Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A last practice on the last day of 2014


Excellent. I love it. Ashtanga yoga is my thing. It gives me so much joy in my life. I practiced today in the living room, I wanted to finish this year with a practice. And so it happened. G observed me when I did urdhva dhanurasana. To have a spectator gives so much energy.

Eight hours and then we can say: Bye-bye 2014.



Thank you for reading.
Thank you for accompanying me on my Ashtanga yoga journey.

I wish you a wonderful evening. 

Till 2015. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Exploring a new shala in Hannover


Yesterday, despite the low temperatures outside I took the train to Hannover. Close to the main station is a new Ashtanga yoga school. I wanted to explore it.
I arrived very early. Quickly I saw the sign of the school. It's in the fifth floor of a building. The steps serve as a warm-up, I thought.

The teacher was already there and I was welcomed cordially. I could start my practice half an hour earlier.

I recommend to practice from time to time in another Ashtanga yoga school. In my opinion it's so much more helpful than to go to workshops. In a workshop all students are new to the teacher. When joining an existing group one is the only new student often and one gets a lot of attention.

Some of the feed-back is familiar to me already, yet I wonder why I don't change it. I have surely also bad practice habits:
1. See picture above: Hands and arms shall be in line. My feet are too far apart. My body has no room anymore to move downwards.
2. I'll take care of my feet when doing primary. They shall be vertical. It helps to press the back tendon of the leg down to the floor.

At the end after urdhva dhanurasana I should do handstand. I was glad that my body was able to balance. She stood next to me to hold me, yet for some breaths I could balance. I haven't forgotten everything. I was glad.

It's difficult to give a kapotasana adjustment if one doesn't know the body of a student. Yet it felt perfect and safe.

It's embarrassing that I cannot be in sirsasana long enough. I will work on a long long sirsasana in the next year. I'll work with a timer.

It's so wonderful to go to a studio with a committed teacher and passionate yoginis. A. helped where she could. The school will grow, for sure.

With a smile on my face I walked home. I was happy that I wasn't lazy and that I went. The next time when I'll be here in the north it will be much easier to go.

Silvester is prepared, too. We got a reservation in a restaurant. The Champagne is in the fridge. The first resolution. From midnight on till I get to bed I'll only sip Champagne. A bottle for 4 people is not too much.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Out of the comfort zone


The weather in Germany is cold. There is snow and ice. We are stuck in the north. Living room practices don't happen. I get up too late, then I have breakfast with the others. Then I feel full. The living room is not warm enough.....one excuse after the other keep me paralyzed and lame.

Yet I'm also fed up with this lazy life style. I know from a friend that there is an Ashtanga yoga studio in Hannover. I checked the schedule today. At 6pm they offer a Mysore class and I'll be there.

I know when the train goes. This is only once per hour. This is so when on the countryside. The shala is a 10 min walk from the main station. I think I can remember the way. I'm here with my yoga mat and I have also yoga clothes here. Who or what shall stop me to go.

At 6:25pm I'll have to leave the house......it seems doable. I know how good I'll feel after my practice.

I prepare Silvester as we'll stay here. Dinner at an Indian restaurant with husband, brother of husband, mother-in-law and myself sounds good to me. The reservation must still be made. This morning I bought a bottle of Champagne.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Focus for the next 3 months: the vinyasas


In the last year I practiced primary again every day. The asanas are no problem. Yet the vinyasas.

This will be my focus during the first 3 months: the vinyasas.

They are the dynamic part of the practice. They link the asanas and are as beautiful as the asanas themselves.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lumbago


I had to look up the word for 'Hexenschuss'. I had forgotten this vocabulary as the first one belongs to the far away past already. Hexenschuss translates lumbago. Only the first time I didn't know what it was. It was so painful that I was recommended by a friend, a doctor to go to hospital. There I got something to drink. I lied down again, soon I slept and when I woke up I was like newborn. I felt like a simulator, I knew I wasn't. I must find out what they gave me!

It's difficult to make out what causes such lower back pain. Often it comes fast and disappears even faster. I'm glad that I know now what it is when I have it.  My mother put Alpa on my back and I took an Aspirin. It disappeaared and I could scarcly believe that soon I could bend forward again. I feel like newborn.

