Friday, 31 December 2010

Last practice of 2010....

Well, here it is, the last day of another year.... where has that gone?!

I wanted 2010 to go out with a bang, so I got up and hit the mat at 9am. I'd watched Richard Freeman's primary series dvd last night, as one would watch a film, from start to finish and so I let Richard talk me through my full series this morning (in my head I may add), remembereing that lovely voice of his! And I had a lovely, calming practice, I even broke a sweat which I don't usually at home, show's I was really going for it!

Anyway, I didn't really want to go in depth into today's practice but just the share my 'ups' of 2010's Astanga Yoga Practice, I list them below and will sart from December as it is quiet pertinent...

  • December - Recovered from a broken elbow after 2 months of no practice.
      • Read 'The Power of Now' (Eckhart Tolle) and realised I could be happy and that yoga was the way!!! Yay!
  • March - Joined V's Ashtanga Yoga Primer teacher training course
  • June - Visited Insabina Yoga Retreat meeting amazing teachers and found Mysore Style yoga
      • Damaged both knees at said retreat! (Not exactly an 'up')
  • September - Re-established my practice with more awareness but with very tight hamstrings!!!
      • Found out about the amazing Grimmly and starting blogging!
  • Oct-Nov - practice almost back to normal!!
      • Accepted on Paul Fox's Yoga Teacher Training Course 2011
  • December - met JC another great teacher! Started Mysore class at Buddhist Centre
      • practicing 4 times a week and knees feeling better! Yay!
This year has been the best one for me since, well I can't pinpoint it, but probably about 6 years. The whole of 2010 I have been happy and have not needed anything or anyone for me to achieve that happiness. And I can only, truthfully and sincerely put that happiness down to my yoga practice and living with more awareness.

So I'd just to like to thank Eckhart Tolle, EM, my friends and family, and God for their help in 2010!


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas and Boxing Day practice!

I just couldn't bring myself to go out yesterday until I had done at least some practice... So I got on my mat and did some really lovely, long surynamaskaras. Unfortunately that was all I had time to do, but they were nice and surprisingly full of energy!

I was also surprised that after all that food and drink yesterday I DID feel like a good long practice today. I decided to invite David Swenson to lead me, as I've missed his lovely calming voice! However, today he put me off a little by just not listening to my breath ;o). So I found myself way ahead of him.

My shoulder and upper arm is hurting, that niggle last week is getting worse. I think I may have pulled something, so the chaturangas and dogs weren't great. Utthita Hasta Panagustasana was good though, again pulling up on the toes really helps in straightening the leg and offers a strengthening excercise for the upper arm too. I used the blocks for lifting up which I found for the first time I managed to lift my bottom and feet off the ground, very exciting. So I CAN do it! Need to work on doing it without big blocks. I might have to buy some smaller ones.

Unfortunately, my friend skyped me in the middle of the dvd, so had to answer him for a while which split the practice. But when I did get back, I finished the seated postures and went straight into finishing, as I wasn't quite back there...Nevermind. This happens...

I'm just relaxing for the rest of the day now, well, until I have another family xmas get together later anyway! Cheers! :o)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Ashtanga Vinyasa Primer with blocks...

I don't know what's wrong with me but I am feeling exhausted.... I had a headache all day and booked the rest of the week off to give me a full week off work over xmas. I need it.

I got home after what felt like cramming 1 weeks worth of work into 1 day and just wanted to crash...But I logged on to Grimmley's Blog and as usual it was enough to get me motivated to do some yoga practice. So I hit the mat....

I did a few things differently today; I used 2 mats and I used blocks for all my jump backs and jump throughs. I even tried the blocks for utplutih but it didn't work so well...;o) Using blocks for the lift up from seated then swung my legs through behind and tried to land in chaturanga in one smooth movement! Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't so smooth, but U gotta take the rough with the smooth ;o) The upward dog and downward dog still with blocks which felt lovely on the back, and then the jump through to sit, I was flying through my arms!!! I definately 2 inch longer arms!!!

Unfortunately, but concentrating on the props, I forgot my parsvak, prasarita pado sequence and supta parsvasohita, woops! Nevermind, some yoga better than no yoga :o)

I did some nice backbends but couldn't stay up too long as I have a niggle in my left shoulder (which has been playing me up for a week or so now, clicking a lot).. So that was a shame cos they are getting better. My konasana series was very good, getting so close to the floor with my supta now and in baddha I spent a little longer and really pushed my knees into the floor trying to breathe longer and trying to open my feet more, which seemed to work!! My setu bandhasana was great, legs almost straight and I put that down to using 2 mats - less hard on the forehead and therefore less strain on the neck, so I could concentrate getting legs straight - genius! Why did I not think of that before? Rolling over the toes - less painful - again - 2 mats.. headstand - brilliant - 2 mats! I see a pattern emerging here!! I even stayed with legs parallel to floor for 7 breaths - record time! Yay!

So, the moral of the story is, even if you feel like doing absolutely no yoga and that all you wanna do is sleep, do some anyway, just hit the mat! At least do SOMETHING, it's always worth it...

And, on a final note - I LOVE MYSORE STYLE YOGA - the best invention in the world!!!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Wednesday 15th December

I really thought my practice today would be great as I was dying for it... unfortunately, it started good then got considerably worse as my energy drained from faster than water through a sieve :o(

I think I'm coming down with something. Last night I went out for dinner and by 9pm I was yawning like a good'un and had to go home and literally straight to bed, where I stayed until 6:45am. But even then I couldn't get up, I felt terrible... Work was OK, but now I feel awful once again.

I managed to get through to the mari sequence, but then had to cut the jump backs out completely and literally go straight through the finishing sequence. My mind was all over the place, so much so I even gave up my rest early as I wasn't benefitting from it.

Everything felt a bit dodgy. I forgot to say earlier this week that my utthita hasta padangustansana was getting much better, leg much straighter and I felt that by pulling up on the toe made so much difference and made balancing easier too. Not tonight though, I just didn't have the strength...

In fact I don't want to talk about it, I just want to go to bed and wake up tomorrow feeling better :o(

Monday's practice is just too short!

When did my practice go from feeling like the longest thing in the world to feeling like it's just too short?!!!

I remember when I first got David Swenson's full primary series DVD and thinking 'god, i'm going to have to set half a day by to be able to practice this!'... Now, it just flies by, even tonight, when normally I struggle through the sury bs, they flew by, in fact I think I may have even mis-counted and done 6!!! lol

Since my knee injury almost 6 months ago now, and not being able to practice for what seemed like an eternity, it's  taken me no time at all to get back to doing all jump backs and throughs etc between each posture, and yet now they don't even feel enough! It's like yoga chikitsa's swallowing me whole, I'm completely consumed by it, I go to bed thinking about it, I wake up in the night practicing in my head and it's the first thing I think of in the morning! I practice it, I teach it, I read it, I talk it, I draw it, I paint it.....Aaaargh!!!!

Anyway......even though this is happening and there's no better place to be than my mat at the moment, I know that more than once a day would kill me, in fact, I know that 7 days a week (full primary) would finish me off...and they talk of the paradox of yoga....

Thursday 9th December, although a bit late ;o)

I'm behind on writing my blog!! Aaargh! I hate xmas, too much to do, not enough time, especially when all I want to do is hibernate!!!

Anyway...Thursday, full primary led by V, and assisted by K, a fellow 'vinyogini' praticing for the first time her adjustments! K did extremely well, and with unfloundering confidence, well done K :o)

My practice was great. I was all fired up and ready to go! But found myself not being able to keep up with the led class flow, Surys were veeerrry fast, and I found myself needing to take a breath in between the Bs, which didn't really happen! So this is making me think now, is it time for me to break free of the led class situation? Move into Mysore-style full time? I read my post back from Tuesday, such a great practice, on my own, in my house, to my own breath and at my own pace.. This appears to be where my progress lies and led seems to be just another practice... Or is it too premature? (I'm not talking giving up my assisted self-practices btw - love them) 3 years of practice now, hmmm... not sure, give me your thoughts! Reading Grimmley's blog is just so inspiring, and it's all his own work, amazing... Kai's 365 day yoga-practice-challenge, also inspiring, maybe I should try this in 2011?? So many yogis, so much inspiration!!!!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Teaching my sister

Teaching my sister was always going to be a challenge, because she always has to be right!!! But she's actually taking me teaching her on a wednesday really well, even though we're only on the 2nd week! It was nice of her to tell me that my talk through was ropey last week and that this week it was loads better. It flowed more, and I tried to think about how I practice and how the sequence flows through my head when I'm practicing and it worked much better. It helped that S wasn't butting in every five minutes talking about the state of her feet and how she needs a pedicure etc etc!!! lol

The sequence is very much modified due to her ACL transplant... She finds the seated sequence hard to do, especially bending and twisting the leg as in padmasana and even the Janusirsasana sequence...although Janu A today was done with a pillow beneath her poorly knee which helped a lot... Makes me think her hips aren't open enough and it's pulling on the outer ligaments and her transpalnted one in particular...

