Sunday, January 25, 2015

The effects of yoga

Yesterday was my second day here in Berlin. I woke up and went to the breakfast room which is one floor higher in the 7th floor. As always I took my Nikon beast with me. One never knows. So many pictures are not taken because the camera was lazy at home. This is why I take mine with me whenever possible and most of the time it's possible. I put it on the table in front of me. The belt hang off the table. My foot must have been between the belt. When I changed my leg position I pulled my camera off the desk. With a loud crash it fell to the floor. I picked it up and looked through it. Darkness. The camera couldn't focus anymore. First I thought the lens is broken. Soon I left the breakfast room to test another lens, The camera showed the same issue. I think now that the body is skewed, which is worse. When at home I try to get it repaired. I hope this is possible.

Redundant to say that this is a big misery for me, that my camera is broken. I could (!) have taken so many pictures here, all of best quality. And now I have to be happy with this Samsung......Soon I came to the conclusion, that being sad wouldn't make the falling of my camera with all the consequences undone. Be creative, I thought. Being creative does not only mean to create nice pictures. Being creative also means to make the best out of every situation. It means to approach life situations with fantasy and fun. Do I have another camera with me, I asked myself. I always carry around my Samsung and I found it deep down in my handbag. I can take pictures, I can edit them. So why worrying.
Every day in the morning when I practice yoga I learn to focus my thoughts. I concentrate on the breath, There are dristis. I try to perform the asanas correctly and focus on this, too and all the other life stories are not existing. The mind can only focus on one event. It can jump from one topic to the next, yet one can tame this speciality of our curious lively minds. This is what I learn in yoga. I focus on my big toe. And I'm happy.

Yesterday in the morning I wrote a dear friend about my mishap. In the evening I read her reply. During the day I had forgotten about my camera. I learned to focus on what's next. I enjoyed my day at the fullest. This is what the correct practice of yoga can do in the long run. It helps to focus.

The hotel room feels warmer today. I will practice. The birthday party is at 4pm. I hope to get some flowers by then.

Picture #1: It's the 7th floor of the KaDeWe, it's the restaurant there.
Picture #2: Berlin is a fashion city. So many designers live here. One can find really great stuff.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's too cold here.

Brrrrr, we booked the larger room. I would have room to practice Ashtanga yoga, but it's too cold in here. I got a heater even in addition to the normal heater. Yet I sit here with cold hands. I've a scarf around my body. I feel cold: I fear to get a cold even.

So, I plan to go to a yoga studio here. Not on Sunday, but on Monday. In Berlin it's very cold and windy. I looked in serious faces when I walked around today. Nobody stood around, all had a destination that they wanted to reach quickly.
Most people are business people in hotels. But there are also people like me who want to spend some time in the room. I know this issue from former stays here. Once they solved the issue. But I also remember stays here where I felt cold all the time.
Next time it would be good to test another hotel.

Nevertheless I had a wonderful day. To see the sunrise above the clouds this morning pleased me. And this was only the beginning of the day. People are open-minded here. During dinner in an Indian restaurant I chatted with students.

I curse. It's so cold. I'll put on a pullover in bed. Impossible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Moon day

"Don't practice at home," our teacher G told us when he announced yesterday that today is a moon day. I didn't even set the alarm clock and slept till 9am. :) Too many hours in bed makes the body stiff. It doesn't matter. I was glad that I finally slept in yesterday night I needed the sleep till 9am.
In the evening I watched  a thriller. The story was perhaps not so interesting, but the actors were fantastic, especially Heino Ferch. I just googled him and I'm not alone with this opinion. As I don't watch TV that often, thrillers are very exciting. 'Is he dead now?' I asked E, but our hero survived in the film, even though a knife was pushed in his abdomen.
But also the news do not calm the mind. Most news are bad news. What scares is of interest. We are manipulated alone by the fact that only a tiny part of all the news are broadcast. It's the same with photography. The choice that I make regarding my topics in my pictures is already subjective. News stir. I prefer to read a newspaper to be informed. Economic interests me more than accidents around the globe.
And I love to watch: The perfect dinner. Yesterday the participants had dogs. When amateurs cook one realizes that preparing a 3 course meal  is art. I'm astonished that some of the chefs prepare a meal the first time in their lives. They might have a lot of trust in themselves. Also cooking is experience.

