Archive for September, 2009

5.15am yoga!

September 29, 2009


The earliest practice I have ever done done followed by the earliest blog entry! I was awake at 2am,dozed until 4am, gave up and made tea at 5am, then decided I may as well do practice. That’s the jetlag body clock problem. It wasn’t like the lovely Byron Bay sunrise above alas, it was dark and I was stiff, no Aussie sun to warm me up this morning. But I started slowly, through standing, UHP was a bit of a disaster in the dark, I can’t do it in the dark, I am not very good in light come to think of it! Seated were surprisingly good considering I have hardly stretched since Friday’s lead Primary with Dena, though I couldn’t quite bind Mari D. To think I managed to do 3 okish Urdva Dhanurasana at 6.30am  was quite an achievement for me, practising on an empty stomach helps I think. So here we are at 7am I have done a full Primary before breakfast. Jetlag does have some good points, though no doubt I will be struggling to stay awake after lunch as I was yesterday. I do wish I was standing on that beach though.

Lead Primary in Byron

September 25, 2009

My last day downunder. Its all been a bit of a rush today, lead primary was good with Dena this morning, my last practice with her in 2009, though I seem to struggle with lead these days. I need time to enter some poses and lead just doesn’t give that, Dena told us to modify if we needed to. It was over quite quickly, with having no adjustments, no wriggle time and no dropback experiments.

Its been wonderful to practice with Dena for the 3rd time this year, London, Hamburg and Byron Bay, I wonder where it will be next year, I know it will happen somewhere on the planet. It was great to meet lots of friends from Bali too, Gabrielle, Graham, Susi and Sam. Dena’s Shala is a beautiful space, with its wooden floor and photos of Guruji decorating the walls, it has large picture windows that the sunlight floods through. It was a joy to practice in that place.

Well after goodbyes it was a manic dash back to the Hostel to check out and find some breakfast before getting the bus to Brisbane, where I am now wasting time before going to the airport.

The highlights of the last 17 days will be doing practice, seeing those incredible Whales, meeting friends and of course doing a dropback for the first time on Noosa beach. I hope by the next time I see Dena that I will be doing it in the shala, over to you Cary!

I saw Whales!

September 24, 2009

Well what a good day, I woke up early and decided to see if the sun would rise again today after yesterdays dust storm. There was no breeze, the sea was flat calm as the sun came up over the Byron Bay Lighhouse, a great start to a beautiful morning.  Practice was the best one by a mile so far, I think a combination of Flo’s treatment and my body opening up and being with the practice, rather than forcing its way through, being used to it again. It just felt expanded somehow, poses like the Janu’s were elongated and the hamstring stretched instead of straining. Left alone in standing, even though we were on our own after the Surya’s. Dena stopped me cranking my neck up in the Updog’s, she said its straining my neck, better to try and stretch the heart forward and spread between the breatbone and shoulder. She also said that my arm going round my knee in the Marichyasanas needs to be lower to give my shoulders room to relax. Better UD’s today and much better dropbacks with Dena taking me down 5 times. She discovered that although I think I have run out of breath about 2 thirds of the way down, that in fact I hold my breath after this point because of the intensity of the backbend. I told her I’m male, I cant multi task, I either breath or bend! A really good practice, hope tomorrows is as good, my last one in Byron. I even managed 3 dropbacks on my own on the beach again this afternoon. I took some photos in the shala, but I just realised the lens had steamed up, authentic yoga shala shots!

So I got to the whale place office to check my Noon trip was on, the guy asked if I wanted to go there and then at 9.30am, I had everything with me so said yep! So Breakfast was a Mars Bar, instead of the toast and stuff I had waiting in the fridge! Only 5 on the trip and we were getting worried after 2 hours we had seen one spout a couple of kilometeres away, though we also saw LoggerHead Turtles and Dolphins, then suddenly they got a tip off over the radio and the boat guy hit the throttle and headed north where a pod had been spotted. We were in luck, they are awesome creatures, even though we stayed about 500 metres away from them we saw them spout, breach and crash a big white and black tail fin into the water, then submerge for 5 minutes or so before repeating the performance. It was a fantastic sight on the last proper day here and something I will never forget, in2 days I have seen natures power with the dust storm and those creatures.

