my twists will happen in Austria where we'll stay a week. Everybody loves twists and two of them come after bakasana.

I must still get better in organizing my life. The feeling that I've no time is still present much too often. I want to accomplish more than I actually accomplish. Perhaps most people feel so these days where we've too many distractions. Yoga is time-consuming. I feel this time is best spent. I wished I'd feel super-refreshed afterwards, I feel excellent, but I also feel like bathing and relaxing on the bed. I start understanding why practicing yoga can become a full time job. But this I don't want. There is the need to work on being self-disciplined and being better organised, so that other activities can happen, too. Yep, I clearly see this.

Don't talk that you're tired I read somewhere, this is boring for everybody. But so it is now. I feel like lying on my bed reading a book. I'm even too lazy to take a bath...........who cares????

I also start understanding why it's recommended to have a simple life, not so many possessions. This allows to have time for yoga practices. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bhakasana A and B, we start flying


Bhakasana A: I try to stretch the arms and I try to bring the heels closer to the body. A perfect exit from this pose would be via handstand. For this variation I definitely need stronger arms. Bhhakasana is a balancing pose. The fingers can support to balance. Engaging the bandhas, gazing at a point, an even breath are tools that help to remain in that pose.

Bhakasana B: Here it gets exciting. One shall float or fly into that pose from downward dog. The vinyasa is more challenging again than the pose itself. I do variations agains the wall. I jump against the wall and try to move down the body, controlled and bring my knees towards my elbows. So far it is in vain. But the exercise to jump high with both feet at the same time improved my jumping through. It surely improves the body feeling. It will still take a few years till I'll be able to fly into this pose.

Second series develops the upper body. Strong arms are needed for many poses, also for bhakasana. To bring the heels as high as possible requires hip muscles.

Buh is my practice time-consuming. Not alone because of the practice itself, but because of all the activities around it: showering, washing clothes, commuting, blogging. Today I wanted to sit for 10 min as I feel a nervous ground feeling. I wanted to observe the thoughts coming and going like clouds and sunshine, rain and wind. But I feel so much time pressure that I postpone it.
Inhaling, exhaling. Shall a bath relax me and than I'll have to hurry, the to do list is so long.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Supta vajrasana - an asana that requires a partner


After kapotasana follows supta vajrasana. This pose usually requires a partner who gives support.

When I'm at home I remain in the position that can be seen in the picture. It's a very soft back bending and after kapotasana it feels like relaxation.

It's an asana with a dynamic phase and a static phase, with 15 breath it lasts relatively long. We usually help each other in classes. A yogi/yogini hold the knee on the floor, holding hands allows to arch backwards till the head touches the floor. It also is support to come up again.
I start loving this. Firstly one has to be a bit attentive in class for the needs of the other yogis and yoginis. It's not only me me me and myself, but also you you you. It's possible to give something back, a bit of support. If one has practiced up to supta vajrasana one has got so many adjustments already, it feels good to give a tiny bit of attention back.

Getting help from different yogis/yoginis has another interesting aspect. It's good to engage in the moment. The mind tends to compare. One might think that one wants to get exactly the same perfect adjustment as the teacher uses to give. Perhaps one thinks also so because everything new is a bit frightening. But thinking that way spoils the play with another yogi/yogini. One can learn to engage with a new situation, one can learn to engage with a person that helps, if one does not compare. Since I do this I enjoy the variety of adjustments that I get here. All are perfect, but different. I got very strong adjustments, other adjustments allowed me to do the job on my own. One yogi gives me impulses to come up, another yogini adjusted her breath to mine. Some yogis/yoginis press their fee against the feet, others hold the knees down. Not one adjustment is like the other, what an adventure, what a nice play.

Supta vajrasana is a pose where one can learn to enjoy the moment, the variety of life and people. One can learn to accept and to enjoy what is offered. One should consider that a yogi/yogini interupts the own practice in order to help, isn't that lovely?
To give and to give back, to help and to get helped are aspects of this asana.

