Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A gift from the Gods...

Wow, what a practice. So much more than expected was possible. Today I focused on primary. It was possible to take my legs behind my head, one after the other. But I thought the pose was lost. I thought it would take years to get back to this pose. Yep, the leg didn't stay there, I had to hold it.

I could do chakrasana and setu bandhasana. It was not possible to hold it for a long time. Of course not, because I lost strength. Incredible that it was possible, but it was.

I alter primary to my needs. Vinyasas are practised only after an asana and not between sides. I also group asanas. Quality over quantity. 70 intensive minutes on the mat are enough. It's better to practice correctly than whipping oneself through too many poses and vinyasas.

Last night I couldn't sleep in. After midnight I got up again and opened my flickr account. I got so enthusiastic about my pictures. So much was possible already. It so motivated me. I'll get back to this, was my thought. This is possible. I love to see my body in crazy asanas.

Today the focus was forward bending. Tomorrow I'll focus on back bending, that is second series mainly. But I want to get back to the full series as soon as possible.

Wow, miracle happen. I needed such a practice like today.

This morning I got up and my back felt good. This was new, too. This helped.

I lean back and enjoy this gift from heaven.

I remember my physio therapist: work on strength, too. Yes, I won't forget this. A post on Calisthenics will come soon

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kino's May challenge is over

Kino's May challenge motivated me to practise, sometimes I only took some pictures, but this too meant that I had to move and to practise. It was not always easy to find time for a shooting, but I didn't like to omit an asana. Tomorrow is still another pose on the list, the relaxing pose. As it's difficult to show 31 pictures in one pictures, I'm happy with the 30 pictures in one picture only.

I'm still so disappointed. So many poses are lost. My back pain gets better and better, but it's still there. I have no disciplined morning routine anymore. I fight to stay motivated, but often I give priority to other activities. What shall motivate myself now as the May challenge is over? I have to find something......

I'm glad that more and more also advanced yogis point at the rigidness of today's teaching of Ashtanga yoga. I got injured because of this, after decades of intensive yoga practise. The only way out of this valley is to practise and to adjust the practise to my needs. Less complaining, more action.

How long will I be able to sit here without pain in the back again, I wonder.

However, I have to find a way out of this crises, I have to. One has to move to stay healthy. I'll alter my practise, for sure.

- more back bending
- less vinyasas
- strength training

And I want to get back to a daily yoga routine. It's not a satisfying yoga practise when I stretch while watching TV.

It's the concentration, the focus that makes yoga so interesting.

Tomorrow is another opportunity to step on the mat. Might it happen. At 7am.
To focus on second series, could be a good idea.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I joined coach.me

Coach.me is a website that motivates to work on one's goals. First you enter your goal, then you decide how often you want to work on it. That's it. Each time you work on your goal you click on it. The design of the page is inviting. It creates statistics. It works. I practiced.

Today is Sunday and I started with Ashanga second series. My timer was set for 90 min. I finished earlier. This is a good sign. It tells me that less pauses happened. There was flow. I didn't dawdle. Half of second series must be done in less time. So within that time frame I had time for pranayama, too.

I see progress. Yet I'm far away from where I've been a few months ago. The practice was not pain free, I guess I have to get used to it.

So my yoga week has started today.

Another goal that I have is to practice three times a week Callisthenics. No matter what sportive activity you do, strength is always important. It shall support my yoga practice.
Promised I dedicate a post to this great strength training.

I'm so glad when I manage it to practice. I'll leave this valley of stiffness and weakness. I'll get strong and flexible again.

The sentence 'Practice and all is coming' is so wrong. Of course from nothing, nothing comes. But the sentence must be: Practice CORRECTLY and all is coming.' Otherwise one risks injuries in the worst case. Not making progress is another consequence if one practices the wrong way.

I remember that we had English at school, 5 times a week over 10 years. When we left school we weren't able to have a conversation with a person whose mother language was English. We learned the wrong stuff. This is only another example that it's very important to practice correctly.

I personally don't want to kill my time with ineffective exercises. Point. And now I'm even injured. Damned.

Sunshine here in Germany. I'm loving it.

Time to get 'Brötchen' from the bakery. I want to pamper my E with something fresh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Taking pictures for Instagram

Today I took pictures during my practise. This interrupts the flow. Yet pictures give me feed-back. And I needed some more pictures for Kino's challenge on Instagram: #mayibeginyoga2016 .

