Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas greetings from wales

We travelled to Wales by car on Monday, to my family home which is in the countryside on the coast. There has been a lot more snow than I have ever seen across the UK. It is truly beautiful and we are having a great holiday. The picture below is the view from where I practice, next to a real fire, lucky me! Hope you all have a lovely Christmas. Thanks for the birthday wishes.








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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Still having fun, opportunities and surrender

Stilling falling having fun in my new pose, mayurasana.  Although we are understanding each other better now.  I got some useful advise at the shala to bring my elbows lower as womens centre of gravity is lower.  I was told to put my head on the floor whilst bringing the elbows lower.  V's advise, see comments on previous post, has really helped too.  I seem yo be able to do the pose better this week, my legs lift, I manage about 3 breaths and then I fall   have some more fun.  I think I find the balance point, I just need to keep it.

I realised I needed to redefine how I think about kapotasana.  I was feeling a bit frustrated that I couldn't do it on the first attempt, that I had to repeat it 3 times (if I wanted to get into it by myself) and that it was so HARD.  Poor me, lol.  I have realised though that this might be the way that it is for some time, months maybe.  So it is time to SURRENDER to the process and redefine my self talk.  Yesterday I told my self that as I was not doing full second and had been split I had a wonderful OPPORTUNITY to work on Kapotasana.  I needed a lot of convincing so I thought about why I wanted to work on it, I mean no one is telling me to do it 3 times!!  It is so healing and I really enjoy the challenge and the OPPORTUNITY to open my upper back and work on balancing my strength and flexibility.  I also told myself  I could take the pressure off on the first two and just really work on grabbing my heels on the third one.  In the past I had been trying to get heels on each one, working really hard and sometimes getting in on the second attempt.  Obviously it would be better if there was NONE of this dialogue but well I'm working on it  ;-).  It worked though kapotasana was much less dramatic both yesterday and today, I may have even enjoyed it at times, maybe...  I grabbed me heels on the third one despite the fact that it is snowy outside and my feet were still cold when I was practising it.  What a difference a change in perspective can make.

Monday, 22 November 2010

We will have some fun with this one

The above were were my teachers words when he gave me the next pose this morning and saw I could not do it. Such great advise! Lol, in fact it was just what I needed to hear.

Last week practice was hard, I was tired, really tired. Having analysed everything I could think of, I decided it must have been taking Friday off practice instead of Saturday. There were many advantages to this, due to the way my life is right now i.e. I am travelling to London every Friday and returning to Liverpool on Mondays, (this is tiring too.) The advantages of friday off was more time to do stuff at home, (hard when only there 4&1/2 days a week) and also an extra shala practice on the Saturday. The problem with having friday off practice is I teach 3 classes, which also means some cycling, my body needs complete rest. Anyway I took Saturday and Sunday moon day off to let my body recover.

Woke up stiff this morning, having slept awkwardly in the single bed in marcs rented room. Also my it band was really tight from cycling and lack of stretching. It did not bode well for the first intermediate practice in four days. I did a bit of stretching before I left and it band felt much better for it. Neck, shoulder and upper back were still stiff and still are now after practice but it'll be alright by tomorrow, I imagine.

Fortunately my teacher assisted me into kapotasana this morning, I was so tight I did not think it was possible but his kapotasana assist is amazing. After that I was miraculously able to do it solo.

So I haven't blogged about practice for a while at least the physical aspect of it. I have been managing to get to my heels in kapo by myself every day, it's been 3 weeks now but only on the second or third attempt. I am finding it requires more mental willpower to work on kapotasana now that I know it is possible than
it did to get there on the first place! I guess this is the next stage in the journey. Between that and karandavasana I feel like I have a lot to work on. So I was not expecting or wanting any new poses, I was not even sure what the next pose was. But I knew karandavasana was getting better.

I like a challenge in my practice, I really do. I guess kapo and karanda just push my mental limits in new ways. This is a good thing, I am sure but it is also challenging. When I was given the next pose, at first I did not realise that I was and went to backbending, which got an oy from my teacher, lol. Then I did not have a clue what to do as he led me through the strange vinyasasa for mayurasana and then I could not do it until he helped me engage my legs. But the best part for me was when he said "we're going to have fun with this one". What a wonderful reminder to enjoy the process especially in the midst of challenge.


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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Cutting through spiritual materialism

I finished this book a few days ago. I was going to write about it when I was back at home, (I am in London now) but having already moved on with my reading, I realise it may be better to write about it now, while it is still fresh in my mind.

First of all, loved the book, some parts more than others. Most of all I loved how the book got me thinking. Even the title. It is a Buddhist book but I am going to write about the thoughts it generated about my astanga practice, all thoughts are my own, read the book if you are interested in it, I don't want to spoil it.

I have had an attitude of surrender and honesty in relation to my practice and faith that the alchemy of the practice would just work. For instance if I noticed ego or ambition in my practice I just let it be. I am human afterall and it is a practice. So if I wanted to get on my mat on any given day because I wanted to work on an asana I would accept that even though I knew it was not about the asana, I felt that the practice would work regardless.

This is mainly due to my faith in the practice and has worked pretty well for me. This book made me question this belief and then realise that surrender and acceptance are indeed necessary and yet questioning is also good. 

When I first started practicing astanga there were so many things in primary that I couldn't do that the practice hammered my ego each time I got on my mat. Not that I felt bad about it but I was not hey check me out either. What I love about this practice, specifically about learning it pose by pose is that there is usually something I can not do. What I wonder though is as people progress could ego about the practice become more of a problem if left unchecked or even encouraged.

I am by no means advanced in astanga world but as someone who has practiced daily for years my practice has obviously changed. When I practice at a workshop or some classes people sometimes complement my practice. I never know what to say. I work hard at my practice and I guess it's nice to acknowledge that effort. I definitely feel that internally, as in I enjoy being in a fairly flexible strong body. But for me it is mostly a spiritual practice and the last thing I want is an ego about my spiritual practice.

I think it is best to just observe the thoughts that arise as a result of this physical or spiritual progress and just watch them. I think you can not subdue the inevitable how should I put it, unspiritual thoughts or actions. To do so would not only be repressing but also spiritually egotistical, as in, I am way to spiritual for that!

I have found that through surrendering to the practice, it has changed me. I like a challenge of a difficult asana and I like it when I can do something that was once challenging. I mostly do not care what others think, okay well maybe I like to please my teacher sometimes, lol! I am thinking one of the reasons this practice works so well is because it teaches us to stay in the moment, to notice, to allow and to surrender.

I am going to leave you with a quote from the book

" We go around and around, trying to improve ourselves through struggle, until we realise that the ambition to improve ourselves is itself a problem. Insights come only when there are gaps in our struggle, only when we stop trying to rid ourselves of thought, when we cease siding with pious, good thoughts against bad, impure thoughts, only when we allow ourselves simply to see the nature of thought."

Chogyam trungpa, cutting throughout spiritual materialism.


