Friday, December 01, 2017
It's the first December. A good date to refresh the old resolutions to practice yoga daily. I know that I'm not lazy. It can be that the breaks between practices were necessary My body is OK. The pain comes out of fear not because of a real injury. The pain system is malfunctioning. I work on reset the pain system. Whenever I realize that pain in the back gets worse, I stop practicing. I calm myself. I breathe deeply. Oh my what an optimistic person I am. But I also see that there is no alternative. One must move the body and I love yoga.
Today I practiced late in the afternoon. The body is more flexible at that time than in the morning. No cramps were felt in the back, yet the practice was also not 100% pain free.
It's disappointing to realize what I lost, mainly strength. Yoginis don't complain. There is also nothing to complain. Action is the answer to my disappointment.
It's cold here. There was snow already. The Christmas markets are open. People shop as if all shops will close tomorrow and never ever open again. Sometimes I give in and join. I always find something.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Yesterday I experimented. I wanted to find exercises that might prepare kapotasana. I used the chair on the picture and also an Iyengar chair. Both have to large seats for my body. It also hurts to lie on them, also when I cover them with blankets. It feels unstable to lie on them, there is no resistance.
It's more useful to get on the knees and to walk down the wall with the hands. It makes more sense to repeat this exercise or to stay longer in that pose than to lie over a chair.
I know other preparation exercises. Hanumanasana is such an asana. It stretches the front of the hips. Being able to do hanumanasana enlarges the flexibility enormously.
Second series has 11 back bending asanas, dhanurasana included. They build up on each other. I'm searching for asanas that prepare the body for even deeper back bending asanas.
After all these years filled with forward bending asanas I love to bend backwards.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Today second series.
Yesterday's focus was forward bending and strength.
Today's focus was back bending.
Today is the 21st of November. I was glad that I was able to practice (with almost no pain in the back). I found my own way to practice. The series is my guideline, but I feel free to adjust it to my current needs.
I'm on my own these days. This is nothing related to yoga only. There comes the day where you have to go your own way. I go my own way now. I approach my yoga practice in a flexible and attentive way.
Second series has 11 back bending asanas, dhanurasana included.
Kapotasana is one of the most difficult asanas, but my body allows to do this asana. I have plans how to get there.
1. I'll label posts as 'kapotasana'. To document the journey is always a good idea.
2. I'll create asana routines that I'll practice before this pose. By now I practice always hanumanasana, split pose before kapotasana, to stretch the front of the hips. It's so helpful.
It could be also useful to find routines in order to stretch the chest muscles.
3. Repetition and holding the pose longer than only 5 breaths is a good idea, too.
By now, I'm glad that I practice again. I'm glad that it is possible and that I have no pain afterwards. This makes it so much more likely to practice again.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Today is Wednesday and I'll practice primary again. That is I'll work on strength again, I'll work on the vinyasas. I'll do extra exercises if necessary. I'll omit exercises. My back is still not 100% OK, but I'm on the right track. When pain is felt I switch from an ambitious attitude to a take it easy attitude.
Learning has changed a lot due to the Internet. Brian Aganad is also an online teacher. I had mentioned him already in one of my last posts. He offers online classes. This is rather new and very good. He corrects his students online. That is one sends a video and he analysis the movement and asanas. This allows him to give further tips. Perhaps the technique is not correct, perhaps strength is needed. It's difficult to analyze oneself. There is always a blind spot. I can be wrong, but this is what I understood when I read about his classes.
If my back was OK, I'd have joined. It's even less expensive than going to yoga classes anywhere. I don't give away the responsibility to a yoga teacher who has different interests like me. Yoga teacher usually want to teach 'traditionally', that is no extra exercise. no props, and so on. I was pressed forcefully in an asana often enough and this is the main method in Ashtanga yoga classes. The community needs more teacher who have a clue on didactic. To learn an asana the right way can make a difference. To learn asanas or vinyasas correctly can even avoid injuries.
This back injury gave my practice a new direction.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
One must write one's own epitaph. One cannot leave this to other people. If one is a public figure one cannot avoid that others write about the own life and the death. But most of us are not that famous. If we don't want to turn around in the grave out of irateness, I recommend taking over this task.
I wouldn't like to have my employers listed in such a speech. This would also be a a speech a bit too long. A CV that we usually write to get a job has nothing to do in such a last speech.
To mention how sad we are is so redundant. And perhaps some people are not sad. What a allegation. If someone suffered for years death might be a relief.
It was mentioned that the death person, a woman loved to do skilled manual jobs. She loved paperhanging, I heard. No single woman of this generation loved paperhanging. They did it because most families had not enough money to delegate this work. The housewives did everything out of a necessity, even paperhanging.
Lately I saw a Swiss movie (Die göttliche Ordnung). It was about womens' right to vote in Switzerland. In the 70s women were not yet allowed to vote. There was also a funeral in the movie. A priest hold the epitaph and described the dead woman as modest. It's true that this woman ended in the poor house, but not because she has been modest. She worked like hell in her own restaurant. Yet she had no bank account of her own. Her husband was a drinker and used up all the money. The story is based on facts. This woman was more or less robbed by her own husband. One of the suffragette stood up and told the truth.
This can be enough. Just these two words. To start with a list why one was thankful is a trap. One always forgets something.
Thank you and inviting the guests to a funeral feast. Enough.
After the speech the husband of the dead person stood up, went to the coffin and knocked hard on it. First he took his fist, then he threw his head against the coffin. Hard. Again and again.
Then he left the hall and headed for the bench in front of the mortuary chapel. He took off his glasses and dried his tears.
Sandwiches and cakes were offered later.
At night we arrived in Munich.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
We're back from party #2. We were invited in a 'Wirtshaus' (restaurant) one and a half hour away from Munich close to a sea. About 40 people celebrated together two birthdays. Age range of the guests went from zero to above 70. Many children were among the guests. I whispered in Edmund's ear: "I love to see how the mothers and fathers care for their children. I wouldn't have loved to do that at that age. They are all still so young." He: "They are in their 30th, it's the best age to have children."
