Friday, August 31, 2012

On the breath in Ashtanga yoga


This post is for D.:

The breath makes Ashtanga yoga to what it is. It's one of the specialities:

1. The breath can be heard, it's uddjay breathing.
2. The breath initiates the movements (not the other way round).
3. The breath gives the rhythm of the practice. Sometimes a movement is long, sometimes it's a tiny movment. It's important to move faster or slower. The movement adjusts to the breath not the other way round.
4. Inhaling is as long as exhaling. Often yoginis have the inhaling shorter. Take a timer to test it once to get a feeling for it.

Beside these qualities of the breath, we also count the breath.
There is a distinction between the vinyasa (the movements that connect the asanas) and the asanas themselves.
One says an asana has i.e. 15 vinyasas. This means 15 movements around the asana, 15 times inhaling and exhaling, from samasthitih to samasthitih.

When looking at the vinyasas one movement is either an inhaling or an exhaling, inhaling counts as 1 breath, exhaling counts as 1 breath.
When one says that an asana is held for 5 breaths, it means 1 breath means inhaling and exhaling.

Nowadays the poses are held for 5 breaths. In former times it was 8 breaths (inhaling, pause, exhaling, pause = 1 breaths)

To hold an asana longer can be helpful as the body gets exhausted and gives up resistance. This means that one can go deeper in an asana. One has to be careful of course when being longer in an asana. Injuries are often felt the day after and not during the practice.

In order to learn the correct breath counting, I recommend 2 sources: 
1. Practice with the CD by Sharath, primary series. It's available on Ashtanga.com.
2. Ashtanga yoga by Lino Miele and P. Jois, is the bible here.

It is a challenge to practice comme il faut. I've sometimes difficulties to be with one inhaling in a pose. I need longer. I want to practice carefully. I know in which direction it goes.

Not to make additional breaths has advantages: no procrastination. Breaks give room for thinking like: OMG now this difficult marichyasana C.
Many yoginis lie on the back, staring to the ceiling before practicing urdhva dhanurasana. This makes the pose not easier. Just doing it is it, and this is the message.

Ashtanga yoga is also a mental exercise. The consequent counting and moving according to the counting doesn't allow much thinking, this calms the mind. This is concentration, this is focus.

A long post, I hope some questions could be cleared.

Next time I'll write about the breathing when doing the jumping forward and backward. I did some research here. 

No Internet access, no breaks.


It's so easy. At least I've found one positive aspect of not being able to be online at home. It intensifies my practice. One distraction less that could seduce me to leave the mat during a practice.
I sit again in a café, a cappuccino next to me. It's a joy to write and I didn't care that it was raining outside. I packed my PC and went. Here I am now. At the neighbour table are people who talk so loud. music is on, I know how to focus.

Primary was excellent this morning. I was again creative and added the forward split and side split and the pose on the picture. This is very close as it should be.

Back bending is what needs extra attention. The pose on the pictures could help me. It lengthens the front of the hip and I can walk my hands backwards, which opens the chest. Goal is to bring head and foot together. It's a long way to go. Next time I'll move the head backwards.

After having done this pose I practiced urdhva dhanurasana and it felt good. I dropped back once, this feels better and better.


PS: When I see my stiff spine, I know that I was sitting too long at the office desks. Hahaha......

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rediscovering Ashtanga yoga primary series

Since I've no Internet access at home my breaks during my practice go to zero.

It was an intensive practice this morning. Since I started learning third series I know more and more what's important when I practice this first Ashtanga series.

Jumping backwards, this vinyasa i.e. is important. It's important to learn to swing backwards without touching the floor with the feet.
I wanted to discard my yoga journals. Before throwing them out I flipped throw them and I found a very interesting article on that vinyasa. I found my missing part. When the feet are through the arms still in the air but bent, I didn't know how to go on. I felt stuck. Here is the next step: One has to round the back and one has to press the index fingers against the floor. Belly is in, of course. This together allows to move forward with the upper body and this gives space to take the feet backwards to get into chaturanga dandasana.

This rounded back is also necessary when doing karandavasana, this difficult second series pose. THe rounded back helps to come up again.

Supta parsvasahita is an important pre-exercise for vashishtasana

In sum one can say: more strength more flexibility is needed the more one progresses. The fundamentals can be found already in primary.

Headstand: At the end is headstand and one has to lift the head away from the floor. Then balancing moves to a next level. It's doable. I used the wall as psychological support, but I didn't need it. Next time I'll do it in the middle of the room.

I added forward split and side split.

My timer helped me, too. To hold a pose longer than 5 breaths can help to progress. Upavishta konasana I held for 1 min. For me it makes sense to start modest and to make it more challenging slowly. 

My practice was wonderful. Till now I feel the effect. I feel so good. Relaxed and full of energy at the same time.

