Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday is the only day where I practice on my own.


Sunday I practice on my own. To be honest, I have enough from primary. I know there is still much to learn, i.e. the vinyasas, yet I'm able to perform all the asanas. One can get always deeper, I know, I know......

I have developed stamina. To practice till bakasana A is not so exhausting anymore than it used to be. At the end the body is warm and bendy and I have still energy to do a focused back bending. It's not that I do it with my last breaths ever.

Nevertheless, I want to focus faster on back bending and not doing it after primary when on my own.
Yesterday I saw the interview with Matthey Sweeney. He has developed the lion sequence as a support for back bending, kapotasana. I want to give it a try. I know that his series are challenging, yet different challenging as a classic Ashtanga series as the vinyasas are missing.

I start sweating already, when I think of my practice. Hahaha.......Time to roll out the mat.......


Friday, July 25, 2014

Led class today - primary


There are a few asanas that challenge me when I practice primary in a led class. Navasana is one of these poses. I lack core strength, I guess. Or am I so exhausted already when this pose comes? If the teacher counts the 5 breaths  fast I think: I can do it and I really give my best. If the counting is slow I think: no way and I start cheating right from the beginning (I hold my legs with my hands). My motivation to hold this pose for so long fades away. I don't feel challenged anymore, I just want to survive this pose. Haha.....

I practiced in the first row today. When in marichyasana C and D I had to turn around as these 2 poses are twists. What I saw was work in progress. Oh my, all these struggling yogis and yoginis. I know I've been there.

In the changing room a woman asked me: "Do you go to the Mysore classes, too?" 'Yes," I answered. "It's so early," she replied. "If you want it, it doesn't matter," I said and she agreed.

The more one wants something the tinier the obstacles become. To get up at 5am  is possible then. I'm curious now if I'll see her again.

Today I won't go to bed on time. I won't set a timer to wake up early. I'll enjoy my day off from yoga tomorrow.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

I drop back again


Back bending: I drop back again. From standing position I go to urdhva dhanurasana. I didn't miss it. It's not so important to do it. More important is to work on standing up from urdhva dhanurasana. If this is possible to drop back is a piece of cake. The goal is not to fall back, yet to drop back and to be in control of the body.

Yet 2 days ago MSch told me to drop back again. I wondered if I were still able to do it. There was no time to develop fear. I dropped back and this was it. This dynamic movement is repeated 3 times. I try to walk my hands closer to my feet when in the position.
I know that when the moment comes when I cannot hold myself anymore, that I have to stretch the arms towards the floor. Consequently and firmly. They must hold the body. I realized that my feet pointed outwards. I was cautious, I guess. Next time I try to keep them parallel. My head didn't touch the floor. I could hold myself.

This week I had 5 intensive practices. I needed a lot of sleep during this week. I'm glad that we have a led primary tomorrow and that I have a day off on Saturday.

If I weren't asked to stop at kapotasana, I wouldn't work so intensive on back bending. I always get adjustments when I do kapotasana and urdhva dhanurasana. This is a leverage effect. So much moves. On Sunday I'll take again some pictures. I'm curious myself if I can see the felt progress.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kapotasana - strong legs


The secret of all the back bending asanas lies in the legs. They are supposed to be strong, much stronger than one might imagine. Strong legs protect the lower back and make a practice safe.

The picture is taken last Sunday. What I like is that the legs are rather parallel. The elbows don't move apart from each other as they used to do. Important is also that I can hold this pose and I can focus on the breath.

My legs are a bit sore from yesterday. That means I had an intensive practice.

I practice in the morning. When I want to do more yoga, I prepare my own vegan meals, I clean the flat. This is part of a yogic life style. too.

I stare at the picture and I think: I'll nail this pose!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stay longer - 10 breaths


I know that this is an excellent tip by MSch. I fear sometimes I didn't even hold this pose for 5 breaths.

What's the effect when I hold urdhva dhanurasana longer?
1. The pose becomes comfortable. Yes!
2. When it feels good to be in the pose, it's possible to get a bit deeper into it. That is I walk my hands again closer to the feet.
3. When a pose becomes comfortable, it's easier to breathe deeply and the breath will finally help to come up.

In Sharath's book it's even recommended to lift up 5 times. Each time one can move the hands a bit closer to the feet.

