Monday, September 29, 2014
It's simply not possible to take one step after the other till one is on top. I remember a very good practice last Wednesday. This is THE break-through I thought. From now on my practice will get better every day. The next day I had this cold, mainly coughing. Instead of leaping ahead, I had to go 2 steps back. I relaxed. I gave my body time to conquer the infection.
Sometimes it's a cold, sometimes a vacation, sometimes the job............or an exciting week-end, yet the path of yoga is not a line that goes upwards only. There are always ups and downs. I'm not yet sure if I shall go to a Mysore class tomorrow. It depends on how I feel tonight. It's also my way to practice ahimsa. Enough when I have an infection. It's not necessary to spread it.
I'm busy and I feel good, yet from time to time I cough and this is awful, it even hurts. Every hour I feel better. So I cross my fingers and hope to be fit by tomorrow morning.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
We have a big bottle of lavender in our bathroom. Next to it is a plant. This plant loves this place and it is growing and growing. It grew up the wall of our lavender bottle. When we realized it, we had a lot of joy. When I dust I always put back the bottle at the same place. :) Little things count.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
I feel relaxed. Also patient.
So yesterday I found a page that even puts an ISDN-No on the calender. Then one can sell it on Amazon, i.e. All the other conditions were great, too. I should add that I had former serious attempts to create a calender. Without success. So full of hope I tried to understand this new platform. 'In a few minutes you'll be there', I read finally. I worked hours already on that calender. Uploading pictures, adjusting pictures, filling in forms....it all used up a lot of time. After having read this optimistic note about the few minutes it still took me hours. Suddenly I felt so hungry.
Overnight I had soaked chickpeas. I was not at all in the mood to cook these chickpeas up to 2 hours till I could use them in this simple recipe. I don't like canned food anymore. What to do? I eat out, I thought. I went to that restaurant that makes burgers, they offer also a vegan one with fried potatoes. I mean I was hungry. I went. Just after having ordered I realized that I had forgotten my purse at home. I told this the waiter and she was very cool. I could eat and return later to pay. When my burger came it was a meat burger. I returned it. I got my vegan burger and I swore that this was the last time that I ate there. I almost ran home, got my money, returned to the restaurant, paid and felt free again.
At home again I wanted to work on another calender. I cannot explain why my first calender is a calender with pictures of the wild cats of Bulgaria. Why didn't I start with a yoga calender? Soon I found out why. The yoga pictures are everywhere on my PC. One must spend time in organizing all the creations. One must!!!! I gave up to create a second calender as it was late already.
At night I woke up. The name of my calender is 'The wild cats of Bulgaria.' Oh my, I thought: Perhaps this is wrong and it must read ' The wild cats from Bulgaria.' This drove me crazy. So glad that I slept finally again. I don't care at all, was the last opinion before dream land captured me again.
My routines get stronger and at 5am I was out of bed. My practice this morning was unexpectedly good. Perhaps because I had no expectations. I practiced slow, yet attentive.
Here I am again. Full of energy. Ready to do what comes next. Again my practice saved me. My mood is excellent. It took me years to do supta kurmasana, I can work a few days on a calender, isn't it. One step after the other. One breath after the other.
Picture: Our shala. The place in the left corner in front is in great demand.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Back to an ascetic life. Bread and water. This translates: fruit and vegetables, peppermint tea and a cup of coffee in the morning. Very bearable.
My Iyengar gives me hope. His back bending asanas at age 70 were unique. He shows what is possible. And MSch helps me every single day in kapotasana and urdhva dhanurasana. One day these poses are mastered by me. I'm convinced. And then I can move on. I'd so love to do the leg behind head poses again. Human beings are so: we love to practice what is easy for us. In Ashtanga yoga we also practice what is difficult for us. If we like an asana or not doesn't play a role, if we are good at it or not doesn't play a role either. We practice what comes next in the series. This is for me also a life lessons. Nothing shall be omitted. What comes next will be mastered with attention, love, energy.
