Thursday, 5 September 2013

Notes Part II: Kino and Tim in Copenhagen

This is the second part from my notes from Kino and Tim's weekend workshop in Copenhagen. The notes concern the Guided Class (≠Led Class) on Saturday morning. This means Tim guided us through Primary Series (up to Navasana) in a slow pace, with detailed instructions and sometimes pauses in which a part of an asana was broken down for us.


  • Trikonasana: we should try to pull back the side of the hip over which we tilt forward so much that we feel like we'd pop back up to standing if we weren't holding on to the big toe.
  • Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (reversed side angle pose): we should be very aware of the connection ('bind') of the shoulder and the knee and never lose it while in this asana (some people tend to have their shoulder almost in front of their knee instead of next to it). To increase the rotation of the spine press the hand into the floor as much as possible without losing alignment.
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: in this asana (and actually all asanas, especially the standing ones) we should try to think of the foundation of Samastithi. We should keep our upper body as much in this foundation as possible, which means we shouldn't sacrifice its alignment for the position of the leg. If we cannot yet stretch the leg fully without tilting our upper body to one side it's better to bend the knee a little and stand very straight. Even when we fold forward over the leg in front of us we should think of the upper body as in Samastithi, just in a different angle to the floor.
  • Half-Handstand after Virabhadrasana A and B: we always take the energy to kick up from the right leg, no matter if it feels like it's the 'wrong leg' in the beginning. When we kick up we should try to not think of safe and unsafe zones (you know, the higher you kick up the less 'safe' you feel because you get closer to maybe falling over to the other side). Instead we should try to change that thinking pattern to heavy versus light. We don't wan't to be in the heavy zone, right? We want to perform a short handstand. So we aim for the light zone. We try to find it and be in it for a short moment. In that moment, 'Guruji wants us to tap the right foot onto the left leg, because it looks pretty' (that's what Tim said). Then the straight legs go down again and hit the floor slightly staggered. Tim explained it like 'Tap-Tu-Duck'  or 'foot to leg-foot 1 down-foot 2 down' :)
  • Janu Sirsasana B: we should find the most uncomfortable spot to sit down with our anus on the heel, so that we might even raise our eyebrows in surprise (oh, Tim!). This is the best asana to really find Mula Bandha and engage it.
  • Halasana: we should try to put as little weight as possible on the toes, so that just the toenails come to the floor. We should try to keep our backs straight with the core, so the pelvis lifts a bit back and upwards.
  • Uth Pluthi: just before we lift up we should focus all of the kinetic energy of the whole practice we just did and all the stirring of the mind into this pose and JUST - DON'T - COME - DOWN - BEFORE - TEN - COUNTS - ARE - OVER! :)
I hope some of the notes are helpful for you and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!

Personally I found it very helpful to try and change the emotion of safe vs. unsafe to the sensation of heavy vs. light in the handstand after the warriors. It was the best advice of the day. We tried out kicking up into it several times then and there. Some times before he gave the advice and then some more after he gave it. The difference was really big and for the first time in my life I stayed up steadily in some sort of handstand, for 2 or 3 seconds, and felt all the lightness he described. It was wonderful!

The next part of the notes will concern twisting and there will definitely be some really helpful things in that. Stay tuned!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Notes Part I: Kino and Tim in Copenhagen

I haven't posted in a while, I know. I also didn't read too many Ashtanga blogs the past few weeks and therefore didn't comment a lot. There are two reasons for my absence from the Ashtanga blogosphere:

a) I've been traveling quite a bit.
b) I lived a bit after the 1% theory, 99% practice philosophy (for the first time since I encountered Ashtanga last December).

The past weekend I made a dream of mine come true and that was to go to the Ashtanga workshop with Kino and Tim in Copenhagen. It was really nice seeing them in real life after having collected a lot of information about them online (especially Kino of course because of her YouTube channel). They are very lovely people and while Kino gave off a sort of stern Guruji vibe to make you work hard, Tim was joking a lot and bringing in light elements. The Ashtanga geek I am, I brought along my notebook and tried to take notes of all the things I didn't know before (and also some I already knew but were explained in a nice way). There are too many notes for one post so I'm going to make a series five, because we had five workshop units:

On Friday, late afternoon, the theme was the standing postures and how to strengthen and deepen this important foundation. Kino was leading the workshop.

On Saturday morning we had a guided class, not 'led class'. This means Tim guided us through Primary Series (up to Navasana) in a slow pace, with detailed instructions and sometimes pauses in which a part of an asana was broken down for us.

On Saturday afternoon Kino led a workshop on twisting postures that was extremely helpful.

On Sunday morning we had a full led Primary Series by Kino. It was SUPER exhausting. She was strict. I loved it.

On Sunday afternoon Tim held the last workshop on inversions and arm balances that involved a lot of partner work and was really interesting because we got to try a few asanas from Second Series in a safe environment (many people there were somewhere in Primary or even beginners). We even explored the first asana of Third Series which is a side plank where you grab the toe of the upper leg and extend the arm and leg towards the sky.

Today I'm writing down the notes from the first unit, the standing postures:
  • To be able to light the inner fire, you need to have a sattvic (yogic) state of mind. The goal of the standing postures is to ground the inner fire/the heat that we generate with the sun salutations which build the start of every Ashtanga practice.
  • The closing postures that come at the end of every Ashtanga practice shouldn't be confused with the physical cool down after an athletic activity (in the gym etc.). Obviously it serves as such, but in the closing postures you also work on another level. You incorporate the heat from the previous asanas into your meditative state, especially during the three postures with lotus legs.
  • There are four important things for a strong execution of the standing postures:
    a) Balancing begins in the mind. A calm mind is necessary for a calm body.
    b) Control over the pelvic floor, your center of gravity. This area of the body is also called Kanda-Center (origination point of all the prana) and consists of Mula and Uddiyana Bandha. By engaging them well we are able to draw back in the energy from the gazillion nadis in the body into the Kanda-Center.
    c) Each foot is a tripod, consisting of the base of the big toe, little toe and the base of the heel.
    d) To ground ourselves perfectly it's great to imagine the gravitational energy we receive from the center of the earth (sounds weird, I know).
  • Padahastasana is the essential foundation of every inversion (head-, hand-, forearmstand, Bakasana etc.). Why? Because there you can learn to play around with the tilting moment of the pelvis (Kino calls the controlled pelvic floor 'stirring wheel'). While in Padahastasana, one should always try to put the weight from the heels into the toes by leaning forward, pivoting forward with the pelvis. It's kinda scary at first but you will gain so much control over the 'stirring wheel' of the pelvic floor after some time.
  • The same applies for the Prasaritas. Try to bring the weight to the front of the feet. Also, Prasarita Padottanasana A is the standing preparation for Kurmasana.
  • There are two main things Kino urged us to do in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana.
    The first is to never try to lift and extend the leg that we're holding by reaching forward with the toes/foot, but by pulling back the femur into the hip socket and engaging the quadriceps. This will create an 'automatic' lift ;)
    The second thing is to fold forward by aligning your sternum and the knee. You should do this by moving the leg a bit inward into the center line of the body so there's actually a little twist happening like in Janu Sirsasana A.
  • In Utkatasana we should always transition into the following movement by keeping the knees bent. This means in Sun Sal B we fold down completely before straightening the legs and look up for Trini. This deepens the movement. In Utkatasana the arms should always be fully engaged, shoulders drawn down the back and the elbows should squeeze and be turned towards each other.
  • In Virabhadrasana A the femur from the front leg should be drawn deeply into the hip socket and you should always go as low as possible (90 degree angle). The hip of the back leg should be very open (I always thought I had to square my hips for Warrior I!). The arm position is the same as in Utkatasana. This asana is the basic foundation for deep backbends.
While some information might be obvious, I hope you also could pick up something new. There's more to come, so stay tuned!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Hot, Humid, Tiny Space