I don't know why I'm so optimistic today, but I am.

I always get perfect adjustments when I do this pose. This has a leverage effect. I'm so thankful.

The plan:
1. Lifting up 5 times
2. Staying longer in the pose
3. Focus is on breathing and lengthening the body.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pashasana



Pashasana is one of the four core asanas of second series of Ashtanga yoga. It's also the first asana of second series. It's a twist with an additional challenge: One has to balance. 

There are 2 main challenges:
1. To reach the wrist while wrapping one arm around the legs.
2. The heels are supposed to be on the floor. 

If one feels any discomfort one is guided in which direction one has to work. Lately I was asked if I felt anything on the side of the feet. Yet I don't feel any discomfort here. I feel the tendon between feet and leg on the upper side. In order to become more flexible here I step my feet backwards in down dog so that my heels don't touch the floor anymore and then I try to push them down. 

In the second picture I don't sit. The body is slightly lifted. The legs are active. Also in pashasana one doesn't sit, legs are active.



All twists are good reminders to eat healthy. Then the extra pounds will disappear by themselves. Twists are easier when in excellent shape.

Don't hook the fingers. It might seem as progress, yet finally it isn't. The twist starts from the hips. One has to stretch the body. Then oneshoulder goes backwards the other one forward. The pectoral muscle is stretched. When the palm of the hand is turned around the shoulder moves forward, but it shall move backwards. So try to reach the wrist or a few fingers.

My heels are too high. When I roll back I fall out of the pose.
I'm convinced now that my approach to this pose must change. The heels must be on the floor while I try to reach my wrist with the one hand.

I know that this pose is possible for me. I've been there with help. To get into the pose is not yet possible.

The weather invited me to practice this morning. It's hot here. I so enjoyed my sweaty practice. And I've pictures for this week. I'm looking forward to an intensive yoga week.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dhanurasana


Sometimes one has aha-moments and the practice leaps ahead. My understanding re dhanurasana deepened when I saw a picture of the pectoral muscle. Back bending is (also) about stretching the pectoral muscle.

I check the following points when I do dhanurasana:

1. When I move into the pose the chin remains on the floor first. When My limit is reached, I lift the chin and the upper body. That way I can get deeper into the pose.
2. Thinking of stretching the pectoral muscle helps to open the front of the body even a bit more!!!
3. Feet together.
4. Knees move together, too. (challenging)
5. Deep breathing. The breathing helps, too.
6. Dristi is the nose and not upwards!!!!!

I tend to hold the pose rather short. It will improve this pose when I hold it longer. Yeahhhhh....

On Friday we had the led class. Matt, who taught in Munich in the last week and, who led us through primary yesterday directed a few words to us afterwards. Take your time, was the message. You have your whole life.
It's safer, I also think to develop the practice in a reasonable speed than to hurry.

I know that I'll be stuck at kapotasana for some time. Shall it be so. I'll learn to become even a bit more patient. I'll learn how to learn. My understanding about back bending will deepen. And finally I'll be in that deep deep back bending asana.

Today it's hot here and I'm enjoying my yoga free day. :) Happy weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Urdhva dhanurasana


I didn't like to write about back bending without a back bending picture. It's just taken without any warming up. But I bend backwards. Voilà.

For the time being we are truly pampered by 2 most excellent Ashtanga yoga teacher: Michael and Matt. Both teach Ashtanga yoga comme il faut. Both practiced in the shala in Gokulam with Sharath and they have inhaled the teaching method. What a luxury.
The shala is cramped, which is great. India feeling comes up. One mat lies next to the other one. The air is warm. I sweat and I'm bendy.

All what I've learned by now about urdhva dhanurasana is true. I'd only add the word 'more' to all the critical steps.
- My hands must walk closer to the feet.
- My legs must be much more engaged when I want to come up. This is my insight. Yet it should be doable.

A very helpful adjustment is when hands are pressed against the hips when in urdhva dhanurasana. So I got this adjustment not the first time. Yet this week I got it with so much more power. I had to push against it and got a feeling how much I have to engage my legs. What I did by now was too soft. When suddenly the resistance stopped and my legs were still engaged, I flew upwards. What a feeling. (I hope I could explain the process.)

Again I think these devilish back bending asanas 'urdhva dhanurasana' and 'kapotasana' should be possible for me.