The afternoon spent wandering, dropping back on the beach and realising my legs are sunburned!

Last day with Dena tomorrow, I would love to come and do a few months with her, Mysore or Byron bay, that’s going to be a hard one!

Dusty day!

September 23, 2009
The Shala

The Shala

Here is the Shala in the early morning sunlight. Another long practice today, which felt like hard going, though Yumiko, Dena’s assistant said after, that my body was more open today, strange how we perceive our own body’s and how others do. I suppose it again comes down to expectations of practice, I did Marichyasana D on my own and was adjusted in Supta K. Dena always leads the standing sequence, so I havnt had a UHP adjustment and I was left alone for most of today. Dena doesnt let me use the wall to practice dropping back, she said she would give me a sponge of she found my finger prints on her nice yellow wall! I actually forgot headstand, then realised as I was about to do Savasana, so went back and finished practice properly, before a nice long Savasana.
Under tree yogini!

Under tree yogini!

In the garden I found a nice touch under a tree, a little yogini, I think Dena’s little girl probably put it there.
After practice and breakfast I headed to Suffolk Park for my massage with Flo, a student of Dena’s, I knew she would know which bits would need working on, we talked about how intense it can be to do Shala practice with a teacher like Dena compared to practice at home, you do try harder, push that bit more, extend a little further and after 4 days its beginning to show, especially in my left shoulder which took a lot of work, Flo’s pointy elbow getting to the root of the problem and loosening me up. She also worked on that niggling Sciatic thing. A really good massage, I can certainly recommend Flo, for when the yoga takes its toll.
Dust wipes out the sun

Dust wipes out the sun

We may have had sun at 7am for yoga, but at 10.30 this morning I looked out and it was dark, no sun, looked like rain, but nope, it was in fact a dust storm that had come up from Sydney, the sun was blotted out, the street lights came on, even the Lighthouse started up, though you could hardly make it out. A girl came to ask me if the circular ball in the sky was the Moon, I could see why she thought it, but it was in fact the sun, you could look full into the sun, it was incredible. I sat with lots of others on the rocks looking out to see as the sun disappeared altogether and twilight arrived, there was a guy playing a drum, a girl twirled in dance on the rocks below, the hues and colours on the sand and waves, I’m afraid the picture just doesn’t do it justice, but its a sight I wont forget in a hurry. I just hope and pray that it clears overnight so that I can see the Whales tomorrow, I really really really want to see the Whales.

The sound of change

September 22, 2009

We began practice as usual standing in Samasthitihi, but before we chanted Dena asked us to think about why we practice, why we try and tie our body’s in knots. Before my brain could come up with the true answer of I just love doing practice and it brings me some unquantifiable joy into my life we began to chant. Dena then again lead us through standing, she must have a massive mental Library of things to say, today we moved with the fluidity of honey, a nice thought. I again had a good practice, some nice assisists from Dena and Susi, left alone in Marichyasana D to bind both sides on my own after a bit of wriggling. Urdva Dhanurasana was better today, I had the strength to walk my hands in a little to deepen the bend. I then had five minutes of standing playtime, leaning and semi dropping back, alas I had a window behind me, so no chance of wall walking. Dena then did 5 assisted dropbacks with me, today getting me to keep the legs straight for as long as possible, she stood on my feet, inhale up, exhale back, but she slowed down my going back so that I ran out of air and made a strange noise as I headed for the floor, but landed nearer my feet in a much deeper bend, she said the noise I made “was the sound of change in my body”, makes a change from giving birth I suppose.  Although I struggled for breath, its feeling less alien, doing it on the beach is one thing, at the Shala is something else.

I was lovely to run into Gabrielle at the Shala who was in Bali with us last year today, I knew I had seen her somewhere before, the ashtanga world is small.

