Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last day of the year 2013


The scenery is known. Suddenly my E sat next to me with the alarm clock in his hand.
Me: "What? Already 5am?"
He:"Yes."
I had the feeling as if I was just falling asleep. My mind is so busy during the night with all the activities I want to do the next day, so that I don't feel well-rested the next morning.
Me:"I'm so tired. Shall I go?"
He:"Keep sleeping."
Me:"Why?"
He:"Because you are tired."
And out of bed I was. Lol. My fellow yoginis came into my mind. I also thought how good I will feel afterwards. And so it happened. I went, had a lovely practice, enjoyed to see all the yogis and yoginis and now I feel excellent AND an entire day is still available for all my important and not so important activities.

We move and I want to clean the basement there. Decluttering is on the schedule, too. What can be done by now, must be done.

In the evening I'll prepare my Indian red lentil soup for E and myself. At around midnight we're invited by a friend to have some Champagne and a Krapfen.

I make resolutions also this year, because I love planning: 
In the train during my tour to Germany I read a story by a coach. A woman was so exhausted with all her projects she had to do. She asked for advise what to do. The coach took 5 shoes and threw them at her. She should catch them. She tried again and again, yet she only caught one or two. Finally she had the idea to catch one shoe after the other. She could do this. She was asked to  tell the coach how he should throw the shoes. And suddenly she could catch them all.
The message: One step at a time.

Less is more: 
My yoga goals for the next months: back bending.
I want to study English and French again. My languages must get better.
...
...
...

I wish you all a wonderful, relaxing evening. Happy New Year. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

It is the evening of the day.....


And tomorrow we can celebrate the last day of the year 2013.............at 10am I will be in bed. There is a Mysore class tomorrow in the morning, I have to go.......

To practice on the last day of the year yoga is great. Feel free to join, where ever you might be. Good night.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's a piece of cake....


"You should not be practicing to have a “good” practice, but instead to keep steadiness within yourself.
Practice happily regardless of whether it is “good” or not. Sometimes some postures will not be possible, but when you accept the good and the bad and everything becomes equal for you, that is yoga."

~ R. Sharath Jois

And today it was hard. We were out yesterday night and the waiter was sleeping or had other interests, but to look for his guests. So I was later in bed than I wished I were. However. 
No practice is like another one. All are unique. 
I'm always happy when I practiced. Also today. 
Today I fell out of supta kurmasana. This is so sometimes. Next time it can be that I can hold my wrist again. Who can predict what's going to happen next time?

Whatever feeling might arise and they are numerous, above all I feel thankfully that I can do this practice. 
This practice gives me indeed stability in my life. I can so relate to the quote by Sharath.

I also know that the 'good' practices are only possible because of the 'difficult' ones. 
When it's difficult the practice becomes even more a mental exercise. Keep going can require a lot of energy sometimes. 

It's done. The practice is over for today and I can dedicate my time to other activities. Christmas presents must be packed and so on.......

Picture is taken in South Africa. 






Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How I talked myself out of bed...


At 9pm I was in bed yesterday. This should assure that I get up at 5am. When in bed I rolled from one side to the other. To fall asleep was not so easy. I breathed and stayed in bed. Dreams made the night lively. For me it's more relaxing when I don't remember the activities of the brain.

Suddenly E sat next to me and I realized that he was adjusting the alarm clock. What? already 5am. I still felt sooooo tired. My eyes were tired, I wanted to sleep. "Shall I go, my darling? I'm soooooooo tired." "Stay in bed." I hugged him, it was warm and cosy. With a jerk I sat again in bed. I had a moment of excellence. It wouldn't be easier tomorrow to get up. Coffee, shower, finding something to dress for the practice, putting on something comfortable and warm for the commuting. This is possible. I thought of my fellow yoginis. I gave me some pralinés from the Christmas calender. A reward. And I went. Ha, I went.

Redundant to say that the Mysore class was awesome. MSch asked me to practice primary for 7 days. I heard this with relief. My knee is still not 100%OK. I've still the vacation in my body that is I haven't practice as much as I liked to. There is so much to improve in primary. I trust MSch also. He is experienced. I worked hard on back bending. When I was in paschimottanasana after the back bending my legs trembled. I had reached my limit.

Here I sit now, sipping Matcha tea. I've so much to do. I have the time now. Practicing so early makes my life more relaxed because I've less time pressure.

