Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A last practice on the last day of 2014


Excellent. I love it. Ashtanga yoga is my thing. It gives me so much joy in my life. I practiced today in the living room, I wanted to finish this year with a practice. And so it happened. G observed me when I did urdhva dhanurasana. To have a spectator gives so much energy.

Eight hours and then we can say: Bye-bye 2014.



Thank you for reading.
Thank you for accompanying me on my Ashtanga yoga journey.

I wish you a wonderful evening. 

Till 2015. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Exploring a new shala in Hannover


Yesterday, despite the low temperatures outside I took the train to Hannover. Close to the main station is a new Ashtanga yoga school. I wanted to explore it.
I arrived very early. Quickly I saw the sign of the school. It's in the fifth floor of a building. The steps serve as a warm-up, I thought.

The teacher was already there and I was welcomed cordially. I could start my practice half an hour earlier.

I recommend to practice from time to time in another Ashtanga yoga school. In my opinion it's so much more helpful than to go to workshops. In a workshop all students are new to the teacher. When joining an existing group one is the only new student often and one gets a lot of attention.

Some of the feed-back is familiar to me already, yet I wonder why I don't change it. I have surely also bad practice habits:
1. See picture above: Hands and arms shall be in line. My feet are too far apart. My body has no room anymore to move downwards.
2. I'll take care of my feet when doing primary. They shall be vertical. It helps to press the back tendon of the leg down to the floor.

At the end after urdhva dhanurasana I should do handstand. I was glad that my body was able to balance. She stood next to me to hold me, yet for some breaths I could balance. I haven't forgotten everything. I was glad.

It's difficult to give a kapotasana adjustment if one doesn't know the body of a student. Yet it felt perfect and safe.

It's embarrassing that I cannot be in sirsasana long enough. I will work on a long long sirsasana in the next year. I'll work with a timer.

It's so wonderful to go to a studio with a committed teacher and passionate yoginis. A. helped where she could. The school will grow, for sure.

With a smile on my face I walked home. I was happy that I wasn't lazy and that I went. The next time when I'll be here in the north it will be much easier to go.

Silvester is prepared, too. We got a reservation in a restaurant. The Champagne is in the fridge. The first resolution. From midnight on till I get to bed I'll only sip Champagne. A bottle for 4 people is not too much.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Out of the comfort zone


The weather in Germany is cold. There is snow and ice. We are stuck in the north. Living room practices don't happen. I get up too late, then I have breakfast with the others. Then I feel full. The living room is not warm enough.....one excuse after the other keep me paralyzed and lame.

Yet I'm also fed up with this lazy life style. I know from a friend that there is an Ashtanga yoga studio in Hannover. I checked the schedule today. At 6pm they offer a Mysore class and I'll be there.

I know when the train goes. This is only once per hour. This is so when on the countryside. The shala is a 10 min walk from the main station. I think I can remember the way. I'm here with my yoga mat and I have also yoga clothes here. Who or what shall stop me to go.

At 6:25pm I'll have to leave the house......it seems doable. I know how good I'll feel after my practice.

I prepare Silvester as we'll stay here. Dinner at an Indian restaurant with husband, brother of husband, mother-in-law and myself sounds good to me. The reservation must still be made. This morning I bought a bottle of Champagne.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Focus for the next 3 months: the vinyasas


In the last year I practiced primary again every day. The asanas are no problem. Yet the vinyasas.

This will be my focus during the first 3 months: the vinyasas.

They are the dynamic part of the practice. They link the asanas and are as beautiful as the asanas themselves.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lumbago


I had to look up the word for 'Hexenschuss'. I had forgotten this vocabulary as the first one belongs to the far away past already. Hexenschuss translates lumbago. Only the first time I didn't know what it was. It was so painful that I was recommended by a friend, a doctor to go to hospital. There I got something to drink. I lied down again, soon I slept and when I woke up I was like newborn. I felt like a simulator, I knew I wasn't. I must find out what they gave me!

It's difficult to make out what causes such lower back pain. Often it comes fast and disappears even faster. I'm glad that I know now what it is when I have it.  My mother put Alpa on my back and I took an Aspirin. It disappeaared and I could scarcly believe that soon I could bend forward again. I feel like newborn.

Today is Saturday and I don't practice. Yesterday I missed to practice. I don't think anymore that if I have missed a practice that I have to practice on one of the free days like Saturday or moon day instead. I also don't think anymore to do an additional practice in the afternoon. Missed is missed.

Tomorrow is Sunday and I'll start with second series. It will be a living room practice again on my thin mat. It's difficult to exercise the vinyasas when a thin mat lies on a soft carpet. It's difficult to balance. What ever will happen on the mat is perfect when traveling. I don't expect much anymore. It's state of emergency when on the road.

There is no snow in the north of Germany. I could even spy out a bit of sun. We'll stroll around. Very close from the home is a lake and it's beautiful there. This could be a destination this afternoon.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lower back pain - I practiced


Pain in the back. This is a sign that I have to practice. It was easy to start. I blame the long sitting hours on the sofa for this discomfort. I practiced so attentively. No fast movement was possible. The vinyasas were indicated. As a counter pose to the forward bending asanas I did shalabasana, indicated ustrasana, upward-facing dog. With each asana I felt better.

Is it a lumbago, I wonder?

After my modest yoga practice I felt better.

What movements can do for us is underestimated. To move can heal. After this blog post I'll stroll around again. My body needs movement.