Back to the moon day: 
I need moon days. The body has time to relax on these days.
Yet I need moon days to get all the things done that I postpone during the week.
My yoga practice needs 4 hours in the morning. I get up at 5am and at 9am I'm at home again. There is a clock in the practice room. Even though I don't dawdle, I also don't do extra exercises either, yet my practice lasts 2 hours again. I repeat kapotasana, I repeat urdhva dhanurasana and also laghu vajrasana several times. Afterwards I sip tea. Our Mr R prepares best green tea for us. It's such a welcoming atmosphere that is created in the shala. Sometimes even dried fruit is offered. It touches me. This is yoga off the mat. It's caring for others. It's such a joy to practice in our new shala at Amiraplatz 3 in Munich.
Yoga is about being relaxed. So I think there must be time for a cup of tea at the end.

Desk work is waiting for me: I'm ready to attack this pile of papers. Hurray.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday primary

On the picture is prasarita padottanasana D with the correct arm position. Hands and arms are in line. My feet are closer together these days. I need room in front of my head in order to get deeper into the pose.

Slowly I understand the movement when jumping back. It's a movement forward. So it is. I found the next little piece of the puzzle. Now it needs to be exercised.

My practices are intensive these days. I try to integrate the tips that I get into my practice. I.e. I was told that the head is the last what comes up when coming up from urdhva dhanurasana. I know this. Yet today I focused on this . I even tried  to sretch  the head bit more backwards that is I lengthened my throat. It made a difference. Hips forward is the message. Legs need to be strong.

The day off tomorrow feels as deserved. I won't set the alarm clock. Nevertheless I know I'll wake up early, but not at 5am.

Today we'll go out. yet on Saturday and Sunday I'll cook. Ashtanga yoga is a rather strict practice. Cooking is one of the activities that allow to be creative.

Happy weekend.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015



This pointer will help me.

I'd like to talk about back bending again, especially kapotasana. It's indeed so easy to betray oneself.

How do I practice:
First I have to convince myself to do it. This is the slow part. Then I bend back. Quickly it feels unpleasant, quickly I'm out of the pose. Quickly a repetition is done, too. I expect then to see quick progress even though I spend a few seconds every day exercising this pose. For kapotasana this is not enough.

So today I exercised slower. I stayed longer in the different steps, till I dropped back. I repeated the pose 3 times.

I faced another issue. G advised me to walk my hands closer with the help of my fingers. The sticky mat is very supportive here. Yet yesterday my long hair was on the floor in front of my hands and my hands were sliding. Shall I change my hair do, I wondered. I had a better idea. Today I put my hair under my shirt. Problem solved. My fingers could walk closer and closer. Three times I walked them closer. I stretched my arms and I walked closer, I stretched my arms and I walked closer.....

I think the breath is so important. Consciously one must search the limit. It's the point where the discomfort is felt. Breathing never stops. After a while the body is used to the position and one can go a bit deeper. The breath helps to relax.

It was a good practice today. It could even be seen from the outside.

On the picture is ustrasana. I even think it could make sense to hold this pose a bit longer, too.

Good is that I can imagine that one day I'll be able to perform kapotasana. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Just doing it with an open mind

It's stormy, I thought this morning.
A bad excuse not to go, I thought and got up.

When body and mind feel heavy, I practice slowly. This is easier, it allows me to be more attentive. I had a wonderful slow beginning of another week in 2015. On my way home I was among the people who ran to work and I had finished my yoga practice already. I felt good.

Slowly I lower into chaturanga dandasana. I know I need strength in my arms.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ashtanga Yoga: Mind + Body Episode 11 - Part Two - Pick Up and Jump Back

A very helpful video!!!

Vinyasa - jumping backwards

This is how it starts. Exhaling is done. One moves the crossed legs as far as possible to the body. The hip muscles hold them there. I rather think to keep my knees close to my shoulders.

Inhaling. Bandhas are engaged. Hands press into the floor. One must resist the impulse to look down. And one must resist the impulse to stretch the legs and to move backwards.

Toes are pointed. They guide and move backward. The body moves forward. It could be better to look even more forward.
From here I have to keep turning the body around my own center. I learned from paid videos that one has to round the back. The elbows shall move outside. The hands try to turn inwards. This shall give momentum. It helps to engage the bandhas even more. I still feel stuck here.
I try to hold this pose longer than only one breath to get stronger.

Somewhere on YouTube I found an interim step. It was recommended  to bring the feet to the arms. That way they are still in the air. One can study  how one moves forward. I think it could be even an idea to bring the chin to the floor instead of the front. It's recommended to hold this pose for some time to get stronger.

When the body turned around the own center to stretch the legs is a piece of cake.

This is my current knowledge. I always try to learn the next tiny step. This vinyasa is challenging.

