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.
.
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. :)

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Ashtanga yoga - opening prayer and closing prayer


I know the opening prayer by heart. I admit I don't know the closing prayer by heart. I fear I'm not the only one as I hear not so many voices at the end of a led class, when we all chant together. I thought it's time to learn it by heart, to give the chorus a bit more power. It's an exercise for the mind.
Here are both prayers in Sanskrit and English.

Opening prayer:
Om
Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
Sandarshita Swatma Sukava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai

Abahu Purushakaram
Shankacakrsi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
Pranamani Patanjalim 
Om


Translation:
I bow to the lotus feet of the Supreme Guru
which awaken insight into the happiness of pure Being,
which are the refuge, the jungle physician,
which eliminate the delusion caused by the poisonous herb of Samsara.

I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of radiant, white heads 
and who has, as far as his arms, assumed the form of a man
holding a counch shell, a wheel and a sword
Om

Closing prayer:

Om
Svasthi Praja Bhyaha Pari Pala Yantam
Nye Yena Margena Nahim Mahishaha
Go Brahmanebjyaha Shubamastu Nityam
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

Translation:

May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
for protecting the welfare of all generations.
May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed, 
May all beings everywhere be happy and free
Om peace, peace, perfect peace

This is my Saturday challenge to learn the closing sequence by heart. I love to chant, to use the voice is fun. I try to keep my voice in the same level. Chanting is between singing and speaking. To do this is also a concentration exercise. 

Once I attended a workshop by one of the teachers who practices 30 years+. We didn't chant. He said the practice is the prayer. I loved the idea. The text of the prayers seem a bit old fashioned, perhaps even religious. 

What I like when I chant is that I have a clear ritual for the beginning and the end of my practice. When chanting my practice is not blended with what is before and what is after. 


Friday, November 08, 2013

A full yoga week is over


It's the second week that I practice Ashtanga yoga at Airyoga at 6:30am. It's a most beautiful shala (see picture). The teaching is so intensive, that I'm absolutely busy with primary and second series till supta vajrasana. I practice all the back bending asanas that I want to improve and that are necessary for a balanced practice. The adjustments are very very good and safe. I can feel that I progress.

Today, Friday we had a led class. Oh, I was challenged, too. It has been some time that I've been in a led class. I realize that when I practice alone, I need more time to get into the asana and often I get out of it rather fast. In led classes the vinyasa count is the focus. It creates flow.

To practice in the morning is great. Most yoginis come on a daily basis. The atmosphere is concentrated and calm.

Tomorrow I don't practice.
On Sunday I'll practice at home in the morning.

Conditions are perfect in Munich for the time being. I'm so happy.

I relax.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

To walk the talk....


When I arrive at the Airyoga between 6:15 and 6:30 M, our yoga teacher is in savasana. I learned that he gets up at 4am to practice Ashtanga yoga before teaching. Knowing this makes it indeed easy to get up at 5am.

Also Sharath gets up very early. It's 1am, I think. At 4:30 the first students arrive in the shala in Gokulam, so he wants to have finished his practice by then.
Many others live this life style, too.

Yes, yes, one can learn always something from others. There is negative learning (what not to do) and positive learning (what to do). My experience is that positive learning is much more fun and much more effective. I've found like-minded people, what a joy.

To step on the mat in the morning is the first mental exercise. One must switch off all the distractions. Consequently one must go to bed the night before in order not to be too tired the next morning. Practicing Ashtanga yoga is a life style.

To make it to the mat in the morning to practice one of the Ashtanga series or only some sun salutations also means that one got to know oneself. One has understood what gets one going. This is different from yogini to yogini.

I'm more than happy about my current situation.

After only 8 days with M I could hold my wrist in supta kurmasana today. My practice leaps ahead. I could have realized it by myself, but I haven't. So, in dwi pada sirsasana I always tried to stretch upwards and to lift the head. Yet when I practiced supta kurmasana I rounded the back and put the chin to the body. I thought I wouldn't be able to hook my fingers behind my back if I stretched forward. I never thought that I could hold the wrist one day. Yet, with the new method to take my legs behind my head and to stretch forward the pose feels so much better, and yeah, I could reach my wrist today. Easily!!!!
I'll write about my new insights that I'v learned from M by now more profoundly. It's important.