On the picture is the forest where I love to be. It has a lot of atmosphere during winter time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

To keep the status quo is all what I want during Christmas time


I practiced yesterday and I practiced today. Sitting on the sofa makes me stiff. It's difficult to roll out the mat in the living room. Space is limited, yet I have enough space. As said in the title I'm glad when a practice happens and when I don't gain weight. Keeping the status quo is all I want.

Soon I'll prepare the vegan mousse au chocolat. I'm glad that I can do anything. I love my desserts. My parents will also love it, my father loves chocolate.

It's not raining. To stroll around a bit is a good idea. I also can imagine myself reading a book while lying on the sofa. It's still time till evening, when we celebrate Christmas.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Eurovision 1965 Austria - Udo Jürgens - Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen

Merci, Udo.

Last Mysore class this year.



This was my last Mysore class for this year in Munich. When I arrived I saw already so many shoes in the shelf. I was late. As I have a rather long practice I knew I had to hurry. It's so good to be out of the routine from time to time. It gives energy. Routines help to manage the daily tasks, yet they can also become a corset. A too tight structure can feel like being in prison.

I started fast with my practice and kept the rhythm. I had so much energy. It was amazing.

Tomorrow is a moon day. That is we have a day off.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Find out what motivates you.


The poses of the Ashtanga yoga series are demanding.
Not every day is the same. There are 'good' days and 'bad' days. Sometimes the body is flexible and the other day it feels stiff and even poisoned. Especially if a pose is new or difficult it's often also volatile. This shatters me no more, I'm familiar with this. Nevertheless we all have to keep ourselves motivated, even though not every day progress can be seen.

What motivates a single person has a lot to do with the personality. Get to know yourself. Observe yourself. What gets you going?
Seeing progress motivates me. That is looking at my pictures gives me a lot of energy. I start believing (again and again) that poses are possible. My pictures convince me. They strengthen the perseverance and perhaps even stubbornness.


On Friday we practice primary around the globe. Despite the dinner party yesterday night (another one) I got up this morning. I heard the alarm clock. The practice was surprisingly good.
On Sunday is my last Mysore class. Eight home practices shall follow!!!!!! Then 2015 offers us new opportunities.

Sometimes I'm told: Yeah, you are flexible. I think the pictures show that I'm not flexible. I really have to work on every tiny inch further.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Too much from this world


Traveling, partying - I overslept this morning. And I'm not amused at all. I curse. I'm out of rhythm. I fell off the wagon. Was there an alarm clock this morning? I went to bed at 9pm, but I couldn't fall asleep. Till after midnight I tossed and turned. In the morning then, voilà, the wished sleep came. Automatically my hand turned off the sound of the alarm clock and I kept sleeping. After felt 5 min I thought: there was something? Yet it was too late already. The felt 5 min were more than an hour.

I'm sipping my second cup of coffee.

My neighbour is up, too. When I look out of the window I can look into their flat. It's still dark outside. I still feel like in trance. I stare holes in the air.

Whisper, whisper in the ear of my E: I overslept.
He: Then this is so.

I cannot turn back the time. Missed is missed. I'll practice at home in solitude.
Tomorrow is a brand new day. Might the Gods shoo me out of bed tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

15 days left in 2014 - looking back


2014 was dominated by 3 major events and changes:

1. We moved. Fate meant it good with me. I could give all the stuff that I discarded to a friend who could sell it in a shop. The returns went to Africa, Ghana. It allows children to go to school. It would have been so hard to throw so many belongings in the garbage can. Knowing that the earnings would serve a good purpose made it so much easier to let go. So many things had to go. It was always a relief when things were out of the house. Even now when I think of all the things that are gone now, relief comes up. Old clothes, dishes, books, I had too much from everything. We inhale and exhale. We buy and we must give away in order to have a healthy flow.

2. Teeth issues. I'm still not convinced that everything that was done was necessary. I feel  like a victim of an over-ambitious dentist. I wanted a conservative treatment. I wasn't able to make smart decisions. I trusted. not always this is the best approach. It's too late and I hope that I'm soon in peace with this past as I cannot change it anymore.

3. Ashtanga yoga: It's such a gift for Munich and our growing Ashtanga yoga community that MSch moved to Munich at the end of 2013. He offers Mysore classes 6 times a week at 6:30 at Amiraplatz 3, Munich. This is perfect. It cannot be better. It's luxury.
Instead of doing more and more asanas I got advised to work on those that I'm not able to do. That's how it's supposed to be. I work on back bending, kapotasana, standing up from urdhva dhanurasana. My last asana is bakasana B. I guess back bending and the vinyasas will be my focus in 2015, too. I don't expect a quick fix here. Hahaha......Quality over quantity in life and in my yoga practice.

15 days are left in 2014 and a lot must still be done. I feel ready.

At home again!


The trip is over. I managed it to practice yoga on Monday and Tuesday. I was stiff, The 2 living room practices were short.
Yesterday was the Christmas party, I accompanied E. The party was in an industrial area. It was a dinner. Quickly I checked the menu. Action was required. I asked for a veg main course and I got it. Instead of the animal I got a mushroom with vegetables. It looked better and it tasted better. The evening was so entertaining with all the people that we know that we stayed till after midnight.

It was clear. I won't get up at 5am.

Here I sit now and wonder what comes next. I guess I need a second cup of coffee today before planning the day.....


