Archive for May, 2010

Daily Practice

May 31, 2010

After Saturday’s Shala practice I have been forced back to practising home alone thanks to a combination of my prefered Shala being closed for the holiday weekend and the crap train company closing our line into the city. Never the less I have managed 2 full Primary’s with lots of additional backbends and Pasasana experimenting, my fingers are getting ever closing to docking, both days I have managed to touch fingers. Hang backs are becoming deeper, knowing I am not going for the floor has meant that I can try and stay at the limit of my hang for a little longer.

Practice every day has changed my attitude to practice, I used to want to measure whether it was good or bad, but with a regular daily trip to my mat I am finding the whole process easier both mentally and physically, accepting that its the whole practice that counts not whether I bind Mari D, Supta K or do a dropback.

I am also mentally trying to get in as much practice as I can before the World Cup begins on June 11th, I just know that after a long day at the Labour Camp that there will be plenty of days when I get in the door, turn on the TV and watch a couple of matches.  4 years ago I watched the World cup too, I watched the opening match in ASDA’s electrical department before walking down to the L-Shaped room to do practice with Easter, even then yoga came first, well almost. I really need a strategy for getting out of bed and doing practice in the mornings on match days, otherwise those shala practices at the weekend are going to be oh so hard!


A consistent week

May 29, 2010

Practice has been good this last week, mainly due to my consistent attendance on my mat. After the 2 shala days last weekend I did take Monday off because my wrist was making serious objections, but I did full Primary + Pasasana etc Tuesday, Wenesday and Thursday. So that actually made 6 out of 7 days. Friday I did a shorter practice as it was Moon day, but I wanted to practice as I was realising how much more length I had been getting particularly in Triang Mukha and how much more open I felt for having made the effort to do a full practice every day.

This weekends options are limited due to lack of trains and YP being closed, I never did find out if AYL is open on Monday, so I went to The Lifecentre this morning to practice with Michaela, last Saturday it was packed this week just 6 of us and one of those was another teacher warming up before teaching downstairs. But I had a great practice, I really enjoyed it, I had control of my breath, I remembered the Bandhas occassionally  and the postures felt joined up, only assist in standing was Prasarita C.

It’s the seated postures that gain most from doing practice every day, Marichyasana A – D all bound and a lovely satisfying Supta Kurmasana after another leg stretching in Kurmasana. Baddha Konasana assist with M. telling me to resist the urge to get my head to the floor despite it being tantalisingly close. The biggest difference with a consistent daily practice is that I don’t actually feel as wiped out towards the end of the seated poses, you learn to control everything, not just the breath, but the effort too. Pasasana does still wipe me and my feet for 6 however, after doing Cary’s 10 breath squats Michaela helped me into Pasasana, the bind feels strong and comfortable once someone gets me into it, one day…

Closing I actually managed 3 reasonable Urdva Dhanurasanas despite my wrist, though my hands seemed to have a lot more grip than last Sunday when they were determined to slide out. I did a few minutes of hanging back and trying to get down the wall, but dropping back is far too risky for my wrist. I am hoping all these hang backs and criminal excursions into the 2nd series backbends at home will make it easier to get dropbacks back, once my wrist is ready again. All this practice took nearly 2 hours, but who cares, when practice feels that good it doesn’t matter, its not the mental trial that it can sometimes be, it really was a case of just enjoying it.

One day off, then back to it.

May 26, 2010

I took Monday off, my wrist needed the rest and I wanted to watch the game in the evening. But I really wanted to practice last night after a discussion at the Garden party on Saturday in which everyone seemed to agree that practice is actually easier if you do it every day, as opposed to doing random days. I agree with this, Thailand was a case in point, after the first couple of days which seemed hard, by day 3 I was into it and poses like Marichyasana came more easily.

