Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yoginis love to travel, I'm in Berlin


Yeah, Berlin became a mecca for yoginis. The Ashtanga yoga scenery is famous. A lot of studios opened in the last years. I was at www.ashtangayogaberlin.de. It's in Berlin-Mitte. It took me almost 1 hour till I was there, but I arrived.

In the entrance room I could already hear the breathing of the yogis and yoginis. That's it. This is Ashtanga yoga. The breath is the music for Ashtanga practitioners, not the noise of drums and flutes and guitars.

Of course I was curious about the adjustments I'd get. I practiced primary:

Pada hastasana: the elbows move outside, even though the flat hands are under the feet.

Marichyasana A: To have the shoulders parallel is very difficult if one doesn't control this in the mirror or via pictures again and again.

Supta kurmasana was also adjusted. The other adjustments were rather tender, not this one. I'm resilient and I trust, I love both the soft ones and the hard ones. The crossed feet behind the head stretch upwards or forward, the shoulders move backwards, the chest opens.

Urdhva dhanurasana: After having done my 3 uds from the floor, I got help to drop into the pose from standing position. I came up with help but my feet pointed outwards. This shall not be so, I know this. The feet need to be much more grounded. I was recommended to do much more leg work and not to move the hips forward when dropping back. I'm rather light and teacher can pull me up easily. This provokes a certain laziness from my part. Also D said the last time to me that I was heavy, what meant I don't work enough to come up.

I'm inspired and motivated.....:) to work with committment, searching my edges and going a bit further.

It's so nice to be in Berlin. It's dirtier than in Munich, I don't care. Whatever one does, in Berlin one finds like-minded people.
I regret that I can only practice once in that beautiful studio with this committed Asthangis and supporting teachers.

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In an hour I'll see a friend. We'll go to the Winterfeldmarkt.
At night A and E and myself will have dinner together and tomorrow morning my E and myself drive to Dresden. I plan to do at least a few sun salutations in the moring.

It was worth to have spent the day in the train yesterday. Berlin is a lively city, it is indeed a city, while Munich is a village, a beautiful village with many seas around it and the Alps very close. :) 

Monday, August 29, 2011

I had a black out today


I had a black out today during the Mysore class. I couldn't remember anymore when to practice bakasana A and B. And then I forgot to practice pincha mayurasana and karandavasana. How could I........., I thought. D had the  idea to practice it after the headstands and this was such a good idea. It fits. Also pincha mayurasana and karandavasana are inversions. 
So I had the luxury of a perfect support in karandavasana. And it's difficult to adjust this pose as it's very volatile. Sometimes I can balance easily, sometimes not.

It's evening already: At least I practiced, I can say. Hahahaha and I ate well. I paid one overdue bill and cleaned the kitchen. I live as if my time is unlimited.

My train ticket to Berlin is already in my handbag. Tomorrow I'll get to the capital. How nice.
I'll have time to practice in one of the yoga studios, which is something I'm looking forward to..........and I'll see friends and my E.....:).

I know we've all only 24 hours........we only use them differently.




Sunday, August 28, 2011

Marichyasana D, what I changed



Getting into the pose I shift my weight towards the leg in half lotus pose. This has the consequence that my the one sitting bone doesn't remain on the floor anymore. Moving my body in that direction makes it possible to wrap the leg. I've to twist as much as possible. It also takes several breath till I'm deep enough in that position, but it's doable. My hand can hold the wrist. I used to move the weight back, so that my sitting bones were on the floor as soon as I've bound. When I do this the leg that is in lotus pose goes up and is somewhere in the air.

From a youtube video by Kino MacGregor I learned that one doesn't move the weight back. The one side of the body is up, but it will come down with time. For me it makes more sense to let the gravity work and to let the body move downwards from alone than to try to force the knee to the floor.

Another advantage from not moving the weight back is that the shoulders remain parallel.
Pictures: My right side seems to be a bit better.

Currently I also work on the correct breathing. No additional breaths. The correct vinyasa count is also part of the Ashtanga practice.

PS: I've started a photography blog. Have a look and feel free to like it. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Will 10,000 times be enough?


Since 1 year I try the above pose. M gave me this additional exercise. It shall help me to learn bakasana B, flying into bakasana so to say.
This exercise is important for many other asanas, too.

1.I can fly into bakasana B, landing on the upper arms with the knees from this position.
2. There is the possibility to go up into handstand.
3. Exercising the pose improved my jumping foward, swinging the legs through the arms without touching the floor. Before practicing primary this week I studied again the bible by David Swenson "Ashtanga yoga". The starting position is important, like a wild animal before hunting another animal for dinner I go on the balls of my feet, the belly is close to  the bended upper legs. The back is rather a hollow back. All bandhas are engaged. One looks forward. And then one jumps high and not forward. The hips lead, the "ceiling" moves upwards. This is the trick. I filmed myself and I'm still too cautious when in the middle of the room.
4. From the above pose tic tocs can be done, one can land in urdhva dhanurasana.

Herewith the importance of the exercise is proved.

