Back bending

Wheel every Wednesday

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Another Wednesday has come. Another Instagram challenge #wheeleverywednesday wants to get fed with a picture. It’s already the 4th week of this wheel party.

My plan was to publish from time to time a variation of the classic wheel pose. Today I wanted to stretch one leg to the ceiling. It was heavy like a van and didn’t lift an inch. Creativity is needed. Are there exercises that are doable and prepare my body for this variation, I wondered? I found them.

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First I supported the back with my hands. Elbows and hands, the foot on the floor and the back did the work of the leg in the air.

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Then I lifted the leg without support for the back. It’s more challenging. This pose will build strength that is necessary. Again it’s really different to get the straight leg parallel to the wall. Important is to hold this pose for some time. 15 breaths or more would be good. Trying variation also means that I repeat this asana. Repetition is a method to speed up learning. To repeat the same asana again and again might be boring, but the variation keeps the exercise interesting.

Summer supports my practice. It’s warm here. For me it’s joy. The body becomes so much more flexible, it’s amazing.

Tomorrow is the challenge #Thursdayswesplit. I also joined the #pinchaparty. This is again so much. It would be good to take all the pictures on one day.

Every photo shooting spoils a practice. A pictures shows the direction, it gives feed-back. Once a week this is enough.

Wheel every Wednesday

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Nothing is more effective than a daily practice. This is true for everything one wants to learn. It’s also true for the asana practice.

One must be motivated to practice. There are many reasons to step on the mat, yet what finally makes a person practice is individual. One must find it out for oneself.

Most people feel better after a yoga practice This can be a huge motivation.

These days I like to be part of all these online challenges on Instagram. This asana will soon be published under the hashtag #wheeleverywednesday.

My plan was to exercise a variation. I wanted to lift one leg in direction to the ceiling. The foot didn’t lift a tiny bit. I was really grounded. So this was it today. A classic wheel is fine, too.

I want to practice 90 minutes every day. I set a timer. After the twists of second Ashtanga Yoga series the 90 minutes are over. I do a lot of additional exercises to improve all the back bending asanas.

Repetitions and holding the asanas longer than 5 breaths are the most important changes that I made to exercise more effectively.

There is a counter asana to every asana to balance the body. It’s good if this counter asana is relaxing. It needn’t to be paschimottanasana after urdhva dhanurasana. Both asanas require a lot of flexibility. Today my counter asana was just lying on the back while I embraced my legs.

 
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A daily practice is the secret

I’m so sure, that the right method speeds up every practice. One can learn fast or slowly. It depends on how I learn anything.

Part of any method is the frequency of the practice. It might be enough to do strength training 3 times a week. Ashtanga Yoga is designed for every day.

A daily practice makes it easier to practice. Body and mind are yearning for the practice after a while.

Today I sweated, because it got warm here. The heat makes the body flexible.

Amazing how good one feels after every practice. I should know it already.

Best practice is to practice every day at the same time. The mornings before breakfast are ideal. The breakfast after the practice feels so deserved then.

Not always it is possible to have time in the morning. I so know this.

The gap between the plan and the performance

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Sometimes there is a gap between the plan and what happens on the mat. A plan can only be a guide. It’s not written in stone. My plan today was to do 3 sets with 5 repetitions of urdhva dhanurasana. In addition I wanted to hold urdhva dhanurasana at least once for 1 minute. This was simply not what my body could do today. The idea to work on strength is surely good. It’s also good to hold the body longer in order to give the body time to stretch into the pose. The insight is that I have to create a training that picks me up where I’m now and not where I want to be . To create tiny steps are a good strategy. Tomorrow I plan to do 3 sets with 2 repetitions of urdhva dhanurasana. This is much less. I also want to hold this pose for 1 minute.

In many yoga classes I saw yogis before urdhva dhanurasana lying on the back, waiting. To lift up into urdhva dhanurasana seemed so heavy. I observed myself doing the same. I lied there, I knew what I wanted to do, but it seemed undoable. I think I know now why this was so. To lift up into urdhva dhanurasana required strength. I was not strong enough and at the end of a practice my willpower was exhausted, too. This is why I want to focus also on strength these days.

Strength: To get with an inhale into urdhva dhanurasana and to get out with the exhaling and to repeat this several times is more or less a strength training. The arms and legs are challenged.

Flexibility: Staying in urdhva dhanurasana for a longer time (1 minute or 2 minutes) and walking the arms to the feet or the other way round is a stretching exercise.

Both is needed. Urdhva dhanurasana requires strength and flexibility. One can work on both skills separately as described above.

Also the right technique plays an important role. The hips shall support the movement. A deep inhaling helps enormously to get into the pose. To create length in the body is also very important.

The wall is my favorite prop when I work on urdhva dhanurasana. It gives me orientation when I lift myself up from the floor. The upper body moves towards the wall. I also drop back against the wall from a standing position. One day I’ll surely drop back again in the middle of the room. It’s not the time yet for this dynamic movement.

Progress can be felt.

The final goal is that it’s relaxing and joyful to perform this back bending asana. I’ve been there.

Back bending

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Today I was curious how the back bending asanas would look. They always feel intensive. What I realize is that I have a starting point that is motivating. Not everything is lost. The above pose was possible after many many repetitions. Today was my back bending day. Also my wheel helped me to get deeper and deeper into back bending poses. 90 minutes were over very fast. 90 minutes is enough. I try to fill this time with exercises that make sense. Quality over quantity.

The plan:

  1. The classic exercise is to lift up and to hold urdhva dhanurasna for 5 breaths. Then one lowers the head to the floor. The hands walk to the feet. and again the arms stretch and lift the body into urdhva dhanurasana. I think this is a good start.

  2. In order to get stronger one can lift up as often as possible. One can do 3 sets of this.

  3. It can also be useful to aim for holding this pose for 1 minute. The body needs time to stretch. Last but not least urdhva dhanurasana is a pose that stretches the body backwards.

Urdhva dhanurasana is an asana that Ashtangis practice every day.

After the twists of the second series the time was over.

On Sundays my yoga week begins

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So much went well today:

  • I started my practice before breakfast. This allowed me to get deep into the twists. The breakfast after an intensive practice tastes also better. It feels as if it#s deserved.

  • Today I was able to do 5 sun salutations A and 3 sun salutations B. Yoga in general doesn’t cover everything. The cardiovascular system doesn’t get trained very well. Only during the sun salutations and during back bending asanas my heart is challenged. My fitbit watch told me this. So to get back to 8 sun salutations felt good. My back does allow to do sun salutations B these days.

  • 90 minutes I practiced one asana after the other. I linked them with vinyasas. This is a challenge in concentration.

These days I wonder how I can learn the asanas more effectively. Practice and all is coming, sounds easy and nice, but it’s not very useful. One must practice correctly. The didactic is neglected in the community. This is why I want to focus on my blog on this topic.

A useful advice is that if an asana is difficult, it makes sense to hold this asana longer than 5 breaths. It can be helpful to repeat the asana up to 3 times. Additional asanas might be helpful, too.

I repeated ustrasana 3 times. It didn’t feel so good as it used to. Each time it got easier. I had also put a block between my ankles to have resistance when engaging the legs. The knees move inwardly.

Amazing how optimistic I’m after each practice. Nevertheless the break was good. My back needed it. My practice is now pain free. It took me more then 2 years to feel healed at least 98 %. Sometimes when I pick something up from the floor, a sudden pain arises. It disappears fast.

My injury brought me back to practice alone. At home I can take care of myself and I can adjust the practice to my needs.