Monday, March 31, 2014

In Lyon


 It's a very nice hotel room, very nice. Nevertheless I skip my morning practice. Excuse: the hotel room is too small.

We walked around yesterday. It's so warm here  that only a jacket is necessary to feel warm even at night. We walked through the shopping area. Finally we found a nice restaurant: bon bourgois. They were very flexible and I even got a delicious vegan meal.






I admire everybody who manage it to practice in hotel rooms. I'm craving for a cup of coffee now.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hotel rooms


Above is Bern, Switzerland. It has been the view out of the huge window yesterday. Just behind the window I could practice. I even did. That is I exercised the sun salutations, standing asanas. When I arrived at paschimottanasana, I gave up. I was so stiff. Stiff, stiff, stiff. Sometimes the sentence 'It hurts so good' is so true. Sometimes it hurts so awfully. The discomfort is so awful sometimes, it's almost not understandable. I moved my body a bit. This was my first practice this morning during our short trip to France.

Six more self-practices shall follow.

In the meantime we are in Lyon, France.  Below is the view out of the window.

The hotel room is so cute. With a lot of imagination and when I move the suitcase in front of the door and the chair under the desk, it could be possible to roll out my mat. I'll program my unconsciousness when in bed. Shall I get up tomorrow morning and shall I practice. It will be difficult to practice in the deep valley next to the desk and the bed. No complaints. I love to be here in France, Lyon.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ashtanga yoga to calm the mind....


Primary today. Just this.

One movement, one breath. This is concentration. This calms.

The eyes gaze at a point and don't move. This stops thinking, too.
The breath is even. And deep.
No music.

Despite or because of this exhausting practice, finally it's calming, it relaxes mind and body.

My concentration got better, for sure. I start the practice and I leave the mat when the last asana is done. No breaks anymore.

It's an old question: How to calm the mind. The mind is active all the time, even when we sleep. Usually we have to learn methods to relax. The activity of the mind is not bad per se. The issue is many confuse the thoughts with the truth. Then they get involved. Knowing that the thoughts are fiction also helps to let go and to relax.

Being relaxed feels good. And I feel good. Same to you. Happy weekend for everybody.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My mind is so creative...


...in finding excuses why it's' good not to practice today.

Where is this little voice that talks back?
Where is this little voice that always knows why it's good to practice? Still sleepy?

(A few sun salutations should be possible also on days of weak motivation, isn't it????)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ashtanga yoga: how often shall one check progress and how?



Yes, it happens. Sometimes one leaps ahead. Yesterday it was not possible to bind in one of the twists and the other day it's possible. Yet most of the time daily progress cannot be experienced. Often when an asana is learned it's volatile in the beginning. One day it's good, the other day it feels impossible.

- I'd love to see daily progress. It's rare.
- Sometimes I think an asana doesn't develop at all over years. This is not true either.
So how to get realistic.

My experience is that an asana feels differently than it looks like.

Years ago I discovered how my pictures helped me to learn. It was a challenge to get into the pose within 10 sec. The self-timer of my little camera only gave me so less time. But it was possible.
Looking at my pictures helped me A LOT. Pictures are a powerful learning tool for me the most powerful one.

Of course, if you're lucky and if you can go to classes it's likely that you get feed-back from a teacher. Yet no teacher can tell you everything again and again.

A picture is so convincing.

As written, to check progress in too short periods is frustrating.
After a year I usually can see that an asana got better. I created a blog for documenting my development: www.my-asanas.blogspot.com . Over the years I can see how flexible I got. This is motivating. This boosts my optimism. This keeps me going.

I label my posts. This allows me to see all sirsasana i.e. that I've published over the years.
Blogs can be kept privatly. If you don't take pictures of yourself doing asanas, I'd recommend to test it.




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PPS:  Have a good start in the week. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ashtanga yoga: You must fall in love with the rhythm


Friday around the world Ashtanga yoga practitioners practice primary, often in a  led class. After an intensive week it's good to slow down and to practice familiar poses. The body is exhausted after a week. It's protects from injuries to slow down at the end.

