Monday, June 30, 2014

Discipline


I managed it to get up in the morning and I practiced. It was so hard, so painful, yet I couldn't make out where the pain was. The body felt stiff, poisoned. I did primary and this was it.
I wished I could understand this coffee machine here. I have the strange idea that a cup of coffee before my practice would help me to have a more pleasant practice.

Just doing it again and again every morning without trying to find reasons why it's bad and why it's good is indeed good advice.

We are masters in relaxation. We walk around here in  Varna, Bulgaria. We eat, drink, walk around. Today we chilled out at the beach. It's not so crowded like in Burgas where we've been last time.

I'm so amazed about the cats here. They are so many. Every day I take pictures of cats. The below picture has the title: Behind me the chaos. Who cares.



Soccer time now. Algeria and Germany play tonight.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

The weather forecast for the next 10 days in Varna, Bulgaria




I've never seen such a weather forecast. Sunshine every day. 

Only lack of discipline can hold me back not to practice. The hotel room is large enough for my yoga mat. The weather will support me.

We missed the buffet this morning. Who cares.

Sleep was needed.

There is a bar round the corner......a coffee would be great now.

And then we'll explore our surrounding.


Oh, I've forgotten how many cats live here:




Friday, June 27, 2014

Sharath is the boss - Astanga Yoga Anusthana


Finally the book 'Astanga Yoga Anusthana' by R. Sharath Jois  arrived.

One can order the book from India, from the shala, but then one must order 50 books.
Good that we have Eddie Stern. One can buy a single book via Eddie's shop.

I got mine today. I love the book. That's simplicity. That's the core. Every sentence makes sense. Not a single word is redundant.

Oh, it's about Ashtanga yoga, primary series. I hope another book will follow covering second series and then third and forth.

My bibles so far were the book by Mr Sweeney and the book by Mr Miele. Yet both books showed differences re the asanas, the numbers of breaths in some asanas.

This book here gives an orientation.

Quickly I looked up the following asanas:

1. Paschimottanasana. There is dandasana and then 2 forms of paschimottanasana (holding the toes and holding the wrist)
2. Garbha pindasana (role 5 to seven times). There is a certain flexibility.
3. Baddha konasana: there are 2 forms. In the first asans the chin is on the floor, in the second asana the front is close to the feet.
4. Urdhva dhanurasana: It's not obligatory to come up from this pose or to drop back in order to move to second series. Yet urdhva dhanurasna is part of first series.
5. Closing sequence: There is no vinyasa between the poses. One moves from one pose to the next. This is how we practice it. Interesting is also that no pose is held for 24 breaths, yet only for 10 breaths.
6. At the end we rest. This is called 'sukhasana' and not savasana.

BTW: Ansuthana means performance, execution........

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Probably a unique experience - the filming


Yesterday we were filmed at Airyoga, we that is yogi R, teacher MSch and myself. Our teacher led us through half primary.

It was a professional shooting. That is we got our hair done and the face, too. We all got an outfit (see picture). I was asked if I liked color. So I was the lady in red.

All took a bit longer as planned. I think this is so if many people are involved in a project. At 3pm we started with the show. Only 3 or 4 times the filming was interrupted. Then the make-up artist dried our faces. I loved it. I guess we also needed it. Our teacher counted rather slowly, so in some asanas I could relax a bit longer, in others I was challenged. I was so happy that I could hold navasana and also urdhva dhanurasana and utpluthih. HOLD, HOLD, HOLD, HOLD, I was so strict with myself. And I held this pose and I was more than glad. Ha. I fell out of urdhva dandasana A. When I realized that MSch was adjusting R, I thought: no way to hold it 10 breaths. I trembled, I had reached my limit. I hope they cut this part.

The worst was the chanting at the end. This was lousy. I will finally learn this text. Hahaha....

In sum I'd say that we were an excellent team. We were all super. I'm curious now about the result.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Preparation for the filming


I was asked and I said 'yes'.