Today is Saturday and I don't practice. Yesterday I missed to practice. I don't think anymore that if I have missed a practice that I have to practice on one of the free days like Saturday or moon day instead. I also don't think anymore to do an additional practice in the afternoon. Missed is missed.

Tomorrow is Sunday and I'll start with second series. It will be a living room practice again on my thin mat. It's difficult to exercise the vinyasas when a thin mat lies on a soft carpet. It's difficult to balance. What ever will happen on the mat is perfect when traveling. I don't expect much anymore. It's state of emergency when on the road.

There is no snow in the north of Germany. I could even spy out a bit of sun. We'll stroll around. Very close from the home is a lake and it's beautiful there. This could be a destination this afternoon.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lower back pain - I practiced


Pain in the back. This is a sign that I have to practice. It was easy to start. I blame the long sitting hours on the sofa for this discomfort. I practiced so attentively. No fast movement was possible. The vinyasas were indicated. As a counter pose to the forward bending asanas I did shalabasana, indicated ustrasana, upward-facing dog. With each asana I felt better.

Is it a lumbago, I wonder?

After my modest yoga practice I felt better.

What movements can do for us is underestimated. To move can heal. After this blog post I'll stroll around again. My body needs movement.

On the picture is the forest where I love to be. It has a lot of atmosphere during winter time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

To keep the status quo is all what I want during Christmas time


I practiced yesterday and I practiced today. Sitting on the sofa makes me stiff. It's difficult to roll out the mat in the living room. Space is limited, yet I have enough space. As said in the title I'm glad when a practice happens and when I don't gain weight. Keeping the status quo is all I want.

Soon I'll prepare the vegan mousse au chocolat. I'm glad that I can do anything. I love my desserts. My parents will also love it, my father loves chocolate.

It's not raining. To stroll around a bit is a good idea. I also can imagine myself reading a book while lying on the sofa. It's still time till evening, when we celebrate Christmas.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Eurovision 1965 Austria - Udo Jürgens - Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen

Merci, Udo.

Last Mysore class this year.



This was my last Mysore class for this year in Munich. When I arrived I saw already so many shoes in the shelf. I was late. As I have a rather long practice I knew I had to hurry. It's so good to be out of the routine from time to time. It gives energy. Routines help to manage the daily tasks, yet they can also become a corset. A too tight structure can feel like being in prison.

I started fast with my practice and kept the rhythm. I had so much energy. It was amazing.

Tomorrow is a moon day. That is we have a day off.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Find out what motivates you.


The poses of the Ashtanga yoga series are demanding.
Not every day is the same. There are 'good' days and 'bad' days. Sometimes the body is flexible and the other day it feels stiff and even poisoned. Especially if a pose is new or difficult it's often also volatile. This shatters me no more, I'm familiar with this. Nevertheless we all have to keep ourselves motivated, even though not every day progress can be seen.

What motivates a single person has a lot to do with the personality. Get to know yourself. Observe yourself. What gets you going?
Seeing progress motivates me. That is looking at my pictures gives me a lot of energy. I start believing (again and again) that poses are possible. My pictures convince me. They strengthen the perseverance and perhaps even stubbornness.


On Friday we practice primary around the globe. Despite the dinner party yesterday night (another one) I got up this morning. I heard the alarm clock. The practice was surprisingly good.
On Sunday is my last Mysore class. Eight home practices shall follow!!!!!! Then 2015 offers us new opportunities.

Sometimes I'm told: Yeah, you are flexible. I think the pictures show that I'm not flexible. I really have to work on every tiny inch further.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Too much from this world


Traveling, partying - I overslept this morning. And I'm not amused at all. I curse. I'm out of rhythm. I fell off the wagon. Was there an alarm clock this morning? I went to bed at 9pm, but I couldn't fall asleep. Till after midnight I tossed and turned. In the morning then, voilà, the wished sleep came. Automatically my hand turned off the sound of the alarm clock and I kept sleeping. After felt 5 min I thought: there was something? Yet it was too late already. The felt 5 min were more than an hour.

I'm sipping my second cup of coffee.

My neighbour is up, too. When I look out of the window I can look into their flat. It's still dark outside. I still feel like in trance. I stare holes in the air.

Whisper, whisper in the ear of my E: I overslept.
He: Then this is so.

