Archive for July, 2017

Back to Conference

July 31, 2017

After half a week in Utrecht it was back to AYL, practice in my space, followed by yogi breakfast, 7 of us crammed around Pret's tiny tables, before heading back to the shala for Conference with Hamish.

You just never know what you are going to get, H has his own style and Conference is always a surprise package. He started with a memory game, listing 8 words for us to try and remember, which he would return to later, when he tested our memory, which highlighted how you can have a false memory by him saying a word associated with the original list, but which wasn't actually on the list!

H said he doesn't teach formal pranayama until students have finished intermediate, so what we did next was just "breathing". He got us to count our pulse, he then had us do a simple breathing exercise, then check our pulse again, which demonstrated the calming effect breathing has on the physical body. Everyone can sit and simply breathe.

Hamish talked about Vedanta and how the end of the Vedas are the Upanishads, having us try to remember and recite Chapter 2, verse 48, "
yogasthaha kuru karmaani sangam tyaktvaa dhananjaya |
siddhyasiddhyoh samo bhootvaa samatvam yoga uchyate"

The 2nd slokka he wanted us to remember was 2/16 "heyam dukham anagatam" avoid future suffering through yoga. Much easier to remember 🙂

After the hard work he told us Pushpam is coming, showing us a print of the cover and a cartoon Boonchu has done making fun of our asana selfie obsessed yoga world.

H finished by showing us some of the books that make up his yoga bookshelf at home, which included Barbara stoller miller yoga discipline of freedom and Tao of Pooh. I've got the Tao of Pooh, must read it again.


Utrecht days 2-3

July 29, 2017

Two days of long practices, even longer breakfasts and a bit of afternoon exploring.

Over the course of these 2 days Philippa adjusted, changed little habits and answered people’s questions. On the last day the studio had someone taking photos of Philippa teaching, interesting to see what my postures look like, I was quite surprised to see that in Dhanurasana my thighs are off the ground.

Standing she mostly left me alone, apart from widening my stance. Seated it was little things like the standing foot position in the Marichyasana poses, my drishte in Navasana and jumping through, or my lack of jumping all the way through. P got me to have the hands wider in downward dog and have my feet pointing back to try and slide through, a work in progress and very much in it’s infancy after 5 years of not doing it.


The other jumping experiment in to Bhujapidasana got better, though it felt like I was crossing my feet in the wrong place and was in danger of nose splatasana. Then of course she wants me to do the getting the legs in to Bakhasana without touching down, which is another whole project.

After the painful Supta K I’ve had the last few weeks, I’ve been doing an exercise to traction my back, separating the discs and making space, Supta K exit has become much less painful

Supta Padangusthasana

Supta Padangusthasana on Friday Philippa gave me a superb adjustment getting my foot to the ground, this never usually happens, mainly because I think I can’t do it and at AYL there isn’t usually the lateral space to try it. But when P put me in it I noticed my leg wasn’t as high up which may be the way to go, space permitting.

Although I’m nowhere near getting my heals down in Pasasana without the help of the rolled up mat tactic, the having one foot forward a bit is letting me bind it and try and find the balance, it was very disconcerting the first day when she took my “cheat” away, but I’ll keep trying.


The exit for Krounchasana is also a new project, Philippa watched as I disentangled the bent leg as normal, then crossed and jumped back, instead she had me cross the straight leg over the bent one, put the hands in front and jump back from there, which was completely doable to my surprise.

Dhanurasana is better than I thought, now I’ve seen what it looks like, I asked Philippa about the hands, more specifically my habit of the fingers being on one side of my leg and the thumb on the other, all on the same side is the way to go, though I need to experiment with this in Parsva Dhanurasana, otherwise my arm gets trapped and I get beached.

Ustrasana, she had me taking the Pelvis forward a little as well as having her feet in my back to adjust it. It’s been very useful to have some feedback and advice with the 2nd series poses.