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Back bending: I know the feeling 'nothing moves'.


What changed is how I practice.  My understanding of the back bending poses deepened. I use no strap around my legs anymore. The legs have to be engaged. This is important. The stronger they are the better. I try to move the legs together. This is not to make them move apart.
I move upwards. I try to create space. And then hope comes into play: Might my fingers find my toes. Haha......

Shouldn't it be possible just to stretch the arms to the feet so that the circle is closed? It's not.

Yet I've found the blocked area. It's in front of the shoulders.

Today I did urdhva dhanurasana against the wall. I tried to move the chest to the wall. The chin touched the wall. Discomfort was felt in front of the shoulders. Here I have to stretch. It's the same blocked area like in kapotasana.

Strong legs: 
- Strong legs make this pose safe. The knees shall not move apart. If they do pressure is on the lower back and this is to avoid.
- Strong legs are needed to come up. The message sinks in.....

I live in the 5th floor. From now on I'll take the steps. I'll also take the steps in the subway. Shall this help.

Yesterday I was at a concert: Bryan Adams was here. Should I go, should I not go was the inner discussion. Am I glad that I don't have this waste of time when it comes to yoga. I go. Point. I also went to Bryan Adams and I enjoyed it. He stepped on stage and played one song after the other. Many songs I knew, but I didn't know they came from him. No single song was boring. The Olympic hall was full. It was a lovely experience to have common fun with so many fans. With lots of music in  my heart I walked home, slept well, and it was sweet to be a bit tired today at 5am. I prolonged the cold shower. This woke me up.



Tomorrow is primary on the schedule, Just this. To have a shorter practice at the end of a yoga week is great.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Pashasana


Pashasana is the first core asana of the second Ashtanga series. It's a deep twist. In addition one has to balance.

Many face two challenges:
- First challenge is to reach the wrist with the one hand
- Second challenge is to keep the heels on the floor.

I practice this pose now since 2008 with not so much progress. It's overtime to reflect what went wrong.

1. It's important not to hook the finger. When I hook my finger the shoulder moves forward. Exactly the opposite is intended. The shoulder shall move backwards. All twists aim at making the shoulder girdle flexible, too. I got few adjustments  in the last year and I was able to do it almost at once. One must only get the right instructions sometimes. I had worked in different directions.
These days I always move the shoulder backwards and so my other hand can reach the wrist.

2. The next mistake that I did was to get on the balls of my feet. When my arms were bound I rolled back and often I rolled out of the pose. This is why I use a blanket. I tried to make the blanket less high with time. Nevertheless the wished success didn't come. Then I found a YouTube video by Maria Villella. She explained that she made the same mistake for years. She recommends to get into the pose while the heels are on the floor. I think this is a good tip.

3. The next tip I got from the book by David Keil. We always think and speak of stretching the back side of the leg. Yet on the front side above the feet is a muscle, that can be engaged to support this pose. Try it, this makes a difference.

All these tiny adjustments add up.
If I had very long arms the pose wouldn't be an issue probably, but my understanding wouldn't go rather deep either.
My issues that I face when I practice are indeed opportunities to learn. The Ashtanga community is generous and shares a lot of knowledge.

I'll check progress in a year again.

PS: I think it's known: all twists are easier with a pound or more less.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Bakasana



Bakasana is my last pose (given by MSch). 
When I still used to practice even half of third series  I used to perform Bakasana B against the wall, That is I jumped high with bent legs and then I tried to lower the body so that my knees landed in my armpits. I never managed to do this. 

It was not my pose. Quickly I moved to the twists......We all probably tend to love doing what we are able to do. 

My new teacher is optimistic (which is contagious) that I'll be able to do this pose and I study it now in greater detail. The reason why I do bakasana even though I'm not (yet) able to do kapotasana is to develop core strength. 
Even navasana is a challenge for me. Yet I really feel it, core strength is required for many asanas also for the vinyasas. 

Bakasana: The knees are outside of the arms very high at the armpits. The arms are stretched. 

We have a very passionate yogini in the world community. Her analysis of the poses and her tips and tricks are so precious. It's Kino MacGregor. So I searched her YouTube channel and found how expected a very helpful exercise. 

The exercise (see picture above) looks easy, but I had an aha-moment: One shall bring the legs as high as possible to the outer side of the arms while in a sitting position. Finally the elbows might be close to the armpits. One shall press the knees against the body. The arms are stretched. The Aha-moment: I need core strength. My abdomen must work, too.
The exercise helps to devolop a feeling of what muscles must be used when doing this pose. 


Bakasana B: There are 2 methods to jump into the pose.
1. The one method is to jump forward like one jumps in bhuja pidasana. That is the hips remain rather low. The legs remain bent.
2. The second method is to jump high so that the weight is on the hands, legs remain bent. Then one lowers the body slowly. This requires so much more balancing skills. Yet it looks more controlled.

I remember what I read in David Keil's book 'Functional anatomy of yoga': I quote from memory. If you tried something for 4 years or longer with no success, wonder what went wrong. He knew what went wrong in similar poses like this. I know it, too. One must get away from the wall. The wall changes how one jumps. The momentum is totally different. When again in the middle of the room, fear is there.

PS: I linked to 2 books in that blog post. Both are great Christmas presents.

Happy Sunday.




