Monday, 21 August 2017
When your hamstrings are too short.
The truth rely on practice. You can read a Yoga book where all asanas will be well described with the "perfect" alignment and recommendation such as "bending your knees when your hamstrings are too short....".
I have been instructed to do so by some teachers, I have read it on several books, I have seen it during yoga practice and unfortunately I have been doing it and teaching it as well.....
Then when I started to practice with Iain Grysak he told me not to fold my knees in all forward fold (standing and sitting).
I was surprised....
But I listened to him and from that day my all practice drastically changed.
All my forward fold were actually folding deeper, the huge pain I used to have on the back of my legs started to disappear while my upper body was getting straighten and my lower back wide open.
I understood something, for instance in Padanghustasana the "goal" (if there was any achievement to it) was not to keep the chest on the knees or lower, it was simplest, just bend forward and the body will adjust to it.
The goal was not to go into one asana in particular with a specific way but more about becoming the asana itself with the actual ability.
Anatomically speaking we can not give or judge a proper alignment for one asana as everyone has a different body type.
Therefore there is no "your hips has to be facing that way on a sagittal plane and this is the last word", absolutely not. It is okay to have the hips slightly unaligned, it is okay to have a rounding back.
What is happening when we are bending the knees while forward folding?
In order to bend the knees we have to use the hamstrings as they are in charge of bending the legs. While bending, hamstrings are getting shorter so they are not stretching.
What is a forward fold?
Mainly it is a stretch of the back of the legs and lower back, actually it is stretching the all posterior part of the body.
If the hamstrings are too short and not flexible while bending forward it can become uncomfortable, so to ease the movement automatically we want to bend the legs..... by bending them we are not stretching them.... so basically not solving any issue regarding their flexibility.
A tight hamstrings does not help the lower back neither. Sometimes we think we are protecting our lower back by bending the legs while we are not.
Of course if there is any hyper extension of the knee it is advisable to slightly bend it. We should not work with a "locked" knee.
Enjoy your practice!
- Namaste -
Monday, 17 July 2017
The practice of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a very personal journey. It is a commitment, a silent contract signed between You and You only. No one will be knocking at your door every morning and wake you up for the practice. Only you are responsible for this action of "Tapas".
There will be a lot of frustration about yourself: Why I can not do the asana and how long will I be stuck here? When will I be "upgraded" and given a new asana?
And also a lot of frustration toward your Teacher: Why he is not helping/adjusting me? Is he only noticing me? Why does he let this student doing more asana when he can not catch? Does he really know my practice?
At one point your body will talk to you. Whether it will be hurting you or might surprising you. Some asanas that were out of reach are now coming easily as others asanas that were easier will become harder to reach. The body intelligence will open new path into your movements by creating more space and developing new muscles.
Your mind will play with you, it will scare you for some asana such as the drop back telling you it is not safe while some others days will let you do whatever your want.
And in the middle of this revolution happening in and outside of your inner Self you will have to remain stable and focus.
There is a dogma about Sharat. Sharat says "this" or "that" and everyone has to follow it blindly. Older well established Ashtangis are not following Sharat but still continue to pay tribute to Pattabhi Jois. Others prefer to follow Manju Jois.
Therefore some teachers will stop you during your practice and some others won't, allowing you to practice with variation. If you practice with Sarawasti she will let you do variation.
Some westerner teachers try to teach such as Sharat. They wear the towel around their waist, speak like Sharat, try to count like Sharat but got lost in the sanskrit counting, teach the led class very fast and even use his tone in order to replicate him the best way they can.
What I have learned lately it that there is not really any "laws" or rules in the Ashtanga as it might be different from one teacher to another one.
There is a story about the fact that "you won't receive any new asana on a Tuesday".... why? no one knows but some like to say it is about the alignment of the planet.
Why there is no practice on Full Moon or New Moon? Some say that it is because your body might be injured during this particular time, some others says that as Pattabhi Jois was also into astrology he took the decision to not teach during this time, no one has a proven or written scientific proof or even in the tradition about why there is no practice during these time.
Why it has to be practice 6 days in a row one day off? The best answer is you always need a day off to rest your body. But there is nothing wrong to practice 5 days in a row 2 days off. Or 2 days in a row, one day off and 2 days in a row.
Why you can not practice asana with a variation? No one know, some of them are saying is because your body can not fully open if you are using a variation but what about a permanent injury that does not allow the student to go into the asana?
Why you can not practice backbend before the Intermediate Series (outside of the closing series)? It is said that the Primary Series is the preparation of the Intermediate Series. So does that mean that others practitioner of other style of Yoga are doing it wrong?
The most important thing is to practice it in order to understand it and your body. Your body is getting "purified" by a regular practice because it is constantly opening your joints and bringing fresh energy to your body as it is removing all the bad thoughts that can stay printed into your muscles.
The best thing that I am now looking forward to it is to practice it on my own, not in a class completely packed where it is impossible to spread your legs or your arms and to move forward only with myself, not waiting for the approval of any teachers.
What I also learned is that I won't be following blindly any "guru" and won't listen to the so called rules of Ashtanga. I will follow what my heart and body will tell me because I am my own guru.
- Namaste -
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
The logic behind the Asthanga "system" is each asanas are preparing you to the next one. Therefore when an asana can not be done your practice stops there.
Pattabhi Jois has given different series to different students, he never stops anyone during their practice.
The moment "you stop there" has come from Sharat itself.
Now it is call the Tradition.
Therefore you can practice the same series for years before adding and practicing any other asanas.
However in Hatha class even though practitioners are not following any series such as the Ashtanga they can do all asana they want, they can back bend as much as they want if their body is capable of and same for other style of yoga.
A "pure" and complete devoted Ashtangi won't touch Krounchasana until :
1. He binds in Marychasana D
2. He catches in Supta Kurmasana
3. He can do drop back without any help
Once everything has been done as it is supposed to be done then he will be introduced to the Secondary Series starting from Pasana. Once Pasana is done perfectly he will finally start Krounchasana followed by Salabasana A, B and so on...
Does that mean that other practictioners of other style of Yoga are doing wrong by having much more variety and choices in their practice?
I don't think so.
When you have an hamstring injury what is the point of still practicing the Primary Series knowing that most of the asanas are based on a forward fold? Why not introducing some other asanas such as Salabasana, Bhekasana, Dhanurasana, Parsva Dhanurasana, Ustrasana?