I know tomorrow it will be easier already to get up at 10 to 5am. Tralali tralala.......It's a moment that is difficult a moment.......and a hot tip, after having left the bed, don't return. (There are exceptions from the rule, always!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thank you!!!!!


Thank you very much to all those who don't forget to buy the amazon goodies via my blog. (On the right side are links.) I know one has to remember this. When I went through my mail after my return from South Africa I found a cheque from amazon US. This is a great joy for me. Thank you:

The night in the plane was exhausting. We arrived tired. Yet being tired is so much better than having jet lag. Tiredness requires some extra sleep and it's gone. To get rid of jet lag lasts a week usually and the entire organism is concerned. We went horizontal as soon as we had arrived our home. I'm well rested now and active.

My suitcase is unpacked already. The washing machine is working the second time. Chores are done. My arriving routine is in full swing. Time runs......

At 6:30 we were in the taxi, I thought of the Mysore class that starts at 6:30. I would have been too late to join. Next Mysore class is on Wednesday.




Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cape of Good Hope




True wild life can be found at Cape of Good Hope. These baboons are dangerous, but visitors also vex them.

Last night at the hotel and tomorrow night we'll be in the plane to good old Germany.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My first and last safari


The above picture is taken on our way to a safari lodge, 2 hours away from Cape Town. There is still a lot of poverty in South Africa. The areas where people live in huts are huge. A possibility to get work is surely a lodge, also a safari lodge.

The landscape in South Africa is most beautiful. One can see wild animals, monkeys i.e. I had no picture left in my camera when we saw a monkey family next to the street on our way back.  All 200 pictures were taken during the safari. 

We arrived at 12am at the lodge. First lunch was offered in form of a buffet. As everywhere people take from everything as much as they can and as fast as they can as soon as it's allowed to touch the food. After 5 min of opening the buffet, the dessert was already attacked. 

At 1:30pm the safari started. Most people go in the morning. Many stay also overnight there. We went during the hot time. We sat in a van that could carry 20 people, yet we were less. 
When the driver opened the door to the safari area he stopped and told us that we shouldn't be disappointed if we didn't see the big animals. 

Yet we saw them all. I was not mistrustful. I was fascinated: 




To get so close to all these animals without a bar between us was amazing. We had signed before the safari that the organisation is not responsible for anything that can happen, not even for our death. They wouldn't do the tour if it wasn't safe. 

Then we stopped again and our driver pointed at a little lion next to the road. We all took our cameras and click click. It was said that lions sleep 20 hours a day and it's hot, too. I still believed it.




At the end of the tour cold Champagne was offered in Champagne glasses in the middle of this meager landscape. It was hot. I felt sweaty and perhaps a bit dusty, too. Yes, it felt good to gulp down this cold bubble water, yes, it is decadent. 

Then yesterday night I had published this lion on Facebook and a friend asked if it was sedated. I was less than a meter close to that wild animal. The lion scarcly opened the eyes, any movements seemed to be too much. I know now that the lion was sedated half death, so that it's safe for the visitors. 
The same with the rhinos below.
I don't need such photographic 'trophys'. I was naive. I could have been a bit more mistrustful, yet I wasn't.

I prefer to see animals wild. This is not possible during a safari. I know now that it would have been much better if I hadn't seen an animal at all. Perhaps a field mouse or a little bird, yes, but wild animals don't search the closeness to us human beings. This was my first and last safari, that started with curiosity and ended with me being sad. 


Next time I publish self-portraits again. No harm is done then. 

Instead of offering tours where one shows  half death animals one could offer meditation classes or yoga classes. One could paint or dance. Reading is fun, too in such a beautiful surrounding. 

PS: My latest news from people who live in SA for more than 5 years is that the animals in that safari lodge are not sedated. They are indeed tired like hell. It can be dangerous to be there when the weather is cooler and when they are hungry and when th driver gets to close to them. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Vacation from everything...


Vacation from everything has been on the schedule. It seemed so. At least till this late morning it has been so. All my habits got some days off during the last week, also those that are a joy, like writing my journal. Today I realized that in a week I'll have the first Mysore class again in Munich. It helped me to step on the mat and to remember my routines. Primary is done now. It was good. I sweated a lot, because it's warm here and because primary exhausted me. I also wrote my journal again. I'm getting back to my routines that help me to navigate me through life in a joyful, relaxed way.

It's an important rule not to omit asanas or vinyasas. I sticked to the rule. This is what pushes me forward.