Yay, I could practice again today :)
It wasn’t as pleasant as it could’ve been because it’s been damn humid and hot the past few days and I had to practice at home because the shala is closed. I really dislike practicing at home because I have to do it in my room that only offers a tiny space. It’s so tiny, I have to move around a lot of the time because when I jump through, I can’t extend my legs (or they’d reach under my bed so folding forward wouldn’t work anyway, ugh).
If I’d practice in the living room, where there’s more space but the parquet has a worse quality, I’d make a hell of a noise with all the jumping and the floor is very notably uneven.
So, practice in my hot, humid room today. I practiced up to Bhujapidasana and moved slowly because my back is not fully healed yet and I didn’t want to overdo it. I was happy I could do shoulder stand again which wasn’t even close to an option on Wednesday.
Hope you all had a lovely day and practice :)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I Really Need To Wail Right Meow

Fuck. I haven’t felt so much pain in my body for a long time. The part a little right to the small of my back that I injured (or whatever it was that happened there) on Sunday: It. Hurts. So. Much.
I went to the shala anyways but already in Surya Namaskara A I knew it would be one of the hardest practices ever. I could literally bend forward as much as a 90 year old lady who’s never done yoga or stretching in her life.
I had to modify everything. I left out the Vinyasas between sides in the seated postures and on the right side I could mostly just sit in whatever position my foot was for five breaths. On the left side I could bend forward somehow but obviously not as deep as usual.
I moved so slowly.
I stopped after Baddha Konasana and did three half Urdhva Dhanurasanas. Then I lay there, considering shoulder stand but in the blink of an eye I knew that it didn’t make sense. I skipped to the Padmasana positions and Uth Pluthi was barely off the floor.
Several times I almost started crying because of the pain. Today’s practice was a lot about self-control.
After 15 minutes of final relaxation (I usually lie there 10 minutes max) where I also almost started to cry I got up and my teacher told me I’d done so well. That I will learn so much from this injury. Then I really started crying and she hugged me closely and comforted me. The crying was really quick and silent but it needed to come out.
Now I also belong to those people who’ve had to cry because of Ashtanga.

Pain, Massage & New Perspectives For My Dream

Pain: on Sunday morning in Mysore style class, something happened to my back. When I started rolling in Garbha Pindasana, a little right to the small of my back, something all of a sudden hurt. Not too hard but it's not something you can just ignore. I still finished my practice because it only hurts when my back is in certain angles or when pressure is directly put on that point that hurts.

Monday was a moon day so good for me and my back! It was well spent, first writing on my seminar paper, later visiting a friend and doing stupid, fun stuff in his pool with a few people. When it started getting dark we watched movies in the garden. I'm the one in pink :)


Yesterday I practiced again at it was kinda okay, but very slow and I didn't do jump backs and jump throughs because I didn't want to disturb my back/spine too much in this condition. I could do all the asanas in Primary except for Garbha which hurt like hell when I tried to see if it was possible and the one after Matsyasana (sorry, don't know all the names by heart yet).

Massage: in about 30 minutes I have an appointment for a PROFESSIONAL MASSAGE! :) It was a birthday present that I got last October so I need to use the gift coupon anyways anytime soon and now is the perfect time that my back feels messed up and stiff.

New Perspectives: A couple of weeks ago my teacher said she was thinking about training some assistants to help adjusting people during her classes (not teach lessons) because her shala is getting more and more popular (she only opened it in February)!
I made a joke about being interested in doing that in 5 years when my practice is steady and experienced. She then said that I should definitely come to the training when it takes place and I was flabbergasted. Me? An Ashtanga baby? No way...
But yesterday she mentioned to me that she's been wanting to talk about it to me but she's still not certain when it takes place. Probably sometime in September when school/university are back in business and working adults aren't on holiday anymore. She said she could imagine me doing this very well and thinks I'm well suited.
I feel so... I don't even know... just so honoured! Even if I'm not going to be her assistant the training alone will have so many benefits. So many new things to learn. The most important thing is that it is a step forward towards my dream of becoming a yoga teacher one day :)

Namaste!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

4 Consecutive Days Of Practice & Some Pain


It's the first time ever that I've practiced Ashtanga four days in a row! Yay! Today's practice was even 'better' than the one yesterday and I think my rug soaked up at least 2 litres (67 oz) of my sweat as it was a hot and humid day. My hair was so soaked that it literally looked the same as if I came out of the shower. I have eye-witnesses :D

Practicing full Primary Series is nice. I feel more fulfilled after practice, simply because the Primary Series seems to make so much more sense to the body when completed, instead of stopping somewhere after Bhujapidasana.

My Kurmasana is really flat now, I only need to manage to get my heels off the floor.

Drop-backs are also coming on quite nicely. Still assisted, of course but this afternoon I warmed up my back at home and tried dropping back onto an elevated surface (my bed, about 40 cm tall (15.7 in)). It worked! :) I didn't try to stand up though but let myself fall onto my bed instead.

The result of these four days is a couple of bruises, one on my shoulder, one on my elbow and the ones on my wrist you can see in the photo above. I think they are there because sometimes when I try my amateur jump-throughs my toes smack against the wrists. Oh, dear.

At least bruises are the kind of pain everyone agrees is normal part of Ashtanga and I can take it. All my joints are feeling fine, that's what matters to me :)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Saucha: How Do You Tend To Your Skin & Hair?

Fellow Ashtangis, now that I am practicing 4-5 days a week on a regular basis instead of 3-4 I have to shower even more often and wash my yoga clothes and towel quite frequently as well. Therefore, a question arose in me, concerning the care of your skin and hair.

All my life I've learned that it's not recommended to wash the skin with soap too often (as in daily or even twice a day) because it disrupts the ph-value of the skin. Shampooing your hair every day is going to do some damage to your hair eventually, it will most likely dry out at the ends while the hairline gets greasy quite quickly.

But in Ashtanga it's recommended to wash before and after practice. So how should I understand that? Is it sufficient to wash with water only before practice when I've showered with soap after the last practice about 19 hours ago? Do you wet your hair when you shower before practice? Mine takes hours to dry, y'know!

Still, using soap and shampoo only once everyday is, in my opinion, very often (before Ashtanga I showered every 2nd day and sometimes I only used conditioner and no shampoo for the hair because I have dry curls). So what products do you use to tend to your skin (probably ph-adjusted soap) and care for your hair?

I know this question might be directed more towards female Ashtangis because I imagine as a man with very short hair there's no problem. But I'm thankful for every suggestion :)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Still alive and still practicing!

Okay, first of all, I apologize for my lack of posting and commenting the past four weeks or so. I was really sick for almost two weeks, the intense part lasted about 8 days and then I couldn't breathe through my nose for five more days. As I picked up my practice again, nothing special was happening except that I realized I'd lost a lot of muscle in my arms and gained some fat around my belly due to me not being able to move for so long.