This is so true. But in my 30th I wanted to become successful in my job. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to be free. Nowadays I want to bring my legs behind my back and I want that they stay there without holding them. I prefer to feel overwhelmed with all the chores I have to do without children. With children I would go crazy. It motivates me to organize myself better and better. It occupies me to work on my next step in photography. I know I have to create series.
I never missed children in my life. I don't miss them now.
I love the problems the Gods give me.
My problems are joyful ones.
Lately I faced problems that created nightmares. I couldn't sleep. I felt paralyzed, sad. I quickly came to the conclusion this is not my business. My issues are to stand up from urdhva dhanurasana and so on. I don't add other ones to my life.
My beloved E tot up and we don't have filter for the coffee at home. I'll dress quickly and get them at the bakery.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Two parties and one funeral in one week. This is going to be an intensive week. One party was yesterday, the other one is today. There is always something to celebrate: birthdays, anniversaries. The funeral is in Monday.
When getting older funerals become more often. Friends, relatives, neighbors leave us forever. A funeral is an opportunity to meet the friends and relatives, perhaps also neighbors of the person who passed away.
We don't have a guarantee, that our last time on earth is pain free. There are pills, yes, but they have often side effects that are a burden, too. Some pain killers are so strong that the person who takes them gets into a delirium. Pain killers can kill all other sensations, too. My friend A who passed away in March told me, that the digestion is not working anymore, when she takes pain killers. My friend had 2 very awful last days after a long illness, lasting years. The woman who passed away a few days ago (a distant relative) suffered a week. She wanted to finish her life earlier so bad was the pain. Death can become a relief.
Death is a taboo in our society. It seems to me that we all think we live forever. Funerals are reminders for me that also my life is limited. It helps to make wise decisions in daily life. How to spend the remaining time is a good question. There is an end to everything. Is it really worth the time being angry about more difficult contemporaries. Is it really worth the time to complain. Isn't it more fun to be friendly.
Often life aggravates when people get older I'm convinced that a daily yoga practice can help to stay healthy and fit much longer than without yoga. But who knows our fate?
Yoga also means to exercise mental skills. They are evenly important and can improve life as well: being content, being relaxed also in difficult life situations, exercising concentration is as useful as being able to reach the toes when bending forward.
Today is a yoga free day and party time. Life must be celebrated.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Being patient is a mental skill, that we can exercise. I need a lot of patience these days. Also primary is no more easy for me, mainly because I got weak. Performing the asanas is surprisingly good, performing the vinyasas is difficult.
Practicing with as less back pain as possible is what matters these days. That meant today that I had to leave out all the asanas of the closing sequence. I sat down in lotus pose at the end and was thankful that I practiced.
The picture is from today. I took it at the end of my practice.
The practice tells me what shall be the focus next time. It is the vinyasas. I've a lot of exercises that i can integrate. Pictures will come.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Sometimes one hour is enough.
It's important to have a practice without pain. When I realize that my practice becomes painful, I must take it easy. I'm sure now that my body isn't injured anymore. My pain system is malfunctioning. It has to unlearn to create pain out of fear. The pain system has the task to protect the body from injuries. But sometimes it sends out wrong messages. I can stop the pain when I breathe deeply. Almost at once the pain disappears. Yes, I can breathe the pain away. This tells me also that my theory is correct. The injury has disappeared, but not the pain.
My muscles felt a bit sore today. Of course. After a break of a couple of days it's normal.
I feel content and optimistic. My yoga journey continues.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
What I learned from my back injury is that it's very important to practice at home. Of course it's necessary to go to a yoga class if one has done no yoga at all. Yet the earlier one establishes a home practice the better it is.
The knowledge on didactic, how to learn an asana, does not exist in most classes. Getting pressed forcefully into an asana is the main method. Rules got stricter and stricter over time in the Ashtanga yoga community. Variations are not allowed, preparation asanas are not allowed. Every day I should do the same routine, because one asanas was not perfect enough. This was not my view, but the view of a teacher. This all has nothing to do with one teacher, it is how the authorized teacher shall teach. Two and a half hours I practiced every day. The success didn't come.
Yet there is a very supportive worldwide community. Here I find my teacher. One of them is Brian Aganad. I subscribed to his newsletter. Here is a quote by him: "But this is what I discovered: I went away for probably like 4 months or so to learn all the pieces and when I came back, I saw for the most part everyone in the room was more or less in the exact same place."
It can be even worse. I got injured. Not only that I didn't 'master' a single asana after more than 2 years, many asanas were taken away from me. After two years I got injured. I still suffer from it. This happened after more than a decade of yoga practice. My injury happened at the end of 2016.
To develop discipline might be even the easy part. I loved to meet people, I had fun. I loved to socialize. It's great to feel part of a group with like-minded people.
Back to Brian. I linked to his YouTube channel. He recommended to practice primary backwards in one of his last letters. This is what I want to try today. I'll also add his strength training exercises, too. Jumping through is possible, also for me.
I alter primary with second series these days. To alter the series feels good. To practice primary AND second series till kapotasana is too much for every day. I shake my head: Why haven't I seen this earlier.
(A bit much complaining in that blog post. Who cares. It's also meant to be a warning.)
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
What a surprise. Today I got a cheque by Amazon.com. Thank you to all the readers who still buy things at amazon via my blog! It's very much appreciated!
My daily practices were interrupted because of a cold and because of a trip. I regretted this as I had so much swing and motivation.
I'm at home again and practiced again this morning. Another new start. I love the asanas. I added 10 minutes of meditation today. Wonderful. I got calmer and calmer with every breath.
I'm still shocked how weak I became. I tried a pose this evening that was easy a few years ago. See picture. I tried to lift up my body, so that all the weight would be on my hands. My arms were not strong enough to do this. I lost also core strength. I was in that pose and I couldn't move upwards. This was even funny.
Tomorrow I'll practice primary again. I can't wait........
Monday, September 18, 2017
Yesterday I practiced 90 minutes Ashtanga yoga in the morning before breakfast.
Today I was in the afternoon on the mat. Primary was on the schedule.
I got weak, so weak. I'm still rather flexible. My main focus is to practice modest and not to create back pain again because I'm too ambitious.