S's physio guy says she should carry on with the yoga, with the modifications and lean into her boundaries, whihc is what we teach people anyway! So that's good.

I really liked the teaching practice today, my analogies need some working on, S says I should tape myself and listen back, but I'm sure I'd be rolling around on the floor laughing at how I sound!!! lol Looking forward to next week :o)

PS - S is ALREADY adjusting herself as soon as I come anywhere near her - 2 weeks!! Brilliant!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Tuesday's practice at home

The weather is disgusting, far too cold, I spent this afternoon doing site visits at work driving round in a car without any heating, de-icing the inside of the windows and was just freezing. My gloves were even so cold I had to take them off to warm my hands up! Wierd!! Anyway, I was so cold that when I came back home I decided to practice in the comfort of my own house, to my own timescale and stay nice and warm. So I did!

What a practice I had! I started by watching a few videos of jump backs on, just to get my motivated. I thought that I would really focus on jump backs today and take my time with them. I like the way Sadie Nardini teaches them, with a few little hops to get your arms used to holding weight, then on about then 3rd I jumped back. Haven't got a clue how it looks, but it felt good! I missed a couple out towards the end of the stead sequence but that was it.

Everything felt good in fact... I think it was because I practicing at my own pace, not rushing it to go anywhere or do anything. Just set aside time for yoga and made the most of it. In then end, I spent 2 hours practicing and 30 mins watching videos. It's now 8:15 and I haven't even eaten yet! Might make a butternut squash curry, mmmmm.....

Anyway, my sury As felt great, I turned my palms up to the sky and really stretched and it made a real difference. My Bs weren't bad either, I needed to take some extra breaths in between them but I think that was because I was going for it with the jump backs. I did hurt my big toe though doing rolling over the toes, need to perfect the lift of the hip in rolling back that J tried to get me to do as he said it'll take the pressure off my toes, I need to though cos it kills! I also tried swinging through with blocks, that's cool and you kinda get the feeling of what you're meant to do. I swung through to sit with the block too, now that was funny... I flew through at, what felt like 100 miles an hour! I think the blocks were a little too high! I wish my arms were just 1 inch longer - i think that'd be perfect!! lol

Ooh, almost forgot, I did ardha baddha padmottanasana for the first time in over 7 months....maybe more, I really concentrated on closing the knee tight, to track my patella correctly, then istead of twisting the knee, let the hip and knee fall out slowly, then twisted the foot and ankle and gently placed it on the top of my thigh. It worked! No pain! No forward bend though, not yet! I also did it seated :o)

Anyway, enough for now, a good practice, I deserve some food and a good night's sleep :o)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Monday Mysore at home

The festive season is upon us, as are xmas parties which can only mean taking up my yoga nights! But I shouldn't moan, it's only once a year...thank god!

Anyway, I'm off out tonight so can't attend my normal Mysore class. Luckily though I did have some time before I have to head off so decided to do some at home instead. I have had an awful pain in my left shoulder all day which seems to just be getting worse and did not shift with any pain relief. Whilst the shoulder's a little clicky still, the yoga has done the trick and taken the pain away, yay! I also had a bit of a moment earlier when I realised my payment paid yesterday to my credit card hadn't gone through today, so after 2 phone calls with no help whatsoever, I nearly lost the plot. But yoga came and saved me from myself yet again... thank you ashtanga, I love you!!!

It's so cold here at the moment, today ridiculously so... and I'd left my mats in the car, and was too lazy to go and get them so decided to practice on the wooden floor of my dining room. I know I've said this a couple of times before, but what is it about practicing on a natural material that makes it work better?! I instantly felt more groundly, less wobbly and could the apana working a treat! I might give up on mats all together...apart from the 'rock and roll' bit, I don't want to be black and blue!!!

My normally really dodgy warriors, all wobbly and uneven, were really good tonight, and I'm putting it down to the wooden floor. In fact my whole standing sequence was much more grounded and controlled, which makes such a difference.

My first back bend was terrible, really stiff, but I moved hands further from my head and the second was much better, got arms really straight and stayed up comfortably with a nice even breath for a lot longer than normal. My forward bends are so great now, the pain has totally gone from the back of my knee *Michelle touches wooden floor* and especially in the standing ones I'm 'folded' in two, face touching shins which has never happend before! Feels great. I will put that down to better knees but definately better understanding of bandhas and the fact that my bandhas are now 'joined up' when before they were completely two seperate entities, ie. when I engage my mulabandha my uddiyana bandha follows, or 'flies up' as the case may be!!!

Anyway. whilst I didn't do the full sequence tonight, I did the DYP sequence, some yoga is better than no yoga as they say and I feel, as always, better now... Now that I don't want to shoot any Lloyds TSB call centre operators.... ;o)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Thursday full series..

My practice today was not bad, considering I feel like a complete bloater.

My stomach felt as if it was getting in the way of every other part of my body today, squashed between my armpit and my thigh in utthita parsvakonasana, almost touching my face in the sarvangasana sequence (shoulderstand) and generally being a bit of a pest. I need to lost some weight.... I always put on weight in winter though, a layer of fat to protect me from the cold nights! I can't let this happen! Maybe cutting out the wheat will help, I'll get some spelt bread from the health shop tomorrow and start eating for my blood type properly. I'm also going to get a colonic cleanse. I've decided. I've read really good things about it and tbh, I don't care anymore, I need to do something to sort my stomach out, it's appalling. And quite frankly, ruining my life!

Anyway.... today my trikonasanas were good, I'm not so anal about getting my hand down to my foot now, I have better postural integrity with it further up the shin (I have long legs!), so that's where it can stay for the time being...until my spine grows (or my legs shrink)!! My back bends were not too bad believe it or not, did the warm up 2 then two full, my arms felt stronger today too so I held up for a little longer than normal.

Couldn't get my hands low enough in shoulderstand, so it felt all out of balance and hard work, didn't enjoy it this week... Head stand was better, I've decided that to get my back straight, without that arch I'm used to having, is to concentrate on it before I go up, then keep my bandhas really engaged as I'm going up and somehow it feels like it works. Obviously I can't see it so I will have to ask.  J should be able to tell me tomorrow, seeing as he's the one who pointed it out...

My forward bends all in all are coming on a treat. The pain behind my knee is almost completely gone, my hips feel more open bending forward and the difference in just 2 weeks is amazing. Chest to the thigh no problem in most of the forward bends now. (Although my left hip is more open that my right ;o)

One things that was terrible today was my mind. Completely unstill. All over the place. Even resting, I could not come inside of myself. My head felt as if it was buzzing and literally shaking. Not nice and not something I've experienced before and I don't know why it happended! Not as if I'd drank too much caffiene or anything... hmm..

Anyway, hopefullt it will be better tomorrow! We'll see..

Wednesday yoga with Sister and knees...

My sister hasn't done any yoga since she did her knee in, in I can't remember which posture, 2 years ago... The ended up a year later having ACL knee reconstruction by way of a tendon transplant (from a dead person and everthing!), that was 7 months ago and her progress and healing is going well. For my sister who has always had a battle with her weight, a mixture of working out at the gym and ashtanga was the best combination for her to lose weight, so she's been looking forward to reconvening a yoga practice for some time.

So I decided to give her a lesson! (And to practice my teaching!) Albeit, a bit 'vinyasa kramary' to suit the needs of the knee. She has very good movement in the knee, but some of the postures she found hurt. I brought along a large bolster for the Triang Mukha, as I'd read that this posture (but done with both legs back at the same time) was a great one for ACL recovery. The ones which hurt were the ones which involved twisting the knee as well as flexing it, namely padmasaana.. mind you, even simply crossing the legs in a seated position was making her yelp in pain.