Airyoga offers online video classes. They also want to offer a video class - Ashtanga yoga, half primary. So I was asked if I'd like to be part of the show. What I couldn't forsee was that we would be so few yoginis. We'll be 3 people only to be precise. Our teacher, a yogi and a yogini (myself). Our teacher will lead us through the session. So we'll be 2 practitioners. Oh my.
Yesterday I realized to what I've said 'yes'. As we're only 2 yoginis who practice we'll get a lot of attention. That is I've to be really focused.
Make-up, yoga clothes by Mandala will make us look like perfect yoginis of the 21st century. :)

How to prepare?
1. I looked up the dristis (gazing point for each position). This is something I really miss when I see the practice of my colleagues. Some even close the eyes. So I want to show the correct dristis.
2. I won't eat anything anymore tonight. Weight is a key factor for a flexible practice.
3. Mentally I will think: It's like every day, a daily practice. Enjoy and relax.

Picture: Marichyasana D. This will be the last pose of the middle part.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Dhanurasana - how to get into the asana makes a difference




Dhanurasana is an asana of the second series. It's one of the poses that comes before kapotasana. It prepares for the deep back bending to come. The pose itself is a challenge. The knees shall be together. This repuires strength.

I was shown how to get into the asana and this makes a difference. First I keep the chin on the floor, while moving the legs upwards. This gives me stability. Then, when I've reached the limit I move the chest upwards. It's done with one inhaling.

How to get into an asana can make a difference. Try it.

Yesterday was Sunday and I practiced at home. I did second series only till kapotasana. Then I was done. I was so stiff. Every movement was an effort. Yet this lousy practice prepared the body for today. Today every pose felt good.
3 more practices at Airyoga with MSch this week, on Friday is a moon.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

From nothing nothing comes


It's World Cup and topic of the moderators are of course the players, especially those who are outstanding. They have talent, the experts agree. Yet this is not the only reason why they are successful. They work hard. Those who are the best are the first at the training and the last who go. They work on their strength and weaknesses, too. They search the limits and they work and work and work like hell.

From nothing nothing comes.

Also P. Jois said: Practice and all is coming.

Important is to work, work, work, practice, practice, practice. If one wants to progress to go once a week to a yoga class is not enough. Ashtanga yoga is practiced daily, except on Saturdays and moon days. Then it's also safe, that is injuries are very unlikely.

A most important ingredient of a flourishing practice is to practice, often and diligently.

A quote from the book 'Astanga Yoga' by P. Jois, page 3: " Practice: it is said that where there is no effort there is no benefit. Strength, stamina and sweat are unique aspects of the tradition of Yoga, seemingly contrary to western perceptions of Yoga. This demanding practice requires considerable effort to purify the nervous system.

Navasana (see picture): My weak poses are not those that require flexibility, but those that require strength and stamina. It's unbelievable, but I cannot hold this pose 5 times for 5 breaths when in a led class. There is always something to work on.

PS: I've also a page on Facebook on photography. Feel free to like it and  enjoy my pictures. Thank you.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday is a day off


On Saturdays the Ashtanga yoginis don't practice. They have a day off. This day off has a history. P. Jois a most passionate teacher taught every day. His family missed him and they wanted to see him at least once in a week longer. So he took off Saturdays to have time with his family.

1. To have a day off creates a lot of time that one can spend with family and friends, indeed. E loves to invite me for dinner on Friday night. I can stay up longer as usual as I don't have to get up at 5am the next day. I can sleep in, which is nice, too once a week. The body is used to get up early, so I don't stay soooooo loooooong in bed, but longer.

2. Necessary things can get done. The daily yoga practice is time-consuming. I get up at 5am and at 9am I'm at home again. This is 4 hours. A lot can be accomplished within 4 hours, 4 extra hours. Having things done is relaxing. Having a relaxed life  is what we yoginis want, isn't it?

3. My practices are so intensive these days that I've the feeling that my body needs one day to integrate what it has learned during the week. One day off doesn't make the body stiff. One can start the yoga week slowly.

4. A day off also keeps me motivated. I always realize how much I love this practice when I don't practice a day.

So today I'm enjoying my day off. I'll do grocery shopping. My beloved E loves my meals and I want to cook today. I'll have time to take pictures. At night we'll watch soccer. The team  of Ghana and the team of Germany will  measure who is better.

PS: Please don't forget to buy your goodies via my blog. On the right side are the links. Thank you.
PPS: If you like my blog feel free to share it with friends. You can also find me on Facebook if this is more convenient for you. A link is on the right side, too.