But now to the more interesting stuff:


Today’s practice was oh so very special and oh so very unexpected! Due to beautiful sunny weather and summer holidays, somehow I ended up being the only person attending Friday’s 5:30 pm led class at the shala.
My teacher and I chatted and waited until 5:35 pm before we started to make sure there really wasn’t anyone else coming. I asked her if she’s still leading the class for me or if I should just practice Mysore style.
Led class it was.
It felt really strange, yet not uncomfortable, having a led class with no one else besides me. I felt watched, all the time. Obviously, I was watched all the time. I was painfully aware of everything that was off in my practice. My inability to roll over my toes from chaturanga to up-dog, my breath that was disturbed when I was getting into asanas that require some serious effort from me, my fidgeting (pulling the shirt down/straightening my mat towel), the amount of time I need to get into some asanas even though it should only take one breath, etc…
But I see this experience very positively, because I think that this is what my practice needs the most right now. Precision! I lack precision not only on the mat but in other parts of my life as well. I’m very bad at focussing on one task for longer periods and I take too much time to finish tasks in general. Ah, the lessons learned on the mat really do apply to life off the mat.
But the most extraordinary thing today was that my teacher gave me all three asanas to complete the Primary Series. I just received some new ones onTuesday. I think it either hasn’t sunk in completely or I’ve been really working well at non-attachment but I just took it calmly and acknowledged the fact that I will have to practice these poses from now on. I’m still perfectly calm about it as I’m writing this. I think Setu Bandhasana (shown in the picture) will be a real piece of work. I did it with my hands on the floor beside the head and my teacher’s assistance and I still felt a lot of pressure on my neck.
I now just realized, this means I’m starting to learn drop-backs from now on as well. My teacher told me that I will learn them as soon as I practice full Primary Series.
What a nice way to finish practice week. I think I have kind of been waiting for something to happen somehow but I didn’t know what, and now it did.
Namaste!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Berlin Has The Best Vegetarian Doner Kebabs

If you were wondering if I've given up my Ashtanga blog after only 10 posts I don't blame you, because I haven't posted in 2 weeks. Somehow I was too stressed out by my final week of the semester and then I flew to Berlin with a good friend for 4 days. I barely practiced asana. Somehow all the stress of uni fell off of my shoulders and with it came a huge desire to be lazy and chill out.

In Berlin we ate amazing food and discovered the streets mostly by foot. The best thing you will find to eat that is typical for Berlin are doner kebabs. But because most Ashtangis are vegetarian, they can only take falafel kebabs. But we found Mustafas Gemüse Kebab (Mustafas Veggie Kebab) at the tube station 'Mehringdamm' in the district Kreuzberg. It's a huge thing to eat but it's the most amazing and lovely vegetarian doner you could imagine. The have about 10 different vegetables and roasted potatoes in it, as well as feta cheese and a choice of 3 different homemade sauces. There was an unbelievably long queue in front of the tiny booth because everyone loves them so much.



I returned back home exhausted and happy and it took me until yesterday to finally practice asana again. I was afraid I had lost muscle, but I didn't feel a lot weaker than before and my flexibility hasn't suffered. I could even grab my toe on the second side of ardha baddha padmottanasana which was only the second time ever!

Today's practice was a different affair. I felt like a sack of flour! I only did the chatarungas in the sun salutations, later I cobra'ed out everything, haha. Tomorrow I'll be so sore. Still, I'm looking forward to my next practice, because asana has driven away the laziness that stuck to me since the semester ended and today I almost bound in Mari D! The tips of my fingers touched and I wasn't assisted :)

How do you keep up a steady asana practice when you go on holiday (and might be especially exhausted by walking around a big city all day)?

Namaste!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

How much yoga are you doing?

The past few days I always played with the idea for this post and I'm finally writing it down. I was wondering, how much yoga am I actually doing? I'm talking about ALL the limbs of Ashtanga, not only asana. If you have not yet developed a 5-6 days/week practice, you can easily feel like you should be doing more. But then it occurred to me that it might be good to try and evaluate how much I follow all the limbs to see if I'm doing my best.

Yama:

1.) Ahimsa or non-violence: This must be my strongest Yama, because I have trained my mind to not judge others. If I think a bad thought about a random person I always evaluate why and usually I realize that there is no reason to think whatever judgmental though I had, it's just old habits slipping in. There are less and less bad thoughts/actions in my life and I do not only apply Ahimsa on other beings (I'm almost 100% vegetarian by now as well!), but also on myself. I'm very accepting of myself, which is so healthy.

2.) Satya or truthfulness: It's going as well as ahimsa, I usually only speak the truth, even if it was easier to tell a lie. When the truth would hurt a lot, I keep silent. When I feel my truth could be constructive criticism for someone, I'm telling it in the most positive way possible.

3.) Asteya or non-stealing: This is the easiest I think. I'm neither stealing objects nor ideas.

4.) Brahmacharya or celibacy: Well, uh, this is the Yama I might never truly follow. Sex belongs to life and when the right partner is around, I want to have sex however often I please.

5.) Aparigraha or non-covetousness: They say you're not supposed to desire things of enjoyment... well, I say chocolate.

Niyama:

1.) Shaucha or purity/cleanliness: I am pretty good at keeping myself clean but I have to admit, my room is quite messy most of the time. Ahem.

2.) Santosha or contentment: I am content with and grateful for so many, many, many things in my life. I am always aware of it. I regularly remind myself of all the gifts we take for granted in the western world.

3.) Tapas or austerity: I'll admit it right away, I own too many clothes, shoes and other clutter, therefore I am cluttered and therefore I am bad at meditation.

4.) Swadhyaya or self-study/study of scriptures: I understand this as everything I educate myself about, not only yogic things. I am educating myself a lot, all the time, but usually it's things I'm interested in. I try to incorporate other things as well though, so I don't live in my filter bubble. I also study my mind and body a lot.

5.) Ishwarapranidhana or surrender to God's will: If I have to classify myself I'd say I'm an atheist, but I acknowledge the concepts of Samsara and Samskara. I believe that all beings and objects in this world are connected. As far as I can go as an atheist, I try to feel the divine in all this connectedness, thus in myself as well.

Asana:
I'm practicing asana almost every day. 3-4 days it's Ashtanga. My progress is flabbergasting at the moment. Today I received a new posture AGAIN out of the blue, what is going on? It's always so unexpected! I'm now at Baddha Konasana (and I only got Garbha nine days ago). This is a reenactment of my face when my teacher announced it...I was like - whuuaaadd?


Pranayama:
The closest that comes to a pranayama practice is my breath during asana. Could definitely do better.

Pratyahara:
Well, my withdrawal of the senses is quite ambivalent. Sometimes I can shut out things easily, sometimes not at ALL.

Dharana:
My concentration is, due to my current pratyahara, quite ambivalent as well.

Dhyana:
I'm proud to say that I meditate about two times a week. This is quite the achievement for me, haha!

Samadhi:
What is this?

For a beginner nine months into yoga and only six months into Ashtanga I think I'm doing quite good with practicing the eight limbs, right? :)

So, now it's your turn! It's a fun and honest game, tell me all about your results in the comments or make an own blog post, Namaste!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Bryan Kest, Garbha and stupid insects in my belly?

There have been so many things happening this week and I just didn't have the strength to blog in the evenings once I was home. Mainly, this week's been about asana, meditation, university and hypothetical butterflies.

Asana:

I practiced Ashtanga on Monday and Thursday only (will practice on Sunday again) because on Tuesday, I was spontaneously invited to a Yoga-Night with Bryan Kest. I only know he's fucking famous and that he invented the name 'Power Yoga', so it was very interesting to listen to his 1 hour long talk before practice. The main things that could be interesting for you:

  • If he had a chance to rename 'Power Yoga', he'd do so immediately. He's really trying to find a good name to express what he wants to give to people with his yoga method. He explained that with 'Power Yoga' he did not mean the physical part of getting fit and toned through yoga, but the mental aspect, the power that grows inside of you when yoga is practiced with the right mindset.
  • His way of explaining yoga philosophy was very well adapted to a rich, western society (Swiss people) and as far as my knowledge and understanding of yoga philosophy goes, he did a great job explaining the essential parts.
  • He explained why he's cursing and burping a lot. I loved his explanation: yoga teachers receive so much critic, people are judgmental about them, but yoga should help you become less judgmental, thus the cursing and burping - it definitely tests how you respond to a human being (who happens to be a (good) yoga teacher) acting like a human being.
  • He also explained why he makes his classes so physically challenging. The simple reason for this is because then, people of all levels have to confront their ego. There is NO shame in modifying.
So, yeah, I modified a lot, and I realized that I am absolutely fine with this! It was still one of the most exhausting yoga classes I've ever taken (it felt more exhausting than Ashtanga!). On Wednesday I was so sore, I didn't practice.