Friday, December 05, 2014

The new structure of the week


Today is Friday. Around the globe the Ashtanga yoga practitioners dedicate their time to primary, the first Ashtanga yoga series out of 4 series.

We had a Mysore class today, not a led class, yet everybody practiced primary. I loved it. It's less exhausting. And I could focus on the vinyasas of primary, that is I could do them slower, more attentive. They were weak,

I realized that my body and mind were exhausted. It was an intensive yoga week. To do a bit less on the last day is so reasonable.

Today I'll go out with my E. We'll enjoy an evening in the Greek restaurant. I think 'so deserved'. But what is deserved?

Tomorrow is a day off. And on Sunday we can go to a Mysore class. Isn't this perfect?  Yes, it is.


Sunday: Mysore at 8:00
Monday: Mysore at 6:30
Tuesday: Mysore at 6:30
Wednesday: Mysore at 6:30
Thursday: Mysore at 6:30
Friday: Mysore at 6:30 (primary)

Saturday is a day off.

The first asana is discipline. The schedule makes it easy to build a routine. Every day the same show at the same time. It's easy to get used to it. My enthusiasm is growing and growing......




Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Why it makes sense not to omit asanas....


So is Ashtanga yoga: There are several series. One learns one asana after the other. If an asana is 'mastered' the next asana is taught. This can last years sometimes, up to 5 years or longer.

Some yoginis get grumpy. They see that later in the series are asanas that they are able to do. They want to progress.

During the last 10 years asanas were introduced to me that I didn't like at all (garbha pindasana).  There were other asanas I thought I'd never be able to do. The list is too long to mention them all. There were easy asanas like baddha konasana.

What happened over the years because I didn't omit anything?
1. My likes and dislikes changed with the daily practice. Garbha pindasana is no more a not liked asana, but a funny one.
2. I experienced that more than I think is possible. I only learned this because I did these impossible asanas. I didn't omit them. I was stuck there and tried to understand them.
Current difficult asana is kapotasana. MSch stopped me here. The effect: I really work on this asana now. I get always an adjustment here. It's not 'you stop here' and then you're left alone. I get always support!!!!! Usually MSch stands behind me (like a wall, hahaha) and I try to get deeper and deeper into the pose. Usually I manage it to hold the knees. Today my hands were below the knees. It's so much closer to my own feet. I become optimistic and work even harder on the impossible to make it possible.
3. I learned that the mind likes to judge the asana. Do I like it? Is it difficult? Supporting questions are rather 'How can I perform it?'
4. With time judging fades away: the attitude arises 'what needs to be done must be done'. No discussions more, no conflict.

For me my yoga practice is a mini world. I developed the attitude: What's next? Difficult? I don't care that much. Easy? I don't care. I don't like it? I don't care. I like it? Great. Today I'm not in my best mood. Why  not, it's not a drama, nor is the opposite a drama. And I move on to the next task.

This is a relaxed life. The valleys are not so deep anymore, the mountains not so high. Life became a bit more relaxed.



Tuesday, December 02, 2014

No sleeping morning routine


I have to get off the train a station earlier to get to the new shala. Not to miss to get off the train is the first attention exercise. I guess I was in sleeping mode the last months.

This morning I didn't find my mat, then I forgot my key in the restroom. This only tells me that my morning routine is not yet strong.

On the other hand I see how easy it is to perform anything if a strong routine is developed.

Also on the second day I'm enthusiastic about the new practice place. There is no air-conditioning which is perfect for Ashtanga yoga. The room gets warm when  a lot of yogis/yoginis practice. It also gets humid. This gives me a tiny bit more flexibility. Every tiny bit is appreciated. :) This is India feeling.

My focus are the vinyasas these days. I experience progress. I know my next step. I have to manage it to jump forward from downward dog and to stand on my arms for 1 more breath, legs bent. I plan to exercise this at home.

I also try now to get from bhuja pidasana to bakasana. This is hard.

These are the vinyasas. They were too long neglected, which is OK. Asanas first. The asanas are the female part of the practice, the vinyasas the male part. It's great to do the asanas, the vinyasas are equally important at least if one wants to practice Ashtanga yoga. They give strength. A feeling for the own body is learned. Coordination of legs, arms, hands, feet, neck, head, eyes and so on is learned, too. The better the understanding the less strength is needed.

Time to nap.


Monday, December 01, 2014

Something new begins and I'm enthusiastic


We practice with our Ashtanga yoga teacher MSch in another shala from today on. It's all so perfect, I'm enthustiastic.

The shala is also downtown, very reachable. That is it's only 2 min walk from a subway. It's situated in a very posh building. When I entered the house the doors opened alone. Hahaha.......The neighbours are lawyers and fund manager. In the shala is still a slight fragrance of freshly painted walls. Everything is new and the furniture are well chosen. The bench in the reception room is Indian style. We also get water afterwards and we can relax.

The practice room is rather a square, it's cosy. We'll practice in 4 long lines. Soon we'll have Indian feeling there, because we practice next to each other and the Ashtanga yoga community is growing. The room will be humid which will help a lot to bend and sweat. It's possible to do the closing sequence in the back of the room.

Fingers crossed that I can leave my heavy yoga mat there.

So many yogis and yoginis came today on the very first day at the new place (Amiraplatz 3 in Munich). This is such a good omen. The numbers of yogis and yoginis who love to practice Ashtanga yoga in the traditional way is growing. What a luck that we have MSch here.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.......