This is to me the logical limit of the Ashtanga. If you can not do forward fold then work on the back bend and all harms balanced such as Bakasana, Mayurasana.
I had this conversation yesterday with a lady following point by point Sharat words. I told her since my injury when I am not in the shala and after I will be back home I will stop the Primary to focus more on other asanas that I haven't really practice since I started to dedicate my practice only to the Ashtanga. And she was telling me it was completely wrong!
To me what is wrong is still doing Prasaritta Padotanasana 4 times with an hamstring injury while Dhanurasana does not harm at all, on the contrary I really like to do it and my body is getting more flexible.
Basically it is our own choice, following blindly the tradition or choose to practice with an open mind.
I am choosing the second option.
- Namaste -
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
Since the workshop with Mark Robberds I have been doing another practice in the afternoon and so far I do it daily. Not a full hour of primary or secondary series but some rehabilitation movement in order to heal the hamstring.
I am working a lot on my core doing Pilates exercices and also reinforcing considerably the gluteus muscle because I realised that I did not really have any muscles in that area.
Also my practice has to change drastically so now I am working a lot with my core while before I used to rely in the gravity.
I am starting to be grateful to have this injury. It made me realise the weakness of my practice and of my body as well.
Basically now I am doing glut and core exercices.
And this morning even though the pain was still there it was less. I had a beautiful practice and when my injury will be healed completely my practice will be at the top.
Patience is the word ;-)
- Namaste -
Sunday, 2 July 2017
I am back to Ubud to practice with Iain Grysak. This shala is amazing, peaceful, very good energy and mostly I have noticed that same students are coming back and I am one of them.
After the practice Iain asked me about my left side and noticed that my pelvis was not aligned. He suggested me to do half primary but give me the option to continue to practice the entire series if I was feeling good with it.
"Patience" is his word. And I have to admit that he is completely right. There is no point for me going further into the practice while I can not bend on the left side. My body is completely unaligned and even though I am spending more time and bringing more attention to my jump back and jump through (by the way it is clearly improving) the pain is still here and I am still very limited into my movements.
Hamstrings injury can last for 6 months or even more so I have to become patient and respect my body.
When there is not another option patience is the best thing to apply and to agree with.
When I am lengthening my arms in front of me and bringing my 2 index altogether I can see that my left side is shorter than my right side. My body is compensating. For example Navasana is not stable at all, right hip higher than the left one so therefore there is no stability.
Nothing else to say about it. Just Patience.
- Namaste -
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
There is something that I have learnt by practicing Ashtanga Yoga with different teachers and meeting dedicated practictioner is that there is no place for self pity, all Ashtangis I've met and spoke with have met obstacles on their yoga journey.
I am not saying that you SHOULD continue to practice if your have an injury. It is your call wether you stop or wether you try to adapt your practice.
The advice I have received is to take care and to adapt my practice, which I am doing. Furthermore I am not stopping my practice but I do it differently.
Self pity can be very poisonous. Because the only thing you think about is all about what you were able to do before your injury, so you are in the past instead of the present moment trying to analyse what else should be done to improve the practice.
For instance all forward fold from the left side is not happening, no problem just stay there and keep a flat back without pushing forward.
Take more time in the Chaturanga Dandasana working the shoulders strength, enjoying each inversion and back bend, trying to hold longer time all arms balance during transition, working more the core during Navasana, enhancing the lift up and jump back.
I took the decision to glorify my practice by improving all things I thought I had acquired.
I took the decision to see the glass half full.
Labels: Personal ashtanga yoga blog
Sunday, 25 June 2017
I have been out of my mat for the last 4 days. This morning was "my come back". Ant it was painful. The pain is always here and getting worst if I am bending my knees while bending forward. The reason is very simple by bending the knee the hamstring is shortening therefore I am adding more force to the sit bone end of the hamstrings.
I noticed it already last week and then stop to bend the knees while bending forward except for few exception such as standing balancing poses.
Here is a good article about the sit bone pain : Dealing with sit bone pain.
|Credit photo: Yoganatomy.com|
When you are practicing the primary Series this kind of injury can really compromise the practice. Basically the Primary Series is all about forward fold so there are a lot of things that you can't really practice when you there is a sit bone pain.
Instead of it I try to focus more about my jump back and jump through as well the backbend but mentally speaking it is also really hard to deal with and quite challenging.
And even though I am jumping to the secondary series then I will be stuck to Krounchasana as I won't be able to lengthen the left leg. Then questions arise, should I just stop the practice? Should I continue following David Keil instructions such as keeping my leg lengthening instead of bending it.
The reason I am keeping the practice is if I stop it then I will become insane. I have taken 6 months off of no teaching, no working just to practice and go deeper into the Ashtanga Yoga, of course at that time when I took that decision my expectations were high and I had some beautiful moments, the day I was able to lift up my legs from the floor in Kurmasana, the day I was able to bind and cross my legs in Supta Kurmasana, the day I did Urdhva Dhanurasana with my hands on my chest, all of theses moments were priceless and highly satisfactory.
What about the here and now? All of theses asanas mentioned previously are now completely out of my reach, even a "simple" Prasaritta Padotanasana is not happening.
I feel I am moving backward instead of moving forward. And there is nothing I can do about it, the healing process will be long and will be longer if I push my body so there is only one thing to do for me is to step back and continue the practice with an open mind by accepting my new limitations.
However I should not erase from my memory that I am able to do all of theses postures, it will come back one day, maybe in 6 months or maybe in one year.
In the mean time I will manage the practice and will slightly change it when I won't be in a Mysore class.
And then Yoga is not ONLY ABOUT asanas so there are many things to be discovered. Maybe I never apply what I was preaching, Asanas are just part of the Yoga journey but do not define what Yoga is.
Instead of torturing myself and the self pity I should glorify my body and my practice. If this pain is here that is for a good reason, I just need to focus toward the others limbs of Yoga and not being stuck to the physical part of it.
- Namaste -
Labels: Practicing yoga with an injury.
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
The practice of the Ashtanga Yoga is a very long process.
And it is not a linear one, it is very random. Some days your practice will reach some peaks and you will feel just wonderful about it, asanas that where out of your reach become suddenly very easy to do and others that you used to do without any problem are becoming tricky....