Now, I've read somewhere that padmasana is a posture which should only really be attempted if your hips are open or else it'll be too much of a strain on the knee. In ashtanga padmasana is there in a few different forms, as if there is no problem with the posture even for beginners. Knowing what I know about the knee, my own injuries, taking to other ashtangis about padmasana, I've come to the conclusion (and my own opinion) that padmasana should not be attempted by beginners unless you can demonstrate that your knees can touch the floor in a posture such as baddha konasana, or even just when seated cross leg, your knees aren't pointing towards the ceiling!! But that's my opinion... siddhasana is a much kinder posture to the knees and, in my opinion, looks nicer too :o)

Anyway, twinges aside, and 2 hours 20 mins later, we finished and she loved it! I did the DYP sequence with her which was enough. However, in terms of my own teaching practice, the feedback was that I sounded completely forced! lol! Well, what do you expect, it was either that or sound like my own teacher!!! lol. And tbh when it came down to it, I couldn't even remember how V describes the postures! What a teacher I will make!! ;o)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Mysore Monday

Today's practice felt as if it was really building on Friday's. The jumping through to sits has improved ten-fold, today I got my legs through crossed just skimming the bum on the floor as they went through. I'm definately getting there :o) And it feels good!

I got my chest right onto my thigh in Janu A with some assistance from V, although my knees was not on the floor, I don't care cos I don't want to ruin it! It'll come with time and hea1 ling.. I've started trying Janu C on the recommendation of J, which I must say I hate, what's the point of it? To bugger up your knees? Ankles maybe? Toes too? Someone please tell me ;o) It just hurts!!!

Purvottanasana was appalling...enough said.

Loads of progress and a simple tip from V telling me to tilt the pelvis forward first in the upavista konasana, got my chest to the floor for the first time ever! Was a bit tough on my right knee but I'm putting that down to my physio poking and prodding it this afternoon!! Hopefully one day I wioll be able to pull myslef to the floor and hold myself there!

Back bends were good. RF's tips in bringing the feet closer to the hands is definately a winner. Still need to do the warm up BBs though, can't risk going straight up, I wouldn't be able to lie straight for a week!!

Supta bandasana is getting stronger. Legs almost straight with little tension in the butt cheeks. Still have to keep hands on the floor as I don't have confience in my neck just yet, but this will come with time.

Head stand was good, didn't feel as if I was arching my back as much today, I think I did it by keeping my legs a little more forward which seemed to straighten out my back..not that I could see it or anything, but it felt better anyway... V had me push out, head off the floor today which I found easy, balancing there once up is a different matter all together though ;o)

In terms of remembering the sequence....I managed it all (except ardha baddha padmottanasana) but don't tell the teacher!

(That one ruins my knees anyway ;o)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Friday Thursday Tuesday Monday...

I'm feeling guilty as I haven't managed to catch up with writing my blog for a whole week! I know.... Anyway, I'm here NOW and whilst I should probably be practicing yoga I need to just write about it a bit..!

Out of the blue it seems, I'm now practicing 3 full primary series per week! OK, they're all under the guidance of a teacher but at least they're being done! My home practice therefore, is mainly the DYP or AYP sequences, which is great as I can fit them in easier to my schedule of (at the moment it seems) mainly work and sleep!!

I've been mainly working on my jump backs and jump throughs this past 2 weeks. I'm thinking about doing the movements more now, being aware of how I'm doing them as opposed to just messily flinging my legs back and jumping to a thud on the floor. They're not as slow as I need them to be to perfect them but this will come with more awareness and control and arm strength and courage (believing I'm not going to break my wrists or fingers by leaning forward!) I noticed on Thusrady that if I widen my arms a little more when jumping through to sit that I can almost get both legs through...what a simple thing...why didn't I try that before?!! lol

On Friday J got me to try my backbend with the chair method.. Basically lie with your calfs and feet on the seat of a chair, back on the floor and then lift so your feet are on the chair.. It accesses a completely different part of your spine (upper thorasic?!) and opens your shoulders too, I loved it, much nicer than the the horrible normal backbends which, to be honest, I completely hate doing...!!

On the knee front, they're getting much better.. Not sure whether it is the physio I'm doing? Possibly.. it's definately helped with getting over the fear of standing in my natural hyperextended way. Anyhow, much less pain behind the knee. This week they've been so good that I've actually managed full forward bends without bending my legs! I haven't been able to do that for 5 months now! Talking of forward bends. Seated ones.. What is it about a teacher just applying pressure to your upper thighs that makes it easier to bend forward more deeply? J did this to me on Friday. I feel as if by doing that it relaxes the muscles which are stopping me from folding, it's very strange but works.

The biggest thing this week which is really helping with folding though is I've managed to conquer 'hollowing out' my lower belly. V has started using this instruction in class and it really makes sense. It's a bit like doing nauli kriya, accessing both moola and uddi at the same time, it really allows your belly to reach your thighs. Great tip!!  

Friday, 19 November 2010

Friday Mysore Style

Spent an hour of quarter getting to class tonight in the Friday night rush hour traffic in Birmingham! Nevertheless, yoga is ALWAYS worth it!!

Tonight I worked on my jump backs and jump to sits. I made a massive progress I think, just from a few tips and another demonstration from J where he held me under the belly and on top of my shoulders and held me in the air during my jump back so I could feel what's going on. I definately just need to practice... I remember dying to be able to do chaturanga and practicing it and practicing it for hours and days and after about 3 weeks I finally got it, something 'clicked' in my triceps which let me hold my body off the floor! It really doesn't take long for your body to learn how to do something... it just needs perserverance, I truly believe that. And chakrasana, I remember being able to do a backwards roll when I was young at gymnastics, but now I am over 30 found my self too scared to roll over the back of my neck in fear of breaking it I guess...but a couple of hours across a couple of days was all it took and I was flying over the back of my head and landing David Swenson style (more or less!) legs straight and everything! Practice and all is coming (KPJ).

J got me to stop and not not let my bum come down in my jump through, and then to shuffle the feet through the arms and then sit. Seems to work! How simple! NO more lift then sits either before jump backs, just cross legs, pull to belly, hands in front and swing legs back...all in one swift movement! The 'swift movement' needs a little work though ;o)

My baddha konasana is so easy with the assist off J, I need to se if I can recreate what he does on my own, as BK is apparently one of the 'key' postures, according to someone....! The other konasanas are getting better too, but again, need assists to push me in the right direction. I have muscles clinging for their lives not wanting me to do these postures!!! Sorry muscles, you've got no chance!!! lol

I've even learnt off my heart the first 4 lines of the opening mantra! The other lines are a bit more difficult, but again, a bit of practice... :o)

Thursday and stepping it up at class..

Today V decided to step it up at the Ashtanga Vinyasa Primer Class by making it into a full primary series talk through. Loved it as I was completely not expecting it and so really went for it. The one thing which I really felt improved today'll never believe it... Navasana! I know...

I know it sounds silly but I have found that if you raise your arms a bit higher, past the parallel to the floor level, it pulls your chest forward and up and as a result the muscles at the top of your legs contract to hold you in position and allow your legs to straighten, albeit with a little extra effort from the quads! Result! Be your own teacher and your own disciple (Krishnamurti)....

I wish I'd asked the regulars to this class how they felt afterwards, having done the full primary series, as I doubt most of them have ever attempted it (not that there are many opportunities to practice FP in Cov), I hope they felt ecstatic!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wednesday the 17th..

I couldn't wait to get on my mat when I got home today! I haven't practiced since last Thursday at V's, so I desperately needed it.. Despite feeling a little larger these past weeks I felt quite light today, managing the jump backs without making too much noise on the floorboards and lifting bottom off the floor with relative ease! I also had quite a lot of energy, even though I've been walking to and from work these past few days due to my car being a bit broke...

SO what went well today? My shoulderstand was really good, poker straight as far as I could feel and really got my hands down the back, with no slippage either, result! Can't bear looking at my stomach in the shoulderstand sequence though, does anyone else get that?!!! Just wish it was a bit firmer!!!