My diagnosis now is that I've chronic back pain. I read a book by Jonathan Kuttner and joined his Facebook group. I knew at once that I was on a right track. My pain has no cause anymore. In the meantime after more than a year all injures should be healed. There is nothing anymore that could cause this pain. My mind has learned to create pain as a cautious measure.
It's possible to unlearn this. Breathing plays an important role. It helps me almost immediately.
I was recommended to keep practicing, but modest. The practice shall not bring back the pain as usual.
The last two practices were rather good. At once I'm optimistic. Perhaps I've left this pain chapter behind me, I think. Realistic is to be patient.
Also yesterday was a very exhausting day. I discarded books again. It's hard work to move all these books. Nevertheless all went well. It was amazing and a wonderful surprise.
Tomorrow is my focus on back bending.
I'm curious what will be possible.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Saturday is a rest day. That is it's a yoga free day. Psychologically this is important. There is a start and an end. To practice 6 day in a row seems doable. To practice without breaks for the rest of my life seems crazy. I have the feeling to be refreshed after one day off.
More important for me is that I have time to do all that stuff that gets postponed during the week.
We discarded things today, mainly books. This huge staple of discarded books is not yet out of the house. When the books are gone the task is finished. When I give books to friends I use to say: I'll never take anything back.
When I read a book and when I liked it I google the author and pin a picture of her or him in an album in Pinterest. About two weeks ago I was in Santiago de Compostela. I saw all these pilgrims and got interested in all these reports and diaries that were created during the pilgrimage. I read some of these books. They are not all of good quality. Each book has another focus. Everybody experiences something else. I feel good informed now about the path to Santiago without having been there.
What does the path tell me, many ask. What can I learn? One man wrote that he would never be able to walk these 800 km, but to walk to the next hostel and might it be 8 walking hours away, seems possible.
I experienced something similar in yoga. One breath at a time is the open secret to make it through a series.
Whatever one does there are basic tips that help in any discipline. One must find them and live accordingly.
Many many pilgrims pack too many things. When we were at the airport I put my luggage on the flat conveyor to get it delivered to Munich. I saw that I had 14 kg. This was the weight many pilgrims have in their rucksacks. After one day they have blisters, they are exhausted. Only 15% arrive Santiago. Every year about 10 pilgrims die on the path. Many are simply not prepared. Many don't exercise in advance. They don't listen to the advice from more experienced pilgrims. One cannot carry more than 10% of the own body weight, rather less than more.
Back to my books. I save a picture of the author on Pinterest when I've read a bood. I add the title of the book that I read from this author. It reminds me of the author. When I want to read the book again, I have to buy it again. This is so much cheaper to pay rent for it and to clean it again and again. This album also gives me ideas what I want to read next. Creating these albums helps me to let go of all these books.
The life style of a yogi is simple. I love space. Things have the bad habit to steal my time. They need to get organised, cleaned and so on. Less is more.
Today I created room. I cleaned, dusted huge areas of the book shelf.
I'm ready for a yoga practice tomorrow.
Friday, September 15, 2017
It's late, it's Friday night.
I neglected my blog, because I thought I don't have to write a lot about yoga. Fact is, I practice, then my back pain returns, I stop with yoga, after a while I feel better, I start again....
From time to time I get a comment from readers who follow my blog for years. This touches me a lot. It motivates me also to keep writing. Life is so interesting. This blog needn't to be about yoga all the time.
Time to go to bed. I had bought new sheets lately. Tonight I changed the sheets. Everything is white now. To jump in a fresh bed with new sheets is great. It's as if one sleeps among white clouds.
Friday, September 01, 2017
My resolutions these days are practicing daily. A short modest practice will do. It's difficult not to go to the limits every day. My goal is to avoid pain. Doing less is better than going through a series that creates pain afterwards. My body must unlearn to feel pain. I want to interrupt the circle that is: I practice, pain comes either already during the practice or afterwards, I stop practicing, pain fades away, I practice again, pain returns, I stop practicing, pain fades away, I practice again and so on.............Adjustments are necessary. I was very creative.
After my yoga practice I must be able to take steps without pain. If I have to pull myself upstairs I did too much.
Today I practiced half primary. It felt exhausted enough. My focus is the vinyasas. I see the importance to build strength to protect my joints.
The closing sequence is very short these days. It's lotus pose. It's remembering myself that I have very good reasons to be content with my life and my yoga practice, too.
I'll find time to do pranayama today. Deep breathing calms the mind. Deep breathing gives the message that all is OK. There is no reason for worrying.
The sun is shining......... Time to go out.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Flexibility has many faces.
Often we mean being able to perform crazy asanas when we speak about flexibility.
One of my favorite quotes by P. Jois is surely: Body not stiff, mind stiff.
Flexibility can also mean to free the thinking from limiting patterns. To develop the attitude that anything can be possible is the right direction.
We can be flexible while breaking rules.
It's possible to vary the speed of the practice. Asanas can be altered. This all means being flexible.
Due to my lower back pain I have to be very flexible. I think I know the steps to move out of this experience. It's bad advice these days to search for the limits day in day out. Doing less, but on a regular basis is better. My last practice two days ago took this into consideration. It felt good. I must alter my practice in a way that there is almost no pain.
My mind must learn again that a yoga practice feels good.
My mind must unlearn that a yoga practice comes with pain. This is a huge challenge. I'm ready for it.
Being flexible can also mean to give on one day 180% and to take it easy the other day.
I start seeing that this dead end road that I'm in has lessons to learn. I'm more and more in peace that I'll practice at home. I miss the community, but these days yoga classes are too regularized, which is the opposite from flexibility. My goal is to be flexible, to expand my possibilities in a reasonable way.
Before writing this I had opened Pinterest. One can get the impression that yoga only serves one goal and that is to get a hot body. This is a side effect. Never forget that yoga can bring so much more. Yoga can bring peace of mind.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Kino's July challenge pushes me forward. There are poses that I usually omit because of my back issues, i.e. navasana. As it is part of the series, I explored what was possible. How to get into this asana had to be altered. But look, it's possible.
Setu bandhasana will be the next huge challenge. It seems impossible these days. I got too weak. But I'll explore my possibilities. I'll approach this asana open-minded.
