This September challenge by Carmen on Instagram is indeed a challenge. First challenge is the asana. One must also find a location and one must take the picture. It's great if one is able to do the asana, yet it's better to practice an easier version than to injure oneself if the asana is beyond one's capacity. To respect the own limits is demanding, too.
On picture #1 one can see who I fought with this asana. Today I repeated it but wrapped my arm only around one leg. It's still challenging, but safe. No strap was needed. That's the starting point from now on. If this feels good I can go deeper.
Today's pose (picture #2) was only possible with a prop, my wheel. The challenge is about exploring the limits. I feel them almost every day. Some of the asanas I'll integrate in my daily practice. It must feel good to perform an asana.
First lesson learned: Take care. This challenge is about exploring the limits and not performing a perfect asana.
There are 20 leg behind head poses in Ashtanga yoga. The first series has one: supta kurmasana. The second series has already 4 leg behind head poses. It becomes rather advanced in the forth series. To move into a tripod headstand with the leg behind the head is confusing. I tried it lately. That was it, I guess for a very long time.
I learned supta kurmasana when I practiced second series already. It's so much easier to learn first eka pada sirsasana (one leg behind the head) from the second series. Suddenly I was able to do supta kurmasana after having learned to take one leg behind my head. It became even comfortable with time.
These days I work on that lightness again. I struggle with that asanas. I know now how it feels when it feels good to be in such a pose. All the 20 asanas have some craziness. I'm looking forward to learning them. All.
No matter if one stretches parts of the back of the body or the front body or the sides in order to see progress one must be patient. To force the body into asanas might lead to injuries. On the other hand one must also feel the stretch. It's sort of discomfort. Even breathing and trusting fades away the discomfort. One might be able to get a tiny bit deeper in a pose.
One must learn to be content about every inch deeper. This can be frustrating sometimes, especially if one is an impatient person. Success doesn't come overnight in yoga.
There are asanas like headstand that can be learned within a few minutes if explained correctly.
Yet stretching follows different laws. The older one is the longer it lasts to see progress.
Hard work and time must flow into the practice.
Somehow it helps if one is in love with the process.
It's possible to learn how to learn if we face difficulties. How can one overcome the obstacles?
Discipline remains a key word. Show up, do the work as best as you can.
This picture was taken in 2009. I practiced in the heat of Mumbai. It took me a decade to take the chin to the floor. There must be faster ways, I always think and I know they exist. One can work smarter. One way is to add more repetition. To hold the poses longer is also crucial. Nevertheless stretching takes time. Being disciplined and being patience are essential skills.
It's soccer world cup. I love to see the matches. But I also love to listen to the interviews of the players. The world best soccer player (Ronaldo) said that he always believed in himself. In addition he practiced more than all the others. When his colleagues were under the shower already after a match, he still played with the ball.
Believe in yourself is such a precious hint. Doubts plaster the path. I'm glad that I didn't give up my yoga practice. I probably had too many days when I didn't practice, but perhaps these breaks were necessary. I had to avoid inflammation.
This back injury is now 2 years back. I heal in steps. My feeling is that I leaped ahead again. In the beginning of my practice I was not 100% pain free. I exercised variations of some of the standing asanas. But then the pain disappeared. Totally. I could do even supta kurmasana without much preparing asanas. When I feel pain, it's of short duration. It fades away very quickly. After the practice I feel good. That is I can even take the steps without pain. Yep it has been that awful.
I'll keep believing that one day this back pain belongs to the past again.
What I realize. I love Ashtanga yoga. The huge weakness is that there is no didactic. One is left alone more or less. Best case is that learning of new asanas is very ineffective. Instead of mastering an asana within 6 months, it can last 10 years. Worst case is that this missing reasonable approach to very demanding asanas injures people. That's what I experienced.
This is my new topic here. How to be a good autodidact. How to learn asanas effectively. How to understand asanas.
What was possible today on the mat fulfills me with great joy. I have hope again that I can return to my former strength and flexibility. I can still progress. It will be a lonesome ride. I miss a yoga group, but by now I cannot imagine to get back to any of the groups here in Munich. In the meantime there are even choices. But I have my blog and readers and this keeps me motivated, too.
This morning I got up rather early. It was about 6 am. It's much later than 2 years ago when I got up at 5 am, but 6 am is still early. It's bright day already. Sun rise is at 5:15 am. Time is good to get up at 5 am again. I remember that I loved it to get up just before sunrise.
So today I was very busy. I had to pick up my suitcase. I had to get to the post office. Chores had to be done as we expect guests. Flow was experienced. When it was lunch time I went to the Indian restaurant round the corner. Siesta time, I thought and after lunch I went to bed to nap. When I woke up I felt as if I had been dead. I wasn't, but I felt so lame. So lame. Again I postponed my yoga practice. Energy was low, then I remembered a quote that I saw on twitter: You're one work out away from good mood.
I schlepped myself on the mat with the attitude: Whatever happens is OK. It's so true: You're one yoga practice away from good mood.
This morning I was so tired. Suddenly I realized why. I wanted to give up drinking coffee. So this morning I had prepared a cup of tea for myself. It was Earl Grey Tea and I love it. But it didn't wake me up. At 10 am I was in bed again. The telephone woke me up after 20 minutes. I had slept again. I still felt like in trance. Tired. Bad mood. Lame. And I had so many plans for today's yoga practice.
I managed to go out of the house after the phone call to get batteries. This was an item on my to-do-list. On my way home I stopped at a bakery, ordered a cup of coffee and my fav cake. Mood improved, I felt energy. I was motivated to practice. I bought strawberries for the after yoga snack and headed home.
Yes, I practiced. This quote is so true:You're one practice away from good mood.
Friday is my forward bending day. These days I work more on the method how to learn a pose than to hurry through one of the Ashtanga yoga series. I take my time and my timer. Some asanas I hold for one minute. Oh, a minute can be so long when I'm in a split pose. I know it's important to relax, to breathe deeply and evenly. To hold the poses longer than 5 breath can be very useful. 5 breaths is too short to have an impact on a stiff body. That's why I hold some of the challenging poses longer. I always add the splits and hold them for one minute. I see already results. Yet this could be a topic for next blog posts. Happy relaxed weekend to everybody.
It was the afternoon when I started primary. I get stronger again, slowly, but it's remarkable. My joy is huge that my back pain is almost not existent. I have to adjust few asanas. The closing sequence is possible again.
After the practice I feel good as well. I'm exhausted, but that's it. I don't have to do fascia massages or twists to get my body back to normal
To practice at home allows me to focus on myself. I can rest if possible.
Splits are always part of my program.
After two years of doubts, I'm sure now that my yoga practice can improve again. This injury was a wake-up call. Self-study is necessary To do every day the same asanas without reflecting if this is still useful makes no sense. In the meantime a lot of information is available about almost everything that is important: nutrition, strength training, cardio. There are tips and tricks about how to do the asanas. It's easier these days to create a safe practice.