Archive for August, 2008

Good breath – Its Official!

August 31, 2008

I got up at 5am to get the bus, it was dark and foggy as we arrived in London, I rang the bell and climbed the stairs to YP and saw the 2 flip flops by the radiator telling me Cary is back from her honeymoon and trip to Mysore. Thanks to Susan, Dena and Michaela in the last 2 months my practice has continued to grow, but Cary is an inspirational teacher. After greetings the first thing she asked after discussing my stress fracture was, did I find Ujayi yet? She must teach dozens of people, but her memory for individual challenges her students have amazes me.

5 months ago when I wrote this post about my lack of Ujayi, I thought I would never find out how to do it. Then Michaela turned the lightbulb on and since then Ujayi has come and gone, coming on poses I find relatively easy and going on those that are more than a struggle. At least the shala was nice and warm, helped deeper into Prasarita C, reminded about lifting my elbows in Parsvottanasana, then there she was waiting at the end of my mat for the dreaded Utita Hasta Padangusthasana. The preceding poses had opened my hamstrings and hips so the adjustment was ok, I let Cary do the asana as I concentrated on that now discovered Ujayi breath, I could tell I had found it and that she could hear it, as a big grin came over her face and as she left to adjust the person behind she just said “Good breath“, you have no idea how good it felt to hear those words from her. So I think its official, I have an Ujayi breath, not all the time, but this is a bit of a breakthrough.

Seated began with help in Dandasana, planting my hands as she tried to get me to roll my shoulders back and down, I’m sure my arms are too long for this one! I plodded through, jumping through, though not jumping back, protecting my strapped up foot. The forward bends were surprisingly open, especially with how tight my hamstrings have been at home, I found a conveniently thick little block to help with Janusirsasana B, it was just high enough to keep the weight off my right foot and allow me to forward bend, I had done Triang Mukha with the foot out to the side. I was sweaty enough to be able to get well into Supta Kurmasana before help arrived, in that heat it was easier to squirm and wriggle my shoulders further under my legs, grab my hands and be oh so close to crossing the feet. Though one thing comes another goes, I cant straighten my legs as I come out of Supta K into Titibhasana anymore.

Although my neck problem has improved a lot lately, I am still very wary of it, so still do modified bridge instead of Setu Bandhasana, but I can stay in that longer, followed by an Ustrasana before 4 Urdva Dhanurasana, which again got better with each one. I wonderd about dropbacks, so went to the front of my mat and got guided hangbacks, which were quite deep, remembering Dena’s instructions about following a line both back and up.

I knew my lazyness in Sirsasana would not escape a teacher’s eye forever. After what I thought was a reasonable 20 breath headstand, I came down to find Cary waiting to give me Ardha Sirsasana, to do it from now on in my practice. So up I went again, then following her instructions came down half way, “further , further” she said, the effort needed to raise back up even with her help took all my breath that she said I didnt breathe. I have made sporadic attempts in the past at this variation, but nothing sustained. But I have shied away from this posture for so long, because I couldnt do it and nobody has encouraged or really helped me to do it,   Cary is the first teacher to actively try and  get me to do it, when I think about it this is probably the first time a teacher has actually given me a posture in the traditional sense. So that’s more work to do. After practice she talked about my ujayi, I think she is pleased I have found it, telling me that not only will it make my practice take longer ( I already found that out), but my practice will be deeper.

So after umming and aaaahing yesterday as to whether to get up and go, I am so glad I went, although some of my practice is quite restricted because of the stress fracture, practice as a whole was good and satisfying. My only problem is going to be getting this sports injury tape off my leg, I know its gonna hurt and rip the hairs off my legs!

I’m going

August 30, 2008

Lotus Flower

Lotus Flower

Someone reminded me that I took this photo of a Lotus flower, just outside the Shala in Bali. Nature produces some wonderful things. 

I got back on the mat for an hour this evening for some hip and back opening. Not a pushy practice, more of a taking time trying to release into the potures, beginning with Pigeon poses while Madonna played in the background, changing sides after a song. Then sitting in half lotus, though second side the foot is nowhere near high enough up the hip, followed by some seated twists and a few minutes on each side for Janu A, trying to get my right hamstring in particular to release out and loosen.