Tomorrow I'll practice primary, too. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A light on the horizon


I'm sitting in a café, my own laptop on the table, a red wine next to me. This IS progress already. This restaurant opens at 4pm, I can wait so long every day to be online. The IPad is for reading, nothing for typing. This is already a better solution than this afternoon. Good is that I don't need a new PC before my trip to Bulgaria. To set it up again needs a lot of time.

Oh, so glad, so glad. I enjoy the ballet of my fingers. All my fingers flit over the keyboard. Fast they are and well-trained. They know where the keys are. I look at the screen. A skill that I have acquired when I was still in school and I never regretted this.

I fear my next posts will be long, a lot is in the pipeline.

The picture is taken a few days back. It rained and the sun was shining. Quickly I took my camera t capture this moment of opposites, darkness and  light. (They belong together - the opposites.)


I make porridge out of the series and call it flexibility.

Place 17, 0,80 Euro per hour, a fan blows cold air on my neck, India feeling comes up.

My PC still doesn't allow me to go to the Internet. The IPad is not a substitute, not for those like me who type with 10 fingers and blindly. It's great to open it and to be online, I admit. Everything else is not convincing. There are Internet shops round the corner without the obligation to buy food and drinks. The Africans here drink beer. In one of these shops I am now and I feel good, if not excellent. It's after practice time.

But the title of the blog didn't mention my Internet issues. I distract.

Back to yoga: I was searching for a solution re the challenge to practice second series and then the 7 third series asanas. I love to learn third series, but when I finally at the end of second series shall continue, I'm always exhausted. For the most challenging asanas I have no energy left anymore. This frustrates me. I found a solution. I add the asanas like kasyapasana after yoga nidrasana. I simply practice them in the middle when it fits. I also add the few asanas of the first series that need attention, like upavistha konasana.

To exercise anything once a week is not enough if one wants to progress. Daily exercise is required. During the summer time I'm happy with the solution to do a modified practice and to add the new asanas in the middle of any series. To stick to the series comme il faut I can do again when we have regular classes.

When starting third series one must become flexible. My approach feels good.

Here I sit now in an Internet shop close to the main station. A solution to update my blog and to communicate was found. Not a very good solution, a compromise, but I've a keyboard in front of me. That I cannot upload pictures doesn't please me at all. The keyboard here is not a good one, too. I have to hammer with my fingers on it. Hahaha.....my taste, my wishes, my preferences are advanced. I'm happy, I simply describe the differences.

My forced isolation, not being able to be online, connected with the world gave me a lot of time. I decluttered. Mainly books had to go. One day they will burry me. One of the shelves is moving towards the room already. Sometimes E worries about this, I calm him.
It feels good to have less things. No Himalaya made of books is on the floor anymore. The life of a yogini shall be simple. To make life simpler is part of the practices of a yogi/yogini. It's one of the few rules that is given. So wise. It gives energy for the essential activities like practicing asanas, pranayama and meditation. And being lazy......just doing nothing, but being.

During my practice this early afternoon I was focused, my issues were forgotten. Inhaling, pause exhaling and so forth. My focus was to feel the edges, to push them a bit. All my thoughts were gone, I could interrupt my thinking and I feel good now. All happens for a reason. I got reminded that everything is out of control. To accept is all one can do. It is as it is. And isn't it nice? Something moves. I experience my energy. I'm at a new places. I have time.......and even though I didn't blog yesterday I got new followers, hahaha.....:).





Monday, August 27, 2012

Online and a keyboard is in front of me. :)

It must have been some time that I've been in that Internet café downtown. They have a new method to pay. I cannot buy a certain time anymore. I have to buy a drink. When I buy a small coffee for 2 Euro, then I can use the Internet for 15 min. When I want to be online for 60 min (which is nothing for me) I've to buy drinks and food worth 5,-- Euro. "But I only want a small cappuccino with soy milk AND I want to be online for an hour." I insisted. Everthing is negotiable. A bad deal to pay 5 Euro for the small cappo, but only at first sight.
I don't drink and eat when I'm not thirsty or hungry.

Yeah, my PC has a major issue. I'm not alone with this. Posts can be found online already but no solution. I'm not sure if we can solve these issues before our trip to Bulgaria. I suffer. Hahaha.....

How can I make the best out of the situation?
I start seeing some advantages of this isolation. My tax declaration comes into my mind. A lot of action can be performed while offline. Yes, yes, yes.......Pehaps I go swimming in the afternoon, lol.

Shall it be as it is. Suddenly I had time in the morning. I started decluttered, it's a never ending process. My home is like a garden and I've to weed.

28 min now.

Oh, it feels so good to blog, to keep knitting  my yoga blog.Every day a little piece.....
(The people opposite to me eat and drink......hahaha) Life is funny.