Brrhhhh was I tired today. I slept so deeply. This didn't allow me to think much and I woke up recovered.
I feel so much better now. So much is on my desk, I think to stay cool is the best, one task after the other, breath by breath.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kapotasana again.....


There are a lot of possibilities to approach this pose. I took a step backwards. My elbows drifted apart, too far when my hands hit the floor.
Kapotasana shall lengthens the front and it shall make the back flexible. This is the goal and not to grap the toes somehow with knees wide apart and elbows wide apart, too. Reaching the toes will happen easier when the back is open. I try to stay in the back bending positions like the one  in the first picture. I focus on the breath. Then I go deeper a tiny bit and a bit closer with the legs. I've seen yoginis where the hips were far in front of the knees. This seems to be allowed and even good. Doing this soft exercise allows me to relax and that way I can go deeper in the asana. Nothing can be forced. It shall remain fun. I've nothing to prove.


This is another possibility to become flexible in the upper chest. This pose feels good, too. My hands are in prayer position behind the back.

I try to get better via repetition, focusing on the breath (deep deep inhaling) and staying longer in a back bending exercise. This is challenging enough.

In classes I enjoy the adjustments. Always. What luxury.

One must face the facts. In daily life we scarcely bend backwards.
It feels good to do it, but one must get used to it, again and again.

As mentioned already in another post, kapotasana is a long-term project. It might take 5 years till it looks elegeantly and till the hands hold the verses.
Yoga is also exercising the mind. Staying cool, being patient, being optimistic and content is the exercise for the mind.


Yama - self-restraint


I stumbled upon the eight limbs in the book by Matthew Sweeney a few days ago and I wondered in what extent they might help in my yoga practice.

Yama is the first limb and is translate as self-restraint.
(Yoga has something to do with controlling for sure.)

1. Ahimsa - non-violence shall be practiced in speech, thought and action. For the asana practice it can mean not to practice too aggressively which protects from injuries. Not to talk and think badly about oneself and others surely also improves life (including the asana practice). A positive approach to people and poses is supportive.
Non-violence for me here also means to follow a vegan diet. Decades ago when I discovered yoga this belonged together, practicing yoga and eating vegetarian. It got lost this combination. Good to be reminded. Having light meals and a slim body makes the asana practice easier.

2. Satya - truth: Not to confuse our dream-like life with the truth might also help to see everything a bit lighter.

3. Asteya - non-stealing: Yep, what can be added here, nothing.

4. Brahmacharya - chastity: This might be a bit old-fashioned and a rule for the old yogis in the caves.Hahaha.  Even though I wonder, they might not have had so many opportunities. But I don't know. However: Yoga is controlling and it fits to the system. When yogis/yoginis want to control the body, the breath, they also want to control the sex drive. If it shall be controlled or oppressed needs to be discussed.

5. Aparigraha - non-greediness: Here it stands: to run each week to the teacher to ask for a new pose is not wished, hahahahaha. Just a joke. To be greedy for more than we need and can digest is a burden. To have too much stuff at home steals all the time, because it needs to be cleaned and organised. To be greedy for food and beverages is also not supportive. It makes the body heavy and the asana practice difficult. Too many asanas too quickly can be overwhelming.....hahahaha.

The yamas give room for interpretation. They are formulated rather general.
I think they are not rules that make life more difficult, but easier.
It's like with the asanas: It needs to be practiced. Giving it attention might also point in the right direction.

(.....and I wanted to write about kapotasana........next pose.......today or tomorrow)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kapotasana......


