Archive for November, 2010

No thinking, more breathing!

November 28, 2010

So much for my plan to return to my “home” Shala today after weeks of Moon days and non train Sundays, The departure time came and passed as the would be passengers turned into icicles on a freezing platform, until 40 minutes late a train loomed out of the merk to take us into the city, no way could I get to YP before 9am, I had already decided on plan B, the short walk round to AYL. I was frozen to the core by the time Louise opened the door for me, my fingers too cold to press the entry code and I homed in on the spot next to the big radiator that nobody else seemed to want, OMG did I need it to thaw out.

It took a while to get going, mentally I was there, but physically my body was stiff with cold, I even did extra Surya’s to try and get moving and generate some heat, extra Surya B’s meant double squsihing as both teachers did a Downward dog squish. I was lapping up the heat from the radiator I can tell you and the teachers warm hands on my lower back, it felt like every joint had to be defrosted one by one. Apart from the usual PPC assist I was left alone, it was steady and felt good. I got to UHP, which is a problem in the corner for the first side, I thought I’ll just stick my foot a little way out, didn’t see Teacher waiting to take it a tad further than I had planned!

I tried to keep the momentum up in seated, but I wasnt generating the usual heat despite the radiator, nowhere near the usual sweat drenched state I usually get into at AYL. Little things didn’t happen, like the exit from Bhuja, but I did manage to beat the teachers into Supta Kurmasana 🙂  Usually they are on you to assist, I hung out in Kurmasana then thought I better do it myself, by the time Ruth arrived I had crossed my feet and grabbed my fingers, just leaving her to help tighten the finger bind, but the exit was not great, I just wasn’t deep enough to get the Dwi Pada exit.

Louise did a nice job helping to bind my Pasasana, asking me after who had “given” it me. I had to explain it was Kino and I continued doing it with Cary’s blessing, she was kind enough to explain that its my shoulder rotation which is stopping me binding on my own, I need more up and over than just round, she reckons there are a few free centimetres to be had.

I was a bit nervous of doing backbends, my back had felt rigid from the cold and despite all the upward dogs I still wasn’t sure there was much openness going on. I decided to start with some little bridges to test the water, then found Urdva Dhanurasana better than expected, I did some extra ones, walking in and trying to rock before standing to do dropbacks. I wanted to do some dropbacks on my own before help arrived, there is still a fear factor to this and I figure the more I do on my own the less mental energy this will eventually take. I managed 4 before Ruth came along, the last time I practised with her she had to help me back, today she told me my dropbacks looked good, to go back on my own, then she helped me up.  I am not sure what changes when I have a teacher in front of me doing this, my breathing gets ragged and I run out of air by half way, then at the bottom I just couldn’t seem to synchronise the exhale back, inhale up as she rocked me back up to standing. She could see what was happening and came out with title of this post “NO THINKING, MORE BREATHING“. I know exactly what should happen, but thinking about it while trying to do it seems to make it worse, at least I remembered “Head last”.

The Finishing Room seemed chilly, I  lost my hard gained heat quite quickly during closing and was glad of a blanket for Savasana.

Yogi breakfast after, lovely 🙂 …. then an awful journey home, despite all that and the temptation at 7.30am to abandon the whole thing and go back home to bed I’m glad I went and a bit disappointed that next Sunday as Louise reminded me on the way out,  is yet another Moon day.

Back to the Bolster experiments tomorrow, no thinking more breathing, or at least breathing at the right time.


Tieing the knot day

November 24, 2010

The Royals have chosen 29 April for their wedding next year. It’s a very auspicious day for tieing knots, it was April 29th this year that Kino gave me Pasasana, Sealed knot posture, while I was in Thailand. It’s coming, but I would love my fingers to join up by the time William and Kate tie their knot.