Sunday, August 26, 2012

No connectivity

No connectivity, my darlings. My PC is striking. To type from my IPad is a nightmare. Happy weekend and till soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dwi pada sirsasana


No pain no gain. Yesterday I had a good tolerance to stand pain. Something moves. I could go deep into hanumanasana, the pose I always add no matter which series I practice. Being able to do hanumanasana is necessary for the third series asanas in my view. Limits were reached at almost all asanas and pushed a tiny bit, so it felt.

The vinyasas of primary were not good. I think it's lack of knowing how to do it. Still. Frustration was felt. I substituted the "oh no, so lousy" with "I can". At once the next vinyasa was better. A tiny bit at least. I won't give up here. The vinyasas are part of the Ashtanga game.

After the poses of the middle part of the first series I took a little break. Then I wanted to start with the third series, with the exercises I've found helpful. How can a phone call, an Email spoil my excellent practice? It could. What a beginner I am, I thought, what a beginner. After this distraction coming in from modern technology I couldn't go on with my practice. My mind was thinking wildly, the body got cold and stiff, my feelings needed attention like a diva. I stopped practicing. Yoga is a concentration exercise, it's all about focus......and my body was so willing yesterday......it's over. A missed opportunity to stick on the sticky mat. Better is to take a break on the mat.
A new day has come. I'll observe what will happen today.

Dwi pada sirsasana (see picture): 

How I balance: The legs move upwards, the bandhas are engaged, the hands press against each other. Thighs and arms press against each other, too. All this in combination gives stability.

The next steps: It would be good if the knees were more behind the back. The movement starts from the hips. There is still potential to enlarge the flexibility of the hips. If the legs cross a bit deeper, it should be possible to lift the head. The feet could be more behind the shoulders, but I repeat for safety reasons: The movement starts from the hips.
This pose needs time, patience, trust that it is possible. When dwi pada sirsasana is possible also supta kurmasana, the tortoise is possible. From the above pose one lowers down and binds the hands behind the back.

Primary is on the schedule today, too. I'll repeat those poses that are not yet as they are supposed to be. Especially supta parsvasahita and upavishta konasana.


BTW: 
1. Practicing yoga is a mental exercise, too. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know this, but it's often neglected. It starts with stepping on the mat at home when you're alone.
2. To keep going is the next challenge for the mind. Most of the time the body is not so exhausted that it's impossible to go on when I (we) take a break.

My trick to point 1: I start my practice with 2 very relaxing exercises. First I lie on a block, so that my back is rounded backwards. I breath and lie there. It's rather passive.
Then I hang forward as next preparation. Most of the time I'm ready then.
My trick to point 2: It's helpful for me to have the book by Matthew Sweeney on my sofa next to me. When I get weak and when I want to stop I look at the pictures: Most of the time I think: oh only these few poses, this is possible.
Find out what works for you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eka pada sirsasana


Some hold this pose on the above picture for 5 breaths, but it's thought only for transition. It can make sense to hold the pose longer because one can work on stretching the upper body. moving the shoulders backwards and feeling comfortably in that pose. The challenge is when moving forward that the back remains straight. This got better in my case.

Leg behind head poses seem to be important in Ashtanga yoga. The first very deep legs behind head pose is already in primary: it's supta kurmasana. I was able to do supta kurmasana when I practiced dwi pada sirsasana, the next pose. Most people can only cross their feet behind their heads and not in front of it. It requires very long legs in order to be able to do it. The earlier one can start second series, the better. P. Jois didn't stop people, he pushed them through first and second. He taught as many asanas as possible very quickly. I learned this from the book "Guruji".

My trick to learn it: Try it in the evening on the bed. Lie on your back. Bring the knees next to the body on the mattress. The soft ground makes it easier than a floor. Be patient.

For your own safety: Think to bring the knee back. The foot shall be rather next to the face, then bring the foot behind your head. To bring the foot from before the head to behind the head is a long way. Take care.



My next steps: 
- the vinyasa needs extra attention
- I try to bring my foot more down on the back. This is also necessary for asanas to come.
- to keep the upper body upright is also a goal.

Today is Thursday: I'll practice primary and I'll work on third series. This is the plan. I also feel fit and ready for it.



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ardha matsyendrasana



Ardha matsyendrasana is an even deeper twist than bharadvajasana. I take my time to get into the pose. It's not done with one breath. I had to experiment a bit with the position of the feet and legs. I point the foot that lies on the floor. It looks better. 

I think that my arms are a bit too short to hold my thigh. 
I see something else. There is still space. When I move the shoulder backwards and when I stretch the arm I could hold my leg. This would made it easier to go even deeper in the twist. 
Hahaha, deeper, deeper, deeper. 


 We were 3 today at our self-practice. I practiced first the second series. I want to finish it before starting with the third series. I want to cross second series out as done, mentally. This is psychologically important.

