Thursday, 28 October 2010

Thursday Ashtanga Primer

Wow... I'm shattered and it's only 20:49. Just been to ashtanga, worked really hard as it was very hot in there tonight, I also counted 19 people, the biggest class I've seen in ages - lots of body heat!

I am feeling at my parsvakonasana is coming along nicely...I can really feel the benefit of mula banda in this one now, in helping to get deeper into the posture, it's like pouring yourself over your thigh, I like it.

My setu bandasana is coming along neck must be stronger than I think as I can now take my arms away from the floor and roll almost onto the forhead, although I'm a bit shakey. Coming down remains a big relief ;o)

My chakrasanas are becoming stronger again with the improvement in my legs are coming down straighter and straighter each time which is good. Still need a bit of a 'swing' into it though, but I don't care, David Swenson said it was OK to do it from a seated position to get momentum, rather than just lifting yourself through from lying down, which is a killer (for me anyway).

My surys were good today, rolling over the toes felt a lot better than it has done for a while, I don't know whether the gap in my practice just softened them up a bit, but they have been hurting for a while. Today they didn't thogh, they felt strong and I liked the way they felt as I was doing it do I slowed it down! Bit strange I know...

My breathing in sury Bs was better today (see probs mentioned in earlier post) not extra breaths before coming up into warrior, good news.

My upavista konasana is improving too, it used to be terrible but with the improvement in my wide legged forward bends in the standing sequence, must come an improvement in this one too?! I just wish V would adjust me more often in it, I really concentrate in trying to use a wave like motion in my body to work my chest to the floor, on Monday there were mirrors and I could see that I was about a foot off the floor, so I'm making progress.

Think I might have a hot milk and go to bed now... I have a load of ironing but that can wait til tomorrow night :o)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Tuesday's trials

I did what I don't normally do on a Tuesday and did practice then went to my teaching class! I just felt like I needed to do it. My energy levels were there as soon as got home, so got straight down to it in the spare hour I had before class.

OK, so I didn't do ANY vinyasas... BUT I did some practice, so I shouldn't beat myself up over that should I?! And it was only up to navasana then into the finishing sequence. Talking about navasana, I have over the previous few weeks been toying with different styles of holding 'the boat' out of the water, pointing toes, expressing heels, combinations of both and at class tonight V said that RF had said push through the ball of your feet, which I'd already worked out for msyelf felt the correct way to engage the required muscle groups. Just shows what your body can work out for itself....

Doesn't mean however that my quads feel any more powerful... my crappy purvasana is testament to that!!! It's absolutely awful... Which muscles do you use to hold you up? I just cannot get it,... out of all my practice this posture makes me look as if I have never done ANY yoga before in my life!! LOL I point my toes and my whole body sinks! Amazing...I'll look it up in my anatomy/physiology books and see if they have the answers! Any further ideas, answers on a postcard please and I'll try them out :o)

My breathing was really sketchy, in Sury Bs I was adding in an extra breath going from chaturanga into upward dog, why did that start happening? Hello?!!! lol I must try to breath deeper at home, there seems to be a marked change in breathing technique in class and at home, they need to be the same.

Teaching the class tonight was a bit dodgy... sometimes people just don't seem to want to know! It's very strange how I can be received differently from week to week by the same people. I've always been receptive to teachers and even just their prescence near you gives me the incentive to push myself a little more, to straighten out my spine, lift my head or whatever....which makes me improve. I must say nights like this make me think twice about taking it up as a profession... Or maybe I'm just not ready for it. Hmmm...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Monday's Mysore

Not so much of a Mysore style but a led class today, essentially to "remind us of the sequence".  My teacher had also been to the Richard Freeman workshop in Oxford at the weekend so I think he wanted to pass on some new tips, which I think I found useful. It's always nice when a teacher brings something new to the table - sometimes in a led class they can sound a bit bored and repetative and it can be a bit sad :o(  Anyway, Mysore or not, I had a bloody great practice. I think I must've sweated out loads of toxins too and now I feel great. (Albeit it ready for bed...)

There was a minute when bringing my legs up and over (straight) to get into sarvangasana when I felt a serious pull on my buttocks and lower back which wasn't good; I've had that before, generally when going from matsyasana into uttana padasana, but I normally give myself a little hug between the two postures to free up whatever is going on in the lower back, and that seems to work. Will be careful of raising legs straight in the future, I really don't need any more lower back problems...

One of the 'tips' from RF was in Mari C - apparently he says that it is OK to have your hips diagonal in this posture, so you start almost looking to the side, then to breath out 3 times whilst wrapping your arm around your leg to exhale as much air as possible from the belly. I did this and found that it worked (see last post about having to physically 'tuck' my belly in to get round!) This way I did not have to, yay!