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lazy Sunday


Lazy Sunday afternoon......

OH, a rare moment: I have not much to write. Might it be so today......

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I practice....


...as if my life depends on my practice.....

This morning I woke up and expected a super awesome practice. My wishes were no fulfilled.

Excellent were the urdhva dhanurasana adjustments. It's a matter of time (only...haha) when this will it will happen that I stand up from this position. What happened already is that it feels better. I'm able to get closer to my limits. I still think that I must walk closer. My shoulders opened. My leg muscles are burning. They tremble when I'm finally in paschimottanasana.

Back bending is a focus these days and the vinyasas. 

The pictures show bhuja pidasana. I think the forward movement is a key if one wants to understand the jumping back. It's not falling down on the top of the head. It's rather moving forward, slowly and having the body under control.

I discover the role of the dristis and bandhas when doing the vinyasas. One looks forward not down. The bandhas are engaged and even more engaged.

After yoga a friend and I went to the Viktualienmarkt to have a fruit drink there. It was cold, the Caribic juice was cold, too. Brrrrrhhhhhhhh.........



More pictures of me you can find on Facebook and flickr.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ashtanga yoga - an exercise for the mind


1. The first exercise for me is to develop discipline. The question is what gets me going. There are tips and tricks, yet a part is individual.

2. To develop a 'I can' attitude develops over time. There were so many asanas that I thought I would never master. The daily practice proved me something else. Now I think rather that anything is possible than the opposite.

3. Focusing the mind on the breath, calms the mind. Worrying can come later. The practice teaches me to direct my thoughts.  This is calming.

4. With the years the span of concentration prolongs. Also this is a precious skill in daily life.



Currently I'm working on the vinyasas. In order to show something I must film. It's already on my list.






Monday, November 24, 2014

The core asana of primary Ashtanga series

1. Marichyasana D



 2. Supta kurmasana


3. Garbha pindasana



4. Baddha konasana



The asanas are only one part of the practice. Evenly important are the vinyasas. As the asanas are no more such an issue, I can focus my energy on what happens between the poses. Learning never stops.

The miracle happened


Yesterday was a sofa evening. We, my E and I watched a thriller: Tatort. Afterwards I went straight to bed. My leg still hurt and it was difficult to fall asleep. Which position is the best, I wondered.

This morning I switched off the alarm clock, yet I didn't get up. I wanted to be cautious with my luxury body. If the body goes on strike, it gets extra attention, extra love. Then it deserves rest.

Indeed I fear my marathon cleaning on Friday caused this twist in my body.

So this morning when I finally got up, everything was OK. I think this is a consequence of my daily Ashtanga practice. I heal quickly.

I practiced at home, yet modest. I did primary without vinyasas. It felt good and OK to me to take it easy today. I didn't like to do a single wrong movement. today.

My home practiced saved me almost 20 Euro. Hahaha.....I don't care. Yet I knew that I wouldn't be able to practice with half energy in a Mysore class. I would have given my best. I'd emptied the tanks.

Yesterday I had the insight that I must be prepared to practice alone again. From Jan through March my teacher is in Mysore. I know nobody here in Munich who could be a substitute for him. This made me a bit sad. Yet all the great yoginis practice alone. This is the path. It's a lonesome one. I know it's my path.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Out of the blue


One shall not even think about injuries. The word injury alone seems to attract them.

It's more than crazy, yet my right leg is not functioning as usual. Friday after the led class everything was still OK. Then I did marathon cleaning. During the week I was busy taking pictures. Where I live dust clouds come to live every day. I had to clean. I even climbed up a ladder. I'm a diligent person.

This morning I was not able to carry my cup of coffee while going upstairs. I crawled upstairs. I don't exaggerate. I posed my cup on a step and then I moved upwards using my hands, too.

To move is good. When I don't move for a while, I hobble afterwards for some steps. It even hurts.

I cannot make a decision now. Yet when I'm not able to carry my cup of coffee tomorrow morning to my PC, because I need  my hands to stabilise myself at the balustrade, yeah, then I'll stay at home and I'll miss the Mysore class.

It's insofar not pleasant because next week is the last week in that shala that I loved. It's a posh shala, close to the Viktualienmarkt, all was perfect so to say.
After next week the Mysore class with MSch is somewhere else. I had imagined  a most intensive yoga week in the shala where I practiced the last year.

Hahaha......I hope a miracle will happen and this pain at the back of my right leg disappears as fast as it appeared.

I go with the flow.......this is my fate......

Embrace your difficulties - they are an opportunity


2010

Sometimes new people come to class and they are very talented. Within a few sessions only they can reach the calves when they drop backwards. Twists are no issue either as they have long arms.

Our bodies are all different. Some have it easier than others to move the body in even advanced asanas.

I observed that those who have it very easy often disappear very soon. It's too easy. Why exercising something that one is able to do. It's difficult to see the mental exercise of Ashtanga yoga when starting with this practice.

Once a yogini was part of our group. Within a few weeks she was able to do primary. Usually we do the closing sequence in the back of the room. There she did her additional practice instead of the closing sequence. I saw her doing the splits, sidewards, forwards. No problem at all. She seemed to be bored with the practice. I haven't seen her for a while. Perhaps she is practicing somewhere else. Perhaps she gave it up, I don't know.

It's just one example.