Doing it after a day at the Labour Camp though is something else, but the upstairs of my house was still warm from the sunshine and once I got going I found I was actually listening to my breath, almost blocking out the din of Lawnmowers and the kids playing next door. I don’t know why but the Trikonasanas always feel more open and expansive at home and my head seems much nearer the floor in the Prasaritas. I went back to walking vinyasas, my wrist had taken a pounding over the weekend and until Susan pointed it out, I didn’t know how bad my wrist position had been in backbends on Sunday, sliding out.

Pasasana squats before trying to bind, though  now I think my hand was the wrong way up, which is why I couldn’t get the fingers to touch let alone dock. I never thought Pasasana would take so much effort or energy.

Backbends have been awful since I came back from Thailand, so before trying Urdva Dhanurasana I added in some Salabhasana and Ustrasana’s. Mindful of Susan’s comments about my wrist and sliding I pushed up onto my head before pushing up into backbend, I managed one, my wrist was not impressed! I have been doing Bhujapidasana lately without my wrist getting annoyed, but the backbend position of the wrist always feels wrong to me, I have to adjust as soon as I am up there.

But it was good to practice and I always feel better for having done it, even if it is a bit of a trial at home, finding the motivation outside of the Shala environment.

This morning the local paper came through the door, I leafed through and on page 5 found they had used my information and photo of the old lady driving her car into the river, though had not credited either. My photo is also in the online version, though that still says she went into the canal.

A Yoga, Party, Mela weekend

May 23, 2010

Well apart from Thailand this has been the best weekend of 2010, yoga twice, despite the crap trains, a lovely garden party then the Mela in East London. And we even have sunshine and warmth 28c or for those of us who prefer 82f.

Practice on Saturday at TLC with Philippa, the place was packed, we kept making spaces somewhow so everyone got to practice, really warm in there, great love it like that, doing the Mari’s in that heat rocks and as for Supta K, woo hoo, I was really deep, then got a great assist to lift leaving me almost bum balanced with hands in prayer and my feet behind my head. A nice assist into Pasasana as well, Philippa had me balanced and feet flat. Backbends were crap, my wrist just hates pushing up from that position, even trying to quickly walk the hands in didn’t help, I managed 3 but bailed out on dropbacks, being a 2 day yoga weekend I didn’t want to miss day 2. I love the time I get at TLC, closing is never rushed and Savasana can last.

The afternoon was fun, I nipped into the Apple store just to play with an I-Phone before heading east to Cary’s ashtangi garden party. A lovely afternoon in the sun,chatting with people I only see in passing at Shala’s, great to see Eunice, Ruth and Louise with her new baby Veeva. So many new baby’s, we had the creche end of the garden and the other end, with much meeting in the middle.

I thought I was never going to get to practice this morning, diverting to AYL was a distinct possibility as the train got later and later, but after a sprint through the tube I got to YP at 8.20, though taking the place in the corner was a mistake, the sun was blinding and I was soon drenched, I cut down on the Surya’s, A) because I was warmed up already and B) the time factor. Standing do feel easier in this heat, but sprinting through the underground shortens the hamstrings. Only assist was in Prasarita C, though Cary was wary of my wrist, so didn’t push too hard. She also arrived for UHP, just as well, my wavering foot was havibg a problem staying upright, though being blinded wasn’t helping things either.