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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

moving on

So Kapotasana is still here, heel grab yesterday and TWICE today.  The stuff I wrote yesterday helped me remember what to do.  I usually do kapo A 3 times, I made it in on the second and third attempts today.  I'm going to keep up the repetitions until I can consistently get in.  Once in this pose is so much nicer, something to hold on to at last, no more hanging in outer space.  Been slacking on the timed kapos this week, not got the mental stamina for it. 

I am having a short practice week this week as I am going to the London at the weekend and will do a mysore class, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  So I am having Friday off and doing primary Thursday.  I am grateful for the shorter week and the imminent shala visit.  At the shala I will just do my practice as is without working on kapo as such, it'll be good for me.  I will also see my teacher Monday.

So kapotasana isn't my last pose, I have a whole load of asana to do after that.  I also have a new pose, it's just two weeks old,  it's just a baby duckling, it's karandavasana.  I've been a bit shaky post kapotasana for the last two weeks, (less so today) making working on karandavasana challenging.  I'm just trying to get into lotus, whilst balanced on my forearms and I have almost done it a couple of times but lost it at the last moment, my right hip is tight but it's possible, just practice and balance.  I'm glad to just have one step to work at, I was worried about how on earth I was going to work at it as a mostly at home practitioner, it seemed very overwhelming! 

I'm still really enjoying reading cutting through spiritual materialism.  It's been really useful to have it to reflect on as I go through dramatic change in my practice.  I'm highlighting my favorite bits on my iphone, I have it on kindle for iphone as well as the real book, great to have both (although funny for a book about materialism), my partner already had the book.  I'll post more on that when I am finished.

I've also been meditating daily for twenty minutes, vipasana.  That's as long as I can sit in lotus, I guess I will extend it, we will see.  For now it is enough.  I first learnt vipasana about 11 years ago.  I had a regular practice pre astanga but found the astanga practice was more what I needed.  I have found that in yoga emotions come to the surface when I am ready for them.  I have no idea how that works it's like magic. In meditation for me they came up quick and I used to find it hard not to react at times, not during the meditation but after.  When I have forgotten all about the meditation and suddenly found myself hating an ex boyfriend whilst waling down the street and wondering where such strong emotion came from.   I went on a 10 day vipasana retreat when I was 19, I'm grateful for the space it created for me in my mind.  Having dealt with my own stuff a lot through asana I now feel I can handle it's intensity, I also don't have so much stuff, I'm much lighter, thank you asana. 

I've needed all this today as I have been cycling around in the rain, the rain I can handle but the erratic driving was a bit scary at times.  It is strange how people feel they have to hurry when they are in a car in the rain, I don't get it, I mean they are inside.  Anyway a few close calls on my way to work am greatful to my practice for the awareness it gave me, I'm grateful to be safe, obviously as I'm writing about it I still need to work on moving on, back to the mat.....tomorrow that is off for a bath now, yum!

Monday, 1 November 2010

The long story

Last week while I was at the shala, I was hanging back pre Kapo, the teacher was busy but I wanted an assist and so I was using it as a sneaky warm up.  Anyway the teacher came over and suggested  I take my hands to by forehead and STAY there and BREATHE.  Huh?  I guess I was just kinda chilling in comparison to that, I stayed there for about five breaths and came up.  She asked me if I was okay, I was I just found it a difficult place to be.  Teacher then discussed how sometimes we have to come out of a pose because it hurts but sometimes we just find it a difficult place to be.  Huh?  She so had my number so we did it again and I stayed and breathed through it, it was intense and then he took me into my heels.

When I am at home, I work at kapotasana lots,  I'm not very warmed up when I am at home and so the first thing I do is hang back for a BIT.  What's a BIT?  Great question, it's for as long a I feel like and this discussion with this teacher made me realize that I was coming out it if it felt too intense, not physically intense, although kapotasana certainly is that but emotionally and mentally.  In coming out I was missing out on an opportunity to breathe into those dark spaces.  To be somewhere I do not want to be with calm mind.  I started to time the third hang back.  I held it for one minute and breathed. Timing it made me stay there even when emotionally it got tough.

I think breathing into those dark spaces led to some interesting emotional releases last week.  I found myself outside of practice not wanting to be in the moment I was in.  It took me a while to figure out that's why I didn't want to be where I was, doing what I was doing, but upon realizing and thinking, what's so wrong with here, it dissipated.

Soon after I was first given kapotasana, which was December,  I was inspired by Boodiba to do Kapo B before kapo A.  She was doing timed ones with Venkitesh in mysore at the time.  So I decided to do the same.  It was really good for my kapotsana but emotionally it was too much.  I started to dread kapotasana, and it would take me AGES to pluck up the courage to go back.  So I stopped doing the timed ones for  a while, ahimsa (non-violence) has to start with oneself.

If I remember correctly, I decided I would still do kapotasana B before it but not time it, so there was no pressure.  I find it hard to be warm enough for kapotasana A at home and so the kapotasana B helps.  The last few months the intensity has been less and I have been more able to breathe into these spaces.  I have been doing 1 minute Kapotasana B's,  which last week I started to increase so I could slow down the hang back.  As a cycle commuter I think this has really helped to open the front of my thighs and psoas as well as warm me up, I'm usually still cold when I get to Kapo but never after, lol!  So what I am saying here is I have found it very useful to time myself so that I stay and breathe into these challenging spaces but it had to be when I was ready.

I have also been hanging off my backless chair for 5 minutes (outside of practice), even when in that, I sometimes I want to run. I know a lot of people have an intense time with kapo.  I feel a sense of responsibility as I write this for those of you who are not here yet.  I don't want to put it in your head that this pose will be terrifying, maybe it will maybe it won't.  Maybe you will love it.  I love it, it has given me such a fabulous opportunity to heal.

I decided, I was going to do this, I can be pretty determined.  I've probably done 2 to 3 years worth of kapotsanas in less than one year.  I had surrendered to the fact that it might take me years to grab my heels by myself, but I was determined that I would.   Not because I was stopped there, I'm not, and not for the asana itself but because of what it required of me.  Everyday it required me to face my deepest fears, to be with physically intensity, to be present and to be with it all, to breathe and not react..

 I've been hanging off the chair (separate to practice, to open upper back),  doing 3 hang backs, 2-3 kapo B's and the 3 attempts at Kapo A, every day that I practice at home, at the shala I just get on with it, which is also useful as there is less drama.  On Tuesday as I was hanging back for my kapo A attempts my upper back started to open as I breathed into it and it opened again and again and again, each time I breathed my back would uncurl, my right shoulder also released.  I went down I walked in and almost got my heels, I touched them but I could not quiet get hold.  I realized as I lowered down that my head was inside my feet.  I can only remember this happening once before, when I was in Italy and Louise Ellis was helping me open my upper back.  It was also really hot in Italy, compared with my living room in October.

I realized I had the flexibility to grab my heels but needed to work on the last part, actually grabbing them.  After 3 attempts I moved on with my practice.  On Wednesday I found that extra space in my back again,  I guess it's been opening for a while, the movement is quite dramatic.  I just hang there and release until there is no more movement.  The breathe helps create the space.  I say I just hang there but ya know it is very intense!  Then I lowered down and walked in and again touched my heels but flailed.  Many repeats later, I decided to walk in and then lift up into my legs as much as possible, to find a little bit more space and then I did it,  I grabbed both heels.