Being able to practice kapotasana is comparable with building an airport. It's a project that can last years. There is no hurry. In my case I'd say it will last 4 more years till it has a nice form. This is a long time. Not each week progress can be felt or seen. Sometimes the pose becomes worse and more difficult to perform. This is so for the time being.
Simply doing it, experiencing the boundaries and to forget the goal is a possible approach.
Patience can be exercised.
It's part of Ashtanga yoga to work on asanas that are challenging.
Repetition is a secret to learn the poses that seem to be impossible first for an individual. I'm convinced that it's not enough to do a pose that one wants to learn only one time and then to move on to the next pose. When I practice at home I do my back bending efforts again and again. Focusing on the breath and not to worry too much makes the enterprise a bit easier.
Kapotasana drives me crazy again and again. I think more must be possible, but more is not possible I see this and I know it's my best what I give at a given day. My mental limits and my limits given by my body are reached (fast) and it seems I cannot push them, not a tiny bit.

Performing a pose has so many aspect. It's the body work itself, but also the correct breathing and the attitude. Not being able to do this pose quickly, strengthens the mind. One becomes stronger mentally. Shall this console me that it hurts when I do this pose and that it develops so very incredible slowly.

The flower on the picture above grew on my balcony. One day I discovered them. Out of nothing something beautiful was created. Sometimes this is so. I fear my kapotasana needs a bit more attention....:)

This pose deserves more than 1 post. Tomorrow more.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Laghu vajrasana with strap and block


In the background you can hear my neighbours, not my breath, hahahaha.

My regular readers might have realized it. I go through the poses of the middle part of the second series. I arrived at laghu vajrasana. 

Laghu vajrasana is a pose where the vinyasa is minimum equally important than the pose itself. It's important to go down with one breath, controlled. And one shall be able to come up again. Oh!!!!!!!

This is not so easy and I'm glad that my teacher M showed me steps how I can  approach that goal. 
So far I'm able to come up when I've the block under my head. I even can remain there for several breaths and I can come up afterwards. 
It's also possible to get down to the floor and to come up at once. But this is not how it is supposed to be. Five long breaths one shall be in the position before one comes out of it. This is a long time, and it's so hard to come up. OMG. I feel heavy after 5 breaths, no movement is possible anymore then.

With tiny steps I try to approach this challenge. 

I just realized that when I repeat stretching exercises it gets easier each time I repeat it. 
When I do exercises that require strength it gets worse each time I repeat it. Nevertheless to repeat it is what needs to be done to get stronger. 

To come up from laghu vajrasana  is important. One has to come up from kapotasana and urdhva dhanurasana, too. Laghu vajrasana is more modest, nevertheless a challenge. I fight for years now to come up. Hahahaha, years!!!!

Patience is needed. 
This pose reminds me to be content. 

The next steps? 
It can be an idea to get down to the floor and to come up at once and to repeat it.
Perhaps I can fold a blanket that is a bit lower than my block. 
Repetion, repetition, repetition.........might help as well...........and optimism......hahahaha.......




My little monster is dead....





A car overran my sweet monster in an area where it's forbidden to drive fast.
It could still be alive my black beauty.
I will so miss her when I'll be at my parents home again.

My little tiger, how can I do more for animals, I wonder.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Asanas in daily life


Another yoga week is over and it was a good one.

Upavishta konasana from the first Ashtanga series needs some special attention. When I read I sit in that position. The longer I read the deeper I can go in this position.

Why sitting on a chair with feet on the floor when the chair allows  to sit in padmasana?????

Hahahaha.......

Sometimes not so much is to tell. It's about doing the practice, breathing, being attentive. Some asanas are always especially good, others challenge me.

Why was it so important for the old yogis to calm the mind, to focus on the breath, I wonder? Was it because they realized it's an illusion what we think and feel? If it's an illusion only and does not reflect what really is, why to give it so much meaning and attention then, they might have thought? What we can see, feel, hear, taste is only a map of the world, not the world itself, how Mr Bandler (NLP) described it. Make your map more colorful, add music, movement, he suggested......

Feelings arise.
Thoughts arise.
They come and go.
Do I still remember what I thought and felt yesterday? It's difficult to remember. I could look into my journal. It's past already.