The backbends haven’t been as painful this week, but not as deep. Philippa had me doing Urdva Dhanurasana on my own, then with her assisting, she says, like Harmony did, that in need to walk in further and make it more stable to get the dropbacks back.

Urdva Dhanurasana

Dropbacks she has had me hanging back with straight legs, it’s the front of the body, the legs. After I had done a few of these yesterday she told me to do a dropback to the floor as she watched, my legs lose it around the point of no return and go outwards, I did manage to get my hands on the floor before my head, but it was a close run thing!

It’s been a great three days of practice, lots to take away, but I’m not as physically wrecked as I was after the week with Lucy.

Trying on some clogs

The afternoons have been fun exploring with Suzanne, as well as Utrecht we took in Gouda one afternoon and had a boat trip on the canals of Amsterdam.

This was a very spontaneous trip, but it worked out great

Utrecht day 1 – can’t you jump in to Bhujapidasana?

July 27, 2017

Yoga Moves

This was a very spontaneous and unexpected trip across to Holland. I didn’t know it was happening until Monday night and by 9pm Tuesday I’d flown to Amsterdam, got a train to Utrecht and finally met up with my NY yoga friend and blogger Suzanne. A very late night chatting.

Wednesday dawns, well the alarm went off, luckily not too early as we have a start time of 7;45-8:00, so time for a shower and tea before the 5 minute walk to Yoga Moves Shala, where one of the 2 UK certified teachers Philippa Asher is teaching a Mysore week.

I hadn’t practised with Philippa since before I broke my arm, but we had met in Mysore since then.

A slow plod practice after 3 days off. I expected to be stiffer, but it was easier than I expected. Wider feet in the standing side bends, a very gentle PPC assist. Seated lots of information, verbal cues like pressing and demos, lifting up on the knuckles to get the right foot position for Janu C, press the foot down in the Marichy’s.

I get to Bhuja, step my hands around my legs and go in to it as usual. Philippa asks why I don’t jump in to it? Then proceeds to show me, starting with having not jumping forward with parallel feet from DD, instead kind of be on the toes with the bases of the heals together in a “V” and jump around the legs, which in theory ends up with you being in the right place to cross the feet.

Pasasana I roll up the start of my mat as usual and I can hear “no, no, no, we work with work we’ve got”, I had forgotten quite how “traditional” Philippa can be. Instead she had me take the foot of the go around side forward slightly, this could take some work, wobble wobble!

Urdva Dhanurasana she’s telling me to take my time more,mi thought I took long enough already, but nope, after doing it on my own she has me do the pressing on to her feet version, before I stand up for dropbacks. Sometimes you can use instructions being given to someone else, who was being told to only go for the mat when she could see it, landed phew without crashing it. Then Philippa has me doing long hang backs with hands in prayer, trying to keep the legs straight, that’s HARD,


As expected I was one of the last to finish, but luckily there’s no class straight after so Savasana can take as long as I want, only briefly interrupted as the 2 of us still in the room did the closing chant with P. But a better practice than I expected after 3 days off and travelling, lugging a rucksack.


A big part of coming here was to hang out and explore with Suzanne, she had already found a nice cafe for breakfast before we explored the city on a sunny day, we walked a lot of miles, taking photos of the architecture.

A big shout out to Cindy for her blog post about the Ashtanga tribe.

Post Lucy

July 20, 2017

Since the week with Lucy in Cornwall practice has been hard, it's like returning from Mysore, practice flows in heat and good conditions, but back in the real world of work and life in general the body finds it much harder to get with the program on a daily basis. My back and Hip are driving me nuts, at the local shala last week I couldn't even get up in to Urdva Dhanurasana, though the next day at AYL I could, heat, help and a different mind set, so many little things make every practice different.

And just when you want to get in the flow Sunday moon days abound. Maybe it's time to return to the dark side this Sunday, rather than turn over in bed, I need my Sunday practice, not to mention the croissant that follows. P is back at TLC I see

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