Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The show must go on.
I practiced. Parivrtta Parsva Konasana was the next pose that I wanted to document. The battery of the self-timer was too low to work this morning. So I used the self-timer within the camera. Like years ago I had 20 sec from pushing the button to get into the pose.
It ashtonished me that I was able to get that fast into that pose It amazed me that I was able to do that pose at all. But I got so weak, that my body is still relatively flexible.
- I could jump a bit wider, so that the thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Trying to move the feet apart from each other helps to keep the legs strong. It also brings automatically the rim of my foot on the floor.
- That my hand is not relaxed is strange.
This pose is challenging. It's a deep twist combined with a balancing challenge. The shoulder is supposed to be behind the knee. When this is possible the asana becomes stable. Then it's also possible to twist even a bit more.
The standing asanas are underestimated. The goal is to build a foundation.
Strong legs is a key word.
To engage the legs important for every single asana of the standing sequence.
Four travel days lie behind me. My yoga mat was with me during my trip to Berlin. I didn't use it. Either I thought it was too cold in the hotel room or I didn't get up on time. I have still some time to finish my picture project, that is to take a picture of the asanas of the standing sequence of Ashtanga yoga. My deadline was the 10th of February. Till the end of February the standing sequence will be my focus.
Tomorrow a new month begins. This is always like a fresh beginning.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
My picture project motivates me to practice. It's difficult these days to step on the mat as I'm weak and my back hurts. I'm so weak that I cannot hold my body when I lower it after plank pose. I lie my body on the floor and from there I move into upward facing dog. Today I managed it to hold my body once. When this will become easy, I'll try to hold my body twice and so on.
My picture project is to take one picture of an asana of the Ashtanga yoga series every day. I limit myself to one asana (right and left side). It's not that easy to limit myself. The advantage is that I give my body time to get stronger and more flexible for the poses that come next.
My very first goal is to master again the standing asanas. I know when I've reached this goal. It is when I can follow easily the CD by Sharath. I don't strive for perfection.
This little project ends at the 10th of February. When I can do the standing sequence with a certain flow, I'll celebrate it.
Then comes the next project: primary.
I love my pictures. They bring fun in my life. They motivate me to practice. Sometimes they spoil the flow of a practice. It's OK. Who cares.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Last week a tooth of mine got extracted. Yes, another one had to go. It was the last one on the right side of the lower jaw that had to leave my mouth.
Today the huge wound was checked. But all was perfect.
He: You heal well.
Me: Yes, I know.
He: Shall I inform your dentist Mr XY, that all is OK?
Me: No, this is no more my dentist. The one who treated me has left the practice. You are now my dentist.
He: I'm not a dentist. I am an oral surgeon.
Me, folding my hands in front of my chest in awe: Oh sorry.
He: It doesn't matter.
Me: Can you recommend a dentist?
He thought for a while and then his assistant had to give me a business card. I'm happy about this recommendation.
To get a tooth extracted is no fun. One can bear it. But I remember, I sat already on this chair when the thought came up: Run away, run away, it's still time. But I kept sitting in that chair and soon the oral surgeon (now I know it better) came and gave me the injections. This hurts. And here my yoga practice helps me. I know how to relax when feeling discomfort. I keep breathing. I focus on the breath. This calms. I learned not to draw back. You do very well, he said when this initial work was done. And I thought, that I'm an advanced yogini. Keep practicing, I told myself, too. Silently.
Then after 5 min the tooth got extracted. This is awful. It's not really painful, but awful and bloody. Afterwords he showed me the tooth and it was so rotten. It was totally black around the root. 2 years ago I got an expensive crown on it. A few months back another dentist wanted to clean the tooth during a surgery. The flesh should be cut, the tooth should get exposed this way. Also this treatment would have been only good for the purse of the dentist. This tooth was in pieces.
My dental hygienist who saved me from this treatment uses to say about dentists: They always work on something, their boat, their house, their vacation. I add: And at some point they are divorced and this costs money, too. Who cares about the patients.
I asked the oral surgeon of today if everything is OK. It is. I also feel it. When I'm courageous enough, I'll count how many teeth I still have. To have ill teeth in the mouth and permanent inflammations is not the solution.