I observe my thoughts and feelings and think: Oh, so it looks like when I'm tired, or angry, or impatient, or content or happy. Interesting, interesting. Then I move on.......nothing can be catched.

Friday is our day out. It will be a Thai restaurant probably, if we get a seat. I'm looking forward to it.....:)

Plans for tomorrow exist, too. I want to do the moon sequence created my Matthew Sweeney. It's a soft practice that lasts 1 hour. Oh.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ramblings on exactness



In our shala is a shelf where all the blankets are. In the middle of the shelf is a sign and there stands: Please fold the blankets meticulously. The sign is framed in orange. What I see is that many of the blankets are almost thrown on the shelf, not at all folded precisely. So they practice the yogis and yoginis, I think, sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
Yesterday I even had a strap that was twisted. Some people simply don't care.

Is it important to strive for perfection, to be accurate, I wonder?

- In some professions it's absolutely necessary. Imagine the doctor who performs a surgery works sloppy and you'll have an ugly scar afterwards. Or even worse he leaves an instrument in your belly because he's not concentrated during his work. A disaster.
- In my last profession as an accountant it was also very important to work precisely. I  search the reason for 0,10 cent difference. Behind this tiny figure a much bigger mistake could be hidden. Working sloppy as an accountant can lead to a wrong balance sheet, to wrong interpretations and even to the out of a company. In worst case.
- I'm not an engineer, but I want that the highrise I live in, is stable.

Is it important to work precisely when practicing yoga?
What can happen if a practice is sloppy?
Isn't it enough to move the body, to do anything, because also a sloppy practice is better than doing nothing at all?

In best case, I think a practice does not as much as it can do for a yogi/yogini. Nevertheless it's better than to do nothing. If it's even fun, it's fantastic. Why not.
In worst case a sloppy practice can lead to injuries. When there is put too much pressure on the shoulders day in day out, year in year out it might indeed lead to a serious injury and pain. It's not Ashtanga yoga that causes this, but the sloppy practice.

The approach to poses in Ashtanga yoga is: Do it first sloppy, if it's not possible to do it correctly and work towards "perfection". In other yoga styles one approaches slower to a pose.
An example:
In trikonasana the big toe is held even though the body cannot be yet parallel to the wall in Ashtanga yoga.
In other yoga styles the hand only holds the shin bone so that it can be guaranteed that the upper body has the correct position.

I'm a fan of accuracy in my body work as I want to get the most out of my practice and because I don't want to get injured. Details count. This requires a lot of time and practice and also self-study, I know, I know.
Precisely I want to match my breath with the movements today. Inhaling shall be as long as exhaling.
Of course I fold my blanket one corner above the other till it has the appropriate size to fit in the shelf.

My practice makes me modest.

 Picture: It's marichyasana D. It's one of the core poses of primary. Lately I heard that one shall not move the weight. The knee shall remain on the floor, the one hip will move towards the floor from alone with time. Interesting aspect.







Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Second series today.....



As I've not filmed myself practicing laghu vajrasana I chat about the breath again, because the breath has so many aspects:

- Between inhaling and exhaling is always a pause. My pranayama teacher in India told me: Don't blend the different movements. The breath especially this pause can help to follow this suggestion.

- Listening to the breath calms the mind. When I listen to the breath as if it's music it's not possible to listen to the inner talks and thoughts at the same time. Jobs, relationships, duties, everything fades away. The breath is in the foreground. This is in my opinion one aspect why Asthanga yoga is so relaxing. During the practice nothing else is important but the practice itself. The senses have tasks that occupy them. The eyes have to gaze in a direction, the ears have to listen to the breath.

- Focusing on the breath is a concentration exercise.

- My practice becomes easier mentally when I focus on the breath instead of thinking of the next asana. The next breath is always possible, but is it possible to do kapotasana i.e. The movement follows the breath. It's good to remind oneself again and again.