My sarvangasana was a bit wonky today though...I didn't feel straight at all, like my bum was sticking out, nothing I did seemed to shift me any straighter, which is very strange for me, as I normally love this posture and do it well (ie. close to being able to balance on shoulders alone, being that straight).

Oh, and my standing balancing was so sketchy today, but I put that down to the moon cycle, which I fully expect to put me off balance.

Tomorrow I'm going to go into work early again, finish early, do practice then go to my class to teach. (I say this now and it might not happen exactly this way but at least I've got positive thoughts going on , ha! :o)

I just thought... I didn't get the burning pain in the back of my right knee today either, great!

Ashtanga Yoga: The Primary Series - Richard Freeman

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sunday evening with David...

Where has the weekend gone? It's Sunday night already and just sleep (and maybe a bit of x-factor) between now and work :o(

I was dying to do some practice today, came home after a lovely dinner with mum and got the mat straight out. I used my newish mat today as I had left old faithful in the car. Bad Move. It's so slippy, I can't feel safe on it at all but I was too lazy to go out to the car to get the orange! Anyway... I did something I haven't done for a while now...David Swenson's short form DVD! I did the 45 min sequence as it is quite similar to the Dynamic Primer I'm practicing to teach. LOVE HIS VOICE!! I love David, official.

One thing I did notice today was that my breath is really quite fast. I had about 7 to his 5, and last Monday at Mysore-Style I was the first to finish, which just compounds the fact my breaths are way short. Should I try to slow them down or just keep to my natural rhythm? In fact, sometimes when I self-practice I add extra breaths on to some postures when I feel a nice stretch, so I suppose if I'm already doing that due to not feeling the benefit, I should make a concerted effort to lengthen the breath. It might make a better meditation out of it too.

I'm managing to reach my head to the floor in all prasarita paddottanasanas now, which says a lot about the states of my hip flexors! I do find it difficult to engage the front of the thighs though, it's like my body doesn't want to flex the knees, a bit weird. Maybe I should start the leg lifts again to strengthen the quads? The last thing I want to do is have another part of my body getting all messed up whilst compensating for my quads!!

I feel all bloated again. I felt great in Malaysia and I'm putting it down to bread/wheat. Had none for 2 weeks and felt great, so I'm going to try and stay away from how do I make roti chennai???!!

That was beside the point... Yes, so, backbends were good, Mari A & C's are becoming really good. I bind now in C, and really get a good turn. It always feels amazing on the spine this posture, when done correctly, I used to hate it, and didn't bother with binding, but now I can do it correctly I love it. I love being adjusted in Mari C too! Although I've obviously put on weight round my middle as I have to move my stomach out of the way of my thigh ;o)

I nearly fell down in Sirsasana! I never do that! Aargh! I have to say though, the 45 min sequence doesn't really get you as warm as you need to be... my shoulderstands were a bit sketchy, especially karnapidasana, I almost couldn't reach my knees to the floor! I think I'll leave the short forms for when I'm in real need for some extra support off Dave ;o)

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Not so much "angel" this week I'm afraid, Jet Lag has taken any ounce of energy I had left...! I am such an arse, as after waiting 7 weeks for an MRI scan to find out what's wrong with my knees I forgot to set my alarm clock and slept in and missed the appointment!! I can't believe it. Do I go back to the doctors or do I leave it and wait for the physio appointment who might be able to fast track me through the process? I'm very disappointed in myself, I've been beating myself up about it all morning, it'll probably last all weekend, grrrrr!!!!

Which brings me to the subject of how I treat myself. My yoga teacher is always telling me off for how I treat myself, he seems to just know when I'm down or beating myself up about something! He says ""ahimsa" (non-violence) applies to yourself too you know!" Be nice to yourself. Well, I do try but it takes concerted effort on my part. I beat myself up about not doing enough practice quiet often, and have to say to myself, "hey, come on, don't worry about the past, you cannot change it, be present, do some now, do some later, whatever!"

Anyway, I fell asleep way early on Tuesday so didn't make it to class, I did however make it to Thursday's class which was a bit of a strange class.... There were loads of new people and it really put me off! Don't know why, but I felt really on edge. I had a good practice though despite my mind being everywhere and even though I was aching all over from Mondays practice and tri-class (step aerobics/weights/crunches) which I had not been to since before I did my knees in which was before Italy, mid June?! I have to say that  tri-class was great, I have missed it soooo much, I love the feeling of adreneline and feeling that my muscles have really worked! Although I think it'll be a couple of months before I'm back toned as I was in before June.

