Archive for the ‘standing up’ Category

My Standupversary

November 21, 2012

I will never forget Monday 21st November 2011, the day I stood up from Urdva Dhanurasana for the first time ever in Mysore, flying up and nearly knocking Sharath over! He beamed then said “Do again”.

In the year since that day it took me months to be able to do it with any regularity, I had a golden couple of golden months between the end of July and early September when I could just do it. Then as Louise predicted I would, I lost it. The more of second got added the less chance I seemed to have of coming up.

Too much thinking as Ruth used to say, trying to work out the dynamics, walking the hands in to be under or in front of the shoulders, trying to get the Hips forward, so the weight is going forward and the hardest part, controlling the breath at the bottom. By the time I had done all that my arms have given way.

Back to the Block to come up, then on good days I could do it off the mat, but doing the first one is the issue.

So here we are 365 days later, Wednesday 21st November 2012 and S gives me an email tip, try lunges to stretch the Hip flexors. And what do you know I drop back with more control and know my Hips are further forward on landing, walk the hands in and up I come, no block first. I managed it 6 times.

Happy Standupversary!


Standing, trying, flying

November 7, 2012

First time on a week day

A Shala duck broken today, the first time I have ever been to AYL on a week day and practised with H. The train was late and I expected to have to wait for the “one more” call, but I found a spare space in the narrow part and off I went. AYL by 8:30am is a Sauna, so heat and lots of help from H and not one but 2 Assistants. H got me to narrow the stance in Trikonasana and Aki tried hard to get my hands to the floor in Prasarita C.

Seated soon came round, my practice is much quicker without potential distractions. Assists in Mari C, then lost the Supta K as Louise started her shift. Baddha Konasana squishing from someone, nose too flat and sweat running in to my eyes to see the toes of the squisher.

I did Pasasana on my own, but I heard H call my name telling me to wait, so I got to do it again with help into a great bind with my feet flat. Left alone until Bhekasana, I did each side then tried both at the same time, but I didn’t realise Louise was waiting for me and somehow she got both hands pointing the right way and lifted my chest. My mat was a slippery lake by Urdva Dhanurasana. Dropping back my hands were sliding on landing, I walked in, slid back, rocked and didn’t rise. I was going to stop but H came over, he got me drop back, walk in, control the breath then got me up. Second one walked the hands in then he got me to rock in my own time, I thought he helped, but it turned out that I came up on my own. He said it’s basically my breath that stops me coming up, it needs to be longer and smoother. A reallly nice mid week practice, a pity I can’t do it more often.


Korean dancing Robots

Practice was just the start of a long day, after breakfast it was down to Excel for the World Travel Market, a trade show for the travel industry to which I get an invite 🙂 Every country on the planet has a stand, but you can tell which countries have the money from the quality of the freebies, USB memory sticks from Russia and wifi mice from ETIHAD. Tea at the India stand, Karnataka and Mysore having it’s own stand. Lots of chocolate and nice pens, key rings, free hand massage and more nibbles. Excel is huge, we must have walked miles today. At the ETIHAD stand I got to stand next to the Premier League Trophy.


Premier League trophy


Travel club colleagues trying out the Korean hand massager.

A diversion on the way home to try out the Emirates Flyer cable car across the Thames from Royal Victoria to North Greenwich. No sun set, just a bit of a pink glow behind Canary Wharf, but great views of the O2, Excel and the skyscrapers.


Cable car across The Thames

Dome and The Wharf





October 29, 2012


A lovely extra hour in Bed, followed by for the first time since I can’t remember when a stress free Sunday train ride to practice, in the Shala on my mat before ten to eight. It was busy in there today, not heard that many “one more’s” since Mysore, is it really a year since I was there. Another friend from last year leaves on Wednesday, how do people manage it every year?

A much sweatier practice, the humidity generated by that many body’s makes for a more bendy, flowing practice. Left alone in standing, before nice assists in Paschimot , Tiriang Mukha and Baddha Konasana, having managed to beat the teacher into Supta K 🙂

My right hand has sussed Bhekasana, but the left doesn’t get it at all, Emma did a nice assist, despite the left hand pointing the wrong way she got my chest lifted.

UD is good, dropping back is not bad, but standing up without a block isn’t happening. I found AYL’s one block tucked away in the cupboard and stood up easily enough from that before Louise came over to do the full range of assisted drops, cross arm half way and another drop, walk in and come up, she hardly touches my hips and i just come up.