I'm more than happy that I could do supta kurmasana and all the other asanas, too.
Every second day I practice primary to get stronger again. I get stronger every day. It's a stony way back, but at least there is a path.
I changed the sentence 'Don't give up' to 'Keep practicing'. It's positive. The mind only understands positive messages. And I keep practicing. I can harvest the first fruit.
For those who want to follow the challenge on Instagram, here is the link.
Thursday, July 06, 2017
Today my focus was second series. Everything was perfect in the beginning. I felt flexible, even strong. Pashasana was fantastic, I could even reach the wrist on one side.
Then came shalabasana. I didn't know how to lift a leg. This is I wanted to lift one leg after the other, but nothing could be moved. I started with lifting the upper body. After that my legs lifted from the floor slightly. Sigh.
The above asana felt intensive. My upper legs got stretched. It allowed me to do bhekasana.
A weak dhanurasana was possible. Then I was on my knees for ustrasana. I couldn't move an inch backwards. I went to passive stretching on my wheel. I went back on my knees. Yeah, I could reach my heels, but this was it.
If I want to do back bending I have to do one preparation asana after the other. Otherwise almost nothing will be possible.
I moved to the twists. They always relax the body. Parighasana was great, too.
My timer was set to 90 minutes. There were still 15 minutes left, so I lied down on my back to relax. A mistake. I didn't know how to stand up after these 15 minutes. There were cramps in my back. Finally I was on my feet.
To walk around is so much better than lying on my back.
I feel good now. No pain. I'm glad that I practiced. I found my limits. I accepted them, I had to.
I'm still a bit shocked that back bending seems to be lost. Also this is temporarily.
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
It's a huge fun to see every day all the yoginis on Instagram. They all follow Kino's #July challenge. We became a worldwide community.
It's motivating to feel part of such a lovely group of practitioners. Many practice alone.
So also today I practiced primary. I work on the vinyasas. That's what Ashtanga yoga makes so special. I have the feeling I get closer to jump through without touching the floor.
Beside yoga I've a lot of fun with my repaired bicycle. I bought a helmet to feel safe. I made a promise to myself to drive slowly. I don't want to have an accident. It became rather dangerous to drive as there are so many wild bicycle drivers on the road.
Summer time is wonderful.
Saturday, July 01, 2017
Kino's July challenge #ashtangayogachallenge has started on Instagram today. It's focused on primary. I'm in. I love to feel part of the worldwide Ashtanga community.
It can be that I show on Instagram the correct pose and on my blog a variation of it.
Today I beamed me on a coast close to Portland. The dogs in the background fit to the pose: downward facing dog.
Join the fun, if you like........ as always one can connect with yoginis around the globe.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Every morning before my Ashtanga yoga practice I watch a video on www.omstars.com.
It's very inspiring and very motivating.
Omstars is Kino's TV channel. She and other yoginis like Laruga upload tutorials. Even after 12 years of Ashtanga yoga practice I learn a lot. One of Kino's strength is that she can analyse the asanas. She learned a lot about didactic. She can also explain how to perform an asana step by step. She has no tabus: If a block makes an asana safe, why not using one. To practice safe is important for her.
I am enthusiastic and the 14 USD per month are really worth it.
A few days ago I listened to the Marichyasana tutorial. I'm so sure that what I learned will protect my back. I knew at once that it makes sense what she said. The foot of the bent leg is not placed next to the stretched leg. It's also not placed so far outside that the outer rim of the foot is in line with the body. The foot is in the middle of the thigh. This is the most natural movement for the knee. There is also no pressure on the lower back that way.
This morning I watched a tutorial about the first sitting asanas of primary. It was a reminder of the bandhas. Engaging the abdomen protects the lower back. Each time when I felt back pain this morning I engaged my muscles even a bit more.
Even though the practice of Kino is very advanced, she doesn't expect perfection from students. Whatever is possible this can be done. Correctly. She shows very easy vinyasas.
This was my highlight today. I get closer and closer to the perfect jump through and jump back movement.
This post doesn't end with a happy end. At the end of my practice, out of the blue, the pain got awful again. Perhaps shoulder stand was the reason. Whatever. I had to use my fascia roll. I walked around. I took a shower. Here we go. I feel excellent again.
I have to and I will work on strong abdomen.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
On pinterest I collect pictures of Indian yogis. One of these yogis levitated. He got my full admiration. I always wondered how he did it. One day I found out how to do it. It's inhaling and UP.
The show, the fun is the same like hundreds of years ago. Only the tricks have changed a tiny bit. (wink, wink)
When I created this picture I laughed. This is why I practice yoga, it's fun, so incredible much fun, not only when levitating.
There are obstacles, yet the fun is always larger than any shadow that might darken the view.
Some of the obstacles I removed from my life, others introduced themselves. I didn't invite them. Yet here it is. It's back pain. One day it will leave me. Till then we'll get to know each other closer and closer. This pain wants to tell me something. A few things I already understood. I practice alone these days i.e.. There is more to understand than this......
So also today I practiced. In the middle of my practice, just before ustrasana the valley of pain was reached. One cramp in the back followed the next one. I switched to relaxing poses. 90 min I want to practice. The twists always feel good. So I continued with the twists. A tiniest wrong movement and I'm in the hell and back to heaven again if the movement is correct. That's how it is.
When I finish my practice I stand on my mat and whisper: Thank you.
So much is possible and I'm thankful for this.
Monday, June 26, 2017
The picture shows my most relaxing posture when back pain is felt.
Today I had to relax only twice in that pose. I practiced primary this morning. I motivate myself with videos from omstar.com, Kino's TV channel. Having seen a video makes unstoppable. I have to practice.
It's amazing how flexible I am. Even supta kurmasana was possible. Many asanas also tell me that I have the weight that allows these challenging postures.
There were also asanas that I couldn't perform:
- Purvottanasana and setu bandhasana. Both asanas require that the back is engaged. After all these forward bending asanas this is impossible.
- I don't try urdhva dhanurasana. It's a torture to even try it after all the forward bending asanas. It's added later in history. It's an advanced back bending pose that comes out of nowhere. There is no preparation, nothing. Exercise smart, I think.
