Monday, 29 November 2010

Mysore Monday

Today's practice felt as if it was really building on Friday's. The jumping through to sits has improved ten-fold, today I got my legs through crossed just skimming the bum on the floor as they went through. I'm definately getting there :o) And it feels good!

I got my chest right onto my thigh in Janu A with some assistance from V, although my knees was not on the floor, I don't care cos I don't want to ruin it! It'll come with time and hea1 ling.. I've started trying Janu C on the recommendation of J, which I must say I hate, what's the point of it? To bugger up your knees? Ankles maybe? Toes too? Someone please tell me ;o) It just hurts!!!

Purvottanasana was appalling...enough said.

Loads of progress and a simple tip from V telling me to tilt the pelvis forward first in the upavista konasana, got my chest to the floor for the first time ever! Was a bit tough on my right knee but I'm putting that down to my physio poking and prodding it this afternoon!! Hopefully one day I wioll be able to pull myslef to the floor and hold myself there!

Back bends were good. RF's tips in bringing the feet closer to the hands is definately a winner. Still need to do the warm up BBs though, can't risk going straight up, I wouldn't be able to lie straight for a week!!

Supta bandasana is getting stronger. Legs almost straight with little tension in the butt cheeks. Still have to keep hands on the floor as I don't have confience in my neck just yet, but this will come with time.

Head stand was good, didn't feel as if I was arching my back as much today, I think I did it by keeping my legs a little more forward which seemed to straighten out my back..not that I could see it or anything, but it felt better anyway... V had me push out, head off the floor today which I found easy, balancing there once up is a different matter all together though ;o)

In terms of remembering the sequence....I managed it all (except ardha baddha padmottanasana) but don't tell the teacher!

(That one ruins my knees anyway ;o)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Friday Thursday Tuesday Monday...

I'm feeling guilty as I haven't managed to catch up with writing my blog for a whole week! I know.... Anyway, I'm here NOW and whilst I should probably be practicing yoga I need to just write about it a bit..!

Out of the blue it seems, I'm now practicing 3 full primary series per week! OK, they're all under the guidance of a teacher but at least they're being done! My home practice therefore, is mainly the DYP or AYP sequences, which is great as I can fit them in easier to my schedule of (at the moment it seems) mainly work and sleep!!

I've been mainly working on my jump backs and jump throughs this past 2 weeks. I'm thinking about doing the movements more now, being aware of how I'm doing them as opposed to just messily flinging my legs back and jumping to a thud on the floor. They're not as slow as I need them to be to perfect them but this will come with more awareness and control and arm strength and courage (believing I'm not going to break my wrists or fingers by leaning forward!) I noticed on Thusrady that if I widen my arms a little more when jumping through to sit that I can almost get both legs through...what a simple thing...why didn't I try that before?!! lol

On Friday J got me to try my backbend with the chair method.. Basically lie with your calfs and feet on the seat of a chair, back on the floor and then lift so your feet are on the chair.. It accesses a completely different part of your spine (upper thorasic?!) and opens your shoulders too, I loved it, much nicer than the the horrible normal backbends which, to be honest, I completely hate doing...!!

On the knee front, they're getting much better.. Not sure whether it is the physio I'm doing? Possibly.. it's definately helped with getting over the fear of standing in my natural hyperextended way. Anyhow, much less pain behind the knee. This week they've been so good that I've actually managed full forward bends without bending my legs! I haven't been able to do that for 5 months now! Talking of forward bends. Seated ones.. What is it about a teacher just applying pressure to your upper thighs that makes it easier to bend forward more deeply? J did this to me on Friday. I feel as if by doing that it relaxes the muscles which are stopping me from folding, it's very strange but works.

The biggest thing this week which is really helping with folding though is I've managed to conquer 'hollowing out' my lower belly. V has started using this instruction in class and it really makes sense. It's a bit like doing nauli kriya, accessing both moola and uddi at the same time, it really allows your belly to reach your thighs. Great tip!!  

Friday, 19 November 2010

Friday Mysore Style

Spent an hour of quarter getting to class tonight in the Friday night rush hour traffic in Birmingham! Nevertheless, yoga is ALWAYS worth it!!