Then I took it "easy". I did preparation asanas like supta parsvasahita, upavishta konasana, hanumanasana. I repeated them. Then I moved on to urdhva dhanurasana, once I dropped back. This was it what was possible today. I feel that I must approach third series in tiny tiny steps.

Time for a nap. 

Bharadvajasana



A twist comes after bakasana in the second series. 

A tip for those you make their own choreography:
- After every asana follows a counter pose. In Ashtanga yoga the vinyasas between poses and sides guarantee this.
- The twists neutralize. To add them between back bending and forward banding asanas makes sense.

What I've learned bharadvajasana: 
A few months back M analyzed this pose with me, since then my understanding deepened.

Firstly, I try to reach the verse with one hand. On one of my first pictures I held the big toe. I must have thought that in Ashtanga yoga we always hold the big toe. Trying to reach the verse intensifies already the twist.
Then I should put my other hand on a block first, as far as I could, fingers pointing away from the body. Then I should turn them. I was asked what I realized. To move the fingers under the leg provokes that the shoulder moves forward.

This is what twists are: The movement starts from the hips as always. Then the shoulders move, too, one forward, one backward.

Twists feel good. For me it is as if I open the door to a cellar hole and finally fresh air is flooding into this stinky place.

..............

Today I'll go to a Mysore class. My yoginis will give me the additional energy that I need to do the third series asanas.


Haha, this is the right side. I tested different perspectives.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bakasana A and B


The next poses in the second series is bakasana A and B. Bakasana A is doable, even though one can practice it so and so. My effort is to straighen the arms. Fear comes up that I fall forward. This won't kill me. Nevertheless the fear holds me back. And I need more strength in the arms. One must learn falling, for sure. The problem with falling here is that my room is rather  small and I don't want to fall against the glass door. An excuse?

Bakasana B: the vinyasa is the challenge. It's so important to give attention to the vinyasas right from the beginning on. Some yoginis move from almost handstand in that pose. Other jump into the pose and keep the hips low. For me it seems softer to come from handstand with bended knees.

To move from bakasana into handstand, oh this is a dream. It has no priority.

More important for me is to have a focused practice. This means to stick to even movments, the rhythm is given by the breath. Ashtanga yoga is so much more but fancy asanas.
Again and again I discover how helpful it is also in daily life to be able to focus. Things get done. Not only this. It betters the life because I've learned to move my attention to something I like. Thoughts might rise and they might be not so joyful. I observe them and if I realize that it's just a thought  I shift my attention and I focus on something I like. This mental activity gets better and better.

Yesterday was such a prolific day. I feel still like a hero of daily life. I cleaned, I made phone calls that I've postponed for months. In the evening my bf repaired our printer. Now I've no excuse anymore to do my tax declaration. I sit in front of a clean desk. Oh, a joy.

Time to move on here. The 25 min that I give myself for this blog post are soon over.
Also today I've a long list.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Supta vajrasana


When I practice at home and when it's supta vajrasna that shall be done, I feel like on a date and nobody is coming. Most people (98%) cannot go back on their own. Usually a yogini helps or the teacher. It's necessary to keep the knees down. It's an intensive backbending for sure. I already mentioned in an earlier pose that helping others here can be seen as giving something back from all the attention that one has got already.

My main feeling is it interrupts the flow of the one who helps. Sometimes this break is appreciated, me too I give the adjustment when I see that someone needs it. It also interrupts the flow of the one who likes to do it. Sometimes one has to look around to find someone who could help.
Alone at home I know I cannot do it.

When I practice alone at home, I usually stay for 5 breaths in the above pose. I try to exit putting my hands in mayurasana. As so often the vinyasa is the challenge.

I practiced today. It was early afternoon when I was on my mat. I was flexible. Sometimes other activities have priority. It relaxes me much more to do some duties first than to practice with the feeling that I have no time for the necessities.
After pincha mayurasana I did the closing sequence and I was happy that I had practiced.

Enough for today. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

State of emergency: good weather here


When the temperature reaches 28° Celsius it's a must to enjoy the weather. Everything else must be postponed. The weather dictates what to do: one can go out swimming or sit in a café, or a beer garden. To stroll along the Isar is allowed, too. To clean the house is a no no on such a day. So we went out today, we sat in a café in the shadow. We drank water and sweated. Oh. And we read our books.

I managed it to prepare a salad for us in the late afternoon when we were at home again. I picked me up later to clean the kitchen, this belongs to the end of a meal. It's the finishing routine. A messy kitchen in the morning drives me crazy.

Tomorrow I want to get back to a healthy routine despite the good weather. I wish we'd had 300 sunny days like in Marseille. But we don't have. Nevertheless for me the emergency state is over tomorrow despite the wonderful temperature. Ashtanga yoga first in a Mysore class. I want to take a picture for my calender. The list what I want to do is long. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. 