I wish you a relaxed Saturday. Might this Saturday allow you to gather enough energy to have an intensive next week.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ashtanga yoga - led classes give feed-back


Friday morning Airyoga offers a led class with Michael Schabort. We are led through full primary. Nothing is omitted. The rhythm is perfect. I know that not everybody loves led classes, yet I highly recommend it. One can get a feeling what Ashtanga yoga is. It guides. It inspires for the practices in the Mysore classes.

I realize that when practicing alone I hold the asanas shorter and I take more time to get into the asanas. I know this and I guess everybody has this tendency. Nevertheless I got so much better here as I'm able to perform all the asanas. Ashtanga yoga has rhythm. The vinyasa count is important. The consequent moving doesn't allow much thinking. This relaxes.

There a few asanas that challenge me a lot, not to do them, but to hold them:
1. Navasana. I cannot hold boat pose 5 times for 5 long breaths.
2. Headstand and then see picture. To get into the asansa is doable, but to hold it, seems very difficult. I fight and I often leave the pose while M is still counting. Oh my. I usually practice in the first row. When in headstand I can see the other yoginis falling out of the pose, one by one. I'm not the last who falls out.
3. I give everything to hold urdhva dhanurasana 3 times for 5 breaths. Afterwards follows chaturanga. One moves via a vinyasa to paschimottanasana. I omit chakrasana, it seems impossible. Next time in a Mysore class I'll integrate it. I can practice slower and this might help.
4. Uttplutihi. 5 breaths and  I sit again. All these mentioned poses require willpower, perseverance.

The classic jumping backwards and forwards between sides and asanas felt excellent today. It seems to me as if the body got new insights how to complete this vinyasa.

I sweated. To feel the own body water running down the body is an uplifting feeling.

This led class ended my yoga week. Tomorrow is my day off and on Sunday I'll practice on my own.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

My personal Himalaya


The difference to climbing up the Himalaya is that I'm wandering downwards, not upwards. The hands want to reach the feet and finally also the elbows shall touch the floor.

The desperate question ' will I ever be able to do this pose' is dominating. Not when I practice this pose. Then I give my very best. I breathe and it feels so intensive, yet I have no clue how far I crawl down with my hands. So I had to take a picture again.
Yesterday I put the blocks behind my feet to create easier goals. To reach the blocks would be great already. Please might it happen soon. Hahaha.....

Very good is that I know now how to work. I press the knees  together. The chest is lifting. The elbows shall be parallel. To lengthen the body is important.

Very good is also that I get adjusted each time I do this pose in a Mysore class. This makes a difference!!!

My practice this morning was excellent. Tomorrow is a led class. Of course I'll go.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Urdhva dhanurasana


I wanted to see how it looks like after so hard work in the last 6 months. I think it looks good. I think there is still a long way to go. Currently I'm working on moving the chin to the wall. I press the knees together. They shall be parallel. I also work on getting stronger in order to come up from this pose. It's no more important to drop back. I know how to do it. More important is to come up.

Good news: it feels better and better. I can hold the pose much longer than in the past.

Patience is needed. I know there is still potential to develop this pose.

So tired


This morning I almost overslept. Without the obligatory coffee as a first wake-up ritual, I jumped in the shower, brushed my teeth, put on my clothes afterwards and out of the house I was.

The practice was lame, super lame. I had now strength at all. The body felt poisoned. Survive it, I messaged myself. I could scarcely hold chaturanga dandasana. The body touched the floor as I couldn't bring up enough willpower to hold the pose. Lying on the floor on my belly I was happy to have a second to relax and to do nothing.
I didn't omit anything. A little miracle.
At home I went to bed again and slept like dead. 2 hours I was in bed, in an almost coma state. I don't know why this is so. It's a happening. I try to do one important thing during the rest of the day. Today it's a wire transfer.

This are the ups and downs. They don't shatter me, neither the ups nor the downs. I keep practicing, I keep planing my day, I keep breathing.

During times with much energy I try to do a bit more than usual.
During times with no energy, I take it easy. The French café comes into my mind. To sit there in the shadow, reading a book, sipping from a coffee Americano can really be relaxing and uplift the spirit today.