Tonight I worked on my jump backs and jump to sits. I made a massive progress I think, just from a few tips and another demonstration from J where he held me under the belly and on top of my shoulders and held me in the air during my jump back so I could feel what's going on. I definately just need to practice... I remember dying to be able to do chaturanga and practicing it and practicing it for hours and days and after about 3 weeks I finally got it, something 'clicked' in my triceps which let me hold my body off the floor! It really doesn't take long for your body to learn how to do something... it just needs perserverance, I truly believe that. And chakrasana, I remember being able to do a backwards roll when I was young at gymnastics, but now I am over 30 found my self too scared to roll over the back of my neck in fear of breaking it I guess...but a couple of hours across a couple of days was all it took and I was flying over the back of my head and landing David Swenson style (more or less!) legs straight and everything! Practice and all is coming (KPJ).

J got me to stop and not not let my bum come down in my jump through, and then to shuffle the feet through the arms and then sit. Seems to work! How simple! NO more lift then sits either before jump backs, just cross legs, pull to belly, hands in front and swing legs back...all in one swift movement! The 'swift movement' needs a little work though ;o)

My baddha konasana is so easy with the assist off J, I need to se if I can recreate what he does on my own, as BK is apparently one of the 'key' postures, according to someone....! The other konasanas are getting better too, but again, need assists to push me in the right direction. I have muscles clinging for their lives not wanting me to do these postures!!! Sorry muscles, you've got no chance!!! lol

I've even learnt off my heart the first 4 lines of the opening mantra! The other lines are a bit more difficult, but again, a bit of practice... :o)

Thursday and stepping it up at class..

Today V decided to step it up at the Ashtanga Vinyasa Primer Class by making it into a full primary series talk through. Loved it as I was completely not expecting it and so really went for it. The one thing which I really felt improved today'll never believe it... Navasana! I know...

I know it sounds silly but I have found that if you raise your arms a bit higher, past the parallel to the floor level, it pulls your chest forward and up and as a result the muscles at the top of your legs contract to hold you in position and allow your legs to straighten, albeit with a little extra effort from the quads! Result! Be your own teacher and your own disciple (Krishnamurti)....

I wish I'd asked the regulars to this class how they felt afterwards, having done the full primary series, as I doubt most of them have ever attempted it (not that there are many opportunities to practice FP in Cov), I hope they felt ecstatic!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wednesday the 17th..

I couldn't wait to get on my mat when I got home today! I haven't practiced since last Thursday at V's, so I desperately needed it.. Despite feeling a little larger these past weeks I felt quite light today, managing the jump backs without making too much noise on the floorboards and lifting bottom off the floor with relative ease! I also had quite a lot of energy, even though I've been walking to and from work these past few days due to my car being a bit broke...

SO what went well today? My shoulderstand was really good, poker straight as far as I could feel and really got my hands down the back, with no slippage either, result! Can't bear looking at my stomach in the shoulderstand sequence though, does anyone else get that?!!! Just wish it was a bit firmer!!!

Backbending, not one of my strengths, is getting better with a new technique V taught me (courtesy of RF).. Put hands in place and come on to tip toes, then without lifting off the floor, shove yourself so knees go past the ankles, then on an in breath I think, thrust up, still with toes on floor until you get up then put heels to floor. It gives you more of a 'bend', quite tough on the lower back/sacral area, but much better on the arms and you can feel your quads working better too.

Purvottanasana much better too, again courtesy of RF (through V) where before you thrust hips up your bend the knees slightly and put you toes in place on the floor, then you lift your hips...Normally I can't feel which muscles I'm meant to use in this posture but this seems to make it easier, even though I still don't feel as if I know what I'm doing! Ha!

Sirsasana definately getting better, so close to going up straight, just need that little bit more energy.. Held for 5 breaths with legs parallel to floor, very pleased.

Spent a few breaths longer in paschis and konasanas today, try to try give the hips a bit more of a move in the right direction. Although the standing forward bends are relatively good, head touching the floor and so forth, gravity doesn't seem to want to bring my belly anywhere near the floor in the uphavistha konasas...

I left out Janu C and Mari B & C as with my knees I just don't think I'm getting any benefit from putting the simplified version in... anyone disagree?!

I did miss out supta parsvasahita though!!! Aargh!!!  But apart from that I'm nearly there with learning the full sequence! Why is it always that one I miss?! Strange!

Knees feel fine too, let's hope they don't hurt tomorrow for practice...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Tuesday Birthday!

Instead of observing the class today I decided to practice as it was my birthday and I wanted to be nice to myself! V has made this class more akin to the full practice now, and today there were no new starters, so everyone had to get involved! It was a good practice, it was v cold though, so I didn't break much of a sweat..and certainly not as good as yesterday!