After yoga I stopped at Starbucks again.  I'm so happy beyond imagination about the Ashtanga yoga practice at Airyoga with M. The time fits better, too. The shala is more beautiful and cleaner.  I want to sit down afterwards, enjoying, enjoying, enjoying. I stare out of the window. I breathe. Please may this last.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ashtanga yoga at 6:30 at Airyoga


Today after yoga we (3 yoginis who practice daily) had a conversation in the changing room about practicing that early.

We were all amazed and pleased about 2 facts that one cannot explain but it is so.

1. At 6:30 our bodies are rather flexible and soft, more flexible than they are a few hours later. Who knows why.
2. After 2 hours of yoga we all feel refreshed. Especially this amazes me. Usually I was tired when my yoga practice was finised at about 11am. I did grocery shopping, ate something and then I slept. Time issues accompanied me during the last years. When I leave the Airyoga at 8:30 I feel fresh. I think 'action baby'. I want to do something. Where is the next horse to ride is my attitude. One cannot explain this too, but this is so.

One must experience this by oneself.

One has to get used at first to get up at 5am. But after a short time a habit is formed. Nothing is easier but to practice at the same place at the same time.

I practice primary till supta vajrasana. This is enough as I get so many adjustments and help. My learning curve goes upwards. I'll share my new insights in posts to come.

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Picture: It's taken on the way to yoga. It's still night. The atmosphere is fantastic.




Monday, November 04, 2013

The atmosphere before sun rise



When I left the house this morning it was still dark. The city and its citizens were still sleeping. No cars were in the streets. Few people were on the way to work. I had my camera around my neck to capture this early atmosphere.

I learned that the Indian yogis practiced before sun rise because after sun rise it would be too hot to practice yoga.

Yet I see another reason now, too. One must experience it. One of the intentions of yoga is to calm the mind. At 6:00am everything is still so peaceful. At least it seems so. The busyness that we all know starts a few hours later. These pushing and hurrying does not yet exist at 6:00am.

Issues, excitement, whatever seems to start later.
To practice that early (6:30) influences the practice a lot. We have a very concentrated, calm atmosphere in the room where we practice. Everybody takes care not to disturb the practice of the other yoginis. Without any noise the mats get rolled out. I experience friendliness, attentiveness. It's exactly how I love it. The atmosphere creates joy.

At 8:30 I left the Airyoga. The world has changed. In the meantime it's bright outside. Busyness has started. I stopped at Starbucks to sip a small Cappuccino with soy milk. I looked out of the window and enjoyed what is.

PS: Today I was asked to practice till supta vajrasana. Of course I loved it. I get so much help. My back bending will progress, I'm so sure....:)

Fine tuning my new morning routine

In the evening: 
1. I want to pack my handbag. As I can leave my yoga mat at the new shala I only have to pack my yoga clothes.
2. I want to have my hair washed.
3. I'll go to bed at 10am, I'll set my alarm clock. At 5am I want to get up.

The next morning:
1. At 5am I'll get up.
2. I'll prepare a cup of coffee for myself. I'll eat fruit. To eat a bit is good as it wakes up my organism. Yet I realized already that my usual breakfast with soy yogurt and popped amaranth, with nuts and fruit is too heavy. So an apple might be enough.
3. Then I'll shower, I'll dress...
4. At 5:50 am I want to leave the house. By now I don't know exactly how much time I need to get to the shala.
5. Between 6:15 and 6:30 I want to be there and change my clothes. The shala opens at 6:15.
6. At 6:30 the Mysore class starts.

After yoga:
1. Yepeeeee, I will have time for all the other activities I want to do. At about 9am I'll be at home again and I'll have a Matcha tea. If I'm hungry I'll have a small breakfast.
2. Then I'll write my journal, I can update my blog. And I'll have time to study English and French for an hour. This is so neglected.
3. It will be still the morning when I can focus on one of my projects.

This sounds to be a smooth routine. I'll see what I have to adjust when I live it.

To have a routine helps a lot to get things done. Most routines are unconscious. Yet I think it makes sense to question the routines from time to time. Especially if one has the feeling to have no time it makes sense to observe where the time goes.  