When it's true that one has to invest 10,000 hours in anything in order to become an expert, I should be able to hold the pose in the middle of the room after having exercised it 10,000 times. I counted. About 35 times every day I have to exercise it, then I should be able to do it in a year (about). I will document it, lol. Let's see.

I think this pose improved already. I was very scary in the beginning. But my arms are strong and I can hold myself.
- Important is to do it in the middle of the room. I exercise it against my wardrobe.
- It can also be important to jump from different distances to the hands. Ah, the variations are endless.

What to do when I fall? 
I could press the chin to the chest and I can make a round back in order to roll out of the pose.
I can land in urdhva dhanurasana, which is not so safe.
(The problem here is that my yoga room is tiny and I'll fall probably against my chest or against the window or the sofa. This must be avoided.)

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Again I had a nightmare at night. In general I'm more a day dreamer than a night dreamer. Tonight I dreamed. The situations, the feelings were so real. Then I woke up and was entertained about the fact that I was horizontal, sleeping in my bed and living a second life in my dream.
Life is dreamed, imagined with open eyes, too. What we think is the map of the world, not the world itself.  The mind creates an individual reality. Consciousness is all there is, I read in the Advaita books. Realizing this again and again can make a life easier. What we think is not the reality.
NLP, neuro-linguistic programming by Richard Bandler advises to adopt the thinking to the wished outcome in life. He studied the function of the brain, it's patterns and how to use it . I recommend all his books. It's more a practical consequence of the above statement that the world is imagined.
Advaita people have the same insights. They have other questions: What is the truth then, they ask? What is eternal? Before we start thinking, we know that we exist: "I am"........That's the only truth. For the rest one can say "consciousness is all there is". Happy dreaming. Advices for daily living are not given galore.
Coaches give advice and are convinced that a person is responsible for his/her fate.
Advaita says: life happens, we're not the doer.

Usually people get aggressive when they hear that they are not responsible for their lives. We're all so brainwashed: Take your fate in your own hands, we even say. Often I hear a combination: For the "bad things" that happen to us we blame others, for the "good things" we're responsible on our own.
Might be that we can learn to manipulate or change our thinking, we can learn to concentrate and to think positively. But also this happens. Not everybody will do so, despite the same information.
(....to be continued.)
Ashtanga yoga and Advaita might be an interesting topic, too. I was asked to write about it by a Romanian gipsy, so texts will come.

A too long post and I've such a good mango for breakfast here, thanks to the Pakistani round the corner who imports them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

An afternoon on the mat


I spent my afternoon on the mat yesterday. An intensive practice happened. I even filmed a bit. This opens my eyes, always. The poses feel so much more advanced as they look on pictures. Nothing helps me more but my own pictures and movies.

In sum I had a satisfying practice. I reached my limits, that is what counts.
The spectators are the 12th men in soccer, in Ashtanga yoga it's the weather that helps. My body is so much softer in summer than in winter.

Tomorrow I'll practice primary again. Focus will be urdhva dhanurasana. My hands must walk much closer to the feet. As it is now an upcoming without help is impossible. I don't care  anymore so much if this will be possible one day or not, nevertheless I give energy to this pose when I exercise. Repetition and focus shall help. lol. And patience.

The next morning: I can go to a Mysore class. This is pure luxury. We're such a nice group of committed practitioners. And I'm so happy with the urdhva dhanurasana adjustments.

My days start perfectly with my Ashtanga yoga practice. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The animals in the first and second Ashtanga series.



The animals in the first and second Ashtanga series:

First series:
1. Kurmasana: kurma = tortoise
2. Supta kurmasana: supta = sleeping, kurma = tortoise, sleeping tortoise

Second series: 
1. Krounchasana: krouncha = heron
2. Shalabasana A and B: shalabha = locust
3. Bhekasana: bheka= frog
4. Ushtrasana: ushtra = camel
5. Kapotasana: kapota = pigeon
6. Bakasana A and B: baka = crane
7. Tittibhasana A,B, and C: tittibha = insect
8. Pincha mayurasana: pincha = feather, mayura = peacock, feather of the peacock
9. Karandavasana: karandava = sort of duck, duck posture
10. Vrishchikasana (this pose is often added): vrishchika = scorpion
11. Mayurasana: mayura = peacock
12. Nakrasana: nakra = crocodile
13. Vatayanasana: vatayana = horse
14. Gomukhasana A und B: gomukha = cow face

(14 animal poses in second series, I'm amazed.)

Closing sequence:
1. Matsyasana: matsya = fish

The book "Ashtanga yoga" by David Swenson helped me to make this list.
Might the list motivate to learn the sanskrit names of the asanas.

An excursion to the zoo is planned. :)










Picture is taken on my way to the yoga studio:



The poll is over


It was an interesting poll. In the beginning it was rather close, but the color won (which I regret). Black and white pictures are so posh, they are a statement, minimalistic. They transport calmness, steadiness. Color is more lively for sure. OK, the majority prefers color, I understand.

I also tended to produce a next yoga calender with only balancing poses, then the following year with only back bending poses and so on. Only very few people liked this.

Perhaps I should produce 2 calenders every year, a b&w one and a color one.

Thank you for having voted.

