Sunday, 26 August 2012

Where would be on your list for the perfect ashtanga yoga world tour...?

So I'm going off to find my guru....

Actually, it's more of an excuse for a year or so out to practice with lots of different teachers, do a few TT's, a few courses and of course have fun. And now I'm almost half way to saving for my round the world ashtanga tour!! Happy days.

I just have to work out where I'm going.... On the list so far...

Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandarim
David Garrigues 1 month intensive in Kovalam
Sharath, Mysore
David Williams / Nancy Gilgoff and Norman Allen, Maui
Tim Millar, Encinitas
Chuck Millar, LA
Richard Freeman, Boulder Colorado
Eddie Stern, NY
Mark Darby, Montreal
Peter and Sue, Olerios, Portugal

I'm still working out timings, especially hard planning so early when the teacher's schedules for 2013/2014 aren't really out yet...planning on leaving August 2013 when I've finished my BWY diploma with Paul Fox.

So...if you were going on an ashtanga world tour where would you go to practice? Which teachers would you try and practice with and where? I'm planning 3 months in Mysore, but with my weak stomach I may not be able to cope with such a long time in India... So I'd love to hear of any more great teachers / places to practice for a while and I may add them to my list!! Any ideas would be really helpful!! Also, at the moment it's not so much of a 'world tour' rather India and the US and Canada, so if anyone knows of anywhere else to practice on other continents that would be great!!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A 3 hour practice... It's all about the intention

Thought I'd share I photo of my first kurmasana with shoulders completely only floor, heels up and well, as you can see, everything else pressed firmly into the ground, including my chin...ha ha ha. Not got the hang of taking photos of myself whilst in compromising positions just yet :)

After a horrible night's sleep, probably got about 3 hours in the end, I had a slow day at work, finished at 3:30 with the intention of doing the whole primary series plus second up to kapo as soon as I got home, which was exactly what I did. I spent some long stays in paschi, following a tip from Digby who said that I should breathe into the lower back/rib cage to really let go in paschi, which worked a treat. I then had a long stay in the prasarita p's, to try and work out a niggle in the left hip/SI joint which has been irritating me for a couple of days, to the extent that most of yesterday I had more or less a 'dead leg' (not nice).

As a result of those long stays in the forward bends my body was a lot open for more. Hence the great kurmasana result! Did a bit of leg behind the head prep then had a go at supta k - got one leg behind head as you can see, but 10 seconds from pressing the button on the camera is not conducive to a good supta k preparation or shot, as you can see ;)

Digby mentioned in his led ashtanga research class on Saturday that the practice is all about the intention. If you don't work with intention in mind then you will not progress with the asana. So I was practicing with full intention. I tried chin to shin in all seated forward bends and got them. I tried the fancy jump backs after all the mari's, didn't quite make all them but impressed myself with how NOT far off I am in getting them (one day!) I got 2 inches off the floor on both sides in preparation for the splits (yay!) I think only fear of tearing something there is keeping me from getting right down :-/

I managed full binds on both sides in pasasana (heels on a soft block). The best bit was just going for it in supta vajrasana, my thighs didn't give way on me (just the FEAR again) and I got the full posture (but without getting back up...well, not very gracefully anyway!!) I also went all the way back in kapo, grabbed the toes and relaxed my breathing in it, which is great.

Legs are a bit too long to look graceful in most yoga postures, I tend to look like a baby giraffe, but I'll share another....for the craic. Legs were slipping out of this one at this point, a bit too much 'magic spray' on the go, might have to dilute with some more water ;) First time I cupped my face in my hands though, so that was nice.

So all in all a pretty amazing practice. Finished at 6:55 after a great savasana. Just shows how much you can get out of one practice if you slow it down, give the postures some love and attention and INTENTION, I think that has to be my word for the day :)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Activate where necessary, relax where possible - the use of the hip flexors in Utthita Hasta Pandangustasana

I've recently had a couple of teachers adjust my utthita hasta padangustasana giving me the same instruction, to relax the hip flexors in the first two stages (front and out to side) and only engage when you release the leg to hold it in place.

So previously I've worked out that I have to drop the sitting bone / drop the ball into the socket or however you want to describe it. This has been working just fine, hips beginning to open slowly and being able to hold the posture for longer without falling out.

But this has transformed the pose to even greater extents! No way? - I hear you cry! Yes way. SO this is how I think it works...

In the first two stages you relax the hip, drop the sitting bone to level the hips to get your balance, you then use and engage your arm, your biceps, to hold the leg up, pulling the leg up as if it were a 'dead weight'. Still leading with your arm only you take the leg out to the side, letting the leg follow, still relaxing the hip flexors, you continue to hold the leg, using the bicep to pull the leg towards the body. You then, still using the arm only, take the leg back out to the front - in fact it's not the front, I'd say hold it about 10 degrees out from the midline of the body - you 'bow' to the leg pulling it to its highest point. You stand straight and release said leg and then...only THEN...engage all the hip flexors in the world to hold the leg up!!

Activate where necessary, relax where possible. It appears that the passive stretch of the hip in this posture in the first two stages stretches the required muscles to get a deep posture, without wearing them out, leaving the strength of the hip flexors for holding the leg in the final stage. You will find the posture will not wear you out, you will feel the whole posture lighter and the passive stretch of the hip flexors will allow you to hold the leg higher in the final stage.