General

So spent

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So spent!

On Saturday was my day off from yoga. The body needs this.

On Sunday we expected friends. In the morning I felt already dizzy and exhausted. I had blisters on my lips, so my feelings were not only phantasy. Something must have exhausted me. Instead of practicing I cleaned our home. This is so much easier than 90 minutes on the mat. Later we went downtown. My Fitbit watch showed over 20.000 steps in the evening.

Yesterday the same. I felt done, tired, incapable to do anything but walking around and sitting anywhere. I walked downtown to better the general low mood and energy. I ate in a vegan restaurant. That was it.

Today I feel heavy, too, but not that low in energy. It is as if I’m recovering, but from what? I will practice today, but I will take it easy.

Not always one can find a reason for such low energy days. I know I’m not lazy. These day one practice is over and I’m looking forward to the next one. My body obviously needed my available energy for whatever, but not for an exhausting yoga practice.

I sit here, sweating. I’m sipping cold water.

My yoga practice made me sensitive for what’s going on in my body. I trust in the self-healing potential of our bodies. We are no machines. Sometimes we’re strong, sometimes weak.

Patience

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Whenever an asana works on stretching body parts it’s good advice to have patience. It takes time to stretch. Being overambitious causes injuries. Injuries are setbacks. Sometimes indicating an asana might be enough. It’s better to establish again a daily yoga routine than to force the body into a position that is too demanding. Especially after a break one must take it easy. It is disappointing to lose asanas. As in life there are ups and downs.

Knowing when to give 90 % and when not is something we learn over time. I wrote 90 % because we cannot give every day 100 %. I even read that sports people get to better results when they take it easy.

To hold an asana longer than only 5 breaths will help to advance relatively fast.

What is worth doing, is worth doing daily.

To practice daily is so much better, than to have long and intensive practices once in a while. This might sound banal, but it’s true.

Setting a timer

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These days I set an end to my practice. Instead of planning to practice primary or second series or half primary and second series asanas, I set a timer. Not the contents, but the time limits my practice. This is somehow easier. Within 90 minutes one can do a lot. Quality over quantity! Might be that I extend the length of my practices again one day again, but right now it seems to be a perfect length. Today my mobile phone wrong when I had finished the back bending asanas. Extra exercises and my slow speed cause that 90 minutes is too short for a full second Ashtanga series. Who cares?

I observe what is possible on a given day. No matter if I felt stiff or weak or flexible and strong, I’m more than happy that I can do this practice.

When discomfort is felt, it’s a sigh that one touched limits. It gives the opportunity to go a tiny step further. It gives the opportunity to breathe and to relax to feel good at the rim of the possibility. Pain tolerance changes every day like everything else, too.

To practice 90 minutes without interruption tells me that my concentration is very good. It’s the illness of the time that people cannot focus anymore. The mobile phones distract most people. I even think that it has the potential to weaken our brain.

In yoga we care for our bodies, but we also take care of our mind. Being able to focus is a skill of the mind. It’s worth to exercise it.

A timer is a useful tool.

  1. One can limit the practice without getting nervous about the time. Sometimes half an hour might be enough. The timer helps to allow me to focus within that time frame.

  2. It’s a good idea to hold asanas longer than 5 breaths. To get an impulse from the outside is more effective than to tell oneself when to stop. Also here a timer can make sense. It’s easier to set a timer for 1 minute than to count 15 breaths.

  3. One can also use a timer to focus i.e. 20 minutes on back bending within the 90 minutes.

I have to timer: my mobile phone and another one.

Getting an impulse from outside helps to free the mind from additional tasks. It intensifies the focus.

What else?

It’s carnival here, it’s the last day and it’s really funny to go downtown to see all the masks. We won’t have much time for carnival today. It’s also not really my circus. We don’t drink, we don’t masquerade, it is as if we just landed from another star. I had a highlight already: My yoga practice. Being a yogi is a life style, I experience this again and again.

The spine

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The spine has 24 vertebras. They are connected via joints. This is why we can move our body in different directions. The perfect construction of the spine allows this flexibility.

  1. We can do inversions. When the head is below the heart we have an inversion pose. It feels as if one can create room.

  2. We can bend backwards.

  3. The spine allows to move the upper body sidewards.

  4. Twists are possible.

  5. We can also round the body and bow forward.

This is a lot. Most people don’t move the body in these different directions, even though the body allows to do it. One day the spine is stiff and not so many movements are possible anymore. Having limitations often comes with age, when people didn’t work on staying flexible. Yet this needn’t be the case. We can keep the spine flexible.

I always aim for a balanced practice. I don’t think that primary series of Ashtanga yoga is a balanced practice. 80% of the asanas are forward bending asanas. They aim at making the hip joint more flexible, but mainly in one direction: forward. The spine remains in it’s natural state. I have the feeling that all these forward bending asanas shall prepare the body for the leg behind head poses. I like these advanced asanas, but are they really important? I don’t think so. It’s more important to move the spine in different directions.

I often add a side stretch these days. I hold the twists longer than 5 breaths. I alter primary with second series.

Today I had to motivate myself to start practicing. As soon as I had done the first sun salutations I was concentrated and enjoyed the practice. The three sun salutations B were easier already than yesterday. Nevertheless my heart rate went up and I sweated a lot. After 90 minutes I was exhausted.

I did urdhva dhanurasana. After all these forward bending asanas it was a weak pose. It makes more sense to work on back bending asanas when I practice second series.

Getting stronger, becoming more flexible again is a journey that requires patience. There is no shortcut. It takes time.

A new beginning

This is a new beginning

My yoga mat.

My yoga mat.

More than 12 years my yoga blog was hosted by blogger. It’s a blogger website that belongs to Google and it’s free. I loved the simplicity of this page, yet Squarespace is also simple. Using my own website for my blog is surely a more elegant solution.

I bought a domain name that is similar to the name I used on blogger. I learned not to use a hyphen in a name. It’s too complicated to remember. Unfortunately the ending .com was taken already, so I decided to go for the ending .net. It’s easy to remember, too.

In 2006 my first post showed my yoga mat in my little yoga room that was also the living room. The yoga mat is the same. The place changed as we moved to another flat. When I started yoga I practiced mainly at home. The yoga community exploded during the last decade. Yoga studios opened at every corner. In the meantime there are even several Ashtanga yoga studios in Munich. For about 2 years I practiced daily in one of the studios. It was as if I went to work. I love to look back. I managed it to get up before sunrise even. At 6 am I was often one of the first students in the yoga room. At 6 am I started my yoga practice with the sun salutations, and at 9 am I was ready for the day.

An injury forced me to reflect on my practice. It was not sure if I could go on with yoga at all. My back hurt too much, not only when I practiced yoga. I could scarcely sit. At night I woke up when I turned around. This pain made it impossible to go to a yoga class. But my back got better and in the meantime I can practice again without pain. The healing lasted more than 2 years. I didn’t give up my yoga practice, but I practiced not very often. Between the practices were sometimes long breaks. The consequences: I got weak and I lost also a bit of my flexibility. I lost many asanas. The good news is that I win them back bit by bit, asana by asana.

Sometimes I want to go to a yoga class. The energy in a group is different. It was always a joy to meet like-minded people. But then something stops me. There are so many students in a yoga class, that there is no room for individuality anymore. Everybody has to do the same in order to avoid chaos. My age and my back injury require a more adjusted practice. That’s why the above place will be my main yoga place. I’m back where I started decades ago. I practice at home.

The journey can go on.