Cancelled Whales :-(

September 21, 2009

Practice was good again today, that’s if you discount the dropbacks, which are not happening, though Dena is doing her best, resorting to standing on my feet and deepening the bend, telling me to reach for my feet before taking me to the floor. But its good to do them with her. The Shala was an oven this morning, it was risky leaving your mat, as the floor was a skidpan, I don’t know how she adjusts when its like that. 25 people doing an intense practice in there has an energy all of its own. She again lead us through standing, then on our own doing whichever series, a lot of 2nd series I notice, though also a few people who are relative beginners, Dena has time for everyone.

After practice home to a shower and wash my yoga togs, it was so hot this morning that they dried while I was having my breakfast. After breakfast I went to my room to get ready to go out and found a note on my door telling me the Whale watching was cancelled because of high winds, not happy, I had set my heart on seeing a Whale today, boo hoo. It had even come into my practice, at one point I found myself saying to myself if such and such a posture happens then the Whales will come out! Well they may have come out, but I wasn’t there to see them. I have rebooked for Thursday, my last full day, so please all cross your fingers and toes and feet behind your head, that it the wind is favourable and I get to see them.

What to do? Well I booked a trip to Nimbin for tomorrow, should be interesting. I then sat and had a picnic looking out across the Bay, trying to spot Whales, watching the Surfers and just thinking I could get used to this. I tried some dropbacks on the beach, but I seem to have lost the knack, grrrr

The weather has again been hot, but this evening we had a big downpour, clods of rain falling out of the sky, so am holed up in the Backpackers internet. At least its warm rain here.

Dena’s Shala practice

September 20, 2009

I was made most welcome, an e-mail from Dena last night which said simply “Welcome home” and a few faces I knew from my trips to Bali with her. I had this mental impression of what her Shala would be like, they were so wrong, its a lovely wooden floored room with pictures of Guruji decortaing the walls.

Dena led us through standing, after a little pranayama and chanting, then it was on our own. Considering i havnt done a proper practice in nearly 2 weeks it was surprisingly good, binding both sides of Mari D and lifting out of Supta K with my feet crossed. Though she had me do Supta Konasana 3 times until I managed to keep hold of my toes.

Urdva Dhanurasana was hard work and she didnt let me dropback on my own, though took me down 5 times. I dont know why but I just didnt seem to have the flexibility in my back despite a hot sweaty practice that I have had some days on the beach, dont know if it was being on a hard floor, or just knowing that intervention would arrive, taking away the responsibility.

But I have to say it felt so good to practice with Dena in her Shala, that feeling of just knowing you are in the right place at the right time. “Welcome Home” was right.

Susi P gave me a lift back to town, where I booked a Whale watching trip for tomorrow, apparently the Whales are migrating north and south, so the chances of seeing them are greatly increased for the next 3 weeks, just hope my luck is in, though I am slightly nervous as I am currently reading “The Swarm”!

In Byron Bay at last

September 19, 2009

As I alluded to in a comment on yesterday’s entry I did my dropback experiments on Noosa’s Alexandria beach, while following one of the walking trails in the National Park. I felt someone was watching me as I played around, but when I pushed myself up I saw a couple watching, who were both completely nude, Dont know which of us was more of a spectacle, only later did I found out that Alexandria is the unofficial local nudist beach, brings a whole new meaning to Moon day! Later I found a quiet cove to experiment with some harder sand, though my shoulders seem to have a 5 landings a day limit before they object. The National Park was great, the walking trails are well marked and I was lucky enough to see a Koala hanging out in the “V” of a tree and a big Lizard.

Today has been a long day, getting a bus into Brisbane and then another down the coast to Byron Bay, it was wonderful to see the Lighthouse as we came into town, but what a result when I got to the backpackers place and checked in, I knew I had booked a single room with shared facilities, so that’s what I was expecting when I got to the first floor, but oh no I had been given a free upgrade, I have ended up with probably the best room I have stayed in for years, massive bed, TV, Fridge, en-suite shower, all to myself.