Hopefully below is a photo of my nice new red Bolster that arrived today. I bought it not for laying on, but to aid my standing up from backbend experiments. I have been working hard on walking my hands closer to my feet in Urdva Dhanurasana and I am beginning to feel the difference. I am consistently landing dropbacks without crashing my head, so now I’m working on this standing up game. The Futon has become too easy to do it from, but the floor still seems a mile away, I needed something in-between and the bolster is a good 10 inches lower than the Futon.

IT WORKED! After a couple of goes that it took me to remember the “head last” mantra on number 3 I dropped back, straightened my feet up, rocked and wow up I came. Just to prove it wasn’t a freak I did it a few more times. The bolster has somehow made it easier to keep the head back as I come up, now I just need to work out how to do it off the ground.

The wobbly full moon imbalance

November 20, 2010

After a stop start yoga week thanks to the black ice and an injured shoulder and arm, it was nice to get back to one of my Shala’s today and have a surprisingly decent practice. I had no expectations, should I ever, but having only done one very slow full primary at home on Thursday and a totally criminal 2nd series backbend fest last night, I wasn’t exactly what I would consider “yoga fit” as I stepped on to my mat at TLC this morning. A very exclusive class too, with just 4 of us and Philippa teaching, so far more assists than I normally get.

I was into my Surya B’s when P stopped me to point out my ankles tendency to roll outwards in upward dog, which she said was compromising my lower back, so she got me to do it with the ankles straighter so that I was more on the tops of my feet, I could feel the difference in my lower back almost immediately. Nice assists in Prasarita C and D, quite unusual to get any help in D. UHP was funny, 3 out of the 4 students started together and we all seemed to get to UHP at the same time, while P was downdog squishing the 4th student, she laughed as one after another we all got the wobble on and fell out. She said it was the full moon making us imbalanced, though I have noticed this with UHP in the past in led primary that once one person loses it others soon follow. Also it used to be one of the unofficial games at the Friday counted practice, trying to get the person opposite to lose it, made things a bit more interesting along with the “Holding chitvari” game, those were the days LOL.

A better seated sequence than I expected, though I had to stop jumping through after Navasana, my shoulder was moaning and I was running out of steam or should that be puff? Though after a very nice assist in Mari B, where again made the wrist bind, I was setting up for Mari D on the first side when P sat next to me and took me into a really deep bind, I noticed when she took the arm around the knee she did it much higher than I usually do, will have to experiment with that. I was in 2 minds about the second side of Mari D, I havn’t even attempted it in over 6 weeks because it pissed my right knee off so much, but she was waiting for me after the vinyasa, so I thought she’s very intuitive with her assists, so I decided to go with it and bail out if I had to, initially I thought it was going to be too much for the knee, but then I found some kind of space and wodya know I was bound in the second side. Nice one Philippa 🙂  She knows I can do Supta Kurmasana on my own, so lets me get into it, then appears to take it deeper, before her piece de resistance, taking me into Dwi Pada with hands at prayer, OMG I love doing that, I must have a really stupid grin on my face.

Great to have help again with Pasasana today, unlike C & M,  P is in the “Get the bind and don’t worry about the feet being flat” camp. Nice bind 🙂

All last nights backbends must have helped today, I didn’t lay on my mat trying to coerce myself up into Urdva Dhanurasana, I just set my feet and pushed up, I had done a couple, then got assisted for 3 moving the hands in closer each time, though I can’t see my feet so not sure how close I actually was. Usually P is waiting for me to do assisted dropbacks, but managed to beat her to it today and landed a couple of unassisted ones while she was assisting next door, first time she has seen me do them on my own, the last time I practised with her my wrist was still stopping me doing it. The assisted ones were not very controlled on my part, my breath coordination wasn’t there, though according to P, I wasn’t breathing at all!

So a surprisingly good practice after such an erratic injury ravaged yoga week, one of those practices where you start off with the mind saying you should have stayed in bed etc and by the end feeling like it was the best thing you are going to do all day, which it is really.

Walked back via the Farmers Market, couldn’t resist the free range organic Eccles cakes, better for me than a handful of LPQ sugar lumps I suppose.