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Thursday is today and I'll practice primary:
The week points are still the vinyasas.
The following poses need special attention perhaps even repetition:
- upavishta konasana A (my pics show that I was better already. My overstretched left leg didn't allow me to go deeper the last time when I took a picture.) Of course I will practice with attention and care. Lesson understood. Nothing can be forced.
- supta hasta padangusthasana
- supta parsvasahita
- urdhva dhanurasana (I drop back again on my own. It's again scary but doable.)

The following asanas I'll add:
- eka pada sirsasana before supta kurmasana
- forward split after supta hasta padangustasana

I don't need any props.
Only when I practice urdhva dhanurasana I use a strap around my legs to keep them parallel. Not needing any props allows to continue the practice without interruption.
Nevertheless it will be a concentration exercise not to leave the mat for breaks. Shall this be my challenge.
The warm weather here makes my body soft and bendy. It's such a support.

Ah, better to practice than to talk about it.....:)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yoginis like to fly.....


Oh help, lol, I need a parachute.

Nakrasana (the pose after mayurasana) is a pose for those who like to fly. It's one of the few asanas where springiness is required. Most of the time the movements are slow and steady. Nakrasana in the middle part is dynamic. 5 times one has to jump forward and 5 times one has to jump backward.

In Brazil my bf to me while I practiced this pose: "Is this arduous?
Me: "Come on the mat and do it."
He did it and never asked anymore.

The tricks: 
- It's important to have the body firm, bandhas shall be engaged. The body shall not swing through. I think this is so in my case. I still swing too much. I'm a learner, too.
- Yes, effort is required. One must want it.

This pose is funny. I think it helps to develop a humorous attitude.

It's good advice to take the "likes" and "dislikes" not so seriously. It is how we view the world. What I love today I hated yesterday and the other way round. Simply doing this asana is the secret. Everybody can. And soon the next asana comes. Nakrasana is for building strength. Vatayanasana, the next one is again a balancing pose.
Stay tuned.

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Oh for those who do not yet know: My yoga calender 2012 is available: Here.

I've also started a blog on photography: I'm pleased about the "likes" on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Karandavasana



I won't omit writing about karandavasana.
1. It's recommended not to omit practicing it. It's one of the most difficult asanas of the second series. Visualizing counts as practicing....:) If we avoid anything we'll never know if we'll be able to do it one day. Better to exercise it, surprises may happen.

2. If something, whatever this might be, seems to be too difficult it's recommended to divide it into tiny steps.

Before karandavasana can happen, one must be able to do pincha mayurasana. I give extra energy to this pose. I repeat it more often than once.

What else do I exercise to approach karandavasana:
1. I go into headstand close to the wall, fold my legs into padmasana, then I put my hands flat on the floor. With the next inhaling I try to lift my body up into pincha mayurasana with folded legs. I regularly fall against the wall. It's important to be very close. The goal of this exercise is to balance.

2. Before his summer vacation M gave me another exercise, another tiny but difficult step. I do pincha mayurasana against the wall. The one feet can use the wall as support while the one leg will fold and go into padmasana. Believe me, this is difficult. I can do padmasana while in headstand, being in pincha mayurasana and doing it is a totally different thing. I'm far away from being able to do this tiny step.
3. Strength is necessary for this pose. I don't avoid any asana that helps me to build it. Without strength it's not possible to come up from the pose.

It will take years to learn this pose, but it seems to be doable.

PS: I've started a new blog on photography. A link is on facebook. Thank you for liking it.
It can be viewed here, too.

PSS: A poll is up. Please vote. I'd like to know if you prefer my next calender 2013 with b&w pictures or color pictures. The calender 2012 is available at zazzle.com.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Pincha mayurasana - with strap and block


I call it often "pincha" when I talk about pincha mayurasana
It's the forearm stand, a balancing pose of the second Ashtanga series. 
I thought I'd learn it faster, but nice poses take time to master.

The challenge first is that the forearms are supposed to be parallel and not like in headstand forming a triangle.

1. The first exercise that I was taught was to use a strap around my upper arms, that keep them shoulder width apart from each other. Between my hands (thumb and index finger) is the block. The block prevents the arms to move inward. My arms are stabilized that way and this allows me to press them into the floor. New muscles needed to be build in the upper body. In the beginning I was sore. With  time I developed strength. Till now I use these props first.
I exercise against a wall. The challenge is to be far enough away from the wall, so that the feet don't touch the wall when coming up. 

It surely helps when a person is able to do forward split. Then one leg can go in position, the other leg only has to follow. I have to swing, sometimes I swing too much, sometimes not enough to come up. 

I can be in this position for several breaths without touching the wall. The position became stable, I learned how to balance. A strong body helps, means using the bandhas. The fingers too can help a lot to balance, so the position of the head and the drishti. Gazing at the third eye calms the position.

2. The next step that I learned was to go from headstand to pincha mayurasana. First I did handstand, with an inhaling I put the flat hands on the floor as far away from each other as possible. I  exhale. With the next inhaling I lift up my body and my head. The inhaling (and this rhythm) helps enormously. The goal is not to touch the wall with the feet when lifting up.