On Monday, my teacher gave me Garbha Pindasana (posted about this) and on Thursday I arrived to class with shorts on so I could get my hands through. I could easily slide them through but then lost balance and rolled on my back :D I just lay there, chuckling, until my teacher rolled me back up and helped do the 9 rolling movements. Oh, and in Kurmasana I could come to the floor with my head and chest for the first time.

Meditation:

At Bryan Kests Yoga-Night he also held a led meditation and the technique he used was 'Gratitude-Meditation'. It's super simple. Just think about all the things you're grateful for. Everything. Once you start it gets easier and easier, you think of so many things you never think about. The next night I used this technique again because I'm so far from being able to have an empty mind when meditating and it leaves you feeling so good. I even thought: 'I'm grateful that my eyes can see, even though I'm short-sighted and annoyed by it a lot. I'm grateful I'm not blind'.

University:

I'm kind of a lazy high-achiever? I don't know what else I can call it. My uni-things are always messy and creased with lots of drawings on them. I have a few seminars where I barely pay attention. But on the other hand, there are a few seminars where I am SO good. Of course this is because they hit my interest-spot. In one of them I am working at a publication with a few of the most amazing professors from my uni and we're doing research and everything and woooow. I will be published in an important book after I've only been studying for 4 semesters (Bachelor). The main professor who leads the project even used to lecture at Brown university (yes, the famous one!).

Hypothetical butterflies:

Ugh. I am an idiot and nerd at handling crushes and stuff. I have no idea about the 'rules' of dating. I am good at hooking up on a night out, IF I want to (I am a classy lady). But dating? Or even realizing if someone is into you? FAIL. The worst thing this time: the person I've taken an interest into and I are in a constellation that is pretty weird. He's my tutor.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Unexpected Garbha Pindasana!



Yesterday I wanted to practice with a recording of Guruji reciting the opening and closing mantra but I had a huge, immense hangover. The night out was amazing though, so I really don't regret it. I was at a club with so many good friends and we danced until 6.30 am... I was in bed by 7 am!

I only did some Surya Namaskara and a few standing postures for about 15 minutes at 10.30 pm haha.

But today I practiced at the shala again and I was dreading it a little because I still felt like I lacked sleep and that the poison was not out of my system. On the other hand I was looking forward to sweating it out efficiently.

My practice was very weak in the beginning, I didn't jump back and forth in both Suryas and somehow my mind wandered in the standing postures. But by the time I arrived at the Marichyasanas I already felt stronger and better. I bound the tips of my fingers in D, kinda half-assed Navasana and with the help of my teacher I put my head on the floor in Bhujapidasana. Then Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana with assistance and when I wanted to start backbends my teacher called from a few meters away that I shall get into lotus. Whaaat?

I was NOT expecting to get a new pose. Really, not at ALL. I can't figure out what her reason was to give me Garbha Pindasana! I still need assistance in Mari D to bind only at the fingertips, I need assistance for Bhuja and both Kurmasanas... I really don't see it. But of course I am happy! :)

Well, today I couldn't do it with the arms through the lotus because I was wearing long leggings but holding my lotus from the outside and rolling 9 times in a circle went perfectly well. After the 9th rolling I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Tomorrow I'm wearing shorts!

After that elating moment the rest of the practice went relatively well...my headstand was nice and I could finally do Urdhva Dandasana, lift up again and lower down completely for the first time in ages.

I hope you all had a lovely practice today :)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Past week's practice & 4th anniversary of Guruji's passing.

This week a lot of things happened in practice and I feel like writing down an overview.

Sunday - 20 minutes creative flow at home
Monday - 30 minutes creative flow at home
Tuesday - 90 minutes Primary Series led class up to Navasana
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 80 minutes Mysore style up to Supta Kurmasana :)
Friday - 90 minutes Primary Series led class up to Navasana

As you can see, in the beginning of the week I was still sore from the intense practice the week before and that's why I couldn't get myself to practice Ashtanga. But still, any practice is better than no practice.

The three times I practiced Ashtanga I registered some things that seem to become regular. First of all, in Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C & D I can put my head on the floor on my own. B & C are the novelties here. Also, binding the tips of my fingers in Marichyasana D with assistance is happening in each practice. On the 2nd side I can almost do it on my own. I'm doing less and less chatarunga+to the floor+cobra and more and more regular chatarunga+up dog in the transitions between asanas and sides. Jump throughs are evolving as well. Right now they function like this: I jump my legs forward, crossed, the toes come to the floor between my hands a little and then I slide them forward. Then I lower my butt.

In Thursday's Mysore practice, my back-bending was great! After Urdhva Dhanurasana on the floor I prepared bending back for when my teacher would assist me in a drop back. She watched me and then she said. 'You can go way deeper. Bend your knees', so I did, and then she held me and told me to put my hands in prayer and then just lower back down from there. We did that twice. It was great and woah I think my spine has never bent back that deep! :D


On another note, today is the 4th anniversary of Guruji's passing. I did not know about Ashtanga until December 2012 but have read a lot about him and watched videos of him since. He seems to have been such a peaceful and intelligent man, the way he was treating different students differently and knew exactly how to crush the different egos in different ways. It's sad that I could not practice with him but I would have been too young to travel to India on my own, anyway. Four years ago I was only 18 and had no money, hehe.

I think of Guruji's as a kind of teacher from afterlife and there are many great teachers out there who will pass on his genius method of Ashtanga yoga. I'm very grateful he wrote Yoga Mala which I am currently reading.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Belly trouble...help?

I know there won't be many people reading this, but those who do, if you can help me, please leave a comment in the box below :)

Okay, so since I started Ashtanga and grew a lot of muscles and got more flexible, my body has obviously transformed. But one thing I don't get is the transformation of my middle section.

Somehow, while my limbs are as slender as they always were, just more defined and with a prettier butt, my belly is round. Really, really round. On some days it looks like I am pregnant in 5th month or something.

I have, so far, analyzed this and came to the conclusion that there are several factors contributing to this:

1) My belly muscles are bulking out instead of developing in a flat way. But I'm trying really hard to apply my Bandhas in the correct way.

2) I don't eat a rigid yogi diet, but still fairly healthy with some chocolate or ice cream here and there, so there's a little layer of fat, but it's really no where near too much belly fat, I can assure you.

3) I am bloated, so damn often. It's annoying!

The bulky, round belly isn't a thing that I dislike because of beauty standards/fashion idols or whatever. It just gets in the way when practicing Ashtanga! Especially in postures like Marichyasana D and many forward folds.

Conclusion: I want to reduce the bulk.

So, my questions are:

1) What trick is there to the use of Bandhas and core strength that will help make the muscles strong and flat, like the ones all you other Ashtangis seem to have?

2) How often do you eat desert? What?

3) What can I try to reduce my bloating? Do you think I might be lactose or gluten intolerant? How do you prepare your veggies so you don't get bloated?

The worst thing is, since more than a week, I kinda suffer from loss of appetite, so I don't eat super much but my belly is waaaay out there all the time :-/

I'm grateful for any answer or suggestion,

Namaste!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Workshop wit Kino and Tim in Copenhagen: BOOKED!


I have not yet registered it completely. I say it's because of the ability to book flights, hotels and workshops online nowadays so you keep sitting on your bed in front of your laptop and after entering a few letters and numbers it's done. You don't have to visit a travel agency. If you don't print out your receipts or flight details there's no physical sign present that you're going to make this journey.