Backbends, I managed to place a blanket under my feet and do some careful Ustrasana and Laghu Vajrasana. Having an injured foot certainly makes you engage the thighs and as Dena told me last week “squeeze the mango between the knees”. This was a new concept, 1. cos I wouldnt know what a Mango looked like or 2. how big it is in real life, fruit like that comes in a tin from the man at Del Monte! Then managed some reasonable Urdva Dhanurasana, before doing hang backs, dropping back as far as I could, again remembering Dena’s words “melt the back like chocolate, and keep bending in towards the feet”, then walking down the door, though I don”t seem to be as good at this as I used to be, but I am getting further when I try and drop back on my own.

So after 2 lots of practice today I think it’s worth setting the alarm and heading for the Shala at 5am tomorrow morning. I am sure in nice warm conditions, with a good focus, ie no outside influences apart from the teachers adjustment I should be able to have a satisfying practice. I found a website telling me how to apply the strapping.

Foot fitness test

August 30, 2008

Last night I did a full primary series with the ankle strap thing I got at the Chemist to see if its wirth setting the alarm on Sunday morning. Standing are mostly ok, though UHP if I pulled too hard was uncomfortable. There are 2 main areas I seem to have damaged, the instep, when the foot flexes to jump hurts, but the major discomfort that remains 10 days after the handstand accident is just below the ankle bone on the inside of the foot. Putting weight into the foot in poses like Triang Mukha and Janu B are VERY painful still, so they have to be modified. There seem to be 2 other consequences, my right hamstring is incredibly tight, where as the left one is roughly where its always been and also the right hip is going to need a lot of hip opening work as well, everything on the right side seems to have headed west in the last 10 days or so. I couldn’t even manage Mari B on the second side, my foot finds lotus painful. Most of the other poses are possible, though I cannot do my usual backbend warm ups and found last night that the ankle/foot support has no traction on the mat, especially when I found my right foot skidding out in Urdva Dhanurasana. To be honest the support does not seem to be tight enough, so I bought some special tape this morning, next stop will be google to tell me how to apply an ankle dressing/support.

I think part of the problem after practising in nice warm conditions for 2 weeks is that back here in the summer free chilly, wet UK I am not getting warm enough. This morning after an hours practice (Yes I know its Moon day and I shouldnt really be doing this), I still felt incredibly tight, even in poses like Mari A & C which I like doing, I could feel I wasnt opening up and so felt compelled to hold back so as not to injure anything then swamped my lower back in Tiger balm afterwards. Later I plan to have a hip opening and backbending fest. I really want to practice in the morning at YP, at least I know it will be warm in there, I just need to find out how to apply this dressing first!

Stiff and painful

August 28, 2008

I was hoping practice would be ok today, even though it had to be done in the 2 halves format. Standing were not too bad, though my hamstrings have tightened up considerably from their stretchy place of a week ago. Later on I did some more Surya’s then began seated. I was hoping, having not done a full blown practice since last Friday in Hong Kong that my foot would have got a little better, oh no, its bloody worse if anything, Triang Mukha was a bodge job, with the foot out to the side and the left hand taking the weight and Janu B had to be abandoned in double quick time as the pain seared through my instep. After that I knew the lotus poses were never going to happen, my hips are tight to begin with and my right foot wont flex, well not unless I can find some anaesthetic to inject into it. My other problem is that I cannot do my usual Ustrasana and Laghu Vajrasana backbend warm ups, as I cant stand having the foot flexed in that way with weight going into it, its bloody painful, even with the strap thing I expensively bought in the Chemists at lunchtime. So some dodgy backbends that have lost all the openness they had a week ago in Bali.

The regression in my practice is astonishing, though there are good reasons, from lack of time, lack of temperature and my foot making my flow impossible, although I can jump through, I dare not jump back and rolling over my toes in the vinyasa is excruciating. I am loathe not to practice, this week it has felt like my body is receeding into itself and got tighter and tighter as I have only done odd bits of practice, today was the first time I have tried to do most of the postures in one sitting. I always feel better for having done a decent practice, my body feels more stable and balanced. I will try again tomorrow and even on Saturday which is Moon day, I want to have a meaningful practice at the shala on Sunday morning, but my body needs to emerge from its shell.