I'm curious how my energy level will be tomorrow. So good I'm not too lame to be curious. A very good sign. Curiosity equals liveliness.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

To walk the talk....how long to stay in the asanas of the closing sequence


Hahaha.....you remember yesterdays post where I wrote to practice with diligence from the beginning till the end.

So today I was in headstand, I moved my legs to a horizontal position. After 5 breaths I had enough. Was I bored? Was I exhausted? I moved the legs upwards and then down and then I realized that teacher MSch sat there. 'Stay for 10 breaths', he told me. I love how attentive he is. He cares. And he is right. The asanas are supposed to be hold longer.

Here is how long one shall stay in the asanas of the closing sequence: 

1. Salamba sarvangasana - 25 breaths
2. Halasana - 10 breaths
3. Karna pidasana - 10 breaths
4. Urdhva padmasna - 10 breaths
5. Pindasana - 10 breaths
6. Matsyasana - 10 breaths
7. Uttana padasana - 10 breaths
8. Sirsasana - 25 breaths
9. Urdhva dandasana - 10 breaths
10. Balasana - 10 breaths
11. baddha padmasana - 10 breaths
12. Yoga mudra - 10 breaths
13. Padmasana - 25 breaths
14. Utpluthih - 25 breaths

I highlighted the poses that are held for 25 breaths. All the other asanas are held for 10 breaths. Not to forget that after the headstand comes a rest pose and this one is held for 10 breaths, too.

I took the information from the book by M. Sweeney - Astanga yoga as it is.

Tomorrow I'll walk the talk. That is I do what is possible. Utplutthih is a challenge. Usually I'm done at the end. I can work on it. Every week 2 more breaths.......

Monday, June 16, 2014

Till the last second


It's World Cup time in Brazil. What we can see are the best soccer players, the best teams world wide. I love to watch the matches. And I love to listen to the moderation to get back ground information. What can I learn from the best of the best, wonder.

Yesterday a team scored in the last minute. This happens not that rarely. The conclusion: a match is lost or won when the match is over not earlier. Not to give up too early requires strength and willpower, yet this can bring the wished success.

For my yoga practice I learn to be attentive till the end.
Sometimes I observe that when the asana is done a sloppy vinyasa follows. Yet the vinyasa is equally important. The vinyasa  has counter poses. The upward facing dog should be done with awareness as well. Muscles shall be engaged. The movement is done with the inhaling. I search my limit here, too. When the inhaling is done, there is a little break. I try not to be in a hurry to do the next asana as quickly as possible. The vinyasas deserve the same attention as the asanas.

The closing sequence has a purpose, too. The body shall cool down. The asanas are held longer. We practice the closing sequence in the back of the room. It's seductive to finish quickly as the main part is done.
To relax at the end is important, too. It's a skill to relax, one can exercise it every day after the asana practice. I'll bring a timer next time. I know I'm too quickly through this part.

Today my practice was great. The weather helps a lot. I can try to find reasons why it was good. Fact is it's often a surprise how it is.

Today the Germans and the Portuguese team will fight and sweat. Of course I'll watch. Good luck.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Keep the fire burning


I love to watch the World Cup and especially I love to listen to the moderation if Oli Kahn is commenting. What can I learn from these world class players for my yoga practice, I wonder.
The match Netherlands : Spain ended 5:1 for Netherlands.

After the match  the world class goal keeper from Spain was judged. He must have been very very good for a very very long time, yet he lost drive. His body posture showed desperation. He had given up the match long before it was over. He rather showed that he was at the end and not hungry, aggressive, optimistic. Even I could see this. He looked as if he had enough from this show. He looked tired.

You must keep burning, Oli commented. Everybody who wants to win must keep the motivation high. This is very individual how this is accomplished. It's a topic for every player.

In yoga we don't have to win. It's not a match. We are alone on the mat. If we strive for intensity in our practices, we need to be motivated.

What motivates you to get up in the morning to practice Ashtanga yoga?
Is this motivation strong enough to bring you through the decades?
Answer these questions.......

Of course nobody has to practice Ashtanga yoga. One can also practice lame.