I cannot turn back the time. Missed is missed. I'll practice at home in solitude.
Tomorrow is a brand new day. Might the Gods shoo me out of bed tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

15 days left in 2014 - looking back


2014 was dominated by 3 major events and changes:

1. We moved. Fate meant it good with me. I could give all the stuff that I discarded to a friend who could sell it in a shop. The returns went to Africa, Ghana. It allows children to go to school. It would have been so hard to throw so many belongings in the garbage can. Knowing that the earnings would serve a good purpose made it so much easier to let go. So many things had to go. It was always a relief when things were out of the house. Even now when I think of all the things that are gone now, relief comes up. Old clothes, dishes, books, I had too much from everything. We inhale and exhale. We buy and we must give away in order to have a healthy flow.

2. Teeth issues. I'm still not convinced that everything that was done was necessary. I feel  like a victim of an over-ambitious dentist. I wanted a conservative treatment. I wasn't able to make smart decisions. I trusted. not always this is the best approach. It's too late and I hope that I'm soon in peace with this past as I cannot change it anymore.

3. Ashtanga yoga: It's such a gift for Munich and our growing Ashtanga yoga community that MSch moved to Munich at the end of 2013. He offers Mysore classes 6 times a week at 6:30 at Amiraplatz 3, Munich. This is perfect. It cannot be better. It's luxury.
Instead of doing more and more asanas I got advised to work on those that I'm not able to do. That's how it's supposed to be. I work on back bending, kapotasana, standing up from urdhva dhanurasana. My last asana is bakasana B. I guess back bending and the vinyasas will be my focus in 2015, too. I don't expect a quick fix here. Hahaha......Quality over quantity in life and in my yoga practice.

15 days are left in 2014 and a lot must still be done. I feel ready.

At home again!


The trip is over. I managed it to practice yoga on Monday and Tuesday. I was stiff, The 2 living room practices were short.
Yesterday was the Christmas party, I accompanied E. The party was in an industrial area. It was a dinner. Quickly I checked the menu. Action was required. I asked for a veg main course and I got it. Instead of the animal I got a mushroom with vegetables. It looked better and it tasted better. The evening was so entertaining with all the people that we know that we stayed till after midnight.

It was clear. I won't get up at 5am.

Here I sit now and wonder what comes next. I guess I need a second cup of coffee today before planning the day.....


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Back bending: I know the feeling 'nothing moves'.


What changed is how I practice.  My understanding of the back bending poses deepened. I use no strap around my legs anymore. The legs have to be engaged. This is important. The stronger they are the better. I try to move the legs together. This is not to make them move apart.
I move upwards. I try to create space. And then hope comes into play: Might my fingers find my toes. Haha......

Shouldn't it be possible just to stretch the arms to the feet so that the circle is closed? It's not.

Yet I've found the blocked area. It's in front of the shoulders.

Today I did urdhva dhanurasana against the wall. I tried to move the chest to the wall. The chin touched the wall. Discomfort was felt in front of the shoulders. Here I have to stretch. It's the same blocked area like in kapotasana.

Strong legs: 
- Strong legs make this pose safe. The knees shall not move apart. If they do pressure is on the lower back and this is to avoid.
- Strong legs are needed to come up. The message sinks in.....

I live in the 5th floor. From now on I'll take the steps. I'll also take the steps in the subway. Shall this help.

Yesterday I was at a concert: Bryan Adams was here. Should I go, should I not go was the inner discussion. Am I glad that I don't have this waste of time when it comes to yoga. I go. Point. I also went to Bryan Adams and I enjoyed it. He stepped on stage and played one song after the other. Many songs I knew, but I didn't know they came from him. No single song was boring. The Olympic hall was full. It was a lovely experience to have common fun with so many fans. With lots of music in  my heart I walked home, slept well, and it was sweet to be a bit tired today at 5am. I prolonged the cold shower. This woke me up.



Tomorrow is primary on the schedule, Just this. To have a shorter practice at the end of a yoga week is great.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Pashasana


Pashasana is the first core asana of the second Ashtanga series. It's a deep twist. In addition one has to balance.

Many face two challenges:
- First challenge is to reach the wrist with the one hand
- Second challenge is to keep the heels on the floor.

I practice this pose now since 2008 with not so much progress. It's overtime to reflect what went wrong.