The one good thing from today was that my ticket for Madonna arrived. 2 weeks tonight I along with 50,000 other people will be singing and dancing away.

Last year it was Munich

August 27, 2008

The year before it was Paris. This year I have spent my birthday at work, ho hum….

I had already had my presents from family before I went away, though one from my sister was waiting for me when I got up this morning. I opened it to find a teaspoon! This is a bit of an in joke as when we were kids, some would say we havn’t grown up, we used to do the drying up of the dishes, but the object was to leave the other person the last teaspoon, we didn’t care if this meant having to dry a wacking great saucepan, so long as the other one got that last teaspoon. The note on the present said “Now you can always have the last one”! At my house we still wash up manually, but my sister has a dishwasher so she never has to lose the game again!

I came home to find the post office had tried to deliver my Madonna ticket, grrr, they are a pain, I now have to try and get to the sorting office, which stupidly closes at 12 Noon, ie before anyone gets a lunchbreak and the chance to go and collect anything. The opening times for that place are a joke.

Last year I did Primary series with Ursula and Bettina Anner in Munich, today I did my bunny hop handstands this morning and annoyed my foot/ankle yet again and this evening I did backbends. In a week I have gone from the best part of 5 hours yoga each day to barely half and hour, its so frustrating not having time, plus this bloody foot problem.

Back to the rut

August 26, 2008

Everytime I come back from a week or 2 away somewhere doing practice, I wake up for the first day back at work with that sick in the pit of the stomach feeling that I really don’t want to do this anymore, its not just a downer, its a drainer. There is no job satisfaction, no enjoyment, its purely about money, which I then spend on practice as the antidote to what I have had to do to get the money in the first place. I am still a bit spaced out from lack of sleep, so today was really just a case of making the clock go round to 5pm.

My ankle/foot is playing me up, especially having to sit all day, I am missing those 3 glorious hours of practice, its aching, but not swelling, also having to wear shoes for the first time in nearly 3 weeks isnt good. To cheer myself up ready for my birthday tomorrow I spent lunchtime online buying a ticket to see Madge at Wembley. I wasn’t going to go this time, but I read some great reviews in some Sunday paper or other and thought “Happy Birthday to me” and hit the “Pay” button on the website.

Once home I have so far done the standing postures, I really must turn this thing off and go and do some more, after all its back to having Cary’s beady eye scrutinising my practice on Sunday morning.

And the wind did blow!

August 24, 2008

The view from my mat in Bali.

Typhoon Nuri

Typhoon Nuri bending trees.

From one extreme to the other in 3 days, from the peace and calm of practice in Bali to a force 9 typhoon Nuri in Hong Kong.

I managed to upload a video of the lovely walk we had each morning to the shala in Bali here.

After my last post I holed up in my hotel, as the lull from the eye of the storm had passed over and the wind and rain returned, getting stronger and stronger, I saw awnings ripped from shops, neon signs crashing and banging, debris flying down desserted streets, I knew I had to lie low. About 4am on Saturday morning I was woken by the most deafening screaming wind force I have ever heard, it sounded like a train hitting the side of the hotel, there followed all kinds of noise as stuff crashed and banged outside. My hotel room did not have curtains, it had wooden shutters you pulled across, I was glad of them as I was on the 2nd floor, level with many of the signs and awnings that could easily have smashed through my windows. I read later that falling glass and debris had injured someone a street away. It was a noisy, interesting night.

I gave up at 7.30am and got up to see what was happening, the wind had died down, we were now at Force 4, down to a tropical storm, but the rain was coming down in stair rods. My mood didn’t improve when I slipped in the shower and re-hurt the foot/ankle I injured falling out of Handstand the week before. I didnt want to waste my last day, so borrowed an umbrella and ventured out, getting the MTR to Lantau to see the Big Buddha, unsurprisingly the cable car was closed, but there was a bus, the Buddha sporadically became visible through the low clouds and rain. Had an hour taking photos then thought I must be nuts, the only other tourists were a pair of aussies, headed back to Hong Kong for a lovely jacket potato lunch and a couple of rides on the now running Star Ferry. The sun came out, so wandered and shopped before it was time to collect my bag and head for the airport.