In daily life I have a better concentration when I say: OK, now I work intensively for 25 min only. Then I take a break and then I start again for 25 min. I use a timer for this, my pomodoro.

My current breathing challenge is to deepen the breath when I'm in a back bending position. 

Today I sweated again, so much that I considered again to take a blanket to the shala. My feet slided away, my arms slided away.

How I love my daily yoga dose.
Tomorrow primary.........

Picture: Me with cherry earrings listening to the rain.





Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A day off


A day off means of course a day off from yoga.
Sometimes it's much more relaxing to do the things that are on the desk for months than to bend forward and backward and to stand on my head or forearms. It can be such a relief when finally all the papers are filed, bills are paid and whatever is on the desk. I don't want to mention the taxes. This afternoon it will be done. Sigh. Most of it is already prepared. Perhaps I can even mail it today.
And then, when 80% of these duties are done, I know it, I'll feel as if I've done primary and second series in a row. I'll feel so excellent.

I make resolutions, I even swear by whatever is holy to me that I'll stick to them - from now on. Tasks that last 5 min or less must be done at once. These tiny tasks can become such a burden. Today is my desk day. What a glorious decision, what an excellent idea.

Time, room, silence are the words that I combine with luxury.

Time for a cappuccino outside before going on.



Monday, July 11, 2011

The breath......


The three most observed breathing mistakes in Ashtanga yoga:
1. Not do practice uddjay breathing at all.
2. The exhaling is much much longer than the inhaling.
3. The breath changes when the limits in an asana are reached. Either the yogini stops breathing at all, some moan other switch to a much longer exhaling again.

Remarks to number 1: 
This is so in the beginning that the yogini forgets the breath. There is so much more to remember like the sequence itself, how to perform an asana and and and........In the very beginning it might even be difficult to breath in a way that it can be heard. The tip: remember the breath again and again. After years of practicing it might be possible  to listen to the breath during one session. Ashtanga yoga is a concentration exercise. The sound of the breath reminds me of the waves of the ocean. No music is so nice than the even rhythm of my breath when I practice Ashtanga yoga.

Remarks to number 2:
I've been there. I could here my exhaling, I was sure that also my neighbor yogini could here it and I was proud of it. I didn't realize that my inhaling was much shorter. Much much shorter. My first Ashtanga yoga teacher draw my attention to it. I was amazed. It was true. I corrected the length. Years later I got again the feed back that my exhaling is still a bit longer than my exhaling. I had to measure it and it was true. Please take a watch and do this little exercise. It's enlightening.
The effort shall be to have an even long inhaling. It's good if it becomes longer over time. It's needed to have a long inhaling. When I want to come up from laghu vajrasana or urdhva dhanurasana being able to have a long inhaling  is very supportive.
The exhaling has to adjust to the inhaling. It's much much easier to prolong the exhaling. I used to think: Inhaling is active, exhaling is passive. Let go, I thought when I exhaled. But I realized it has to be an active letting go, not a passive letting go. It's as if I've to press the air out of the lungs. To press is perhaps a word which is a bit too strong, but yeah it's not only letting it out. Then the breath becomes too long. Relatively fast the air has to leave the lungs.
To exercise this in a sitting position is very good. Take a clock to measure the breath.
Nevertheless the challenges come when the body is bent back i.e.. The pressure on the chest makes it difficult to inhale. This is the breathing work one has to do, to breath deeply despite this pressure. This opens the chest and makes fearless. :)

Remarks to number 3:
The even rhythm shall also be continued when it gets difficult, when the limits are reached, when the stretching discomfort is felt when practicing asanas. My favorite mistake here is to stop breathing, or to have a weak inhaling.

The breath has many aspects. Have a closer look at your breathing.

When I watch Youtube videos, I breathe with the yogi/yogini whom I watch. Quickly I realize at which level the student is. Being able to perform an asana is one criteria, the breath is another one.

