Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Third practice this week....

I don't count the practices, but I divide the practice in parts. This makes it look shorter:

1st part: 5 sun salutations A
2nd part: 3 sun salutations B
3rd part: Standing sequence till utthita parsvottanasna

This is more or less the warm up.

4th part goes till navasana. It's very likely that I start sweating here already due to the vinyasas.
5th part is again to relax. It doesn't exhaust me. And I'm able to do the core asanas.
6th part is second series till bakasana A: This is the emotional part. Sometimes I'm optimistic, sometimes I think I desperate. But I won't give up.

7th part is urdhva dhanurasana: Here I add some asanas. I need willpower here. It got easier.

8th part is closing sequence
9th part is resting.

This is my daily work.

Today my back bending was not so good as yesterday. Might it be so. Perhaps tomorrow it's as good as it has never been......I'm dreaming.......:)

"You were fast today", a yogini told me. I think I got faster as I don't do breaks anymore. I don't dawdle before doing a pose. They became easy to me. I can relax in all poses. Yet I try to be active also when in a pose. I engage muscles, others I relax. I try to go deeper into the pose. And I breathe evenly (hopefully).

Tomorrow is a moon day. Yepeeeeee, a day off.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday morning practice.....

Monday morning practice was so much better than expected. My lousy practice on Sunday was good. It prepared the body for the next session. And the next session was today. 

It's such a gift that I can practice Ashtanga yoga early in the morning in the tradition of P. Jois. I'm not at all convinced any more from blending yoga styles. It can do more harm than good. 

My mind is challenged. Patience is needed. It's a long way down to my toes when I bend backwards. Will it be possible one day? I don't know, I don't know.......conditions are perfect.....so why not........


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Being content

It was not sure if I practiced this morning. I needed this extra bit of motivation. It was a bit later than wished when I found the right words for myself. Words that made me stepping on the mat: It needn't to be perfect. A shorter practice counts as a practice, too.

I practiced sun salutations, standing asanas till utthita parsvottanasana, second series till bakasana A, urdhva dhanurasana and the closing sequence. Done.

The body was stiff and several time I thought I stopped. Yet I finished my practice. Be content.

First I have to motivate myself to do it. How it is more often a surprise than not.
Second step is to practice.
Third step is to let go.

This practice today, as lousy as it might have been, prepared me for tomorrow.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Led class today - it's Friday

That's great, isn't it, little cat?

When I go to a led class the focus is the correct vinyasa count. One deep breath equals one movement.

Sooner or later one falls in love with the rhythm if one practices Ashtanga yoga. The breathing technique makes the difference to other yoga styles.

We so often focus on the asanas. Yet the technique of Ashtanga yoga is equally important. When I'm stuck in an asana I observe if my breath is correct. Also the correct dristi can be so helpful.

For me it will be a short practice, that is primary only and not till bakasana........nevertheless I'm challenged.
This primary ends an intensive yoga week. I managed it to practice 4 times by now. I had excellent practices and not so good ones.

Yesterday a muscled was slightly pulled at the lower back. I practiced very carefully. At the end all my cells seemed to be at the right place again and my body felt perfectly. What was I glad. I must have slept on the wrong side.

Enough. Time to dress, time to go........

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Daily 'work' is not spectacular

Again: I got up at 5am. I went to a Mysore class. Back bending was my focus. I did what was possible. After bakasana A, I stop. First I have to master kapotasana.

I so love the morning Mysore classes, that I do everything to be prepared: I sleep long enough, I eat well. I think this helps. I have wonderful yoga sessions.

The weather has changed for the better. Sun is shining already in the morning. This invited me to a play with the shadow.

If you want to see more, you can visit and like my facebook page. Thank you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ashtanga yoga - we work in all directions

My routines are not boring for me. The opposite is the case. I refine them here and then. They give me a structure. They allow me to fly through my days without making decisions again and again what to do next.
I got up at 5am. No discussion here. I had my black cup of coffee, the only one that I give myself every day. The wish to drink coffee during the day faded away. I check my Emails, shower, dress and 10 to 6 I leave my home.