Backbending, not one of my strengths, is getting better with a new technique V taught me (courtesy of RF).. Put hands in place and come on to tip toes, then without lifting off the floor, shove yourself so knees go past the ankles, then on an in breath I think, thrust up, still with toes on floor until you get up then put heels to floor. It gives you more of a 'bend', quite tough on the lower back/sacral area, but much better on the arms and you can feel your quads working better too.

Purvottanasana much better too, again courtesy of RF (through V) where before you thrust hips up your bend the knees slightly and put you toes in place on the floor, then you lift your hips...Normally I can't feel which muscles I'm meant to use in this posture but this seems to make it easier, even though I still don't feel as if I know what I'm doing! Ha!

Sirsasana definately getting better, so close to going up straight, just need that little bit more energy.. Held for 5 breaths with legs parallel to floor, very pleased.

Spent a few breaths longer in paschis and konasanas today, try to try give the hips a bit more of a move in the right direction. Although the standing forward bends are relatively good, head touching the floor and so forth, gravity doesn't seem to want to bring my belly anywhere near the floor in the uphavistha konasas...

I left out Janu C and Mari B & C as with my knees I just don't think I'm getting any benefit from putting the simplified version in... anyone disagree?!

I did miss out supta parsvasahita though!!! Aargh!!!  But apart from that I'm nearly there with learning the full sequence! Why is it always that one I miss?! Strange!

Knees feel fine too, let's hope they don't hurt tomorrow for practice...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Tuesday Birthday!

Instead of observing the class today I decided to practice as it was my birthday and I wanted to be nice to myself! V has made this class more akin to the full practice now, and today there were no new starters, so everyone had to get involved! It was a good practice, it was v cold though, so I didn't break much of a sweat..and certainly not as good as yesterday!

Knees weren't too good in adjustment in Triang, can't deal with the pressure when having hip pressed down, will back of this one for a while. Got up with straight legs in Sirsasana with a little bit of help by V, definately getting better. Although I got cramp when holding legs parallel to floor when coming down, which I will put down to being too cold. Will pay more attention to this feeling next time ...

Monday 8th November

I left this Mysore class exhilarated, yet another reminder of why I do this practice! I slowed my breath down and enjoyed it (led classes certainly are faster!) and I think the entire sequence took about 1hr 45. Had a lovely stretch in urdhva dhanurasana thanks to V and another student :o) Was very hot and sweaty which always makes it better, another reminder of how important the generation of heat is to the body and the practice.

Very excited as V banded the idea around about making this class the traditional Mysore style practice, comlpete with opening chant! You know I love this, whether or not I find the words a bit strange (the english not the sanskrit), I don't think it matters to me. Chanting in a room with a number of other people is magical. I know the first time I did the chant in Goa with David Swenson I felt a bit wierd, but I soon realised how chanting seems to combine the energy in the room in to one huge energy force and it is very powerful. I hope the others agree to making it part of Monday nights... exciting!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Friday night at the Buddhist Centre, Birmingham

I met a wonderful, wonderful man tonight. One of those spirits that you do not come across very often, who radiates warmth and love and light. One of those people you are instantly drawn to. And so much knowledge. (Comes from and Iyegna background).

I loved it all the minute I walked into the room where he was burning my favourite incense of all time, Frankinscense, which reminds me of going to church as a kid and is sooo comforting. We then started off with the Ashtanga chant, which I love! It really does set the scene for the practice. I MUST incorporate this into my practice. (Note to self: Must learn chant) lol!

It was Mysore style self practice and the first thing he asked was about any injuries. He then helped me to adpat my practice throughout, where he thought I may be putting stress on the hurty bits. He asked which bits of the practice we wanted to work on and I didn't really know how to anser that as I wanted to say 'all of it' but I felt like a bit greedy thinking that! I was like a kid in a sweet shop as there were only 5 of us in the room and we were getting lots of attention, it was like a mini-workshop! He helped K and I with our jump backs, just a hand on the belly and one on the upper back...and we floated back through the air! (Well, possibly not without the odd yelp! from me whilst in the air, and possibly not as 'light' as I had hoped!)

Anyhow... I got the feeling of how it should be jumping back and it felt good. He did the famous Mari C adjustment, which felt effortless! I could breathe tooo - yaaay! He also showed me I was grabbing my arm too low in Mari A & B, so I raised it up a bit and Bob's your uncle, a full wrist grab, perfect!

My shoulderstand felt fantastic, really high up this time, I think sweat and heat has a lot to do with how high I can hold up - the heat helps with traction on the hands and back. Must stay warmer! J put his finger beneath my neck to check for space - it slipped right through! I mouse definately could've been nesting there! Nice to know I am doing this one correctly with next off the floor.

Sirsasana - J advised something he'd learnt from a previous workshop with RF - to use your little fingers out as a mini stabilaiser for your headstand. I tried this, and although not completely feeling the love for it, I had the best headstand I'd had for ages. I floated up (knees still a bit bent though) and everthing felt effortless. I could feel the little fingers, but they didn't hurt or anything. I do have a bit of a backbend in the headstand which J corrected and it felt good. Held for 25 breaths, down to horizontal for 3 only today, but better than nothing, and then down. Ut Plutithi was good, strength in my arms is growing, so held off the ground (give or take a little toe) for 25 longish breaths! I wish I could do it properly in the lotus...maybe one day when knees are better :o)

All in all, wonderful practice, helped by an inspirational man. Loved it!

Wednesday and Thursday for a bit of a change...

This week I have practiced Monday, Wednesday, Thursday (so far)

Tuesday I went to the gym and buggered my knees up by cycling for too long, cross training and doing the plank. I have to stop doing these things! I may cancel my subscription to remind me not to go....

On Wed I did my teaching practice at Cov Uni, a room of 30 students! I enjoyed it though, people listened and appeared responsive to suggestions and instructions which is good. I then went home and straight onto my mat for self-practice. I had all the intentions of doing the full primary, but it didn't work out that way, as it sometimes doesn't... ;o) I ended up doing the Ashtanga Primer variation, which to be fair only leaves a handful of postures and jump-backs out, so I didn't beat myself up about it. Some yoga is better than no yoga!!!

Thursday I went to my physiotherapy assessment in the morning where the nice man told me I had 'Anterior Knee Pain'. Helloooo?!! I could've told you that! No diagnosis still but he did say that the structure was OK - ie no breakdown of cartlidge, ligaments fine, muscles fine (albeit a bit weak at the quad) a bit of a small knee cap? Bizarre! And sore tendons at the front. Hopefully next week I can get some type of treatment for the pain, bit of accupuncture maybe?

I had the Ashtanga Primer class in the evening. Nothing major to report here really...did all the jump backs bar one after Mari B as that intense stretch seems to suck out any ounce of breath and energy me!! NOw I am building up the strength lost during the 2 months off, I think I need to work on the jump backs. I will have a look at Grimmley's blog to see how to start with that... Sirsasana is becoming really steady now. I can hold for 25 breaths easily every time. I'm thinking about pulling the shoulderblades down my back to straighten that out and broaden my shoulders. Seems to be working so far! Yay! Ooh, AND, I came down with straight legs and held them parallel to floor for the longest time yet!!! (About 5 breaths!) Get in!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Monday's meditation

I had a 'rest' day today, normally it's my full primary practice with V, but I decided to give it a miss as I don't have the strength today and decided to do some meditation. My mind has been all over the place recently. It tends to get like this at this time of year and I'm not sure whether it's cos it's near my birthday which always makes me reflect and get moody, or whether it's due to the weather and dark nights or a combination of all... But I generally feel a little miserable... So I found out my favourite 15 minute chakra meditation with Yogatic on youtube and followed the guided mediation.

As soon as I started my head started to spin, somehow sitting in siddasana with a completely straight back and concentrating on my breathing makes my body resonate with the outside world and I can feel this spinning energy through my spine and out the top of my head. It's very strange but at the same time it helps with 'tuning in' to the body. (This probably sounds a little wanky ;o) However... what I did notice today was that there are some chakras which are really 'open' and some which are not. I say 'open', what I mean is that I can visualise the colour and the spinning of some of the chakras and some I can't visualise anything. My muladara chakra was vibrant red tonight and was bursting out of my body. The next one up I could not feel, the solar plexus was also non existent, my heart chakra was open but not as much as the mula, the throat was less, the third eye was OK, and the lotus at the top was OK, with a bright white light. I think the mula is the most powerful cos I meditate on it a lot during my vinyasa practice, everything else, is going to be less I guess!! The only things she doesn't do in this meditation is close the chakras, so I quickly have to do that at the end to prevent anything bad happening to me but keeping them open. Not sure how that works but I think people can steal energy from you if you don't close them... I'll ahve to ask my friend K...

