Archive for August, 2012

Birthday practice

August 27, 2012

First cake of the day

A much quicker and less stressful commute into the city this morning for my Birthday practice I’m glad to say. Short walk to C’s new Shala near Brick Lane to take probably my last chance to practice with her before she leaves us for a while and a rare chance to catch up with some of the yoga folk I havn’t seen in far too long.


Olympic mascot in keeping with Brick Lane

A year ago we had just finished Sharath’s week in London and I was looking forward to handing my notice in and going to Mysore, practice then was still difficult at Garbha and standing up wasn’t anywhere near happening. This morning Cary asked me where my practice is at, i said it’s a lot different to the last time i practised with her, though most of the change has happened in the last couple of months, explaining that now I’m up to Bhekasana, somewhere I never expected to get to.

Lots of tweaks and prods in standing, she never says much, but the muscles seem to know what the prod is trying to achieve. Seated getting my hands lower down my feet in Tiriang M. And squashing my nose beyond my knee in Mari A, I had half forgotten how strong she is! Widening my legs in Upavistha and laughing as I crashed down from Supta Konasana.


Kino’s new book

I had done Pasasana and was about to move on, but got called to do it again with assistance, before she then went through the correct vinyasa to get into Krounchasana, ie jumping through with the straight leg off the ground. I remembered Susan’s advice about the toes, ankles and knees in Salabhasana, but still can’t get my hands and toes around Bhekasana, still only the 2nd day of trying that one.

Left alone in backbends, she watched me do UD then drop back and stand up, before squashing me. With C you can’t switch off in closing, drishte and mudra she’s on you to the end. Great to practice with her and everyone again


Yummy Maple Syrup Candy, I’m surprised it got home untouched !

After practice it’s time for tea and cake, before heading home for cards and pressies. Kino’s new book, togs, chocolate, maple syrup candy (thanks Susan) and an Angry Birds mug.


Angry Birds


Bhekasana now!

August 26, 2012

Well if last weeks journey was stressful, today it was nothing short of tortuous. The first 2 replacement buses were cancelled, they just didn’t tell anyone, least of all the passengers and the third Bus arrived then broke down, so 3 & 3/4hrs after I left home I finally rolled out my mat at the Shala.

Louise told me not to rush, just enjoy my practice,but after a journey like that it takes a while for the mind to stop composing letters of complaint and get with the breath, Bandhas and drishte. It wasn’t until I got adjusted in Prasarita C that I was mentally in the room. I was conscious of time now my practice is lengthening again. Nice assists in Tiriang Mukha and Mari A, before losing the Supta K race. I was so drenched by the time I got to Garbha I didn’t even need to look for the spray bottle!

Pasasana, Krounchasana and the new Salabhasana A and B felt good and I moved on to Urdva Dhanurasana as time was running out, but L came over after I had only done one and to my surprise said it was time to add Bekhasana ! This is all coming so unexpectedly fast. She had to show me how the hands go, but I seem to have dyslexic hands, I am going to have to work this out, it feels impossible to turn the hand over the toes, something really new to work on, I think I have only tried Bekhasana a couple of times at workshops, thinking I don’t need to worry, as I’m never going to get that far!

Getting another new posture just two weeks after being given the last one was a surprise, I think it’s a safe bet that Bekhasana is going to take a while to work out, but it was a nice early Birthday present.

I’m certainly beginning to feel the Five postures of second added on to my usual Primary, by the time I got to backbends for the second time I was tired. I really just need a stress free journey to start with.

Salabhasana day

August 19, 2012

I thought the Salabhasanas official Shala debut was going to be cancelled. The Olympics are over and the abysmal Sunday train service returns, nearly 2 hours for what should be a 33 minute train ride. Three different excuses and two trains, it’s a joke after this weeks announcement about above inflation fare increases.