Knees weren't too good in adjustment in Triang, can't deal with the pressure when having hip pressed down, will back of this one for a while. Got up with straight legs in Sirsasana with a little bit of help by V, definately getting better. Although I got cramp when holding legs parallel to floor when coming down, which I will put down to being too cold. Will pay more attention to this feeling next time ...

Monday 8th November

I left this Mysore class exhilarated, yet another reminder of why I do this practice! I slowed my breath down and enjoyed it (led classes certainly are faster!) and I think the entire sequence took about 1hr 45. Had a lovely stretch in urdhva dhanurasana thanks to V and another student :o) Was very hot and sweaty which always makes it better, another reminder of how important the generation of heat is to the body and the practice.

Very excited as V banded the idea around about making this class the traditional Mysore style practice, comlpete with opening chant! You know I love this, whether or not I find the words a bit strange (the english not the sanskrit), I don't think it matters to me. Chanting in a room with a number of other people is magical. I know the first time I did the chant in Goa with David Swenson I felt a bit wierd, but I soon realised how chanting seems to combine the energy in the room in to one huge energy force and it is very powerful. I hope the others agree to making it part of Monday nights... exciting!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Friday night at the Buddhist Centre, Birmingham

I met a wonderful, wonderful man tonight. One of those spirits that you do not come across very often, who radiates warmth and love and light. One of those people you are instantly drawn to. And so much knowledge. (Comes from and Iyegna background).

I loved it all the minute I walked into the room where he was burning my favourite incense of all time, Frankinscense, which reminds me of going to church as a kid and is sooo comforting. We then started off with the Ashtanga chant, which I love! It really does set the scene for the practice. I MUST incorporate this into my practice. (Note to self: Must learn chant) lol!

It was Mysore style self practice and the first thing he asked was about any injuries. He then helped me to adpat my practice throughout, where he thought I may be putting stress on the hurty bits. He asked which bits of the practice we wanted to work on and I didn't really know how to anser that as I wanted to say 'all of it' but I felt like a bit greedy thinking that! I was like a kid in a sweet shop as there were only 5 of us in the room and we were getting lots of attention, it was like a mini-workshop! He helped K and I with our jump backs, just a hand on the belly and one on the upper back...and we floated back through the air! (Well, possibly not without the odd yelp! from me whilst in the air, and possibly not as 'light' as I had hoped!)

Anyhow... I got the feeling of how it should be jumping back and it felt good. He did the famous Mari C adjustment, which felt effortless! I could breathe tooo - yaaay! He also showed me I was grabbing my arm too low in Mari A & B, so I raised it up a bit and Bob's your uncle, a full wrist grab, perfect!

My shoulderstand felt fantastic, really high up this time, I think sweat and heat has a lot to do with how high I can hold up - the heat helps with traction on the hands and back. Must stay warmer! J put his finger beneath my neck to check for space - it slipped right through! I mouse definately could've been nesting there! Nice to know I am doing this one correctly with next off the floor.

Sirsasana - J advised something he'd learnt from a previous workshop with RF - to use your little fingers out as a mini stabilaiser for your headstand. I tried this, and although not completely feeling the love for it, I had the best headstand I'd had for ages. I floated up (knees still a bit bent though) and everthing felt effortless. I could feel the little fingers, but they didn't hurt or anything. I do have a bit of a backbend in the headstand which J corrected and it felt good. Held for 25 breaths, down to horizontal for 3 only today, but better than nothing, and then down. Ut Plutithi was good, strength in my arms is growing, so held off the ground (give or take a little toe) for 25 longish breaths! I wish I could do it properly in the lotus...maybe one day when knees are better :o)

All in all, wonderful practice, helped by an inspirational man. Loved it!

Wednesday and Thursday for a bit of a change...

This week I have practiced Monday, Wednesday, Thursday (so far)

Tuesday I went to the gym and buggered my knees up by cycling for too long, cross training and doing the plank. I have to stop doing these things! I may cancel my subscription to remind me not to go....

On Wed I did my teaching practice at Cov Uni, a room of 30 students! I enjoyed it though, people listened and appeared responsive to suggestions and instructions which is good. I then went home and straight onto my mat for self-practice. I had all the intentions of doing the full primary, but it didn't work out that way, as it sometimes doesn't... ;o) I ended up doing the Ashtanga Primer variation, which to be fair only leaves a handful of postures and jump-backs out, so I didn't beat myself up about it. Some yoga is better than no yoga!!!