My experience is that when I'm able to put a lot of energy in my practice, the more satisfying it is.
I'm happy to experience a very motivated time for the time being.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The weather has an influence


The weather has an influence on my yoga practice. This morning I sweated. I could feel the sweat running down my body. The body is so much softer when it's hot.

In the meantime MSch is no more a secret tip. The shala was crowded today. Only the truly committed ones will come on a regular basis. To get up at 5am is a life style. This one must want. The distractions in our lifes are numerous. It's so seductive to give in and to stay up long. Like everywhere there will soon be the core and those who come and go.

I remember when I was in India. During a conference Sharath said how much he has learned alone from dristi. Dristi means that we focus on a gazing point when in an asana.  I knew what he meant. Focus is energy pure.

So I sweated and I had energy to work on back bending this morning.

The weather is still hot and I'm looking forward to a sweaty practice tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The yoga week has started....


It will be a short week. Yesterday was a day off. On Friday will be a moon day. That is, this week I'll have 3 Mysore classes, one was today.

During the last days I was traveling. My yoga mat was with me. I didn't find a place where to practice. Mostly this is an excuse. I was up too late. Therefore I also slept longer. This is how it was and often is when traveling. When joining groups that don't practice yoga in the morning, the rhythm of the day is changing.



After 3 days off I always fear the next practice. How so often it has been better than expected. It's hot here now. I started sweating from the beginning on. This helps.

Back bending is weak. It feels so. I do it. And I don't think so much about it. Progress cannot be seen every time I practice. Today I got motivated to keep my bandhas engaged and also the legs when doing laghu vajrasana. One must be stubborn. Next time I'll talk to myself when doing it: hold, hold, hold, hold, hold it. I often give up too fast. Laghu vajrasana strengthens the will power.

With my body proportions back bending is difficult, yet not beyond reach.

So I'm through my practice. I'm happy.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Concentration, contentment, discipline



Most of us are visual oriented. How does something look is important for us. This is in my opinion the reason why we are so focused on asanas. Today after the wonderful led class at Airyoga with MSch I had a juice drink at the Viktualienmarkt. A conversation developed with a man who owns a sports club. We laughed when he told that when he removed the mirrors in his studio he'd go broke.

Ashtanga yoga teaches me also mental skills that cannot be seen so quickly, yet they can be seen.

1. Concentration: I focus on my breath. I don't try to make extra movements, I keep my eyes calmly and gaze at a point. This requires mental strength. To concentrate means to eliminate distraction, noise. It's difficult as the asanas themselves to focus for some time.


2. Contentment. 
There are only few rules in yoga. Being content is no rule, rather a hint. Life is not perfect, it will never be. The performance of the asanas are not perfect, sometimes we criticize the weather. To develop an attitude of contentment is something that can be learned. It doesn't happen because of any event. We gaze at our toe in some asanas. We can also focus on parts of our lives that we like. From there we can start and see the beautiful things around us.

3. Discipline.
It's not only the discipline to get on the mat. In order to get up in the morning I have to go to bed on time. This requires discipline, too.  To eat healthy, which often implies to prepare the own meals, requires discipline, too.

Developing these 3 mental skills only make every life better.

Happy weekend.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Back home...


We age differently. During the weekend we celebrated the 90th birthday of my mother-in-law in the north of Germany. She is indeed an example that life can be great at 90. She loves to travel, she loves to be among people. She loves to party and her flowers in the garden. No complaints, but  'present moment awareness' and 'present moment fun'.

Others have difficulties to put on the socks.
I got admired because I sat on the sofa in lotus pose.

In order to stay strong and flexible as long as possible I practice Ashtanga yoga. This is only one reason, but yeah this practice will support me with my wish to stay healthy. So on Friday I did primary in the living room of my parents. On Sunday I skipped my practice. Instead we sat in the train, me more than 6 hours. This makes stiff. I could feel it this morning in the Mysore class. I started sweating after the first sun salutation. To survive it is all you can wish today, a little voice guided me. And I survived it.

Afterwards I walked to the Viktualienmarkt to get a juice drink there. From tomorrow on I'll work again as an accountant, not full time, but I guess I'll be rather busy for the next few months. The 'yes' is simply closer for me than the 'no'. I organize my work around my yoga practice. It's doable.

I go with the flow..........