So now I better go find some dinner, tomorrow its off to practice with Dena, proper yoga again! I wonder what my dropback will be like in that environment, with luck and thanks to helen and Susan for their comments about hands and weight distribution I may just do it, here’s hoping.

Later.. I ended up walking to Dena’s Shala to find out where it was and how long it would take, only a 20 minute walk, tucked down the bottom of a cul-de-sac and what do you know I ran into Sam on his way out. Had a look through the window, its somehow different to what I had imagined, but its looks great, a place condusive to practice, 7am tomorrow here we go.

Glass, Ginger, nuts, Chocolate & Dropbacks

September 17, 2009

Thanks for all the congratulatory comments on the birth of dropback Noosa, I’m glad it made you as happy as it did me, though was surprised Cary thought my backbends were ok, they always seem a struggle, especially doing practice next to Kristen and Susan who make it look so effortless on a Sunday morning. I really should stop comparing my practice to others.

Yes its been a busy day. I did a tour I booked before I left home, which turned out far better than expected. First stop was Yandina Glass where we watched an expert making some fantastic stuff from molten glass. Followed by going to the Ginger factory which is touristy, yes AC I remembered to get your Gingerbread man complete with smartie buttons! A quick look round the macademia nut factory, some free samples, but not much to see, then to a fantastic Chocolatier in Eumundi. Hand made chocolates to die for, they have a tonne of Belgian chocolate delivered every week which they melt and process into exquisite shapes and tastes, though I would quite happily have gnawed my way through the 5kg basic white chocolate slab before it got anywhere near being processed!

This afternoon was another spent paddling in the sea, wandering, watching the surfers and finding a quiet soft sandy spot to practice my dropbacks. I thought they would be better today having conquered the initial fear problem, but alas the first few my head hit the sand, eventually I managed to land one, then another, but my shoulders are aching now, also I think I need a teachers input again as I have a feeling I am landing with my hands too wide apart, which is straining my shoulders. At least if I do them every day on the beach I hope to learn some control, to explore nearer to the edge of no return without the fear of bashing my head if I go too far. My prefered beach technique is to start with my hands on my hips, pushing them forward as I go back, moving the hands to prayer as I near the balance point, stay there for a few breaths to try and learn some control, then trying to judge when to stick my arms overhead and go for it, sometimes it works!

My backdrops did inspire me to visit Urban Calm again this evening for Vanessa’s Vinyasa flow class, which was another nice practice, she has studied with Louisa Sear and used quite a few of the ashtanga postures, starting simply with each pose then extending into the final asana for those who were able.

Koala hunting tomorrow in the National Park!

Birth of Dropback Noosa

September 16, 2009

Finally 9 months and 14 days after Cat told me it was time to start learning dropbacks, on the lovely soft sandy beach at Noosa in Queensland, I managed it on my own, dropback Noosa was born.

Well it took a couple of attempts where I landed head first on the sand, I would be typing with concussion if I hadn’t made a sandy landing pillow, but on the third go I saw the ground, put my arms out and to my amazement landed without my head hitting the ground first. I had to resist the urge to “yahooooo”, as up the beach I think a couple were getting married! I tried a few more with varying degrees of success, I worked out that the ones that worked best seemed to be where I could see more sand before sending my arms over head, where as the ones when I kind of went for it, I think my hands were landing too far away allowing my head to land first. I ended up with a head full of sand, but OMG the joy of doing that on my own. Doing it in a shala environment with teachers like Dena,  Cary, Susan and Michaela watching will be something else. I plan to try it each day now, finding a quiet spot on the beach and playing. Next week of course its Dena’s Shala at Byron, that should be fun.

I walked off the beach dripping sand, but couldn’t resist the urge to tell someone, cue text to Susan and AC, sorry of I woke you up! Susan replied telling me she was going to tell Cary and then later telling me Cary said I had to learn to stand up now and tomorrow do it with straight arms so I don’t end up with a head full of sand!

I hope this wasnt a fluke and that it is the start of the future, its definitley a confidence thing, but knowing a teacher wasn’t going to come to the rescue makes it a different ball game