Frustrating non yoga injury

November 17, 2010

I’m not amused, walking to work on a cold, frosty morning I accidentally slipped on some black ice yesterday, I had hit the ground long before I even had a chance to try and save myself. I landed with such a whack that I was dazed and once I realised what had happened found my arm trapped under me hurting like hell along with my upper back, the only thing that saved my head was having my little rucksack over one shoulder. A guy in a house opposite had seen it and came rushing out to help. Once I had regained my senses and found no real damage done I carried on to work to survey the damage in the warm. My arm below the right elbow is bruised to the bone, my shoulder is bruised and now very stiff.

Surfice to say this weeks Tuesday evening practice was not a patch on last weeks at AYL. Upward dog was impossible, as soon as I pushed up a pain shot up the arm, for some reason Downward Dog was doable. So it ended up being standing, then seated up to Navasana without any vinyasas to keep the heat and momentum. No way could I attempt Bhuja or the Kurmasana sequence or the bum balances where you kind of pull on the arms, too freakin… painful. As my back was stiff and the arm wouldn’t support my weight I abandoned any thought of Urdva Dhanurasana and made do with some Salabhasana’s for my backbends. It was only when I tried to roll up into Shoulderstand that I realised just how much of a battering my back had taken on the ice, another asana abandoned. Even Savasana was a moving about trying to find a place of comfort.

Just when practice seems to be moving in the right direction again after all the wrist problems and knee problems. I just hope things improve by the weekend.

Saturday practice report

November 13, 2010

Yes a Saturday report again, not because Sunday is Moon day like next week, but because this Sunday they have yet again replaced the first train with a bus that leaves hours earlier, to no doubt be driven by someone without a sense of direction, english as a first language or Satnav, I have given up, I just can’t be arsed to get up  and struggle into the city.

There are some big advantages going in on a Saturday, more trains, no need to Olympic sprint through the tube and a sparsely populated Shala. Disadvantages being, not my regular teacher, though a very good one who I like enormously, and I miss my Shala buddies 😦 , apart from that practice is practice.

I tend to get left alone mostly in standing, apart from a squish in downward dog I just get to plough through. This seems to happen with most teachers nowadays, my postures are far from perfect to my mind, but my practice must have reached a fairly decent state to be consistently left to my own devices.

It was warm in there despite there being just 7 of us, the heat really built up, a nice rythmn in seated and a “That was a good one” comment from M about my straight legged jump through after a very deep Paschimottanasana squishing. I have just started to re-instate very careful jump throughs, my left wrist, touch wood, seems to be better and jumping both forward and back does seem to help the flow of the practice. My right knee is still unhappy, despite not doing a full Mari D for about 6 weeks, it just about puts up with Ardha Badha and Mari B. A nice nose flat to the knee assist in Mari A and a surprise as I managed to take the wrist in Mari B, that hasn’t happened for a while.

I sometimes find it strange that I can do Supta Kurmasana, bind it nicely and stay there going deeper if the mood takes me, strange because opposite me today was a row of 5, 30 something skinny yogis who all had an assortment of belts and blocks, but were nowhere near binding either end on their own. Why can I do it when those much younger with a better physicality for it can’t?

Baddha Konasana is another one of M’s super forward bend assists, she easily gets my head to the floor, its not strained, I am not resistant, I just go with it and my nose hits the mat.

Another “proper” Pasasana, as M calls it today, though I had 2 goes on each side on my own first, then I get the “Heals down” instruction and wham bam I’m squatting in a sealed knot, no fuss or bother. Unlike Tuesday having the heals down I can’t keep the balance on my own.

I had to do quite a few Urdva Dhanurasanas before I got a decent one, I think I must have “backbended” myself out on Friday evening. M watched again this week as I did my dropbacks, not good ones, I just didn’t seem to have the energy to control the descent, but landed 3 without giving myself concussion, but it was a case of getting them done, not much energy for the walking in and rocking experiments. I just decided to stop and do forward bend and was glad of the nice long squishing, I know my breath was getting a bit raspy and the extra long squish allowed me to take back control before finishing off practice.