Nevertheless today is a relaxing day. We take a day off from being tourists, too.
Yesterday I finished the book 'African Queen' by Helge Timmerberg. I read till midnight. This man traveled with his girl-friend seven months within the continent. What we experience here in South Africa is Africa light in comparison. By now no elephant attacked us, I had no malaria either. I agree, most dangerous is the traffic in Africa.

Cape Town is full of guests who want to attend the ceremonies due to the death of Nelson Mandela. Many politicians are here, also from other African countries, from America, from around the globe. In the hotel where we stay, we see most beautiful women in African dresses and headdresses. All is very colorful. I'm thinking 'WOW, all the time.
We wrote in the  book of condolence that is in the lobby. We won't go to the stadium today. We avoid the masses. All is free. One only needs a passport to get in. Our waiter from our breakfast restaurant informed us. Nevertheless.....

We, E and I enjoy being together, we laugh together, this is enough for today.
And tomorrow we'll be on a safari tour.....


Monday, December 09, 2013

What? Monday already?


Yesterday we spent the day on the Table Mountain. One can walk around there. Many, also locals, meet there for a bottle of wine or a dinner. We met some Germans there, too.

It was a relaxing day.
In the meantime it's very hot here. I cover my skin with a jacket and I wear comfortable trousers.

Most dangerous is the traffic. When we returned  yesterday, a motorcycle was in pieces in front of the hotel. This crossing is criminal. Even when the lights are green and they are only green for a second, car drivers don't pay attention. They race around the corner without paying attention.

What I really love here is the friendliness of the people. It's very easy to have a chat. Yesterday we talked with a cab driver about the political system in Germany. He loved our democracy. Waiters talk to us when they see that E is reading a book on mathematics. It's an honest interest. It seems not to be too intentional.

Time to go for breakfast.





Friday, December 06, 2013

Friday high


Just experiencing my Friday high after having practiced primary. This practice is genius.

Today I practiced 'only' primary. The longer I practice the more I see how smart the system is. Primary on Friday is enough.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Good night


A first practice happened


Right now, I really wonder, why it's sometimes so difficult to start a yoga practice. As soon as I was on my mat it was great. I practiced primary 'only'.

I've still 2 injuries that causes pain. In the US I fell from a step in a house. Most accidents happen at home. My upper feet still hurts when I do Marichyasana B.
And my knee is still not healed. Yesterday I wanted to make the bed a bit, I went on my knees on the soft mattress, yet I couldn't stand it. Aua, aua, it's still so painful. I have to be patient.

My shoulders are OK again.

Tonight we'll go to a Christmas market. It's located where the Air yoga shala is. We can check if it's dangerous to get there or not. If all is OK I consider to practice  at Air in Cape Town during the second part of our stay. This would be cool.



Today I have to practice....


Today I have to practice, I have to.....and I want to.

We would have missed something if we weren't at that Café Africa. They offered a true African menu. It was excellent. I guess it was for tourists, which is OK.

My job here is to plan the evenings: today we'll go to a Christmas market.

And now: ekam - inhaling........

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Going with the flow


I sleep till 7am. I stroll around, take pictures. I organize where to eat out at night with my E. Life is relaxing.

Yesterday I worked on my website, when I looked up it was late afternoon. I ordered a Mediterranean platter for the room. A colleague was so enthusiastic about eating in the hotel room. If one has NO TIME at all, it's great, yet I have time. I prefer to eat out, I prefer to see people.
Today I found a tiny restaurant with even vegan food. I won't starve. South Africa has best food and best wines. I know, life is not all about eating. So I've some plans today: Where is my camera??? Next to me, of course.





Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A night at Café Ganesh




We took a cab to get to the restaurant. The cab driver from our posh hotel seemed to be surprised what places we know. :) Ha, it was a recommendation from someone from Cape Town. We loved to eat where the locals eat. A bit late we returned to the hotel. We're glad that our vacation has just started. It was not the last time that we were there. The music, the food, the atmosphere, we loved everything there.

The waiter ordered a cab driver for us at night. We love to talk to everybody. The cab driver acknowledged what I felt when strolling around downtown. The criminal rate went down in Cape Town. 7 years ago it was a more dangerous city than it is now. Nevertheless the clerks of the hotel advised us to take care of our belongings. My handbag shall be closed. It's better to have my camera around my neck.

She shops downtown with the fancy clothes often have an iron bars at the entrance and it is locked. If one wants to enter the clerks open it. This shows me that everybody takes care.

People here are all very very friendly. It's easy to have a conversation. This makes it easy to love to be here.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cape town has a new fan.