Came up and cried in a way, I can not ever remember crying before, perhaps it is how a child cries.  I was both happy and sad.  My body trembled.  Intermediate can do that, but I've never had it so much, it felt like something was leaving my body. 

Then I did the rest of my practice, I almost felt like stopping but I am glad that I had loads more to go, helped me work through it to witness even the intensity of the event without getting too attached to it.  Just to go back to my breathe and dristi and move on.

Update, today (Monday) I managed to get my heels again!  Things I have to remember,  right now are.  Hang back hand in prayer by forehead and breathe into upper back and surrender, look back at feet, keep looking at feet all the time to keep oppening in upper back.  Lower down, slowly, keep legs active and hips as far forward as possible.  Walk both hands around outside of feet, all the while looking at feet and keeping legs strong.  When I feel like I can not go any further,  engage legs and lift up, kind of a deep kapo B, breathe and find a little more space.  Creep in  in again keeping legs strong.  Here is the critical bit because I find it hard to get hold of my feet so I have to keep going back until it really, really is impossible to go any further.  If I try for the heels to soon, I loose my grip on the outside of feet and flail.  So I have to take my hands way back on the floor further than I mentally think I can, push up again and then go for the heels.

I expect this new found flexibility may come and go, and I'm fine with that.  I now know that it is possible to take myself there, physically, mentally and emotionally.  I am grateful for the opportunity to practice and to take all that is gives me into my life.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

the short story

I've been trying to blog since Wednesday and have started but I have a lot to say and not much time to write.  So the short story is, on Wednesday I grabbed my heels in Kapotasana, all by myself.  This has been one hell of a journey for me, and continues to be, hence the long story which is in progress. After doing the pose I cried both happy and sad, my whole body trembled, like my whole body was releasing something.  I feel that a part of me that was inside is now free to be outside.  I feel healed and whole, I'm grateful but it is still REALLY HARD!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Spiritual materialism and karandavasana

I am on the train home from London. Had a lovely weekend. Have started reading cutting through spiritual materialism and it's really making me think. I will blog more about that when I am by my computer because I want to quote from it. But for now in terms of practice I made a commitment to focus on breath, dristi and bandhas and just let the outer form, the asana be. Yes, I know that's what your meant to do and yes I thought I was doing it already but this journey into the moment is a challenge if it were easy i would not have to do all this mad stuff on our mats each day.

Ironically when I made this commitment which felt like a kind of surrender, there were some outer changes. I was less tired at the end, yesterday the teacher said she my practice was good, that it had changed and today I got a new pose.

Yes the journey with karandavasana has begun. Initial thoughts are, I am up for the challenge, I like working on hard stuff. It's a good job I am working with my ego, because it is going to be hard to work on this at home alone. Today I was assisted in and out but at home teacher said to work on getting into lotus and balancing there. He also gave me some advise on how to work on that. I know I can do lotus in headstand so it is theoretically possible, I guess. It will be two weeks until my next shala visit. I have more than enough to play with!






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Thursday, 14 October 2010

London and pincha

Had a great weekend in London, catching up with friends, hanging out with my man and going to mysore classes, happy days :-)  Marc was going to come home this weekend but they wanted him to work on Sunday, so I'm going to go to go to London instead, which means I will be in London 3 weekends in a row, including last weekend.   When in London I go to a mysore class, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, to maximise my access to teachers.  So Thursday is now primary day and Friday is off.    This means I am getting 3 shala practices and 3 at home practices.  I like my at home practices as much as the shala ones a it gives me a chance to integrate what I've learnt.  My teacher only teaches weekdays, so I end up going to 3 different teachers.  I got lot of help with pincha which was challenging me at the weekend.  It was at home that it has started to come together though.  I realised that I was feeling under pressure to get up and not fall on anyone at the shala.   This pressure was entirely my own manifestation,  although I am sure the people near me were grateful I did not fall on them!!! :-)  So my mission for this weekend is not to do the perfect pincha mayurasana in the shala but just to chill and do whatever I can.

So  re pincha, what I learnt that has helped.  Keep head down while coming up (from my teacher) walk in as much as possible.  I am then doing some prep as outlined in kinos second series dvd, lifting one leg up at a time as far over as possible.  I realised I was telling people, I couldn't walk in far enough or lift the first leg up as far as much as I needed to in order to come up with control.  When I heard myself, I realised that this was pushing some kind of button in me and instead of saying I couldn't, it was time to find out how .  The best tip was from my ever supportive partner, who sat and watched some you tube videos with me.  Now my partner is not a yoga teacher or a yogi but he has a lot of martial arts experience and has an amazing understanding of body mechanics, he has taught me a lot.  He suggested I stopped trying to get up for a bit and break it down, lift the first leg up and then work on getting second leg off the ground.  Such a great idea, thanks Marc :)  Firstly it took the pressure off, and I stopped flailing and kicking like a donkey!! Secondly I stopped moving from my back foot and more from my centre.  Thirdly when I did this I started to get the pelvis over the central point and then I can balance and bring the leg fully up with control and balance.  So I still need practice and I've been getting lots, but I have a method and it's working which is great.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

more tales from the mat

When I went on my retreat with Louise Ellis, we did yin yoga in the evenings.  I loved it!  So calming and such a great balance to the astanga practice.  When I was working on mari D,  supta K, and garba, I used to do a fair bit of yin to open my hips up but more recently I have just been doing badha konasana, which I have been doing for 10 minutes every day for years now.  I have a drink in it, while I wake up.  Anyway, Louise suggested doing some yin before practice.  She also suggested doing  ujayi in the yin poses, I love that, really allows me to smooth out the breath and tame the monkey mind.  I found it hard to find time to do any yin on top of my long practice but since I have been split have been exploring it.

I think at the moment, I am more strong than flexible and so the yin is really balancing for my body and balancing energetically for intermediate, I think too.  It is really meditative and doing it before practice allows me to begin my practice in a softer, quieter way.  It is not orthodox I know, I'm over that, I mean I wouldn't do it in the shala but at home I will do whatever is right for me.  When I got split, Kevin texted me to say, that in theory my practice would be much shorter.  I had to laugh at the in theory part.  I spend about the same amount of time practicing, although not all of my practice is ashtanga.

So I do my badha konasana,  I don't really count this as practice as I let my mind wonder and wake up here, sometimes I read in it.  Then 5 minutes in these for poses eka pada raja kapotsana (front leg only)  does this have it's own name?   Supta virasana to counter cycle commuting and hanging off chair to open upper back.  Then 10 minute of breathing in padmasana with Michael gannons pranayama CD.  I'm just doing the breathing for week one which is sama vvritti, equal breathing.  Doing this breathing pre practice really helps to keep my breathing mellow during intermediate intense spots, which in turn keeps my body and mind calm :-)

It is amazing to see the changes in my practice this month.  It's now back to where it was pre split.  I guess my body just had to adapt to the lack of primary.  Upper back is definately oppening and although my back has been more open than it is right now, it is more consistently open and drop backs feel much nicer.  I feel much more energised when I work more from upper back and back bends make more sense physically.

