Archive for January, 2010

The “S” word and communal Drishti loss!

January 31, 2010

A better journey this Sunday, less stress and more time for a much less rushed practice. The Shala numbers are also erratic, last week it was packed, this week I knew everyone’s names, more or less.

Susan arrived later, so I had to count my own Surya B’s this week! My hamstrings were tighter, despite not having had to run, so I spent a little longer in Padahastasana to stretch them out, that’s the joy of Mysore, though maybe its not the done thing, but it’s nice to be able to stretch out and find the space. Standing seems to happen, merely stopped by the chant during Parvakonasana and by help in UHP, though it wasn’t as excruciating today.

Seated are becoming more consistent, they seem to be taking less time, I faff less, but also my right knee hasn’t been as painful of late, so I spend less time coercing it into half lotus. It used to seem to take ages to do all the Marichyasanas, A-C seem like a breeze now and even D on the first side is making regular appearances. The second side is still a pain, sometimes it happens. Today I got the deepest twisting adjustment I have ever had in Marichyasana D, she let me get into it on my own, then wow, 360 degrees, or that’s what it felt like, it felt like I had been rung out to dry. Usually adjustments like that can wipe me out, so I took my time with Navasana to get my breath back for Bhuja, reasonable exit attempt without splatting my nose. Supta K yet again was rocking, I just love doing that and I am getting better at lifting out, even though I sometimes lose the exit, but its fun, well I think it is.

Susan’s Supta K is where the communal drishte was lost, as nearly everyone seemed to stop to watch Cary giving Susan hints on getting LBH, I thought it was just me who had watched, but after practice Mel who was at the back, said nearly everyone stopped to watch and listen! But using the right foot as a kind of ramp for the left foot to hop up behind the neck was interesting, as opposed to crossing the feet and trying to then get the head under. I didn’t quite catch Cary’s comment about the hand, something about pressing?

After this little diversion the rest of seated got me nice and warm for backbends. I collected my equipment, a block and the extra thick fluffy crash blanket, then after some decent UD’s I just hung back a couple of times  before going for my dropback, landing safely, head grazing the blanket, but only because it was quite thick, (the blanket, not my head). 4 on my own then Cary arrived. She let me use a second parallel mat today, it just feels much safer and stable with the feet 3 inches wider apart, down on my own 3 times and helped up, then cross arms, before one last dropback, walk in, walk in some more, then push my hips up into her hands before she sets me gliding upwards, shoulders first then head. Control is coming I just need to get that initial launch sorted out.

As she squished me in Paschimottanasana, she said I am getting it, “In a couple of months you will stand  and do second series”. It’s the first time she has ever used the “S” word in relation to my practice, 15 months ago when I got the lecture for sneaking in Ustrasana, she never used the word “Second”, but today, well I was amazed to hear that word, no shocked if I am honest, but also inspired, she has a knack of saying the right thing to me at the right time.

A great practice was followed by a well deserved breakfast and yoga chat with Mel, I find it so helpful to talk about what we have just done so soon after, rather than just going home and keeping my thoughts to myself or blogging, it feels like completing something.

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Unrealisable dream

January 30, 2010

I had this amazingly vivid dream last night where I at last stood up from a dropback, I could feel my legs and stomach muscles pulling me up, then my hands touching the wall as my momentum pitched me forward. So despite it being a Moon day I decided to do some practice after I got home from shopping and hair mowing, typical I get my hair cut and it snows again and its freezing cold! The head massage was nice though 🙂

After standing and a a few forward bends I dipped into 2nd, then did all the backbends I could think of, before doing some walking in Urdva Dhanurasana’s. I think I am mentally becoming easier with dropbacks, after some hanging I just inhaled, arms up and back I went, landing ok and finding the strength to walk my hands in, rather than the usual collapse, though I couldn’t find the muscles that had been in my dreams, though sub consciously I know they are lurking somewhere. Now dropback takes less mental effort (nerve), hopefully I will be able to exhale for longer as I bend, which from having read other blogs about backbend seems to be the key to getting a deeper bend, landing nearer my feet and eventually to stand. Still this time last year I was having dropback dreams, long before I managed to do one, so if we are on the same time frame the I could be standing up somewhere between September and November!