My SI joint and the muscles around are still under stress. That's why I skipped the practise yesterday. Today I practiced one hour. This is so perfect. All asanas will improve with time. I'll get back to my flexibility and strength, too. It's important to enjoy the practise. Sometimes a shorter joyful practise is better than a long one that hurt too much.

Today I wanted to go to a Mysore class. I'm so out of my rhythm. I read till midnight. Of course I'm tired then in the morning. It seems impossible to get up at 7am. In order to be on time at a Mysore class I must get up at 5am. So tomorrow I'll get up at 6am. This is the plan. And the day after tomorrow I might be ready again to get up at 5am without an awful 'Jetlag'. It makes no sense to be tired on the mat.
To get to classes again means to leave my comfort zone. On the other hand I could need that kick that I usually get from group sessions.

Sleep is so important. We need 8 hours or more.
Healthy food is so important, too.

Being a yogini is a life style. Nothing else.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


I practiced. It was already afternoon when I started. This might help, because when I practise later I'm a tiny bit more flexible.

I'm shocked how fast I lost asanas that were easy to me. But I'm also happy that I realize that I progress. I don't have the energy by now to move me through second series. After the leg behind head poses I'm done. The leg behind head poses are only exercises towards these asanas. The direction is clear.... haha........

Focus was there, I even sweated. Relaxing pose felt as deserved.

So the first out of 6 practises is done. I'm ready for the next one...... tomorrow.
No, my back complains and hurts. Nevertheless, I know now the best I can do is to move.

I joined Kino's May challenge on Instagram #mayibeginyoga2016. It's motviating.......

Friday, May 13, 2016

Stiff, weak and painful - primary done

The title doesn't 100% reflect what I'm feeling now after Ashtanga yoga primary. Yes, I got stiff, weak and my back hurt. BUT after a week of practicing yoga I'm less stiff and I got stronger. Only the back didn't improve compared to yesterday.

Feeling stiff and being stiff is of course something else. My physio therapist thinks that I'm very flexible. She recommends that I work on my strength. It's all relative.

Comparing my flexibility of today with my flexibility one year ago I desperate. I also know that I can regain my strength and my flexibility. To practise on a daily basis is the path. Just doing the work is more supportive than judging and comparing........

During the treatment at the physio therapist we also talk a lot. I appreciate to listen to her experiences. Most people who undertake a surgery have high hopes to go on as usual after the surgery. But one week in bed usually changes a lot. Most people are shocked. A week in bed is a cut in every life. One has to start again. One has to accept the ups and downs. This is not only easy, it requires a lot of willpower.

After the first sun salutations I wanted to give up. Do I need music, I wondered? But no, I prefer to listen to my breath. For me yoga is a concentration exercise. I don't want to have too much distraction when I practise yoga.
I changed my attitude: Take it easy. Go with the flow. Observe what is possible. Less ambition, more joy. And voilà. It's done and I'm happy.

I'm on Instagram: I joined Kino's challenge #mayibeginyoga2016.
It's never too late to join, too.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"You stop here."

"You stop here."

50% of the teaching in Ashtanga yoga is covered with this sentence.

A new student joins a Mysore class. It's obvious not a very beginner if he/she starts his/her practise. I'm curious and from time to time I have a look. A fracture of a second is often enough to see if someone has understood the poses. The teacher is curious, too. Sooner or later more difficult poses come in the series, like the twist. And then I hear: "You stop here."  It follows the other 50% of the teaching, but later more about this.

Being stopped creates energy. Who wants to be stopped? It comes with the message, you are not able to do this pose. It's most of the time not experienced as a feed-back, but as a critic.

Everybody who gets the calling to teach is allowed to teach. There are no restrictions. This is also why it varies a lot when and why people are stopped. My last teacher stopped me at kapotasana. In another Mysore class I practiced third series already.

I want to emphasize that I don't blame a teacher. What I describe is how Ashtanga yoga shall be taught.

By now I've mainly described what happens. I have not yet judged this teaching method.
It has advantages and disadvantages:

The advantage:
For me it's a pointer that says that it would be good to study this 'last' pose a bit more. It can be an honest feed back.
The longer one practices Ashtanga yoga the more one shall be able to keep moving alone.  If I know the method I can teach myself and this makes me independent. To be independent can be very useful. Sometimes there is no yoga school close by. Many students have no time to attend classes, but they have time to practise at home. I only wanted to mention a few reasons why it's good to be able to practise alone.
Finally yoga is something for oneself. Practicing yoga is a very individual path. It's work on oneself.