Anyway. I started to do a relaxation meditation in savasana afterwards but felt as if I was going to fall asleep, so I got up. I didn't want to ruin my night's sleep!

Saturday with Paul Fox

I went to an introductory day with Paul Fox today to get an idea how it would be doing a teacher training course with him. It was good, the guy is very switched on and not at all airy-fairy yoga, like some people are, all tied up in the bullshit that can come along with ashtanga vinyasa yoga. I liked him.

Meeting new teachers does kinda show how if you stick to one then you can become a product of your teacher; I do feel as if I am a product of V, but by putting my feelers out there where I can it does feel a little naughty, but exciting at the same time, and it can give you a new perspective and boost if your practice is feeling a little stuck, or weary or you're just a bit disillusioned with it all....

It's a lot of money, this course.  And I don't really want to give V's course up for it. Not that I think I'd have to, but it'll be tight. I have a huge fear that I will not be able to teach a bunch of people, that my words will get all tied up in my throat, that I'll just go blank and not be able to speak, and it scares me. Does it scare me so much that I won't go for it? I'm not sure...

Anyway, the yoga today was different, it was the standard hatha style of class, as taught by a BWY teacher. I used to love going to these classes, they were very relaxing and made such a difference to my life. Very gentle to start, then a bit more challenging leading up to the main posture (cobra), then slowly relaxing back down. I often used to fall asleep in savasana! It was quite hard on my knees though and they killed by the end of the day. I think it was a combination of the return to step aerobics and too much yoga this week, damn knees...

I think what I need to ask myself is whether I want to teach this type of hatha? Or Ashtanga Vinyasa, or Ashtanga Krama? And which route would be the best one for me.. Paul did say one thing though, that 6 days a week ashtanga vinyasa for 2 years is a sure way to bugger up your body, that such a high level of repetition is no good for you! I think I agree...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Thursday Ashtanga Primer

Wow... I'm shattered and it's only 20:49. Just been to ashtanga, worked really hard as it was very hot in there tonight, I also counted 19 people, the biggest class I've seen in ages - lots of body heat!

I am feeling at my parsvakonasana is coming along nicely...I can really feel the benefit of mula banda in this one now, in helping to get deeper into the posture, it's like pouring yourself over your thigh, I like it.

My setu bandasana is coming along neck must be stronger than I think as I can now take my arms away from the floor and roll almost onto the forhead, although I'm a bit shakey. Coming down remains a big relief ;o)

My chakrasanas are becoming stronger again with the improvement in my legs are coming down straighter and straighter each time which is good. Still need a bit of a 'swing' into it though, but I don't care, David Swenson said it was OK to do it from a seated position to get momentum, rather than just lifting yourself through from lying down, which is a killer (for me anyway).

My surys were good today, rolling over the toes felt a lot better than it has done for a while, I don't know whether the gap in my practice just softened them up a bit, but they have been hurting for a while. Today they didn't thogh, they felt strong and I liked the way they felt as I was doing it do I slowed it down! Bit strange I know...

My breathing in sury Bs was better today (see probs mentioned in earlier post) not extra breaths before coming up into warrior, good news.

My upavista konasana is improving too, it used to be terrible but with the improvement in my wide legged forward bends in the standing sequence, must come an improvement in this one too?! I just wish V would adjust me more often in it, I really concentrate in trying to use a wave like motion in my body to work my chest to the floor, on Monday there were mirrors and I could see that I was about a foot off the floor, so I'm making progress.

Think I might have a hot milk and go to bed now... I have a load of ironing but that can wait til tomorrow night :o)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Tuesday's trials

I did what I don't normally do on a Tuesday and did practice then went to my teaching class! I just felt like I needed to do it. My energy levels were there as soon as got home, so got straight down to it in the spare hour I had before class.

OK, so I didn't do ANY vinyasas... BUT I did some practice, so I shouldn't beat myself up over that should I?! And it was only up to navasana then into the finishing sequence. Talking about navasana, I have over the previous few weeks been toying with different styles of holding 'the boat' out of the water, pointing toes, expressing heels, combinations of both and at class tonight V said that RF had said push through the ball of your feet, which I'd already worked out for msyelf felt the correct way to engage the required muscle groups. Just shows what your body can work out for itself....

Doesn't mean however that my quads feel any more powerful... my crappy purvasana is testament to that!!! It's absolutely awful... Which muscles do you use to hold you up? I just cannot get it,... out of all my practice this posture makes me look as if I have never done ANY yoga before in my life!! LOL I point my toes and my whole body sinks! Amazing...I'll look it up in my anatomy/physiology books and see if they have the answers! Any further ideas, answers on a postcard please and I'll try them out :o)

My breathing was really sketchy, in Sury Bs I was adding in an extra breath going from chaturanga into upward dog, why did that start happening? Hello?!!! lol I must try to breath deeper at home, there seems to be a marked change in breathing technique in class and at home, they need to be the same.

Teaching the class tonight was a bit dodgy... sometimes people just don't seem to want to know! It's very strange how I can be received differently from week to week by the same people. I've always been receptive to teachers and even just their prescence near you gives me the incentive to push myself a little more, to straighten out my spine, lift my head or whatever....which makes me improve. I must say nights like this make me think twice about taking it up as a profession... Or maybe I'm just not ready for it. Hmmm...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Monday's Mysore

Not so much of a Mysore style but a led class today, essentially to "remind us of the sequence".  My teacher had also been to the Richard Freeman workshop in Oxford at the weekend so I think he wanted to pass on some new tips, which I think I found useful. It's always nice when a teacher brings something new to the table - sometimes in a led class they can sound a bit bored and repetative and it can be a bit sad :o(  Anyway, Mysore or not, I had a bloody great practice. I think I must've sweated out loads of toxins too and now I feel great. (Albeit it ready for bed...)

There was a minute when bringing my legs up and over (straight) to get into sarvangasana when I felt a serious pull on my buttocks and lower back which wasn't good; I've had that before, generally when going from matsyasana into uttana padasana, but I normally give myself a little hug between the two postures to free up whatever is going on in the lower back, and that seems to work. Will be careful of raising legs straight in the future, I really don't need any more lower back problems...

One of the 'tips' from RF was in Mari C - apparently he says that it is OK to have your hips diagonal in this posture, so you start almost looking to the side, then to breath out 3 times whilst wrapping your arm around your leg to exhale as much air as possible from the belly. I did this and found that it worked (see last post about having to physically 'tuck' my belly in to get round!) This way I did not have to, yay!

My sarvangasana was a bit wonky today though...I didn't feel straight at all, like my bum was sticking out, nothing I did seemed to shift me any straighter, which is very strange for me, as I normally love this posture and do it well (ie. close to being able to balance on shoulders alone, being that straight).

Oh, and my standing balancing was so sketchy today, but I put that down to the moon cycle, which I fully expect to put me off balance.

Tomorrow I'm going to go into work early again, finish early, do practice then go to my class to teach. (I say this now and it might not happen exactly this way but at least I've got positive thoughts going on , ha! :o)

I just thought... I didn't get the burning pain in the back of my right knee today either, great!

Ashtanga Yoga: The Primary Series - Richard Freeman

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sunday evening with David...

Where has the weekend gone? It's Sunday night already and just sleep (and maybe a bit of x-factor) between now and work :o(

I was dying to do some practice today, came home after a lovely dinner with mum and got the mat straight out. I used my newish mat today as I had left old faithful in the car. Bad Move. It's so slippy, I can't feel safe on it at all but I was too lazy to go out to the car to get the orange! Anyway... I did something I haven't done for a while now...David Swenson's short form DVD! I did the 45 min sequence as it is quite similar to the Dynamic Primer I'm practicing to teach. LOVE HIS VOICE!! I love David, official.