Inhaling - exhaling........ the week has started - let's make the best out of it.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
There is rumor that Sharath prefers to have Sunday off and not Saturday.
First some background information:
Ashtanga yoga practitioners don't practice on full moon and new moon days. And they don't practice on Saturday.
This was not always so. In the book 'Guruji' I read that in the early years there was no day off. P. Jois' family wished to be more together with him, so he took a day off from teaching on Saturday.
Later yogis/yoginis saw other reasons for this day off. It shall be an exercise of detachment i.e.
I see 2 more advantages:
- My body needs a day off to recover from intensive practices during the week.
- I get things done on Saturdays.
When I was in India those yoginis who practiced with Saraswathi had already Sunday off. On Saturdays was her led class and Sharath's led class was on Sundays.
I heard that the Ashtanga yoga shalas shall have the choice if they have Saturday or Sunday off.
For me it's more convenient not to practice on Saturday for 2 reasons:
1. In Germany on Sundays the shops are closed. Only on Saturday I can do grocery shopping i.e.
2. My home practices are not so intensive than the Mysore classes that start on Monday. To have my first practice of the week on Sunday at home is a very good preparation for Monday.
Today is Sunday.....it's raining....and I'm looking forward to practice. It will be second series.....
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Saturday, September 13, 2014
An important part of the Ashtanga practice are the vinyasas. They are my focus now. Yet are they really so important? Let me quote 2 opposing convictions.
Sharath usees to say that the vinyasas are important as they make the blood running. That is they make the practice to a real exercise where the circulation of blood is exercised, too.
B.K.S. Iyengar said in an interview that I published yesterday that Krichnamacharya taught yoga at the Palace. They were into martial art. In order to make yoga attractive to them he addded the vinyasas.
Iyengar is convinced that if an 80 year old man comes to him to learn yoga, he can teach the asanas. To teach the vinyasas from a certain age on makes no sense.
So are the vinyasas important now or not?
I think they are. One really learns to coordinate the body. It makes me strong. It exercises indeed the blood circulation. Otherwise I had to run in addition if I didn't practice the vinyasas.
Yet: there are days of exhaustion., days of low energy. And then it's absolutely OK to omit the vinyasas. I think I'll take it easier now since I know the initial intention of the vinyasas. I feel still young enough to practice with the young ones. :)
My self-timer is in repair. So enjoy the rain picture:
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Friday, September 12, 2014
I overslept. It makes no sense to hurry anymore. It is TOO LATE to go to the led class. Now I've all the time of the world to sip my hot bitter black coffee. I couldn't believe it when I looked at the right corner of my PC. 'What's wrong?' I wondered. It was 6:30am already and at 7am is the first inhale. At 6am I had to leave my home. I curse. At 9pm I was in bed. The loudest alarm clock gives its best and I oversleep.
I'm awake now. Haha...and shake my head. I overslept the second time this week. I listen to the rain drops falling on the roof. A calming sound. I feel warm and cosy at home. :) Nevertheless I'd preferred to be on my way to the led class.
Yesterday I had made a detailed plan of today. After the class I wanted to go to the photo shop where I bought the self-timer. It doesn't work anymore. And and and.......now I sit here and listen to the rain.
I'll practice at home. Primary. Yes!!!!
Yesterday I had an extra yoga session at home. I set the timer for 25 min and exercised the vinyasas. Next time when I do anything extra I want to know what to do, i.e. sun salutations to warm up. 10 times forward floating, 10 times backward floating. When I step on the mat with the goal to learn the vinyasas I get frustrated because it takes time. The new method needs time to be integrated. To balance on the hands before floating through and backwards seems doable but not at once. I face fear again. I don't want to go to the wall again. It's better to learn to fall.
Time to move on. The source wanted me to oversleep. Here I am - and instrument of the divine. :)
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
A start is made. I filmed again.
Very helpful video!