1. It's important not to hook the finger. When I hook my finger the shoulder moves forward. Exactly the opposite is intended. The shoulder shall move backwards. All twists aim at making the shoulder girdle flexible, too. I got few adjustments  in the last year and I was able to do it almost at once. One must only get the right instructions sometimes. I had worked in different directions.
These days I always move the shoulder backwards and so my other hand can reach the wrist.

2. The next mistake that I did was to get on the balls of my feet. When my arms were bound I rolled back and often I rolled out of the pose. This is why I use a blanket. I tried to make the blanket less high with time. Nevertheless the wished success didn't come. Then I found a YouTube video by Maria Villella. She explained that she made the same mistake for years. She recommends to get into the pose while the heels are on the floor. I think this is a good tip.

3. The next tip I got from the book by David Keil. We always think and speak of stretching the back side of the leg. Yet on the front side above the feet is a muscle, that can be engaged to support this pose. Try it, this makes a difference.

All these tiny adjustments add up.
If I had very long arms the pose wouldn't be an issue probably, but my understanding wouldn't go rather deep either.
My issues that I face when I practice are indeed opportunities to learn. The Ashtanga community is generous and shares a lot of knowledge.

I'll check progress in a year again.

PS: I think it's known: all twists are easier with a pound or more less.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Bakasana



Bakasana is my last pose (given by MSch). 
When I still used to practice even half of third series  I used to perform Bakasana B against the wall, That is I jumped high with bent legs and then I tried to lower the body so that my knees landed in my armpits. I never managed to do this. 

It was not my pose. Quickly I moved to the twists......We all probably tend to love doing what we are able to do. 

My new teacher is optimistic (which is contagious) that I'll be able to do this pose and I study it now in greater detail. The reason why I do bakasana even though I'm not (yet) able to do kapotasana is to develop core strength. 
Even navasana is a challenge for me. Yet I really feel it, core strength is required for many asanas also for the vinyasas. 

Bakasana: The knees are outside of the arms very high at the armpits. The arms are stretched. 

We have a very passionate yogini in the world community. Her analysis of the poses and her tips and tricks are so precious. It's Kino MacGregor. So I searched her YouTube channel and found how expected a very helpful exercise. 

The exercise (see picture above) looks easy, but I had an aha-moment: One shall bring the legs as high as possible to the outer side of the arms while in a sitting position. Finally the elbows might be close to the armpits. One shall press the knees against the body. The arms are stretched. The Aha-moment: I need core strength. My abdomen must work, too.
The exercise helps to devolop a feeling of what muscles must be used when doing this pose. 


Bakasana B: There are 2 methods to jump into the pose.
1. The one method is to jump forward like one jumps in bhuja pidasana. That is the hips remain rather low. The legs remain bent.
2. The second method is to jump high so that the weight is on the hands, legs remain bent. Then one lowers the body slowly. This requires so much more balancing skills. Yet it looks more controlled.

I remember what I read in David Keil's book 'Functional anatomy of yoga': I quote from memory. If you tried something for 4 years or longer with no success, wonder what went wrong. He knew what went wrong in similar poses like this. I know it, too. One must get away from the wall. The wall changes how one jumps. The momentum is totally different. When again in the middle of the room, fear is there.

PS: I linked to 2 books in that blog post. Both are great Christmas presents.

Happy Sunday.




Friday, December 05, 2014

The new structure of the week


Today is Friday. Around the globe the Ashtanga yoga practitioners dedicate their time to primary, the first Ashtanga yoga series out of 4 series.

We had a Mysore class today, not a led class, yet everybody practiced primary. I loved it. It's less exhausting. And I could focus on the vinyasas of primary, that is I could do them slower, more attentive. They were weak,

I realized that my body and mind were exhausted. It was an intensive yoga week. To do a bit less on the last day is so reasonable.

Today I'll go out with my E. We'll enjoy an evening in the Greek restaurant. I think 'so deserved'. But what is deserved?

Tomorrow is a day off. And on Sunday we can go to a Mysore class. Isn't this perfect?  Yes, it is.


Sunday: Mysore at 8:00
Monday: Mysore at 6:30
Tuesday: Mysore at 6:30
Wednesday: Mysore at 6:30
Thursday: Mysore at 6:30
Friday: Mysore at 6:30 (primary)

Saturday is a day off.

The first asana is discipline. The schedule makes it easy to build a routine. Every day the same show at the same time. It's easy to get used to it. My enthusiasm is growing and growing......




Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Why it makes sense not to omit asanas....


So is Ashtanga yoga: There are several series. One learns one asana after the other. If an asana is 'mastered' the next asana is taught. This can last years sometimes, up to 5 years or longer.

Some yoginis get grumpy. They see that later in the series are asanas that they are able to do. They want to progress.

During the last 10 years asanas were introduced to me that I didn't like at all (garbha pindasana).  There were other asanas I thought I'd never be able to do. The list is too long to mention them all. There were easy asanas like baddha konasana.

What happened over the years because I didn't omit anything?
1. My likes and dislikes changed with the daily practice. Garbha pindasana is no more a not liked asana, but a funny one.
2. I experienced that more than I think is possible. I only learned this because I did these impossible asanas. I didn't omit them. I was stuck there and tried to understand them.
Current difficult asana is kapotasana. MSch stopped me here. The effect: I really work on this asana now. I get always an adjustment here. It's not 'you stop here' and then you're left alone. I get always support!!!!! Usually MSch stands behind me (like a wall, hahaha) and I try to get deeper and deeper into the pose. Usually I manage it to hold the knees. Today my hands were below the knees. It's so much closer to my own feet. I become optimistic and work even harder on the impossible to make it possible.
3. I learned that the mind likes to judge the asana. Do I like it? Is it difficult? Supporting questions are rather 'How can I perform it?'
4. With time judging fades away: the attitude arises 'what needs to be done must be done'. No discussions more, no conflict.

For me my yoga practice is a mini world. I developed the attitude: What's next? Difficult? I don't care that much. Easy? I don't care. I don't like it? I don't care. I like it? Great. Today I'm not in my best mood. Why  not, it's not a drama, nor is the opposite a drama. And I move on to the next task.

This is a relaxed life. The valleys are not so deep anymore, the mountains not so high. Life became a bit more relaxed.



Tuesday, December 02, 2014

No sleeping morning routine


I have to get off the train a station earlier to get to the new shala. Not to miss to get off the train is the first attention exercise. I guess I was in sleeping mode the last months.

This morning I didn't find my mat, then I forgot my key in the restroom. This only tells me that my morning routine is not yet strong.

On the other hand I see how easy it is to perform anything if a strong routine is developed.

Also on the second day I'm enthusiastic about the new practice place. There is no air-conditioning which is perfect for Ashtanga yoga. The room gets warm when  a lot of yogis/yoginis practice. It also gets humid. This gives me a tiny bit more flexibility. Every tiny bit is appreciated. :) This is India feeling.

My focus are the vinyasas these days. I experience progress. I know my next step. I have to manage it to jump forward from downward dog and to stand on my arms for 1 more breath, legs bent. I plan to exercise this at home.

I also try now to get from bhuja pidasana to bakasana. This is hard.

These are the vinyasas. They were too long neglected, which is OK. Asanas first. The asanas are the female part of the practice, the vinyasas the male part. It's great to do the asanas, the vinyasas are equally important at least if one wants to practice Ashtanga yoga. They give strength. A feeling for the own body is learned. Coordination of legs, arms, hands, feet, neck, head, eyes and so on is learned, too. The better the understanding the less strength is needed.

Time to nap.


Monday, December 01, 2014

Something new begins and I'm enthusiastic


We practice with our Ashtanga yoga teacher MSch in another shala from today on. It's all so perfect, I'm enthustiastic.

The shala is also downtown, very reachable. That is it's only 2 min walk from a subway. It's situated in a very posh building. When I entered the house the doors opened alone. Hahaha.......The neighbours are lawyers and fund manager. In the shala is still a slight fragrance of freshly painted walls. Everything is new and the furniture are well chosen. The bench in the reception room is Indian style. We also get water afterwards and we can relax.

The practice room is rather a square, it's cosy. We'll practice in 4 long lines. Soon we'll have Indian feeling there, because we practice next to each other and the Ashtanga yoga community is growing. The room will be humid which will help a lot to bend and sweat. It's possible to do the closing sequence in the back of the room.

Fingers crossed that I can leave my heavy yoga mat there.

So many yogis and yoginis came today on the very first day at the new place (Amiraplatz 3 in Munich). This is such a good omen. The numbers of yogis and yoginis who love to practice Ashtanga yoga in the traditional way is growing. What a luck that we have MSch here.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.......