Older pains suddenly disappear giving the opportunity to new ones to arise.
The main thing is not to create any expectations. Expectations in Ashtanga Yoga Asana practice are the killer of your emotions, a massive weapon of destruction.
Whatever it is happening to you and whatever the result is with your practice you should always keep in a small (or big) part of your brain and nervous system the Santosha concept. Whatever happened you are happy and comfortable with it. Yesterday you were catching, Santosha, today you are not catching, Santosha, yesterday you were pain free, Santosha, today you are full of pain and it hurts badly, Santosha.
Easy you just keep yourself out of trouble and do not let the little monkey playing with your mind.
Unfortunately this is one of the concept that can be unreachable because we are human being.
The society does not apply Santosha at all, we are living in a world in which the happiness is relying on how much you get on your bank account, how much you can buy things and do not worry because if you do not have money the Bank will be here to offer you the best loan of your life with high interests but at least you will be able to buy that new car you have been looking for since you were a kid....
The Society is not happy when people are happy. Because if we live in a world in which we are satisfied of what we've got then the TV, Internet, Social media will always remind you that your are missing something.
We want to live longer but we do not want to look older, no problems at all there is always a solution, you can have a face lift that will change your life, the botox will help you to look younger because having wrinkles does not look good.
You should not be fat, whatever happens in your life you should keep a beach body so the Society will always create a new craze about the new food that will help you to get rid off those nasty tiny bump arising around your waist and cellulite we all know is bad looking.
The TV Reality shows are all about competition. You take a group of 6 people and in order to win the game they just have to betrayed all others participants to show they are better.
You should not be "alone", if you haven't tight the note after your 25 then you might have a problem so the society has created speed dating, and yes it is "speed" dating because it has to be fast, why are we taking so much time to find our other half? It is a shame, better to be with someone quickly who will fulfil your demands as fast as she/he can, because we all know that our happiness is relying on someone else right? How can you be happy if you are "alone", not dating someone?
I was laughing so bad when I read the article about Gwyneth Paltrow explaining the benefit of the Yoni eggs..... because of course our happiness is also relying on a good sexual relation ship as well, so in order to make happy your partner please use them....
In this world we have to be perfect, you want more hairs, extension, more lashes, extensions, beach body, surgery, wrinkles free, surgery, new house, loan, new car, loan, happiness, speed dating and so on....
Therefore our way of life is such a competitive one that applying the concept of contentment is really hard.
What are our expectations when we are unfolding our mat each morning? What is the reflection of our practice linked to our way of life?
You might have been comparing yourself with others instead of glorifying your own practice, you might have been judging teachers and students instead of analysing what was happening deeper inside of you.... what if the "problem" was between you and the relationship with you inner self? Why can you not be happy with the things you have accomplished and will accomplished in the near future?
That is the process.....
Monday, 19 June 2017
The joy of being a woman ;-)
The PMS symptoms can begin on the 14 days of the cycle, "happily" for me it mostly begins around a week or 4 days before the periods starts.
A chemical change in the brain and an insufficient amount of serotonin can cause PMS.
Serotonin is active in constricting smooth muscles, transmitting impulses between nerves cells, regulating cyclic body processes and contributing to well being and happiness (source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com).
During the PMS we can also experienced the following:
1. Pain areas such as breast, abdomen, back, joints, muscles and pelvis
2. Constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, gas or water retention (hopefully not all of them!)
3. Excessive hunger or lost of appetite, fatigue
5. Acne, depression, weight gain, insomnia, irritability etc...
One of the solution to avoid all of these is regular physical exercice. However even thought you are a regular practictioner of Ashtanga or other style of Yoga the PMS can still occur. So yes physical exercice might help but does not protect you against it.
Food habit can also have an impact such as coffee which seems not to be good and too much sweet.
Mea culpa I am coffee drinker.... however I do believe that my diet is okay, I do eat a lot of fruits and vegetable and slowly but surely cutting all dairy products. The only one that I can not really stop is the butter, as soon as I see a piece of bread I need butter on it...
Sometimes it is very frustrating when you practice because you know at one point during a week your practice won't be as good as it was the week before, not to mention when the bleeding starts during which you can (or I personally) can not practice for 48 hours.
The "solution" will be to take the birth control pill for which I am completely against, so that is a big no. If you are taking the birth control pills then you might not need to stop your practice as your cycle is not a natural one, everything is fake, even the bleeding is fake.
Now how to deal with the PMS during your practice?
If someone has the answer then I am ready to listen because every month it is a nightmare for me. My body is completely stiff, I have pain everywhere, I am big and completely moody.
Basically on a one month practice I only have 3 weeks during which I am really practicing....
I am then wondering how Wonder Woman manage it....
Monday, 12 June 2017
Even thought I know my limitation because of my injury I have to admit that sometimes it is really hard to deal with it. All standing poses for instance are completely excruciating, not to mention that the Prasaritta Padotanasana Series that I used to love and practice so much is now completely out of my reach.....
However once passed all Janu shirshana the practice is getting more pleasant.
Supta Kurmasana was effortless, I am binding slowly but easily.
Some of my jump through were flying.
But in the end, after Shavasana I just wanted to cry, I felt alone on my mat, I was watching the practice of others and was wondering when can I reach that level?
My backbends are really going well, I have so much good things coming out of my practice and I have absolutely no reason of feeling down.
I just want the injury to be heal, quickly... how long will it last??
Anyway, tomorrow is another practice so only good things can come out of it.
- Namaste -
Sunday, 11 June 2017
My injury is getting worst, left sit bone, left hamstring are completely tight, can not bend forward on the left side, however the hip opening is still happening so it does not stop to practice the Marychasana D for instance but all forward fold on the left side are completely out of reach.
This morning after Trikonasana B when I noticed that I could not even reach the floor without bending my left knee I was about to cry.
Then as my practice was going on I realised that it does not stop to me to work my jump back and jump through as well the lifting up.
At one my point I decided to just let it go.
When I reached Bhujapidasana I then realised that even though I did not really control the head down on the floor I've done it without my feet touching the floor, it was such an improvement. However to come back I had to bring the feet on the floor but mostly the work was coming from my arms, so I was very happy.
I also did a beautiful Setu Bandhasana with my arms crossed at my chest without any pain at all, it was actually very easy. Urdhva Dhanurasana was really easy as well.