On the internet front it seems it’s not just me having problems with IE, I managed to get online long enough to download Firefox, which touch wood, seems to be working, if you have read this it worked. Anyone else experiencing problems with IE 7 or 8?

Busy day tomorrow, practice, brekky, then the Adventure show.

Blogging while its working

January 29, 2010

In case you were wondering I havn’t been away this week (I wish), it’s just that I have had a big problem getting my home PC to connect to the internet, or if it does connect to stay connected, I have no idea what’s gone wrong. I have spent far too many hours every evening trying to get to the bottom of the problem, its working now, but I have no idea why now and if it will carry on working or crash yet again.

So practice this week has been disjointed and wholly unsatisfactory, Monday was a short one, Tuesday was the only good one, a complete Primary plus a bit of second with some dropbacks. Wednesday and Thursday its been bloody cold when I have got home, it had actually gone past 9pm when I did my first Surya on Wednesday.

Friday was a better day, isn’t it for everyone, my ticket for the Cranberries finally arrived, I got home early and did a complete Primary in 75 minutes and I was even warm enough to do some UD’s and a dropback. Friday has the advantage of being able to practice before Dinner, I somehow have more energy, despite not having eaten and mentally feel lighter, not that I eat much when i do eat, but it just seems easier.

A busy weekend coming up, firstly an appointment with Alison’s scissors and shopping tomorrow, then Sunday, that bloody train had better be on time this week, Shala practice, then working at the Adventure show in London.

Ran to my dropbacks!

January 24, 2010

The usual rubbish London Midland train service meant I literally had to run when I arrived in London 15 minutes late, I did think about bailing out to AYL, but as I had arranged to have a yogis breakfast after practice with Mel and Liza (Mangotree), I decided to make the effort, finally arriving at the Shala 25 minutes late, thanks to the tube trains being almost as bad as the train into the city, when it goes against, it really goes against. As I rushed into the Shala, Susan told me to slow down and breathe.

Our prefered mat spaces were still free so straight on with it, I find it hard then not to rush, as if I want to try and catch up some of the time I have lost, but with Susan next door I slowed down as we did our synchronised Surya’s. I am still not sure if I did 5 x B’s, I was kind of using Susan to count! Standing wasn’t too bad, despite all the running my hamstrings let me get my head to the ground in PPA, which is quite unusual, though surprisingly no adjustment in PPC today. Also left alone in UHP which didn’t go too bad and for the second week running I did the forward bend in Ardha Badha, again nothing said, or didn’t she see..I am going to have to ask her, remeber a year or so ago I thought I was getting away ok with Ustrasana, before I got “The Look” and The lecture!

Actually ended up being one of my least adjusted Shala practices in ages, though after standing I could no longer follow Susan as she went into her incredible Cirque de Soleil mega bendy Wendy, LBH etc routine! I think being late I hadn’t faffed at all, by the time I got to the Marichyasanas I was really warm and loose and managed to bind them all, followed by a semi not very good Titi- Bakasana exit out of Bhuja. Supta K was one of the best unassisted ones I have ever managed, well that’s how it felt, I was way under and bound and even managed to lift and keep my feet bound, though my neck was a bit crushed. First real adjustment came in Baddha Konasana, though I enjoy that one, once Cary ascertained my knee was ok she put the pressure on and got me flat to the floor again.

I think the exercises I have been doing at home to help the Tricep are beginning to pay off, as even without my home 2nd series additions I managed 4 Urdva Dhanurasana. It was busy today so no space on the back wall for my dropback experiments, ie no wall, I had to stay where I was and get on with it, after a bit of hanging I went for it CRASH and an audible “shit” as my head hit the floor quite hard before my hands landed, Cary came over to deliver a thicker, softer crash landing blanket! After which I did manage to land 4 on my own without mishap. Cary told me to then wait for her, ie not use up all my energy. I still find it a bit of a mental barrier doing dropback with her in front of me, she says I need to control it just a little bit longer before allowing gravity to take over, after another 3 I could feel I was getting further back. She then has me walk in as much as I can, this is feeling easier, then somehow she gets me back up. Her touch feels very light, its not like she is hauling me up and she soon lets go as soon as she realises I have managed to engage whatever it is that needs to engage to come up the rest of the journey on my own. It’s as if she is accessing some secret button or muscle to initially get me moving that I can’t find for myself. So this week it ended up being 8 dropbacks before my well deserved Paschimttanasana squishing. Apart from a tweek to my feet in Sirsasana, that was it, despite my late arrival I managed a whole practice plus all the extra backbend stuff and a 4 minute Savasana in 95 minutes. That train had better run more to time next week though.