It was a moonday as well on Thursday. I don't respect moon days (as in I do practice), but I do find that I have a good practice on them, I seem to have more energy, which was how Thursday went. I did all the vinyasas and no pain in my knees, thank god. My balance was good too especially in utthita hasta pada, on the run up to moon days my balance is really shakey. I managed a really straight leg too, but the left is always better than the right in this posture, something to do with the right hip...

My navasana is definately improving, although I did think my thighs were starting to cramp through them!

My backbends are improving too, I'm moving my hands closer to the my feet now which feels great in my back, I wonder how it looks? Which reminds me, I must sort out the rope thing so I can start practicing drop backs at home. Sirsasana was great, didn't go up with straight legs but managed to hold legs parallel to floor for 3 breaths, a first!! Yay!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Post Malaysia Monday

OMG, just got back from practice tonight, which was a new self-practice class with my normal teacher. I am still shaking from it though, not sure that's a good sign. Body doesn't know what's hit it. Did all vinyasas, first time I have managed that without pain since June 25th! So long ago now, can't believe it. My body has finally healed itself I think *touches wood*, and hopefully refining my techniques will help in making sure it doesn't happen again.

So what went well tonight? My 10 Surys went well, really warmed me up. My prasarita padottanasanas were all done (even C - yes C!) with my head pressing into the floor, what a difference the act of pressing your head down into the floor makes! Arms in C literally a foot off the floor, can feel the upper back and shoulders opening up in this one now.

Chakrasanas were really good! Landed with straight legs and straight down into chaturanga. First time I'd managed straight legs for ages in this posture.

My back bends were good, not hard at all tonight, did 2 warm ups and then 3 full backbends going onto my head between the 3.

Sarvangasana sequence spot on tonight, elbows stuck together without moving at all tonight, which makes a change, normally I have to shift them back toegther once I have my legs straight.

Headstand held for 25 long breaths, steady and controlled, could not hold legs horizontal to floor though, booo... I'm so tired now though....

Just made tarka dall for dinner, thought I'd have a bit of time away from indian food, but I got the calling :o)

Malaysian magic

So I'm back from my holiday to Malaysia now, still trying to get over the jet lag though, and the cold (which I had before I went) and the cold sore I now have due to probable combination of heat/sun/air-con. All in all, I'm a bit ill, still...

So my good intentions to do my practice on beautifully manicured lawns of the hotel and the beach of the islands at sunrise did not come to (full) fruition. A) because there were no lawns at the hotel, and B) because I slept in past sunrise whilst in Pangkor Island. However, there was one morning where I did wake up and after 20 mins of trying to work out on my fingers what time of the day it was (I hadn't changed my phone time to Malay time) I got up and went to the beach to practice. And god it was lovely...

Why is it that when you practice outdoors and particularly on natural ground (grass/beach) that your practice takes another dimension? It's completely different. It's easier and more fluid and never feels like a struggle.. I was surrounded by nature, bats were darting about above me, crickets chirping in the distance, the waves crashing against the shore, beautiful. (I would say though, that the waves drowned out my ujjayi breath, which made it difficult to meditate fully as I did find it a bit noisey!) lol.

Normally, a morning practice finds me completely stiff and my joints all cold and not wanting to do much, but it wasn't like that this time. I can normally tell with my back in the inversions (especially Karnapidasana) as I cannot put my knees to the floor in the morning practice, but I wasn't far off at all this one morning. I did a bit of meditation on the beach afterwards too, although not for long in fear of having photos taken of me by Japanese tourists :o) The rest of the day was then lovely, relaxing on the beach for most of the day and chilling with friends.

I'm dreading tonight's practice in a way as I'm not 100%, and it's a new Mysore style class. At least I might be able to go at my own pace. And miss out some postures. Now I'm just being lazy ;o) I have had to just take some Ibuprofen though as I have a pain in my neck like I've pulled a muscle, hope that goes away. Might just go for a lie down now to re-energise - it's been a long day at the office...

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sunday Dynamic Yoga Primer

Having had a nice early night last night, I was up for an early morning practice. Hit the mat at 8am. I have a terrible cold now so thought it would ease that, but I think that the ujjayi breathing has made my nose really hurt, like I've strained it! Boooo... I was reading in bed 'The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace' just before practice and I had the pain in my back which I get if I 'lie in', so that spurred me on...

Anyway, decided to practice the Dynamic Yoga Primer series today, as I should be practicing that at least twice a week in order to teach it. It was a welcomed change to the mostly full practices I've done this week. The surys were dreadful though, I could hardly touch the floor and felt like I was bending at the waist rather than the hips. I did no jump backs/throughs as although I was nice and warm, my joints weren't warm enough and felt cracky. My balance was off during the standing sequence, I did utthita hasta padangustasana with my knee bent as I just couldn't be bothered to straighten my leg today. My seated postures were OK - Janu A which I did a couple of times I can now feel the benefits of the 'self adjustment' tip from Brian Cooper - must have another read of that book and pick up some more - they work, pulled the hip and knee right back, so my thigh was perdendicular to my outstreched leg, and the whole thing worked and I could feel the stretch right through my side, as is meant to be. Been practicing that for 3 years now and have never felt that stretch, just shows you...