The disadvantage:
- Students of Ashtanga yoga are stopped because the outer form of the asana is not as it is supposed to be. This is in my opinion very superficial. Our bodies are so different. An example: A student with short arms has more difficulties to bind when doing the twists than those with long arms. The student with shorter arms might be much deeper in the pose, but this is overlooked. The question is: Can he/she reach the wrist. If not the student gets stopped. (This is what I saw in classes over the last 12 years.)
The breath, the dristi are overlooked. The discipline to step daily on the mat is not a criteria either. The outer form is the criteria if a student can move on to the next pose.

- Whatever I read about goal setting, I read how important it is to set a deadline. The next important point is to have a plan.
In the Ashtanga yoga community the knowledge about goal setting is unknown. Once you are stopped you are stopped. I was always stopped for years with no end in sight.
My reaction:
Of course one has to obey a teacher, to discuss things is not part of the teaching. The teachers are authoritarian. My consequence: I practiced at home 'secretly' more poses. This was a good decision as it is so much easier to learn urdhva dhanurasana when this pose is prepared by poses of second series. As soon as it was possible I moved to another teacher.
I was stopped again 2 years ago at kapotasana. Now I'm injured. My SI joint is not working as it is supposed to be and I have back pain. I stopped for a few months and I've lost almost all poses I was able to do for a decade.
Another proved knowledge is that it makes no sense to repeat the same exercises again and again if a person is stuck. A variety of exercises supports the goal. It also makes no sense to practise the difficult asanas after 2 and a half hours. This is nonsense to practise that long. This prepares for injuries. In the meantime I sense even some aggression if people are stopped for an eternity only because the pose doesn't look perfectly.
This injury forces me to move to another path. I must listen to my body. The process becomes again more exciting. I must omit asanas and so on.
To be stopped at one pose has often the consequence that yoginis are obsessed to reach only that pose. 'What is your last pose?' is a question that is often heard in the community. It creates competition.

Some poses build on each other. Yes. But in 99% it's useful to move on after a certain time. I learned supta kurmasana (1st series) because I was allowed to practise second series. Eka pada sirsasana is easier than supta kurmasana. To take one leg behind the head is challenging enough.
Why is it not allowed to reflect on the teaching and to discuss it? It's a huge tabu. Every improvement or suggestion even if it only touches the own practise is more or less not allowed. The reason: It's against the tradition.
Yet if the tradition is not useful one must change it. The fans of tradition not only in Ashtanga yoga are often those people who fear change. They are not flexible. This contradicts in my opinion what makes a yogini. Being flexible.

The masses shall be taught. The masses need strict rules. Otherwise one fears that the Ashtanga yoga style gets diluted. I can understand this point. Nevertheless if the teaching leads to injuries one must change it.

Why are not more people injured?
80 are beginners. Only few of them practise daily. After a few years they stop.
Who likes it to talk about injuries?

The other 50% of the teaching in Ashtanga yoga are the adjustments.
Usually one gets an adjustment when doing the last allowed pose. If there is time one gets an adjustment when doing back bending. Yet this varies from teacher to teacher.

- The Ashtanga yoga teacher have no formal education in anatomy or adjustments. They learn the adjustments because they have experienced them, too. Some teacher are good. Yet I got injured once when I was adjusted in kapotasana. I couldn't lift my arms anymore and I was not amused at all.

Let's asume that the adjustments are great.
The next shortcoming in this teaching is that it is not enough to get an adjustment for 5 breaths if one wants to learn karandavasana i.e, or kapotasana.
Strength training could be necessary for instance. One must analyse why I pose is not doable and act accordingly......

The very simple teaching that consists of mainly 2 parts 'being stopped and getting adjustments at few poses' is in my opinion not enough. It's not effective and it's even dangerous. The goal of this teaching is to serve the masses, mainly beginner of yoga. The individual is nothing. Age, walk of life, body postures, everything gets neglected.
I repeat it: I got injured. I love simplicitiy, but the classic Ashtanga yoga teaching is too simple.

Led classes is the third column: 
This deserves an own post. In the meantime I avoid led classes.