Cape Town has a new fan. It's a lively, colorful city with very friendly people. And It's summer time. 


Breakfast at L'Aperol. 


Observing street life.


The shops. 


And I found my way back to the hotel. 

Time to keep exploring this corner of the world. 

Ashtanga yoga in Cape Town...


There are 2 Ashtanga yoga studios here that offer Mysore classes early at the morning (6:30) and many other yoga studios, too. What a luxury.
One Ashtanga yoga shala is in 40 min walking distance from the place where we stay, the other one in 20 min walking distance. It's not recommended to walk, as there is often no sidewalk, google mat told us.
40 min would be too long for me to walk, yet I could take a cab. They are affordable.

Yesterday night before bedtime we looked up the places. Both areas, where the yoga studios are located didn't look so inviting. I know that this is a projection. Thoughts about future events are just thoughts. My feeling is that Cape Town is much less dangerous than 7 years ago, when I've been here the last time. Nevertheless, we don't know.
We decided that I practice in the hotel this week. And next week, when E is on holiday, too, he can go with me. This is surely safer than walking so early in the morning alone to a shala.
It's his holiday then and I know that he loves to sleep in. I'll go perhaps once, just out of curiosity. The hotel room is so beautiful, it invites to practice here.

My situation has changed. 8 years ago, I taught myself the second half of the first series. I wanted to go to any teacher who could correct me. I was so greedy to learn something
I've a teacher in Munich. I'm no more so dependent to get feed-back from a teacher somewhere in the world.

Sunshine here. It's summer time. I had a coffee already. This woke me up. I guess I'll take a shower now, then I'll go out and I'll search a nice breakfast cafe. There are so many here. I'll write my journal, will read a bit and then I'll try to capture some moments here.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Cape Town



The view out of the window this morning. Wow, we're in Cape Town. It's sunny and windy here. People are very friendly. Food is delicious. The smells, the colors......SA is an amazing country.

Time to rock'n roll: Waterfront is the destination.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wonderful


Today I slept well. I was in bed on time (9:30pm), yet it was not super easy to get up at 4:50am. It helps me to think of the other yoginis. I know that only to get up is difficult. The first hour is slow, I even feel a bit confused. I don't find the things I need, like my brush, my yoga clothes. So early I'm in such a sloppy mood, that I would even leave the house uncombed. To go is all that counts, my subconscious might want to tell me. Haha...By now I always found my brush. It's either in my handbag, in the bathroom or on my desk. I don't know what my brush makes on my desk, but there it lies sometimes. I put on every day the same pullover, the same jacket, the same jeans. Creative mind is still sleeping.
When I wait for the subway, my day is in full swing. Yepee, I'm on my way, I think. I'm still not stiff at 6:30 when I start my first sun salutation. My open wound on my knee made the back bending asanas a challenge today. I did them. This means that I'm mentally strong after 6am.

My Ashtanga yoga life has been never so intensive like it is now. 4 days Mysore classes with an excellent teacher, who works with me, 1 led class (often the full first series) 1 home practice.

Soon it will be a habit to get up at 5am. To form a good habit one needs a month, this is my experience.
To form a bad habit, one needs a day. Hahaha, it's true.

Today is party time. If I'll be in bed before midnight, I'll get up at 5am.
If I'll be in bed after midnight I'll practice at home after waking up.
And on Friday night we'll fly to South Africa. Yoginis are flexible beings.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One cannot run away from one's fate.


So this morning I was happy again that I got up on time to be at the Mysore class from the beginning on. My practice is rather long. It makes sense to be there early if I don't want to be one of the last yoginis who leaves the shala.
Thinking of all the committed yoginis who make it to the shala every day, gives me energy to get up. It still takes some time till I wake up alone without alarm clock. The habit to get up so early is not yet strong enough.

With my cap on my hat, my scarf around the neck I left my home. I knew it would be cold. I walked rather fast to keep myself warm. Quick I realized that it was slippery outside. The sidewalks were not yet treated with salt or stones. I saw it, I thought: take care. It was too late. I must have walked too fast. Within a fracture of a second I fell, my knee came on the ice. Almost at once I screamed loud. It hurt like hell. So early in the morning it's still calm in the city. Only my outcries could be heard. I stood up and realized that nothing was broken. I was shocked. A practice should be possible I thought and kept going. Much slower.

My knee has a bruise. I saw it already in the changing room. It felt more dramatic than it looked like. Only the back bending asanas where I start on my knees were a bit difficult.