One thing I did notice today was that my breath is really quite fast. I had about 7 to his 5, and last Monday at Mysore-Style I was the first to finish, which just compounds the fact my breaths are way short. Should I try to slow them down or just keep to my natural rhythm? In fact, sometimes when I self-practice I add extra breaths on to some postures when I feel a nice stretch, so I suppose if I'm already doing that due to not feeling the benefit, I should make a concerted effort to lengthen the breath. It might make a better meditation out of it too.

I'm managing to reach my head to the floor in all prasarita paddottanasanas now, which says a lot about the states of my hip flexors! I do find it difficult to engage the front of the thighs though, it's like my body doesn't want to flex the knees, a bit weird. Maybe I should start the leg lifts again to strengthen the quads? The last thing I want to do is have another part of my body getting all messed up whilst compensating for my quads!!

I feel all bloated again. I felt great in Malaysia and I'm putting it down to bread/wheat. Had none for 2 weeks and felt great, so I'm going to try and stay away from how do I make roti chennai???!!

That was beside the point... Yes, so, backbends were good, Mari A & C's are becoming really good. I bind now in C, and really get a good turn. It always feels amazing on the spine this posture, when done correctly, I used to hate it, and didn't bother with binding, but now I can do it correctly I love it. I love being adjusted in Mari C too! Although I've obviously put on weight round my middle as I have to move my stomach out of the way of my thigh ;o)

I nearly fell down in Sirsasana! I never do that! Aargh! I have to say though, the 45 min sequence doesn't really get you as warm as you need to be... my shoulderstands were a bit sketchy, especially karnapidasana, I almost couldn't reach my knees to the floor! I think I'll leave the short forms for when I'm in real need for some extra support off Dave ;o)

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Not so much "angel" this week I'm afraid, Jet Lag has taken any ounce of energy I had left...! I am such an arse, as after waiting 7 weeks for an MRI scan to find out what's wrong with my knees I forgot to set my alarm clock and slept in and missed the appointment!! I can't believe it. Do I go back to the doctors or do I leave it and wait for the physio appointment who might be able to fast track me through the process? I'm very disappointed in myself, I've been beating myself up about it all morning, it'll probably last all weekend, grrrrr!!!!

Which brings me to the subject of how I treat myself. My yoga teacher is always telling me off for how I treat myself, he seems to just know when I'm down or beating myself up about something! He says ""ahimsa" (non-violence) applies to yourself too you know!" Be nice to yourself. Well, I do try but it takes concerted effort on my part. I beat myself up about not doing enough practice quiet often, and have to say to myself, "hey, come on, don't worry about the past, you cannot change it, be present, do some now, do some later, whatever!"

Anyway, I fell asleep way early on Tuesday so didn't make it to class, I did however make it to Thursday's class which was a bit of a strange class.... There were loads of new people and it really put me off! Don't know why, but I felt really on edge. I had a good practice though despite my mind being everywhere and even though I was aching all over from Mondays practice and tri-class (step aerobics/weights/crunches) which I had not been to since before I did my knees in which was before Italy, mid June?! I have to say that  tri-class was great, I have missed it soooo much, I love the feeling of adreneline and feeling that my muscles have really worked! Although I think it'll be a couple of months before I'm back toned as I was in before June.

It was a moonday as well on Thursday. I don't respect moon days (as in I do practice), but I do find that I have a good practice on them, I seem to have more energy, which was how Thursday went. I did all the vinyasas and no pain in my knees, thank god. My balance was good too especially in utthita hasta pada, on the run up to moon days my balance is really shakey. I managed a really straight leg too, but the left is always better than the right in this posture, something to do with the right hip...

My navasana is definately improving, although I did think my thighs were starting to cramp through them!

My backbends are improving too, I'm moving my hands closer to the my feet now which feels great in my back, I wonder how it looks? Which reminds me, I must sort out the rope thing so I can start practicing drop backs at home. Sirsasana was great, didn't go up with straight legs but managed to hold legs parallel to floor for 3 breaths, a first!! Yay!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Post Malaysia Monday

OMG, just got back from practice tonight, which was a new self-practice class with my normal teacher. I am still shaking from it though, not sure that's a good sign. Body doesn't know what's hit it. Did all vinyasas, first time I have managed that without pain since June 25th! So long ago now, can't believe it. My body has finally healed itself I think *touches wood*, and hopefully refining my techniques will help in making sure it doesn't happen again.

So what went well tonight? My 10 Surys went well, really warmed me up. My prasarita padottanasanas were all done (even C - yes C!) with my head pressing into the floor, what a difference the act of pressing your head down into the floor makes! Arms in C literally a foot off the floor, can feel the upper back and shoulders opening up in this one now.

Chakrasanas were really good! Landed with straight legs and straight down into chaturanga. First time I'd managed straight legs for ages in this posture.

My back bends were good, not hard at all tonight, did 2 warm ups and then 3 full backbends going onto my head between the 3.

Sarvangasana sequence spot on tonight, elbows stuck together without moving at all tonight, which makes a change, normally I have to shift them back toegther once I have my legs straight.

Headstand held for 25 long breaths, steady and controlled, could not hold legs horizontal to floor though, booo... I'm so tired now though....

Just made tarka dall for dinner, thought I'd have a bit of time away from indian food, but I got the calling :o)

Malaysian magic

So I'm back from my holiday to Malaysia now, still trying to get over the jet lag though, and the cold (which I had before I went) and the cold sore I now have due to probable combination of heat/sun/air-con. All in all, I'm a bit ill, still...

So my good intentions to do my practice on beautifully manicured lawns of the hotel and the beach of the islands at sunrise did not come to (full) fruition. A) because there were no lawns at the hotel, and B) because I slept in past sunrise whilst in Pangkor Island. However, there was one morning where I did wake up and after 20 mins of trying to work out on my fingers what time of the day it was (I hadn't changed my phone time to Malay time) I got up and went to the beach to practice. And god it was lovely...

Why is it that when you practice outdoors and particularly on natural ground (grass/beach) that your practice takes another dimension? It's completely different. It's easier and more fluid and never feels like a struggle.. I was surrounded by nature, bats were darting about above me, crickets chirping in the distance, the waves crashing against the shore, beautiful. (I would say though, that the waves drowned out my ujjayi breath, which made it difficult to meditate fully as I did find it a bit noisey!) lol.

Normally, a morning practice finds me completely stiff and my joints all cold and not wanting to do much, but it wasn't like that this time. I can normally tell with my back in the inversions (especially Karnapidasana) as I cannot put my knees to the floor in the morning practice, but I wasn't far off at all this one morning. I did a bit of meditation on the beach afterwards too, although not for long in fear of having photos taken of me by Japanese tourists :o) The rest of the day was then lovely, relaxing on the beach for most of the day and chilling with friends.

I'm dreading tonight's practice in a way as I'm not 100%, and it's a new Mysore style class. At least I might be able to go at my own pace. And miss out some postures. Now I'm just being lazy ;o) I have had to just take some Ibuprofen though as I have a pain in my neck like I've pulled a muscle, hope that goes away. Might just go for a lie down now to re-energise - it's been a long day at the office...

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sunday Dynamic Yoga Primer

Having had a nice early night last night, I was up for an early morning practice. Hit the mat at 8am. I have a terrible cold now so thought it would ease that, but I think that the ujjayi breathing has made my nose really hurt, like I've strained it! Boooo... I was reading in bed 'The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace' just before practice and I had the pain in my back which I get if I 'lie in', so that spurred me on...

Anyway, decided to practice the Dynamic Yoga Primer series today, as I should be practicing that at least twice a week in order to teach it. It was a welcomed change to the mostly full practices I've done this week. The surys were dreadful though, I could hardly touch the floor and felt like I was bending at the waist rather than the hips. I did no jump backs/throughs as although I was nice and warm, my joints weren't warm enough and felt cracky. My balance was off during the standing sequence, I did utthita hasta padangustasana with my knee bent as I just couldn't be bothered to straighten my leg today. My seated postures were OK - Janu A which I did a couple of times I can now feel the benefits of the 'self adjustment' tip from Brian Cooper - must have another read of that book and pick up some more - they work, pulled the hip and knee right back, so my thigh was perdendicular to my outstreched leg, and the whole thing worked and I could feel the stretch right through my side, as is meant to be. Been practicing that for 3 years now and have never felt that stretch, just shows you...

Navasana was all right - tried pointing the toes, tried flexing the heels, tried a combination of the two, that worked, got straight legs for a couple of seconds in my final boat, brilliant news!