Laghu vajrasana is on the picture: The vinyasa of this asana is more challenging than the pose itself. It's important to get down controlled. Strong legs are needed for that. To come up even stronger legs are necessary and tecnhnique. But this is the topic of tomorrow.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Primary today again......



Prasaritta padottanasana C: I learned via my pictures that my feet can be closer together. This pose aims to enlarge the movements of the hips and shoulders. Gravity supports this and the arms serve as a lever. The back is supposed to be straight. I see clearly that this pose needs attention.


Upavishta konasana is a similar pose, only that I sit on the floor here. For me it's important to keep the back straight. The forward movement comes from the hips. The chin shall reach the floor, not the front. I consider to put a block under my heels. To repeat this pose and to hold it longer than 5 breaths might help, too. I was overstretched in the last months. My left leg still hurts when I stretch forward. I pushed too hard and this brought me a setback, a painful one. To be patient is always a good advice. Daily practice will bring success.


Kurmasana: This pose was painful, too during the last months. My experience is that it's best to go on with a daily practice also when it might be painful. Here too, I consider to use blocks under my heels to improve this pose. It helps to lift the legs when the feet are pointed. The leg muscles role inwardly.

I'll go to a led class this afternoon.
No extra breaths and extra exercises will be done in a led class. I'll focus on the correct vinyasa count and the jumping forward and backward (without touching the floor with the feet). I need more strength for this (and another black coffee now to wake up......).



Making my life easier was the motto of the day yesterday. Pots and pans and bowls had to go. There are still too many in my cupboards. Each redundant thing that leaves my villa motley brings me relief. Also my neighbors have too many things. A backyard sale took place yesterday.


A simple salad nourished us yesterday. Making life simpler in all areas is worth the effort. 

Simplicity is beautiful. 



Saturday, July 09, 2011

Ustrasana



Ustrasana: We're on our knees.

There is no asana where I couldn't learn anything. In preparation for this post I read in the book by Gregor Maehle "Ashanga Yoga - the intermediate series".

1. When arching back the head is the last body part that moves back. This is different to the other back bending asanas where the head moves first.
2. The hands needn't only touch the verses, it's good when the finger tips touch the toes.
3. The legs needn't to be parallel to the wall. The pose becomes more intensive when the hips move even more forward. Shin bones press into the floor. This is a very active pose. Leg muscles are engaged.

Vinyasa: 
1. Getting into the pose: It's floating on the knees from downdog with an inhaling. Hands hold the wrist. And with the very next exhaling one has to go backwards. There are no extra breaths.
2. Getting out of the pose: This is very new for me. After 5 breaths one comes up with an inhaling, the hands hold the hips again. With the next exhaling, the hands place on the floor next to the knees. One shall not sit down on the legs (which I've done so far). With the next inhalation one shall lift the body up, feet are off the ground now. This is a balancing thing that needs strength. And only after this deep inhaling with the body and feet off the ground one floats back into chaturanga dandasana. :)

Gregor even warns that it can lead to imbalances if one doesn't build strength, but only flexibility. To lift up the body after having done the pose is a must-do.

Me too, I have omitted this vinyasa. I'll take care of this from now on.

It's Saturday and it's my more relaxed day. It's planned to do the moon sequence by Sweeney.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Who said that primary is boring?????


Bhuja pidasana: I almost broke my beautiful nose when I wanted to get out of this asana. It needs experimenting how to do this. The picture proves it, it's possible to bring the chin to the floor and not "only" the front. It's possible for me to swing the feet through the hand without touching the floor. Not today. I only wanted to leave that pose safely, without any damage.


Supta kurmasana: A dream became true. I can go into this pose via dwi pada sirsasana in less than 40 sec.


