Archive for November, 2008

No slacking today

November 30, 2008

My penultimate crack of dark trip into the city for 2008. It was a bitterly wet and cold morning, luckily once in the Shala, Cat had the heating on, it was so nice to walk into that room and feel warm and cosy. I began my practice at the appointed hour, on my own, not that I mind a 1 to 1 practice, but they are incredibly hard work, both mentally and physically, so I was quite glad when AC showed up as I was finishing my Surya B’s. More yogi’s came in gradually, though it felt like there was no escape from the mental intensity as my mat neighbours to the side and behind were Cary and Susan, my other 2 teachers, though I suspect they were both consumed with their own practice, but I reckon Cary was probably keeping an eye on me! Concentration during practice comes and goes I find, the blank white windows are almost hypnotising at times, then suddenly my eyes will spot something and I suddenly come back to the present, it seems I need some kind of stimulus to keep me focussed.

Cat’s Trikonasana adjustment was interesting this morning, as well as straightening me out, she was also telling me to “let go” and relax the lower back, which I found hard to do until she pressed and my body realised what it was meant to do. I like Cat’s Prasarita Padot C adjustment, she doesn’t try to wrench the shoulders out of their sockets, but takes the time to let gravity do its thing, it feels like a nicer posture. My left shoulder has been very tight of late, despite self massage and use of the backnobber its just not loosening up, maybe time to let a professional have a go at it again. Cat spotted the tension in my shoulders during Utkatasana, she put more emphasis on lowering and relaxing my shoulders than straightening my arms upward.

Seated were better this week, more flow, less knee stress, but my right hamstring takes a fair bit of coaxing before it lets go into the forward bends, Marichyasana A – C felt ok, less angst in my lower left back. Mari D, got a nice twist on the first side, but not quite a bind, I didn’t see Cat coming behind me to adjust and nearly took her out as I jumped back into the vinyasa. She got me to return to first side of Marichyasana D, this time taking me into the bind, once I am in it, I feel comfortable, its getting there. She returned for the second side, my right knee was happy in the lotus which was a good start, my lower left back then began to tighten as she took my arm around to twist, I thought “this is gonna hurt“, but amazingly she took me into the bind and once I was there my lower left back was able to relax and let go a little, allowing me to stay there.

Supta Kurmasana seemed hard today, though I was bound again, I tried to lift up and out, but crashed down and sat there trying to control my breath, I just felt completely knackered. Cat came over to see if I was OK, once she found I was, she took me through Titibhasana, Bekasana and jumping back sequence, little steps at a time and I managed to find the energy to jump back without splattering my nose.

After Cary giving me the Urdva Paschimottanasana masterclass last week, Cat took me through the first bum balance Ubhaya Padangusthasana today, as I just can’t seem to make it happen with coming up and over, I told her I just can’t find the initial momentum or when I can, its not enough to get over the balance point. She told me its about the bandhas, the breath and the mind and on the third attempt I semi kinda made it, I need to spend more time on this in my own practice. To be honest over the years, especially doing the counted practice, its ended up being a crap attempt or a cheaters bent knees job, this is another of the poses I have “done” over the years, but never been taken through the stages by a teacher. I don’t know if it was because Cary was on the mat behind me, but when I got to Urdva Paschimottanasana I remembered to try and point the toes, elbows forward, legs straight, though I forgot to keep the legs up and bring the hands to the ground on the exit, sorry Cary I will get there eventually!

More confident in my backbends today, maybe I have stopped relying on cheaters Ustrasana to warm me up, as I was cornered and in no position to sneak it in without being spotted anyway! Cat came and helped raise my hips and used her feet to keep my hands in position for the last 2 of my 5 attempts at Urdva Dhanurasana. I even stood at the front of my mat and did a hangback, not felt able to do that at the Shala for a while. Managed 2 Ardha Sirsasana’s today, before getting a nice manipulation and pressing in Childs pose. You can tell the yoga teachers who are also massage therapists, they know exactly which bits to squish, I love the way they make it feel like my back is being spread out along the floor.

A 10 minute Savasana was nice, an hour and three quarters again, my practice has become very consistent , but its averaging about 10-15 minutes longer now that I have an Ujayi breath. My practice seems to have more facets to it now, even though its ostensibly the same practice as I was doing a year ago.Not that it matters how long I take, but I was just in time for the early train home, but screwed again as it was 15 minutes late.


No inclination

November 29, 2008

Saturday used to be a major practice day, but for various reasons over the last month or so I have not managed a decent practice on a Saturday. I like to practice on Saturday so that Sunday at the Shala has more chance of being good and feeling that its safe to open up and stretch and accept adjustments when they come. Today so far it has been so bloody cold, outside its only just above freezing, with thick fog and inside doesn’t feel much warmer. I have stood on my mat in Uttanasana, but my feet were turning into blocks of ice, I just couldn’t find the inclination to practice.