It needs a little time to sink in, but rationally I can say I'm very happy I booked the workshop with Kino and Tim and I am so grateful that I am able to afford flying to a different country to practice with my biggest female Ashtanga inspiration :)

I'm doing the weekend workshop only (I don't have that much money, haha) and it consists of these classes:

Friday: 'Seminar: Build your foundation - The standing postures'

Saturday: 'Guided class' and 'Seminar: Twist into your center'

Sunday: 'Guided class' and 'Seminar: Inversions, headstands & arm balances'

Now, the big question is: will you be there?

Details can be found HERE.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Savasana Sawhatana Sawhatareall these thoughts in my head?

'I'm just here for the Savasana' says the smiling yogi(ni), who's working full time and is in dear need of some down-time.

(Image source: http://www.zazzle.ch/ich_bin_gerade_hier_fur_das_savasana_shirts-235191468868035447)

Somehow, I cannot believe this statement. I have heard and read it everywhere. The final pose after every yoga class, the final relaxation, seems to be so easy. Some people even fall asleep in it (which often leads to a cheerful atmosphere among the yogis who stay awake and are amused by the snoring).

You shouldn't fall asleep in Savasana, I think we all know that. But you should be able to avoid following your thoughts and the body should be passive and comfortable.

I can do neither.

Savasana is SO hard for me.

First of all, when I lie down, I'm always afraid my spine isn't straight. I also feel irritated when my shoulder blades don't receive the same pressure and one arm is spread from the body in different angle than the other. I always try to adjust so in the beginning of Savasana I'm a fidgety mess. When I finally think my body from the neck down feels okay, there's the problem with my head.

I am certain the shape of the back of my head is not suited for Savasana.

This might sound really weird, but let me explain: the back of my head is really, really round. The part of it that touches the floor is so round (and also kinda bumpy?) that my head always tends to tip onto one side when I relax my neck. There's no balance point - or I haven't found it in 10 months.

So either my neck is tense, but straight, or my neck is relaxed, but twisted to one side a little. It annoys me so much that I spent quite an amount of time in Savasana trying to find the perfect balance point (which seems inexistent) or realizing that my neck is the opposite of relaxed.

If I manage to get over this stage, there's always my loud, huge, annoying, curious, rude and adventurous mind.

Before doing yoga, have you ever realized how much we think, and how much of it is stupid chatter, not deep thought? I didn't.

If thoughts about the practice arise, that's half as bad, at least it's kind of in the moment, as long as you do not venture into them too deep and judge yourself. But if thoughts arise about what I'm going to do first after yoga class, or what belongs on my grocery list, or how I feel guilty that I haven't vacuum cleaned in a long time and let my flatmates do the task, or what e-Mails I still have to respond, that's what gets to me every time.

These thoughts are so mundane! When I catch my wandering mind, I try to return to my center, but the frequency at which my thoughts trail off, is quite freaky. So when I manage to kinda keep my focus (usually with listening to my breath or repeating a tiny mantra), guess what?

I notice the tension or flexion in my neck and I'm back to fidgeting.

Oh, dear Savasana, you are definitely not gentle on me.

I still have to figure out the lesson of this asana.

Or maybe I have already acknowledged its lesson and Savasana is such a pain in the ass for everyone?

Is 'I'm just here for the Savasana' simply a flowery phrase one says to fit in and seem humorous, not like that ambitious stern yogi in the corner we've all encountered before?

If anyone out in the www reads this, I'd love to hear your experience with Savasana and if you have any advice on how mine could become more pleasant, please share! :)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Mari Dee, Bhuja-Pee and dropping back!

Excuse my 'fun' title but I'm feeling really cheerful and calm and content right now.

I'd been debating all day whether I should go to the shala and practice because I woke up with the beginning signs of a cold. I wore a scarf and jumper even though everyone else was rocking their shorts and skirts. My head felt okay, so did my nose. Somehow, only my throat and right ear felt weird.

But then I remembered: yesterday my teacher suggested trying my first drop-back into Urdhva Dhanurasana but I said I felt a little dizzy but would love to try it soon. Well, that's what made my decision to go to practice.

Somehow I could do all the postures up to Marichyasana D very smoothly (for my standards, y'know, it's not like I could enter all of them in the correct Vinyasa count already). Then my teacher assisted me for Mari D where I could clasp the tips of my fingers on both sides. Next, Bhujapidasana, which has just recently been added to my practice. I can already balance with my feet crossed but tipping over and putting my head on the floor on my own is not possible yet. I think my forehead would crash into the floor VERY hard haha.

Then, the big moment: I prepared with several backbends lying down and also bending back from standing as far as I can on my own. Then she came over and prepared me with a few more dynamic back-and-forths and - whoohee - gently let me down. I stayed there, pretty stable, for five breaths and then she pulled me up.

It was so nice and it kinda reminded me of being on a joyride that goes upside down.

I wish you all a nice moon day tomorrow!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

My first article for elephant journal!

One day I was feeling adventurous and wrote an article for elephant journal.

Today it has been published.

I have mixed feelings because what do I have to say, I haven't even practiced Ashtanga for a full year!

I'd be very happy if you gave it a read anyways, because some of you might relate and some of you might be reminded of how it felt being in this extremely enthusiastic beginner-phase.

Diary of a Baby-Ashtangi

Have fun and leave comments, over there and here as well :)

Namaste.

Recap of my first 5 months practicing Ashtanga

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

After a little inner debate and some encouragement from Nobel (Yoga in the Dragon's Den) I decided to start a 'real' Ashtanga blog to deepen my yoga journey, post my humble opinion on certain topics in the Ashtanga-Blogosphere and, most importantly, to discuss and connect with you all! :)

I started journaling my experiences with Ashtanga on Tumblr but the website tends to make me write short posts and reblog waaay too many pictures. Also, people on there get kinda overwhelmed with long text posts so I believe blogger is more appropriate for what I have in mind.

What follows are all the posts I made about my Ashtanga practice so far. There are also a few pictures of me :) I don't expect you to read everything, it's more meant as a kind of archive for me so that I have everything from the very beginning collected on the same blog.

What you should know is that I am Swiss, so English is not my native language. Excuse any mistakes I make. I started practicing Ashtanga about 7 months ago and I am constantly flabbergasted by the intense and quick the transformation of my body and mind. I still consider myself a Baby-Ashtangi.

Kino MacGregor is a big inspiration for me and I hope I can attend her and Tim's workshop in Copenhagen this summer. Any of you going? I also plan on going to Mysore in Jan/Feb '14.

Currently I'm reading Yoga Mala and I have some issues with tight hips and sometimes tweaky knees. Let's see how this unfolds.

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12.4.12

I asked one of my yoga teachers about his Ashtanga yoga class and he told me: ‘ah, this would be something you like, I think. It’s very sweaty and intense but this is definitely for you.’
On one hand I’m happy that he thinks I’m already capable of keeping up in this class and on the other hand I’m FUCKING NERVOUS to go there next Tuesday because I read about ashtanga yoga and it seems to be hardcore.
Do any of my followers have experience with it and want to share it?

12.11.12

I DID IT! Tonight I had my first Ashtanga Yoga class :) It was half as exhausting as I imagined it and I kept up quite well with all the regulars there. I’m so glad that I’m quite flexible and I only had to modify very few things.

12.18.12

Dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead in a good way!
My second ashtanga yoga class was tonight and I have already improved a little :)

1.11.13

In the beginning of the year I once mentioned that I’m planning on practicing Yoga every single day this year. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a few sun salutations or a 90 minute Ashtanga class.
Well, so far it’s going great! Some days I practiced in my room for 20-50 minutes, some days I only did some sun salutations in the morning and I visited my studio twice. One time it was a ‘normal’ Yoga class (1 hour) and the other time it was Ashtanga (1.5 hours) that left me feeling like I died and was being reborn in a long, vicious process (really, I was SO sore). I wish I could go to my studio more often but it’s quite expensive…

1.22.13

I feel like dying and puking at the same time. I can barely type. Today’s ashtanga class was SO exhausting.