Navasana was all right - tried pointing the toes, tried flexing the heels, tried a combination of the two, that worked, got straight legs for a couple of seconds in my final boat, brilliant news!

Nearly left it there, but did the beginner's backbend sequence; arms stretched out to start, then behind the hpis pushing the hips forward, then up into full dhanurasana. Nearly left it there again, but somemthing made me have another go up into full bridge, brought my hands closer to my feet this time, and felt the benefit.

Again, nearly left it there, thought about my 'ladies holiday', but thought 'get up there', so catapulted myself into salamba sarvangasana, and did 8 counts to all variations. Nearly left it there for reasons above, but then thought '**** it, get up into sirsasana you fool, you'll feel better and it'll make you look younge'r, so I did. And it was good, I pushed my feet towards the sky and made a concerted effort to press my forearms down into the ground and as i result i felt no tension in my lower back at all, it felt more balanaced and i stayed for twenty breaths, I then piked down, stayed with legs horizontal to floor for about 4 seconds then came crashing down. Balasana, padmasana, rest...

Having been so surprised by Friday's adjustment in bhujapi, I gave that a go after savasana, put head down without knocking myself out on floor (I think that was my main fear) then pulled feet towards tummy and there I was, no adjustment needed! This has given me extra confidence now to work towards jumping back, if I can go from Bhujapi to Bakasana, then one leg off at a time, I could start working towards the jump-back!!! It all comes together slowly!

All in all a good practice, albeit only an hour. Just to let you know though, got my tittibhasana bruises back - just what I need before I go on holiday!!! Aaargh!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Emanuele and Bella

Friday night and I took myself off to Leamington Spa's Stone Monkey for a full primary series talk through in Sanskrit led my Emanuele and Bella from Oxford Yoga. Manu-Durvasana
Emanuele Rossi and Bella Galt are both Ashtanga yoga teachers authorised by the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, Mysore, India. There were just 7 of us practicing in the SM space, which I have to say is just fantastic. The atmosphere was meditative and just how I like my space to be, they even had low lighting, instead of the blaring light of the normal rooms I practice in. All the ingredients were there for a great practice. The sanskrit took me back to 2008/9 when I was studying with David Swenson in India and I do absolutely love it, haven't been led in sanskrit since and it just made sense. Less to hear and more time to do, if that makes any sense?

Anyway, I have to start with how pleased I was that it would appear that the 'Mysore style' now has only 3 Surynamaskara Bs!!! Yay!!! No need to beat myself up if I cannot do 5! E & B have said so, and that comes from Sharath, and so it's fine! LOL! There are also less breaths when counted in this way, therefore where I normally 'look up and lengthen the spine', with the counted, it's just straight down into the posture. Less time to faff around and more time to be in the posture. E said it certain things had been changed to tighten the practice as it was felt that it was too long. Another 'cut' was there are only 2 paschimottanasana now, just clasping the toes and holding the wrists. Apparently there used to be 4 at one point, but Guruji said there was no point so it got reduced.

Bella was so lovely, I told her about my knees and how I was doing hip openers instead of the Janus etc, but she said it was OK to just do Janu A 3 times, just be work in that position and to rest the knees. Less to beat my knees up about again! It didn't matter either that I was only doing jump backs after each set of spostures instead of each side.

I had the most beneficial adjustment in bhujapidasana by E - I cannot get my head on the floor with my feet still off, but he effortlessly tilted my head forward, letting me put a big toes down just in case, then tilted my hips up towards the sky, and I could hold my feet off the floor! It felt great, and felt like I could stay there for hours! My new fav posture ;o) Can't wait to try that one again! I was told to point the toes of the floot on the floor in supta parsvasahita, where I'm used to flexing, and in navasana B also told us to point our toes, gutted - cannot do it when I point (see last blog)!.

Held sisasana for 20 breaths - great - piked down but couldn't hold legs horizontal - although I showed mum later and she said I held it horizontal for about 4 seconds! Back bend was tight and terrible though, as we didn't do any preparatory BBs like I'm used to to lengthen the back...

Had a panic when as soon as we'd finished sirsasana, E started counting over again as if we were starting Sury A - only to bring us back down to the mat for savasana. Mmmm... Well it was until I had a huge coughing fit and had to leave savasana to go to the bathroom so I didn't interrupt anyone! Anyway...


E & B = Great night!