After abandoning practice for the morning I went out to lunch with my parents, my Christmas dinner in lieu of being in India, my mother speculating about what I will be having over there, yes she accepts I am still going and nothing short of nuclear war will stop me from standing at the front of my mat on Monday 15th December at 7.30am. She knows I would be utterly miserible if I was forced to stay home and endure the tediuous boredom of Christmas in the UK, with the endless tv of soap operas, repeats and the same crap films they show every year, which they now bill as “classic” and not repeats, ho hum bar humbug!

Cat if you are reading this, please set the heating in the Shala to “tropical” for the morning, I want to be warm!

Danish cookies & Supta K

November 28, 2008

During a tedious afternoon at work, when the SAGE system went down leaving me with filing, e-mailing and reading blogs to fill out the time until the weekend finally arrived at 4pm, I got e-mail chatting with Tiff talking about our families fears of our upcoming trips to India, how they are more worried than we are. Yes what has happened is terrible, but it could happen anywhere on the planet. For every Indian terrorist there are a million Indian’s who will be welcoming and probaly protective of their foreign visitors. Though I do think the Indian authorities do need to get their act together, how can a major city allow around 100 terrorists who are armed to the teeth walk right into a major city and start attacking without any cop or security seeming to notice.

Home at 4pm and onto my mat for what turned out to be a surprisingly good practice after a day off, usually I am quite stiff after a Moon day, but soon began to get warm as I made my way through Primary, my knees even allowing lotus in the Marichyasanas, A,B & C at least, D was hampered by whatever that muscly niggling thing is in the left side of my lower back that stops me getting twisted around my knee. Very surprised on the second attempt to bind Supta Kurmasana hands and feet after a day off and a day when too many Danish cookies passed my lips, well I couldn’t let my colleagues struggle with all those cookies! But it proves that you can eat 8 Danish cookies and still do Supta K! Although I still can’t roll up into Urdva Paschimottanasana, I can bum balance for a little bit and try to mentally go through Cary’s instructions, “point toes, elbows forward, repoint toes, straighten legs”. Managed to rise up for 3 x Urdva Dhanurasana’s though only stayed up for 2 and breathe. At this point dinner was ready, so a very quick Savasana, before a delicious Shepherds Pie.

You’re not still going

November 28, 2008

Can I have a pound for every time someone has said that to me today? I am going to India to do my practice, I wont have my life disrupted by a bunch of headcase terrorists. The only way I wont go is if the Foreign Office tell travel companies to not send people there and refund what we have paid. I refuse to worry, I’ll leave that to my mother who seems to have taken over responsibility for that task. It is a worry that US and UK tourists and travellers were singled out, but I still am not put off.

I hardly stretched on yesterdays Moon day, a few backbends and a hip openers, a couple of handstands. I spent last night writing my Christmas cards, that’s another job crossed off. Back on my mat when I get home in an hours time. 10 more working days to India.


November 27, 2008

The other day I mentioned that the more I practice, the more healthy food choices I seem to subconsciously make. Yoga has awakened my awareness of my body as well, like how I stand in the Post Office queue, being aware of not standing on one leg etc, I am also more likely to pick up on little signals about when my body is not working properly and be more aware of what will help from food to stretching or resting. Yoga effects the body on so many levels, from physical asana, quietening the mind, to making us more aware of the fuel we put in to our systems.

Practice on last nights Moon day eve was another full Primary, it was quite slow for some reason, but the backbends are beginning to feel better, though I wasnt as successful as of late with Supta K, I could bind my feet and hands, but not at the same time. A good practice again, but I feel like I need a break.

I woke this morning to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, a worrying development, especially as I head for India in 2 weeks time and more so because they were targetting US and UK citizens. Random attacks are one thing, having a UK passport that is tantamount to having a sign round your neck with “Shoot me” is something else. I am quite surprised my mother hasn’t (yet) been on the phone demanding that I burn my air ticket.

How important its become

November 26, 2008

I practised last night from 7.45-9.15pm, I could have been in my armchair watching the football during this time, but no I was on my mat ploughing through Primary, generating some heat, even managing Urdva Dhanurasana and a crappy Ardha Sirsasana. It’s a sign of how important practice has become that it now gets a higher priority than even football on a Tuesday evening. If I had sat in front of the TV no doubt I would have drunk 3 of 4 cups of tea, eaten a load of (wheat free) biscuits and some chocolate. Instead at 9.30 I had some juice and a handful of raisins. It seems to show for me at least, that the more active I am the more my body tends to make more healthy food choices without me consciously thinking about doing it. Though it could be an excuse to pig out on Thursday’s Moon day!

The long day

November 25, 2008

Monday is a long day, though I only have to now survive 2 more before I escape.  A bit of a pick n mix practice last night, some standing followed by seated through to Marichyasana C, then some backbending via bed hanging, wall walking and criminal second series additions. But it did stop the usual Monday stiffness forming too deeply.

On Monday nights I watch “Spooks” on BBC, every week the action seems to happen either on the south bank or at Liverpool ST station, I’m amazed I havnt seen any of this blood and haymen, of spies being assassinated etc as I go through there 4 times each week, my drishte must be elsewhere!

Its too cold!