Been continuing to work on kapotasana with my repeating sequence, see previous post.  Before I got split I was nearly getting into it alone and getting and staying in it alone if assisted.  I worked really hard to get there and went through so much personal transformation.  I am actually starting to love this pose for the change it has taken me through and continues to take me through.  When I got split I was back where I started creeping for my toes.  The main difference though was that I knew what to do,  I have had lots of great advise  from teachers on this.  So my body may not have been flexible enough but I knew how to work on that safely with my body and after just 6 weeks I am 3 quarters of the way up my foot again.  I have really gotten to know my feet with this one, I can feel how far up I am.  Some days I am nearly getting my heels solo.  This is funny because after I got split I half surrendered to this, I though well it might take years but I will work on it and one day I will do it.  I guess doing this pose to me symbolises conquering fear and that's why I continue to work at it.  Now it's close there is some expectation, which I don't like, will today be the day, etc.
Oh well something else to let go of.

The leg behind the head stuff, I can do but it needs work to get them deeper.  I am just allowing that to happen though, no repeats.  I mean you put each leg behind the head 3 times anyway!  Tittibhasana C hurts for less time, man that is intense for me, guess it's the cycling.

Pincha is a bit up in the air, or rather it isn't.  Initially I was kicking up which sometimes worked well and I was learning how much force I needed to do it free standing.  My teacher gave me some great advise two weeks ago and it made perfect sense when he was there but at home, it's been a bit of a struggle.  I think it's better to do it this way though as it is more controlled.  I see my teacher on Monday so I can clarify.  He said to walk in and take first leg up as much a possible then bend the other leg to come up.  I suspect I may not be flexible enough to walk in close enough or lift first leg far enough back, although I think  I managed fine in the shala (it's warmer there though).  I've been adding an extra kick with the lifted leg which brings the other off the floor.  Sorry am I boring you, anyway that works sometimes and I am starting to get up more often, once up I can generally balance and it feels great.  Hopefully I will get some advise on this, this weekend.

Trip to London this weekend and I will see my partner for the first time in two weeks as well as my London yoga friends :-)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Practice update

One of the reasons I did not blog for a while was because I had little interest in writing about the physical dimension.  Ironically since being split, all that has changed.  My practice is completely different and has changed even from last week.  Every time I get on the mat, I am curious to see what it will be like.

It takes a while for me to warm up, with my long practice pre split it would not be until supta kurmasana that I started to feel warm at home.  So second series at home sans primary is a challenge.  The first time I tried it, my body was like, hey are you serious!  Every pose reverted to where it was when I first got given in it, right from the get go, so no wrist in pasasana, leg less height in krounchasana, etc.  Oh and kapotasana, meh!   Pre split, it was better than ever I was about 1 cm from heels solo.  Last week I crawled to my toes, just.

I actually like to do a challenging practice, so I'm not complaining.  It forces me into the moment and teaches me so much about myself physically and mentally.  I do like to work at those hard poses though.  My kapotasana routine at home is hardcore.  At the shala I get assisted straight into it, no drama.  On Monday I looked at my teacher and thought about telling him how hard it had been at home and then decided to forget the drama and he took me to my heels.  Best jut to do, sometimes.

I realised at the weekend that even though my kapotasana seems physically right back where it started in other ways it isn't.  It is no longer (at least for now) emotionally traumatic and I have learnt one hell of a lot about how to do it.  Now it is just a matter of practice and lots of it).

So eliminating primary was bound to be strange for my body.  It is already adapting, after just two weeks.  Wrist bind is back for pasasana on first side,  Kapotasana is deeper, just past toes.  Kapotasana routine is currently 2-3 hang backs 10 breaths, two kapo B's for one minute (this warms me up, lol!)  and 3 attempts at kapotasana A.  Am I crazy, I actually kinda like it, on a good day!

New poses are like new toys.  Yoga nidrasana is not the rest I was expecting but a great way to open the hips as I can really work deep here, feel like I get more of a stretch on left side though, which is a shame, my right hip is tighter.  Tittibhasana A, can't land it high, working on that.  Tittibhasana B can do but legs burn by the end and then C comes and C is so hard, I'm amazed my legs don't ache after though, just at the time.  Not loving that pose!

Pincha, better this week, almost found the right amount of momentum to get up each time.  Yesterday, 3 breaths solo in the middle of the room.  Fun!

This week has been challenging, lots of mad life stuff.  I don't feel as calm as I usually would and wonder if it's the shift to second series having an effect.  Primary tomorrow, I wonder what that will be like...If I could use one word to describe how practice is going, I would use curious.

In other news my partner is going to be doing a job in London for 6 weeks, will miss him obviously.  So may be visiting London and thus my teacher sooner than planned, we will see.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Retreat, kino and split epic

Well my poor blog has been a little abandoned, I had thought about giving it up. Lots of inner change recently, difficult to clarify as I am still in the midst of it.

Anyhow, I am back, at least for now. Lots to report, well it has been about two months since I wrote last, I think!

I went on a yoga retreat with Louise Ellis in Italy. She has a truly beautiful presence and I almost feel like I learnt the most from just meeting her. She also taught me a lot about kapotasana, mostly encouraging and helping me to open my upper back more. It felt so much better and I felt so much more energised after practice. So when I got back I decided to buy a yoga chair, which I hang off in order to open my upper back up, hard to work on it solo otherwise. I hang there for 5 minutes, so I do it separate to my astanga practice.

Last week I went to some if kino's workshops in London. I did a led primary, a Mysore class, an into to second workshop and then went to see my teacher, the following day. Phew! Led was fun, I do not get a chance to do led primary very often and went to help my own teaching as well as personal faff reduction. Found it hard to focus in the Mysore session but the practice was physically okay. Did chakra bhandasana with assistance for the first time in months. Intro to second was useful for me as she gave some ways to explore the poses which will be useful for me when I am working on them at home. Socially workshop was also fun, two of my students came as well as the London blogger crew.

So the following day I went to my teachers to practice. I had not seen my teacher for two months and was happy to be there. I find I have a much more focused practice there, the energy and focus in the shala is amazing.

I wasn't sure if I wanted any new poses, I was happy with my practice, which should have been a give away. This practice is rarely easy, which I think is great for the ego, it very humbling. You can probably see where this is going... I was given yoga nidrasana and tittibhasana, which is really four poses. Bear in mind I had done full primary first and a yoga workshop that weekend. Oh and tittibhasana c is so hard, my legs are screaming in that pose! I said to my teacher "that's hard!" then I did my vinyasa and my teacher said "pinch mayurasana". I thought I must have misheard because I was so tired and I have never been given more than two poses in one day. So I checked and then did it with some help.

After pincha I thought woah I am going to be split soon. I was suddenly really nervous about the prospect. Having done primary for five and half years it's quite a change! After practice told me to do only intermediate from now on. I was really shocked. I actually said "really even though I can't balance in pincha!". He said I would have more energy to work on it. I was very suprised but I trust my teacher and it's nice he thinks I am ready.