After practice I was a bit headachy and tired, dehydration was mostly to blame, we had no water at home last night after a water main burst down the road, had we realised earlier we would have filled the kettle and some containers, but by the time we found out there was nothing coming out of the tap and nowhere open to even buy any bottled water.

I rehydrated over brunch with a couple of Yogi pals, tea and of course my croissants, just because its Saturday I was till going to enjoy my post yoga treat, because I’m worth it!


DLR 2 WTM & home via AYL!

November 10, 2010

A very long, but full and fun day. Things started slowly thanks to the DLR breaking down, so I didn’t arrive at World Travel Market (WTM) until nearly Noon. But when I finally got there I soon found the India stand giving out free cups of tea and biscuits, as well as a nice brochure on Mysore. Checked in at Sri Lanka, more free tea and info on my forthcoming trip. Next section is my favourite, The Middle East, you can tell who has the money, definitley a better standard of freebie in this area!


ETIHAD nearly made me a dishonest Globie, though I doubt that the Labour Camp management would appreciate my dedication, so now I am sitting here thinking I should have taken a sickie tomorrow. Not only did I get a nice photo with the lovely ETIHAD Stewardess and Ferrari Grand Prix car, she gave me a nice pen and giant bag of ETIHAD Jelly Beans, BUT, wait for this she also asked if I wanted to go by Limo to see the Man City v Man UTD match in Manchester tomorrow night, free ticket and transport. shit, shit , shit I should have said yes!

Oh well decided a massage would have to do, asked the therapist to give my tight shoulders a good going over, which she did!

Massage Tent

Then back to collecting freebies and having a good time, quite a haul today, T-shirts, enough pens to open a stationery shop, sweets, hats, shopping bags, tea, Malaysian cakes and bumped into a character from my childhood. Last year I got a picture with the worlds head honcho, this year it was on the Peru stand that I ended up bumping into Paddington Bear. Paddington came from Peru and was found by Mr Brown at Paddington station with a sign round his neck saying “Please look after this bear”, or so it said in the books that taught me to read all those years ago and first made me look in an Atlas to find out where Peru was and set my wanderlust in motion though I have yet to visit Peru, so here is me and Paddington.

Paddington BearSo after a nice day out what better way to finish it off than to go and do practice in a nice warm Shala, especially when train company decide to add restrictions to my return ticket which would have meant hanging around the station for 2 hours, so instead round the corner to AYL. Juicy humid heat as soon as I walked in, time for a few nice stretches to warm up, the chant at 6pm and head to knee on Surya number 2, you just know when it’s going to be a good one, well I seem to, my hamstrings have length, despite a day walking miles, my arms had strength and the whole practice just flowed. Nice assists in Prasarita C and UHP. Seated was great, all the Mari’s bound and a first at AYL, I was in Kurmasana and got told to wait, the Kurmasana was such a deep one in the slithery heat that the teacher crossed my already nearly bound feet for Supta K then said do the rest yourself as he could see I could. I t was such a good one I was loathe to release it, Dwi Pada and a very stable Titibhasana exit.

But the best was yet to come, I had a couple of oh so close attempts at Pasasana, then help arrived, first side not great, lost balance, but the second side my fingers were touching already and a nudge from teacher and they bound by themselves, he joined them a little tighter for me, then I suddenly realised I was not being supported, I was doing Pasasana on my own, without tipping over and found I that because my fingers were well bound I could actually get a deeper twist, wooo hoo. OK I know there’s a long way still to go and no doubt the next time I try it things will fall apart, but doing it once instills a belief that maybe I can get there.

It was hard to get my mind into backbends after the yeee haaa moment, I did an extra Urdva Dhanurasana, then after a couple of abortive dropbacks I told my mind to shut up and concentrate for 3 safely landed dropbacks, then got 3 assisted ones. AYL was very busy, people queuing to start, so when I went into the finishing room, there wasn’t initially any room. Had to wait for someone to move before completing my practice.