My drop back were also very good, I come back with my head last and mostly the work is now coming from my legs.
So what am I learning right now?
Okay I have this bad injury but it is just limiting me in some asanas during the forward fold. However I can still improve the rest of the practice and instead of having pity of myself it woke up the warrior in me.
Today I practiced in full consciousness about my limitations and explored more about the things I can actually do but that I never done it fully because I thought it was out of my reach.
It was a full 2 hour practice, taking my time but respecting all vinyasas.
Finally it all happened for a good reason ;-)
- Namaste -
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
This year my practice has completely improved and is totally different from the practice I was doing 10 months ago.
I have been, and still is, lucky enough to practice under the guidance of two great Ashtangis which are Iain Grysak and Mark Robberds.
They have similar life experience and their approach of Ashtanga Yoga does not differ.
I have a huge respect for all other teachers that I have met such as John Scott and David Swenson but to the question "who is your teacher" I will definitely reply Iain Grysak and Mark Robberds and from now on I will stop to run after Ashtanga workshops from others teachers and will continue to practice as much as I can with Iain Grysak and Mark Robberds.
On February when I came to Ubud to practice with Iain Grysak I was in an hurry to learn and practice, I wanted him to give me asana, my priority was to move on even though I was not ready for it, my expectation was to be feed from the asana. It did not happen. On the contrary I realised many things during this month. I thought I was well balanced, positive and focused. I was not.
My breathing was on/off, my practice was not smooth and relaxe because my mind was not stable. With Iain I learned the patience and realised after all there was no emergency to move forward into the series. To my big consternation I realised I was judgemental by comparing myself to others who were going further into their asana while I was stuck at my infamous Supta Kurmasana.
And it really hit me into my face! As a matter of fact I got sick as my body was in need to process all of this new events.
When I cam back on April and May to Iain Grysak I was more stable and my practice changed drastically.
Now I am practicing with Mark Robberds and I have absolutely no rush to move forward into my practice. I have a slow practice, to do the full Primary takes me at least 1h45 minutes, sometimes 2 hours and even thought I have started to work the drop back I am not requesting it at all. I do it slowly on my own rythme, I don't even try to go down completely as I know I can not come back on my own, I understand my limitations and I completely accept them.
Mark does more adjustments but they are very soft, he does not push at all.
Both are talking the same about the practice, sometimes you improve one asana and on the same day you loose another one because it is a process, the body need to print the movement into the muscular fiber creating a body map.
Creating more space into the body will definitely have an effect on our posture, the more you practice back bending the more hips opening you will have but the more you practiced all hand stand position the less opening shoulders you will get. There is a need to find a balance into the practice, by finding it we will be able to balance ourself and to keep a steady mind.
Accepting the changes is also very important, one morning your practice will be awesome and the very next the practice will be absolutely awful, but it should not stop you to come on the mat because nothing is permanent, the same way the ocean is having high and low tide our body is having good and bad day.
- Namaste from Canggu -
Tuesday, 6 June 2017
This morning my body was completely stiff but the practice was really good. Still my practice is really slow and I am managing the pain which is becoming smother.
I start practicing more back bend but I want to do it slowly, there is no emergency for me to grab my ankles. I asked Deepika how can I use the wall and she showed me, so I am not doing any drop back as right now I would like to start doing it myself. For this I need to open more my upper chest but need really to work on my legs.
When coming back from a drop back the work is coming essentially from the legs. However I do not feel anything coming from my legs and beside I was not able to completely strengthen my arms neither. Therefore if I am doing a drop back with help mainly the work will be done from the helper and not from me so I want to avoid it and need to reinforce my legs during all backbends.
This will be my mission for this month of practice.
This afternoon we have a session so this morning just relaxing.
Monday, 5 June 2017
I am learning to practice with pain, my left sit bone is still painful but it is completely manageable. My practice is slower than usual and in order to avoid the pain I am learning how to stretch my left side from different other part of my body. As my forward folds are slightly limited on the left side I try to stretch more from the lower back to gain more space between the sit bone and the lumbar spine. So far it is working.
The practice was good this morning and tomorrow I will start the back bend on my own using the wall, Deepika is showing to students how to use the wall without becoming completely dependant of it.
My jump back and jump through.... how can I put it in words.... yesterday we have an all session about how to reinforce the core center, mostly I knew all exercices but I have to admit that I do not practice them so maybe I should add it to my routine, maybe I should start to add a little session in the afternoon with this kind of exercices.
Mark said that if you want to practice the Ashtanga at one point you have to put the spiritual on the side and to commit only to the movement, becoming more athletic. Even though I really want to manage the jump back and jump through I never really commit to it, during the practice I am trying my best but never I am practicing it outside of the practice so maybe it is time for me to start the process.
But then it is really confusing as some teachers told that the practice is enough and practicing another session might have side effects such as closing the part of the body your are opening during the morning practice. What is wrong, what is right? I don't know.
I will start a routine in the afternoon with exercices showed as yesterday and will see the effect it will give to my morning practice.
Sunday, 4 June 2017
Back to Bali after 3 weeks in Europe during which my practice has been erratic. I did not practice at all for a full week as I am having tremendous pain in the left sit bone since the workshop in Sweden.
This morning I was very happy to go back on my mat and also a little bit anxious. How will I deal with the pain.
After all it was fine, my left side is definitely getting sore during all forward bend so I have to adapt the practice by bending the left knee and putting a towel below my left tight each time I am bending forward for the siting posture.
Deepika noticed it and told me to continue like this, not forcing in Paschimottanasana.
I do believe it will be find, the funny thing is I did not feel any pain during Supta Kurmasana and Upavista Konasana, the pain is very present when I am bending forward with legs closer together but during a forward fold with an external hip rotation it does not bother me at all.
I am very happy to be back there and this practice even thought it was not the best practice was really good for my mind and body.
Thursday, 11 May 2017
I have reached Sweden last Saturday and the temperature hit me pretty bad.... it was snowing..... from Ubud 35° to Stockholm 2°..... but I survived !!!
I was a bit disappointed when David told us that there will be no led or Mysore class with him during the week of training. I thought that we will be practicing with him but no. Then I registered myself for the Mysore practice and was happily surprised to see that it was Laruga taking the Mysore Class.