Nearly left it there, but did the beginner's backbend sequence; arms stretched out to start, then behind the hpis pushing the hips forward, then up into full dhanurasana. Nearly left it there again, but somemthing made me have another go up into full bridge, brought my hands closer to my feet this time, and felt the benefit.

Again, nearly left it there, thought about my 'ladies holiday', but thought 'get up there', so catapulted myself into salamba sarvangasana, and did 8 counts to all variations. Nearly left it there for reasons above, but then thought '**** it, get up into sirsasana you fool, you'll feel better and it'll make you look younge'r, so I did. And it was good, I pushed my feet towards the sky and made a concerted effort to press my forearms down into the ground and as i result i felt no tension in my lower back at all, it felt more balanaced and i stayed for twenty breaths, I then piked down, stayed with legs horizontal to floor for about 4 seconds then came crashing down. Balasana, padmasana, rest...

Having been so surprised by Friday's adjustment in bhujapi, I gave that a go after savasana, put head down without knocking myself out on floor (I think that was my main fear) then pulled feet towards tummy and there I was, no adjustment needed! This has given me extra confidence now to work towards jumping back, if I can go from Bhujapi to Bakasana, then one leg off at a time, I could start working towards the jump-back!!! It all comes together slowly!

All in all a good practice, albeit only an hour. Just to let you know though, got my tittibhasana bruises back - just what I need before I go on holiday!!! Aaargh!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Emanuele and Bella

Friday night and I took myself off to Leamington Spa's Stone Monkey for a full primary series talk through in Sanskrit led my Emanuele and Bella from Oxford Yoga. Manu-Durvasana
Emanuele Rossi and Bella Galt are both Ashtanga yoga teachers authorised by the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, Mysore, India. There were just 7 of us practicing in the SM space, which I have to say is just fantastic. The atmosphere was meditative and just how I like my space to be, they even had low lighting, instead of the blaring light of the normal rooms I practice in. All the ingredients were there for a great practice. The sanskrit took me back to 2008/9 when I was studying with David Swenson in India and I do absolutely love it, haven't been led in sanskrit since and it just made sense. Less to hear and more time to do, if that makes any sense?

Anyway, I have to start with how pleased I was that it would appear that the 'Mysore style' now has only 3 Surynamaskara Bs!!! Yay!!! No need to beat myself up if I cannot do 5! E & B have said so, and that comes from Sharath, and so it's fine! LOL! There are also less breaths when counted in this way, therefore where I normally 'look up and lengthen the spine', with the counted, it's just straight down into the posture. Less time to faff around and more time to be in the posture. E said it certain things had been changed to tighten the practice as it was felt that it was too long. Another 'cut' was there are only 2 paschimottanasana now, just clasping the toes and holding the wrists. Apparently there used to be 4 at one point, but Guruji said there was no point so it got reduced.

Bella was so lovely, I told her about my knees and how I was doing hip openers instead of the Janus etc, but she said it was OK to just do Janu A 3 times, just be work in that position and to rest the knees. Less to beat my knees up about again! It didn't matter either that I was only doing jump backs after each set of spostures instead of each side.

I had the most beneficial adjustment in bhujapidasana by E - I cannot get my head on the floor with my feet still off, but he effortlessly tilted my head forward, letting me put a big toes down just in case, then tilted my hips up towards the sky, and I could hold my feet off the floor! It felt great, and felt like I could stay there for hours! My new fav posture ;o) Can't wait to try that one again! I was told to point the toes of the floot on the floor in supta parsvasahita, where I'm used to flexing, and in navasana B also told us to point our toes, gutted - cannot do it when I point (see last blog)!.

Held sisasana for 20 breaths - great - piked down but couldn't hold legs horizontal - although I showed mum later and she said I held it horizontal for about 4 seconds! Back bend was tight and terrible though, as we didn't do any preparatory BBs like I'm used to to lengthen the back...

Had a panic when as soon as we'd finished sirsasana, E started counting over again as if we were starting Sury A - only to bring us back down to the mat for savasana. Mmmm... Well it was until I had a huge coughing fit and had to leave savasana to go to the bathroom so I didn't interrupt anyone! Anyway...


E & B = Great night!

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Today's practice was great. The room had been heated so everything seemed a little easier. Chaturangas getting much better, feel v strong lowering down from plank now, nothing but by toes and hands touching the floor; rolling over the toes without feet splaying out the sides, feels good. No knee pain tonight either which is good news after Monday's class when I had to stop at the backbend.

So my backbends were good, I even moved myself a little closer together and it worked, it didn't feel too hard or too strong, so will try that again next time as I need to start thinking about learning how to drop back and up. Which reminds me, I must buy some rope and make some adjusting apparatus to practice this at home.  I used to hate back bends and a lot of the time I just couldn't do it due to so much lower back pain by the time I got there - this must have been about 1 year ago now since I felt like that and since I upped my practice, I don't have that pain anymore, which is magic :o)

I think I've finally got Navasana cracked, it's all in the heels! Yay! I've been pointing my toes, but doing that releases all the muscles needed to straighten the legs and to hold them straight! Why has it taken me so long to realise this?! I must admit though, Brian Cooper has had a lot to do with it - was reading his Art of Adjusting Tues night and he mentions expressing the heels in there, so... I also took his tip for 'self-adjusting' in Janu A, by grabbing the outside edges of the foot with the opposite hands, which results in a twisting motion which gives you a better stretch (the proper stretch), so that felt good. Setu Bandasana is getting better but my head bloody hurts as I'm not on the hairline yet, I've noticed no-one in the class does this pose correctly, just me (ie pushing the legs away straight), albeit a bit badly ;o) Might bring this up with V (my teacher) at our next meeting...

I'm shattered now though and off to bed. My sore throat feels as if it's turning into a tickly cough - not good - I don't want to be ill for my holiday! I hope it is better by the morning!!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday, peak of the week!

A sore throat started coming on yesterday afternoon and this morning it is still there... best get the strepsils out, I don't have time for ginger and honey this morning, I'm already later than I normally am getting to work. That's because this morning I got up at 6:15 and did my yoga practice - yay! Really didn't feel like it but after getting out of bed it felt the right thing to do. I lit a candle and did my practice facing that; the only other light on being in the hall way. I like the ambience it creates, and promotes a more meditative state.

I like the way I do not have so many thoughts going round my head in the morning practice, and that I can concentrate on how the body feels, but I don't like how I'm so stiff and my joints ache - this morning, especially my hips, ouch, had to concentrate on hip openers instead of Janu B, C & D, but that's a given recently due to the strain on the knees... Head stand was good, I'm almost half way to piking up now - it's properly 'mind over matter' stuff trying to go up with your legs straight... I read some tips re Kino McGregor's practice and she teaches to 'push the pelvis forward', so I tried to remember that, whilst remembering to keep my upper back straight , my shoulders rolled down my back, my weight in my elbows etc etc.. I'll get there, I WAS hovering for a couple of seconds, but didn't have the strength for that last push. Maybe tomorrow!! There's always tomorrow's practice... Rome wasn't built in a day, so they say :o)

Anyway, I'm off to work now, in the rain, but hey, 3 days to go til my 2 week holiday, so I cannot complain too much!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Spine

So today was my teacher training day, where I help out at the class. I was looking forward to someone new starting so that I could give the introduction talk, but there was no-one, so I was let off the hook. My public speaking isn't great at the best of times, so I'm a little nervous about my brain not connecting with my mouth and me just sounding ridiculous and not like I know what I'm talking about, but I think it's one of those things where if I 'just do it' then it'll be over and done with and I won't know what I was so worried about. A bit like when I first tried to describe the enforcement process at work, or the planning application and appeals process or whatever, I didn't really know what was spurting out of my mouth, but it sounded good so I just let it come out! Ha!

I'm still wary about touching people in the class, especially not knowing how to adjust properly, but I think I got involved more than last week anyway. I can see people responding to my touch, especially in terms of shoulders and upper back, drawing them away from the ears and lengthening the spine. However, a bit further down the spine is where I come unstuck; people have such different curves in their backs, I do not know what can be correct by adjustment and what cannot. And until I can feel like I know the answers to these questions I cannot feel completely comfortable with the spine. I've a couple of anatomy books, Coulter's and Kaminoff's, so I'm gonna give the spine sections a bit of a read tonight to see if any of my questions can be answered.