I'm never the first at the Mysore class, yet one of the first.
My practice this morning was intensive. I had will power, focus, flexibility, strength. Wow. This can happen.

On the picture is paschimottanasana, a counter pose to urdhva dhanurasana. Ashtanga yoga is a balanced practice. If one is a good back bender one also has to work on twists and forward bending asanas. If one has no difficulties with forward bending asanas, but back bending, one has to work on those asanas, too. We work on being flexible in all directions. This also allows to experience all sorts of feelings....hahaha....

Right now I'm optimistic, in best mood........

After the Mysore class I stroll to the Viktualienmarkt to get a juice. I enjoy the juice and I enjoy how the day wakes up at this famous market.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Back bending

Will it ever improve?
1. Hands are still too far away from the feet to be able to come up.
2. I need also more strength in the legs and hips. The legs pull me up.

I look at the picture and I create a plan of action: 
- My next step could really be to add an exercise when I practice this pose close to a wall. I could try to bring the chest to the wall.
- It could also be an idea to set a timer in order to hold the pose longer. This I can only do when I practice at home.
- Shall I trust in the visualization technique? Yes, yes.....

Good news is that this pose feels better than years ago.

There is such a gap between how it feels and how it looks. It looks so much more modest than it feels. This is why I love my pictures. They show me the truth. The truth: work harder when you want to come up from this pose.

This is how I spent my Sunday morning: I practiced Ashtanga yoga. It was a short practice, till kapotasana. I only practiced second series. Better a short practice than none at all.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ashtanga yoga and concentration

Indeed, yesterday I practiced at home. We still live with 80 boxes, so I put my mat closer to the kitchen, facing the balcony doors. This seemed to be an ideal place for my Friday primary practice. Exactly at 7am I started with the sun salutation. I imagined all the yoginis/yogis who practiced in the shala, at Airyoga and this motivated me.

After 11 years of practice I'm able to do every pose of primary and they feel good. This is surely a development. Many of us focus on the performance of the asanas.

Yet what bettered, too is my ability to concentrate. 
One can also see this mental skill. A trained mind can focus. I remember that I used to leave my mind several times when I practiced at home to check my emails i.e. Was it only a bad habit? Was I exhausted and needed this break? I rather think that it's also difficult to tame the mind. It requires energy to concentrate on anything for some time. To concentrate can be as difficult as to perform supta kurmasana. The ability to concentrate can be learned. What good news.

Again I see how perfect Ashtanga is, also the teaching method. In Ashtanga yoga we learn first only a few asanas. We get stopped then. New students usually have a very short practice. This allows to develop performance of the asanas and the ability to concentration step by step.

How to concentrate: 
1. Listen to your breath.
2. Keep the eyes calm and look at a gazing point.
3. Stay on your mat during a practice. Even in classes I realize that people run around.
4. In Ashtanga yoga we don't use blocks and straps. It's a huge distraction and interrupts the flow to use props.
5. No music.
6. Have a boring life, no parties, no love affairs....... just a joke. It's possible to focus on what's happening in the current moment also when you have a most exciting life. It's a skill one can learn. It's possible to fade out the thoughts about yesterday's night events when you do sun salutations........

Also the ability to concentrate develops slowly. Be patient, yet know that it's as important as to work on the asanas. It also can be seen if someone has a focused practice.

Without concentration we cannot see a movie on TV, because we switch channels. We won't read a book from the beginning to the end. Being able to concentrate helps to stick to a task for some time. It's a basic skill if one wants to learn something. Don't underestimate this skill. Concentration is more important than being able to do handstand. Handstand is just another asanas. Concentration is a basic skill for the mind.

Ashtanga yoga is also a mental exercise. Seeing this is one of the first steps to work on it.