A discussion is very welcomed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Zero pain tolerance

Today I had zero pain tolerance. After 30 min on the mat I gave up. Last night I had slept very bad. I have the feeling I was longer awake than in deep relaxing sleep status. After 2am I got up and I was some time online. This morning I was tired. Sleep deprivation lowers the pain tolerance for sure.
That I gave up after 30 min doesn't convince me.

This early afternoon I'll have another session at the physio therapist. Shall she press out the pain. It's the muscles that hurt. She knows no mercy. She does what is necessary.

Nevertheless the 30 min count as a practise.

To stay optimistic I go through my list with points what got better:
- I don't need pain killer anymore.
- I can cough without pain.
- My sleep is better, at least most of the time.
- I can do trikonasana on both sides.

The pose on the picture is only possible on the right side. I hold the foot and not the toe because this gives me more stability. The point of focus are the hips and the strong legs and not the big toe.

Strong legs are so important. With this back pain I feel the difference. When the leg muscles are not engaged the back has to work, too. Strong legs give stability. This is what the standing asanas will teach us: Engage your legs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

90 min asana practise

90 min asana practise and 10 min relaxation are behind me. Yepee I did it. It's the third intensive asana practise in a row. And the performance of the asanas were slightly better than yesterday and the day before yesterday. I cannot say the same about the pain.

I know now that it was not the best decision to stop practicing. Yet the pain demotivated me that much, that I had enough. I preferred to go to bed late. In the morning I preferred to dawdle and to pamper my dear E. Not moving is never an alternative. This I know now. Sooner or later comes the moment where one has to start again. It's easier to keep the ball rolling than to start from a passive position.

My home practises are exercises in the right direction. After the leg behind head poses I stop and do the closing sequence. I set a timer when I do headstand. Today I was not able to hold the pose 2 min. It's OK. I learned to embrace my fate. Life is about exploring the possibilities. Every day.

Yesterday I had another session with the physio therapist. She is great. She recommends exercises for the abdomen. Strong abdomen protect the back. It makes no sense to integrate the exercises with my yoga practise. So there will be an afternoon session. I know that strong abdomen are good.

Again it got all better. I can do trikonasana on both sides. This is something.

Monday, May 09, 2016


The back pain because my SI joint is not functioning as it should be is only on the right side. My interpretation is that my practise over the period of 2 years was not balanced.

My body became unbalanced.

One example is padmasana. It is a strict rule in the community that one always has to take the right leg first. The reason for this shall be the nadis that nobody has ever seen. It is more or less an esoteric concept.

Padmasana is an advanced yoga pose. It requires hip flexibility. If the hips are not open enough pressure on the knees is caused. This is to avoid.

How I learned this pose:
1. Firstly I only put one foot on my straight leg as high as possible. Then I bowed forward.
Then I repeated the same exercise with the other side.
2. If this is possible I folded into lotus pose. I used a timer. As soon as the pose became very painful, I changed legs. Then I took a break. My first goal was to hold the pose for 5 minutes.
I practiced this pose whenever I had the opportunity. Often it was at night when I watched TV.

Padmasana is the classic meditation pose as it allows to sit upright easily. So, it's an important asana.

In the first Ashtanga series  one needs this pose for garbha pindasana.
In the second Ashtanga series one needs this pose for supta vajrasana and karandavasana.

The pose is introduced when the finishing sequence is learned. Padmasana is the first asana every student learns as a very first closing asana. Later more asanas are added.
Urdhva padmasana, pindasana, matsyasana, baddha padmasana, yoga mudra, padmasana and utplutih are asanas with the folded legs. They are all asanas at the end of a practice. Every day.

No matter which series one exercises padmasana is exercised eight or nine times every day. And it's hold longer then 5 breaths, because asanas of the closing sequence are held longer to calm down.

I was shocked when I tried again padmasana with the left leg first after 2 years of having taken always the right leg first. The left side was so much stiffer and inflexible than the right side.

So this is the first that I changed when it was clear that I cannot join Mysore classes anymore with my back pain. I alter the legs when I do padmasana and it's variations. Only when I practise garbha pindasana I always take the right leg first.