3. Next exercise that I exercise is to do pincha mayurasana close to the wall as psychologically support, but without block and strap

I know that I have to do it in the middle of the room now. I'm so scared. I fear I'll die when I fall. But this is the next step, to conquer the fear and to do it. I move away from the wall slowly. Each time when I try this pose I make the distance to the wall a bit larger a few inches, not very courageous I am here. 

It should be doable. Soon. 

You can also follow this blog on Facebook or twitter or Google+. Links are on the right side of this blog. 
Happy Monday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday, the yoga week begins


Summer time. Finally we've a warm day here in Munich. It's even hot. I expect a bendy body. Sweating will be inevitable.

My current schedule is second series from Sunday through Wednesday. Thursday and Friday I practice primary.
When I miss a practice, it's missed.

Focus of my practice today shall be concentration: I want to practice the whole thing in one piece. Concentration is an exercise for the mind.

Mysore classes (practicing in a group re one's own rhythm) shall finally lead to a self-practice. It's amazing how much influence a group can have on the practice. Being alone needs so much more self-discipline. It's doable.

I have a poll on the blog: Please vote. Another yoga calender is planned. I like to find out what you like to have. 
The yoga calender 2012 can be purchased here:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Primary on Thursday


Yesterday night I had prepared such a nice collage with Picasa and this morning gmail and blogger couldn't be opened. This is a major catastrophe. The good sides: Suddenly I had a lot of time and I cleaned like speedy gonzales. The results are fantastic. Tomorrow the show goes on. There is still a lot to do, but tomorrow my practice comes first. 

My last primary disappointed me. All poses were so volatile. Supta kurmasana was not really possible. I had difficulties to hook the fingers. Repetition brought them a bit closer together so that I could hook, but it was so  weak. 
Also the vinysasas got worse. To practice them twice a week is not enough. They need more exercise to improve. 
This is really a hot tip: Exercise with passion the vinyasas right from the beginning on. The first step is to lift up the body and to be on the hands with crossed legs. If possible to swing forward and backward it's even better. No asana without vinyasa. It's so easy to betray oneself here. One only postpones to see the importance of learning it. The earlier one realizes the importance, the better. Strength is needed. Me too, I prefer stretching. 

I'm fully recovered from the disappointment of a lousy practice after a day off. Motivation returned. Yepeeee tomorrow I can practice again. :)

Shall this be enough blogging for today. The day is over and the evening, too. 

I love the idea from boodiba to dedicate a month to a pose. In my case this can only be urdhva dhanurasana.
From next week on this pose gets an extra dose of love and attention.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tittibasana and time.......




When tittibasana C is done, I sigh silently. Half of it is over then. When I made it till the end of tittibasana C the rest is a piece of cake. Almost. haha.

The tricks to perform the above asanas:
- The shoulders are supposed to be behind the legs. It's easier to take them behind the legs when the knees are bend and when the feet are at the outer rim of the mat.
- Try to wrap the arms as high as possible around the back (direction to the head). This is the shortest way.

These poses need a lot of strength. I'm sweating, I cannot hide it.

Time: This monster Ashtanga yoga must be tamed from time to time. It IS time-consuming.
To manage time is a task for everybody. Sometimes other important activities must come first and not my yoga practice. Time was also part of the online discussion a few days ago. Tim Ferris was invited by Chase Jarvis. To focus on the 20% important things is important. Distractions are everywhere. I know this, too well.
Chase Jarvis talked about photography. I wrote about it it my new blog on photography. Please have a look. I've also created a link on Facebook, if you prefer this.

Ashtanga yoga on Thursdays: Primary is on the schedule. This is also good, because it doesn't last so long as second series.
Last night I had an idea how I could improve the vinyasas, jumping forward and backward. I will exercise to get from bakasana to handstand. I will put a blanket in front of me, because I've to move my body forward and I'm not sure if my arms are already strong enough. I will also practice it close to a wall as a support.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Up.....


....a bit late. I cannot remember anymore to have switched off the alarm clock. But so it must have been. It seemed to be cosy in bed as I stayed  rather long there and look, today the sun is shining. 

Yesterday it rained again. I had bought the umbrella that I've designed.I wanted to see if it's good quality that is offered via spreadshirt. It is. Walking in the rain was as if I carried the sun around in a grey grey world. When I looked up I saw this yellow, yellower is not possible. I read: I love rain and this surely bettered my opinion about the weather. It made me laugh. You too can have such an experience, such a sun umbrella, too: Get it here.

Home practice today: Before I step on my mat I set a focus. At home the weak point is that I dawdle between the asanas. Shall I practice without a break till pincha mayurasana today. Picha mayurasna is the pose  I like to film. I divide a practice into steps. A classic yoga practice has 7 steps:
- 5 sun salutations A
- 3 sun salutations B
- standing sequence
- middle part, the filling of the sequence (can be divided, too. First part goes till the "relaxing" twists, second part is the leg behind back series, then comes the "easy" rest)
- Urdhva dhanurasana
- closing sequence
- savasana

After having practiced one part I enjoy for a moment what I've done so far and I encourage myself that the next part is doable, too. To break down a practice in steps makes it easier. The tiniest step is one breath. The next breath is always doable and with the next breath also the next movement. The focus on the tiniest unit makes it always possible to practice. To have a few middle goals can be additional motivating. The middle part and savasana are the most challenging and the most exciting parts. 

