Archive for August, 2009

Giving birth indeed.

August 31, 2009

A much more satisfying practice today, I didn’t have to rush and run to get there for a start. Practice seems to expand to fill the time available, yesterday I had the hammer down from being late getting there and did my practice in an hour and three quarters never quite catching up with my breath, today I did the same practice and it took me nearly 2 and a quarter hours including a decent Savasana.

Mostly left alone in standing until UHP, That was when practice started to get intense, Cary raising my leg higher than usual, the left was much happier with this and out to the side on the left side felt good, once she took me to the furthest extension. Seated went better today, binding all the Mari’s on my own and a decent Supta K and lifting out with my feet still bound behind my head, though I looked across and watched Susan do a wonderful gracefully controlled exit from Eka Pada, that was surely effortless effort.

Todays blog title refers to backbends, I have worked so hard on them this year, for what seems like very little reward. Urdva Dhanurasana was far better today, I had the energy to push up and stay. Then it was over to the wall for hang back, walking down the wall and all my usual experiments to try and make dropback happen, before returning to my spot for assisted dropbacks. OMG that has to be the hardest 5 minutes I have spent on a yoga mat since the Louisa Sear workshop all those years ago. Cary had me inhale and go back, stopping at the point of no return and then inhaling again before taking me to the floor. Followed by cross arm halfway, then today another dropback, then walking in. Just when you mind says thank **** that’s over, we did another dropback, walking in even further, which was incredibly intense, then staying there as she pressed and told me to “push”, up into her hand, I had long run out of air by this point and was trying to get air in, but god knows what noise I was making, especially as she brought me back up, with her instructions to push and the noise I was making any spectators must have thought I was giving birth! I was told after that when Cary told me to push I actually got a better more rounded backbend, but that my hands need to be more under my shoulders. This ante natal stage of dropback is bloody hard work, though at this rate is more likely to be 9 years rather than 9 months until it happens.

It was great to get a Shala practice 2 days running, it makes such a difference, not least to my general well being. And after practice a cuppa with Susan, which was really nice, we never usually get a chance to chat, except via the blogosphere. I value her comments on my practice and I enjoy being able to talk about practice in general to someone whose eyes don’t glaze over at the word yoga.



August 30, 2009

I am better at accepting where my practice is on a given day than I used to be, which is just as well, as my practice or my perceived quality of it at least has been very erratic of late. In spite of the train and tubes I managed to get to YP by 8.20 this morning, but I seemed to do my whole practice with the feeling that I never caught up with my breath or found much length in my body. Knowing I had to get on with it I seemed to rush through standing, mentally trying to find the time for seated poses.

As usual with Cary she somehow sees everything in the room, my knee position in Triang Mukha, then waiting for me to bind myself in both sides of Marichyasana D, before taking me even more deeply in to the pose, I did  at least I manage to get myself bound in Supta Kurmasana, though I seem to have lost the knack of being able to lift out and keep my feet behind my head. I think I was holding tension today, and in weird places. As I was doing Supta Padangusthasana to the side, Cary came over to get me to release the tension in my foot, I didn’t realise just how curled over my toes were, gripping on for dear life.

By the time Urdva Dhanurasana came around I was really tired, one of those days when its about getting to the end, I ended up doing 7 to get 3 that I thought passed muster, or at least that I was happy with. I then stood up playing around with dropping back, mentally thinking this is the final hurdle. I hadn’t reckoned  on Cary having me work harder than ever on backbends today. If I had gone to AYL I know it would have been “just” 3 dropbacks, forward bend squish, home and tea. But its one reason I love to practice at YP, the teachers take you into uncharted waters. So today she had me walking backwards down the wall, holding at the bottom then coming back up 3 times. Then it was help with dropbacks, down and up, half way with cross arms, then a new dimension, taking the arms overhead and trying to find that point of no return, breathing into it, before going for the floor, luckily Cary has good reactions, as I failed to find the point, going too far, she intervened just in time, though at least having the arms over head, rather than in prayer means I don’t have a headache! She has plans for next time, to take me deeper, to make me learn to find the control, when I told her next time will be tomorrow I could see her mind looking forward to it.

After backbends I was ready to plough through closing, but nope, Ardha Sirsasana I have to point my feet, they were still tense and gripping. Cary’s attention to detail is incredible, no doubt tomorrow will be fun. I just hope I can catch up with my breath and find some length and flexibility.

So a practice of just accepting where I was, all practice is good after all.

I should have practised in the Kitchen!

August 29, 2009

Back with the practice last night after a night of pressies, phone lessons and cake. I seem to have gone all goody goody traditional again on Fridays, doing another no faff, no extras Primary series. I still miss that brilliant Counted Primary practice we used to do on Friday nights with Easter, especially that accidental underfloor heating in the L-shaped room.

Todays practice was my usual Saturday mix,  some of Primary, then the 2nd series Mel had me do up to Laghu Vajrasana. The only problem was despite the sunshine and a fairly active day my hamstrings would not lengthen and it all felt a bit of a struggle, weird after yesterdays being a quite good practice that had focus.