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Ashtanga yoga: on led classes


1. Ashtanga yoga as it is taught in India: 
Ashtanga yoga is also a learning method. In India students go to Mysore classes. Every single pose is shown to the student one by one. Almost every time a new pose or poses is shown. Once a week the student goes to a led class. He/she practices till the shown pose. He/she waits then and he/she joins the show when the closing sequence starts. During the time when the yogi/yogini is not practicing he can learn while watching the others. In India rather quickly the student is allowed to go to the next pose, so rather soon he can do the full led class. 
The advantage of this method:
- each pose is shown
- the student is not overwhelmed as the practice develops bit by bit.

This learning method of the Ashtanga yoga series is by far the best I know. 




2. Led class till navasana
In many cities only led classes till navasana are offered. That's also how I learned Ashtanga yoga. The intention might be that every beginner of yoga can participate and practice from the beginning to the end of the class. 
The disadvantage of the method.
- Within a time frame of 90 min much less poses are practiced. This means that every pose is held much much longer. This is a huge challenge. Even for me, after 10 years of practice it's difficult to hold a pose i.e. hero poses as it shall be that long. In hero pose one must stand deeply. So most people start cheating because they are not able to hold the pose so long. They stand high i.e. in hero pose and never give up that habit. I even participated in led classes that were only counted till janu sirsasana. 
I couldn't follow the counted breath. Instead of 5 breaths I had to take 10 breaths or even more when practicing an asana. So instead of being led through the series, I had to listen to the voice that led me and I had to switch to my own rhythm again and again. 
- In order to learn the pose students look to the neighbor student, how he/she is doing it. Yet this is a superficial method. Only after years I realized that in marichyasana A and C the rim of the foot is in line with the outer body and not next to the other leg.
- For those practitioners who practice the full series, it's not a balanced practice.  

These led classes till navasana or even less attracts mainly bloody beginners. 
It's not the traditional method how Ashtanga yoga shall be taught. 



3. Led class - full primary, with variations
My last teacher offered led classes, full primary. As a very caring person he showed asanas that could be done instead of the difficult ones of the series for the beginners. I.e. a twist could be substituted. Some asanas were omitted. The beginners in the class got a lot of adjustments. It was possible for everybody to practice from the beginning to the end.
The advanced students always were helped in urdhva dhanurasana, yet during the middle part the beginners needed help.
My teacher offered also Mysore classes. So this method was rather close to the method how it's taught in India.
The advantage of this method:
- Also advanced yogis/yoginis have a nice led primary once a week.
The disadvantage of this method:
- The beginners need much more attention than those who practice longer.
- It's difficult to get to know the correct series as asanas are omitted,  others were substituted.



4. Led class, comme il faut
Last Friday I participated in a led class comme il faut. No pose was omitted. No variations were suggested. The beginners practiced till the pose they were able to perform. Then they stopped and joined again when possible. This was for some upavishta konasana. What I could see, also those who stopped at a point in the series, weren't bored. They needed this break.
The advantage of  this method:
- Everybody practices what is possible for him/her. Also the beginners are not overwhelmed.
- The advanced students get also some attention because there is a time where the beginners watch or relax. In my case I must say I got adjustments in supta kurmasana. I know now that I will be able to hold the wrist one day. I also appreciated the adjustment in garbha pindasana. Also my poses can improve a lot when I got the correct adjustments.
- Students learn the correct order of the asanas

I'm more than happy that a led class is offered here now, a led class like in India, a led class comme il faut.

All the variation might be invented in best intention, yet they are not better. Ashtanga yoga cannot be compared with other yoga styles. it makes no sense to adjust them to other yoga styles. Ashtanga yoga is something special.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Led class today


I force myself to stay in bed till 4am. The jet lag still has me in its claws. Yet this has also good sides. I get into a good routine. Led class with Michael starts at 7am in Airyoga. I've to get up early, that is 5am. With the jet lag it's so easy to feel even fully awake that early.
I'm so looking forward to the led class.

During the last week I learned a lot even though I practiced only primary. I get more adjustments than I thought would be possible. The adjustments help me. This makes the difference. I'm so enthusiastic and thankful. The show can go on.