Focus in the led classes is the vinyasa count that is a speciality of Ashtanga yoga. 
Vinyasas are the knots between the pearls, they are the movements between the asanas. They are as important as the asanas.

Practicing the correct vinyasa count doesn't allow to dawdle or to dream. Consequently it brings you to the mat mentally. This calms, despite the effort the body has to do. No self-made issues, no to do lists, just the next movement, the next breath is important.

I'm through primary. It was again a lonesome ride.
I miss the led class.

I'm happy that I'm so disciplined that I practice.

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So much I want to do today  that I feel almost paralysed. I remember how it goes to make my life easy. One task accomplished is wonderful. And what task shall this be?  I will bring discarded clothes to a friend. 2 bags full of pullover, dresses, trousers and scarves will leave my home today. My life becomes simpler and simpler with less things. This feels so good.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ashtanga yoga - paschimottanasana


Primary series of Ashtanga yoga starts with dandasana. To sit with straight legs and a straight back can already be a challenge. Important is that all poses are active poses. The legs are engaged. Dandasana is the first sitting asana of the middle part of primary series, it's a rather relaxing pose. I mean just to sit......

Then follow the paschimottanasanas.
When I started with Ashtanga yoga 10 years ago it used to be 4 variations:
1. Holding the toes.
2. Holding the sides of the feet.
3. Holding the soles of the feet from above.
4. Holding the wrist.

Each variation helps to go a bit deeper into the pose.

These days one practices 2 variations, no 1 and no 4. I think this is enough.

I always folded my fingers when I practice no 4. See history. I thought holding the wrist is not possible for me. Lately in class I was told to hold the wrist. I did it and voilà it was possible.

Time changes. Try something again and again. After some time something might be possible that seemed impossible. This is my insight.

What to consider when practicing this paschimottanasana:
1. Engage your legs.
2. The movement starts from the hips. This pose enlarges the flexibility of the hips.
3. Engage your bandhas. This helps to get deeper.
4. Stretch forward with the inhaling, go deeper into the pose with exhaling.
5. Don't sacrifice your straight back in order to force your head to your legs.

Headstand can be learned in a session. This pose requires time. Progress can come slowly, but it comes. It's inevitable.

This pose is a classic bath tub pose. Enjoy this little extra exercise when you take a hot bath.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ashtanga yoga: Ardha baddha padmottanasana




Ardha baddha padmottanasana, it's one of the asanas I thought I wouldn't be able to do. Our bodies are different. Those with very long arms might have it a bit easier. But look, me too, I was able one day to perform  it. This is the reason why I write about this pose today. I'd like to write about the mental influence of practicing Ashtanga yoga. In sum it made me more optimistic. I faced so many asanas I thought they were impossible for me to do. I was happy with easier variations. Yet asana by asana could be performed. Optimistic thoughts are contagious. These days I think more is possible than I might think. 

If a pose is not possible one can try to understand it:
- I tried to put my feet higher on my hips.
- I turned my hole upper body around in order to reach my toe with my hands. I did it first with a swing.
- I bended my leg to make balancing easier first. 

To play around to understand a pose makes sense.

I was entertained when I saw my history of this asana: First I didn't know that the body should be parallel to the legs. I also didn't know that the chin should touch the shin. This makes the balancing more challenging. Yet this is how this pose is performed. For some time now I work in this direction. It's doable.  
Dristi is the nose. 

Keep practicing. Stay curious.

And for those who are not yet challenged enough, here a variation of the pose. I am challenged enough. 


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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Utthita eka padasana



















One breath for your husband, one breath for your best friend, one breath for your teacher, one breath for your family, one breath for the fellow yogis. Done.
Or do you like to add a breath. Don't stop, go ahead, hold it one or two breath longer.

Utthita eka padasana makes us strong. It's easier to hold the leg up when the toes are pointed. So it shall be also: toes pointed.

I breathe deeply, engage the bandhas. This helps me. I try to forget my leg. It wants attention. It starts burning. I keep focusing on the breath.....
This pose  strengthens the attitude: I can, I tell myself. I can hold it another breath. Yes, I can, I can......