I have to work on them....just a little bit harder......

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oh no!!!


I overslept.
Not amused. Not at all.
How could this be? I didn't even hear the alarm clock. That is I must have heard it as I had switched it off, yet I cannot remember anymore to have done this.

I'm out of rhythm.

On Sunday I watched the soccer match Argentina - Germany. It was so exciting, so very exciting. Finally the relief and we are 'Weltmeister' now. Today is the big party in Berlin. At 9am it starts and I'll watch TV to see again all the joy.

The plan was to be back from yoga already. What a pity. Now I'll have to practice alone again. :(

It is as it is. I'm vertical now and the day can begin.

When things go different then planned it's always a reminder that all is out of control. Life happens.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Supta kurmasana


Supta kurmasana is one of the core asanas of primary.

Not everybody's body proportions allow to cross the feet in front of the head. Mine don't. I have to bring the leg behind the head, left leg first, then right leg, before I can move forward again. I put my legs behind my head  while in a sitting position.

1. I don't hook the feet anymore. They are pointed.
2. When I move downward, I stretch my body. In the meantime also the tip of the nose touches the floor and not only the front. The goal is to bring the chin to the floor.
3. I don't hook my fingers anymore. I try to reach with my right hand the wrist of the left arm. With help it's possible.

Ashtanga yoga doesn't get boring....

And here is the exit pose....


I'm working on moving to bakasana from here.....

This should be doable, too..............one day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

An intensive yoga week found an end, good that Friday is for primary


It's good that on Fridays Ashtanga yoga practitioners practice primary 'only'. After an intensive week the body is exhausted. In order not to provoke injuries it's good to do less than during the week. And it was enough. I was happy when my practice was over. And I'm looking forward to a day off tomorrow.

The weather here was very supportive. It was always warm and humid. I sweated a lot. This is part of Ashtanga yoga.

Tomorrow our vacation end. In the morning we'll sit in the plane already. Destination: Germany.

If you like you can see my pictures taken here in Varna, Bulgaria on Flickr. Many pictures made it to 'Explore'.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Second practice of this week - the breath is so important


I practiced this morning. The hotel room gives me enough space to do all the asanas and without thinking that I'm in a deep valley between bed and wardrobe. My body was soft today and strong. Practices like today are motivating. The weather helps. It's so reliable warm here in Bulgaria.

Back bending: We all know it, correct breathing supports the practice. Nevertheless, I realized that my breathing is superficial when I do back bending asanas. Today I exhaled deeply. This comes first. And then with the next inhaling, my body got blown up like a balloon, I stretched my arms and I was in urdhva dhanurasana. It was so much easier.

In order to get closer with my hands to my legs I don't come down on my head, move them closer and get into the pose again. Instead I shift the weight to the legs and then I move the hands further to the legs. This is important as one day my hands must lift from the floor anyway. I have this technique from Kino MacGregor. It's challenging to get closer with the hands to the feet that way.

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Today we made a trip to the countryside. The sunflower fields are amazing. We tried to find a restaurant, but couldn't. Hungry we returned at the hotel in the late afternoon.




At 11pm Brazilians and Germans want to know who plays better soccer this year. We'll watch.

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Kapotasana - a long way to go


Kapotasana is one of the core poses of second Ashtanga series. Usually I don't drop back anymore. I work on  keeping my legs strong, I stretch, I try to lift my chest. That's it. Today I wanted to see how it looks when my hands are on th floor. How much distance will be to my feet, I wondered. My hands are far away from my feet, but I don't care. The pose improved. My knees are together and my elbows are much closer to each other than they used to be. The tiniest improvements make me happy. :)

It's possible, I tell myself again and again. And I practice this pose again and again. It's such a killer pose. This asana and back bending in general must be my focus for the next year, minimum. I trust that something can be moved: my spine. Hahaha.....It's so much more. As written: I work on strength here, too. The legs do a lot of work. Also from this pose one must come up.

I'm happy, I practiced. My body felt good (no more poisoned).

I wish I had the energy to do extra sessions for back bending.....might it happen.

Here is sunshine again. In Varna is a lake, called Lake Varna. We have a car for trips for the next days. This lake could be a destination today.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Sometimes all we get for doing something is who become in the process. :)


Janneke  wrote in a comment a few days back: Sometimes all we get for doing something is who become in the process. :)

This is so true. We change during the process in many ways.