Practicing yoga is also a mental training:
- staying optimistic
- being concentrated and focused for about 2 hours
are some of the tasks. 

It's time to start. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The final Understanding (www.rameshtalks.com)


That's it, yes. 
This post if for ionut to give him a taste of Advaita. 

I like Mondays


2 days no yoga. Ah. This creates sometimes the fearful thought: how will it be today?. I won't compare my today's performance with the performance of last week, but I will find out where are my limits today. Slowly I'll go a bit further, the discomfort that is felt when stretching shall still be called discomfort and not pain. This discomfort can be even blended with a sort of pleasure. It's like a sweet-sour dish, or sour-hot.

Second series will be on my schedule. (OH, my back bending will be lousy, lol. Another fearful thought comes up). So what, I mean, really. I've not to pass a test or prove anything. It's for my health, my strength, my flexibility. Whenever I move and breath, it's good for me, and fun, too (most of the times).

Practicing in a Mysore class is the best start that I can have on a rainy Monday. The group (pressure) will help me a lot.

- Yesterday I was busy with my "projects". My yoga calender 2012 is now for sale on zazzle USA. A link is on the right side.
- I started a photography blog. And what a joy in the morning already: I have a first secret follower. :) You're welcome.
- Today I'll write another chapter of my book. It's on the schedule.

One of the next chapters here on my blog will be about pincha mayurasana. Stay tuned.

Btw, you have the choice. You can follow this blog also on facebook or twitter or Google+.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

There is always a door that opens...


Saturday is my yoga free day. Even though I love to practice it's a relief to have one day off, one day where I don't move my body till I sweat. Enough is to do, always. Greedy I'll be tomorrow morning, greedy to start my day with  8 sun salutations......

Yesterday we walked home from the Greek restaurant and I looked into the future. In 2 years I want to say: Am I glad that I didn't go back to the company life as an accountant that time back when doubts fogged my brain. I reinvent myself. It can take some time till the plane lifts up into unknown heights. Hahaha.....I don't want to circle the Venus, not even on Google+. But feel free to circle me.

Know always the next step of your projects: Chapter 23 of my book must be written. What a clear message.

The opposite of happiness is not sadness, but boredom. I agree Tim Ferris.













I wish you all an exciting weekend.

Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mysore class


I practiced primary this morning. There is so much to work on. The atmosphere in class was calm and intensive. Concentration could be almost felt. Awesome. I enjoyed a deep adjustment in marichyasana B (and many others, too). My spine turned around it's own axe, this feels so good. Inhaling stretching, exhaling going deeper into the pose. With the stretching room is created and this allows to turn even a bit more with the next exhaling. It's amazing how far I can twist when adjusted.

Yesterday I discovered a new muscle: the hip muscle. If one puts the hand exactly between leg and body (hip so to say) and if one bends the knee, this hip muscle is necessary. One can feel when this muscle is active. It's necessary to keep the legs close to the body when jumping forward and backwards. Oh, these vinyasas were lousy today. Hahahaha. Nevertheless, no practice is redundant.

I'm looking forward to my day off tomorrow.

For the time being I practice 4 times second series and twice primary. When I practice at home I add pranayama and meditation. Enough exercises!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The mind....


The body doesn't show every day the same strength and flexibility.

The mind can even change faster. From one second to the next the mood can change without any reason. I consider myself as relatively balanced, nevertheless also I experience from time to time different states of my mind. A few days ago a man asked me: "Why do you not go back to your well-paid job as an accountant. There is a need on the market." Good that I've found someone whom I could blame for my bad mood yesterday. I'm writing a book, I answered. But I don't write every day. Why ever. A reason/excuse why I don't write is quickly found. This character of one of the last Woddy Allen movies comes into my mind when I'm thinking of my volatile writing activities. This man of this movie wrote one bestseller but he couldn't repeat this. He stole the book of his friend in the end only to have anything to publish. I've still my own ideas, but I'm so lazy sometimes I think, so undisciplined, so doubtful.

I will be poor when I'll be old, I thought, very poor. Nobody will hire me anymore. I will have to work 45 hours every week for an apple and an egg and I won't have time anymore to practice yoga. I'll only have to work to have something to bite and even this will be difficult. I'll be desperate. I won't be able to buy new glasses for my weak eyes. I don't want to mention how my teeth will look like when neglected because lack of money. Ruminant thoughts sometimes lead to low energy and I was even too lazy to prepare dinner yesterday: I wrote an email to my bf: Do you want to eat at home? We're an old couple and he understood my question. Let's go out, he answered. :) This bettered my mood at once.

I don't take my moods so seriously anymore. That's how life manifests, I think. Thoughts come up all the time. Sometimes they are with nice contents, sometimes with contents that bother me and make myself doubt about what I'm doing. This weakens me. It will pass, it will pass I console myself then. Thoughts are not the reality.