After practice it was great to finally put a face to another of the blogging community, Liza, aka Mangotree from Slovenia, who joined me and Mel for breakfast, I have to say I was impressed that she kept up with me in the tea drinking stakes, not many can! Thanks for the chocolate Liza.

Speed yoga!

January 22, 2010

This weeks practice has been a bit of a rollercoaster, Wednesday evening I managed to spend 2 hours doing primary, plus second, then all the backbend experiments. Thursday’s was dire, after a crap day at the Labour camp, I really wanted to practice and although I got on my mat, I spent an hour doing postures I just knew it wasn’t doing much for me, apart from keeping my woyo score intact, I was just too tired.

Friday home by 4.15 and straight on my mat with a big mug of tea by my side, one day I have to do that at the Shala! When I know I have a fixed time and just get on with it, I just seem to have such a good practice, its almost as if on the days when I have lots of time I slow down and don’t actually end up having done any more or anything better. Tonight, No faffing, no toe picking, just a slurp of tea after every couple of asanas, binding all the Mari’s, a decent attempt at the Bhuja exit, Supta K would of been bound but for the layers of clothes, Shala temperature my upstairs isn’t. 3 x Urdhva Dhanurasana, though I only did hangbacks to preserve my knees and wrists which are playing up and the rest of closing, laying down for a well deserved Savasana in 75 minutes, I was quite surprised when I saw how quick I had been. Not having eaten obviously helps and the tea hydrates, well that’s my excuse!

Mysore coming into view

January 20, 2010

The company finally decided that it’s going ahead with its proposed move to a new site, building and fitting out are supposed to take around 16-18 months. Its in the middle of nowhere with virtually zero public transport access and a 2 mile walk, so I have no intention, along with a few others of going with them, much as I don’t love the job, cough cough………

If the other job doesn’t happen, no word yet, this means that I can now start to hope to realise my dream of going to do practice in Mysore sometime in the summer or autumn of 2011. Apart from the Kino workshop in Thailand I plan to try and resist the urge to travel much in the coming year and try instead to save and make it a viable choice. Now we have a proper time frame I can start to make more serious plans, so all of you who I know have been and experienced Mysore can expect me to be picking your brains in the next 14 months or so 🙂

I see our Shala had a clean sweep of the prizes on Lucy Edge’s “Handbag and Wellies Yoga Club” competitions, I won the books and congratulations to Mel, who won the  class with Ms Missingham.

Practice since Sunday has been up and down, Monday was a slog to Mari C, last night was standing and through to LaghuVajrasana in second because I want my backbends to be more comfortable. The Tricep door exercise Denise showed me in Singapore has also been good, if I do it before embarking on UD, then when I do push up it’s a far stronger and more grounded backbend, which then has the possibility like last night, to lead me into some hang backs and a couple of dropbacks. Standing up feels as unlikely to happen as doing a dropback did in January last year.

Let the Mysore countdown begin!

Made it to YP for a 7 dropback Sunday

January 17, 2010

After fretting about getting to YP what with the weather and replacement buses, I found the ice has mostly gone and we got a bus driver who looked “The Master”  out of Dr Who, a massive fat round body, short legs and a little round head, who was on a mission and got us into London early, I would of paid good money to see him try and do Supta K though!

The Shala was quieter today, which was nice, though our little row with Susan and Kristen makes me feel at home. Mostly left alone in standing, apart from PPC, then a not too tortuous UHP adjustment,  Cary told me I need to breathe better during the UHP movements, as I bring my leg in from the side to inhale, then exhale as I fold, she said it was as if I was anticipating the fold long before I got there. For the second week running I bent forward on Ardha Badha Padmottanasana, again nothing said..