So 3 Shala practices in the last 4 days, at 3 different Shala’s with 3 different teachers, makes me wish I could get a Shala practice more than my usual once a week, my practice is so much better for the consistency of practising in that environment. Roll on Sunday!

Chataranga torture & Internal stand up enquiry

November 7, 2010

A very busy but enjoyable weekend. Started off with a nice practice on Saturday morning at TLC with Michaela. Only 6 of us, but not as much attention as you may think as one was a complete newbie being taken through the Surya’s and first standing poses. But M always turns up at the right time to straighten my Trikonasana and stretch my shoulders in Prasarita C and she is still the undefeated champion Paschimottanasana squisher. Its easy to stay focused at TLC, its warm and quiet and now the building work opposite is done we are no longer the Hod carriers Saturday morning freak show entertainment! A lovely Pasasana assist, then left alone to do my own dropbacks, but no help getting back up, makes me think these teachers do discuss us, see later below! I was the first to arrive and the last to leave and the only one doing dropbacks which probably explains it.

After a pit stop at LPQ, raisin danish and sugar lumps it was off to run the Travel Club for the afternoon.

Raisin Danish & delicious sugar mountains!

So up again today at the crack of dawn, well it was actually still dark since we changed the clocks, but a miracle as the train was ON TIME for a change, maybe they have got fed up of my slagging them off live on Twitter every Sunday and claiming compensation and decided to actually try and run what they laughingly call a service.

Anyhoo on my mat at 08:10 at the Shala and it wasn’t long before Cary decided today was the day to get on my case, starting with what my feet do in the transition between upward and downward dog, ie they don’t roll over my toes at the same time, one foot follows the other, she was pretty insistent that I get it right which killed my arms with the repeated Chaturangas, so I was knackered before I had even done the first standing posture, her funniest comment was “This isn’t hard, its not like Pasasana!“. I think my seated poses are speeding up, now I no longer spend time coercing my right knee into Lotus for Mari D, this seems to have saved at least 5 minutes not to mention the angst my knee was going through. Another good Supta K managing to lift out into Dwi Pada and get my legs almost straight in Titibhasana before my wrist decided it didn’t want to play that game anymore. Having this wrist problem for so long now I am more aware of the warning signs, so bail out before I do any damage. I thought I had escaped with the Chataranga therapy, but oh no my Supta Konasana was next on her agenda, sometimes, occassionally, on a very good day I can hold the balance and do a semi graceful crash to the floor, but today I came up and over and crashed down, Cary was next door, cue me having to do it another 3 times before getting a tick!

Pasasana seems to get closer each week, but getting the final centimetre or so is taking so long! I am only asking Santa for 2 things this year, 1) Bind Pasasana , 2) Stand up from backbend!

So we came to backbends, 4 ok Urdva Dhanurasanas, then stand up and start the dropbacks with Cary watching from the backwall. I still can’t work it out at the Shala, the upper back bend is never as deep as it is at home and the mat looks much further away. I had done 3 when she came over to say I need to try harder at standing up. I usually walk in and rock a little, but it feels so far away still. So on the 4th one I landed the dropback, walked in, tried oh sooo hard to rock forward, but ended up crashing on the back of my head! At which point I decided that’s enough and sat in forward bend.

Well I thought it was enough but Cary had other ideas, up I got to be told the reason I crashed on that particular section of my head was that I had not kept the head back. Then I said to her that as I rocked my hands seemed to go backwards, she asked what i thought needed to happen to make me able to stand up, to which I replied trying to get the weight of the hips more forward towards or over the ankles, I got a quizzical look and “is it?”. At this point she told me I had to undertake some internal inquiry, to try and work it out for myself, work out what my particular body needs in order to stand up, I bet she asks me next week. I think, though I could be wrong, that perhaps I am at the point like with dropping back that a teacher can do it and do it with you, but at some point you have to take responsibility and just try it, knowing intervention and rescue is not going to happen, I learned to dropback on an aussie beach, so maybe I will learn to stand on a Sri Lankan one. She then had me dropback 3 times on my own, but instigated the standing, as I remembered the mantra “Head last“. She seems to do so little to instigate the movement to stand, not like the early days of her almost hauling me up. She finished off with a one of her very intense assisted dropbacks.