- Shoulder stand is impossible. To get out of the pose triggers horror. I have to fall out of the pose. This is an uncontrolled movement, that scares me a lot. How to fall out of the pose is the question. I leave it out. One day it will return, then I'll welcome this pose again.
- The vinyasas are lost, I don't care. To get stronger again takes time. I give my best. I lift myself up again and again.
So 4 asanas were not possible, BUT all the other challenging asanas were possible. I was able to perform all the core asanas: baddha konasana, supta kurmasana, marichyasana D and garbha pindasaana. This is good.
Nevertheless, I won' t forget to add pranayama to my practice. I don't want to sit and breathe and meditate right after the asana practice. I want to shower first. It feels better. I want to sit on a blanket and not on a sticky mat.
Walking around and the pose on the picture are most relaxing for me. They have the effect of a pain killer. They probably take away the cramp in the muscle. What exact happens in my body is still a secret.
A brand new week has started. Wonderful.
By the way, I'm also on Instagram and flickr.
If you like to see me levitating, please have a look.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
The pain doesn't go away, it doesn't go away. I took a break again last week, that I interrupted today. The beginning pf my practice was great. Then it got worse. Back bending asanas were not possible at all. To force anything is not possible. I focus on what feels good.
90 min on the mat, practicing asanas is my goal. I have to decide from one second to the other what I can do. The pain leads me through the practice.
Whatever I read, with whoever I spoke to, everybody advised not to give it up. I won't. It's hard.
I would miss the practice, I would regret if I gave it up. The focus will shift from ambitious exercising to mindful breathing. I have to practice smart. Sometimes I have to be creative. There are so many ways to move into an asana. Some way are easier than others.
It felt good to sweat. The shower after the practice relaxed the muscles.
Tomorrow I'll focus on primary.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
The first asana is discipline, I often think. It starts with going to bed early. This makes it easier to get up in the morning. The discipline to practice every day in the morning gets easier the more often this muscle is used. When a behaviour becomes a routine, a habit, less discipline is necessary.
For the time being it's very easy for me to practice. I came to the conclusion that it's better to practice yoga than not to practice. My practice is not pain free. So what.
This leads to the second mental state. It helps not to be involved that much in whatever one is doing. To observe what's happening is a great start to develop a cool attitude. Today kurmasana is possible, tomorrow not. Who cares?
To learn to focus and to change the focus is such a great skill also off the mat. I check my posture, I check if my asana is stable. Then I focus on the breath.
To have faith that daily practice will improve the practice helps a lot to have a long long breath. It can take years and decades till an asana looks fantastic (own view!). For critical yoginis this can take a bit longer than for those who are happy very fast and not so critical.
Today I focused on forward bending asanas. I alter primary with second series. What a joy when I realized that I could lift my body in kurmasana.
Tomorrow back bending is on the schedule.
Monday, June 12, 2017
To motivate myself I watched a video by Kino on omstar.com before my yoga practice. It was about eka pada sirsasana. I wanted to see if I was still able to do the four key asanas of primary: Marichyasana D, supta kurmasana, garbha pindasana and baddha konasana. Supta kurmasana is the most challenging one for me. The idea was to start with one leg behind the head....
I'm able to sit in lotus pose, I could bring my feet to my front, so what could stop me?
After eka pada sirsasana I tried supta kurmasana again after a very long time. I could bring my legs behind my head and I could bind. Hallelujah.
I could dance around out of joy, yet this pose doesn't allow so much movement. Not much thinking happens either when in this pose. Just being in this posture is it.
90 minutes I was on the mat. The last 10 minutes I lied on my back and relaxed. It's a good idea to alter primary with second series. One day I focus on forward bending asanas, the other day on back bending asanas.
To stand up after all these highlights of today was difficult. Oh my, my back screamed for attention. I walked up and down, up and down, like a lion in a cage and my back relaxed.
Tomorrow back bending.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
A tiny wrong movement and I have the hell on earth. The faster I can relieve the muscle cramp, the faster I escape from this hell called lower back pain. Yet this is sometimes a challenge. What luck that this lower back pain is not permanent.
I practiced. It started wonderful. I felt flexible, I was focused. To get from a back bending asana like ustrasana to a counter pose seems to be difficult. My back gets confused and this was it then. My timer is set. I want to be 90 minutes on the mat no matter what happens. I could continue after this sudden shock pain. Twists always feel good. They released my muscles. I could even do mayurasana. I finished my yoga practice with padmasana, left leg first to balance my body again.
I have a list now of activities that help when this sudden pain arises:
1. walking around (to get out of an asana and to stand up can be challenging)
3. rolling on the foam roll (It's important to have it handy.)
4. baddha konasana
5. Engaging the abdomen and bandhas
6. a shower (afterward)
Here I sit in paradise again. Pain is gone.
The experience from this morning strengthens my opinion that I can stabilize this SI joint when I do strength training. My Monday morning will start with Day 1 of strength training. It's the third start.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Friday, June 09, 2017
My SI joint is not blocked, it's misplaced. The right terminology helps to understand what happened, it also points at possible healing methods.
If one speaks of a blocked SI joint, one might think: OK, then I go to a chiropractor. He/she makes a jerky movement with my body and everything will be OK. The joint will be in place again, unblocked so to say.
Yet this is not the case. An SI joint cannot be blocked.
An SI joint can be misplaced.
This might be the cause for lower back pain on the right or left side of the back. Some have pain on both sides. The pain comes from another source. The muscles get cramped around this joint. To release these muscles helps but only for a while. The cause, the misplaced SI joint is still misplaced.
Why can an SI joint be misplaced?
There are many reasons, I think it can be helpful if we understand the why.
1. Pregnant women often have lower back pain. The hips open during the pregnancy. This can cause a lot of pressure on the SI joint. After the pregnancy the body can adjust itself. Back pain disappears.
2. Sitting all day long in a wrong position might be a reason for a misplaced SI joint.To move more, to sit correctly can be a solution.