Seated are becoming a bit of a trial with my wrist, I have started to jump back again. It was a bit of synchronised yoga with Kristen next door, we started at the same time and were virtually on the same posture the whole way through practice, though I wish some of my postures looked more like hers do. Cary was on me in seated, Janu A about the foot position of the extended leg, so that I engage the inside of the knee, then deep assists in Mari A & C, before I managed D on my own. Bhuja was a cop out, I lifted a little, but I am so worried about my wrist giving way if I try the exit. Second day running for a great Supta K and again help arriving once I am already in, but Cary pushes me in this Kurmasana widening the legs, imploring me to stretch more and more, straightening the legs, even standing on them at one point, but entering Supta Kurmasana after that was easy, but again bailed on the exit. I need to find a safe way to test my wrist before re-instating Titibhasana. Left alone to plough through the rest of seated until Pasasana, I had been trying on my own, but today for the first time Cary came to assist, advise and give me some pointers, shit I had noooo idea Pasasana was THAT hard, my god did she make me work and now I have an extra strengthener to do now,  squatting with my arms out straight for 10 breaths, but she says I’m close to doing it. I remember her saying that about dropback and it took months! During seated I noticed in the Vinyasas that my back was stiffening up, Upward Dog became look up, because my back was beding less with each one, so I was mentally dreading Urdva Dhanurasana. I pushed onto my head, then up, but was soon being told to rotate my ankles out and elbows in or was it the other way round, but somehow I managed 3 OK ones, but my wrist was screaming, it doesn’t like pushing from that position at all. No dropbacks today, to be honest I was shattered, having to run to get there, followed by a hot practice had wiped me out. Advice right up to the end as I got my Mudra position adjusted in the closing breathing and then arm straightening, I wont see Cary again until mid July now, she certainly left me with lots to work on, but I need to recover first!

After practice I tried following Susan’s directions rather than get the bus, walking down Brick Lane was fun, but I missed the road she said I had to turn right on and ended up lost in Whitechapel! Yes Susan I know, I should get that I-phone! It was worth the walk to the Mela which started in Bishops Sqaure with the Mayor cutting the ribbon before the procession of drummers, musicians, dancers and mechanical animals set off back along the route I should have taken!

Mela Elephant

Freedom of information among yogi’s

May 19, 2010

Having done a Shala practice on Sunday, full primary at home on Monday, I had planned to take it easy last night, but during the day reading the messages on Facebook and other places about it being 1 year since Guruji’s passing I was moved to get on my mat and do practice. Not quite full primary, up to Supta Kurmasana, Pasasana then some backbends. Urdva Dhanurasana is a problem just now, my wrist doesn’t like pushing up from that hand position, after one I thought better of it, “ouch ooo ooo owww” and did some Salabhasana and Ustrasana’s before a bit of hanging back. I think doing a dropback is going to be more of a mental than a physical problem when i resume them, I am going to be worried about my wrist giving in if I land too far from my feet.

At least the yoga community is encouraging and always willing to offer advice about approaching injuries and asana questions, the freedom of information among practitioners is amazing, you only have to ask a question or mention something in passing and replies come thick and fast. This is surely due to the uncompetitive nature of yoga. Yogi’s are genuinely pleased for one another when someone cracks a pose, there is no sense of “my practice is better than your practice”. The information and advice doesn’t just come from teachers either, students come up with some gems as well, Mel told us that she had been advised in Urdva Dhanurasana to “push the shit out of it”, after the laughter finished you could see what was being meant.

Despite Guruji no longer being with us, I am sorry I never met him, ashtanga hasn’t fallen apart, the community is strong, the practice goes on.

Practicing yoga and eating

May 16, 2010

Bloggers brunch, Helen, Mel, Jen, AC, Susan & Jaime

The definition of the perfect day when you are not on a retreat with Kino in Thailand is surely, yoga with a great teacher, followed by a 2 hour breakfast, followed by a short walk to a 2 hour lunch with a bunch of yogi’s who are only too happy to spend hours discussing asana, injury and the dynamics of bending over backwards.

Practice had to be a fastish one for me, as thanks to a long wait for a bus I didn’t get on my mat until 8.25, I did cut back on the Surya’s as I was quite warm from running to practice and I didn’t want my wrist to give up too early. I can do standing quite quickly when I put my mind to it and was on my own until Prasarita C, not a deep adjustment, but enough to make it feel like something more was happening apart from a forward bend. UHP was crap, the sun came out and dazzled me, I tried turning round but it was no better, a wobbly quick count to 5.