Practicing just intermediate at home last week was harder than I thought. My body was just not warmed up enough and the poses reverted about six months. I am feeling pretty chilled about that though, I mean I will work on them and then move on, so I guess I do care but actually when a pose is hard you have to be so present, that's a great teacher. Once I have tried my best I move on with the rest of my practice and my life, that's all we can ever do, be it an asana or a life event. Moment to moment.

That said, it was nice to practice in the warmth of the shala again this weekend, I was visiting family in London. Heat, group energy and teachers presence make it much easier or harder depending on how you look at it;-)

Am on the train home now, will have 4 weeks of solo practice before my next trip to my teacher. Have been fairly spoilt for teachers recently but I think it will be kinda nice to explore my new practice at home....










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Friday, 2 July 2010

Let it be

Well it's been 3 weeks since my week at the shala and I am heading back there on Sunday.  Practice still seems very long but I do really like the leg behind the head poses.  The first week of doing this practice was exhausting, I've been tidying everything up which takes more strength initially until I have the strength to do it more fluidly.  Anyway I've been getting stronger and vinyasas are much better.

First week of longer practice, I felt overwhelmed as I stepped on my mat, so I broke it into chunks, standing, then primary, then second, then closing.  I realised this wasn't exactly staying in the moment!  I also realise it may be a while before I am split.   Actually I don't want to be split yet so there is no point moaning about it!  I love my long practice, it's just hard sometimes.  So last week I decided to surrender to it and be in each moment rather than hoping I can make it to the end!  Ha, anyways it's getting easier and I am amazed at the changes in my strength in such a short time.

The main pose I still want to work on in primary is baddhakonasana, still needs a lot of work, but it's changing, can now get chin to the floor without assistance but knees still flying.  So primary feels like a real movement meditation, which I love.  It is also great for opening up the hips which I am sure helps me to get my legs over my head later on, I'm sure

Yesterday I was doing bhekasana and I was thinking (bad yogini I know)  " I'm crap at this it's gonna take year before my hands touch the floor"  and then, they did touch the floor.  Talk about shattering that belief, I was very surprised!

Looking forward to a shala visit, also glad it's Friday.  So grateful to do primary by itself on Fridays.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

back on my mat at home

Arrived back from my week at the shala on Monday after one last practice, only had two hours at home before I headed off to teach.  Feeling really energised and enthused about teaching after a break, it's done me the world of good.  Not that I wasn't enthused before! I love my job but a break is good for everyone.

So Tuesday was the first day back on my mat with three new poses to explore.  I woke up and it was so cold I had to put a blanket over me while I had a pre practice drink.  Well it was a lot warmer than that at the shala!  Practice mostly the same a it was before I went.  No surprises there.  When I decided to go to London for a week and retreat in Italy for a week (in August), it was because I realised that the changes that happen in my practice happen in my living room where I practice every day.  So I went to tidy up and really I guess for the non physical changes that happen when you can fully give your all to your practice.

Practice this week has been tiring!  So glad it's Thursday and Primary only tomorrow.  Can 3 poses really make that much difference?  Well, I think there's maybe more to it than that.  When I was away I could give my all to my practice so probably refined things a bit as I was there a week it became my practice.  I'm not one to slack off, my body will get used to it, I'm sure.  Also realised that of the 3 poses 2 are asymmetrical  so 5 more vinyasas, when your doing a full primary and almost half of second 5 more vinyasas is a lot.  I actually quite like working to the edge of what I feel I can do, it is an interesting part of the psyche.

Of course I have to work too, so have started napping in the afternoon again, really helps my body recover and keeps my mind fresh for teaching in the evening.  Lucky I can do that.  Also been really hungry!  So well, I've been eating more.

So hows it been going asana wise?  Primary  just happens mostly, very focused.  Kapotasana and I have had to get to know each other again after a week of being taken straight to heels (assisted).  I am not very good at using my legs whilst being assisted, something teacher kept reminding me to do.  At home alone though walking in the legs have to work, so I have been saying hello to my thighs!  Am still doing 3 kapo B's at home before I do A at home as otherwize my body is jut not ready.  So  Kapo has been a bit hit and miss this week but it'll be back where it was soon enough I'm sure.  I actually have a bit more faith that my self practice methods will eventually allow me to do this alone.

Kapo B is the only pose I repeat, except maybe drop backs (if I'm not spent!)  my practice is long enough.  Even this post is getting long!


I like my new poses.  I have been doing dwi pada entry to supta K for a while as it is the only way I can do it solo.  It's not something I could naturally do but something I gradually worked away at for years.   So I can do dwi pada but it's not that great.  These new poses should help.  Left hip is more open than right, so goes back easily, spending a bit more time on my right side to balance things out.  Working on the vinyasas for eka pada sirsasana is fun and managed to get timing right on second side today taking both legs back exactly the same time.  Couldn't figure this before but think I just needed to tip the weight forward a bit.

Blah, good night!

Monday, 14 June 2010

On my way home

I'm on the train on my way home.
Glad to have had one last practice with my teacher but will probably be back in 3 weeks which doesn't seem long at all.

Much better practice today than yesterday, more focused. Able to breathe better too, was by an open window so think that helped, oh sweet oxygen!

Back felt tight so will have a bit of a play to dekink it in self practice this week. Managed another assisted kapo though, back to creeping my hands in solo tomorrow.

Another new pose dwi Pada sirsasana. I love it!

I am tired and hungry despite two breakfasts! V recommended I eat lots in comments of my last post. Thanks, you don't have to tell me twice, I am off to train shop. Do not seem able to respond to comments on my blog on iPhone, so not ignoring anyone, will be home with my lap top soon.

:-)

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Sunday, 13 June 2010

London part two

Well it's nearly the end of my trip to London, I return tomorrow, as excited as I was to come here, I am even more excited to come back.  Excited to share this wonderful practice with my students, excited to explore it on my own, excited to make positive changes in my life and most of all looking forward to seeing my man again, who also returns home tomorrow. 

I have had and am continuing to have a wonderful time.  Practicing in the shala every day with the heat and the group energy and of course my teachers eagle eye and mind blowing adjustments has been brilliant.  I am truly grateful that I made this time for myself and my practice. With teachers help I managed to hold my heels in kapo everyday last week.  Although I have to say it was far from comfortable, so many lessons to be had from this pose.  To do something everyday that is hard, that seems impossible, that sometimes makes me want to run away and yet to do it, to be with breath and work on stilling the mind.  It's a great practice a transformative one.

On Wednesday I was given two new poses, so am now practicing up until eka pada sirsasana.  I really like the energetics of that pose.   Excited to have more poses to explore and happy that my teacher thinks I am ready.  Somehow adding just two more poses seems to make my practice so loooooong, although I am not going to labour this point as if I make it long in mind it will get even longer in reality! ;-)

Except for practice, I have been doing a lot of reading.  I had no desire to dash around London seeing things.  It was wonderful to give my body a rest and also spend some wonderful time with friends old and new.