1.29.13

DEVOTION IS BLISS

Ashtanga yoga has made me realize so many things lately, especially tonight.
I have discovered what it actually feels like and means to be devoted to something.
My head and heart feel so absolutely clear and free after the practice and I am at peace with things that could usually annoy me.
It exposes thought patterns and I am learning how to understand them and how I can work on myself to change for the better, influencing all aspects of my life.
I know what I want to do in life and I have never felt so assured that my plans are the real thing.
The combination of the intellectual and the physical are very important to me. My media science studies and yoga make me thrive. I will work in these fields independently later. I’ve known that since some time, but now I am so sure that I will and can do it.
I will travel. If I have surplus money, I will spend it on that purpose.
That’s just a few things in my head right now, that deserve better words than the ones I just produced, but I needed to write them down.
Namaste!

2.5.13

So yesterday I had an immunization into my thigh muscle and it’s hurting like a mofo
It sucks because I was looking forward to today’s led ashtanga class so so so much and I actually have too much energy and have gained a lot of strength since last week but now I have to hold myself back in there and probably need to do many modifications :(

2.6.13

So yesterday’s ashtanga class didn’t go that bad because of my thigh. I told the teacher before and did a lot of modifications but I kept up with the flow and the asanas I could do well were amazing this time… the teacher even complimented how beautiful my reverse triangle pose was during the class :)
Today the mat I ordered arrived and I did a short 30 minute practice on it. It’s so great to have a mat that’s 2 meters long instead of 1.85 meters… I mean, I’m 1.73m (5’8”) and can work with the regular length but now I don’t have to keep in mind where on my mat I am anymore, especially when jumping through from downward facing dog into a seated cross-legged position.
Namaste!

2.10.13

I really really really love my new tattoo (Deathly Hallows sign) but while it’s healing, it prevents me from doing a lot of poses in yoga, like chatarunga dandasana and some twists where you clasp your hands around the legs/back… I hope it heals quickly because I am in need of a half primary series Ashtanga practice :)

2.20.13

'YOU'RE AN EXERCISE-JUNKIE!' - NO, ACTUALLY, I'M NOT. I PRACTICE YOGA.

A few days ago a friend from another city visited me and my flatmates. Somehow, while chilling, the discussion got to how so many things in this world are like drugs, depending on how much you use them. So my one flatmate said: ‘well, you and J. (the 3rd inhabitant of our apartment) are the perfect example, you’re such exercise junkies with your yoga. You need it everyday to function!”
I was kinda taken aback… me, an exercise junkie? I just responded that I like getting my endorphins in a natural way but actually I was thinking: she clearly has absolutely NO idea why I practice yoga. Yoga is not an exercise. I don’t practice yoga for the ‘Hot Body’ and I definitely think if you don’t set out on a spiritual journey while practicing asanas you’re not really doing yoga. Obviously, yoga makes me feel good and improves my mood, that’s just a general effect of moving your body. But the root for my love for this practice lies so much deeper.
It has helped immensely in overcoming a serious mental illness (eating disorder), has made me calm and peaceful, open-minded and attentive. It has filled an empty void with a spirituality I would’ve never thought I’d be able to feel as an atheist. And most importantly, it has lit my inner fire: I am very ambitious nowadays, but in a structured way, not like before. I have the energy to pursue my plans and one of that is me going to be a yoga teacher one day.
This is why I practice yoga every day. I could not imagine living my life without it anymore, especially when I remember how troubled my mind and weak my body was before discovering yoga. Sometimes it’s a full Ashtanga primary series, sometimes an intense practice of a few of the asanas from primary series and sometimes, on rest days, a few sun salutations in the morning. Ashtanga has made me connect with my body on a level I haven’t known before and while practicing all that matters is that I am practicing and I know when not to push too hard to avoid injury.
My next big wish is to go to Mysore and practice at the shala with Sharath in about six months. I am already a bit scared of going to India on my own but there have been so many yogis before me who have successfully traveled there, I guess I should be fine.
If you read my whole post I love you and if you’ve ever been to Mysore, let me know. I’m eager to hear people’s experiences.
Namaste :)

2.23.13

Today I had my strongest home practice ever and it is because I am practicing so consistently. Ashtanga yoga is so purifying and fulfilling.
Practice and all is coming = truth.
Also, I could hold HANDstand for about 3 seconds without a wall for the first time ever :)
Namaste!

2.24.13

Today was so weird, I grew a third and a fourth leg! the public transport was having troubles so I had a whole odyssey to go home which ended with me walking through obscure paths around the boarder SWI/GER for an hour and I had to pee in the bushes because there was no toilet in sight haha.
Well, at home I did my usual Ashtanga Primary Series practice even though I was super tired. It was amazing, I could do my deepest Marichyasana A ever :) Then I took a really long bubble bath, cleaned up my room and changed the sheets on my bed.
Tomorrow, spring semester of uni starts and I’m ready!
Namaste :)

2.26.13

My yoga studio was closed for 2 weeks due to holidays and I did a lot of home-practice but today I can finally attend led Ashtanga Primary Series again. I missed the atmosphere of the studio so much and I’m looking forward to seeing my teacher again :)
Yesterday I attended an Iyengar beginner’s class with friends (yay, new yoga buddies!) and in the beginning I caught myself thinking: Oh, dear, this is such a slow class, I already feel impatient. But then I realized I shouldn’t think like that and take it as an opportunity to fine-tune my alignment, which I did. We also held poses like Virabhadrasana II for 12 breaths, which I’m not used to and this way my arms could benefit from gaining a little more strength.
Now I can’t wait for 7.15pm’s Primary Series :)
Namaste!

2.27.13

DON'T LOSE YOUR BANDHAS

Yesterday’s weekly led Ashtanga class was amazing. Instead of going through all the asanas, the teacher sometimes paused the practice to explain the right alignment in detail and we were all aware of our bad foot placement in the plank ->up dog ->down dog vinyasa all of a sudden. Whoops! He also made us squeeze blocks between the ankles HARD in some asanas so we would not lose mula and uddiyana bandha and really had to work with the upper thighs in an inward rotation. I have learned so much in this class and am SUPER sore today. Woah. I could only do a few sun salutations in the morning.
Oh, on Sunday I’m finally going to my first Mysore style class :)

3.2.13

MY 1ST MYSORE STYLE PRACTICE

So on Thursday I had the sudden urge to try the new yoga studio I’ve been considering for a while because it is an Ashtanga studio and I’ve never been to a Mysore style class before. I actually planned on going there this Sunday but when I realized I had the opportunity a little earlier I thought: Go for it!
I arrived and it was very quiet, the beginner’s class was just ending. I prepared myself for the following 1.5 hours and when it started, we were only three women and the teacher. She chanted the mantra (I don’t know it by heart yet) and then we started. It was amazing how different this practice was from the ones I do at home and the Led Class I’ve been to since mid-December. While following my own speed of breath I was still so focused and could try to really bring in my Bandhas, even though I still don’t know how Mula Bandha is supposed to work/is very weak (I guess).
I also realized I need to memorize the Drishtis and between which poses you do a Vinyasa. The teacher helped adjust a few things - I’ve been placing my angled leg in Janu Sirsana A wrong all the time. The fault luckily wasn’t very severe and I could adjust pretty easily.
The teacher also told me that I am very flexible - what? I wasn’t aware of that, because I am kindaflexible but I assumed this is because I’ve been stretching in one or another way almost every day since about 3 years. The teacher then reminded me that because of my flexibility I should be extra careful to avoid injury.
At the end of the class she sat with us and we could ask questions and I found out that she just opened the studio 2 weeks ago or so and before that there was no Ashtanga studio in my city! I also chatted a little with the other women and they were really lovely. In my other studio I usually don’t chat with the others because they’re always busy and I’m shy. Well, it was a total success and I’m going to another Mysore style class tomorrow :)
Namaste!