I'm not sure whether to do a self-practice in the morning or a led sun-power in the evening tomorrow. I'll set my alarm for early and see how it goes :o)


I was really looking forward to my full primary practice yesterday evening. Unfortunately, I think that yesterday's workshop took it's toll on my body, well, my knees and something went wrong with them and just after setu bandasana, I lost it! They both 'caught' this time, argh! Anyway, it stopped me from backbend and headstand, booo... So I didn't really feel the full benefits of the practice. I was also tired and after surys didn't do any vinyasa, just changed sides. My standing sequence if a funny one... I've noticed that if I press my big toe down when balancing in utthita hasta padangusthasana, my hip does something and I can strech my leg out more, it's like I'm propoerly squaring my hips. It feels good. It's just a bit harder, but I guess that is because by doing it I'm not taking the path of least resistance. Which is good. My right hip aches today and my knee cap feels as if it's popping out, so I'm glad I'll be teaching tonight :o)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Dynamic Yoga Primer Workshop

So today I attended a "DYP" workshop, run by my regular teacher. We focussed on the sequence of the DYP, the vinyasa/or the linking sequence and its dynamics, and each posture in great detail. Absolutely loved it. Beginning to finally feel as if I know what I'm talking about when I talk a student through a posture, but wish I had the confidence that what I am saying is correct for their body, if you know what I mean.

Everyone is so different; have muscles in different places, curves, different lengths of parts of their bodies and limbs etc. but this is what I love, learning to realise everyone's different and have different needs and boundaries. At the same time I find it a real challenge and keep having to ask the teacher when I am adjusting, "why is this bit doing this.. and that" etc etc... It's all a learning curve I guess. But the more I do it the more I'll feel comfortable with it until one day I won't even think about it and it'll come naturally.

On one hand I cannot wait til this time comes; on the other I know that wanting it so badly is completely against the basic yogic principles, and as such, know that I need to take a step back and look at it logically... enjoy the moment while it's here, live in it, be it, basically do not wish your life away, because life's too short to live in the 'I can't wait until...'. I've done so much of that wanting and know how negative it is, I do not want to live in that way again.

So anyway, I went a bit over the top with regards to my knees, focussing on postural integrity, so I'm a bit achey now. But feel great. Actually just thinking back to today, I taught one girl to not hold her heel in Janu A (she was complaining after doing the posture that her ankle hurt) and instead to hold the ball of her foot, extend out through the heel and the ball, pulling the toes back naturally, and she felt the difference straight away, it didn't hurt her ankle it loosened off the stretch from the knee and no hurty ankle! Yay!!! Just that one tip did, thinking back on it, made my day! My Surys were good, chaturanga no problem (my triceps will kill tomorrow though cos I'm already shaking!), holding it for a while before ascending into upward dog, felt good, nice back bends.

On a completely different note, I've been listening to some music recently and have realised there are more bands than you'd think that focus on the principles of yoga in their lyrics, Arcade Fire being on of them... One of the main songs is "Kettles", which has echoes what I've just been saying...

" I am waiting, til I don't know when, 'cos I'm sure it's gonna happen then..
Time keeps creeping, through the neighbourhood;
killing old folk, waking up babies just like they knew it would..."
"They say a watched pot, will never boil,
I closed my eyes and nothing changed, just some water, getting hotter, in flames.."
"It's not a lover I want no more, and it's not heaven I'm pining for,
but there's some spirit I used to know, that's been drowned out by the radio..."

I also have this thing for 'time' and what it means to us. Damien Rice has a great song with some lovely lyrics... "Older chests reveal themselves
Like a crack in a wall
Starting small, and grow in time
And we all seem to need the help
Of someone else
To mend that shelf
of too many books
Read me your favourite line"
"Some things in life may change
And some things
They stay the same..
Like time, there's always time
On my mind
So pass me by, I'll be fine
Just give me time..."

Anyway, I think I've gone on for long enough now, I've started to depress myself! Looking forward to my practice tomorrow. Hope I don't ache too much and the pain in the back of my right knee eases in the night...


I didn't practice yesterday as I felt ill after overdosing on coriander in a aubergine curry...eurgh. I'll remember not to use the entire bunch of it next time, just for me.. But, to make up for it I'm going to an ashtanga workshop today with my teacher. I'm looking forward to it. I wonder what I will learn today?

My knees have been playing up the last 2 days, especially the left, really annoying, maybe it was the half vinyaysas I've started adding into my practice this week; I've been doing no vinyasas since they've been bad, just the ones in the Surys.. I don't know, I'll use them again today and see how I feel later.

My stomach still feels a little dodge actually, hopefully my breakfast will have gone down sufficently before embarking on any stomach squashers later ;o) ooh...

Friday, 24 September 2010

Ashtanga Vinyasa

So I started practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga in the style of Shri K Pattabhi Jois (or there abouts ;o) in July 2007. My practice was gym-based to begin with, but I was immediately hooked, in particular on the energy I seemed to create and that feeling kept me coming back for more. In 2008 my friend and I spent 2 weeks in India with David Swenson and this experience just exacerbated my desire to practice. However, my practice remained class-based and 2 times a week for quite a while, trying to fit in the odd David Swenson DVD practice at the weekend.

I was practicing 3 times a week at least for about a year until last October (2009) I broke my elbow, foolishly playing netball, (teach me to try and regain my youth...I'll leave that up to headstand in the future) and something in me clicked; all of a sudden I could not do yoga, I didn't realise how much that would affect me but it did! At the same point in time, it was as if the pain that I felt with my break was transporting me right into the present - I couldn't think about the future, or the past, just the pain I was in at that exact moment! It was, to coin a bit of a wanky phrase, 'an epiphany'!! I suddenly realised the real meaning of living in the present, the here and the now, that yoga and self help books had tried to get across to me for the past 7 years!

A couple of months later (after my arm had healed) I heard that my yoga teacher was starting to take on yoga teacher trainees, I jumped at the chance to do it, to find out more, to go deeper into my practice. I started to throw myself into yoga, head first. June saw another yoga retreat, this time in Italy, Insabina, I met some amazing teachers, people and friends. The practice twice a day plus anything we could squeeze in between was amazing, I was learning so much and in such a short time. In all the practices we did I think I probably missed out 2 jump backs/throughs, I just didn't want to miss out the opportunity to practice under such stars! But I came back down to earth with a bang when upon my return I found that I could not walk - my knees had swollen up and my body started to warp around them, as if it was trying to protect them. I couldn't do anything, my body was a mess! I was devastated...Take Your Rest.........

2 months later brings us about up to date, my knees can just about handle my practice, albeit with some modifications, but after 2 months of NO practice, a little modification here and there, a towel, some blocks, some anti inflammatories and some ice, I have come to realise we can't all be David Swenson (although I heard somewhere he'd had numerous knee ops - David, if you do read this (I met you once at Purple Valley, 2009, (the girl who lost her luggage!?) is this really true?)!!!!

I have an MRI booked in for October, because the knees still 'catch' (I don't know whether anyone else has ever had these symptoms (yoga related or not) ? If so please let me know) they still feel 'loose' and sometimes feel like they need a good shake out! Anyhow, all being said, I'm back to my practice, back on the mat, props, whatever, I'm there... And I suppose that this blog, from now on, is my journey onwards... I'll keep you informed....

Day one in the Big Brother Blogosphere...

I think one of first things that your teacher advises you to do when embarking on a yoga teacher training programme is to keep a diary of your practice. Now, I've never been one for keeping a diary, don't get me wrong, I have tried, and people must look at me and think 'she looks like someone who keeps a diary',  so I have them strewn in bookshelves across my home, under my bed and in boxes under the stairs, however, they are all redundant, they all have but a few pages of the written word before being left to collect dust.

I don't know why, but I guess I've never thought what I had to say was very important and I always felt that if the entries weren't perfect or weren't good enough to entertain it wasn't worth keeping one, but Christ, who was I thinking was going to read it anyway?!!

So, here I am,  telling it how it is. The above passage probably tells a lot about me, but I am going to give this a go; My Yoga Practice, out in the open, for all to see! Hopefully keeping this blog will give me chance to let out all the 'chitta vritti' which continues to beat me up on a daily basis.... Mx