It felt like a completely different practice to yesterdays at TLC, despite being the same poses on the same mat, it was much more intense, physically more demanding, but strangely no more satisfying. I think this week of internal backbend inquiry will be hard to work out, maybe I should video my backbend and try to see what she sees, but other than that how do you analyse it?

Lovely breakfast with fellow yoga bloggers, so nice to spend time chatting in the real world as opposed to the cyber shala. Followed this by slogging out to the so called “Luxury Travel Show” at Olympia, what a waste of time that was, took me less than 20 minutes to go round it before heading home.

A 4 out of 6 week

November 5, 2010

A fairly consistent week, full practice on Saturday at home and Sunday at the Shala.

Then Monday comes along and the Bank (of Scotland) screw up again and I ended up spending half the evening on the phone trying to get their error sorted, 4 days later I am still waiting, 3 times they promised to call me back, you can guess how many times they have called. So Monday night’s practice turned out to be standing and not much else worth writing about.

Tuesday back on the mat, but it was a struggle, I don’t know why, lack of energy, drishte, I didn’t give up, I got through my whole practice, but can’t say I enjoyed it.

Wednesday off to watch the match. Thursday a fairly dire day at the Labour Camp, resulting in my purchase of a 5 pack of Wispa’s at the Supermarket! But wodya know I get home and do one of the best home practices for a week or so, had the energy, motivation and focus. If only Cadbury’s knew the power that Wispa bars posess!

So a 4th full practice, really I should be happy with that, happy that I continue to find the motivation to practice home alone without the heat, energy and encouragement of my Shala teacher and yoga Shala buddies practising by me.

Friday is always a short 1 hour or so practice, after standing dipping into the lovely criminal second series backbends, extra Urdva Dhanurasanas, before a few steady dropbacks, Friday is my do what I like practice.

Though yoga is at most 2 hours of my day it has a massive influence over the other 22 hours. My sleep is deep and thoughts of doing practice help get me through the working day, it gives me something good to think about and look forward to, even on days like Tuesday when the thought and reality seemed to be somewhat different.

I watched this super interview with Kino and it made me think what a positive thing yoga is to have in my life. You wouldn’t think it, but yoga has changed my attitude to lots of things over the last few years (work still sucks however), I am open to trying therapies I would have poo pood and considered mumbo jumbo, such as the acupuncture the Physiotherapist used on my wrist and the massage Cristina uses on that niggling Piriformis. I would now choose this type of treatment over going to a Doctor, whose interest is getting you out of the door with a prescription for tablets that would most likely annoy my stomach.

Talking of the stomach, although I am far from a vegetarian, without any effort I no longer seem to enjoy red meats such as beef, lamb, ok I do still enjoy the odd Bacon sandwich, but when you consider what a carnivore I used to be this is quite a radical change, as if my body is making decisions for me, it doesn’t feel like I have actually given anything up. I also now drink fruit juice, ok I don’t like the ones with “bits” in, but I love apple juice, even though I could never eat an apple, but another change in that Susan did manage to get some fruit between my lips back in April! Yoga is the reason this has happened, that I was open to trying, this would never have happened a few years ago.

I am sure yoga has given me some kind of indefinable spirituality that was not there before, I would never have considered reading buddhist books in the past, it’s spirituality has kind of crept up on me via Dena’s chanting workshops and teachers talking about the effect yoga has on our own lives and those we interact with.  Does the 2 hours yoga really shape the other 22 or is it the other way round?