3. Too much weight on the body can be another cause. Many people are overweight these days. It can put too much pressure on these tiny joints at the end of the spine. To lose weight might help. Others lift weight. This might lead to the same issues for the same reasons. I consider weight lifting not as healthy.
4. Imbalanced and overstretched ligaments around the joint is another reason. This might be the cause for yoga practitioners. Too hard adjustments or one-sided poses can cause this pain in the long run. I consider it wrong that I put always the left leg first behind my head in supta kurmasana. I was asked to take the right leg first in padmasana. Also here I think it's better to alter the legs to keep the body in balance.
The reason why the SI joint is misplaced can point at healing methods. It can be to lose weight, it can be to give up weight lifting. It can be that major life style changes could be a solution. Most people sit too much.
How can I heal my misplaced SI joint?
What does not help:
1. Pain killer only helps to be pain free for a limited time. Family doctors give pills, orthopedist give injections. Finally it's the same superficial treatment. I don't say that it cannot help sometimes.
2. To stop Ashtanga yoga is also only a solution for a short period of time. Soon I'll get issues because of inactivity, stiffness and weakness.
What can I do?
I think I have to do strength training. Strong abdomen support the back.
A few days back I found a video by a woman who had SI joint related pain and became pain free after having found exercises that strengthened her hip muscles.
During my practice today I took care to engage the abdomen. I was astonished what was possible. Yet at the end nothing was possible anymore.
How to get into the shower, I wondered. It was difficult to put off the yoga clothes. Finally the hot water and then the cold water calmed my back. I feel good again. The pain is volatile.
Thursday, June 08, 2017
Monday, June 05, 2017
This back pain is behind me like a stalker.
Yesterday I had planned to do the asana sequence from Rishikesh that starts with salamba sarvangasana. It should be something easy as I had not so much time. Just nine asanas, I thought, a piece of cake for someone who has more than 10 years of Ashtanga yoga behine me. It was not possible to get into that inversion asana, shoulder stand. My back screamed. A tiny movement and the pain can become horrible.
This morning my back didn't feel much better. So I thought it would be a good idea to start practicing in the afternoon. I did some poses in the afternoon, yet didn't experience flow or joy. Frustrated I stopped.
Kino's videos on omstar shooed me out of my mental valley. I have to pick myself up every day where I am. I cannot compare my practice with the practice 2 years ago. I have to work around the pain.
Saturday, June 03, 2017
In order not to get bored with the asana sequence from Rishikesh, I looked up variations of the asanas. The sequence starts with salamba sarvangasana, The book by B.K.S. Iyengar 'Light on yoga' is an excellent source in order to find variations for any asana.
Unfortunately my back hurt so awfully again, that I didn't know how to get out of the asana during the photo session. I fell out and stopped my photo session. Be sure there are so many more variations but these three.
The idea is that it can be interesting to have such a short sequence like the sequence of Rishikesh, if one explores the single asanas in great details. Variations help to understand the asanas.
Today I rest, I don't do asanas.
It's a sunny day here in Germany. Summer is my favorite time of the year.
Friday, June 02, 2017
This series starts with sun salutations for about 10 minutes and it ends with nauli, pranayama and savasana.
I found this series decades ago in the book 'Yoga' by André van Lysebeth. These nine asanas accompanied me for a very long time.
It's not that spectacular, yet balanced.
The series of nine asanas consists of inversions, balancing asanas, forward bending asanas, back bending asanas and twists.
It's possible to practice variations of the asanas, yet it is not recommended to change the order.
One shall hold the asanas for 1 min. Sirsasana can be held up to 10 min.
For me 1 minute is about 15 breaths.
After all the years with Ashtanga yoga, this series seems simple and easy. Sometimes this is exactly what the body and mind needs.
André van Lysebeth talks about concentration in the book. It's an exercise that one can do with easier asanas, too.
This series can be found in the page section below the banner. It can be an alternative on days when it's difficult to practice Ashtanga yoga.
This morning I woke up with back pain. I cannot explain why my back hurts after having slept and relaxed, but it is so. We have a very good mattress. So this cannot be the reason.
Yesterday I wrote my journal and stepped rather early on the mat. Back pain got worse. Today I didn't want to make the same mistake.
Today I wanted to stabilize my back first. I did chores as if my life depended on it. I filled the washing machine, folded clothes, vacuumed, made the bed. It all distracted me from my back. Pain faded away.
During the rolfing session I was asked to move my hips forwards and backwards while I was lying on my side. The rolfer pressed the hand against my back. It didn't hurt. Remember, that you can move your back without pain, she said. Your pain memory shall be reprogrammed.
I feel so relaxed now. To do the chores first was the right strategy.
Soon I'll prepare a light breakfast for myself. My practice can take place later.
It's difficult to start with strength training regularily, but I have to do it. I must talk myself into it. Strong muscles are always good. I must do it before my yoga practice.
What's so special with Ashtanga yoga in comparison to other styles, I wondered yesterday?
Firstly it's the vinyasas, how the asanas are connected with each other.
Secondly it's the advanced poses.
Thirdly Ashtanga yoga became a cult.
I'm not able to do the vinyasas right now. I can lift up myself to build strength, but to jump doesn't feel good. I omit it.
Other styles have advanced poses, too.
That it's a cult is fun, but I'm out already as I practice at home.
Yesterday I flipped through my yoga books and I found out that there are always series, often fixed ones. Also in the book by B.K.S. Iyengar are recommendations for asana sequences.
When I started yoga decades ago I focused on the series by Rishikesh that I found in a book by André von Lisbeth.
My idea is to practice other sequences to get out of my routine. I want to confuse my pain memory.
For those who care: I feel good with and without pain. I curse when I feel pain, I become optimistic when I don't feel pain, but I'm in peace with what life has to offers. I observe the journey. Will it end in a happy end?
- Ignore the pain. Do anything that helps to ignore it. Reprogram the pain memory.
- Do strength training.
- Postpone the practice. Start when feeling good.
- Practice other series to confuse the pain memory and to get out of a routine that creates pain.
Wow, I have a plan.
Thursday, June 01, 2017
This morning I was again a bit earlier on the mat than yesterday and the day before yesterday. At 7am I started with the sun salutations. I'm not sure if this has been a good idea. In the morning my back is often not yet stabilized, means it hurts.
