Sunday, 30 January 2011


It's been a while.. hi!  This post is going to be a tad asana centric.  I've thought about posting it a few times and keep deciding it'd make a dull read but I obviously need to write it as I keep thinking about it.  I went to see my teacher a couple of weeks ago and had a great time, I learned lots which is still informing my at home practice.  I really wanted to go to kinos workshop in March as he is doing an extra mysore class and a workshop on adjusting primary on the Monday.  I felt that she may have some good input for me as I continue to work on karandavasana.  I really wanted to go but wasn't sure if I could afford it, so I decided not to go to London in February (I usually go at least every 4 weeks).  My teacher is in Mysore in February anyhow. I am also in a bit of a groove with my home practice right now, I have lots to work on and have some ideas about how to do it.  So I won't be in London until March, the week before the kino workshop.

The advantage of working at home on a pose is you can do some naughty prep work for a challenging pose if you like.  The disadvantage of working at home is that you can do some naughty prep work for a challenging pose if you like, it can get out of hand, lol!  When I got split (started practicing just second series),  the thing I found the hardest was kapotasana at home.  It would come so quick, I would barely be awake and I would be so cold, my feet like ice blocks.  I mean it is not an easy pose anyhow, but you need to be warmed up.  So I developed a prep routine, 3 kapo hang backs, then 3 kapo B's, then 3 normal kapotasanas.  That warmed me up!!!!

Working at kapotasana at home with a tight upper back is challenging and I am grateful for my kapotasana prep for allowing me to get to the point that I can grab my heels by myself.  I think it would have taken years without.  At the shala it is warm enough and I usually do 2 kapotasanas, one assisted and one solo.  Anyhow in January the procrastinations began...I take a break between each prep, I hold them for one minute and it is intense.  The procrastinations went something like this  "this is not astanga"  "this is taking too much time"  "this is way to much prep" blah, blah, blah went my mind.

My mind is usually fairly quiet during practice but during kapotasana prep I would let it go.  I've been meditating a lot recently and I soon realized I needed put this practice to use to reign in my wondering mind by focusing on my breath.  I also realized my mind had a point, it was too much, it was messing with the flow of my practice, and I now have other poses that need my energy.

So I am on Kapotasana prep cut back.  Each week I remove one prep pose from my routine.  I am now in week 3,  so today I did 2 hang backs and one kapo B before my 3 kapotasanas.  As a result I make more of an effort on each one, I am also very determined on my final kapo, and am still getting to my heels on the final one, every day bar one.  I have much more energy too, so it going well.  It is also giving me something to focus on while I am without a teacher for the next month. 

I am also working on the karandavasa landing, and it is getting better but is not there yet, I love it though....that's another post perhaps....

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The power of now

Over Christmas I read The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckart Tolle.  I loved the book but I am not intending to review it here but to share what I have noticed in my own reflections.    I have wanted to read this book for a while and it did not disappoint.   Over the holidays was a good time for me to read it as I was away from my everyday busyness and able to put it all into practice and reflect on it.

I realised that it was time I brought my spiritual practice into my life more fully.  Time to be here and now as much as possible in life and to stop creating emotional attachments.  Afterall all we ever have is here an now, why live elsewhere! Meditation in life as opposed to meditation and life as two separate practices.  I realize this is all very obvious but I don't think I have actually practiced this fully before.  I have had moments of being completely present in my life which have been amazing glimpses.  I am definately more present as a result of both my asana and my meditation practice but I have until recently not noticed when I am not present outside of my practice.  I guess I have practiced and then let it spontaneously effect my life.

Christmas was a great time to practice this.  I noticed that the moments I avoided being in fully were not the amazing ones or the difficult ones but the mundane, day to day stuff.  I guess you could call it boredom, wanting to be elsewhere and literally being elsewhere in my mind.  Ugh!  I hate to admit this.  I have an aversion to saying I am ever bored as I have always felt that if I say I am bored it actually means I am boring. However as I have observed myself lately I have noticed that there are some moments, I don't want to be in.  Noticing this and  allowing myself to be there more fully, transform these seemingly mundane moments into the extraordinary wonder that they really are or sometimes I have just noticed my aversion to something instead of mentally avoiding it.  I guess this is why washing up is often given as a time to meditate and be fully present.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Back home

I am back home after my winter retreat in Wales, well it was a family visit but it felt like a retreat because we were snowed in most of the time.  When we arrived we couldn't quite get up the hill to my mums house so we had to abandon the car (managed to parked it) and walk the last bit with all our stuff.  I had planned to see more of my friends but the car was stuck and we were in such a beautiful spot, it was lovely to be stuck.  So relaxing.   We had some wonderful walks along the headland in the snow, it was so quite ours were sometimes the only footprint to be seen.  The snow melted the day before our drive home, it was so strange to see green again!

