Archive for September, 2012

Coming and Going

September 23, 2012


Back to AYL today after last Sunday’s moon day, nice to be back after two weeks away and practising on my own apart from yesterday. Steady practice, nice assists in the usual places, PPC, UHP, Supta K and Baddha Konasana, my nose hasn’t been getting to the floor much in the last couple of weeks.

Intermediate is “coming”, up to Salabhasana B is good, then my right hand-wrist is getting Bhekasana, alas the left is struggling to work this out, all feels like it’s the wrong way up, round, whatever. Bhekasana is also turning out to be physically harder than it looks. Tried on my own, then V took time out to show me, rotating the thumbs downwards was her advice, the right gets it, I tried again then Louise came over and got me to do it again so she could adjust it, so that I could get the backbend as well as the feet. After mini Bhekasana boot camp I was knackered. At least I didn’t get cramp today.

Urdva Dhanurasana wasn’t very deep and I couldn’t walk my hands in very far, my arms weren’t straight either, after 4 I decided I had better do drop backs before I ran out of energy. The dropping back was good, but I walked the hands and rocked and crashed and just couldn’t come up, standing up seems to be “going”. Eventually Louise took pity and came over and did assisted. She said I can do it, it’s the fatigue at the end of a long practice and the mental part which has gone missing, she said the more you think about it, instead of just doing it, the harder it becomes, to the point that however hard you try it won’t happen. She did 5 assisted With me and said to “let it go” for today and do it again tomorrow. It’s still frustrating knowing I could do it yesterday.


Yet again next Sunday is another Moon day, but luckily it’s the weekend of Kino’s London workshops. The backbend session should help.


The Shala has also gained some more of the cartoons I notice, “The truth about headstands” and the brilliant Mysore morning info graphic.


Bhekasana cramp

September 22, 2012



An impromptu extra practice at TLC this morning with Phillipa. Five of us this morning, good to see. A chilly morning, the Radiators cranked up and the sun coming in to warm up The Loft.


Shala view over Notting Hill roof tops.

Lots of great help as usual and a laugh to prove she sometimes reads this blog, “I bet that’s easier now!”, when I was lifting up between Navasana’s, referring to the weight that’s fallen off of late! Great assisted Supta K into Dwi Pada exit.

Phillipa was waiting for me at Pasasana, nice to be bound up and my heals getting down much further. Bhekasana hands are still not quite working, the right hand is kind of getting there, but the left can’t work it out. P showed me again but then I got chronic cramp in my right leg, so i had to spend a few minutes stretching it out before carrying on. I was going to start backbends, but Phillipa wanted to adjust me in Bhekasana, so we did it again. Why i suddenly cramped in Bhekasana is a mystery, though P reckoned the preceding postures tighten the hamstrings. It’s funny how knackering these extra postures are.

Assisted UD then the drop back game, that was a struggle today, just couldn’t get up, Phillipa asked if I wanted her to bring me up, but I was determined to stand up on my own and eventually managed it. Doing the first one is always the issue, once I come up then I can do it. I needed that squash in Paschimot afterwards.



A nice extra Shala practice, next Saturday Kino’s led Primary.

Britain’s most flexible?

September 19, 2012

Here’s a link to an article in this mornings London Metro paper, anyone else do Urdva Dhanurasana while filling the washing machine?

Moon day Pilates!

September 16, 2012

Moon day weekend, the Shala closed on Sunday and back to the usual rubbish Sunday train service, so not even a chance of trying to avoid the Ashtangi Police and getting to TLC instead.

Instead something different, the local Shala has just opened a new Pilates equipment studio, during the first month they are offering 1-2-1 sessions to introduce themselves and the equipment to the local Ashtangis. J had recommended it after trying it out on the taster weekend, so I decided to give it a go.

Trapeze table

The session lasts an hour starting with a look at posture, yet another person who says I have an uneven Pelvis! The equipment is mainly about resistance such as on the Trapeze table. Interesting how Lucy was able to get me to have the feeling of isolating the upper back, ( I had asked her to concentrate on upper back and shoulders to help my backbends), as well as isolating the back with my feet up in the air she got me to use the Bandhas (not that she referred to them like we do) to relax the pelvis down and accentuate the natural “s” in the lower spine. The surprise being that the exercise of engaging all that and then pushing the feet away against the springs resistance also worked on the core and the inner legs. The hardest part being the instruction to exhale through the mouth, complete opposite of the Ujayi breath .

Reformer and Exo Chair

She moved me on to the “Reformer” a table that moves as you push against the straps, sort of like a Rowing machine and then the “Exo chair”. the Exo chair showed it’s not just my left shoulder that is stiff, but also the Lats on the left side and the muscles down into the pesky SI.

The upshot of an interesting hour being that I have good core strength, but as expected my left shoulder and front of the chest is very tight. The exercises isolated muscles in the back far more than in a flowing ashtanga practice. Before we finished she showed me some exercise I can do at home on my foam Roller, these should help my left shoulder and make some of the binds as well as my backbends better.

To test the effects a few hours later I did standing and backbends. Considering I hadn’t done anything like a full practice, without all the up dog Vinyasas I could feel the difference first in Salabhasana, able to get in to the upper back, then a much deeper Urdva Dhanurasana, the legs far more engaged. The inner legs as well as the front of the thighs far more engaged as I dropped back, my legs staying engaged as I stood up, the legs doing far more of the work, which is how it’s supposed to be. What I need now is a quick session between Bhekasana and backbends!