I saw the ice on the path. I saw it. I knew I had to take care. Yet I fell, it should be so.
So it is in life. What shall happen, will happen. No worries. 

PS: A tip that I got from a friend that I want to forward here: take care how you walk. one foot shall always be stable on the floor. If we walk fast this is not the case anymore. Try it. You'll realize the difference.

PPS: For those who're interested in bruises, I uploaded a picture. Hahahaha......




Monday, November 25, 2013

Back bending


My focus is back bending these days.
It's easier to practice back bending in a group session. At home I feel mental resistance to do it.
My last asana is bakasana A. So all the back bending asanas of second series come at the end of my practice. After bakasana A I exercise urdhva dhanurasana, the last back bending asana. The order makes it possible to go a bit further each time when I move my body backwards. My body is soft when I finally focus on urdhva dhanurasana, yet also a bit weak.

A few things have changed:

1. I got the feed-back that my legs/knees are too far away from each other. This makes back bending easier, but this is not the intention. One must really be super attentive if one doesn't like to cheat on oneself. So knees, legs and feet are closer together again when I start a back bending pose.

2. I lengthen the body first. I take time to lengthen it, lenghten it........upward is the direction first.

3. To push the hips forward is not recommended, I was told. This is probably THE tip that pushes me forward (not the hips, but me). I engage the leg and hip muscles these days. AND I try to keep them engaged during the vinyasa and asana. This almost kills me. But this is it what allows me to come up from laghu vajrasana, i.e. (with a bit of help, :) )
My hands are now on the front of the body first when I start any back bending asana to give me some resistance.

When I do kapotasana MSch sits behind me and I try to reach his knees. His hands guide me. When my hands are stable on the knees, I push my chest upwards. It seems to me as if I can go deeper into the pose than a few weeks back.
Kapotasana is the pose where one needs professional adjustments if one wants to learn it in less than a decade (hahaha) and I get it. Finally I'm no more on my own with this pose.
Tomorrow I'll take my time, I won't move backwards too fast.

Urdhva dhanurasana adjustment: Today I moved backwards with arms crossed in front of my chest. I moved backwards till my head (yes head)  touched the floor. This feels interesting. :)

It would be good to integrate back bending into daily life. I'll be creative here. There will surely come posts in the next weeks about this topic. I prefer to work on flexibility than on strength. yet I got the insight that both is important, especially in back bending.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Routines, because they help


I practice every day (Mo through Fr) Ashtanga yoga at the same place at the same time. I practice every day the same routine. Friday is a little exception, because on Friday a led class is offered. On Sunday I practice on my own. Saturday is a day off.

This is simple. This helps me to stay committed. Not much organizing is required. Early in bed, early up, that's it. At 8:30 my practice usually comes to an end. Then I've the entire day  for any activities, duties, projects, learning......or what else comes into my mind.
I'm still amazed how fit I feel when I'm through my yoga routine that early.

This is how it shall be.  This is how it's a piece of cake to be disciplined. No, it's perhaps not super easy, but it's the easiest way I know.

Same time, same place, same teacher and it's difficult not to practice Ashtanga yoga. 

I'm so enthusiastic. I have a teacher who can show me how to perform the asanas. His adjustments push me forward. Safely. Almost all asanas improve: supta kurmasana, vinyasas. pashasana, laghu vajrasana, kapotasana, urdhva dhanurasana. Every pose deserves a post, a picture, a video of its own.
Often it's important to know how to get into an asana. This can make the difference. MSch shows me the secrets of the vinyasas/asanas.

Further.

Ashtanga yoga is art if performed correctly. So beautiful.








Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Drinking and smoking during yoga classes



Can I imagine Krichnamacharya sipping chai while teaching or practicing yoga? NO
Can I imagine B.K.S. Iyengar practicing yoga and drinking at the same time? LOL
I never saw a cup of tea or a beer next to P. Jois on the many pictures I've seen him. 

Sometimes newcomers think they won't survive a yoga class if they don't drink.
I promise, they will survive.
It's not necessary to bring your own. 
Drinking interrupts the own practice, it disturbs the others. 

I even know yoga teachers who sip tea during classes. They need refills and whatever.
Yet multi-tasking is not the goal in yoga, but focus. Teachers are role models, they influence the atmosphere in a class. Teaching should be enough challenge. It is.  
If it happens that yoga teachers sip tea during a yoga class the class becomes a tea party, but only few are allowed to drink. Hahaha.....