There are advantages when facing difficulties.
1. The mind is interested in new skills to learn. We like challenges. This keeps us going.
2. We learn to learn. We might search YouTube. We might be more attentive. We might experiment.
3. If something was difficult to achieve it is often appreciated more when the goal is reached. Just remember how it feels when you take the lift on top to a mountain in comparison to climb up.
4. We get interested in anatomy to understand the poses. This makes the practice safe in the long run.
5. We develop mental strength like patience, perseverance, discipline.
6. We might understand that the path is as important as the goal.


2014

Cordially greetings from a stiff person.

Ursula Preiss Photography on Facebook

Saturday, November 22, 2014

'Help, I get stiff when I don't practice Ashtanga yoga daily.'


Some people feel pressure here. Me, too.

Yet let's explore this feeling a bit closer. 

For me my Ashtanga practice is a mini world. What I experience on the mat, I often experience in the wild world off the mat, too.
Whatever we do regularly is very likely to flourish. A skill that we don't practice will get lost as a skill. This is so with driving a car, negotiating things, cooking, speaking English, you name it.

The difference to Ashtanga yoga is that when I restart Ashtanga yoga after a break I might feel discomfort. Using wrong grammar doesn't hurt, neither a boring meal. Looking for a spacier parking space because parking got difficult cannot be compared with stretching discomfort. Yet the message is the same. If one wants to get better at anything one must practice it and best is to practice it daily. To speak English only on vacation leads to nothing. So simple truth. If you want to become a master in cooking, be in the kitchen on a daily basis.

1. One or two days off can be very good for the practice. Sometimes the body needs to digest what is learned.
2. A week off is also not a drama in my experience. After a week off I feel very flexible sometimes, because I lost strength during this time. It lasts few days till the week off is forgotten.

3. I become nervous when I don't practice longer than a week which rarely happened. This happened when I was ill i.e.. Also when travelling it's not that easy to keep practicing.  But also here I can only say take it easy when you'll be back on the mat.

What's built within 10 years cannot be undone in a month.

For me it's easier to practice daily than here and then. My yoga practice became a routine. I miss it when I don't practice. I don't discuss if I shall do it or not. I do it.
The poses in Ashtanga yoga are so advanced that it's highly recommended to practice daily. Sometimes life gives us a break. Over time we have developed a relaxed mind, too.

Sometimes I'm stiff, sometimes not. Sometimes I try to find reasons why this is so. Yet most of the time when I observe my stiffness or my highlights, I think: aha, interesting.
Inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling.


Thursday I was able to give my very best.
Yesterday I wasn't able to hold some poses as counted during the led class. I was glad when we were finally in rest pose.
Today I enjoy a day off. What an exciting life!!!!

Happy Saturday.....

Ursula Preiss photography on Facebook.

Not enough time - an obstacle on the Ashtanga path: Start, but also end activities consciously



I guess we all know the feeling of being overwhelmed, having too much to do. It's a challenge to manage all the daily duties, a job, living healthy, having some entertainment, too. Some have children and so on.

A dear friend recommended to use a timer to structure my work no matter what it is. Set a timer for 25 min and then take a break is the advise. This time management technique even has a name: pomodoro technique.

Since I use a timer I work so much more effectively.
It's also easier to start with activities that are not my favorite ones, because I know that after 25 min they are over.
One gets a feeling of how much time any activity requires. Often I think an activity needs so much time and the opposite is the case. It's accomplished within 5 min.

I start an activity with the question: What do I want to do?
When the 25 min are over I look back and see what I've done and I enjoy it.

This helps me not to get lost in time and space.
This technique helps me to work very intensively and this created time!!

What has this to do with Ashtanga yoga?
My Ashtanga yoga practice is time intensive. (If you do any other activity beside job and family/friends life might be very busy, too)
So I really had to ask myself what is important to me: For me watching TV till late at night is not important i.e.
I tried to make my life simple. I worked on being better organised.

Start with the asanas and see what happens.
The practice can influence the entire life style.
I personally worked on being better organised, I worked on working more effectively. My timer is my secret.

One of the obstacles on the path of Ashtanga yoga is to manage the time.

Once I attended a workshop and exactly this was the topic. One man complained that he has no time for practice because his job is so time intensive. The teacher Danny Paradise said: then change the job.

We have all the same amount of time: Our chancellor has not one minute more than me. We all have 24 hours.

And now the 25 min are over. I want to question the contents of this blog post. I could go through grammar, I could find better verbs. My time is over. I hope that also this blog post has some valuable contents for you.


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Website.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Don't slam the doors


Btw it's not so special that somebody leaves an activity behind himself/herself.

Most people start with a hobby or a job or a relationship and few months later or years later it's over.

This also happens in the Ashtanga community. Practitioners leave the cult. Why not. It's indeed not so special. Only few people stick to an activity. This is why I often speak about a pyramid. On the floor of the pyramid are the beginners. Here we have many. The higher you climb, the longer you practice the less people you find. No matter what you do.

Some people are loud when they stop something, no matter if they leave a partner, a company or another activity. There might be reasons, perhaps it just was not the right thing.

In Ashtanga yoga the topic comes up again and again. A practitioner stops practicing, yet he/she cannot stop afterwards to talk bad about Ashtanga yoga.

Often own experiences are generalized.