Seated were good, I managed to bind all the Mari’s on my own and Supta K was a nice deep one, I even lifted on my own keeping my feet in Dwi Pada, before a not very graceful exit to Titi and Bakasana, hey ho, one day mine will look like Susan’s! Baddha Konasana was where I got a nice deep squishing, after advice on keeping my arms straight as I first go forward, I love it when a teacher has the sensitivity to know when its right for the student to be taken deeper, chin to the floor and it felt good.

4 decent Urdva Dhanurasana’s, then off to the wall to recommence the dropback experiments. My left wrist has been painful of late, so I have been doing hangbacks at home and not going for a full drop until I am in the Shala, where the conditions are better and my brain has nothing (in theory) to distract it. I played around trying to get myself mentally ready to go for the floor, then I watched Susan execute a wonderfully controlled dropback with her palms together, which inspired me to go for that version today, after which I managed 4 dropbacks on my own, before Cary took me through the full backbend, dropback series, surprisingly they felt comfortable, not so much pinching in my lower back, so perhaps the engaging the inner thighs more in forward bends is beginning to pay off. A 7 dropback Sunday.

It was just a nice practice, as usual I was glad I went, after being in two minds about getting up at 5am, as Cary was squishing me after the backbends, I thought it is practice that makes me happy, I am where I want to be, though the butter Fudge I got from the Farmers Market on the way home is running it a close second as I type!

How far I came in 2009!

January 14, 2010

At the beginning of last year I wrote this appraisal of how my practice had evolved in this 2008 report , Cary had opened a new world of poses like Supta K, Ardha Sirsasana, Bhujapidasana, that I never thought I would ever get anywhere near doing.

Practice during the first 3 months of 2009 seemed erratic, Cary was on maternity leave with baby Oscar, they kept closing the Central Line in London every Sunday, so I ended up being a yoga gypsy between TLC, AYL, YP & TY, it felt like I didn’t get much consistency in teaching or practice. In April things improved, I did that brilliant weekend workshop with Kino I learned so much, before the accident at work in May which stopped me in my tracks for 6-8 weeks. It took a while to get going again, but Cary and the Central line came back, then I got to practice with Dena in London and again in Hamburg, and the at her Shala in Byron Bay.

On January 1st 2009 Cat introduced me to dropbacks, telling me it was time, so 2009 became “The year of the dropback“, in some ways to the detriment of other postures, I worked so hard on my backbends in 2009 I was determined to do it, but finally on a warm, soft, sandy Aussie beach at Noosa in September, I finally did one on my own. Despite this epiphany moment it then took me until November to finally do one in front of Cary at the Shala, doing it on a hard floor turned out to be quite a mental obstacle to overcome. Since then she never lets me escape without doing them on my own. Now I just need to find out how to stand up again.

Urdva Dhanurasana is becoming better, I can walk my hands in and try and get a deeper bend and Cary has me trying to push the hips up, which no doubt is all part of her masterplan to try and get me to stand up. My hands still feel like they are in the wrong place to start with.

Marichyasana B & D are more often possible now, although my knee still has “issues” with Lotus poses, when I’m warm I can more regularly bind all the Mari’s on my own.

Bhujapidasana is now about the exit, in 2008 it was about getting into it, I got more confident about entering this pose in 2009 and towards the end of the year after a couple of teachers took the time to try and teach me the correct exit I feel like I have the tools to be able to do it, I just need to practice.

Supta Kurmasana is like Bhuja, getting into it, especially in a warm Shala is no problem these days, but I need to work on the same Titi, Bakasana exit, it can still physically wipe me out, though forgetting to breath probably doesn’t help!

The bum balances Ubhya Padangusthasana & Urdva Mukha P. have not really progressed at all in 2009, well only in as much as that I can, on a good day, come up and over into Ubhya, I still cant get it off the ground in UMP.

2009 for me had 3 yoga highlights, practice with Kino, finally doing a dropback and after all these years I got to practice at Dena’s beautiful Shala in Byron Bay.

I am hoping 2010 will bring a more consistent practice with more consistent teaching and of course that stand up from a dropback. 2010 is “the year of standing up”.

The WOYO incentive

January 12, 2010

Last year I had got into the habit of taking Monday’s off, especially when I had done double Shala practice in London over the weekend, what with all the travelling and first day of the week at the labour Camp, I was just too knackered and to be honest practice became a chore and not the joy it should be.

