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 :)


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.