And yes, I heal fast and I can also relax when getting an injection, when getting a tooth extracted. I think this is because of my yoga practice, as mentioned already. Yoga taught me to focus on the breath. One learns to relax and not to draw back when pain sets in. I don't talk about sudden pain. Yet when practicing yoga stretching discomfort can be felt. We stand it. We learn how to stand discomfort. Pain doesn't equal pain. Yet this huge topic deserves another post.
How to finish this post?
I wondered why this tooth was in such a bad condition. I blame sugar for it. Nutrition is so important. I'll reduce the consumption of sugar even more. Especially this industrial white sugar. Some health apostle even warn to eat an apple, because it has fructose, a form of sugar. If one has diabetes, it might be necessary not to eat fruit anymore. But an apple has so much more important ingredients, vitamins i.e.. This is my opinion. It developed through life and own experience. And I read a lot of books about nutrition. As a yogini I respect other creatures, I don't eat them. And from now on I think twice when I want to eat anything with too much sugar.
Eat well, move, stay optimistic.
1. I know people who simply do what they want to do, always and now.
2. I also know people who postpone everything and don't do what they want to do or what they pretend what they want to do.
I'm between these extremes.
When a habit is formed it's easier to be disciplined. But I also know times when I fell off the wagon. Then it became difficult to get back to routines.
Getting up at 5 am and going to a yoga class requires discipline. For me it felt like going to work. It became easier every day. Soon it was no challenge at all to get to work. Who does not go to work?
To practice alone is much more difficult. But I'm back.
It makes sense to observe oneself. What exactly is it that makes me do anything. One can be one's own role model.
I have a plan and this gives me enormous energy and motivation. I want to take pictures of the Ashtanga yoga series, one by one. Every day I take another one till I reach a pose that is lost. Then this pose will be my focus for a month or till it's mastered. By now I only think of the standing asanas. I'm so curious.
Without discipline nothing will get accomplished ever. To ask oneself what gets me going is an important question. It differs from person to person.
Building routines help to be disciplined: Same time, same place, same beginning.
It's also useful not to question every day if one shall practice or not. Just doing it, is it.
Next pose is utthita trikonasana.
Learning to be disciplined is often the very first step in anything one wants to learn.
Monday, January 23, 2017
When I practice at home I add exercises that help me to perform asanas that are difficult for me.
I approach all the poses slowly after the break. I remember that I had put blocks under my feet (picture 1) as a preparation exercise. Yesterday it was enough to lie on the floor. I could feel the stretch on my upper thighs. This little exercise was a perfect preparation. Bhekasana felt good.
Bhekasana is a challenging pose.
I was astonished how far I could get into the pose. But I lost strength and this helped me to stay rather flexible.
Today I start my practice with strength training.
Here is a list that helps to master asanas:
1. Find preliminary exercises.
2. Hold the asana longer than 5 breaths.
3. Repeat the asanas that you want to learn and that are difficult. Up to three repetitions seem OK for me. Each time it becomes easier.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
It's Sunday today and I practiced at home. Before starting I prepared my camera. My pictures are an excellent learning tool. Filming could be even better. I feel not yet ready to film my practice that became so slow. Pain is still there. I needed about 40 min for the sun salutations and the standing asanas and a twist. I take care not to overstretch after the break.
The break was too long, but who knows. It can be that it was the best that I could do. There is still this inflammation on the right side of my back.
I haven't lost so much flexibility, but I got very weak.
I used the break of my Ashtanga yoga practice to read a lot of books. When a body grows older usually it becomes weaker. Most people don't do anything against it. But if one wants to age without experiencing that life aggravates, strength training is recommended.
Strength training also protects from injuries. It is very important. Ashtanga yoga training makes stronger, but it is not enough. I wasn't able to perform some asanas (i.e. pincha mayurasana) because I was too weak.
If I have learned anything during the last year it is that I have to adjust the practice to my needs, to my age, to my abilities.
Classes offer usually on practice that shall fit to all students the same way. This is simple, but dangerous. In my case it led to a serious injury, that lasts over a year already.
Downdog is the first asana in the Ashtanga yoga practice. It's the first pose we hold 5 breaths when doing sun salutations.
Here comes the next adjustment I do because of my age. After every pose comes a counter pose. This is relaxing and helps to balance the body. A counter pose of forward bending asanas is upward facing dog. To hold it only for one breath is not enough for me. I don't reach my limits, I cannot relax when I practice a counter pose only for one breath. I feel free to prolong the pose.