No drinking, no eating, no phone calls, no smoking during a yoga class. 
Oh, how strict I am today. Hahaha.....and I would so love to smoke a Gaulloise blonde before urdhva dhanurasana. 




Monday, November 18, 2013

Stable and comfortable


If an asana is stable and comfortable, it starts becoming possible to concentrate on the breathing (and not on the pain or discomfort). This is the goal. When the asanas are stable and comfortable practicing yoga is pure joy. Yet it can take years till this can be reached. Most asanas of primary are comfortable for me after 10 years of Ashtanga practice. I was warned by a friend in India that it can last so long. She was right.

Sthira sukham asanam. 

There are always yoginis in Gokulam and they write about the stay there: Here is a link to a conference with  Sharath. It's worth reading.

During the weekend I went to bed rather late, I got up late, too. So this morning it was not so easy to get up, but I knew what would expect me. So I got up, put on warm clothes. A cap should keep me super warm when I walked through the night to the Airyoga. One never regrets when one has practiced.

I cannot explain it, but I'm not really stiff so early in the morning. I enjoyed my practice, primary and second series till bakasana. I get so many adjustments, I'm more than happy. I'm again optimistic, that my back bending develops. Finally I get professional support in kapotasana again. This pose can only get better...

The atmosphere in the morning Mysore class is without comparison. The time plays an important role here for sure. All the yoginis are concentrated on the practice. All yoginis look in one direction when they practice, this might bring additional calmness in the room. There is no running to the restroom (it's upstairs, so this seem to make it possible not to go), or running to the changing room to check the mobile phone (!), as the changing rooms are upstairs, too. There are no blocks, straps, bags and blankets everywhere on the floor, that one has to push around to create place again and again in order to be able to perform some asanas. This, too brings visual calmness in the beautiful room at Airyoga. This is simplicity. In the shala I see yoginis on colorful mats. That's it. More distraction would be too much. What we have now in Munich at Airyoga is a Mysore class similar to that in India. What a luxury.

At 9pm I was at home. Super, I thought, I've a full day to do all the stuff that needs to be done.
I cannot explain this either, but I feel fit and full of energy after having practiced so early.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Supta kurmasana - the show must go on


In 2009 I was not yet able to do this pose. See history. Hahaha, I had to smile about the picture.
When I learned second series and eka pada sirsasana I suddenly could do supta kurmasana, too. My anatomy doesn't allow me to cross my feet in front of my head. I have to cross them behind my head.

So finally after years (about 8 years) of exercising this pose I could cross my legs behind my head, I could hook my fingers behind my back and there I felt happy. I didn't know in which direction I should work. This is it, I thought. Stay there and relax. It felt good.

I wrote already about my progress re supta kurmasana. When MSch adjusts me in that pose, it's even possible to reach the wrist with the hand behind my back. How far can I get into the pose by myself? I wanted to see this (see picture above).

What I do differently these days:
1. I point the feet. I don't hook them anymore. See history.
2. I try to stretch forward when I move the body to the floor. My back is less rounded now. This makes the pose more comfortably. It can be seen in the history that my back is much more rounded than in the picture above. No more the top of the head is on the floor now, but the forehead.
3. With help I can reach the wrist of the left arm with my right hand. Alone I couldn't reach it. Yet I can imagine that this is doable when I bring my legs a bit closer to the body and when I try to bind the arms a bit higher on my back.

Enough yoga for today.
I'll go to bed early to be well-rested for the Mysore class at 6:30.






Paschimottanasana - "Hold your wrist."


I always folded my fingers when I practiced paschimottanasana C. Here is the history. The reason might have been that it's easier. My ability to bend forward developed slowly over the years. I wanted to bind, yet my legs should be stretched and engaged. I never checked if I finally could hold my wrist. To hold the wrist means that I had to get a tiny bit deeper into the posture. "Hold your wrist," I was told last time in the led class. And I can. Yes, I can reach my wrist and keep my legs engaged.

Details count. 
In every profession details count. When my dentist sets an injection at the wrong place my face can get paralyzed. When a photographer cuts the feet in the picture, the picture becomes a snapshot, probably not a master piece. If an accountant works sloppy the result of the company might be wrong and this might lead to wrong investment decisions, i.e.

The best people in all professions know that details are important. Here one can distinguish those who swim in the middle from those who are on top.
If one strives to be better than average one must take care of the details, no matter what it is.