Thursday I went to my physiotherapy assessment in the morning where the nice man told me I had 'Anterior Knee Pain'. Helloooo?!! I could've told you that! No diagnosis still but he did say that the structure was OK - ie no breakdown of cartlidge, ligaments fine, muscles fine (albeit a bit weak at the quad) a bit of a small knee cap? Bizarre! And sore tendons at the front. Hopefully next week I can get some type of treatment for the pain, bit of accupuncture maybe?

I had the Ashtanga Primer class in the evening. Nothing major to report here really...did all the jump backs bar one after Mari B as that intense stretch seems to suck out any ounce of breath and energy me!! NOw I am building up the strength lost during the 2 months off, I think I need to work on the jump backs. I will have a look at Grimmley's blog to see how to start with that... Sirsasana is becoming really steady now. I can hold for 25 breaths easily every time. I'm thinking about pulling the shoulderblades down my back to straighten that out and broaden my shoulders. Seems to be working so far! Yay! Ooh, AND, I came down with straight legs and held them parallel to floor for the longest time yet!!! (About 5 breaths!) Get in!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Monday's meditation

I had a 'rest' day today, normally it's my full primary practice with V, but I decided to give it a miss as I don't have the strength today and decided to do some meditation. My mind has been all over the place recently. It tends to get like this at this time of year and I'm not sure whether it's cos it's near my birthday which always makes me reflect and get moody, or whether it's due to the weather and dark nights or a combination of all... But I generally feel a little miserable... So I found out my favourite 15 minute chakra meditation with Yogatic on youtube and followed the guided mediation.

As soon as I started my head started to spin, somehow sitting in siddasana with a completely straight back and concentrating on my breathing makes my body resonate with the outside world and I can feel this spinning energy through my spine and out the top of my head. It's very strange but at the same time it helps with 'tuning in' to the body. (This probably sounds a little wanky ;o) However... what I did notice today was that there are some chakras which are really 'open' and some which are not. I say 'open', what I mean is that I can visualise the colour and the spinning of some of the chakras and some I can't visualise anything. My muladara chakra was vibrant red tonight and was bursting out of my body. The next one up I could not feel, the solar plexus was also non existent, my heart chakra was open but not as much as the mula, the throat was less, the third eye was OK, and the lotus at the top was OK, with a bright white light. I think the mula is the most powerful cos I meditate on it a lot during my vinyasa practice, everything else, is going to be less I guess!! The only things she doesn't do in this meditation is close the chakras, so I quickly have to do that at the end to prevent anything bad happening to me but keeping them open. Not sure how that works but I think people can steal energy from you if you don't close them... I'll ahve to ask my friend K...

Anyway. I started to do a relaxation meditation in savasana afterwards but felt as if I was going to fall asleep, so I got up. I didn't want to ruin my night's sleep!

Saturday with Paul Fox

I went to an introductory day with Paul Fox today to get an idea how it would be doing a teacher training course with him. It was good, the guy is very switched on and not at all airy-fairy yoga, like some people are, all tied up in the bullshit that can come along with ashtanga vinyasa yoga. I liked him.

Meeting new teachers does kinda show how if you stick to one then you can become a product of your teacher; I do feel as if I am a product of V, but by putting my feelers out there where I can it does feel a little naughty, but exciting at the same time, and it can give you a new perspective and boost if your practice is feeling a little stuck, or weary or you're just a bit disillusioned with it all....

It's a lot of money, this course.  And I don't really want to give V's course up for it. Not that I think I'd have to, but it'll be tight. I have a huge fear that I will not be able to teach a bunch of people, that my words will get all tied up in my throat, that I'll just go blank and not be able to speak, and it scares me. Does it scare me so much that I won't go for it? I'm not sure...

Anyway, the yoga today was different, it was the standard hatha style of class, as taught by a BWY teacher. I used to love going to these classes, they were very relaxing and made such a difference to my life. Very gentle to start, then a bit more challenging leading up to the main posture (cobra), then slowly relaxing back down. I often used to fall asleep in savasana! It was quite hard on my knees though and they killed by the end of the day. I think it was a combination of the return to step aerobics and too much yoga this week, damn knees...

I think what I need to ask myself is whether I want to teach this type of hatha? Or Ashtanga Vinyasa, or Ashtanga Krama? And which route would be the best one for me.. Paul did say one thing though, that 6 days a week ashtanga vinyasa for 2 years is a sure way to bugger up your body, that such a high level of repetition is no good for you! I think I agree...