3.3.13

This morning I went to the 10am Mysore style class at my new Ashtanga studio. It was the first time I did Ashtanga in the morning and I definitely felt how this differs from a practice in the evening. I was a lot less flexible and also kind of weak, I had to Cobra out most of my Chatarunga Dandasanas.
I have thought about changing to the traditional practice in an early hour for some time now because it takes away a lot of the time in the evening when I could hang out with friends. But I think I should do the transition very slowly, very gradually. I was so afraid of injuring myself this morning! I even didn’t put my right leg into half lotus in Marichyasana B and D because I felt quite uncomfy when I tried to do it.
But for the rest of the day, the practice left me feeling lite and wide awake. I was so productive: I read a 30 page text for uni, washed and folded a lot of laundry, rearranged my whole closet, cleaned the bathroom and was very talkative at family dinner. Check out my peaceful yoga face from just after the practice above :)
Namaste!

3.11.13

SUNDAY MYSORE STYLE PRACTICE

It was different than anything ever before. I got up and had a cup of strong coffee and immediately headed to the studio. On my way there I already realized the coffee was a bad, bad idea because I get this weird sweat above my lips when the coffee is too strong and I was gonna sweat anyway. A tiny espresso would’ve been sufficient.
After placing the mat on the floor, chanting and the first Surya Namaskar A I was sure that the energy of the coffee was more of a disadvantage than anything else. My palms and soles of the feet were so sweaty, I barely had a grip on the mat. My face was a waterfall after all Surya Namaskar As+Bs.
Even though it was kind of a weird practice, I finally managed to push myself up on my own into full wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) for the first time in ages. And then the teacher told me to bend back three times while standing, as far as I could. Next practice I shall call her after doing this and then she will help me drop back into full wheel :)
Namaste!

3.14.13

INJURIES..........:-/

Today I finally felt mentally ready to go to an Ashtanga Mysore practice very early in the morning :) I got up at 6:15am (haven’t done that in AGES) and arrived at 7am. I took it very easily because my right knee still feels a bit uncomfy when I put it in half lotus or Padmasana. Also, on Tuesday’s evening led class I have hurt my left shoulder a little in Marichyasana B :( It made a kind of clicking noise but didn’t hurt…only after practice, when my body was colder again and the adrenaline level went down I realized what happened. I bought these huge plasters that cool the injury and help reduce inflammation which you can leave on for 12 hours. I hope it doesn’t take too long to heal. Until then I will just modify and do Chatarunga Dandasana on my knees to avoid too much pressure being put on the joint.
Still, the practice this morning was really lovely! During the sun salutations the sun rose above the roofs of my city and shone onto my face directly through the window. Wonderful!
Namaste :)

3.15.13

NON-VIOLENCE

I think I did not mention on here that I’m currently, slowly but steadily, transitioning into being a vegetarian, right? So after reading a lot about (Ashtanga) Yoga philosophy and knowing the principle of the eight limbs of Yoga I have decided to try to enhance my practice of the first Yama, Ahimsa (non-violence) by becoming a vegetarian.
It really struck me when I purchased a scientific magazine about animals, their brain functions, intelligence, emotions, etc. Also, the photographs in there were amazing, you could see the soul of each animal through their eyes! I have always thought of mankind being just another form of animal that has developed in another way than most but I grew up in a society where eating meat was really normal and belonged on a plate. I didn’t even hear about vegetarianism until I was 12.
I was never a passionate meat eater: I started crying as a kid when I had to eat pork or beef, I only liked chicken and hated fish with a passion. It stayed like that except that from the age of about 18 I sometimes liked to have fish or beef in a fresh Asian noodle soup. And somehow I really love bacon, but only when it’s fried sooo crusty that it’s completely hard.
I haven’t told my friends nor family that I am doing this, because I am doing the transition very slowly so my body can adapt. Therefore I will have a little meat at family dinners (roughly once a week) and me and my flatmates don’t cook with meat a lot. Every meal I can decide on my own what to eat, I eat vegetarian.
The dairy products and the eggs I eat are usually organic. I don’t think I will become vegan because first: I LOVE CHEEEEEEESE, ALL KINDS and second: it would be too complicated to fit it into my life. I would constantly have to check if I get in enough minerals and would have to plan out my meals. Having struggled with ED in the past for a few years I think I could not bear having such a huge part of my life revolving around food ever again.
And last but not least, I just fucking love animals :)

3.20.13

I startet Ashtanga mid-december of 2012. This means I’ve been practicing it for only three months. But I can already really feel the changes in my body and mind. I love this practice (even though I’m currently curing a should injury).

3.23.13

108 SUN SALUTATIONS FOR SPRING EXUINOX

Today my Ashtanga studio celebrated the spring equinox with the tradition of doing 108 sun salutations and eating brunch together.
I was a little unsure about the 108 sun salutations but obviously if you needed a break you could stand in Samastitihi or rest in child’s pose while the rest of the group was carrying on and resume as soon as you felt ready. I did take a few breaks and did the Chatarungas on my knees because my shoulder feels fine again but I didn’t want to risk anything. I guess I did about 90 sun salutations in total..? The energy in the room was really intense and you could actually feel Prana! Savasana was a whole other experience for itself :)
Anyways, brunch was amazing. I finally got to talk with a few of the other yogis while eating delicious food. The was lots of fruit, but almost everything was homemade: bread, some black bean paste, almond butter, guacamole, various special jams, walnut-banana-oat-paste and vegan cheesecake and brownies. I never had vegan brownies before so I tried them of course (I love chocolate!) and they were really good. Must get the recipe somehow :)
If you have nothing special to do today, go ahead and give the 108 sun salutations a try!

3.27.13

BLISS

Okay, so I told you I’m going to write a detailed post about last night’s practice and here it is.
At first I wasn’t sure if I should practice at all because the rule for ladies holiday is to not practice for 3 days. But I really, really needed this. My mind and body were yearning for this led Ashtanga class so much because my day was really exhausting. One part was spent sat on the most uncomfy office chair you could imagine and 2 hours were spent intensely cleaning and scrubbing the kitchen because it was getting kinda disgusting. I felt tense in my shoulders and whole back.
So I thought: ‘What the heck, I don’t feel tired or hyper-emotional because of my period, I’ll just go!’ Why is it advised to take a break anyway? I mean, I understand the sense behind skipping inversions, but not the point of no practice at all. Is it because the body is ‘impure’ at the time? Or overly sensitive? (Please tell me if you happen to know the justification.) I actually strongly believe practicing through ladies holiday makes you feel better.
In my case, last night’s practice was one of the best I’ve ever had!
  • I could fold and bend super deeply however I pleased! My alignment in all forward folds has improved lots and in Karna Pidasana my knees touched the floor so easily!
  • My ‘jump-throughs’ have improved to the point where I hop with crossed legs on the tops of my feet, then sit and slide my feet forward. Next step: Hop, slide and THEN sit.
  • My shoulder stand was super tall!
  • I touched my head on the floor in Prasarita Padottanasana D for the first time in my life :)
And now, let’s talk about Savasana, final relaxation: it was quite the experience. I don’t even really know what happened there but my mind was racing, it just didn’t settle. I am used to a calm mind in Savasana lately so I tried to figure out why it was different this time. And then I somehow realized that I was open and receptive for so many feelings at once! My capacity for love and compassion in that moment seemed infinite. I felt Prana, I felt pure bliss! Suddenly I noticed how my eyes had gone a little watery from the overwhelming emotions bundled in my subtle body for a few breaths.
I love Ashtanga yoga so much. So. Much.