Seated were done, but my practice lacked momentum, my wrist is getting better, but it still feels very vulnerable, so I resisted jumping back and forth on the vinyasas. The Shala was nice and warm, so I didn’t need the heat from vinyasas, but not jumping took away some of the usual energy. I still managed to bind all the Marichyasanas, Susan came to check, before a feet down Bhuja and a pretty good Supta K. I was glad when the double sided poses and all those vinyasas were over, despite walking through my wrist was beginning to ache. Since I got back from Thailand I havn’t been able to get my arms through in Garbha, not slithery enough. A lovely Baddha Konasana assist, really like being taken down to the floor Susan is good at adding the pressure at the right time, though I think my shoulders still get a bit tense and tight.

So Pasasana came around, I had a couple of goes on my own before Susan arrived. With the help of the wall she managed to get my fingers to bind and me balanced, then I had another go on my own with my mat rolled up, at lunch she mentioned that I need to squat more and to work harder in Utkatasana. I feel like if I could balance better I would be able to reach around that smidgy bit further and find my own fingers. After I was done K on the next mat smiled and said “That’s hard“, she aint wrong, its a posture like so many that looks easy or at least doable until you come to do it.

Closing Urdva Dhanurasana was a trial, I managed 3, but my wrist in that position was not happy and by now the strapping the Physiotherapist put on yesterday had been removed by sweat, walking in helped, but after 3 I called it a day and did Paschimottanasana. I was in shoulderstand when Susan came to suggest we should do assisted dropbacks, I had mentally abandoned them for the day, but thought OK she will at least land me safely and I wont be down there long, it was good to do them, especially as I have not been able to do them at home, one dodgy landing and my wrist will be injured for months. I have lost a lot of the control I had built up by not doing them alone during the week, I especially noticed it when coming back to standing, a few weeks ago once the teacher instigated the lift I engaged something on my own and came up with control, today I was most of the way up before I felt like I could have any input. But I am glad Susan had me do them.

A very quick closing, starting late, despite less Surya’s and a speedy standing still meant I ran out of time, but it was good to practice, mental balance returns to give me the chance to survive the week of work to come.

After practice it was time to eat, first to Patisserie Valerie for breakfast, I really don’t know why we havn’t been here before for after yoga brekky, great pastries, I was very restrained in only having one large Pain au Raisin! After hanging out we headed round the corner for lunch, my god ashtangi’s can eat after practice! A few more hours eating and drinking, is it a record to have 5 bloggers and one commenter round one table? Yogi’s are such good company, thaks to all who came, I hope you enjoyed the day as much as I did.

Another anatomy lesson – I have a Pisiform!

May 15, 2010

Despite it being a Moon day I did 75 minutes practice last night, after a day in that place I just have this urge to stretch and move. The other reason I practised was because this morning I had an appointment with the Physiotherapist about my wrist again. The wrist is much improved, but still not right, especially after the other morning when I tried to turn the tap on to fill the kettle, my wrist moved, the tap didn’t, leaving me bouncing up and down blaspheming in the kitchen.

Now that the big swelling has gone down, she was able to work out what is going on, comparing not only the movement and pain threshhold with how it was, but with the other wrist. I could feel that she was able to examine it more deeply. After much pressing, prodding, gentle twisting, some of which was a bit painful, she discovered that my Pisiform (thanks to Susan for the correct spelling so I could google it!) on the left wrist has too much movement, probably from all those upward dogs and that another area is far too tight and this is what sent my wrist over the edge. No acupuncture this time, but a long session of Ultrasound, followed by her putting some strapping to support the Pisiform, which is pulling the area tight. She said I need to strap it for yoga and any repetitive actions, but at least this time she told me it’s ok to do practice, so long as I am careful and I already know Susan will be keeping an eye on me tomorrow. She has given me more exercises to do as well, but says that its mending slowly. Yoga is ok, I am aware and conscious of my movements, its thoughtless movements like the tap I have to watch out for. But she has discharged me, so here’s hoping.

On the way back I called into the mobile phone shop to possibly see about my new toy, the more I look at the I-phone on the web and play with other peoples the more I want one, but our local store is tiny, they didn’t even have one and were less than helpful. One guy looked like Herman Munster, he had stitches from his forhead and down the side of his face, maybe a prospective customer had wacked him!