I had set my alarm clock to 6am and I got up at 7am. :) It rained when I got up. It was really loud when the rain drops fell on the roof. Now it's calm again.
2 hours later:
I'm sipping pepper mint tea. I have pepper mint leaves on my balcony. Chores are done. This week my focus is the kitchen. When I could discard anything I'm happy. I could. The less things I have the simpler my life becomes and the more time I have for the activities that are important to me: yoga i.e.
My focus these days are the vinyasas: I must be much more attentive when I want to apply what I've learned in the last workshop. Yet I'm sure now that the different breathing technique will help me to progress.
1. From downdog I inhale and I jump high and move my body above my hands. Thighs are close to the body. This could be indeed the very first step to exercise isolated.
2. With the next exhale I move the legs close to the body, I round the back and float through my arms.
3. I inhale and take position.
4. I exhale and go into the pose. Voilà.
1. Inhaling and I get out of the asana, still holding the pose
2. Exhaling: crossing the legs and moving them close to the body. Knees press against the shoulders.
3. Inhaling I lift the body up and turn the body around the center - head moves forward and down. Arms and hands stretch. Weight is again on the hands, feet away from the floor.
4. Exhaling, I fly into chatuarnga dandasana.
This is the theory that must be exercised.
I found a very helpful demonstration on YouTube: http://youtu.be/RSuAhSwKKFg
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Photo by Ann Huber
In the picture is Ronald Steiner, the founder of the website: www.ashtangayoga.info and the teacher of the workshop with Andreas Lutz, a yoga teacher in Würzburg.
A big thank you to Katja Kirchhofer, who has an Ashtanga yog studio here in Munich for the excellent organisation of the workshop. Here is her page on Facebook.
In the middle we had a little break. The workshop lasted 6 hours. Thank you very much also to Verena and the catering. We had raw vegan food which was very delicious, enough, yet not too much. Here is her page on Facebook.
I try to remember the most important topics for me. To remember a few things that I can integrate in my practice might be enough.
1. The attitude: How long will it last till I'm able to do i.e. handstand? This is a question that is goal-oriented. If one doesn't like to exercise an asana it's likely that we give it up. If we like to exercise it, it doesn't matter anymore if an asana is mastered one day or not. So let's enjoy the ride.
2. Hands: I really loved to be remembered how important the foundation is. I wanted to learn more about the vinyasas, it starts with a good foundation. Ronald is doctor and knows a lot about anatomy. The index finger points forward (not the middle finger). The hands shall be rather close together, because when the arms are stretched the shoulders come closer together and in order to keep shoulders and wrist in line the hands must be rather close. That way the dynamic moves become safe.
The hands are firm to the floor. We tried to lift a pen with stretched hands. It's possible as we have muscles in the palm of the hands. They should be used to be firm on the floor.
The fingers are apart form each other, but it shall be comfortable they shall not be stretched apart from each other too much.
3. Arms and shoulders: 'My arms are too short', one hears often in context of vinyasas. Yet we can create length when the arms are stretched. This happens in the shoulders. It's not shoulders down. In the picture one can see why. If the shoulders are down, the bones touch and this can lead to injuries. When the arms are stretched a lot of length is created.
1. Floating forward:
I was in bed already, thinking of the workshop when I realised that I got confused. I searched the book by Sharath to check what he has written to compare what I've learned.
It seems to me that there are 2 ways (perhaps even more).
First approach: The one that is in the book by Sharath teaches the jumping through with one breath. One jumps from downdog into the asana.
Let me quote from page 51 from the book 'Astanga yoga anusthana. It's about ardha baddha paschimottanasana. We are in downdog.
"Sapta 7: inhale, jump through to a seated position, take the right leg into half padmasana, catch the right big toe. With the left hand, catch the left foot.
Astau 8: exhale, toudh the chin to the knee......."
With one breath only one jumps through and prepares the asana. One must be very fast.
In led classes this is the counting.