Yesterday to my big surprise I was able to bind on my own Supta Kurmasana.... and this morning was able to reproduce it, easily, with a little effort but no pain at all. Supta Kurmasana done :-)
Backbends are also improving a lot, I can walk closer to my feet now and it feels great.
The week of training with David Swenson is good, he is an amazing Teacher of course with such history behind me. He is teaching us how to teach the Primary series.... but without any vinyasa count, for this you have to come back ;-)
On the Yoga studio website it was mentioned that this course was not for learning the Primary Series, underlining that people should be practitioners.... However they are not, some of them did not even know what was the Mysore style.... so yes I was a little bit disappointed about it but in the end I am learning new adjustments which is good. However I am a bit frustrated as I thought it will be more about the practice.
However (I like this word) my practice is getting really good, everything has changed, I twist more, grabbing my wrist in most of the posture when required, jumping back easily and doing Supta Kurmasana on my own was really my accomplishment of the week!
I do a Mysore practice in the morning at 6.00 AM then at 9.00 AM starts the course with David Swenson. My body can handle it without any problem and on the contrary I do believe that practicing again in the afternoon by adjusting and teaching really help me for the morning.
So it's all good!
Tuesday, 2 May 2017
We are always saying that we should listen to our body and Yoga is the tool for it in order to understand how it works and how our mind is influencing our body part.
So when your body does not wake up on time and feel tired the all morning, is it laziness or is it a sign that your body is tired?
This morning I did not wake up. I slept until 7.10 AM. Outside it was raining and the sound of the rain hitting the window had a soporific effect.
Because I did not practice I am in a situation in which 1) I feel guilty.... and 2) I feel tired.
Why should I feel guilty when I have listened my body? Because there is the shade of the laziness..... I feel tired because I did not have the morning practice that used to wake me up. Really?
Yesterday morning practice was really stiff. Hamstrings really tight, pain in the shoulder, pain in the knee...
Am I finding any excuses for not being able to wake up?
This is where we should be careful. Not to transform the dedication and the tapas into a nightmare of psychiatric issues.
Of course it is really good to have a healthy habit which consists of morning daily practice. BUT we should not become a slave of it. Tapas is good, fanaticism is bad.
Because right now if I sit down and start chanting the mantra "why I did not go to my morning practice, I am missing a practice" then it will be ruining my day and tomorrow my practice will be done with the weight of guiltiness on my shoulders.
Instead of that, listening my body and my mind. I did not wake up, okay, maybe it is laziness, my bed was very comfortable and I had an amazing dream.
Will it impact my practice of tomorrow? Yes surely or maybe not, who cares?
Will the Ashtanga Police come to my room and force me to do as many chaturanga I can bare until my arms give up?
Of course no! After all we are humans and not machines.
Tomorrow will be another day :-)
Friday, 28 April 2017
I might be a baby ashtangi considering that I have celebrated my one year of Ashtanga practice but I have been practicing yoga since the last 10 years. However by jumping from one style to another I never really enjoy any changes into my daily life.
I was practicing and teaching Pilates, daily swimming and jumping from Vinyasa Yoga to Flow classes to Hatha Yoga to Bikram.
The fact is by repeating daily the same sequence in the same order with a proper breathing had a huge impact on my physical body and on my mind.
It reminded me when I was doing dancing class as a teenager for the all year we were repeating the same choreography, once one part was learned adding new moves until the all set was about a 10 minutes dancing "show". Then at the end of the year we were showing our work to the school and as it has been rehearsed billion time it was effortless. I remembered I was rehearsing at home and doing daily the floor bar exercices and I was getting really good to it.
That is the same with Ashtanga except that the sequence is slightly harder then the dance moves.
I think in all kind of Yoga we can create our own sequence that fit us and repeat it daily until the body completely absorbs the asanas and get ready to add more postures.
The secret is the repetition and of course a lot of Tapas (discipline, not the spanish appetiser).
Therefore the mind is not disturbed but more focused and it really helps for the rest of the day and probably for the rest of your life as well!
That was my thought of the day ;-)
Week 3 of April with Iain is done, time flies here. One more week and then back to Europe for 3 weeks before coming back to Canggu on June.
More practices to come, more benefits to get, more knowledge to learn, more flexibility for my mind and my body.
Have a great day!
- Namaste -
Friday, 21 April 2017
If you are coming to Ubud to practice with Iain Grysak I can highly recommended you to stay at the guest house Gayatri Bungalows.
|Gayatri by the pool|
Rooms are very cozy and furnished with good taste, the place is quiet surrounded with rice fields, there is a swimming pool and the food is delicious.
The owner of the Gayatri Bungalows is a young Ashtangi who could be easily a model for the fashion industry. As a baby Ashtangi we had really good discussion about the practice as he is one of the regular student of Iain, he has been practicing with him since the last 4 years.
Let me share you one of our discussion we had. I think there are a lot of insights and good advices about the ashtanga yoga practice.
|Beautiful Doors at Gayatri, Ubud|
When was your very first practice?
I stared practicing Ashtanga Yoga in 2013, Easter Day, in England. I first did half primary led class with a teacher called Ryan Spielman I did between one half and primary led and then after the second one I stayed behind at the class because at that point I was already hooked and when all the students left I spoke to him and I said "I feel a really strong connection to this type of practice and I'd really like to learn to do it properly so I asked him what will be the best way to do that" and then he said to learn this kind of yoga properly you should go to a Mysore style class but in this kind of class you can not just drop in, you have to really commit". At that point I had so many injuries from sport I was doing playing football, I had a shoulder injury so I could not do anything at the gym and I've always been an active physical person so I had this space in my life where I wanted to do something so I thought I can commit initially for one month. In the beginning after my first week of Mysore style class I did not take any day off, it was instinct addiction, it was only after about one month and a half someone with who I was practicing would say that in the Ashtanga method we usually take Saturdays off. But as it was a non traditional studio they were led classes on Saturday as well.
I heard about the moon day but I thought it was like if you are tired you don't have to practice and it was only when I moved to Bali and I started to practice with Prems and Radha they were really strict and more traditional so that is where I understood moon day is actually day off.
How long did it take you to know the full primary series?