So tomorrow I return to Liverpool after my final practice with my teacher for a few weeks.  I am both sad and happy, but grateful that I have a life to go back to that keeps me excited and allows me to unfold, on this journey of life.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

London part one

Well here I am in London, sending my first blog post from my iPhone, inspired by susan :-)

It's great to have some consecutive days with my teacher. Every time I say see you tomorrow, I feel so happy. It is usually "see you in 4 weeks"

So far I have had 3 days of practice here. Each day I have been able to grab my heels im kaptasana with assistance. Never done this consecutive days before as only had two days in a row with my teacher once before and that was when I was given this lovely pose. :-) repetition seems to help me let go of the drama and focus on breathing.

Today was not as busy as yesterday at the shala. For this reason or because he gave me a settling in day teacher gave me more verbal instructions today. So easy to go off on tangents when self practicing, his feedback invaluable. He told me to change hand position in ustrasana so fingers are on feet pointing towards toes. A few other little refinements and many excellent adjustments.

So nice just to be there, I love the energy and focus. Heat also nice, it's not like that in my lounge!

Aside from yoga, I have mostly been reading, wonderful to have the time!


Sunday, 30 May 2010

Holiday preparations

Next week I will be spending just over a week practising at the shala with my teacher.  I live in a different city from my teacher so usually I visit once every 4 weeks.  My teacher is very experienced and very good at coping with me just popping up when I can.  Nevertheless I think it's important for me to spend some consistent time with my teacher.  This is the first time I will practice with my teacher for more  than two days in a row.  I'm very excited!!  You may have noticed I keep saying "my teacher", for some reason I want to maintain his anonymity, this is a blog about me and my journey and I really don't want the responsibility of explaining who he is or what he thinks.  I know some of you know who my teacher is and that's fine, it's not a secret, I just don't want to blog explicitly about him.

So this week some preparations, ordered some books to read so I can enjoy a relaxing week off work, all my yoga classes are being covered so that's a relief.  I've not had much time off since I've been a  yoga teacher and I think it's important no matter how much you love your job and life to step out of it once in a while.

Backbending has been very changeable over the last month, some times more flexible than I even imagined possible but other times back to where my backbends were about a year ago.  I know every day is different but I have never had such a huge variance in my flexibility.  I tried to resist the temptation to prepare my practice for next week, to have expectations about what I will achieve in one week.  Actually I say try but I don't really have any expectations, I expect I'll learn something and it will be nice to have assistance every day but who knows what will happen.

I did decide by the end of last week, when my back was just getting tighter and tighter that I should do my best to sort it out.  So I have decided to use my excitement about visiting my teacher, to encourage me to work on my backbends.  This is helped in part by working out how to open it out, which I did on Friday.  I think my back has opened up significantly recently but it seems to occasionally revert back and when it revert it really reverts. So on Friday when my drop backs were tight, I decided to some more.  Working on each one slowly and focusing on the breathe my back gradually uncurled.  I ended up doing nine drop backs, never done that before.  Did ten today, also today I did 3 kapo B's holding each one for a minute.  My Kapotasana A was back to it's usual state, which is actually much easier to do than the one I did last week with the tight back.  So this week I am going to uncurl my spine, then let go and see what happens next week.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Faith and what yoga is to me

I have been thinking about, what it's all about? not life, the universe but this practice which gets me to step onto the mat every day.  It's a big question, such a big question that I'm almost reluctant to start writing even when I'm thinking about it, it makes me feel dizzy, I find myself looking at it from too many points of view. Too much thinking!

I have been thinking about it purely in terms of my own experience rather than basing my answer on what I have read or learnt.  I remember feeling many years back that yoga brought me back to me, it unravelled me.  My job at the time did the opposite so there was this seesaw effect.  Now my life and who I am feel fully integrated, I am who I am.  I am very grateful for the clarity that my life brings.  My yoga practice is still unravelling me, the unravelling is deeper and strips me of all identity at times. As discussed in previous posts about emotional release, this year has been pretty intense work on letting go of some of the deeper emotions that are stored in my body.

This unravelling allows me to be more present, in this presence I get glimpses of the unity and oneness in the chaos.   Yoga helps me respond better in the moment, to stay calm and yet alert.  So many things does yoga do for me, ultimately I guess it enhances my experience of everything else by making me more present.

Susan mentioned faith in the practice on her blog recently.  It made me realise how much faith I have in ashtanga.  There are familiar themes of the ashtangi psyche that come up again and again, especially if you get a group of astangi's together.  Craving new postures, lamenting on lack of progress in whatever, for me at the moment I guess if I'm being honest is I want more poses.  As the years have progressed then I guess perspective helps.  I was obsessed with mari D years ago for instance, but now I garb my wrist every day.  If a pose feels impossible, I know it will one day become possible.  I also know that this is definitely not what my practice is for, I mean what real life use does binding in mari D have?  However, I feel that my drama that I sometimes create in my head around my practice, is part of what the practice is teaching me.  I want more poses, so I am not fully accepting where I am.  However, I have never tried to suppress or change these feelings,  I have always been accepting of them.   I have complete faith that my practice will unravel them for me.  I am grateful for these unenlightened thoughts because through them I face myself.

I could write much more on this but perhaps I will save it for another day or the comments.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Pushing the boundaries

Been a while.... nothing profound to report.  Practice today was good, been feeling very strong lately despite lingering cold, pushed the edge of my strength.  Really enjoying the fluidity it's bring but was tired after practice today.  Inspired by Kino to keep pushing the boundaries on and off the mat, so easy to accept where you are, when you practice every day.

Last week my back was more bendy than ever for two days.  It was a real revelation, oh so that's what it feels like to have a bendy back.  Was very close to Kapotsana heels solo.  My back was not so bendy today, difficult to even get to my toes.  However, I don't care, it's just interesting to observe the changes and the lack of caring.  That shows a more important development than grabbing my heels, although I know I will be chuffed when I do that too!

What is interesting though is regardless of how flexible my back is Kapotasana is no longer the psychological, emotional ordeal it used to be.  Definitely went through something there, am grateful to my practice for the journey and enjoying coming out the other side.  Next week a workshop with Paul Dallaghan.  Am excited to be practising with others and getting a new perspective from a teacher who is new to me.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Letting go to realise how much there is :)

Went away for a long weekend at the shala, 3 days.  It's hard not to have expectations sometimes when you see teachers so rarely.  Saturday and Sunday, Kapotasana did not go so well, just as deep as at home but no more.  Found myself frustrated and even angry and eventually upset during practice about many inconsequential things.  All unusual states for me so I observed and was amused by the my thoughts rather than reacting to them.  I knew I wasn't really annoyed and frustrated at the mundane things my mind was clinging too.