I missed sun rise.


I missed sun rise. It's OK. To sleep in from time to time is luxury that I can enjoy. And most of the time I get up at 6am. It was close to 9am I think when I found the way out of the bed this morning. I rinsed the sweat of the night away with warm water under the shower. The cold shower at the end should wake me up. The coffee afterwards was necessary to make me feel really awake. Now I'm present. Here I am.

Hahaha, sometimes one must write something only to find out that it's no more true. 25 min I wrote about the imagination to see myself with golden skin, very blond hair and blue eyes. But I don't want to be tanned anymore. Pale is good for me, it fits to me. It looks a bit morbide even though it isn't. It fits to dark nights. I know better activities than to fry under the merciless sun. To sit in the shadow with an autobiographic story pleases me so much more.

Sunday: My yoga week begins. Second series.

(Should one publish a blog post when one has not much to say? I think yes.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It was hot today


Sometimes the weather dictates what one has to do. So hot it was today. No way that I'd do anything at home. The dust doesn't fly away and the mess will wait for me, too.

We went out and landed in a shadowy beergarden and later we were in a café with a garden outside. After hours one feels like changing the place, the seats, the view. We read and talked a bit, I took pictures of people. Some belonged to the Bavarian tribe and were dressed in the traditionel clothes with hats and feathers and leather pants.

The book that I read provoked tears that I tried to hide, pretending being allergic. Being moved so much I can already say it's an excellent book that I read, it's my preparation for the upcoming trip to Bulgaria: It's "Grandhotel Bulgaria" by Angelika Schrobsdorff.
Through an autobiographic story one often learns more about a country than through travel guides. People are the focus and not only tourist attractions and cafés where everbody sits then when in a guide.

Tomorrow I'll step on my mat again. I'm motivated. Second series, just this is on the schedule.
Write it down, let it happen.
I've no expectations. 

On deadlines


I finished the book "Willenskraft" by Christisan Bischoff a few days back. It's written in German language.

Christian has been a professional baseball player, then a coach and now he's a speaker. He invented himself 3 times. This is not easy but obviously doable. In the book that I read he wrote about will power.

Interesting was what he wrote about deadlines. 
In almost every book on goal setting one reads that it's crucial to have a deadline. Sometimes it's even recommended to give up on a goal if it's not accomplished by a date.

Christian says the opposite. Don't make deadlines. Instead he says that it's better to do every day something for a goal. The reason: Everything takes longer than thought. To become a successful speaker lasted 4 years i.e.

I (unfortunately) can share this thought: Everything lasts longer. I know some examples where it would have been a pity if these people would have given up on a goal only because the deadline passed.

P. Jois is an example. He worked 50 years on the goal to spread Ashtanga yoga worldwide. I get always goosebumps when I think of this.
Today I read that Attilla Hildmann worked 7 years on his vision to spread the vegan idea till he could make money with his books and shows and whatever. We all must survive, we all need money. Most people would have given up earlier.

For myself I can say that deadlines motivate me. Before a test i.e. I used to learn much more. A deadline gives me drive. But I changed my view. A deadline is not a line and afterwards a project is dead. A deadline is no more a point to reflect on giving up something because it's not successful. It's rather a date of reflection new orientation, a motivation. It can be a moment to stop and modify a strategy. Some projects indeed might die after reflections, because interest get lost. But most things last longer and if the heart blood is involved re a goal, it's good to move on as long as it's possible.

So if passion is still experienced let's keep going and forget about deadlines as a point to stop doing something.

PS: Of course I cannot publish my yoga calender 2013 in 2015. Sometimes deadlines are given from outside. But this is something else.

PSS: Even I forget it myself. Nevertheless don't forget to buy your amazon stuff via my blog. Links are on the right side of this blog. Thank you. :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

So thankful....


Friday is primary day.

Better not to plan too much. Primary is OK and enough, I thought. I added only hanumansana, forward split.

Concentration got so much better. A glance at the time tells me it's still early, 12:40 pm. I could go on and on without taking breaks. Brrhhhh another set of yoga clothes to wash, I sweated.

I have still so much to do......I jubilate inside that the day started so perfectly. There is time for everything on the schedule, yepeeee.

Write it down, let it happen!


Gregor Maehle and his book "Pranayama"


Afte a prolific day often follows a lame day. Today was a lame day. I cannot even say where the time went.

I picked up the book by Gregor Maehle "Pranayama". After having read the introduction I knew that it was worth buying it. He expressed in perfect words what I feel for a long time already.

1. It's good or even necessary to have a teacher, but this cannot be the only source from which we learn. Classes are cramped, beginners need attention. Times where a student-teacher relationship existed are over. Yoga is business. The more yogis/yoginis attend a class the better.
Nowadays there are many sources available for the avid learner: books, YouTube videos, blogs.
Nothing helped me more than my own pictures!