When I was practicing in London for about 6 to 7 weeks I learned the primary series until Bhujapidasana and that was the first pose which I was stuck for some times. After moving to Bali I practiced with Prems and Radha and they were really the people who gave me the first proper foundation for alignment, for breathing, for bandhas, for vinyasa count. They taught me the post of the primary and then the last two of the primary (yoga mudrasana and utpluthih) they did not teach for many months. And then because I was told that it was rude as an ashtanga student to ask for an asana I did not, and then one day Radha came to me and said "what you are not doing the last two poses?" and I said "because you never have taught it to me" and she said "oh okay sorry" and she taught me. So it would have about 9 months after I stared in England that I finished the Primary Series.
Why did you go to your first Ashtanga Yoga class?
After playing football I had ligaments damage in one ankle and serious strain in my other ankle and then I also had a shoulder injury in the right one from which I was unable to do a simple press up so before going to the Ashtanga I was doing Yoga and Pilates 3 to 4 times a week in a gym so the level of the teacher was not that great but it was an interesting introduction. In those days I used to like more Pilates than yoga. There was a girl that I liked in the university who was doing Yoga at the same place so then I thought it was just a good excuse to go there but it turned out that the two weeks I signed for the classes she was actually sick so she did not come there one time!
What I found really peaceful in the Ashtanga Yoga practice is that there were place for introspection, self discipline, physical challenge which really fit my personal character as I am a quite introspective person.
Did you have any problem by being stopped to one asana during your practice?
The answer is not, I did not have any problem of being stop during my practice but I have been stopped many times! The first was bhujapidasana which I was topped for a few months because I could not cross my feet and keep them in the air. I knew I was very young into the practice so I did not have any kind of expectation. The other one that took a long time was shirshasana, to have a stable and straight shirshana take many years actually but as it is one asana of the closing series I was not stop during the practice.
I started the intermediate series with Iain and back bending was easy for me. However I was stopped few month for jumping directly to bakasana, it took me about 5 months to land Bakasana and then after that it took me a while to learn Pincha Mayursana about 6 months and now I am stop at Karandavasana since July 2015 so 21 months!
But it's fine, I know what the tradition is so there is no point of being upset.
Are you anticipating Karandavasana when you are practicing?
Not really, actually I do believe that some poses after Karandavasana will be fun to try but I don't like dream about it at night. It's normal to want to try new thing but I also know that in general the Ashtanga System has a lot of built-in intelligence so there is no point trying a further pose because you actually need to do the pose before it to build the ability of doing the other pose properly.
The thing about Ashtanga which is nice as well is if you have a bad practice one morning it is obviously a bit annoying, you feel a bit frustrated, but then you go home, showered, changed, have lunch, work and then it is already the evening and it is really closed to your next practice so there is never any chance to be dull on the practice because you are always only a short amount of time away from the next one!
Is there any goal you would like to achieve through the practice?
My basic motivation, my approach to the Ashtanga was first to help my body healing and that is the reason why I continue practicing to remain healthy and pain free.
David Williams, when I did the Ashtanga Yoga Bali Conference in 2013 he had this quote who resonated with him, he said "if it hurts or there is pain then you are doing it wrong", that basically encapsulated my feeling or thoughts toward the Ashtanga practice. Learning all poses is also a side effect of the practice but it is not a goal.
Why you don't have any desire of teaching Ashtanga?
Teaching and practicing Ashtanga are two different things. To teach Ashtanga Yoga well you should have a very good practice but if you have a very good practice you will not becoming necessarily a very good teacher.
If you become a teacher you need to commit in a different way and I think to become a full Mysore Ashtanga yoga teacher is a full time job so that means I will have to sacrifice the other things that I am doing because I love my current job.
I really love practicing Ashtanga, with some friends I speak about Ashtanga during my free time and sometimes if they are working on a pose that I have already learned to do then I just tell them my experience of that pose. For example last year with one of the student we did an unplanned workshop for about 2 hours on how to jump/land in Bakasana and it was fine, it is fun to help people.
But running this guest house is something really closed to my heart and I don't consider teaching Ashtanga as a calling in my life.
Do you think that in 10 years from now you will still be practicing?
Yes definitely. I remember when I started practicing with Iain and we spoke about the sustainability and attitude toward pain and practice, and at that time I was doing the backbend so I told him "I feel a bit of fear during this pose, I'd like to keep practicing for the next 30 years or so". He looked at me and asked "how old are you?" and I said "I'm 23" and he said "30 years? your target should be to be able practicing for the next 60 years!".
In which way the practice has been helping you in your daily life?
This is a really big question and there are so many layers to it and many way of approaching it. There is the purely physical health aspect that can be divided into different parts and aspects for example the blood circulation, the respiratory benefits and things like quality of sleep, the body moves into an economical efficient avoiding putting stress and strain into the joints so that is kind of the gross understanding benefits of the ashtanga yoga practice on the body.
And then when you go on deeper things one of the things you learn about the asthanga is how to deal with anxiety, and Kino talked about it, by creating a certain amount of anxiety every day in doing difficult physical postures but then facing them every day through breathing deeply and by being brave enough it means that you better prepare when a situation arrives where you start to feel that same kind of anxiety, you know if you stay connected you can go through it.
As for my personal experience, I called it the "suffering factor" which is that part of if you live well you suffer less in the morning, so for example you want to practice every day, it is a big commitment so you need to sacrifice a lot of things but then if you don't practice every day you will suffer more in the morning. If you practice every day there is a lot of momentum your body is just integrated everything and it becomes automatic, it becomes very light and easy, when you start taking breaks you practice one month and then you take a week off and you practice again your body can not do it well so you will suffer more. If you out late at night, if you drink or if you don't sleep enough and you back on the mat at 6.30 AM you will definitely suffer.
If you heat a lot of unhealthy food and you try to jump in the morning where you need a lot of lightness and use your bandhas, you just can't you will suffer. So as I don't want to suffer in the morning practice I had my diner early, I go to bed early.
On a much more personal things which I don't know whether it will apply to many people but for my all life until now I have always had a degrees of OCD, just typical thing like obsessive list keeping, keeping lists of everything like when I cut my nails, what movies I've watched or how many minutes I've played and how many footballs match, just keeping a list of everything, what clothes I was wearing on which days so that's was one and then another "pretty normal OCD" behaviour is bacterial phobia so if someone is touching the food you just could not eat it or then if someone licks a glass or drinks from your bottle you just leave the bottle away.