Also in yoga details count: 
1. Repeating wrong movements again and again might lead to injuries (I know yoginis who injured themselves that way).
2. Some poses are not possible if I wouldn't take care of the details. For instance when jumping forward the weight moves rather to the index finger. The hands press into the floor. This is a detail yet it distinguishes if this vinyasa is possible or not.
Even dristhis can decide if a pose is doable or not. When I practice utthita parsvasahita (standing pose with leg at the side) I keep my eyes steadily to the side, I gaze at a dristhi. If I move my eyes, I start wobbling in more than 50%, what I don't want.

I'm very happy that MSch draws my attention to the details that need to get adjusted. From now on I hold my wrist in paschimottanasana C, because I can.

One must of course also take care of the details by oneself. Not everything can be shown again and again. Self-study is part of the game.

It's Sunday, it's a moon day, I could skip the practice, but I'll practice. Sunday is the only day where I practice alone.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

There is a cook in everybody


30 years ago it was clear, a yogi also followed a veg diet. That time back it was rather a vegetarian diet than a vegan diet. The reason was not so much the own health, but not to cause harm to creatures.
Today we see both aspects.

When we want to eat vegan, we have to learn cooking. In the meantime so many vegan cooking books are on the market. It's easy to get inspired. One can also experiment.

If one wants to become a good chef, one must practice this art.

I collect simple astute recipes.
Sometimes I blend everything that I have at home.

The salad on the picture consists of an apple, an orange, chicory and a soy yogurt based dressing.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Ashtanga yoga - led class


The Ashtanga yoga community in Munich has grown in the last years. More and more Ashtanga yoga practitioners are familiar with primary and even second series.

It makes sense to offer a full led primary, like in India, for those committed yoginis.

At 7am we were led through primary by MSch at Airyoga

- No asana was omitted or substituted.
- We practiced according the correct vinyasa count. That's one of the reasons why led classes are done.
- The speed was even.
- Flow could be experienced.

It was simply perfect. This IS Ashtanga yoga.

At home I practiced sometimes according to the CD by Sharath to simulate a led class. Yet it's so fast that I often switched it off after some time.

I love practicing Ashtanga yoga in the tradition of P. Jois.

Ashtanga yoga in the tradition of P. Jois is also a teaching method.

The led classes are not so suitable for bloody beginners.
It's best to learn Ashtanga yoga in Mysore classes, where the poses are shown one after the other. The intention is surely a good one if one wants to help also bloody beginners to make it through primary. Yet my experience is one sacrifices flow, vinyasa count, asanas for a few people who come once or twice to a led class just out of curiosity. They need permanent help and adjustments to be part of the game and not to be frustrated.
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Also led classes till the twists or less are a compromise to attract as much yogis/yoginis as possible and to make the series doable for them. The advanced beginners must be neglected.

In India beginners practice till the pose they were shown in a Mysore class. Then they stop. They join again for the closing sequence. This is a safe practice.

Ashtanga yoga has the reputation that it's very challenging. It's so challenging because people try to learn it too fast in led classes instead of building strength and flexibility in Mysore classes. It's amazing, but it's difficult to remember the order of the asanas when going to led classes only. I learned the correct order of the asanas when I started practicing at home and when I started going to Mysore classes.

Me too, I learned Ashtanga yoga till the twists in a led class. Most people learn it that way outside of India. The rest of primary I learned from the book by David Swenson 10 years ago.

Of course I'm conscious that it's hard work to build a community. It's much basic work that was done here in Munich by few teachers. A big thank you to all Ashtanga yoga teachers who have build such a lively Ashtanga yoga community here.

Picture: Christmas time is coming. The Christmas tree is up downtown. Christmas time comes every year earlier. It seems so.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tailwind


There are obstacles on the Ashtanga yoga path, and on every other path, too:

1. Illnesses: We all get ill from time to time. I remember an awful cold with fever a few years back. If this happens, stay in bed and start with your practice when you feel fit again. Start slowly.

2. Injuries: Injuries can happen all the time. It's considered dangerous to work as a house wife. Statistically the most accidents happen at home. One can also get injured when practicing yoga. One can overstretch the hamstrings to give an example.  If this happens, keep practicing with even more care. I learned to work around the injured body parts. It helps me to heal faster.

These 2 obstacles concern the body.

3. Lack of motivation: Why shall I do this???? Doubts can come up. Then watch YouTube videos about yoga. Write a journal. Take pictures of yourself. Or simply keep moving. Don't ask too many questions. Plateaus arise. They come and go, keep observing.