The next day: I was so lazy yesterday that I didn't even finish this blog post.

There is another point that I liked very very much Gregor Maehle mentioned in the introduction. May I quote him from page 8 in the above mentioned book:
" You need to have in your mind an inner map of the territory that you are navigating. Imagine driving across a large metropolis or countryside without a map, whether electronic or hard copy. If you don't know where you are going you will end up somewhere else. In the example that I have used here several times, if you don't know that yoga leads to spiritual freedom and how exactly to get there you will instead merely arrive at physical empowerment and a buff body."

Spiritual freedom is the key word. 
The word power in combination with Ashtanga yoga is misleading. One might get strong and flexible, but the goal of yoga is not to gain power. The opposite is the case. To get the insight that we're the instrument not the player is a mercy. One can do nothing for it.

A decade ago a woman was excluded from the community because she called Ashtanga yoga "power yoga". In the meantime it seems to me that the word power in combination to Ashtanga yoga is rehabilitated and back in the mainstream discussion.
Those who want power will go on suffering.
Those who are so lucky to get the insight that we're powerless (a happening) will achieve peace of mind.


- Step on the mat with the intention to become powerful. This often leads to a practice with frustration, fighting, greedy wanting. Not that I do not know that.
- Or step on the mat with the intention to let a practice happen, being transparent, soft, open. Let energy move through your body. Discover the passive aspects of a practice not only the active ones. Most of the time my practices are much more satisfying then, even more intensive.

The understanding/experience that we're powerless is the liberation. Ashtanga yoga is a tool that can lead to this understanding. Human beings like to do something to accomplish something. This is in my opinion why sages created exercises. In order to understand that we're not the player but the flute no practices are necessary. It can happen from one second to the other.
Liberation/enlightenment is the 8th limb. It's a mercy. It's part of Ashtanga yoga.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Steps


To do a step towards the direction one wants to go is what one can do. Best is one moves on a daily basis.....towards the wished direction.

My mat is already waiting. Primary today with some extras like hanumanasana.

No shooting today. I want to experience flow.

So happy that someone else but me decorates my first blog post today. :)



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

At the botanic garden with my friend



This morning I met my friend for a photo shooting. I picked her up at the main station and then we took the Straßenbahn to the botanic garden. The picture above is still taken at the main station. We had a coffee there first.



I took more than 300 pictures. Our challenge is not to talk too much. This was almost not possible. Nevertheless I got some results out of my effort to take some nice shots. This was our second shooting. More are planned.

Quickly I look at the right corner at my PC: 17:09. It's very unlikely that I practice Ashtanga yoga today. It's a banking holiday and my bf occupies my yoga place. I don't want to shoo him away. It's the best place here.

Oh, the light.....


The light is warm at 6:35. At 8am I'll meet a friend for a photo shooting. The light will still be good then, but just after sun rise it might have been even better.

I'll pick her up at the station and then we'll go to the botanic garden. Taking pictures is a bit like dancing.
If the man leads well, the woman looks good.
If the photographer leads well, if he/she is able to create a relaxed atmosphere, the model is at ease and perhaps he/she might even forget the camera. Then the shooting can begin.

My lenses are in the handbag. I feel well-rested. I go. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Like 2 years ago


Kapotasana: nothing moves, it seems so. This is unbelievalbe.

Why are the elbows so far away from each other?
Why can I not reach my toes with my fingers?

This is frustrating, but this sort of feeling doesn't help. I shoo it to hell and think of a strategy. It's simple, I must do more asanas of this sort. More back bending, more more more...... It would be good to hold them longer. Patience is required. I will have it.

This pose seems doable, also for me. I'm convinced. It's a long long journey to a decent kapotasana.

Next time I'll use props again. A block between my feet shall keep them parallel. A strap could keep my arms closer together.

It feels so good when I do this pose, my pictues speak another language. 

Me.



I give up. For today. For now.


Laghu vajrasana, the first real problem case. This morning I read that problems are opportunities to grow. I must grow here indeed. To go down even controlled is not the issue. To come up is it. With long arms it's easier, but I have my beautiful arms and this pose is doable for me, too, only not yet.

In class I use a strap around my upper thighs and I pose a block where my head is. From a bit higher it's possible to come up, even when I take a few breaths in that asana. How long do I have to enjoy this plateau???? I want to get rid of the block and the strap! I want to move forward.

My pictures tell me a lot. The front of the hips are not open. The bow is too long.

A strategy is needed: Repetition always helps. I could reduce the height where my head bit by bit with books i.e.


This is an exercise I always do before kapotasana. It shall open the hips and the chest and the shoulders, too. I don't try anymore to go down with the hands as far as I can. The intention of this exercise is to push the hips forward. Deep breathing makes a difference. Being able to breathe when there is pressure on the chest is important. Deep breathing helps to come up.