It's not so spectacular than doing fancy asanas, yet it can be really helpful. If you're able to concentrate you get things done. You learn to forget about your issues for some time. You learn to stop worrying. This all betters daily life.

Pictures: One is taken in 2007, the other one yesterday, 2014. Seven years are between these pictures. I looked so young when I was young. Hahaha......

Friday, May 16, 2014

Now it's too late

I got up at 5am.
Yesterday in the morning I had one of my last sessions at the dentist. It lasted 4 hours again. And I was exhausted afterwards. The pain killer helped me to have calm hours at home afterwards. It allowed me to sleep. I slept hours.
This morning I realized that I still have toothache. I could have taken another pain killer to have a relaxed led class. I'll take a pain killer but not to survive a led class. A led Ashtanga class is too exhausting. A Mysore class where I could follow my own slow rhythm would be doable, but not a led class. My body needs the energy for the teeth. I respect this. This is ahimsa, loving oneself.  There is one more session at the dentist and then I'll be through. Yesterday I saw  the x-ray of my teeth. They show it on a screen. The pictures were produced in March 2013. So more than a year my teeth kept me busy. It has been a great renovation.
What were the steps to a healthier mouth:
-Caries was removed. Absolutely necessary and overlooked by my former dentist. Change the dentist from time to time is my advice.
-Wisdom teeth were removed. One of the two looked awfully. It had a huge black spot. 'Be glad that you got rid of it,' the dentist said and I knew he was right. Getting teeth extracted is painful. Afterwards.
-Amalgam got removed that is all the fillings got removed. In my case this was necessary. The fillings were too old, some lived in my mouth for decades. They had tiny gaps. I'm astonished, I was very reluctant to get all the Amalgam removed, but it feels better. The mouth flora tastes better in general. It's subtle. As the fillings were so large already, I needed crowns. This  was a necessary step, too, an exhausting one. This caused the long sessions.
One of my rules in life: If something cannot be reversed,  think twice.
Nevertheless re my teeth it was almost impossible to make the best decision. I listened to the advice of the dentist. He recommended the master plan. Everything new. I told him that I wished to have a conservative treatment. I think he wanted to offer the best, what he thought makes me most beautiful.
I wouldn't  accept anymore to get crowns on teeth that were healthy only to make them all, only to offer a master plan, something perfect. I always wanted a conservative treatment, that is I wanted to get done what is necessary, nothing more. Also dentists are sales people. I should have discussed every single tooth.  I'm not 100% happy with the teeth in the upper jaw front. For me they look to massive, too dominant, too artificial. 'It looks very good', is the feed back also from honest people, but that's it, it looks good, it doesn't look like my own teeth anymore. Something new was created. I'll get used to it. Health had priority. And perhaps the dentist is right and it was better to make all. I don't know. It's waste of time now to try to answer this question.

I was smarter with my lower jaw. I fought for my own teeth. Nothing is more beautiful but nature. So yesterdays session was a bit less awful like the one where the dentist prepared the teeth in the upper jaw.  Only 8 teeth will get their crowns in the next sessions. I'm curious if he'll say again: 'These are your teeth now.' Then I'll be through.

I hope that I won't have to do anything else but cleaning for the next 30 years!!!!!!

When all will be done, I'll go out for dinner with my E. Teeth are our eating tool!!!!! I'll drink a glass of red wine to the food and then I'll forget about my teeth. As said, hopefully for the next 30 years.

Ekam........the led class has started. I smile. I step on the mat here, too......slow, attentive, modest are the words that will guide me through a yoga session.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Monday practice

The weekend was a lazy one. On Saturday we were downtown. On Sunday we stayed at home, doing not much. In the evening I got a Pizza from the restaurant round the corner. I was not motivated to prepare much. We had strawberries as dessert. Just hanging up makes stiff. 'Stiff, stiff, stiff', was a title I could imagine while practicing this morning. I took it easy. Just doing it is it, was my credo and this entertained me when realizing that my discomfort tolerance was very low today. Just do it, do it, do it, do it.....