Ashtangis have learned to compass the mind. 
- Daily I exercise to focus on the breath. This is a technique that can be useful when the thinking mind becomes strong and disturbing.
- Knowing that thinking positively (I can) is more helpful than thinking negatively. I exercise this on my mat, too.
- Another technique is to observe and to let go. Thoughts are nothing but thoughts. They come and go. I welcome them and I say good -bye to them after having enjoyed them or after having cursed them. Observing the mind can be exercised when meditating.
- Sometimes music lifts up the mood.
- Most of the time one only has to wait. Only change is permanent. Knowing this is consoling, too.

Ashtanga yoga is a tool to better life, Mr Swenson described Ashtanga yoga. I agree. Techniques for the mind exercised on the mat can be applied in daily life. The mind is often neglected because the asanas are so seductive beautiful and it's fun to work on them. Last but not least - body and mind are one unit. We exercise also the mind on the mat.

We tried a new Italian restaurant yesterday. It was rustical and very good: nice service, best food. This morning I overslept. At 8:30 I opened my eyes. Shall it be so, I think. I got up and looked into the mirror and realized that I've few more grey hair in my eyebrows. This made me laugh.

Primary today: There is a lot to do. The vinyasas need extra love and repetition. On the picture upavishta konasana can be seen. I integrated this asana in my daily life. I sit in this position when I'm reading a book. That way I hope I can improve this pose. The chin shall touch the floor without giving up the straight back.

Peace of mind can be experienced despite all the ups and downs, turbulences and joys, when it's possible to accept what is because so it is how life manifests in this Ursula-thing.
Everything out of my control, how entertaining.

Action now. The sun is shining and I feel a lot of energy. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The long breath........



After eka pada sirsasana, dwi pada sirsasana and yoga nidrasana come three further poses that require to take the legs behind the shoulder. It's tittibasana A, B and C. I filmed it lately.

My latest insights: Tittibasana B has a static phase and a dynamic phase. One walks 5 steps forward and 5 steps backward. I wondered how to breathe. Lifting the foot means inhaling, posing it on the floor means exhaling. The steps are not short steps, but long ones.

Legs behind head increase the flexibility of the hips enormously. These poses are still very volatile. It will take time till I'll be really happy with the performance. Simply practicing it is the secret. Repeating the poses helps a lot. Staying longer in this poses also. The upper body is lengthening in most asanas, the chest remains open.

Of course I doubt sometimes if my "hobby" is too time-consuming. But I love to practice Ashtanga yoga and it's for my health, too. I need to be smart and I need to trust that it's possible to build a life around yoga, a work life that brings money.

Time to nap for 30 min. Then I should be relaxed for the next chapter of my book.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Challenges???????


Half an hour ago all my challenges disappeared. How can I have a challenge when I'm lived, when I'm "only" the instrument and not the player?

Currently I'm reading the book by Chaitanya S. Balsekar "Dream of consciousness". Chaitanya is the brother of Ramesh Balsekar and he shares with this brother the deep understanding of Advaita. The book can be ordered here: https://advaita.3dcartstores.com/search.asp?keyword=Dream+of+consciousness&search=GO. (For the time being blogger does not allow to link to a word).

The thought "no challenges anymore" appeared in my consciousness and lightness was felt.

Things happen or don't happen, what can "I" do?

I quote from the above mentioned book, page 163: " Life is not a challenge to be faced, but a mystery to be enjoyed as it unfolds moment by moment. Life has no purpose. Life is its own purpose, meaning 'living' is the purpose of life.


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

The next morning:
I sip coffee. For me it does not work to prepare posts and publish them at a later time. At a later time I want to write something else already. I've new pictures, new thoughts.I'm also too critical towards my texts and want to correct them, but then I spend even more time with my blog, what I don't want. Yoga and blogging became a monster that devours all my time. It needs to be tamed.
I learned that it's better not to publish too often, this shoos reader away.
Nevertheless today comes another post, not only one. In the second series comes another asana with legs behind head. I want to write about this, too and this was it then for a while with these sort of asanas. Taking pictures of eka pada sirsasana taught me again how helpful it can be to repeat the asanas again and again. Each time when I had to repeat it, I got better.

Repetition is an open secret, if one wants to improve anything.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Eka pada sirsasana


This is the first position of eka pada sirsasana. It's not held for 5 breaths, it's a transition pose. Nevertheless it can be a recommendation to hold it longer in order to get accustomed to the pose. Important is that the knee is as far as possible behind the body. It helps to keep the leg where it is supposed to be when the foot is pointed. I work on stretching the upper body when I inhale. One can also hold the chin with the hands to have additional support. Patience is necessary. Once the pose can be done, the next challenge follows. By now I've to hold the leg when I move forward into the next positon.




This is the position that is held for 5 breaths or longer. Engaging the muscles is important and stretching the body. Engaging the bandhas help. To come up without holding the leg that is behind the head is the next challenge.



From this position one swings into chaturanga dandasana. It might be good to hold the position for several breaths. In the traditional form it's a transition pose, too.