Yet first I had to go through blood circulation issues. When I moved out of the standing asanas with head close to the floor I got dizzy. I had to pause. I understand now why it makes sense to come out of poses. Perhaps I hanged forward too long.
Next issue: It must have been difficult to perform the counter poses. A tiniest wrong movement must have happened. Pain became unbearable. I didn't know anymore how to get into a standing position. I fell back on the mat. I had to attempt to stand up again. Finally I was upright. I walked consciously around. Pain was gone almost immediately.
The lower back on the right side must be so unstable that a tiny wrong movement can spoil everything. Nerves must get pinched. Perhaps an evening session could be good....
I walked around, made many rounds, happy that this was possible. Ustrasana was my last asana today.
I took a shower. This is usually relieving as well. Then I went to bed with 'The tree of yoga' by B.K.S. Iyengar.
This back pain exhausts me.
Tomorrow primary..........l'll explore what will be possible.
Picture: This is an asana that I'll integrate in my practice. It feels good as a preparation for kapotasana. It stretches the upper body.
About one year ago when my lower back pain had reached a peak, I made a list of activities I could do for myself. Rolfing was one activity on the list.
Yesterday I had my first session. The woman who offers this treatment is originally from Northern Italy. Last month she had passed the very difficult test for alternative healing. I found her on my way home from my family doctor who is located in the same building.
There is the method and there is the person who applies the method. A very good method applied by someone inexperienced might be ineffective or worse.
Yet if one finds a committed experienced person miracles might happen.
I read on the website that she has had back pain as well and that she had made best experiences with rolfing. She got so excited that she wanted to become a rolfer. This experience of her was that convinced me that she would be the right person.
When she opened the door to her practice yesterday, I found her very nice from the first moment on. She is a beautiful slim woman. She seems to walk the talk.
My expectations re these 10 sessions are not that my back gets healed. I want to do something relaxing for myself after these 2 and a half aggressive years, that injured my body. .
The first moment I met her was important. We do body work together, so it's better if there is trust and sympathy.
In the practice is a skeleton. I got explained where the SI joint is. It is interesting to see the anatomy. This SI joint is so protected. That I injured myself there after so many years of Ashtanga yoga is incredible.
All doctors, rolfers, physiotherapist, orthopedist seem to agree: Don't stop practicing Ashtanga yoga. It will only limit my possibilities in the long run.
Rolfing: The method is rather soft. It's possible to feel the connections of the body. For instance on the muscle below my arms a soft pressure was executed. I should lift the arm, yet it almost flew upwards. No effort was needed.
The rolfer is very attentive. At first she only touched my spine to connect with my body and to create trust.
The first rolfing session traditionally focuses on the neck. Yet I was glad that my injured area was treated, too.
I can stand, I can walk. My body is balanced. The simplest things are often the most demanding ones.
The treatment felt good to me. It's also sort of pampering for my body. I see that softness can be effective, too. To learn more of the connections of the different body parts will surely deepen my understanding for the asanas.
Next week I'll have the next session. Focus will be the feet.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Most people stop practicing Ashtanga yoga. Classes are full of beginners. Some people are talented and very flexible, yet they just started with the practice. Less than 10% practice a decade. Most people stop for different reasons after some time.
Most people retire one day. They don't want to work one day longer than necessary.
Most people have had friendships, yet one day the paths divided.
There might be very good reasons, but also excuses why this happens.
Not always people stop doing something. A few weeks back I went to an exhibition by Peter Lindbergh, the photographer. He is now 71. Someone asked him if he considered to stop working. He doesn't want to stop working. He is in the flow now. Now he can play with the different skills. He has the connections to people in the community. Why stopping?
There are few people who find activities, jobs they want to do till the last breath, till they die. It's worth looking for such activities. It's fulfilling.
It's of course also fine to stop an activity if interest fades away. Sometimes priorities change. Why not.
Often people quit a community, an activity or whatever with complaining, blaming, discontentment.
A few days back I found a blog post by an ex-Ashtangi, who explained in great detail why she stopped practicing. She has been an aspiring Ashtanga yoga teacher. There was no single good word about yoga. She wrote about Mysore and has never been there. The community was provoked. The list of comments were long and so committed.
It is an art to quit. I even think it's OK to point out the negative aspects. To have a critical view on something can solve issues. Yet to generalize and to think that the own feelings and experiences are the only truth is simply wrong.
This is also why I prefer to share my experiences. At the same time I wish that other practitoners who read my blog might be inspired, but everybody must make his/her own experiences. What is true for me, can be wrong for someone else. I enjoy the exchange of experiences and stories.
I'll surely not quit Ashtanga yoga that fast. I face obstacles, they are not huge enough to make myself doubt about my practice.
Also today I practiced. Today primary was on the schedule. After 90 min my alarm clock rang, I was still in the middle of the middle part. My practice became slow. The extra asanas need extra time, too.
My practice improves slowly, very slowly. Today I could do kurmasana again. Eka pada sirsasana (a substitute for supta kurmasana) was possible, too. At the end the lower back pain (SI joint issues) dominated the practice and I was glad when I was finally in savasana.
Strange, but after the shower, first with warm water, then with cold water, I feel relaxed again, so does my back.
Today will be my first rolfing session. I'm very curious.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Again I set my timer. After 100 min I had just done the twists. I practice slowly and I add exercises that shall prepare my body for the deep back bending asanas. Every day I practice the split poses, i.e.. This might be a reason why I have have not enough time for the entire second series. Quality over quantity. I'm not in a hurry.
I also repeat asanas. Ustrasana is such an asana. I so know how it felt some years ago. It felt good to be in that asana. These days I'm not sure if I'll reach my heels. I do, I do. Yet I want that the asana feels good. With every repetition it feels better.
I repeat kapotasana and urdhva dhanurasana.
To alter the series seems to be a good solution right now.
Important is to practice.
My breath became so fearful. I work on a deep even breath, too. The practice is painful and satisfying at the same time.
I wonder how easy it is to step on the mat in the morning. I don't want to miss this daily practice, no matter how modest it might be. The practice teaches me to stay patient. It teaches me not to give up.