Bhuja pidasna is a key asana in my opinion in order to learn this vinyasa.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jumping forward

Jumping forward, through the arms without touching the floor with the feet - this is the goal. This vinyasa  is a dynamic connection between asanas. It starts from downward facing dog.

1. First I get on the balls of my feet.
2. I move the legs close to the body and look forward to the point in front of the hands. .
3. The arms are long. This is important, if one doesn't want to injure the shoulders in the long run.
4. With the next inhaling I jump high. I think: high. The hips must be over the shoulders. the heels should move to the body. Then the body is a small parcel.
5. Bandhas are engaged!
6. Gravity forces the body to come down (fall down), often before one could move the body through the arms.

I want to jump so high that I can hold the position for several breath. Then I want to lower the body and move the legs through the arms. I have the tip  to jump high and to balance for several breath on the hands with bent legs from the book by David Keil and he has it from his teacher John Scott.

Many yogis are so obsessed by handstand. I'm not. It's just another yoga pose among many. Yet this is the preparation for this pose. I don't know why, but many yoginis are so even greedy to learn handstand, but they don't want to work on the vinyasas. The practice is so perfect. It gets more difficult gradually.

I think in order to lose the fear to jump really high I have to learn to fall out of the pose. That is I have to move the head to the chest when I realize that I fall over. This must happen quickly. I postpone to exercise this, because I'm afraid. I know this is the next step!!!

Finally this dynamic movement is under control. One can stretch the legs and lower the body. With the next exhaling one can move into the next pose.

PS: This is my current knowledge. I'm also a student.

Friday, January 09, 2015

How one gets into a pose makes a difference

Perhaps it felt easier in the beginning, so I almost bowed forward to get into the pose. I looked down. Yet since a few days when I get into the pose I keep my head as it usually sits on the body. Eyes don't look down, but straight forward. This allows me to get deeper into this pose.

Try it. Good luck.

Twists massage the inner organs. They keep the spine flexible. They keep us young.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The vinyasas

OK, the vinyasas - they are focus in the first 3 months.

The exercise on the picture is really good. One can have an 'aha-moment'. If one wants to lift up the body with straight legs. one has to pose the hands in the middle of the upper legs and not next to the hips. One must engage the bandhas. When the toes are pointed it's easier. Hands press into the floor. Inhaling and UP.

One learns to work with the shoulders because they have to move forward when the hands are placed in the middle of the upper legs.

Also when the legs are bent and close to the body, the hands reach forward. If they are next to the hips the body moves backwards and this is exact the opposite direction of what one wants.

This is in my opinion the first 'trick', the first tiny step. One has to build strength here.

One can exercise this little exercise every time, even on an office chair. No warm-up is necessary - this IS the warm-up. Hahaha.....

When jumping forward I want to finish in the above pose before lowering the body. Ha! If one can do this this dynamic movement is under control.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Full house

Epiphany is over, too. The festive days are behind us. Finally.
Today the Mysore program started and it was in full swing already on the very first day. It makes a difference when a teacher studies Ashtanga yoga in Gokulam regularly. Also the teaching method is very special. The atmosphere today was so concentrated. Only the breath of the yoginis/yogis could be heard.

This is it, I thought. Indian atmosphere.
For the next 2 months we can study with Gabriel Stinga. We can thank Michael Schabort for this, our teacher here in Munich. He organised it that we can keep practicing with a very qualified teacher during his stay in Gokulam. This is so much more than one can expect. There are people who care.
This is very motivating.

I even learned a new 'trick' today: No matter if it's kapotasana or urdhva dhanurasana, one has to walk the hands closer to the feet. It can be useful to work with the fingers. I'll do this.

Despite being tired (couldn't fall asleep tonight), my body felt flexible. I enjoyed the intensity of my practice and the atmosphere.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Jump into Bakasana

A very helpful video. 

1% theory - a new book on Ashtanga yoga is on the market.

A new Ashtanga yoga book is on the market since last year and it's a very good one:

It's '1% theory' by Thomas Still. 

I couldn't put down the book. Thomas did profound research in books. He also asked Manju Jois and David Williams to get answer to questions of the early years.

Thomas inquires the history of Ashtanga yoga. This chapter was very interesting. There is so much rumor. Did these leaves on which the system was 'written' exist?  What was the role of Krichnamacharya?  Which influence had the Indian philosophy in general? The answers in that book that were the result of profound inquiries are convincing.

I also learned more about the life of Krichnamacharya, the father of yoga. It expanded my knowledge why the teaching of Ashtanga yoga has changed over the decades.

There is also a chapter about the 8 limbs in that book. This is also so important not to forget, that Ashtanga yoga is not only about the asanas.