I remember once when I was young my mother she bakes a cake and when she was making the dough she dipped a finger in it and taste it and then she put some vanilla in it, mixed it, and then she put her finger in it and tasted again. Because I saw she did not wash her hands, even though she put the dough in the oven and baked it, I could not eat any of that cake.
There is also "classic OCD behaviour" is when you leave the house checking all of the doors locked a certain amount of times, sometimes seven times, sometimes ten times because you know 7 and 3 there are "good" numbers or 7+3 makes ten so you can check for 10 times and then similar thing to when you finish your glass you have to finish it on the seven intakes of water or then if not then you have to take an extra one to empty it just to get seven..... same when you are closing a toothpaste tube or a bottle of perfume you have to do it on 3, it is like really obsessive compulsive behaviour.
There is also the tendency of doing something perfectly. If I put a pants I have to check that everything is symmetrical and same things with a shirt, same thing with the socks so then everything was a lot of efforts, everything took a long amount of time and I was often repeating things because they were not perfect, you know sometimes I put on my socks and my shoes and then I started to tight them but then something felt wrong so I just took everything off and re do it again.
When did you notice you had OCD issues?
It first start at school. It was an international school and we were all slightly of different level so then the teacher wanted to see how many of use were knowing the alphabet on the first day. I knew the alphabet from the pre school and then the teacher asked us to writing down on the notebook. I was given a notebook and a pencil so I wrote down the letter "A" and I remember the horizontal line of the upper case "A" was a bit too high so the letter did not look so nice so I asked for an eraser and erased it and then I tried to write it again but this time the line was a bit too low so I erased it again and then I remember I spent the all class doing it, one hour, I just kept arising until I ripped the page and took a new page and I could never make a perfect "A" so I think the teach must have thought I was a really stupid kid because I did not know the alphabet, which I knew!! But I could not bring myself move forward from that A because it was not perfect. And that was when I was 7 years old.
Firstly OCD is always been called the "doubting decease" which means you always doubt wether is locked, you have to check it again and again and only when you have checked with the magic number okay now you know it is locked. Or then if you don't ride down a list of how many times you've done something you started to doubt whether it has happened, you always doubting of everything.
The second thing with OCD is the desire of control in a world in which you want to have control of your happiness, your health, your financial prospect and so on. You control something but you don't control that many things, if you like someone they might like you or they might not and even though if you really try they might like you a little bit but still they might not like you. You can not control everything.
In Ashtanga you can have the desire to learn a pose very fast but in the end it is not only your will power that is doing it.
The third thing there is a tendency in a lot of OCD behaviour to put to much emphasis on the working of the conscious mind and I guess here is related to the control factor being very averse to surrendering to any other part of the Self. So for example when you lock the door there is definitely part of the Self that already knows that the door is locked but the conscious mind is thinking or maybe the door is not really locked maybe you need to check it magic number of times.
Whereas if it really came to it I think with a lot of OCD people, like if it is really a matter of life and death the conscious mind is switch off into instinctively behaviour; if there is a fire no OCD person is going checking the door, you know they have to get out because they are back to that kind of more instinctive intelligence of the body not the conscious mind.
For many years when I was starting practicing Ashtanga that was the way I looked at the practice, I thought "when I do the practice I need to consciously move my hand this way and then I need to move my leg that way and if I don't think about it it's not gonna to happen. So then it made the practice very rigid, kind of a soldier like, performance like quality and completely lacked quality of softness, quite military, physical, exercice because I could not find myself to surrender from my body, my conscious mind or the meditative state of the practice.
In the beginning I did not like led class because I did not have time to do everything perfect, to control the practice so then for about two years I started the practice I did not do any led class, I did one with Manju and I thought it was terrible so I thought there is no point of going to led class and then of Iain Grysak substitute, Steve, he was very strict and quite agressive and he said to me if I am practicing in the shala I need to go the led classes if not then I won't be able to practice there anymore. I thought okay so I did Steve Lapal classes and I realised if was not too bad and I continued with Iain and he could see that when I was doing Primary with him I was able more less move not perfectly, I still have to straighten my map, straighten my short, straighten my towel but not as much as in the Mysore room. And then I started to stay more in the count.
In the Mysore class I would to stop my practice, blow my nose, straighten my map, straighten my hairs like doing a lot of things and slowly at the time I was able to stay more focus as Iain told me I should stay on the count.
It was a one point when I was doing maybe half of the intermediate that Iain said "what I want you to do is focus less on creating a perfect expression of the pose each time and instead of that try to focus more on staying on the vinyasa count. The way you move in the led class on Friday through the Primary I want you to move the same way through intermediate in Mysore class".
Then at first I thought I don't know if I can do it so mentally I was so dependent of the breaks, like before a difficult pose I was taking 5 extra breathes before I felt ready. It was a direct piece of advice from the Teacher and I did not want to contradict him so I thought okay I will just try it.
And then when I tried it the really amazing thing was I thought that would be much harder to do because I was not taking extra breaths and I had some fears on how it would go but then the interesting thing was instead of that the practice was actually much easier to do because the quality of breathes and the bandhas was uninterrupted and also because I was only focusing on breath, bandhas and movement without breaks all the energy that was going to others stuffs, you know the mat, the towel, the short, blowing my nose, going to the bathroom, all of that energy was not being wasted but was directed toward the practice. So it was like an "Epiphany" like an important realisation for me.
Since that day I thought "wow this is quite an amazing way to be, to feel your mind and your body move".
There was also the article of Iain "Becoming Animal" which is about the organic intelligence of the body and the important of surrendering, to me I will surrender when I'll die, I always have issue with all kind of authority but then what Iain says he too does not agree with the way the word surrender is used in the yoga circle in general because most of the time we surrender to another human being or surrender to a holly text but actually what he says is to surrender to the organic intelligence of the body. And then I was thinking I don't want to surrender to anything but yes I can surrender to myself, that is alright!
Because of Ashtanga, because of Iain's writing and his teaching I am actually right now at a stage of a kind of lowest OCD behaviour and highest productivity than I ever had in my life.
Thank you very much Bagus for speaking from your heart.
- Namaste -
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
There is something about the daily practice, it becomes a ritual. Waking up early going to the shala for the practice.