Not only the poses also the vinyasas are advanced. Intensive breathing comme il faut supports the execution of this asana.

To lean backwards is good.
I repeat this asana sometimes as this pose is still volatile. I also practice it while lying on the back. Being on the back facilitates it. A lot. It's even possible to relax.

A happy start in the new week.

Oh, and if you like my blog I appreciate it if you recommend it to your friends. I'm on facebook, google+ and twitter. Links are on the right side of this blog. 

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Saturday, time to relax....



Buddhis net has shared a wonderful story on Google+.

I want to share it here with you (on my yoga free day).

In Prison
=============
An old man lived alone in Punjab, India . He wanted to sow potato garden, but it was very hard work. His only son, who would have helped him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and mentioned his situation:

Dear Son,

I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my potato garden this year. I hate to miss doing the garden because your mother always loved planting time. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over.
I know you would dig the plot for me, if you weren't in prison.

Love,
Dad

Shortly, the old man received this telegram: "For Heaven's sake, Dad, don't dig up the garden!! That's where I buried the WEAPONS!!"

At 4 a.m. the next morning, a dozen secret Police agents and local police officers showed up and dug up the entire garden without finding any WEAPONS.

Confused, the old man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened, and asked him what to do next.
His son's reply was: "Go ahead and plant your potatoes, Dad. It's the best I could do for you from here."

Friday, August 05, 2011

Supta kurmasana - a milestone has been reached


A milestone has been reached. I'm able to practice supta kurmasana alone without adjustments. I go via dwi pada sirsasana into this pose, a second series asana. One reason more to practice rather soon second series. Those yoginis with not so super long limbs have to cross the ankles behind the head and not in front of it when practicing this pose. 

My joy is great and also those remarks here that might sound a bit critical don't make my joy any smaller. I worked years for this pose. There is still a way to go.  

I cannot take care or the correct vinyasa count. Not yet. I need more breaths, to practice slowly is for my safety. I must feel my limits, I need time to stretch my legs before I take them behind my back. And I take this time.

One must be able to keep one leg (the left one) behind the head without holding it. The left hand must be on the floor to prevent the body from falling forward. The body is slightly forward otherwise one would role backwards. With the right hand one can push the right leg backwards. I try to bring the shoulders in front of the leg. The correct breathing helps to bring the right leg up and behind. I inhale when I lift it, I also lenghten the upper body. With the next exhaling I try to bring it backwards and cross the ankles. 
In order to lower the body to the floor it makes sense to have the hands in front of the body not too close to each other. Only then it's also possible to free them from the position, when the head is on the floor. 

In order to hook the fingers behind the back, the idea helps to hook the fingers as close to the head as possible. This is the shortest way. 

It would be nice to go from tittibasana A to bakasana. When my left leg doesn't hurt anymore I'll work on this.

Supta kurmasana is a key asana of the first series. 

Next milestones of primary are coming up from urdhva dhanurasana and the vinyasas, jumping forward and backward without touching the floor. Whatever comes next. I enjoy a lot that I can do this pose now. 

It's Friday evening. We go out. Greek restaurant tonight. 


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Acrobatic versus bhakti yoga


Ashtanga yoga has a lot of acrobatic aspects. To fold the legs into lotus pose while in handstand is surely a challenge for the body and the mind and it looks acrobatic. This is a pose that comes rather late in the series, but also the first series has poses that amaze people and yoginis alike, i.e. garbha pindasana.

Sometimes it seems to me as if nothing else is important but to perform the next asana. I see greedy yoginis who want the next pose and the next pose. Nothing else counts. What is your last pose is a wide-spread question to see how progressed a yogini is. My favourite question is: Do you practice alone also? This answer tells me much more about the level of a yogi or yogini than the last pose. Those who are able to practice alone have reached already a certain level of independence  from circumstances. A mat is necessary, nothing more. But I distract.

I miss the atmosphere that came with yoga 30 years ago. Not that I don't love my sweaty exhausting practices anymore, I do. 30 years back practicing yoga was an attitude towards life. Nothing could shatter a yogi or yogini. One was relaxed whatever happened. And peaceful. Vegetarian eating was a must. I had a friend a cellist and talked with him about Menuhin, the violin player. Menuhin had learned yoga from Iyengar and my friend was convinced that his play became boring since then as it was so balanced. I distract.

I just finished reading a book that surely gives my yoga life a new aspect. It's the book the "Journey Home" by Radhanath Swami. It's travel writing at its best. 40 years ago this young man traveled to India to find God. He took the land route. This was so that time back. I wanted to do this route, too 30 years ago, but gave up in Turkey and took a plane. India, the world was totally different (no PC, no mobile phone, a remark for the youngsters). Finally he arrived the borders and the officials didn't want to let him in as they had enough beggars. Richard, his name at that time cried to get in and he managed it. The author's life was threatened so often during his trip. He escaped from the attacks of human beings and snakes. If he was not attacked or ill he almost lost his life in the Ganges. Not only his life was in danger, men and women chased his virginity. This too, he defended successfully. This man wanted to find his yogic way, he wanted to find God and thought he would find it in India. Who and what should stop him??? He found his guru and his way, it was and is bhakti yoga. What is this, you might ask? It's the service for others. Being of service for others can be a joy that  probably more older people learn to enjoy. I'd even say it can be a gift at a certain age, when one realizes that one has something go give. The book was a page-turner. I recommended it for adventurer and for those who want to add another color to the yoga picture.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Preparation exercises - leg behind head poses


Eka pada sirsasana is the first asana of the second series that requires to take a leg behind the head. One asana with legs behind the head was already part of primary Ashtanga series: supta kurmasana. This post might be interesting for those who work on primary and for those who work on the intermediate series.