His chapter on 'healing' are mainly his own thoughts. I so agree what he has written. It becomes clear that yoga it's not gymnastics, acrobatic. One goal of the practice is to stay healthy, to become healthy.

Also the chapter about the 'Teaching style' brought me new information.

I highly recommend this book. It has the potential to change even how you practice.

I want to finish with a quote, '1% theory' by Thomas Still, page 143. It's a quote by Saraswathi:
"Perhaps this is just what Saraswathi, the daughter of Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, sister of Manju, and mother of Sharath meant when she said: "A stiff body has a good potential for learning Yoga. A flexible body is usually more caught up in Bhoga (pleasure)."

Yoga is more than the physical realm...... if you are interested in history, background, goals of yoga, I recommend this book.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The pressure to write this blog is gone.

In 2009 I wrote 1421 blog posts.
In 2014 I wrote 201 blog posts,

I started writing this blog in order to stay motivated to practice yoga daily. When I discovered Ashtanga yoga I mainly practiced alone. I learned primary till navasana in a led class that was offered once a week. The rest of the series I learned from Swenson. His book was on my sofa during my first years. When ever I had he opportunity, i.e. when we traveled to the US, I went to Ashtanga yoga schools. Nevertheless I was mainly alone and I FEARED to give up the daily practice. Demanding jobs plus Ashtanga yoga brought me to my limits.

It was on a boring afternoon that I discovered that an Ashtanga community existed online. Many were blogger, too. The only teacher here in Munich 10 years back was in India for 2 months. I wanted to keep up my practice, yet doubted if I would have the energy. The one class every week pushed me through the week.

I should blog about it like all the others, I thought. This was the beginning.

Many of those early blogger and Ashtanga yoga practitioners stopped blogging. Some also gave up the practice and some both of it. Yet I also know those who still blog and still practice. :)

To write is such a strong tool to stay motivated. It's a tool to learn consciously. No matter what I want to do I also write about it. It helps to be focused.

It also seemed to me that being online was a possibility to flee. We used to live in a rather small flat, perhaps even too small. The screen was like a window to the world. I only had to switch on my PC and a much greater space opened. I felt connected with the world.

Since we moved we have more room. I don't feel anymore to create more space around me via my PC.

This blog never went through the ceiling. During the years I got more readers, yet the number is still modest. Nevertheless writing this blog had a lot of surprises. To expose in a blog requires courage. One makes oneself vulnerable. People around the globe can read what one writes. Obviously some liked it. Via that blog I got dear friends around the globe. This alone was worth all the hours spent updating it. :)

As I can go 6 times a week to a Mysore class, I don't need this blog anymore to stay motivated. I know I'll get up at 5am to go to the class. I don't have to talk me into it, it's already a habit, a daily joy.

I'll keep writing regularly because...
- I love writing, I love to express myself in words.
- Writing will support me to progress in my Ashtanga yoga. It's my way to reflect about it.
- I learned so much during the last decade, I also want to share my insights (sort of giving back).
- It's a way to stay connected with the Ashtanga community worldwide.
- I also want to write in English. It's important these days to be fluent in that language.

Today is a moon day and I don't practice.

The picture is taken in 2007. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The weight

I waited till this morning. Yet today it had to be. I stepped on the scales. Relief. I managed it not to gain weight over my limit during Christmas time and New Year dinner. Yet the limit of 47 kg is reached.

To have everything, but not more is a guideline for yoginis. It's also true for eating habits. Eat what the body needs to survive, but not more. 

We got pampered with good food, for sure. Our mothers are master chefs. The Western sins in form of cookies were available all the time. It's almost not possible not to eat them. One must also try them. As soon as one has started to eat these sugar-flour devils the addiction is on. 'Only one more' repeats the mind.......

Yesterday when we arrived here in Munich I saw that my vegetable/fruit dealer had opened his shop. I jumped up and down. This was indeed the first activity that I did. I put down the suitcases when at home. It rained, but I didn't care. I got out to buy bananas, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli.....

I want to cook more in 2015. Most restaurants don't offer what I want. Mainly I eat out for lunch because I think it's too much work to prepare my own meals. Yet to cook is just a matter of exercise and creativity and a bit of planning. There are a lot of quick recipes.

For further information I recommend a book on breaking the food addiction.

Today is Saturday and no practice is planned.

I'm very happy to be at home again.

Friday, January 02, 2015

At home again

The year can begin now.

Being on the road is always something special in many ways. Traveling keeps me flexible. Often one has to improvise. Priorities are different than at home.

At home I find peace and energy to work on my ideas and I have a lot.