Monday, March 10, 2014

Utthita hasta padangusthasana



Utthita hasta padangusthasana: 
There is so much to say about this pose that I have to organize my thoughts first.

1. In India in Gokulam it's a must to get the chin to the shin bone. Saraswati gave me an adjustment here every day. This is the pose and nothing else.

It's a balancing pose, like most standing asanas. Yet it's also a stretching pose. The goal is to get more flexible in the hips. This understanding is important. I explain now why....

2. To every pose is a vinyasa. I inhale (pic 1) and with an exhaling I go into the pose.
I bend my leg again first. This allows me to get much deeper into the pose. A recommended variation is to lift the leg straight. If you are very advanced you can do it. Yet this strengthens rather the hip muscles. My understanding is that I work on flexibility, not on strength here. Utthitha eka padasana requires strength in the hip muscle, yet this comes later.
So these days I benk my leg and then I go into the pose. This allows me to go much deeper into the pose.

3. It's a balancing pose. How to balance?
- Stretch forward first. Create length in the body.
- Engage the bandhas.
- Respect the dristi. Keep calm eyes. Look towards the foot.
- Don't think, not even that you have a good day today. Thinking makes me wobbling. I focus on the breath. I allow only the imagination that I am a column. Nothing else.

This asana doesn't look spectacular, yet it' a challenging pose. Later in the sequence it's done while lying on the floor. The vinyasa count is the same. Only balancing is missing. Then stretching and working on flexibility is rather the focus. And the abdomen are challenged if done correctly. Oh, oh, the abdomen can burn.....




Monday morning practice



Yes, yes, yes, I practiced. At home. It motivates  me to think of my fellow yoginis and yogis. Thursday in a week I'll be ready again to join groups. I miss the Mysore class.

I practice less asanas these days, yet I see progress in other areas.
- My concentration has  improved. I don't take breaks. I keep practicing till the end. The huge advantage. My practice is done rather early of the day. This gives me time for all my other activities, duties, chores.
- Dristhis are so important:
1. Keeping the eyes calm and gazing at a point calms the mind. Yet not only this.
2. The correct dirsti help to align the asanas. I take care of the correct dristies.

I use no props, I don't do extra asanas and exercises anymore. It might make sense to do some, but in extra practices. These extra exercises during the practice spoils the rhythm. Breaks happen. In classes people walk around to get there blocks and straps. The atmosphere changes. It becomes turbulent.
I prefer an atmosphere so intense, so focused that one has the feeling that one can cut the air.

Sharath is an experienced teacher. In one of his last conferences he mentioned that any pose is possible, one only has to practice it long enough. Only yoga students who start at 80 with the practice might experience limits. Hahaha......I'm not 80 and I always moved.
I fight with back bending. Will kapotasana be able one day? Let's be optimistic. I'm not yet 80. Hahaha....

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Simplifying my life


This morning I got up and went through my clothes. I dreamed of discarding all clothes. That I could throw out so many things astonished me. Less IS more.

With so many interests like me one must have a simple life. Projects, yoga, chores......if I want to do everything I must focus.

Focus is the key.

Bed time now for yoginis, early risers......

Thursday, March 06, 2014

I joined the club of the lonesome Ashtanga yoga practitioners.


Not voluntarily. Not to go to the Mysore classes at 6:30 is a huge exercise in detachment.

Last Thursday I had a session at the Dentist: Duration 5 hours.
Now my gums must heal. Till the last session isn't over I don't feel ready to present myself in a Group. It has been a difficult decision. Yet it's the one I feel best.

At 5am my Alarm clock woke me up. At 6:30 I was on the mat. It's 9am now and my practice is done. I had Focus, I was concentrated. I practiced what I usually practice, too. Not getting the adjustments in back bending will slow down the Progression enormously. I consider a short back bending practice in the evening to compensate.

I'm happy with my new PC. It's a new start. No mess on it. Hahaha......
On Saturday the latest Lightroom will get delivered. Then new Pictures will accessorize my blog Posts.

Next step:
I must teach my PC not to make all These capital letters.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

One can rely on nothing.....

Just a joke.

My PC broke down. Every thing has a life span.

Bye-bye my red toy.

Hello new one.