This is the method we tried. It helps to make this dynamic movment much more under control. Yet one breathes 3 times more.
- inhaling - jumping high
- exhaling - jumping through
- inhaling - preparing the asana
- exhaling - going into the asana.
The breathing helped me to jump higher and therefore it was easier to move through my arms.
2. Floating backwards:
First approach: I start with quoting from the book by Sharath 'Astanga yoga anusthana', page 51. We are in ardha baddha paschimottanasana.
"nava 9: inhale, lift the head up. Exhale.
Dasa 10: inhale lift up with crossed legs.
ekadasa 11: exhale, jump back to the fourth position of suryanamaskare." The fourth position of surya namaskara is chaturanga dandasana.
Inhaling and exhaling is one counting in nava 9.
Second approach: I try to remember.
First I inhale and stretch. Toe is still held.
Yet with the next exhale I cross already my legs and make my body as tiny as possible.
With the next inhaling I lift up and move forward and upwards. I turn the body around its own centre
With the next exhaling I fly backwards. All under control.
What is the difference?
- With the first exhaling in method 2, the knees are already crossed and close to the body. This makes sense to me.
- In the second method with the inhaling one doesn't only lift up the body, yet one turns around the own center, head forward and down.
- With the next exhale I float into chaturanga dandasana with stretched legs.
Exhaling and inhaling start at different positions. One breath is added.
Here a link: Sharath jumps through. It looks very much under control, too.
I think both methods work well. To learn it, the second method might be easier. If the movement is understood one can switch to the first method.
Like in life, yoga is to be willing to experiment. If something works, fine. If something doesn't work it makes sense to try something new. I'm very much inspired to apply what I've learned.
We also tried vinyasa variations. To describe them all would be too much here.
Bhuja pidasana: The body is long when the feet are crossed. It's worth to show this in pictures to come.
6 hours lasted the workshop: I'm glad now that I slept in and missed the led class in the morning. At home again I slept quickly and deeply.
I'm very happy that I went to this fantastic workshop. I also loved the partner exercises. Today I rest. I remember so much more. It woud be too much to report everything. A text can never substitute a workshop.
2 thumbs up for all participants.
Friday, September 05, 2014
I overslept. This is the second time in this week that I overslept. I curse. As always I think it shall be so. This thought usually helps me to find back quickly to a relaxed mood.
At 3pm till 9pm I'll participate at a workshop, a yoga workshop on floating. I cannot change the fact anymore that I overslept. I missed the led class. Not good. Good is that I've time for all my other activities that need to be done. My energy that goes to yoga at that time can go to another activity.
6 hours of yoga is enough for today.
Life happens. Oversleeping happens.
How I prepare myself for the workshop?
Attitude: joy and taking it easy
(All this shall avoid injuries. I know about the dangers of workshops.)
Thursday, September 04, 2014
"Hold it (the pose) longer."
Today I heard how our teacher MSch said this to a student. I was told the same for urdhva dhanurasana. It's such a good tip.
It is really not necessary to add preparation asanas in Ashtanga yoga. It's also not necessary to use blocks and straps or the wall. Those tools can do more harm than good.
An asana gets better if one holds it longer.
Why? The longer I hold an asana the more comfortable it feels. When the asana is comfortable I can get deeper. And this can take time. Yet this is how it goes. doing an asana till the limit, then waiting till the discomfort disappears and then going deeper and and and.....
It's perhaps similar when runners get stitch. The tip here is keep running, it will disappear.
In a pose we can feel stretching discomfort. Yet when we stand it it fades away. And then the body is ready for the next step.
I'd love to share another experience that I made lately in a led class.