First recommendation is for the mind: Be conscious that this is an advanced yoga technique, practice carefully, give yourself some extra love and let the pose grow. These asanas can be a project for years especially for those with shorter limbs. In the meantime I see it as an advantage when I cannot do a pose quickly. It gives me plenty of time to understand the pose and I learn to learn. It strengthens qualities of the mind like patience, handling moods, perseverance. The joy, when after years a pose is doable is much greater for those who struggle for years.

Second recommendation is for the body: Lie on your bed and sofa and try to bring the knees on the mattress or cushions as close as possible  to your body. Knees can be bent, this is even good in the beginning, because then the focus is more on opening the hips and not on lengthening the hamstrings.
The next step is to take the arms inside the legs and to stretch the legs. The goal is to bring the knees under the shoulders. The hands can help to push the legs down. So far the pose is safe. The pose only then becomes dangerous if one is not able to bring the upper legs far enough next or even behind the body and when one tries too early to force the leg behind the head. This might cause too much pressure on the knees (just a warning).

There is either behind the head or not behind the head. In the beginning there is pressure on the neck when the leg is behind the head finally. This shows the way. The upper body needs to lengthen with each inhaling, the shoulders move backwards. The leg and feet wander down the back. Slowly!!!!! Ashtangis can bear a bit of discomfort..:)

The mattress makes the pose easier as it is soft. Practice the above position in the evening makes the exercise even easier. Lying on the back helps to relax and this allows to go deeper into a pose.

With each Ashtanga series these leg behind head poses become more important. In primary we've one pose of that kind supta kurmasana. In second series we've 4 poses eka pada sirsasana, dwi pada sirsasana, yoga nidrasana and tittibasana A,B and C.
The picture shows a preparation pose, that really makes it easy to develop this pose. More posts about these asanas are coming........

Whoever looks at that picture, yogi, yogini or non-yogi, I think and feel the same: Ashtanga yoga is a lot of fun.
I enjoy. :)


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Daily is important....


Yesterday I read some tips on how to improve taking pictures. Shoot daily, I read. This is so true for everything that one likes to improve. Not every picture will be exciting. Not every yoga practice will be strong and focused. Not every cooked meal will taste good.  Not every blog post will inspire to go on reading. I know this very well.

Sometimes I get astonished, what starts lousy can become most beautiful and the other way round, too. Re pictures that don't convince me my bf uses to say: wait 10 years and then you'll like it.

Whatever one likes to improve, one is well advised to do it daily. There might be some more factors, too that improves a skill. Being sloppy with anything will not do so much. (Not much is more than nothing.)

Also today I'll step on my mat, curious what will happen, curious how much energy I'll have available today.

My focus lately moved again to enjoy the practice and not to accomplish (greedily) an asana. Repetition, staying longer in a an asana, staying optimistic are the secrets to move something. If a practice hurts it's likely that one loses interest in it. My overstretched leg and it hurts now for almost a year gave me this lesson. I will be much more careful in the future. I could have avoided this injury. The wish to be able to do the side splits was too bgt. Quickly I wanted to be able to do it and I must have been too aggressive. I file this under fine-tuning of my practice. Slow and steady is my way. Enjoying the practice became again more important than being goal-oriented.

Time to move on. So much is on my list.........

Oh, and thanks for this beautiful picture that is a gift from M. 

Monday, August 01, 2011

A smile on my face.....


At 8am I started my yoga practice at a Mysore class with not so many expectations. I got surprised. I loved my practice. Focus and concentration was there. I took not so many breaks also not the little ones that happen sometimes before I start another challenging asana. With each breath a new movement was initiated today.

It's such a luxury that M has organized Mysore classes during his summer break. How thoughtful. I could practice today in a small group of passionate practitioners and I got great adjustments. It has been ages that my utthita trikonasana got adjusted. Today I could experience again what it means to open the chest in that pose. What a difference. It can help to use the wall to see if the upper body is parallel when practicing at home.

Eight am, is the perfect time for me. I don't care anymore if the sun is shining or not. I'll enjoy my practices in the summer hole. Summer holes do not exist for me.

I feel ready for a home practice tomorrow. Eka pada sirsasana or leg behind head will be the topic.

Back to routines. Vacation is over. Shall routines help me to fly through my days........

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




New week....


A new week has come and even a new month.

My task in the Mysore class today will be to find out where my limits are for today. It's better not to expect too much after my vacation in Austria. Breath by breath second series should be doable.

When I look around I know what I'll have to do this afternoon. :)

Daily life again, how I love it.