What a luck that I can practice.
Monday, May 29, 2017
The timer was set for 90 min. It rang before I had finished primary today. I had enough. I felt exhausted.
My focus is to relax when I practice the asanas.
I also want to regain strength. That is I lift myself up between asanas, not between sides. This would still be too much right now.
The two asanas above are often my counter poses to all these forward bending asanas of primary. It feels good. The movement starts from the hips.
That I could stretch my legs in kurmasana was a surprise. After that pose not much happened, but the wish to stop. I stay on the mat for 90 min. It's great to do only fav poses or relaxing poses or savasana, but I want to be on the mat for 90 min. I need again a feeling for time.
It was a perfect start of the week.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
No discussion: I practice.
I stop these inner discussion of the ambitious me and the lazy fearful me at an early point. Too often the lazy me wins. It's OK to practice only relaxing asanas, but not to practice at all is not an alternative.
Today is Sunday, second Ashtanga series was on the schedule. Back bending was the focus.
Forward split is always part of my practice, every day. It helps me to stretch the hip flexor of the leg that stretches backwards.
The first step is being able to be on the floor with both legs. Then one can think of back bending in that position in addition. To make it easier it could be useful to bend the leg that is in front of the body.
Whenever a pose felt weak, I repeated it. Often the pose is much more relaxing when it has reached a perfect form. Feeling good in a pose is my goal. I want to breathe deeply also in difficult asanas.
Highlight of today: I could bind pashasana again. I celebrate this.
When under the shower after my practice I tell my brain: Time to give trouble to my back is over. This shows effect.
It's time for breakfast now.
These 100 minutes were so worth doing it.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
To move into utthita parsvottanasana with that blocked SI joint is painful. That is it's painful when I move into this pose from standing position. That's the classic movement. One steps the feet apart from each other, then one turns to the right sight. In the meanwhile the hands are in prayer position behind the back. Then one lowers the upper body to reach with the chin the shin. During this movement the lower back has to carry the weight of the upper body. It's not only this, What I read it's much more than the body weight, it's four times more due to the leverage effect.
This is also why it's recommended to lift things very close to the body. This prevents the back from damage in the long run.
My version these days: I bend forward, I reach my feet with my hands. I can support this movement while putting my hands on my legs. This takes away weight from the back. Then I step back. The smaller the step the more difficult becomes this asana.
In classes I often heard that one shall move the weight to the back leg. With my hands on the floor I can support this shift. When I feel comfortable, I move my arms behind my back. See picture three. A warning: the shoulders are usually a weak part of the body. Take care not to injure the shoulders when using them to leverage this asana.
Yet from there it's so much easier to take the hands behind the back in prayer position.
All forward bending asana improve when the abdomen are engaged (bandhas).
I want to relax in a pose. It must feel good. Not at the beginning, but after some time. If this is not possible, I go to the position, that feels good.
On chronic pain: I was very astonished when I read that one speaks of chronic pain if someone has pain for only a few years.Then the brain shall sent messages to the nerves that sustains the feeling of pain even though the cause for this pain doesn't exist anymore.
The recommendation is to ignore the pain. It's recommended not to talk about it, not to think about it, not to read any literature about it. One shall even not do any exercises to relief the pain. Forget about it, is the advice.
This is what I tried yesterday. Taking picture distracted me from the pain, too.
I got that point.
Nevertheless I think in my case, the cause, the blocked SI joint is still there. I can locate it. I got to know the movements when it hurts. However. I'm looking forward to the rolfing sessions next week. I must believe in this treatment!
Friday, May 26, 2017
These days I practice sometimes variations of the asanas of the Ashtanga yoga series due to my lower back pain (SI joint issues).
I also move differently into an asana than it is foreseen in the classic Ashtanga sequences.
This deepens my understanding of the asanas.
I don't feel anymore that I practice not correctly. I gave up the idea that everybody around the world has to practice exactly the same, no matter of age, experience, body, wishes and whatever. After decades of yoga practice I became flexible in many ways.
I move into parivrtta parsva konasana from adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Usually one jumps from standing position to the side. Most of the time my step was not wide enough. The shin bone of the leg bent shall be parallel to the wall, the upper leg shall be parallel to the floor. It's easier to have this exact distance of the feet when moving from downward facing dog into this position. For me it's less painful as I can move the weight of the body on my hands when I make the step forward. The lower body has not to carry any body weight.
I don't turn my feet of the stretched leg around anymore. This shall preserve the SI joint.
That way it's also easier to have the shoulder next to the knee. This pose is a twist.
With the one feet on its toes it becomes a balancing pose, too.
This morning I woke up with horror pain in the back. It's a pain killer day, I thought. But again, the pain disappeared after some time.
The words of the orthopedic came into my mind: Don't give it up. No, no, no, I won't give it up.
(Being a yogini is the best life style I found for myself.)
The practice turned into a photo session. Nothing is more useful than seeing oneself on a picture if one studies alone at home.
I've mastered again the first obstacle: I practice on a daily basis. I don't postpone the practice. Often it's postponed to the next day and the next day.........
The sun is shining. I feel really good.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
I love to practice at home. The feeling for the duration of my practice is lost. That's why I set a timer. Ninety minutes asana practice is a fantastic time. My practice slowed down. I stay in an asana till it feels good. These days I close my eyes. I focus on the inner sensations. It helps me to relax. With closed eyes, I can also better focus on my breath. Time flies. The 90 minutes are over so quickly.
Unbelievable how painful the transitions were today. I crawled from one asana to the next. Doing vinyasas is something else. After the twists of second series the ninety minutes were over. The three lotus pose position finished my practice.
The asanas are improving again. Even urdhva dhanurasana is coming back and it feels good to bent backwards. Patience is needed.
Right now I feel excellent. The mornings offer me horror pain. It's fading away during the day.
Yesterday I had a first phone call with the rolfer. Next Wednesday I'll have my first session. She asked for any issues. I told her about my sacroiliac joint. She is optimistic that she can help me. I don't expect this. But this nice lady is optimistic, why shouldn't I be optimistic, too?