I only want to focus here on one argument because it's simply not true. And I hear it again and again.
Ashtanga yoga is not dangerous, it doesn't cause injuries. It's advised to practice it regularly and to build up the practice. Many are very ambitious and do too much too quickly. Nevertheless Ashtanga yoga is not dangerous.
Most accidents and injuries happen to housewifes. The insurances know this. Insurances also know which sports are dangerous and which not, because they have to pay in case of an accident. They have an overview. Skiing, diving are dangerous sports. One has often to pay more to get an insurance policy.

It's unhealthy to do nothing. The risk to injure is higher when people are inactive.
Ashtangis are slim, yet they have no eating disorder. Of course there might be a few but no more than in other groups, too. In the 70s everybody was slim, nowadays half of the population is overweight. Everybody who manages it to eat healthy is considered ill, only because the majority is a victim of the food industry.

I come to an end. I wonder why these complainers get so much attention.

Ashtanga yoga is not for everybody. Everybody can do it, but not everybody wants it. It's so simple, then one must look for something else. One can also watch TV and stay up at night.

I love the practice. I have found something that I can do for the rest of my life. For me it fits.

For those who stop and leave the community: please close the door quietly. Say good-bye, be happy that you could experience something and search for your luck somewhere else.

It's an art to finish things.

(Perhaps one day you want to come back....)




Ursula Preiss Photography on Facebook.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Intensive practices


I harvest.

It has been an excellent advice to practice primary again.

I focus on the vinyasas and they start flourishing.

Also backbending is improving.

In job life it might be good to present only the strength. In Ashtanga yoga we have a balanced practice. Everything is worth doing. We work on our strength and on our weaknesses.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I've been there....





The first picture is from 2009, the second picture is from 2014. I document my yoga practice. I love to see progress that I often do not experience on a daily basis. Seeing these pictures motivates me. Something moves over the years, this is so obvious.

These pictures are not about flexibility, they are about perseverance. They are about discipline, about being optimistic. This happens if one practices with joy.

If you have a closer look you can see that my understanding of the pose has deepened.
In 2009 my bound arms moved downwards. In 2014 they stretched and moved upwards. With this movement I have a leverage effect. It helps to move the body forward. There is a counter movement that I realized later, too. The bent leg moves backwards.

This pose prepares one of the core asanas of primary: supta kurmasana.
The knee is already behind the back.

Important is that the body is straight. It feels a bit like a twist when I move forward.

Self-study is part of yoga. Learning has changed in a revolutionary way.  We are connected around the globe today.
Of course we all like it if something is easy to perform. Yet if it's not it can be an opportunity, a learning and understanding opportunity.

Enjoy the ride.

My Facebook page on photography is here.
My Facebook page on yoga is here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Garbha pindasana - the rolling


"Keep your hands on your head."

I'm working on the details when I practice primary Ashtanga yoga. Garbha pindasana has 2 parts. The first part is stable, the second part is dynamic, that is one rolls 9 (or 5 times) to make a round.

The tricks:
1. Put your right hand under your left hand. The left hand can hold push the right hand to the head. It's easier to keep the left hand on the head as it's closer.
2. Move the chin to the chest and keep it there.
3. The rolling is done with the breathing !!! and with the bandhas.

It's a crazy pose. I didn't like to do it for years.
Nowadays I think it's good to do also things that are not favorite ones.
First what one loves can change. My likes have changed a lot over the decades.
I exercise to love what comes. Where is the next horse to ride, I wonder. When it's rolling in lotus pose with arms stretched through the legs, then shall it be this.

Happy rolling. It's a pointer not to forget humor in life.

Ursula Preiss Photography on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A new pose?


I only realized it on my way home that I got bakasana B today. That is from tomorrow on I try to jump into bakasana B.

Every learning starts with the mind. The big question is: Am I convinced that I will be able to do this pose? I can answer this question with 'yes'. This is often a most difficult part.

1.Important also for bakasana A is that the knees are outside of the arms and not in the armpit or lying on the arms.
2. The arms squeeze against the knee. And the other way round, too.
3. Bandhas are engaged.
4. The arms are supposed to be straight.
5. The toes are not pointed.

I had to repeat this pose 7 times till my body was fully in the picture. My photography supports my yoga practice in many ways.

Facebook - Ursula Preiss Photography

Monday, November 10, 2014

From bhuja pidasana to bakasana


The vinyasas are my focus when I do primary. Yet I neglected the vinyasa from bhuja pidasana to bakasana. I wanted to postpone to learn it. Today it was discovered how I cheat myself through this vinyasa and I was shown how to do it. I cannot avoid it anymore to work on it.

1. I was able to jump forward, legs around my arms without touching the floor. Was. I think with a tiny bit of exercise I'll be able to do it again.

2. To get into the pose with chin on the floor and without touching the floor with the feet is possible, too.
3. I also get out of the pose with a deep inhaling without my feet touching the floor.

4. Sometimes I did a titthibasana here. To get from here to bakasana, that is to swing the feet and legs backwards was avoided. I more or less interrupted my practice, put my hand in position did bakasana.

From now on I'll try to swing them back, these legs.

So what I wanted to say, primary is not yet boring. There are still a few vinyasas that I want to learn before I'm happy. I also think that this transition is a good preparation for the normal jumping backwards.

I don't know why I was so tired this afternoon, but I was. I slept 2 and a half hours like dead. I thought it's night time. Now I am up and have my long to do list in front of me.......