But we are into WOYO again so I feel a need to practice and keep up with doing practice every day in January. I was still tired, the icy walk to work, 8 hours crap, then an even icier walk back up the hill, but I managed to get on my mat and go up to Bhuja, mainly because I want to keep practising the exit now that a few teachers have taken the time to explain the dynamics of getting into Titi, Bakasana and jumping back, once or twice a week at the Shala isnt going to get me there and it feels more likely to happen than standing up from backbends does, so I keep trying to engage, lift, manoevre and jump. By the time I had played around with backbends, first home dropback of 2010 in the bag, but left wrist still making objections, I had ended up doing 75 minutes, which on days when I do get my arse in gear I can almost do a whole practice in that time. Practice is like work it seems to fill the time available however little or much of it there is.

Thanks to all those who left comments encouraging me to apply for that job, I finally sent my application in, I figured I had nothing to lose, the decision to take it, in the event of it actually being offered will always be mine.

Its still snowy out here

January 10, 2010

Spending 2 days in snowless London has been quite novel, no sliding around trying to just stand up on the pavements. In case you Londoners don’t believe what it’s like just 23 miles north west of the city, this is the frozen Grand Union Canal, along whose towpath I walk to get to the station.

Practice back in a Shala envirnoment has been good, Saturday at TLC with Philippa, only 3 of us, so lots of attention, assistance with Mari D, advice again about trying to make my hips roll in more so the feet don’t splay out so much. Despite not being drenched in sweat like last week, Supta K was good, Philippa getting me to bring my hands to prayer in Dwi Pada which was a new experience! After the UD’s I went to the wall and did some hanging back, I want my backbends back, but I didn’t push it.

I had to run the Travel club Saturday afternoon and with the dire weather forecast for home I decided to camp in London for the night, so ended up in a B&B in the East End, which was clean and warm, but I’m sure the floors were warped as I kept nearly rolling  out of bed!

It meant I got a decent nights sleep and no travel (train) stress getting back into the city this morning. Back to YP for practice with Cary, despite being warmed up (I did some Salabhasana, cheaters Ustrasana and LVJ in the B&B before I left 🙂 ), it took me a while to get going, Cary left me alone until PPC and then she was waiting to assist me in UHP, which wasn’t quite as excruciating as I thought it was going to be! I did a forward bend in Ardha Badha Padmot, something I have not done at YP before as I can’t quite bind, Cary didn’t say anything, though I wonder if she noticed?

My focus seemed to come back for seated, bound both sides of all the Mari’s on my own, I managed to exit Bhuja via Titi and Bakasana just about and only needed a tweek from Cary in Supta K. To be honest the postures were far better than I expected they would be, I thought coming back to the cold would send everything back into its shell.

After 70 minutes I arrived at closing, which then took far longer than I thought it would to get through. After some reasonable Urdva Dhanurasanas, with advice about my hands starting position, they always feel like they are in the wrong place to me, I headed for the wall with the intention of just doing some “Hang backs” and pushing off the wall, not pushing it first day back, taking it easy like Saturday and finishing after that.

But Oh no, my practice petering out, taking it easy wasn’t on Cary’s agenda for me today, after  I had  “played ” around for a while, Cary came over and pointed at the floor and gave me the “why aren’t you going to the floor?” look, so I decided that as I could see the floor as I hung back, that maybe I should try, well the first one my head got there first, but I just about managed to land a couple more, then she helped me up. I thought that’s ok, as she then went off to assist someone else and I headed back to my spot to hang out in forward bend, but then she was in front of me again and we did the full repetoire of cross arm half way, dropping back , walking in, pushing up into her hands, before coming back up, then 2 more dropbacks with assistance and standing up, learning that my head comes up too fast, even though I am conscious of not leading with my head.

I have to admit I need a teacher like Cary who stops me wallowing in my comfort zone and pushes me along right to the end, giving me the drishte reminders in Matsyasana and to do Ardha Sirsasana, taking what could of just been a run of the mill, get to the end practice into being one that left me with a better feeling of accomplishment, it’s good to have her back.

Finally at 10.30 I met Helen at Pret, OMG did I need those cups of tea and croissants, nice to hang out again with yogi discussion for a couple of hours.

Home to the sticks and the snow, its snowing lightly as I type, but at least I got my double practice weekend.