Shala Art

September 9, 2012

The Shala has some lovely pieces of art dotted around, from carvings of obstacle removing Ganesha


Paintings of the feet and hands that take us through practice



The words associated


And even in that little room at the end of the corridor is a mixture of humour, landscape and instructions. A new Boonchu cartoon has appeared, The truth about Pasasana


This new cartoon adding to the mountain landscape


And the instruction as Ashtangi’s queue outside as you laugh at the cartoon and take in the mountains


Despite actually being there early, it was busy today, I ended up in the left corner by the window, at first I thought I’m going to be chilly as the breeze cooled my left side, but it didn’t take long before the humidity and heat generated by 18 or so others practising had the torrents pouring off me. Having walls to my left and both directly in front and behind is quite focussing, only aware of Aki on my right.

Mostly left alone in standing, only Prasarita C assisted. I’m definitely moving through Primary faster now, especially when left alone, Supta K on my own before anyone spotted me, then only a 180 degree Garbha as I realised the Radiator was too close for a complete 360! Nice assist in Baddha Konasana, another of those postures that were once a problem, now I enjoy the assist, it helps to have good assisters who know when the body releases and opens and you are ready for full nose to floor.

By the time I got to Pasasana I was getting tired, heat, dehydration, fuel shortage? 2S is a case of be careful what you wish for it seems, going by the pounds I’ve lost of late. Salabhasana was good and surprisingly my right hand seems to have got the plot with Bhekasana, though the left is still struggling, even with L sitting on me somehow squashing my hands and feet down at the same time as pulling my shoulders back, how many hands does she have?

Urdva Dhanurasana was fine but could I stand up, 4 times I dropped back and was stuck with the weight seemingly going the wrong way. I was shattered and about to give up, but V came over and said my breath was too fast. She talked me down through the next drop back, then somehow back up to standing, getting me to control the breath and telling me I was coming up. Once I’ve done one I can do it, so I did 4 more before V returned for the assisted half way and full walk in and up. Most of the time we don’t need that much help, but the good assistants know when we are stuck and know what is needed to solve the blockage, both my breath and jaw need to chill!

Alas next Sunday is a Moon day, the last bit of art on the notice blackboard and instruction to “go out and lie in 🙂 ”


Do no Evil!

September 2, 2012

Ashtangi’s do have a great sense of humour, as we chatted this morning over post practice croissants and Tea about Asana and injuries somehow we got on to whether yoga makes you a better person. Jen came out with the comment that “Yoga doesn’t make us better people, it just leaves us too knackered to actually do anything evil”!

After 2 hours of sweating through full primary and five poses of second I think she has a point. At least a stress free journey this week and a nice unrushed practice as I created my own little Lake. I know how hot the Shala is by the river that always pours off my knee as I bend forward in Ardha Badha Padang.

My five intermediate postures don’t take that long even though they seem hard work, assisted in Bhekasana, my right hand at least in the right place after Phillipa’s advice yesterday and more emphasis this week on the bend in the upper back, Louise pulling my shoulders back.

Drop backs, well the standing up part was a challenge due to my saturated very slippery allegedly non slip mat towel, it’s getting to the point where I’m going to need a second one just for backbends! I tried turning the mat over but the dots were slippy, then the other way round to try and find enough grip to push back up to standing, eventually I managed the three before Emma assisted in the half way and walking in.

Shala practices two days in a row, I need this more often.

Technical support

September 1, 2012

Double Shala weekend again hopefully. Saturday at TLC with Phillipa Gendall. Just 3 people, so loads of assistance and useful comments. Usual standing assists, then Tiriang Mukha, Janu C, which rarely seems to be adjusted. Mari A,C & D and Supta K into Dwi Pada, getting me to point my feet away from each other and balance with hands in prayer. That would make a great blog Avator, just need to get the photo!

I seem to be getting through primary faster lately without intending too, then the thought occurs that there are still another 5 intermediate postures before backbends. I’m just finishing Salabhasana B when a voice says “I hear Bhekasana is now on the menu”! Phillipa is good at explaining the more “technical ” postures and with such a small class she has the time. So instead of worrying about trying to make the wrist turn 180 degrees round my feet she tells me to do one side at a time and think about lifting the elbow up, which seems to make the hand movement easier. Well it kind of worked on the right, but the left shoulder seems too tight, but someone explaining it in a different way with a different emphasis helps enormously.

In Urdva Dhanurasaa P said my left arm particularly is rotating the wrong way, forcing my shoulders inward instead of spreading outwards, I have to think more about trying to push the elbows towards each other, it should stop my left upper arm being sore. Then assisted backbends, she reckons I do enough at home on my own. After assisted I try to drop back and stand up on my own. This is one posture that doesn’t seem to benefit from a Moon day, I had to resort to the block for the first one then I could do it again. It’s like it has to be mentally reset. Managed 4, each one better than the previous one, so we will see if it’s still there tomorrow.

Despite finishing in an hour and three quarters, I don’t think I’m actually practising any faster, I think because I know I have more to do that I faff less between postures now, as well as not having to spend as long doing backbends, less looking at the ceiling between each one.

A good practice with help where I needed it, I just hope the small numbers don’t endanger the classes continuation, though the small numbers are great for those of us who do attend with not far off one to one teaching.

Practice was followed by running the Travel Club, talks on St Helena and walking from Holland to Istanbul.