Practicing effectively - the timer

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During the last 2 years I had enough time to reflect on my practice. I came to the conclusion that the method of learning the asanas and vinyasas can be improved. It’s not enough and rather ineffective to hold an asana for five breaths only. If one wants to learn an asana one must do more than this.

  1. I use a timer. I hold several asanas for 1 minute these days. Today I practiced primary. I held marichyasana B for 1 minute as it’s a good preparation for one of the most difficult asanas of this series, which is supta kurmasana. I also held the twist marichyasana C for one minute to balance all the forward bending asanas and I held the headstand for 1 minute at the end of my practice. One minute can be rather long. Scientific research have found out that the body needs time to relax. 5 breaths is not enough, this can not be repeated often enough. When the body is relaxed stretching is possible. One must also hold the position for a while to make it last.

  2. It’s useful to look for external clues. The timer is an auditive external clue. It has much more authority than my inner voice that is counting. The timer is also more precise. Another external visual clue can be the wall. When I stretch I aim for reaching the wall. This will never be possible as the wall is so far away, but the thought alone helps to lengthen the body more than without this external clue. Stretch your body is less effective than trying to reach a wall that is far away, also when it’s only a thought.

  3. The timer also tells me when 90 minutes are over. I aim for a daily practice that lasts 90 minutes. It’s so much easier to have a time frame than to practice till all poses are done. It intensifies my practice.I have no orientation how late it got already when I practice. To look at a clock again and again is only distracting.

To practice before breakfast is wonderful. The stomach must be empty in order to get deep into the twists.

The plan when practicing primary:

I want to hold a forward fold, a twist, my most difficult pose and headstand for 1 minute. The goal behind this goal is to get so used to be in asanas that one can finally enjoy these asanas. It must feel good to be in a pose. Breaths must flow easily. It would be good if the face is relaxed, too. If the pose looks as if it’s a piece of cake, if you can sleep in that pose, you’re there.

I wonder how to get stronger again……

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.