I should really have got up early and practised in my Kitchen, which is an oven thanks to the Dehumidifier, the heat that thing throws out is incredible, probably makes a Bikram studio feel like the Arctic. The floor seal is still tacky too, so hot room with built in sticky mat, though I wouldn’t want to keep putting my hands on that and I think if I layed too long in UD ADD, I would be stuck there forever!

Its ironic that its a Bank holiday, when in theory I can rest and have a lay in, that I am looking forward to crack of dawn trains into London the next 2 mornings and doing what I hope will be good long practices with good teachers. As another year has passed my need for my practice has only increased, its become an integral part of my being. I love the physical practice, in my mid 30’s grabbing my toe in Trikonasana, at 44 cracking Supta Kurmasana, now 45 will I manage to drop back? But as the years advance I appreciate more and more what the practice gives me in terms of calmness and mental clarity, the better mental place it takes me to.

Those trains had better be on time!

6.15am Birthday yoga

August 27, 2009

I woke up early today, not because its my Birthday, I am past being excited, but because I was expecting the Tile removal company before 8am to remove the old kitchen floor tiles that alledgedly contain asbestos, as it was they turned up at 7.30am! Anyway, so I was awake at 6am and thought I am going to roll out of bed and onto my yoga mat, a distance of about 10 centimetres, though it feels like a mile at that time of day. I managed it and practised some mega stiff Surya Namaskars, as I thought of all those people doing the same thing with Sharath, then did all of standing, followed by a few forward bends and Ustrasanas, no UD’s at that time of day, there are limits.

I think that is the earliest I have ever managed to be on a yoga mat doing anything meaningful, its probably going to be the sum total of practice today, as my Sis and my nieces are coming round with pressies this evening.

Well at lunchtime I succumbed and bought my new phone, my niece has the same one, so she will have to teach me how to “drive” it tonight. I wish I knew how the camera worked,when I walked back to the office there was a Mother Duck and 8 tiny chicks sitting in a circle by the Canal bank, ahhhh…

A shame my birthday was spent at work, but its nearly over now, as well as the new phone I treated myself to a chock chip cookie, though I can’t see how I am going to get 45 candles on my slice of Battenburg tonight, but I now at least have an Ujayi breath with which to blow them out.

Effortless effort

August 26, 2009

A better practice last night, I ended up doing more than I intended, but that’s ok. At least it felt like a practice and not just a series of movements. I was busy straining away in Triang Mukha when I remembered that both V and Susan had mentioned how they tried to conserve energy during the workshop practice, cutting out the faff, economy of movement. I then remembered how Sarah had made me release and relax my shoulders on Sunday, suddenly the strain in my arms was replaced by a much deeper stretch in my hamstrings and what felt like a better posture. Less is more.

Years ago a teacher told us about practising with effortless effort, at the time I didn’t get it, but I am beginning to see what she meant now. I  went to Navasana, then did some bum balance practice before doing closing, not great backbends off the floor, or off the Overball, but the dropping back experiments are coming along. At some point I am going to go too far, past the point of no return, I was close last night but managed to save myself and get back up, before headbutting the door!

I almost bought my new phone at lunchtime, I got half way to the town then it started pouring with rain, as I had left without a coat or umbrella I had to run back to work. I wondered if it was a sign, do I really need it? The answer is yes probably, my old one is struggling and it would be nice to have one with a camera and e-mail and a game or two. I think I’ll buy it tomorrow, when its my Birthday.

Mondays are not my best day

August 24, 2009

I don’t just mean having to go to work either. I have begun to notice over the last few months that practice at home on Mondays after a good shala practice on Sunday has become a let down. Its become a mental battle I seem to have lost. I want to practice but suddenly being devoid of the energy and inspiration of practising among others my mind soon wanders, I suddenly feel tired and the whole thing loses momentum.

This evening I took it slowly through standing, got as far as Triang Mukha in seated and realised I was tired, more than tired, I had had enough of Monday altogether and could quite easily have not got up from Savasana until the alarm would wake me in the morning. I then tried out my new “Overball” following Sarah’s advice and placing it under my upper back, I reserve judgement on its effectiveness.

I am coming to the conclusion that perhaps I should make Monday my yoga day off.

I am beginning to feel left out and regret not signing up for Sharath’s workshop here in London. Its quite inspiring to read the blogs of those who are taking part and I am thinking that maybe my practice would not be out of place in that environment. Its a lack of self confidence in my practice that stops me putting my name down, I realise that the transport problems could have been overcome, after all I went all the way to Hamburg to practice with Dena last month, its me and what I think others would see and think. This stems from a workshop I did years ago at YP with Louisa Sear, I have never forgotten how I felt,  so completely out of my depth and totally in the wrong place that day and the fear of being in that situation again.

To TY via TLC

August 23, 2009

I eventually made in to TY for practice this morning, though I almost went to the Lifecentre. The rail bus got diverted off the Westway and into the Notting Hill area, so at 8:05am the bus was sitting on a red light by the Lifecentre, I thought great I can start at 8:15, so I asked the guy if I could jump off please. But I hadn’t reckoned on a pissed off jobs worth who said he could only open the door at Euston! So we got to Euston and I headed up to TY for the 9am Mysore practice with Sarah.