Primary + Pasasana’s new focus

May 14, 2010

I managed a full primary last night, though it was very, very slow for some reason. Maybe it being eve of Moon day had something to do with it. My wrist is still a BIG problem, I am having to walk through my vinyasas, rather than jumping and I had to very quickly bail out on Bhujapidasana, “oh no you don’t” said the sharp pain.

For the previous 14 months the focus of my practice has been backbends and in particular dropbacks and my futile attempts at standing up again. It seemed that practice was all about getting to backbends. Pasasana has given my practice a whole new outlook.

Going by Susan’s comments about the discomfort Pasasana induces in the tops of the feet, I seem to at least be doing it right! I thought the feet were just for standing on in this pose, but going by the discomfort there is obviously a lot more going on, than just a deep twist in the upper body. I am finding that the first side is much harder then the second, in fact last night I found that on the 2nd side once deeply twisted, though not bound, that I could stand up a little and balance away from the bed.

But having Pasasana has been great, with having to cut back on the backbends and abandon dropbacks altogether because of my wrist, my practice doesn’t just fizzle out after seated.

Moon day today, some kind of practice later, though not a full practice. Another appointment with the Physiotherapist tomorrow, hopefully things will improve with the wrist.

Pasasana a la bed

May 11, 2010

After some good Shala practices at the weekend I was intending to have a rest day, but after Monday’s very tedious day at the Labour Camp I ended up practising to Supta K, trying Pasasana, before some dismal backbends. I just needed to do practice, not to do great postures but to return my mind to a state of equilibrium, practice is medicine without the side effects.

I don’t think my wrist appreciated the extra vinyasas however and I have to wait now until Saturday for an appointment with the Physiotherapist, hopefully her Ultrasound machine and acupuncture pins will set me back on the road to recovery.

This evening again after a day in that place, I just had the urge to stretch, but knew I couldn’t risk pissing my wrist off even more so ended up doing standing, then Pasasana. It’s not just a case of the novelty of having a new pose, but a feeling that I need to do it every day to get some progress, as well as the added bonus that it doesn’t annoy my wrist. I found a way to self adjust using the bed tonight, I can get a twist on almost as deep as a teacher adjusting and stabilising me, by starting with my back to the bed, reaching round as far as I can, ending up sideways on, but stable enough to get a deep twist, I think this will be the way to go after trying to do it without the bed first. I am quite relaxed about Pasasana, I love the twists and it just feels like its a matter of time.

Pasasana is a milestone for me, but I now realise that when Kino gave it to me, it wasn’t just a case of getting it, but also how wonderful  it was to have someone next to me who understood just how much it meant, who shared in my surprise and joy, clapped their hands and appreciated just how much I have put into that moment over the last few years. I can’t even do it for god’s sake, but having someone to immediately share it with made it special. When I did my first dropback on that aussie beach last year that too was a wonderful moment, but those in the vicinity that day probably thought my joy was just another deranged Pom on holiday who’d overdosed on sun and beer. I wish I had been able to share that moment too, instead of having to send texts 10,000 miles. Though doing it a month later in the shala in front of my teacher was almost as good.

Before I went to Thailand I bought some Fudge, I played this mental game of if I can resist eating it, just maybe the ash cloud will lift. If the ash didn’t lift then it was mine as a consolation. Well I had forgotten I had bought it until today, when I re-discovered it still sealed up in the bottom of my Granola barrell, I am tempted to keep it as a Pasasana binding reward, but I think it will have gone off by then.