During all this time for reflection I have had lots of time to think about the practice.  You know the saying it's not about the asana.   I love Nobel's post about this and am grateful to him as he put into words a lot of my thoughts.  It  took me years to be able to do certain poses, supta kurmasana for instance.  Now that I can do this pose with ease, I am not that changed, but the process of trying, failing, tunning in, striving, letting go that taught me a great deal about myelf.  So it is I think in part about the asana, just not about achievement of the asana. I  think, my yoga practice is an opportunity to practice being in the here and now.  At the beginning of my practice I sometimes make a silent commitment to myself to stay present. I feel that the asanas themselves help to release emotional and mental tension in my body which enables me to be more present off the mat.  So I do think the asana themselves are useful but if you can't do this or that, it doesn't matter and in fact it's great, use it as a tool for inner transformation.  It's actually not the tight yogi's that have a hard time I think, if your tight, you have to surrender and accept your now pretty early on but if your flexible you can go right on striving and expecting until you eventually find your wall.

I think it is inevitable that I get involved in the story of my asana practice.  I have always felt that honest reflection is important part of my path even if it doesn't seem to evolved.  I like talking about asana, I like breaking it down and working toward certain poses, the main reason for this is because I find the process transformational.  I spend a lot of my time doing asana and it is part of my day to day experience and therefore in my head.  Where am I going with this, well I just wanted to write a current state of practice report because I felt that my practice was hard, wasn't changing, etc. etc and then wondered why it mattered, which of course it doesn't but I want to record the current state of practice anyway, just for kicks.  I wrote the practice report a couple of days ago and I found that it has changed more than I realized.

So practice.... while I was away kapotasana was more hit and miss than normal.  Since I have been able to do it by myself I have made it to my heels everyday usually on the third attempt.  While I was away there were two days where I just couldn't make it to my heels even on the third attempt.  I knew this would inevitably happen at some point, but I was worried I had gotten too attached having worked so hard to get there but I just moved on, so I was pleased with my non-attachment, spiritual materialism?
   Pasasana- wrist on first side, wrist on second side, sometimes.  Love the opening on the back shoulder.  Boxing day was another story, bounced out of it on first attempt, I was so bloated, Christmas pudding I think!!

I like the backbends that lead up to kapotasana but they go so quick.  Really enjoying dhanurasana right now,  I can get a lovely stretch there and often hold it a little longer. Kapotasana, who knows, depends on???  Mostly I am getting to heels on second or third attempt, I have had a couple of practice where it has been really open.  I have realized it is much, much easier when I am more flexible as in it takes less energy.  Still doing repeats etc so kapotasana feels like a separate practice in the middle of my practice.

Supta vajrasana- I love, now.  My shoulders welcome it.  Bakasana B has been less consistent since my back opened up, mostly because doubt has crept in but my back is still recovering here. I can still land it though, not always on the first attempt but I did this week :-)  The twists are a welcome break and a chance to do some jump throughs and back which I do with as much control as I can.  I recover here.

Leg behind the head, I can get my legs there but my dwi pada isn't great.  Can't seem to get right leg back without letting left leg lift a little.  With assistance I can point my toes solo once in but alone my feet have to cling to one another like long lost friends at a party.

Tittibhasanas are fine until C the final one, that hurts!  My legs subtly ache all the time, I think this is why???

Pincha, depends, I think it is a flexibility thing I can get up easier when I am more open.  I can balance fine whilst up.  I've not been working on the exit because I hurt my toes landing too hard on the shala floor.  I can do it but sometimes the landing is a bit heavy and sometimes I only get one hand in place, any tips on landing gently, bandhas I know, is that it, bandhas and pray?  My toes are better now though so I am going to start doing it again.  

Karandavasana- I love this pose but it but it sure is hard.  At home I practice in the middle of the room no walls are free.  On a good day I can get into lotus by myself tighten it, hold that for 5 quick breaths and then release.   Think my lotus is opening up which is making this easier.  At the shala,  I get assistance and can on a good day mostly if not completely get down by myself but at home I am very much building the foundation.  My partner is great at assisting if he is about.  Today he assisted me as he walked past, it was like being at the shala.  I do it 3 times because I am a loon!

Mayurasana, is getting better, I can hold it for 5 breaths but only just, I think it's close!  Have I been saying that for a while, lol.  What's helped is slowing down, and gradually leaning into it trying not to make any sudden movements. That's my last pose and I am happy to end there. 

I want to work on keeping my feet my feet more parallel in drop backs but as you may have noticed I have a lot to work on already!  So for now I just do the standard drop back routine, I can keep my feet  parallel on the drop if I try so I do but  but not on the stand up.  A project for the future perhaps.

I have been writing this post in stages, so it's long, sorry.  If you have made it this far, well done and thank you for reading, since it is now new year, happy new year.  Whatever it brings may you enjoy every moment as it is.