So it’s been a yoga weekend. Moon day tomorrow “sleep & more slop” as the Shala blackboard said this morning.

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.

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!


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!


Bears in Berlin

July 31, 2012

Sirsasana Bear
Practice is becoming pretty consistent, everything bound, Garbha round and round, Pasasana coming along nicely, I was actually bound in Pasasana, but help arrived to get my heals down. Dena seemed to be watching my standing postures today, a slight hip adjustment in Trikonasana and a verticalising of my arm and hand, a reminder about Udiyana Bandha in Vira A, prod prod! Dena rarely speaks, to me at least, when she adjusts, though I suppose I’m used to her and know what she is trying to do, move or engage. I seem to get a smile or nod when my body has done what she wanted to see.

Tauzienstrasse sculpture
The room seemed cooler today, my mat not quite so slippery wet when I got to backbends. Again i could feel her watching, she was assisting the person next to me in Urdva Dhanurasana as I was doing mine, she caught my eye as I was thinking about pushing up for the next one, not quite like E accusing me of taking tea breaks in-between, but the eyes were saying “go on then”. I knew she wouldn’t move until I did so up I went! I’m trying to get the rock from the last Urdva Dhanurasana, though my legs and feet are not as grounded and engaged, but doing the rock seems to set up the movement for standing up from the first dropback. Stood up again with no messing, though Jack said the way my feet splay out coming up is a bit of a cheat, but at least my feet stay put so I come up almost level. I had done just the 4 on my own today before getting assisted for half a dozen more. Then for the first time in a couple of years I got called out to wait for handstand, think I need to get some practice in!


Back at the B&B Breakfasts seem to be taking longer with the after practice yoga and potential sightseeing chat. I didn’t have Potsdam on my list, but after chatting with yogi Nina from Munich, i may well go visit the end of the S1 line over the infamous Glienicke Bridge and see the Palaces. I have been trying to do new things this time, like Potsdamer Platz yesterday and the river trip today. Some places I have revisited like Alexanderplatz to see how they have changed.

The river trip was a great way to see the city from a different angle and like yesterday to appreciate what they have done with all the land they gained in 1989 when the Wall came down, the river used to be a gloomy area, with lights and mines to deter potential escapees swimming to freedom, now it’s a vibrant area, on the western side the previously derelict scrubland that was once Leheter Bahnhof is now the snazzy ultra modern Berlin Hauptbahnhof, on the east are new government building, ARD (German tv) new studios and vibrant Cafes and swish Hotels.

New buildings in the East.

Ultra modern new Hauptbahnhof

Up unassisted

July 22, 2012

After the long day trip to the north I could have done without waking up to find that our line into London was closed for “Emergency engineering works” and that I had half an hour to catch the bus to a station a few stops up the line followed by another hour on a stopping everywhere train. Oh well at least next Sunday my commute will just be a 5 minute walk from the B&B to the Berlin Shala for day one of Dena’s workshop. Yes I’m escaping the Olympics!

Somehow by the time I got there my usual spot by the window was still free. After a day off and all the sitting around it took a while to get going and find the space, left to my self through standing until the usual Prasarita C then UHP assists.

Tiriang Mukha used to be a posture I didn’t like being assisted in, it was a torture, but now I don’t roll over so much, the assist is now more comfortable and I can get my chin much further down my leg. I lost the Supta K race again and with slithery legs I blew the exit. Baddha Konasana was another that I used to literally find incredibly painful on the feet when I got assisted but now my hips are more open I can go with the pressure and my head gets to the floor.

I added a few extra Urdva Dhanurasana’s, trying to walk in, open the back, feel the stretch in the front and get the rocking motion going before standing up. This week it was like being back in Mysore with V instead of Sharath cheering me on from the side, but not intervening as I dropped back. The first stand up I crashed back, but knew I had the action. Back on the Bike, stand up, engage legs, drop back, walk in, a couple of little rocks and go for it, up I came doing the three prescribed stand ups, even if they all had a stumble and were not exactly elegant, unlike H’s graceful ones next door. V has really got me engaging the legs and moving the weight forward on the way down, which means my hips are higher and more over my feet when i land, the centre of gravity further forward, just need to remember it’s forwards, not up, head last and inhale. I asked after why I stumble, it seems I lift or turn one foot as I come up, so that’s another thing I have to try and correct. At least the mental block is giving way to expecting to do it. That was the first time ever in a Shala I have done three completely unassisted without starting from a Block first, I don’t know about “all” but something is coming.