Eventually we arrive and J punches the door code and we are in and despite being busy there are still a couple of spaces for our mats. It’s the hottest day of the year and the Shala is a Sauna, waterfalls of sweat coming from places I didn’t know I had places! I usually love the heat, but after 2 hours of being cattle before even doing a Surya A, the heat makes it hard work and energy sapping. Left alone until UHP, “relax your jaw” is V’s mantra!

By the time I got to the end of Primary my Yogitoes was saturated, I had sweated off enough of any excess to bind Pasasana, even if my stubborn heals won’t go down. At least the heat is good for the Hamstrings, Krounchasana is getting better, even on the second side.

So finally it’s time for Salabhasana to make it’s entrance, ok I have had some practice this week since Louise told me it’s time to add this on, with the odd bit of advice from people who know, about the big toes pressing together, inward rotation of the thighs and relaxing the butt. It’s harder than it looks, a bit like an upside-down Navasana, but definitely doable. I must have been doing it right as Louise watched, but left me to it as I sweated through 5 breaths in Salabhasana A then 5 in B.

All that and backbends still to come, by this point my mat had no traction control left, 5 UD’s then 3 drop backs and crappy stand ups as I tried to rise up before my hands slid out from under me. Followed by assisted half ways then the drop and walk in plan, was I glad of that Paschimot squash.

After adding these three new postures in just a few weeks I’m starting to feel them now. They were novel to begin with, but are now taking over the time and energy previously employed in learning to drop back and stand up. As Dena said it doesn’t ever get easier, just longer!

Salabhasana and Olympics on a Sunday

August 12, 2012


Tower Bridge

I need moon day to be tomorrow instead of Friday, after this weekend. Friday afternoon J texts and we decide a Saturday practice at TLC with Phillipa will give her new mat a test workout. Just 5 of us, so lots of assistance, Mari C and D and Supta K into Dwi Pada. Pasasana binding, my heals are getting lower. Krounchasana is still new, but coming, first side better, my uneven pelvis making the second side unbalanced. Dropped back and stood up before some great help with another 6.

Sunday at AYL as usual, though having all the assistance on Saturday seems to give me a head start. I’m more open from the get go, especially in that heat, dripping after just the Surya’s. Unlike Saturday left mostly alone until Prasarita C and then UHP, needed that one, I was a bit unstable.

More focus on Tiriang Mukha, now the warm up for my newly evolving Krounchasana. Deeper Marichyasanas to assist Pasasana. I’m starting to appreciate how Primary leads into Intermediate. Supta K on my own and a full 360 Garbha after. Got squashed in Baddha Konasana. More effort in Ubhya, which is kinda like a double Krounchasana 🙂

Pasasana bound then a not bad Krounchasana, I’m struggling to get the right butt down on the second side, but I’m getting the leg much straighter. Suddenly it’s time for backbends, with new postures the backbends kind of creep up on me. Good UD and stood up 4 times from dropback, I thought that was it, Paschimottanasana time, but Louise came over and got me to do the cross arm half way, then the drop and walk in, hold for 5 then come up. Then the surprise, as she squashed me she said “next week do Salabhasana “! I will have to get my Kino DVD out and see how to do it properly now, it’s going to be different doing it for real in the Shala, as opposed to playing around at home. Things are suddenly moving on after years of stagnant slog.

Two random compliments after practice, As I was putting my shoes back on, someone I recognise from Mysore, but who’s name I don’t know came up to say how much better my backbends are since she saw me in India. Then in Sainsburys the girl on the checkout said she loved my Pendant and held up the queue asking what the Om and Ganesh are.


At the Olympics

Unlike last Sunday it was a beautiful hot, sunny morning, so after breakfast on a complete whim I decided to go and see the Olympic Marathon race, one of the few events you don’t need a ticket for. The Olympic volunteer lady at Euston recommended heading east to Tower Hill, by the Tower of London. Crowds of people with the same idea, but luckily I got a spot two rows back behind some diminutive Japanese ladies so had a great view as the runners came past before doing the U turn 200 metres down the road and then coming back past. Amazing atmosphere as the crowd cheered all the runners, the camera bikes and even the Sweeper van at the back!