4.3.13

VERY SUPERFICIAL OBSERVATION

After practicing Ashtanga for roughly 4 months I have less cellulite than when I was 14 (I’m 22 now).

4.7.13

EAT BETTER FOR YOUR PRACTICE...

It’s really astonishing just HOW much the food you eat affects your yoga practice. This is not new to me, but the way yesterday’s food and today’s primary series are related to each other is a good example.
Yesterday I was kinda hungover and lazy because I went to a goa/progressive party on Friday night where I danced for about 2.5 hours… those of you who go to this kind of parties know how intense the dancing can get! That’s why on Saturday I spent all day watching Breaking Bad in bed and I ate pizza, a bag of chips and lots of Maltesers. The only healthy thing I ate was a greek salad for breakfast. I LOVED being lazy and eating that stuff.
But today, after having slept 10! hours, I did my home practice and boy, it was EXHAUSTING. My body felt like a stiff, weak mess. I had to leave out vinyasas between sides in the seated postures and was even afraid to put my legs in half-lotus (I didn’t, I really am careful to avoid injuries). Still, I managed to do every pose, sometimes heavily modified but inside I was struggling. I am so glad I did all of it though, even if it was a mess. Also, my breath was so bad. Always in a different rhythm and sometimes I had to gasp for air with an open mouth. Oh, dear.
It really seems that being sluggish and eating all that lovely ‘crap’ has taken its toll on today’s practice.
Well, today I definitely am eating normal food again :)

4.12.13

Little update on life :)
Yesterday I went to my Ashtanga studio and practiced primary series up to Navasana in Mysore style. My body had been feeling super stiff and prone to injuries for a week and I was planning to practice very gently. I also had a heavy headache but I managed to get through all the poses except for headstand because my teacher suggested I shouldn’t do it. She wanted me to drop back into full wheel for the first time ever but I told her I didn’t feel ready because of my headache and dizziness. Next time, then.
Today I went to the Power Yoga class from the university-sport-program because my favourite teacher from my other studio was leading the class. His voice is so soothing and the class has the perfect amount of hard and fun stuff in it and I don’t feel exhausted afterwards.
Tomorrow night I’m playing the LotR drinking game with my friends, that will certainly be fun :)

3.20.13

This is how I feel on the inside right now!
Today I went to a workshop at my Ashtanga studio that was focussing on backbends. In the morning we did a regular Mysore style practice and in the afternoon we did primary series up to Navasana and then added a few poses from the 2nd series and many of its backbends. So that means I basically practiced Ashtanga twice today, in total 3 hours. I didn’t know I’d be doing twice as much as what I’m used to in that workshop, because when I practice, I always only practice up to Navasana! I only started doing Ashtanga in December ‘12… well, I am super exhausted now, but the workshop was great and offered another opportunity to chat with fellow Ashtangis :)

4.22.13

RAMBLINGS

I love Ashtanga yoga but I know to be authorized/certified as a teacher I have to visit Mysore many, many times. I will certainly do this, but first I want to be certified as a ‘regular’ hatha yoga teacher because it seems like being a yoga teacher is what is right for me in my life.
When I think about how I have to wait until April 2014 to start my yoga teacher training I feel so impatient… I would love to start right now, because the energy in me is almost unbearable and my desire to be a person that can actually teach people yoga, in other words: spread the message of yoga, is so huuuuuge. Infinite!
I have a friend with a depression so I suggested she could try yoga because it heals the soul as much as the body but she has so little money, she can’t afford it. I am now going to try and teach her the basics but I feel so inadequate about doing this job without a professional training… I mean, I have read so much about the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the practice and am memorizing all the things you need to know about proper alignment but still.
I feel like I am destined to bring the joy and beauty of the practice to other people. Does that sound weird? Fanatic? I don’t care…

4.26.13

After 4 months I have finally charged my camera battery… which means I might take some photos of me doing backbends and stuff so I can see how I progress in the duration of a few weeks/months :) The self-timer on my webcam is about 3 seconds!
Anyways, today I attended a led Ashtanga class where I did the full primary series for the first time ever, in my whole life! I am actually currently stuck at Marichyasana D (ever since I started Ashtanga, haha!) and you’re not allowed to go further than Navasana in this stage, but today my teacher said I am allowed to try all the poses. I could keep up pretty well, of course with many modifications, but it was so nice to get to know all the fun that’s waiting for me after I am able to do Marichyasana D on my own :) My teacher also said it seems like I can do it in about 2-3 weeks. That’d be so nice.
I hope you’re all having a nice day,
Namaste!

4.26.13

I MIGHT GO TO COPENHAGEN THIS SUMMER AND ATTEND A WORKSHOP WITH KINO MACGREGOR WOOHOO

4.28.13

Today I had a serious hangover. I wasn’t even considering practicing half primary series, just doing some gentle yoga for half an hour or so… but when I started the sun salutations I suddenly felt like doing Ashtanga so I did primary series up to Navasana :)
Upside: I JUMPED THROUGH! For the first time, ever! WHAT!?! I burst out smiling and yay-ing in the middle of my practice after I tried it for the first time and it just happened. It wasn’t perfect, far from it! But I jumped through and wow… I’m amazed.
Downside: I fell over in headstand! To some this might not be bad because it is a difficult posture, but I’ve never fallen over in headstand before (I learned it as a child and never lost the ability to simply do one) :/ I guess it was my hangover that interrupted my balance ^__^

4.30.13

Do you see Marichyasana D and Navasana? That’s where I am in my asana practice. Mari D is such a humbling posture. I want to be able to intertwine my limbs to form this pretty pretzel but my body shows me my current boundaries every single time. The only thing I can do is respecting them and keep on cultivating a regular practice.
Tonight I tried not to fixate my mind on Marichyasana D too much but instead tried to breathe like I never did before, making the inhalation and exhalation equal in length, keeping the breath steady and in count. I also tried to engage Mula Bandha all the time, because I’m very forgetful about it. My Uddiyana Bandha is a lot more developed.
Tonight’s practice was really nice.
Namaste!

5.1.13

It’s 3.45 am and I just finished reading Sacred Fire by Kino MacGregor in one sitting. Her story is really moving and she offers such a vast insight into the spiritual path of Ashtanga Yoga. Her writing style is also very beautiful and easily readable. 10/10

5.3.13

Today, with the assistance from my teacher, my fingers could touch, even kinda lock for the first time in Marichyasana D (on the second side only because my left knee felt a little irritated so I modified on the first side).
This is a bit of a breakthrough, really! I might not get into the posture on my own just yet but the feeling of being in it clarified so many things for me that I could never properly understand from studying it (videos, texts, anatomy, etc.).
What was also surprising today is that after it happened, my teacher gave me the next posture, Bhujapidasana. I was so not expecting it because I though I will learn it when I get Mari D on my own.
I haven’t even figured out what today’s physical breakthrough means on the internal level. What does it say about my spiritual and mental growth? Is it growth? Did something in me change prior to today’s practice?
Right now while I’m writing the answer seems to come to me.
This week I changed my focus from simply doing asanas and trying to breathe to really breathe. I also try to remember Mula Bandha as often as possible. I also realized after half a year of Ashtanga practice, it might be time to practice 4 days a week instead of only 3.
Today my body felt stiff and tense and I haven’t slept enough the past 2 nights and I really didn’t feel like I could practice. But I had packed my yoga clothes in the morning so I just went after a long internal battle whether I should practice or just go home and sleep. Afterwards my body and mind felt loads better.
I think there is some internal transformation going on.