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.... 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


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.


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.

My yoga blog on Facebook.
Ursula Preiss Phtotgraphy on Facebook.

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 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


Finding joy in observing the breath.



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


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.