There they go.

Over Tower Bridge with the Olympic rings to the park to watch the winner cross the line on the big screen. At least I have seen a tiny bit of the games, experienced the atmosphere, the crowds, its a once in a lifetime.


Olympic mascot

Home support

Stunning new Shard


How long until the next games in Rio

So how do you do a proper Salabhasana?

Last practice

August 3, 2012


Today’s Bear

Friday, the last day of a great week in Berlin with Dena. As is customary on the last day we did the silent led practice, where the room moves like a wave into each posture, each person trying neither to be the first or the last to move. Once we got to seated she added the full vinyasa challenge between postures, coming to standing, I’m used to this with Dena, but many people still jumped through then realised everyone else is standing up!

Up to Janu A, then it’s a pick n mix of the postures, Mari A & C, Navasana, no Bhuja or Supta K so nobody is left behind. Into Baddha Konasana and Upavistha before the backbends. Six Urdva Dhanurasana, first 3 coming down to the floor, second three on to the head in-between.

Dena has started every day with call and response chanting of some of the Sutra’s, then as we lay flat she explains the meaning. We finished with more chanting, then sat in the circle, as everyone thanked Dena and Jack for coming and Nicole for making this week happen. This seemed to be the perfect time in my practice to study with Dena again, not just giving me Krounchasana, but giving me a lot of help and advice with the dropping back and standing up game.


Berlin Air lift Dakota

Unlike our weather forecasts the Germans have been spot on all week, sunshine they said until Friday, then storms. Today has been one downpour after another. After a lengthy breakfast I finally ventured out to visit the East Side Gallery. A long strip of the Berlin wall that has been preserved alongside the river near Warschauer Strasse. It’s been wonderfully decorated with colourful murals and even has it’s own beach! The rain just about letting up for long enough to let me take some photos. My favourite still the Trabi driving through the wall.


Through the wall


It’s own beach!


Border post


August 2, 2012

Always my first thought!

Probably our last Mysore practice today, as I know Dena usually does a led class on the last day. On our own again from the start, Dena assisted me in Padahastasana, then as I came up she told me to do standing then do Pasasana so she could see where I am ( Jack has adjusted me the last couple of days). I got a lot of help today, Trikonasana , then 2 lots of Prasarita C, on the first go I kept trying to go forward as I do at home, Dena said repeat but go with only her pressure, she doesn’t kill the shoulders and she got me much further over.

So at the end of standing I go into Pasasana, managing to get in a go on each side before Dena arrived. We did it again with her tightening the bind and pressing down on my knee. She tells me to do the vinyasa ,me-figuring off i go into seated, but no, she then tells me to take Tiriang Mukha position then lift the left leg into Krounchasana , talking me through it before I vinyasa and do side 2. Nod of approval as she tells me to do seated, then repeat Pasasana and Krounchasana before backbends as that is now my practice ! Just when I thought practice was going to be easy for a while it’s now getting longer again.

Luiza Platz Potsdam

It was predicted to be 31c in Berlin today, well that room must have been nearer 40, sweat ran from everywhere, by the time I got to backbends my Yogitoes was too wet to grip and I had to use the mat as my hands slid out from under me on the first drop back. I managed to get half a dozen in before Dena came and had me do another 6. Although I can come up on my own now it still needs a lot of refinement, feet turned in as Anette’s prod reminded me and Dena says it’s very jerky. She had another surprise in store as she told me to wait while she did a few more people.

When she returned along with Annette, instead of just the usual Handstand, she got me to stay up in handstand with the two of them supporting it, then make a backbend, dropping over into Urdva Dhanurasana before pinging me up to standing. She laughed as she walked off saying “that’s happy Christmas!” and telling me for a serious practitioner my old blue mat is not a stable base.

I needed Annetta’s Paschimottanasana squish after all that lot, it had been a very long, sweaty practice.

Out of the bus window photo of Sans Soucci.