Picture: It's taken during the weekend. Fall is so beautiful with the orange leaves and the sun that shines on them and makes them look burning.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Only change is permanent


Yesterday was a moon day, that is I enjoyed a day off from yoga practice.
Today was a led class and oh my I feel weak. There are a few poses that I cannot hold as long as counted. It's navasana, utpluthih and  headstand with legs horizontal that I give up too early. Who cares.....(me! Hahaha)


My yoga practice these days is a luxury:
Sunday I practice on my own. Mainly it's half second series with focus on back bending. I do sometimes extra back bending asanas. It's the only day for taking pictures.
From Monday to Thursday I have a Mysore class with Michael.
On Friday I usually go to a led class with Michael.

Sometimes I'm in the mood to do some asanas at home in the late afternoon, then I do it, yet I must want it, it's no more a 'I should'.

Oh I digress. It's public already. MSch stops teaching at Airyoga, bad news. Good news: he will be teaching in his own shala here in Munich. Relieved. So relieved that I can keep studying with this excellent teacher. I can't wait to learn where this shala is......... :)

Being flexible can mean so many things. Not only the body can be flexible, yet also the mind. A flexible person can also handle habits in a flexible way. Places are of second priority for me. More important are people. So let's move.......to another place with the yoga practice.

For those who are interested in my photography:
Yesterday I was at a vernissage. I learned that the biggest photo shop here gives artists an opportunity to show their pictures. I'm on this list now. An exhibition is planned for 2016. Twenty pictures shall be shown in print and there is a show of about 100 pictures on a screen. My goals get in shape for 2015. If the exhibition will become reality or not is not so important. Alone this project brings my photography to another level. To produce a series of pictures is more demanding than taking one picture after the other with no connection. I'm ready.

I'm on Facebook, too.



Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Peace of mind


Silence.

Finding joy in observing the breath.

Focus.

Asanas.

Being content.

Feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting.......consciouly.....



This comes into my mind when I think of yoga (and kapotasana.....hahahaha).......

Monday, November 03, 2014

Lengthening (the body) + xy


Lengthen the body.....then bend forward.
Lengthen the body..... then twist.
Lengthen the body..... then bend backwards.
Lengthen the arms.....before jumping forward/backward.
Lengthen the body....when in any inversion.

Always: first lengthen the body, the spine, create space, then move in a direction.
Inhaling helps to lengthen the body.

My Monday morning started with a most perfect Mysore class.

I wish a good start in the new week for everybody.

Create space and then move in a direction.....

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Sunday



These days Sunday is the only day on which (????? on which, hahahah, I couldn't find another grammatical solution) I practice on my own. Imperfection everywhere.

I won't go through all the primary asanas. After the standing sequence I'll go straight to second series. It's a shorter practice and I can focus on back bending. I see this Sunday practice rather as a preparation for the coming week.

Stuck at back bending. I don't care. I think I have a balanced practice. For me primary only is not a balanced practice. Urdhva dhanurasana comes out of the blue as a back bending asana. To have only 1 back bending asana is not enough. When practicing till kapotasana one has so much more back bending asanas. I'm happy with my current programme.
The next pose that will give me some issues will be bakasana B. To jump into the pose is a challenge. It should be doable after years of focusin on it. Lol.

What is good: On most days urdhva dhanurasana and also kapotasana feels good. The body got used to it. Perhaps there is less resistance in my body. I focus on the breath when I bend backwards. The inhaling fills my body with air, it stretches the body. With the exhaling I go deeper into the pose.

Time to step on the mat....

My photography on Facebook is here.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

I twist in Marichyasana A


Understanding deepens. So in order to prepare the supta kurmasana in first series, I take care that I practice intensively the asanas before this big one. As one can see on the picture the knee is already above (or behind) my back. This is how it shall be. I consciously turn the body to the left side when my right leg is bent. That way I get deeper into the pose. I stretch the arms and use them as a lever. They move upwards, the body moves forward (and down). The back remains straight.

Today is Saturday and the day off from yoga. It's time to work on simplifying my life. :) My latest endeavour is to be as paperless as possible:
1. My Indonesian chest is full of journals. This is enough. I have an online journal now.
2. Sometimes I put down notes when I do an online workshop, yet later I transfer the notes to 'Evernote'. I want a clean desk.
3. My thoughts go to 'Evernote', too.
4. Most books I buy for my kindle.
5. I declutter all the time.

Times have changed.

Ashtanga yoga is time-intensive, Photography is time-intensive, I don't like fast food, so I have to cook. I must be organized.

My photography page on Facebook is  here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I overslept and balancing poses


It's not understandable, but I overslept. I went to bed after 8pm, this is so early. I had almost 9 hours of sleep. Yet this morning I switched off the alarm clock and kept sleeping. Just so. Perhaps the above picture should be created. I practiced this morning at home and I took some pictures. At least this.

The back bending adjustments are simply too good. I don't want to miss a single one. For today it's too late.

The standing asanas of Ashtanga yoga are underestimated. The above pose is a challenging balancing pose of the standing asanas.  It's utthita hasta padangusthasana.
- As soon as I start thinking, I start wobbling. Even the thought 'ah, today it's good' is not supporting. - Simply focusing on the breath is it that keeps me in that pose.
- I engage the bandhas.
- The toe is pointed, also this helps to stay in that pose.
- Sometimes I have the image of myself as a statue in mind.
- My eyes gaze at a point. This calms the pose.

To understand what helps to balance is helpful for asanas to come.

Balanced as I am now, I can begin the day.