Urdhva dhanurasana: I need tiny goals to stay motivated. Feet and hands shall be on the mat, not a bit of them shall touch the carpet.
And I'll build a pedestal of carpets so that I can try to come up from a much higher position (Hands in high places, hahaha). Hopefully I can make the pedestal lower and lower every week or so till I can come up from the floor.
I use a strap at home. This helps to keep the legs parallel. These back bending asanas are about opening the front last but not least.

Pictures don't lie. They so help me to adjust myself.

Ah, Ashtanga yoga. I'd desperate if I hadn't my daily dose of asanas and breathing and gazing towards a point.
Ah, it feels so good.




Thursday, July 07, 2011

Dhanurasana and parsva dhanurasana


Dhanurasana and parsva dhanurasana (see picture) belong together. Usually I practice full vinyasa, that means I start in samasthitih and I finish these poses in samasthitih. Oh, I just realized that the two poses are practiced separately, each asana starts with samasthitih. The book by Lino Miele is open next to my PC.

I can do these poses without a strap, but then the knees move away from each other. They are supposed to be together and this makes these poses a challenge. The strap helps me and guarantees a deep back bending. I point the feet, it helps.

When in parsva dhanurasana the body shall lie on the chest, not shoulder, and the knees are supposed to be together. This combination is difficult. Mainly I lie on my shoulder.

In classes I don't use a strap. My practices at home are more focused on learning and exploring.I repeat poses, use props. In classes my focus is flow as well. I use props only when absolutely necessary or recommended.

Important is the breath. Pressure is on the chest when the body is in such back bending positions. This makes the inhaling more difficult. And exactly then it is important not to change the even rhythm of inhaling and exhaling.

One of my favorite adjustments is when I'm in dhanurasana, my feet are flexed, someone sits on them till my upper legs are on the floor. When in addition my shoulders are pushed backwards I'm in a very deep back bending and it feels so good. Yesterday I got this adjustment. Oh, how wonderful.

The asanas in general are so beautiful. So easily it's forgotten, that the breath, the drishti, the mind and the attitude are equally important. If no awareness is given to the breath i.e. it's very likely that it becomes sloppy, that the exhaling becomes longer than the inhaling i.e. Take care of the breath.

Also the vinyasas are important. These points belong to the Ashtanga system. In other yoga systems the vinyasa count does not exist.

Re the vinyasas it's mainly jumping into the position and with the next breath one has to be in the asana. Often I take an extra breath. It's a bit like: OMG and now THIS exhausting position. I don't wonna make such a fuss about the poses. Hahaha......
Here is how the vinyasa count  goes re dhanurasana. I quote from the book by Lino Miele "Ashtanga yoga":
Inhaling - hands up
exhaling - uttanasana
inhaling - head up
exhaling - jump back - grasp ankles
inhaling - DHANURASANA
and so on.........

This pose has 9 vinyasas only, and dristi is the nose. It's not looking upwards, which is a wide-spread mistake. Looking to the nose helps to keep the face relaxed.

Four more back bending poses are coming in the second series.

On Thursday I practice primary.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bhekasana


I don't know anymore where I've heard or read it, but it went like that: When you get the fingers on the floor in bhekasana, you're ready for the next poses. :)

This is not so important. It's just gossip in the community. There is not such thing like "finger to floor poses". There are back bending asanas, forward bending asanas, twists, inversions, balancing poses and sometimes a combination of those.

Bhekasana is a back bending asana. M uses to tell me "press the feet against the hands. This is exactly the opposite direction, it's away from the floor. Important is to bring the chest backwards and backwards. Having the hands on the feet serves as a support.
This pose is easier when the knees are further away from each other.
The upper arms are supposed to be parallel!

Do I really hold this pose for 5 breaths? I'll take care of this the next time. This is today. lol.

(Of course I can be wrong!)

Mysore class today, I'm so looking forward to it. In August and September we've summer break here. Discipline is required then. Till then I'll profit from the energy of a group.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Shalabasana A and B



Dristi is the nose. To squint is not necessary. It's looking towards the nose. It's very seductive to look upwards when moving the chest upwards and backwards, but dristi is the nose. Looking towards the nose makes it more unlikely that one frowns the front.

