Saturday, September 06, 2014

'Learn to fly' workshop with Ronald Steiner


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. 

4. Vinyasas:
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.

Second approach. 
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. 

Confused?
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. 

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