On Sunday the emotional release reached a pinnacle and I almost cried in Savasana as I realised that the anger I felt was towards my Dad, for being dead.  Obviously not his fault but perfectly understandable response from me, I think.  What was nice about this was realising that this anger related more to the now rather than when he died which was 3 years ago.  I miss him now, having gone through an intense grieving process, I think I had kinda felt our relationship was over, it isn't of course. He was my dad and I love him  still and everything I learnt from him is with me every day.  So it actually ended up being quite a nice insight.  When I was in Savasana and realised where the emotion was coming from, something happened in the main part of the shala and everyone laughed.  No idea what it was but it brought me back into the moment brilliantly.

After that went and had a nice breakfast and lunch with fellow blogger yogis Kevin, Mel and Susan.  Lovely to feel unrushed and share our experiences with this wonderful practice.  The wonderful thing with ashtanga is that we all share similar experiences so it is easy to relate to each others journey.

On Monday I had a much more focused practice, one of those wonderful practices where the mind stays in the moment.  Nice to practice with my teacher too.  Heels in Kapotasana felt better than last time, could breathe much easier, not easily though, it is Kapotasana afterall.  I also got a new pose bharadvajasana.  I grabbed my ankles in the final backbend too, with assistance.  My back is definitely opening, no wonder I am going through so much emotionally.  Feel really grateful and happy to have such a healing practice in my life.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

"Your legs may burn, that's okay" smiles kino

Kino said lots of insightful  things and I learnt a great deal from her workshop, mostly I have come back fully inspired in all areas of my life, not just yoga.  She's  fab!   The above quote has been in my head a lot, mainly because my thighs are aching although not due to the workshop and it makes me laugh.


The led primary was hardcore, she held the poses long. She seems to love the number 4, it goes like this 1.....2....3.....4....(instructs someone specifically) in my head I'm thinking for example, maybe I should not have lifted my heels in Kurmasana and then....finally is it a 5, no 4 again, then 5.  I like to be pushed hard and she certainly did that!  It was Marc's first full primary, he had never been past Mari A before then.  He did really well, it was obviously hard but he loved it.  She helped him bind in Mari A, not bad for a weeks practice.


So when we got to backbending, we did about 9 urdva dhanurasanas! So that's when she said the quote in the blog title.  I love the way she works you hard but is also really nice.  Pushing my physical limits is a great way of removing boundaries in who and what I am. Then she said stand up if you can.  Then drop back, it was my first led drop back, a real cut the faff and go moment.  


She helped me into Kapotasana in the Mysore class on Sunday.  She helped lift but I walked the hands in myself which is a first.  My teacher grabs my hands and puts them there.  Since I have been back I have been even more inspired to work hard in my self practice.  I am continuing to employ boodiba's venki backbend methods.  I do full primary and the second up to Kapo, but then I do Kapo B, 3 times.   Last week I did it for 30 seconds, this week 40.  This is why my thighs are aching.  But it's just muscle fatigue and I need to strengthen them a bit.  Also it's really helping me walk me hands in. I have gone in a little bit further this week from big toe last week to little toe this week.  I sure am glad I have small feet.  So far this week Kapo has been Sunday heels (KIno's help)  Monday and Tuesday (little toe).  Seems more consistent but more importantly I feel more inspired to work at it.  I feel grateful to have a practice that challenges me to rethink the boundaries that my body and mind sometimes think are there.  I even feel grateful for the ache in my legs!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Workshop preparations

Well getting Marc ready for a workshop in a week is quite some mission.  It doesn't matter how bendy he is.  He could have been practising for years and still be tight.  This is an inner practice, it doesn't matter what it looks like.  I just don't want him to be lost.  So I've taught him a few times but obviously we are both still working and busy busy so we just do what we can.  Yoga is good for helping me let go of any ideals, it just is what it is.

I just got a voice mail from him to say that he arrived early for a job and so has done his yoga practice.  He was busy earlier so couldn't do it.  So I'm chuffed for him that he has fit it in anywhere that he can, but I am also in a state of shock.    Loving it , wonderful to hear about his experiences, I am looking forward to hearing about his practice when he gets home. He told me the biggest change he feels is that he feels more aligned, cool not bad for a week.

In my own practice I have been exploring my backbends.  I do my usual ashtanga practice but then do some extra work at kapo and drop backs, largely hanging back for a minute with my hands in prayer at chest or on forehead.   Today I did Kapotasana B, 3 times, another idea from Venki and Boodiba's blog.  I held mine for 30 seconds but going to increase this next week to 40, Linda does it for 90 but then she has been at it for longer than me.  I have got to my toes and Kapotasana 3 times this week, out of the 5 days I tried.  Tuesday and Wednesday my body was really tight, I think I was a little unwell.  Having tomorrow off so I am well rested for the workshop on Saturday.  Not sure if this is an improvement or not but will start to keep note so I can see.

In other news I started a new yoga class this week, a Mysore style class.  Eleven people turned up.  A great start, I have such enthusiastic students, it is an honour to be part of their journey.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Backbending

My back seemed to tighten up in January despite working hard on kapotasana, it seemed to get harder rather than easier.  I'd love to say I was all yogic and calm about this but actually it was a tad frustrating at times.  Kapotasana felt like I was lost at sea falling to clasp anything.  Buying a yoga towel helped a great deal here, now I can creep my hands in.  I've also developed some stamina and when I am at home to make up for the lack of adjustment I do some hanging back and sometimes repeat the pose.

Inspired by Boodhiba's blog I started to time my hang backs which definitely helps me stay there longer and definitely opens up my back.  It also helps me work on deepening my breath which opens the back up even more.  Especially if I focus on ensuring the inhalation is as deep as the exhale, that inhalation really opens up the upper back, which feels intense and wonderful all at the same time.

Backbends sometimes have an emotional element for me and I feel like I have come out the other side of some intense healing recently. Now I am working on opening the upper back and deepening the breath.

For those of you interested on Marc's preparation for Kino's workshop.  He has now practised upto Mari A, which will be his stopping pose in Kino's mysore on Sunday.  So he has a week to memorise which he seems to be doing really quickly.  Our flat is small but I have discovered we can both practice at the same time in the lounge, which we haven't done yet but it is nice to know it's possible.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Another ashtangi is born

My boyfriend and I have been together five years today.  Although I practice Ashtanga every day he has not practiced ashtanga, until recently.  I had a social gathering for my students and they kept asking him why he didn't do yoga and telling him that he should.  Marc is a martial artist, he has practiced martial art for 29 years and aikido for 13 years.  He always felt he didn't have time for yoga aswell and I feel the same about aikido.  We have always respected each others dedication.  But after my students bombarded him, he felt he should give it a go.  If any of my students are reading, thanks for your enthusiasm!


So the very next day, I taught him the surya namaskaras and the first two standing poses.  He has practiced a few times since then.  Then someone I know was unfortunately unable to make Kino's workshop next week and asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to go.  Well I'm sure it wouldn't have been hard to find someone!  I told Marc about this and he said he wanted to go.

I suggested he checked with Kino if she thought it was okay and she said, it would challenge and inspire him, nice one Kino.  So basically we have one week to prepare him.  I am really excited to be sharing this part of my life with him.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

New Yoga Towel

One of the many things, I love about yoga is it's transportability, all you need is a mat.  You could of course practice without a mat and you can do it alone.  These things make having a personal practice easier and means you can do it anywhere you can find the space.