First time I have been in Studio 3, its tucked away, a nice sunny room which got quite full with their regulars and those of us from other Shala’s who were not doing Sharath’s workshop. I had quite a slow practice today for some reason, Sarah’s adjustments are quite light, but I liked the way she advised and adjusted without stopping you. Subtle re-alignment in the Trikonasanas and advice to take a wider stance in the Parsvakonasana’s. It took me 45 minutes to do standing, which was nice now I think about it. I think it left energy in the tank for seated and all those vinyasas. Sarah’s Paschimottanasana adjustment is quite light, easing you forward from the base of the spine , rather than squashing you flat with weight. Purvottanasana somehow she stood on my feet while lifting my lower back, then when she let go I was able to stay there. Another successfull day on the Marichyasana front, A-D both sides of each bound on my own without my knees taking umbrage. Then I won the beat the teacher contest by getting bound up in Supta K all on my own, and then staying in it for longer than usual because I found my spine wanted to stretch forward, though my feet pinged out from behind my head when I lifted. I took time to work on the bum balances today, 3 goes at each, though I am still nowehere near coming up and over in Urdva P. I just cant generate the momentum.

After seated my original criminal plan for today was to add in some of the 2nd series Mel taught me in India , figuring the teacher wont know, and I like doing those backbends, but I had taken so long to get through standing and seated, 90 minutes, that I had to return my good yogi halo into place and just do closing. Urdva Dhanurasana was ok by the 4th, I had the energy left to walk in. Then I played around dropping back on my own until help arrived. She said todays dropbacks were too long, ie more of a bridge than a croquet hoop, and as she has had a back injury she didn’t bring me back to standing between them. She did offer a different piece of advice for practice at home though, a thing called an Overball, an inflatable Pilates ball to lay under the upper back , less intense than a wooden block for trying to open the upper back, she reckons it allows the back to release and not resist. I bought one as I left and will try it out later, I’ll try anything that could help.

Time was up after closing, a really long practice after a really long journey to get to practice. But worthwhile, I need that time for myself as much as for my actual practice.

Where I will lay my mat

August 22, 2009

A couple of nice practices the last 2 days, last night, virtually a full Primary including binding Marichyasana D again, which proves the one earlier in the week wasn’t a fluke. Practice on a Friday night is what helps me leave the week behind, wakes me up from the usual going through the motions and actually want to take part in life again. My Saturday practice has become my 2nd series day, I love spending time with all those juicy backbends, I only go to an against the wall Kapotasana, but it really opens up my upper back and feels really good and feeling good is what it should be about.

I have ended up without a decision to make, apart from actually making the decision to go to practice tomorrow, despite my favourite shala’s both being closed for Sharath’s workshop. We are also lumbered with the useless London Midland rail replacement bus tomorrow morning, which means I will be 35 minutes late getting into London, which in turn means the only practicle choice is to go to TY for the 9am Mysore.  I will be lighter tomorrow, as my hair was severely pruned this morning back to what Alison terms “Wash n go”! The indian head massage was worth going for though.

I need my practice, its my reward for surviving another week at “that” place and the Insurance trauma of my flooded bomb site kitchen, which is going to be a very long haul.

After deciding where to lay my mat I now have more choices, my tooth crown came out AGAIN yesterday, I havn’t had the cc bill yet for getting it put back 3 weeks ago, I can’t see the point of paying to keep having it put back. The other choice I need to make is about a new phone, my 6 year old Samsung is falling apart and doesn’t work in the southern hemisphere for some reason, so having been to the shops and looked online I have whittled it down to 2 candidates, if any of you have these phones and would care to give me your opinion feel free to comment, they are Samsung Tocco Lite and the LG Viewty


August 20, 2009

I used to hate Parsvottanasana and like most people am still not that keen on UHP which follows it. However I have begun to find a use for Parsvot’, sitting in an office chair all day leaves the back of my legs really aching, more so since the filing cabinet landed on it a while back, its like having DVT at sea level. But stretching each leg individually using Parsvottanasana seems to be good for easing those muscles back out and getting the blood flowing again.

Moon day today, but as usual after a day of bored inertia I had to stretch, so I did a slow, flowing standing sequence, followed by gentle backbends and some handstands for the hell of it.

Yoga cuts appetite article

August 20, 2009

M. asked me for a link to the article in Tuesday’s paper about yoga and food, alas there was no link on the papers website, so last night  I dived into my recycling bin and retrieved the article, which I have copied out below.

FITNESS NEWS Yoga cuts appetite

People who practice yoga for at least one hour per week have a smaller appetite and often less than others.

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research centre in Seattle analysing the eating patterns of 300 gym members found that yoga devotees had more controlled eating habits than those who did other types of exercise, and were more likely to stop eating when they felt full. It’s thought that because yoga reduces stress, this in turn prevents stress hormones such as Cortisol – known to trigger binge eating behaviour – from being released. Stressed people tend to seek comfort in carbohydrates as these release feel-good hormones such as Serotonin.

Portside kindly sent me a link to the full artcile about the study, its here.