Urdhva dhanurasana

Urdhva Dhanurasana

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Yesterday I went to a yoga class again. The teacher led us also through more challenging asanas. When we were in urdhva dhanurasana we were asked to lift up the right leg, then the left leg, then the right arm, then the left arm. I was more than surprised that I could do this. This variation was lost. Now it’s back. This is so awesome.

It was not a piece of cake.

Lift the leg, I thought. There was no alternative to this message. And voilà.

I don’t want to give up my home practice anymore. Yet yesterday I also saw the advantages of yoga classes. I got introduced to variations of asanas that I’ve never practiced so far. To practice in a group is fun and it gives energy.

I bought a membership at the Sivananda yoga studio. It lasts one year. It shall complement my Ashtanga yoga practice at home.

I’ll write about my Sivananda classes more in the next posts.

Wheel every Wednesday

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Another Wednesday has come. I took a picture of another wheel (urdhva dhanursanana). Today I took the picture after primary Ashtanga yoga series with all these forward bending asanas. To get from forward bending asanas to back bending asanas rather quickly without much preparation is an extra challenge. But sometimes I take this Wednesday wheel after many back bending asanas. When I compare all these wheels I cannot make out a difference. I should change my yoga clothes…. hahaha…….but brighter colors are better for the pictures.

I call this a plateau. On the surface nothing moves. Yet it requires discipline not to give up. One day it might seem like a miracle a difference can be seen. It might seem as if progress happened from one day to the next but this is not true. All the effort, sometimes over months/years is necessary. Perhaps I’m stronger again and the flexibility got weaker. Who knows……..

I keep wheeling. I love the community on Instagram. Worldwide are yoga practitioners who get into a wheel every Wednesday. This has power. This is amazing.

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.