Of course many Ashtangi's have a mat and a rug or a yoga towel.  I've always just used a mat as I do not sweat much.  I had a rug for a while in Mysore, gave me blue toes (the dye) and after a few washes and tries I decided I did not need it even in the Indian heat.

Where is this story going?  Well a few weeks ago I lost my mat.  It fell off the back of my bike, true but rather random story.  So I bought a new mat, I love the type of mat I have, Planet Sadhana but have no particular attachment to that specific mat.  It's a waste of money re-buying things but anyway this isn't the story.

Two weeks ago, I went to London and to the shala, my new mat was just one week old.  The initial slipperyness was gone but it did not stand up well against the shala heat.  My practice is getting longer and as a result I am getting warmer.  It takes until Kurmasana for me to feel fully warmed up.  If your doing primary your almost done at that point but I am now practising up to Bakasana B in second.  So when I got to Kapotasana in the shala and the teacher told me to walk my hands in, I slid and couldn't so she had to bring them in for me.  My final backbend was even more ridiculous, slide, slide, slide.  Even at home alone I have been sliding in kapo B.

So I am heading to the shala this weekend and did not want a repeat, so I bought a yoga towel.  I got a cheap one because I only need it for backbending.  I have only practiced my second series poses with it once but woah!  After practising Ashtanga for 5 years changes in my practice seems to be fairly gradual.  Kapotasana has been a challenge to work on at home alone but with the yoga towel it was better than it has ever been at home.  I can creep my hands in, I could never do that before.  I walked my hands to toes 3 times. It was great for walking hands in, Urdva Dhanurasana too.

I am truly amazed that a thing can have this much impact on my practice.  Feel like I can actually start to work on it now.  No more flailing.  Tomorrow is my day off and then I am off to London for a long weekend of Mysore classes and hanging out with yogi friends.  I will of course be taking my new towel!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Busyness, new poses and moving on

January was a busy month and February, also heading in the same direction.  I am happy with the busyness, I am the one directing my life so I take some responsibility for how it works out.  I am grateful to be spending this weekend at home though, as it will be the only weekend this month.  This evening I have arranged a social gathering for my students at a bistro in town, an opportunity for them to meet outside of class.  Tomorrow I am going out dancing, venue undecided, a girls night out.  I love to dance but haven't been out for ages.

I've been getting to lots of Mysore classes recently and kapotasana is less daunting both physically and emotionally. With assistance I can get there and when I practice it alone I can now hear the calming voice of one of my teachers.  She says "keep your head up, I know you want to let it down but if you do it's game over".   Much easier to push myself when there is really someone there but the advice and calmness is useful, all the same.

Last week I had a strong emotional release during drop backs, content irrelevant really but I cried and since then Kapotasana is less of an ordeal.  There may be more to consolidate there and I am grateful to have a practice in my life, that seems to heal me, when I am ready to let go.  I feel much better for it in so many ways. 

On Monday my teacher gave my a new pose, so I am now practicing up to Bakasana B.  Bakasana is fun and adds some lightness to my practice.   On Sunday I met fellow bloggers Mel, Kevin and Susan.  It was lovely to spend some time with them sharing our experiences of life on and off the mat.  It's another week until I get to go to the shala and that seems just the right amount of time.  I'm enjoying practicing alone again but also loving having teachers.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Shala Practice

Woke up dark and early to get the train to London for a shala practice.  Slept both on way there and back as well as reading, so feel refreshed despite the early start.  It was a nice practice, nice heat which suprised me, (it's a big room), my elbows slid into position for the last supta vajrasana.  Nice to have someone there when I do kapotasana, kinda reassuring.  Reminds me of learning to drop back,the teacher that helped me with them  stood and talked me through drops for a week without adjusting before leaving me to get on with it.  I asked him to see if my hangback was okay, he said it was fine.  Not a deep assist but lots of instruction which will help me do it alone.

As I hang back I need to keep hips up legs strong.  I was doing that bit, what was different was going down, I need to go back on myself making full use of back bend, I was going back too much I think.  Think I need to keep pushing up the whole time too, like in largu.  This keeping lift seemed to help Kapotasana B feel okay again, had felt I was overworking my lumber recently and couldn't work out why.  It did not used to feel like that.  So think it all makes more sense now.  My back is less open than it was last month but  at least I know what I'm doing more.  Somehow knowing how to work at it is more important to my practice than what I can actually do.  Thought I would write this post while experience was fresh, I'm taking my day off tomorrow since I have practised today. A lie in :)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Ode to Kapotasana

Yoga is a continual process of refinement and I find that process gradually increases my awareness, so the outer journey becomes an inner one.  In Ashtanga, the sequences are challenging, there is normally at least one pose that feels really challenging.  Last year I didn't really have any of those poses.

I have had many such journeys in Ashtanga Mari B and then D, supta kurmasana, drop backs, standing up , etc.  I like the challenge that these poses bring.  I really focus and learn a lot about the actions which definitely helps me with my teaching.  Most of all I like what they teach me about who I am.  As I strive with some misplaced ambition only to surrender to the practice. Now with years of experience behind me, I know that my body will change that all I have to do is get onto my mat, but I forget this valuable lesson sometimes ; )

I enjoyed last years practice because I worked more on fluidity and my breath and these things are more important than any bind.  My practice changed a great deal, especially the vinyasa aspect which for me helps bring a more meditative flow.  I was frustrated at times because I wanted a challenging pose that for me in Ashtanga had always been there.

Now I have two poses which I find hard.  Kapotasana and Supta Vajrasana,  despite my years of practice I still find it amusing to observe my inner procrastinations, how will I ever do this by myself?  I at least now know I will get there, I can do both poses with assistance from my teacher.

Usually I only go to a mysore class once a month but have been finding working on kapotasana by myself hard.  With teacher I can grab my heels although it is hard! By myself I sometimes feel like I am flalling in outer space.  So I decided to go more regularly for a bit, I live in a different city to my teacher so this is not easy.  I have been two weeks in a row now and will be going again on Saturday to a mysore class, not with my teacher but with a very good teacher.  It really helps me keep working at my kapotasana which for me is such a healing journey ....knowing that in just a few days someone will be there is reassuring.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Christmas and new year synopsis

Hello and happy new year.  Had a bit of a break from blogging and from work and feel restored and excited about getting back to it.  I have some new yoga classes starting this week, including a mysore style class.  I love both teaching and practising in Mysore rooms, so am really excited.  Talking of which I am going to London next weekend for a long weekend of mysore classes, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  This is great because I've been feeling a bit lost with Kapotasana, despite grabbing my heels with my teacher they seem a long way away when I am by myself :).

I went away for a few days for Christmas, some time in the Welsh countryside with my partner on my birthday a truly wonderful day and then to the Lakes to visit my mum who was on holiday there.  Really snowy in the lakes we had a great time walking part way up a mountain in the deep snow.

Kept my practice up six days a week, have been having Friday as my day off.  Love the potability of my practice all I need is my mat.