Yes, I practiced today. My body gets used again to the practise. 90 min were enough with all this back pain. It's so disappointing that I've lost so many poses. I want to turn the time backwards. I know, this is not possible. After having tried to take a leg behind the head I gave up and started the closing sequence. I have ideas how I can relearn it.
Highlights: I did twice urdhva dhanurasana.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

It's frustrating

I practiced half of second series today on a Sunday.
I'm no more familiar with the routines in Mysore. Saturday was been a day off, but I heard that it's now Sunday. For me it's important to practise primary at the end of an exhausting week.  It shall avoid injuries. Injuries happen easier if the body is exhausted. Primary is the easiest series out of the four. To have Sunday as a day off is great for me. In Germany the shops are all closed. It's usually a calm day, perfect for a first yoga practise.

As written already: I got weak, stiff and my back (SI joint and the muscle around) hurts. This makes my practise difficult and I need a lot of discipline to keep practicing. Yet this IS my priority. I want to get back to an early morning practise. Today another tiny step in the right direction was done.

I have to fight again for every inch. Leg behind head poses are not possible anymore. Back bending is more than lousy. This is my starting point.
It helps me that I remember how I've learned these asanas. Might this speed up my 'coming back'.

To motivate myself, I circle the days on which I practiced. This is fun.

The plan was to join a Mysore class  next week. I feel far away to join a group session. Within a week a lot can happen and perhaps after the next week I'll feel ready......

My title today is: It's frustrating.
This is the challenge now, not to dive into that feeling too deeply, but to do the work. Action shoos away heavy thoughts. It's good to focus on what is possible.

Tomorrow I want to start at 8am. Second series till Tittibhasana C. It's OK to indicate some poses.
I want to use a timer for headstand. To hold the pose for 2 min is the goal.

Yepeeee, I practiced. My experience tells me that each practise makes the next one a tiny bit easier. Every day it gets easier to step on the mat. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm so curious what I'll be able to do tomorrow.

No picture today as blogger doesn't allow me to upload one.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Friday primary

Oh yes, I did it. I just checked my SI joint. I don't feel it. This was different when I practiced today. And yesterday evening after a long Photoshop session it even hurt a lot. This is over. Now is the moment. And NOW I feel good.

I read too many books on success. The thought 'only those who give up have lost' guides me. This sentence serves as a mantra. The mantra 'I can' is not so useful as I see that I cannot.

I got stiff, weak and I have this SI issue. These three factors accompany me through my practise with all the consequences. Who cares? I pick me up where I am. Focus is the breath and not the perfect performance of the first series. Even though the breath got worse, too. I often fear that sudden pain comes up. Fear makes me hold the breath. Then I remember myself to breathe and I move on.

Why recovered my SI injury:
1. I can do trikonasana on both sides.
2. I sleep better. I don't wake up from pain when I want to turn around.
3. The physio therapy is no more so painful. And the treatment goes deeper.
4. I don't need pain killer anymore.
5. Often I can stand up from a sitting position without pain. And I can stand up fast.

This is something.

Back to my practise.
I needed 40 min for the sun salutations (I did only four) and the standing asanas. Usually I need 20 min. I move very slowly into every posture because I want to have the correct alignment, but I also fear pain.
I had to omit almost all the vinyasas. I did the counter pose, upward facing dog, when I thought it was necessary.

Hallelujah I practiced. Before breakfast. One hour and 35 min I was on my mat and exercised asanas and deep breathing.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A new beginning

My 57th birthday is over now. A new year has started for me. The little birthday party is over, too. The day after the birthday party is over, too. I needed this day off as I still had guests and I was still in the after-party-mood.

Today was the day. Even before having had breakfast I was on the mat. Very motivated. The words of the orthopedist still ring in my ears: "Those who sit on the sofa have much more often back issues, than those who move. It would be a pity if you gave up your yoga."

I won't give it up. Kino MacGregor has started an Instagram challenge: #mayIbeginyoga2016
This challenges me. The asanas seem doable for me. The challenge for me is to step on the mat regularily.

Tomorrow another six back treatments start. I need them. Daily life and the yoga practice are still influenced by this little SI joint. It's dancing it's own dance. Get in line, babe.

But it's all better. Is it?
- Yes, because I don't need pain killers anymore.
- My sleep is better. I can turn around at night without waking up to support my hips to turn around.
- Most of the time I'm painfree

To sit for some time is still painful.

My practice became sooooo slow. This allows me to be very attentive.
Today I practiced second series till after the twists. The vinyasas are gone, but it's all coming back. I must be patient with myself.