Double practice, Pasasana & Elephants in Notting Hill

May 9, 2010

Notting Hill Elephant

A very busy weekend, which turned out well. First stop TLC on Saturday morning for practice with Michaela. Not a bad practice, just accepting where things were and a case of ploughing through. Usual assistance in standing Prasarita C and UHP. It was in seated that Michaela produced a miracle, for me at least. Over the last few weeks I have been able to bind Ardha Badha Padma Pachimottanasana on the first side, but have been nowhere near on the second side, firmly believing that my left side shoulder rotation wasn’t open enough and that my arm wasn’t long enough anyway! Michaela came along and somehow got my half lotus in a different position, before telling me to reach around and suddenly I managed to grab my toe, how the hell did that happen? I managed all the binds, Mari’s and Supta K, but was not sweaty enough to get my arms through in Garbha. After seated I thought I may as well add Pasasana, I explained that Kino gave it me last week and Michaela was quite happy to assist, though she did it in a different way to Kino. Instead of getting the bind, then trying to get the heals down as Kino did in Thailand, Michaela got my feet flat, then assisted the bind before getting me to try and stand up a little as she balanced me, I’m willing to try any variation, though I think getting the bind will happen long before I work out how to balance and change the weight distribution. My wrist was objecting by now, so I only managed some not great Urdva Dhanurasana’s, before Michaela helped me with dropbacks, I could do it myself but I fear one dodgy landing and my wrist could be injured for months, it feels so fragile. I enjoy practice at TLC, it’s quite relaxed.

After practice I walked through the Farmers Market looking for the Shortbread Lady, but instead found a stall selling some to die for ginger bread, wonderful, my slice had gone by the time I got to Waterstone’s and came across the Elephants, there were 3, a jolly sight on a cold morning! Saturday afternoon I ran the travel club, not so well attended this week, never mind, it was a cold, wet, grey day. Someone at the club asked where I had been, “yes another yoga retreat in the sunshine” I replied, to which they said “you must be Guru level by now” LOL. Luckily my B&B was warm and cosy and gave me my first decent nights sleep since I got back.

Sunday morning clanged into life with a text from AC at 7.15am, we met in Mcd’s for a cuppa before practice, so nice to have time for tea before practice. It was so nice to be back in the shala, after transport issues, wrist issues and Thailand, walking through that door felt as much like coming home as unlocking my front door did last week as Cary beamed a welcome. After a chat about the trip and the problem with my wrist, I didn’t ice it after the TLC practice, I mentioned that I had been pleasantly surprised when Kino gave me Pasasana, I asked if I should continue to do it and Cary said of course I should if Kino said it was time, then time it is, so now I feel that I have officially crossed the line into 2nd with my teachers blessing, even if I only do 1 pose. Instead of just occassionally trying Pasasana as part of my home practice I now feel like I am working at something instead of just playing with it, it may be just one pose, but it’s added a new dimension both mentally and physically.

Practice was good, though my wrist as I type is not happy, I had to stop jumping back on every vinyasa, otherwise I would not have got through. Lots of new people as well as lots of familiar faces in their favourite spots, so not that much adjustment and I didn’t manage to reapeat Saturday’s Ardha BPP bind on the 2nd side. Apart from an assist in Mari A, I was left alone until Baddha Konasana, I enjoy that adjustment, I had done it once on my own, but Cary came along and we did the whole thing again, chin to the floor. After seated it was time to officially try out Pasasana in my Shala, I felt a bit self conscious doing the posture, Cary watched but didn’t assist, I suspect she just wanted to see how far I would get, she didn’t say anything, is that a good sign I wonder? My wrist was unimpressed with UD’s though I managed 4, then stood up and worked on hang backs, Cary said she thought I wasn’t doing dropbacks, but after explaining Kino insisted on assisting them so that I could land safely she went through the full repetoire on dropbacks, halfways etc. I had no problems today with Matsyasana or Uttana Pidasana, no nausea or head spinning, so I’m sure those problems were the result of sunshine and dehydration. My practice is taking far too long these days, it was 2 hours by the time Savasana was done.

It was good to be back, I so wished I lived nearer and could get there more than once a week. Practice was followed by a very leisurely brunch with AC and Mel, suddenly it was 2pm, a 2 hour yoga practice that takes all day, I for one am better for it.