This exercise supports laghu vajrasana, too. I even think, every back banding asana helps me. The more I practice them, the better.

After the twists I did some preparation asanas for the third series, like hanumanasana, upavistha konasana and supta parsvasahita. That was it. Energy was gone then from one second to the next. Really! Haha......I simply couldn't move on. Stiffeness came into the body after I had uploaded the pictures. This made it not easier to move.

To let go is relatively easy today. The weather is so good, sunshine. I feel like going out. I think it counts as a practice what I did today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

We were 2 yoginis today


2 yoginis form a group. Even 1 person can be enough "social control" to get me going. I'm so grateful. Such a lovely practice happened through my body this morning in the shala.

I didn't like to change the order of the asanas to have it easier with urdhva dhanurasana in the end. So I did the suryas and then the second series. After the headstands I continued with the next 7 asanas of the third series. I made it a bit easier: no vinyasa between the sides. Kasyapasana and chokrasana I practiced together. I relaxed into hanumanasana when it fitted. Wow. And urdhva dhanaurasana was excellent, too. It was a satisfying practice experienced in a strong and flexible body. The breath accompanied me. It was all perfect today.
I have no expectation for tomorrow. This is better so.

At the end when I was in headstand I tried to lift up the head, comme il faut. The wall gave me confidence and I also needed it. The goal is to practice this in the middle of the room. It's probably true what Sharath said during one of the last conferences in Gokulam: one must also learn to fall.

My plan for tomorrow when I practice at home: Suryas, second series till after the twists (or perhaps till after karandavasana) and then third series asanas with all the preparation asanas that I know. It's a shorter practice than usual, but long enough.

To do every day a tiny step in the direction I want to go is accomplished enough for a day.


Self-practice today with the yoginis who are not on vacation



I think this will be good today. It will intensify my practice when the yoginis are around me. At 9am we start with our self-practice.

Second series is on the schedule and the 7 third series asanas, too. Yes, yes......but no standing asanas.

In every series are asanas that are underdeveloped. I wonder how I can add them whatever series I practice.  Upavishta konasana (see picture) I can even integrate in my daily life. It's a pose in which I can be when I write and read. Also hanumanasana I want to practice daily, no matter what series I practice.

Goals and the path: I think they are equally important.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ustrasana


Oh, oh, oh, what do I see: The knees are more than hip width apart. They must move away from each other when I go backwards. When I start they are parallel. 

I wanted to draw the attention to another mistake. Dristi is the nose and not upwards. When I look upwards the front wrinkles. This can never be the intention. The face remains relaxed. I take care of this.

One can practice this asana so and so. The hips move forward. The shoulder blades move together. This intensifies the back bending. The little toes move towards the floor. It's an active asana.


I experimented today and put my hands next to the feet on the floor, first inside then outside. To have them outside is easier, perhaps not so effective. It felt new. To say more I must repeat it. The intention is to intensify the back bending, my weak point.

Oh, what was I happy that I was on the mat today:
I had standing asanas, balancing asanas, forward and back bending asanas, twists. I got frustrated because of the vinyasas. I was content because pashasana was possible and urdhva dhanurasana was better than expected. Wha else can I wish!


Back in my villa motley.


I sit here and enjoy my first cup of coffee, a strong one. These first hours of my day are perfect. Every day. I check what happened in the night around the globe. I write my journal and I think of the things I want to do and those I have to do. These days much much much more want-activities are on my lists than duties. And also duties and activities I consider necessary can be a want-activity, like renovating my room. I fear the task to carry all the books from a large room into 2 smaller rooms, but I want to have this room as nice as the other one. I don't care the effort that is necessary to accomplish this goal. My skills to organize things will improve.


My second cup of coffee is ready. A glass of tap water stands next to it. The  beverages of my current life: coffee, water and wine and very rarely a glass of freshly pressed orange juice. I was courageous this morning. I stepped on the scales, the figure I saw didn't astonish me. At my parents home we eat 4 times every day: In the morning we start with self-made jam and best German bread and coffee. I want to make my own jam, too, it's so much better. Then we have lunch, which ends always with a dessert, which is too good. After napping we have coffee and cake, self-made, too. Yeah and then dinner with vegetables from the garden, but also other stuff like cheese and my parents also eat sausage. When it's sofa time and TV time the pralinés and other sweets wander out of the cupboard and stand on the table to seduce the weak souls. 48,2 kg. The alarm clocks ring. Forty-eight is my set limit. When heavier than this I observe every bite I eat, every bite is rather an enemy with the potential to disturb me and my life, than a pleasure for my palate. Oh, it will be difficult today to take my legs behind the head. Mentally I go through my list of healthy habits:  water shall be my beverage, salad and fruit shall keep me alive, less is better, and I'll practice, no matter how hard it might be. I'll be strict with myself. I'll praise an ascetic life all day long.