- Many asanas that we want to learn need years of practice till they are mastered. On the way we have to become patient. Yet we also have to work on an asana i.e. without expecting quick success. We get strong mentally. We learn not to give up so quickly. Long term projects seem doable.
- We learn to stay optimistic.
- Also when we don't master an asana, we practice and this keeps us flexible and strong.
- We might also learn to learn.
- It can also be that we learn how to organize our lives, as we need time to practice yoga.
- Practicing daily we can develop a relaxed attitude towards the ups and downs on the mat and in life.

Our developments can be surprising even.


It's very warm here, exactly how I like it. I sit in a bar in front of the hotel and sip freshly squeezed orange juice. I have even Internet access here. 'Would you like to come back to Bulgaria?' E asked me yesterday. I would. People are friendly, food is good. We stay downtown, yet the beach is in walking distance. It's safe here. I love the cats. And the weather is stable. It's a perfect place to relax.

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PS: Also the above picture made its way to Explore on Flickr. It's the 4th picture now within a week. It's really very special to be put in that pool.



Saturday, July 05, 2014

Supta kurmasana


Pictures are a very effective learning tool. I recommend to take pictures of your practice. Firstly one can document the progress over yeaars. Secondly it helps to analyze the asana to see the next steps.

Yesterday I tried another view of supta kurmasana. This gave me new insights.
In supta kurmasana one puts the left leg first behind the head. Then comes the right leg. I see, that when I try to bring my right leg a bit further down, my head wold be in the middle.  Perhpas, when I turn my calves inside, this could be possible. This could also allow me to reach my left wrist with my right hand. With some help I can reach my wrist.  When alone it's difficult, yet I realize that I go deeper in the asana than a few months back. The reason: my understanding also has deepened.

I lengthen the body, I stretch forward. These days also my nose touches the floor and not only the chin. I saw yogis/yoginis who had the chin on the floor. :) Step by step also these advanced poses can be mastered. It can last years. Ashtanga yoga is not a yoga style that brings quick success. We learn to be patient.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Setu bandhasana


Setu bandhasana, the last asana of the middle part of primary Ashtanga series. It feels good if one is strong enough. If the muscles are engaged no pressure is on the neck.

Some time ago the pose felt unpleasant. I found out that my head is not even. I searched the Internet and I found out that the front shall be on the floor and not the top of the head. Next time I rolled further and the issue was solved.

There is always a further........

Setu bandhasana is the only back bending asana of primary, except urdhva dhanurasana that follows  after this pose. Setu bandhasana shall prepare for urdhva dhanurasana.

If one practices correctly the body is prepared for this pose.



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On back bending


It feels as if I progress. I also think that I understood what to do when bending backwards. For instance it's most important to have strong legs, to stretch upwards, to lift the chest. Yet yesterday I went through my back bending pictures on my asana blog and I couldn't make out much progress within the last 5 years. It looks as if nothing has happened.

Yesterday was not the day to write a critical analysis. The picture above got on Explore on flickr, which is seldom and shows appreciation. I enjoyed the attention.

Today is another day. I plan to do more back bending. Half of the year is over. Till the end of the year I want to focus on back bending. Let's enjoy the ride......

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Flexibility


I manage it to practice, not in the morning, yet during the day. When travelling one must be even a bit more flexible than usual.

We relax here in Varna, Bulgaria. We stroll around, we sit in one of the bars close to the beach, we read, we eat, we sleep. When there is nothing to do, then I practice....haha.....

The picture was taken yesterday night. I think my kapotasana attempt looks better than years ago. There is still a long way to go.  I fear that I must put more energy and time in back bending. Yet this should be doable, too. I know that I haven't yet reach my limits.

My practice has changed in the last year: 
1. I focus to keep my legs strong and I keep the knees together.
2. I move backwards slowly and I try to create room. Stretching upwards comes first.
3. I move the chest upwards, too.


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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Back bending in a hotel room


It's possible to practice here in that hotel room. It is. It was evening already when I started. It was a short practice. I only practiced the asanas of second series till kapotasana as middle part. It was enough to challenge me.

Every practice motivates.
I can't wait till tomorrow to practice again.