4. Lack of time: Get up earlier. Learn skills about time management. Practice shorter, but practice. Simplify your life. Once I've been in a workshop with Danny Paradise. Someone asked the question: What shall I do if I have no time at all. Danny's answer: If you have no time at all to do anything else but your job, then change your job change your life.

These 2 obstacles concern the mind. There are many others, too.
No obstacle is so big that one has to stop practicing. Adjustments might make sense sometimes.

And sometimes there is tailwind: An excellent teacher appears in a beautiful shala. Time to practice is perfect. The learning curve goes upwards. Then one can enjoy. I do. Might this last.

One can engage in obstacles when they appear.

After yoga I stroll over the Viktualienmarkt (see picture). All the vegetables and fruit are exposed already, yet the market is still deserted. It's cold here now, very cold, but I don't mind. My body is warm from the practice. I breathe. I observe how the city wakes up, slowly. Life can be so good.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Less is more


I practice primary and second series till supta vajrasana these days at the Airyoga.
This is no excessive demand nor feel I underchallenged. I personally prefer having too much on my plate than the opposite. Yet what I practice these days is exactly what's best for me. I have energy to work on back bending at the end. This is my weakness. No, I'm not left alone here. I get adjustments, excellent ones. MSch realized that my back bending improved already, I realized this, too. It feels good when I do kapotasana. I reach my limits, stay there and breathe deeply. Yet what makes the difference is the adjustment. I move the body upwards and then backwards, very slowly, with as many breaths as I need,  till  my hands reach the knees of MSch. When I'm stabilized I work with my legs and try to lengthen and open the chest. I engage my bandhas and I get out of this pose as it shall be.
It feels good when I move back into urdhva dhanurasana. I'm helped here, too. What a luxury.

My greediness to do more and more asanas is gone. I love to intensify my practice. Less is more for the time being.

A prop or several props can never substitute an adjustment from an experienced teacher. I work without props. Ashtanga yoga is practiced without props. I know that it can help to use blocks and straps, especially if one practices alone.

The main disadvantages that I see when using props: 
1. Flow is interrupted. A speciality of Ashtanga yoga is the vinyasa count. When using props the correct breathing must be neglected.
2. The danger is to get dependent on props. I still need the wall when I do pincha mayurasana. It would have been better to learn falling.

Using props belongs to another yoga style,  it belongs to Iyengar yoga. I'm no more a  fan of mixing the different styles too much.
An example of another area: Gestern war ich chilling. Das war so cool. Bye-bye, cu.....ach kommst du morgen auch. Great.
The German language has a lot of English words in the meantime. It's not a good style to blend the languages. The message becomes unclear as well. Not everybody speaks English. How to apply the correct grammar? Either one speaks English or one speaks German. Using a language is not only using different words. It's another way of being. We view the world differently when speaking and thinking in another language.

It's the same with the different yoga styles. To blend the styles doesn't compensate the weaknesses of a style. It's perhaps like cooking. A bit of salt might improve a soup, when using too much it's spoilt. To look over the rim of the plate might be helpful. Few props here and then, why not, but one shall use it with great care. It can spoil the yoga soup.

I rediscover primary, too. I focus on the vinyasas, jumping back and forward between the asana. I trust that this will improve, too.

Let me summarize: I feel so very good. I feel so very happy about the Mysore classes in the morning at 6:30 with MSch. Life cannot be better.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Keep practicing"


Yeah, I will.

My yoga week has started today, Monday.
Today I met my E after my practice. My time was limited today. We met in a cafe opposite to the Airyoga at 8am. He also loved the atmosphere so early in the morning.

I think now that it is underestimated how important it is to practice early.
Yoga shall calm the mind. Nothing supports this goal more than to practice early in the morning.

The yogis and yoginis who come to a yoga class that early are concentrated, committed to the practice. Only those words were changed that were necessary. No redundant actions happened. The yoginis are respectful to each other. Nobody disturbs the silence. Only breathing could be heard, like the waves of the ocean. The atmosphere is as it shall be. India feeling comes up. It seems as if everybody knows that practicing yoga is a concentration exercise. Not being distracted here and then helps to experience flow. When flow happens one feels like in paradise.

It still amazes me that I don't feel tired after the practice as I used to be when I finished my practice at 11am. I feel fit. My practice prepares me for the day, yet it doesn't absorb all my energy. My practice gives me energy. Wow-effect.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Yes, I'm looking forward to back bending, too. :)