After breakfast I decided to make the S-bahn trip to Potsdam, which lies south east of Berlin in what was once East Germany, so a new city for me. To make sure I saw everything I took a bus tour, taking in the Glienecke Bridge, Spy swap bridge in the cold war days. The Dutch quarter and Sans Soucci park with it’s beautiful buildings and gardens. We also passed the Russian area where the KGB and Russian army hung out until 1994.


Glienicke Bridge, where spies used to be swapped.


KGB Prison

Potsdam has some beautiful buildings, but the city has a lot of rebuilding going on, it will be good when it’s finished much like my standing up!


Another day to add to my Ashtanga miracle diary,
16/09/09 Dropped back
21/11/11 stood up
23/11/11 Pasasana in Mysore
02/8/12 Krounchansana.

When I got home the street to the Shala was blocked off by German TV filming

German TV Crew

Your practice has come a long way!

August 1, 2012

This mornings view from the Shala.
I’m starting to feel it, practice didn’t feel as fluid today, less energy, but still a good practice. After the pranayama and chanting we were instructed to go ahead, no led Surya’s. Left to it I got to Prasarita C before Dena came to assist, though she was more intent on the forward bend than getting my hands nearer the floor. Wobbly balances in UHP, the last couple of days I have focussed on the flower on the Balcony and a red object on the wall, but my views of both were obstructed today and without my glasses I’m useless.

Today’s Bears.
Seated seemed to speed through for no apparent reason, I even managed to do Supta K before anyone spotted me. I have tended not to get that much assistance until nearer the end anyway, partly because there are quite a few people doing 2nd, so they need help earlier and also i suspect because my practice is fairly steady, I can bind everything on my own. Though they may not be adjusting me, I have realised a few times that as I exit a posture Dena has been behind me watching. I was only fingers just on the first side of Pasasana and then managed a proper grip on the 2nd, but was left to it to try and get my heals down. My usual exit, let go of fingers and fall back had Jack laughing and commenting “needs work on the exit mate!”

Not just my own 5 dropbacks and stand ups today, but Dena had me do two lots with her. I had only got one in when she arrived just as I landed for number two, up I came then she had me dropping back and trying to come straight back up, I’m not good at that game, I need to walk my hands in, she’s determined to get my legs working from lower down. I thought we had done after another 4, but she told me to stay upright as she was coming back! There was a bit of a queue again, so to keep warm I played around dropping back and coming up on my own a few times. Then she’s back, she gets me to do a BIG inhale then demands to hear the out breath as I go back, at the same time she is pulling my hips forwards so i land in a deeper bend before pinging back up. After three I suddenly feel the difference, the up is suddenly much smoother. I told her I can feel it when it’s right, to which she replied ” you’re practice has come a long way over the years”.

In my Trabant at the DDR museum.
So after another long practice I wanted an easy day. On to the U-Bahn to Alexanderplatz and the DDR Museum. It’s a small museum detailing life in the former DDR, East Germany. Everything from housing and jobs to the east Germans penchant for skinny dipping, apparently 9 in 10 east Germans used to take part! Also exhibits about how the STASI spied on the people including an interrogation room. an exhibit about DDR sports men and women, not the drugs they took to win all the medals though. I liked the football exhibit showing the 1974 world cup match played in Hamburg between the two Germany’s, the only time they ever played. East Germany won 1-0, I remember watching it on TV, they have the actual polka dot ball signed by all the players.

The signed ball from ’74

Cathedral Quarter with Segway tourists.
After lunch I took in the nearby Humboldt Box, this is a temporary exhibition with all kinds of odds and ends from how lemon gets in to sweets to Chinese medicine, with views over the new building site of the Humboldt complex which is being built on the former site of East Germany’s Palace of the Republic, which they decided to demolish after the wall came down mainly because of the amount of asbestos in it.

Ex Palace of the Republik.
Finally a wander around the Nickoleiviertel, cobbled streets, Cafes, little shops and river views, so after deciding I was having an easy day I seem to still have done quite a bit!