Ashtanga yoga Shalas are quiet. No one is sitting on his/her mat chatting with other people, talking about how fabulous your yoga pant is, asking what is your yoga mat, laughing loudly, no, all of theses things are not happening in an Ashtanga Yoga Shala.
You just come, unfold your mat, chant (or not) the opening mantra and then ekam inhale and practice starts.
Some days are good some days are really bad, sometimes the body is completely stiff, you have to deal with it, no whining to the teacher "oh why today my body is so stiff?"... everyones knows why, it happens, nothing is static, each day is different, you are different each new day and so the practice will be different.
Changes are happening, you can feel them. As you are practicing daily the same posture you can feel the difference from day 1 to day 250, you can notice that you are going deeper into the asana without any pain and any fear. You gained courage and confidence and you always remember that nothing is achieve, your practice is always in a process of constant changes as well your body as well your breathing.
Even thought sometimes you feel the temptation of comparing yourself to others the more you are practicing the less you do it. Your mat is becoming your world, your own space, you are completely focus.
The reason we are getting addicted to the Ashtanga Yoga is the realisation that everything is possible. When you are comparing your practice from Day 1 to now there are big changes and still going on. You feel that you improve yourself, not only on the physical part but on the mentally part as well. In a way you are making peace with yourself by knowing you better.
It is also a silent connections with others practitioners, at one point you will notice that you are enfolding your mat at the same place, nearby the same practitioner, even thought your flow will be different from him/her there is something that is guiding you toward the same direction. When the yoga shala is full then it is different but when there is plenty of place you will tend to go on the same spot.
Which to me is really funny because I never had "my spot", I used to change a lot but lately I have noticed that I am putting my mat on the very same place.
The same way you silently understand that some places are "booked" even though the practitioner is not there. For instance I will never ever put my yoga mat on the front row or the second row.
Most of the time when you exchange the first time with a student the first question is "how was your practice today?". We all know how hard it is so we often encourage each others and talking with others brings you some new highlight to your practice.
It is like being in a community but without living altogether all the time. It is a daily 2 hours of practice where we are sharing our energy and to me it is priceless.
My practice this morning was really good, I almost catch on my own in Supta Kurmasana and Iain was behind me, when he saw my fingers touching each others I heard him saying "hey...."... then he stopped because I was not able to catch but he adjusted me... but silently we both agreed that it is finally coming ;-)
During shirshasana I have noticed that now I don't really let my head touching the floor, without any efforts (well still pushing hard into the shoulders) I can really feel that my head is lifting up, means that I am building strength in my upper body which is a good news for all my new jump back and jump front that are slowly coming. I am getting better and better into the jump front still heavy in the jump back.
Right now I am considering staying in Bali on July as well. I am supposed to fly to Greece after Mark Robberds workshop but can not find a flight ticket..... I wanted to practice with Kritina Karitinou and I am having a second thought.....
To be continued :-)
Monday, 17 April 2017
This morning I woke up at 3.15 AM...... then was in the shala by 6.00 AM and started my practice. Curiously it was a good practice, I felt more open, Kurmasana was with heels completely lifted from the floor and pelvis well anchored in the floor. Iain gave me the adjustment for Supta Kurmasana and I hold it for 10 breathes, was very happy.
However jump back and jump through are still pathetic and really heavy. I am very closed to resign from them.
I have noticed that my jump front is really getting better, I can almost jump into the asana but to dismount the posture and to lift my pelvis keeping my legs crossed toward my chest or bringing my heels toward my pelvis is still impossible for me.
I am putting all my efforts to it.
As David Robson says "When you don't know what you're doing or just can't find some way to connect to the work you can feel a little bit lost"..... well David, I absolutely agree with you, I am completely lost!!!
There is a beautiful thing David is saying into his video "spin your arms IN"..... I am not sure I am doing it....
So basically I am quite following all of theses instructions but still can not do any jump back without touching the floor. That means that my arms are not strong enough or maybe they are too short and my legs are too big.
This is where in the practice we find excuses, we can't do because of our body. If I recall well last year I was 200% sure that Marychasana D was not for me at all, forever and ever and now I have absolutely no problem with it, I can grab my wrist with assistance and on my own I am closer to it.
So nothing is impossible, I know it but sometimes I am just fed up of trying without any success. And they say that we should not have any expectation.....
Tomorrow is another Mysore practice tomorrow will a new try!
- Namaste -
Sunday, 16 April 2017
How can we keep a stable mind when the body is changing daily??? This morning my practice was heavy, not flexible and the worth part is I was skipping asanas!!! After Supta Kurmasana (which was really bad even with Iain's adjustment) going directly to Upavista Konasana A.... then realised my error and went back to Gharba Pindasana.
Then After Upavista Konasana A going directly to Ubbaya Padanghustasana....... what was happening???
Today my mission is to watch all videos on Youtube about jump back and jump front because I am getting slightly pissed off for not being able to do any of them properly. So I need a clue, even though I think I know all the "tricks" but none of them is working, can I order longer arms???
I don't understand what is the thing that I don't get? Why the message can not reach my brain when I order myself "lift up, cross and jump back"..... Almost everyone is doing it and me I am just heavy as a big truck....
Basically my day has started pretty badly because of this practice.
Tomorrow will be another day, another try and all of the best!
Friday, 14 April 2017
I was almost counting the day in Thailand and here in Ubud time is flying....
This morning was a led class and the shala was completely packed, 28 students or more, we had to add a row and I was slighting putting my mat backward and the lady behind me was very unhappy and almost shout "oh no, not here or you will be jumping on me!....".... well I ignored her and did not jump on her during the full practice which was good ;-) however I almost "eat" her feet while she was dismounting Matsyasana....
Practice was good, it was really nice to follow the count and to let it go. Therefore I cheated a lot for most of jump back and jump front and almost broke my left fingers while jumping into Bhujapidasana as I was too close from the wall..... I just felt and Iain asked me if I was okay which I was so just continuing the practice and did a really really nasty Kurmasana.
My left hand is painful now and a bruise will be showing pretty soon.... when I felt my left index completely bend on the opposite direction (toward the top of my hand) but curiously it seems that it is okay.
Tomorrow is a day off.
During my breakfast I saw for the first time of my life a flying lizard!
He was flying from tree to tree. This small guy was really impressive.
In Bali the life is quite cool and lazy, it is really a Eat, Love and personnally Read as I do not pray.....
- Namaste -