The airport was very busy with all the passengers who had got stuck the day before, I thought things were going well as we boarded the Cathay flight on time, THEN we sat on the tarmac for 2 hours in over 100 degrees as the airline decided we must wait for transfer passengers whose flights were late, they arrived in dribs and drabs until we finally took off at 1.30am. At least we got out, the departure board was a mass of red, you could follow Nuri’s path by which flights were being cancelled heading into mainland China.

Finally landed at 7.30 this morning, Susan had kindly texted to say no practice today or tomorrow, the centre is closed for the holiday weekend, so managed to get a bus most of the way home. I am now desperately tired, but trying to stay awake until I can reasonably go to bed and hope to sleep through. I am also in 2 minds as to whether I should spend tomorrows bank holiday waiting in line for an x-ray on my foot.

Typhoon level 9!

August 22, 2008

I got bored so went down to Tsim Sha Tsui, looking for evidence that we are having a typhoon, apart from a few lumps of trees and some hoardings, there is little to see. At the bus terminal which looks across to Hong Kong Island there were a series of TV crews. Atv were doing live reports in english, so had a listen and spoke to the presenter afterwards. She told me that although in the afternoon there was a lull, to expect by 7pm Level 9 if not 10 to have been declared. There have been 8 injuries, then we saw the 9th, a child climbed up a step ladder being used by one of the tv crews and promptly fell off the top!

Around 4.30pm the clouds came in and it started to rain, I think its coming. For a city so money oriented its amazing to see the place closed, except for Mcdonalds, Starbucks and 7-Eleven, which has provided me with enough picnic material for a few hours.

Oh well better lie low and hope this thing passes by the time my plane leaves tomorrow night.

Typhoon Yoga

August 22, 2008

I got up and took the metro to Central fot mysore practice, it was rainy but nothing exceptional. After we chanted Tiana told the 2 of us to beware, Typhoon 8 has been declared. Practice was ok, some adjustments and long Savasana. Tiana told me to make sure I took the opportunity to use the hotel showers, they were incredible, water arriving from every angle.

The storm is coming, i realised how serious this is when a city that thrives on money literally has closed  down except for Mcdonalds and Starbucks. Umbrellas are being ripped out of hands, trees are leaning over and the rain drenches you. So no chance of seeing the Big Buddha today! Ended up at the Computer show as they declared free entry,

In Hong Kong

August 21, 2008

Turned into a long day, the flight left Bali over 2 hours late, so it was 10.45pm when we landed in Hong Kong, and way past midnight by the time I found my hotel, I arrived drenched in sweat, it was still over 30c at 11.30pm according to a temp guage on a building and I believed it. I threw down my bags and threw of my saturated clothes and crashed into bed, too tired to even make tea.

I woke to the noise of a city, it comes as a shock to be back in the real world, I headed to Central and the Landmark to check out the Mysore class for tomorrow,Tiana has invited me, a very helpful person took me up to the 5th floor and introduced me to Hortario who was teaching this morning, though they were just finishing up when I got there. Ashtanga is a small world, Hortarion knows Dena and Cary, we had a nice chat, so will be there in the morning. Next stop was MIX cafe/bakery for a danish and tea, the hotel breakfast was crap, apart from the 7 (small) cups of tea I had.

Hong Kong is very hot and unbelievably crowded, I wandered around Central then took the Star Ferry back to Kowloon for a doughnut and juice picnic in the park. Had a break then went up the Peak Tram, though the views were a bit hazy and the sunset was a non event thanks to the clouds. Its tacky and very commercial, but fun. I am blogging while waiting for the 8pm lightshow, that should be fun. I have walked miles today, some by design, but many because of all the bloody under and over passes you have to negotiate to get anywhere in this city. Though I love the Star Ferry, it’s a bargain at just HK$1.70 (about 10p in real money), to cross the harbour.