I work on back bending. I have an optimistic phase. Yet the week will be a short one. Tomorrow is another Mysore class. On Wednesday is a moon day. I plan to practice at home as I'll have a long long session at the dentist on Thursday. Friday is led class. I hope I'll be recovered by then. So, in order to progress I need to practice 6 times a week.

Back bending feels good. That is, afterwards. It is as if the spine gets puffed through. It feels like a massage.

I could take some pictures on the moon day. This seems like a good idea.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

I got used to it.....

I got used to get up at 5am. It's no more so hard and I can rely on myself. When the alarm clock starts peeping, I move my feet to the floor and a sec later I sit on the bed, ready to move on.

I got used to practice till bakasana A. Doing more than one series requires energy. It grows. Also perseverance grows. I need energy at the end for my back bending asanas. Willpower I need, trust I need, optimism, too.

Today was good: I work on keeping the knees together when bending backwards. I try to bring my shoulder blades together to open the chest. I focus on my breath, which is challenging, yet this is the technique. It helps to relax. Only when relaxed the body allows to go deeper than usual.

The mind is greedy. I want to reach my toes with my hands, I want to be able to do kapotasana. I want to come up from urdhva dhanurasana. So badly.

I got used to have practices that allow me to go deep into asanas and I got used to learn that the next day I can be stiff like hell. I observe and I stay curious what comes next.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The mind only understands positive messages

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about not doing extra stretches. The mind hears 'extra stretches' and not the 'not'. So the blog post was written and I kneeled on a blanket to do ustrasana. Again and again. It felt good.

The first sentences might be the most important ones. Goals need to  be positive, wishes, too.
Don't even think 'I want to stop smoking' (if you smoke). Instead think: I want to breathe freely.
Don't think to omit milk products from your diet. Instead imagine what you want to eat.
It makes sense to observe the thoughts and to substitute negative forms with positive forms. It's an easy step with a huge effect.

These back bending asanas urdhva dhanurasana, laghu vajrasana, kapotasana are my Himalayas. I wish progress comes fast. It's just a wish. As always I have to be thankful for every tiny bit of inch that I can go deeper into these poses. And it's not only about flexibility. To come up from the poses requires strength. I work on that, too.

Back bending feels good. Super good when I'm out of the pose. Then the spine feels lively, warm.

My understanding about the poses is much better these days.
- Crucial is firstly the strength in front of the hips. They shall bring me up.
- And secondly it's to open the chest. I don't try anymore to reach my toes with my hands when I exercise kapotasana. I work on my hips and my chest. The rest shall just happen. I get adjustments always. This helps. Also the verbal address helps. It motivates to stay for another one or two breaths in the pose. This makes the difference.

I'm experiencing my most intensive yoga time. Being able to go to a Mysore class 4 times a week and having a led class once a week is so perfect. I am so happy about it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

No extra stretches

In one of the conferences in Mysore, India, Sharath said that no extra stretches or extra yoga sessions are necessary. The practice is enough.

Sometimes I like to do extra sessions and stretches, but I feel too weak. So it seems to me as if one intensive session in the morning is really enough. The wish to progress faster in back bending comes up. But I know I need my time.

Beside practicing there is a lot one can do to support the practice:
- to eat well
- to sleep long enough
- to rest
- being content and optimistic

All this supports the practice.

It was even mentioned that extra session enlarge the danger of injuries. I'm rather robust. Yet too much of anything has the potential to hurt.

So, also tomorrow I'll get up at 5am. At 6:30 I'll do my first sun salutations. At the end I'll do back bending. I always get very good adjustments. One session must be enough.

After yoga I often go to the Viktualienmarkt to have a pineapple drink there. The day starts then. To see all these vegetables and fruits pleases me.