I summarize some of my experiences:
1. Adjust the practice to your needs.
2. Cultivate a home practice.
3. Strength training is recommended and even necessary at my age.
4. Hold counter poses longer than one breath, if the body needs more time to get into a back bending after a forward bending asana i.e..
Sunday, January 08, 2017
A friend posted this sentence on Facebook yesterday. It's her variation of the sentence: When the student is ready, the teacher appear.
After decades of practicing yoga, the teacher disappear. This fits much more to my current situation.
This doesn't mean that learning has stopped. To learn never stops. Learning happens through multiple channels, through books, online-videos, my own practice, conversations, reflections, also through teachers and practitioners. One can learn from anything. The one main learning source disappeared. It's substituted through many sources.
In former years I loved it to get attention and adjustments in yoga classes. Every tiny hint was appreciated. These days I have the feeling I heard everything already. I like not to get interrupted during my practice only when absolutely necessary.
I do miss the yoga community, the energy of a group session. I love to see all these yogis bending.
When I feel ready I'll go again to the the yoga school that I found last year. I felt welcomed there. Yet I'll begin with home practices.
In the first week of 2017 I had a cold. I felt thwarted.
The cold disappeared.
So today is my start of my yoga practice of 2017. Whatever happens is appreciated, also a single pose.
Happy new year again to everybody. Let's move.
Picture: My breakfast these days. It's one of Attila Hildmann's recipes found in his new book 'Vegan for fit 2'.
Monday, January 02, 2017
I blog 10 years already. I practice even longer Ashtanga yoga. And yoga I practice for decades. Last year I had under 100 posts. My practice was more or less interrupted due to my back injury caused by unreasonable teaching. Why did I not run away earlier? I still can't believe it that I was supposed to practice 2 and a half hour every day only because I wasn't able to do kapotasana. Each month I was a bit more frustrated. Is this the goal of Ashtanga yoga?
To restart is hard. I don't see an alternative. I'm an active person, I want to stay flexible and strong.
I know I'm not alone. There are a lot of sports invalids not only in the yoga community. I cannot turn the wheel backwards. I'll have to live with the pain. I gave up on the idea that I'll be pain free one day. I know how to release the pain: fascia massage helps. When I reflected on 2016 I asked myself what was good and what was not so good. I hesitated. Shall I judge the back issues as positive or negative? Finally I put it on the positive list as it is all better. I can sleep again, I can sit again. I can stand up. This was not possible in the beginning of the year 2016. Only walking was possible without pain. But who can walk all the time? It was an Odyssey to find a good doctor and the right treatment. A physio therapist helped me finally.
I'm sure that sooner or later I would have injured myself if I practiced re the rules in the Ashtanga yoga community. In classes no tiny bit of variations are allowed. No individuality is allowed. Everybody has to do the same. So perhaps it's even good that I got injured now and not later. At my age the body needs longer to recover.
No complaints anymore. I'll focus on second series when I'll be able to start again. Too many forward bending asanas don't feel good right now.
Here I sit with a cold. It's impossible to practice. I feel weak, my nose and my throat need all my attention. There is snow outside. Perhaps I walk a bit. And I'm sure I'll sleep a lot. This cold is temporarily.
Sunday, January 01, 2017
Happy new year to everybody.
We celebrated the end of 2016 in an Indian restaurant called 'Guru'. They were so kind to prepare a vegan dinner for me. We got 5 different courses. The lentil soup was a poem. I loved the mango sorbet at the end.
At midnight we were at home. I was amazed about the firework here in that tiny village. They must safe all year long for this hour, I thought.
At 1:30 am I was in bed and I woke up before the alarm clock could wake me up. I put on my clothes, had a coffee and then I got outside. I wanted to walk 10 000 steps. There is a sea not so far away. It's a beautiful place, but I knew already that I had to circle it minimum 7 times till I would have done the 10 000 steps. After the 6th round my smart phone shut down. I cursed. Should I really make the last round when I cannot count the steps? I did it.
I wonder if it makes sense to walk 90 min every day. It's probably better than sitting on the sofa all day long. But it doesn't really exhaust me. It's time consuming to reach 10 000 steps. The huge advantage is that one can walk everywhere. To be outside, to get fresh air is also wonderful. To move betters every mood.
At least my discipline muscle got trained. I wanted to walk and I did it.
We all have a cold here. I'll adjust my plans to it.
I wish everybody a wonderful start 2017.