M suggested to lift the knees first while the feet are still on the floor before lifting the legs. This makes a difference. It helps to keep the legs straight.

It feels as if this pose strengthens the back. It's the pose that I recommend if someone suffers from back pain.

This pose prepares me for what is coming...........all the deep deep back bending asanas. Still it's relaxing, I think. I try not to cheat and to hold it for 5 deep breaths. It's one of the asanas everybody can perform without any prop. How nice.

Shoulders and ears are far away from each other.


Time to move on here, it seems to become a prolific day.


Monday, July 04, 2011

Krounchasana....


....or where went all the time.

First the very good news: Kino MacGregor has a Youtube channel. Her videos are so informative, I'm learning a lot from her. I absolutely agree with Grimmly: Home practice was never easier with such help that is available these times.

After an excellent led class on Sunday evening, I had a lousy practice this morning.

Excellent was that I could go from dwi pada sirsasana to supta kurmasana in that short time that was available. In the evening the body is softer. For sure.

A night only between too challenging practices is a bit short. It feels so. I needed a lot of willpower today simply to go on.

Krounchasana is the second asana of the middle part of the second series: I wonder how to improve this pose. Chin is supposed to be on the shin.
I will try 2 things the next time:
- to lean against a wall
- to come up from tiriang mukkha eka pada paschimottanasana.

Repetition and holding this asana longer than 5 breaths might also help, as usual.

Enough for today......




Sunday, July 03, 2011

Pashasana



Pashasana, a twist asana.

There are these little oasis on the yogic way, where I lean back and relax.
That's nice already, I think and enjoy.

Soon thoughts will come up, that show me the direction in which I will have to go:
- Heels on the floor.
- Holding the wrist instead of hooking the fingers.
- Getting into the pose with one breath only and not two.

Today I enjoy and I relax.

Might happen what must happen. 

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Half of the year 2011 is over.


That was fast. 6 months belong already to the past.

Wow.

Most important I enjoyed it.

Every day I find a reason to say "Thank you that I may experience this".  What else can I wish.


Friday, July 01, 2011

Baddha konasana A, B und C


A subscriber of my Youtube videos asked for this video (since last year). Finally it's ready. 

I don't want to talk about the technique, it must improve. 

Nevertheless this video can serve for an analysis: 
- In the book "Ashtanga yoga" by Lino Miele only baddha konasana A and C are mentioned. In my little video I practiced A, B and C. One goes directly from A to B without coming up between the poses. Moving from A to B needs to be done slowly. It may last for one exhale. So it is with coming up after baddha konasana B, it should last as long as one inhaling lasts. 
- I lower slowly into chaturanga dandasana. I can only recommend it as it builds strength in the arms, that is needed later in second series, but also in primary. Some yogis almost plop on the floor. In the last second they stop the body from falling on the floor. How one can match the breath with the movement if one practices that way I don't know. I lower slowly. 
- Jumping forward improved, I still touched the floor. The movement is still not under control. What I see is that I can jump higher before swinging through the arms. 
- The vinyasa is: jump forward and take position. This all is done in one breath. I often took more breaths. I often jumped through with an inhaling. Then I sat on the floor and exhaled. I stretched the body with the next inhaling and then I bowed forward and stretched the chin to the floor. This is not as it is supposed to be. Jumping through and taking position shall be done in one breath only. I think this is important but neglected. 
- To hold the pose is relatively easy for me. It's a core asana, many struggle with this pose. Great that there are poses that are easy for me. :)
- Jumping backward improved, too. Nevertheless I wonder why I had to change my position when I prepared for picking up my body. These are these little movements that occur all the time, but they are a waste of energy. Energy manifests uncontrolled. 

Taking the details into consideration is in my opinion a sign of advancing a bit. The details are important.