The last kick that gets me going on the mat is that I want to take a picture of ustrasana. Those who read this blog regularly might have realized that I go through the asanas of the second Ashtanga series, one by one. Ustrasana is the next asana I want to write about. It's a favorite back bending asana.

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

Saturday, August 11, 2012

At home again


I slept in the train. The conductor had to wake me up. How good that Munich was the end station. E was on time and picked me up. And now I'm here again in the villa motley.

The first activity when I arrived in the flat was to empty the suitcase. Yes, it's chaos here. I cannot do very much here. In less than 2 months the last room gets renovated. I'll survive these 2 months in chaos.

A yoga free day is good. Tomorrow I'll start with second series at my favorite place.



He'll pick me up at the station


"Don't come too early," he told me on the phone. Of course not. I know that he loves to sleep in. And my parents are happy when I have lunch with them. At 2:07pm my train leaves for Munich and two and a half hours later I'll be in Munich.

Yesterday I practiced primary. I had not enough time to do all the poses. It's OK to have a shorter practice from time to time. It was so good that I had moved.
The entire day we were at the horticultural show. More than 6000 people visit the garden daily. Flowers of the region are shown. There is enough opportunity to sit on chairs or on rubber cushions in the grass. Many spend the entire day there, like we did. Restaurants make sure that the slightest hunger can be satisfied. I took 280 pictures, enough said about how I liked it to be there.
This morning I was busy to copy the flower pictures on a UBS-stick. It's not so easy. I didn't manage it to copy the edited pictures. At least my father has something. I must know how to do copy the edited pictures from Lightroom to a stick. From Lightroom it's not possible, but from a copied file on the disc. It will take another day till I know how to do it. This is so.

Time to have lunch, we eat early here: 11:30am.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Floral Friday


We were at the horticultural show today. The entire day. Regional flowers were planted. So beautiful. More flowers will come, it would be a pity to hide them on my disc.


As a tourist in my home town


I was downtown with my mother and we strolled around a lot.


The rose garden, a place that is balsam for the soul. Next time I'll go up there at night when there is light on the roses.


The cathedral....


....and a famous meeting point downtown "Der Gabelmo" ("The man with the fork")

Today we'll go to the horticultural show. My father will join us, too. It's a program for the entire day. They keep me busy, my parents. Hahaha.....I want to have done at least a few sun salutations before going.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Supta kurmasana


What else motivates me to step on my mat?

There are general guidelines that help almost everybody to do anything, like practicing daily at the same time the same place. Not to discuss if one does anything is another general tip.
There are also individual causes that motivate a person to get going. To find them out one must observe oneself.

Taking pictures of myself practicing yoga motivates me. I'm always curious how it looks when my body is in an asana. When I plan to take pictures I step on my mat easily. Today I even wanted to take a picture for my calender.
Taking pictures spoils a practice most of the time, but I practice.
After having taken the pictures I was curious if they were OK. I check them on the PC and usually the body gets cold and stiff again when I make a break that long.

I was stiff today, the vinyasas were so lousy. I was not sure if I could do supta kurmasana, but I could. More important than anything else is that I practiced.

Time flies. we eat early at my parents home: 11:30.
A trip downtown is planned with my mother this afternoon. Blues music, jazz music is offered.

I miss E already. On Saturday he'll pick me up at the station in Munich.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I felt cold


Brrhhhh, I felt cold this morning. An excuse, not to practice?

In order to get warm I wanted to walk. E joined me. Together we walked to the close forest. To move warmed me. The air was so clear, so good. When we were at home again, lunch was ready. Then we napped and when we woke up, it was coffee and plum cake time. This WAS the last meal of today. :)



Tomorrow I'll have time to practice. I'm very motivated as I want to take a picture for my yoga calender.

When I don't practice I exercise to let go of the thought that I'll be super super stiff the next time when I practice. So many factors have an influence on a practice. Finally it's about being attentive, practicing awareness and to breathe....

How I practice here.......



It was a much shorter practice as usual with focus on third series that I practiced yesterday.

I started with the sun salutations and the standing sequence. Then I did preparation asanas like parighasana and supta parsvasahita and hanumanasana. This was it. Lunch was ready then and I missed the closing sequence.

I'm happy that I was on the mat, this makes it easier to start today.

The challenge is when practicing third series, that the advanced asanas must be done without much preparation. The body must be really flexible without much warming up exercises and without much preparation asanas where each one goes a bit deeper till the advanced asanas come.

One must be attentive, cautious and not too greedy. Injuries like overstretching oneself seems possible.

Time to step on the mat. It can be that I practice in the garden. The sun is shining, I like to have it warm.