In led classes for me the poses are held longer than I usually do in a Mysore class, the vinyasas are faster. I say the truth: I was not able to hold the hero pose virabadhrasana A as long as counted. I was one of the few in class who left the pose earlier and in led classes one can find the beginner. OK, 80% of the yogis/yoginis stand too high. The bent leg shall be parallel to the floor. This cannot be, I thought, that I cannot hold this pose for 5 long breaths after 10 years of practice. And next time I held the pose. I simply stay till my body gives up was my idea. My mantra 'I CAN' helped. Yet it was not the mantra that improved the pose. I realized that most of my weight was on the front leg. In order to be able to hold the pose, I shifted the weight backwards to strain other muscles. And suddenly I understood the intention of the pose. It stretches the hip of the leg that is stretched. This pose prepares for back bending asanas. Now I can hold this pose as long as counted.
Holding a pose longer can help to understand it.
Holding the poses longer and to repeat them are the tools to improve the asanas.
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Wednesday, September 03, 2014
At 5am my alarm clock woke me up.
Mistake one: I thought: Come on, stay another 5 min in bed. 20 min later I woke up. Oh no. Will it still make sense to go? Oh yes. Quickly I got up, I almost fell down the stairs to prepare a cup of coffee for myself.
Mistake two: Every morning I desperately search yoga clothes that fit together. It's still dark an the clothes are in the bedroom where my E is still sleeping. I work on moving this activity to the evening. Then all is prepared. I even want to know what clothes I dress. I can check the weather report and then I can decide in the evening what to dress the next morning. I'm fine-tuning my life. :)
30 sec before the arrival of the subway I was there. I saw an empty seat and almost fell into it. Tomorrow I get up on time was the thought.
I was the first in the shala. The atmosphere is so good so early. It's calm. It's good for me to be there so early as my practice is one of the longest. I don't want to be one of the last. This creates hectic for me, too.
On the picture is buhja pindasana. I think that this pose is a key pose for jumping backwards. Exactly in that position I want to get my body, only that the legs are inside the arms and that the head doesn't touch the floor. This is the position from where it's easy to throw the legs backwards. But to get there......when the legs are inside.......this is my challenge.
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Tuesday, September 02, 2014
This morning I got up on time. It was not easy, I'm out of the rhythm after the vacation. It's dark now at 5am. Even when I leave my home it's still dark. Many people are awake already. I'm not the only one in the subway at 6:02am. My destination is the shala downtown to practice Ashtanga yoga in the Mysore style.
Today I was the first. When I started with my practice I was alone, yet not long. Soon the shala filled. What a difference to practice with people. My concentration is so much better. One can be thankful for everybody who makes it to the shala.
The atmosphere was so good that I didn't discuss with myself if I should drop back into urdhva dhanurasana or not. I did it. 3 times. Back bending was neglected during my trip.
My Ashtanga yoga practice teaches me life lessons: what ever one practices or whatever gets attention grows. The opposite is true, too. One loses skills every day if one doesn't exercise them. This is so hard to accept sometimes. Nothing is reached forever.
One goal must be to establish a daily practice. I have it and I'm loving it.
Monday, September 01, 2014
When I woke up this morning I was so awake. It was bright day. This is never ever 5am, I thought. The alarm clock showed 4am. Impossible. I got up and checked another clock: almost 7am, too late to go to a Mysore class. This frustrated me. Frustration comes, frustration goes.....
I started my routine as usual: coffee, shower.....and then I practiced here. I'm very motivated for the time being. I want to be fit by Friday. I enrolled for a workshop, topic is the vinyasa. A tiny piece of mosaic is missing. Perhaps I learn it in that workshop.
My practice was modest. I omitted nothing. That is I didn't drop back into urdhva dhanurasana. This was not possible.
Since I go every day to a Mysore class my concentration improved. I know moments come where I like to take a break. I inhale, exhale and keep going. I don't leave the mat anymore. My interpretation of the activities that happen during a practice is lack of concentration. No matter if one does extra asanas or if one gets a block or if one talks, it's all lack of concentration, no matter what reason comes into the mind why this activity was necessary.
I'm back, my suitcase is unpacked. Laundry is on the hanger to dry. It's rainy here, after a relaxing day at home body and mind arrived.
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