November 23, 2008

At 5am it was VERY cold as I walked to catch the bus, but no sign of the snow we had been promised. A really dumb driver who didn’t know his left from right and couldn’t seem to be able to count either when told which exit on roundabouts to take, the SATNAV voice told him where to go and he did the complete opposite, those of us who know the route having to re-direct him, he then got on the motorway and missed one stop altogether, we arrived in London 25 minutes early, not that I complained but I bet people in Harrow were none too impressed to be kept standing in -3.

Practice itself was nothing to write home about, Cary addressing my alignmnet in the Trikonasanas today and left to my own, non brilliant devices in UHP. I was glad to get to seated, I needed the vinyasas, it was not so warm in there today, I needed to generate some heat. Cary stopped me in the Janusirsasanas to advise me that I shouldn’t raise my arms before bending forward, that I should reach forward, look up and inhale and go down on the exhale. She is refining my practice it seems, little things like hand positions and the arm raising that I have always done and she has never mentioned before are now being corrected.

Nice adjustment in Mari A, chin beyond my knee, well at least I know it can go there, but doing it on my own will be another matterFinger touch in Marichyasana D on the first side, nowhere near on the second, from Bhuja I almost got my legs straight in Titibhasana though the jump back was not a good one. Again bound in Supta K, as the Mcd’s advert says “I’m lovin’ it!”. Stayed in it a bit longer to try and get my head further under my feet, though wasn’t too successful. Baddha Konasana was “adjustment of the day”, she took me flat nose to the floor, its strange that it feels tight to begin with, but her pressure is gentle and suddenly I am able to release, there is no longer any discomfort in the groins, hips,knees or feet, I can just concentrate on going forward as Cary increases the pressure, it feels pleasant now, it’s no longer excruciating.

I got a mini masterclass in Urdva Paschimottanasana, though I still can’t find the momentum to get up, once I have cheated to a balance I can try to straighten my legs, today she came behind me and we went from straightening the legs to pointing the toes, to then making the elbows go forward rather than out, re-pointing the toes, then coming out by lowering the hands, but keeping the legs straight and lifted, my god this posture has so many elements, think I need to print this off as a reminder before I try it again. But I take it as a sign of how my practice is evolving and moving forward that Cary takes the time to take me through these sequences, its the first time I have been formally taught some poses, even though I have sporadically attempted them over the years, at least I know I am being taught them correctly.

Closing was hard, I was really tired from the extra work, I am realising just how much more effort I am putting into my practice nowadays, I did 5 x Urdva Dhanurasana, but only stayed up for the last 2. I tried harder with Ardha Sirsasana as well today,  a couple of goes at the up and down thing, its coming, its a work in progress, I think Cary saw how hard I was trying, she seemed to make a point of coming over when I was in Child’s pose to give me the lovely neckand back manipulation she does.

It was hard getting up on a freezing cold Sunday, but as usual I am oh so glad I did, even when practice doesn’t all go to plan, there are always some good bits to remember. Getting home was another story for the second week running they cancelled my train, by the time I got home I had missed the snow, apparently after I left this morning we had a good covering, but the rain washed it away. But some good news waiting on my e-mail, in that I got a place on the workshop in Germany in July with Dena.

Two steps forward?

November 22, 2008

Well I made headway with the Christmas shopping this morning, its mostly done, some is still winging its way from Amazon, but mostly I just need to employ my abysmal wrapping skills.

After a reasonably good practice last night I woke up stiff as a board this morning, I notice I am stiff on Mondays after the Sunday shala practice as well. The better the practice the stiffer I seem to get later in the day or the following morning, I feel like regression after being supple, there seems to be no middle ground. I will do some practice later when the house warms up, I just turned the heating on, its a cold day and they are still saying we will wake to snow in the morning which could make getting into the city for practice interesting. We just got the news that by the time I get back from India we are going to have trains on Sunday mornings again, first time in 3 years, so no longer the bus at 5.30am, instead a train at 7am, yes another 90 minutes precious sleep on a Saturday night.The only problem is it means I wont get to the shala until 8.15, which is annoying as it means some rapid practices before they chuck us out at 10am.

Friday practice

November 21, 2008

Home from the boredom of Nepotism UK ltd and straight onto my mat for 90 minutes Primary. Nice practice no faffing through to closing, when I stopped to add in a few crim extra backbends before Urdva Dhanurasana, resulting in 3 successful UD’s plus some wall walking. My neck has been a bit stiff so left off Matsyasana and did Sirsasana and also managed 2 not very good Ardha Sirsasanas. When I have a fixed time, which is sufficient for a whole practice, I just seem to focus and get on with it, resulting in heat and flow and a decent practice.

My India tickets arriving have focussed my mind on all the stuff I need to deal with before I go, mainly to do with family Christmas presents and my nieces upcoming birthday, she’ll be 16, she’s as tall as me now, I remember cradling her the day she was born. It’s funny that she has the same fussy food habits as me and is actually quite like me in the way she thinks, though her liking for puddings and her incredible talent for art definitley didn’t come from me!