Friday, July 21, 2017

The July challenge



Kino's July challenge pushes me forward. There are poses that I usually omit because of my back issues, i.e. navasana. As it is part of the series, I explored what was possible. How to get into this asana had to be altered. But look, it's possible.
Setu bandhasana will be the next huge challenge. It seems impossible these days. I got too weak. But I'll explore my possibilities. I'll approach this asana open-minded.
I'm more than happy that I could do supta kurmasana and all the other asanas, too.

Every second day I practice primary to get stronger again. I get stronger every day. It's a stony way back, but at least there is a path.

I changed the sentence 'Don't give up' to 'Keep practicing'. It's positive. The mind only understands positive messages. And I keep practicing. I can harvest the first fruit.

For those who want to follow the challenge on Instagram, here is the link.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

On back bending


Today my focus was second series. Everything was perfect in the beginning. I felt flexible, even strong. Pashasana was fantastic, I could even reach the wrist on one side.

Then came shalabasana. I didn't know how to lift a leg. This is I wanted to lift one leg after the other, but nothing could be moved. I started with lifting the upper body. After that my legs lifted from the floor slightly. Sigh.
The above asana felt intensive. My upper legs got stretched. It allowed me to do bhekasana.
A weak dhanurasana was possible. Then I was on my knees for ustrasana. I couldn't move an inch backwards. I went to passive stretching on my wheel. I went back on my knees. Yeah, I could reach my heels, but this was it.

If I want to do back bending I have to do one preparation asana after the other. Otherwise almost nothing will be possible.
I moved to the twists. They always relax the body. Parighasana was great, too.

My timer was set to 90 minutes. There were still 15 minutes left, so I lied down on my back to relax. A mistake. I didn't know how to stand up after these 15 minutes. There were cramps in my back. Finally I was on my feet.
To walk around is so much better than lying on my back.

I feel good now. No pain. I'm glad that I practiced. I found my limits. I accepted them, I had to.
I'm still a bit shocked that back bending seems to be lost. Also this is temporarily.


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

July challenge


It's a huge fun to see every day all the yoginis on Instagram. They all follow Kino's #July challenge. We became a worldwide community.

It's motivating to feel part of such a lovely group of practitioners. Many practice alone.

So also today I practiced primary. I work on the vinyasas. That's what Ashtanga yoga makes so special. I have the feeling I get closer to jump through without touching the floor.

Beside yoga I've a lot of fun with my repaired bicycle. I bought a helmet to feel safe. I made a promise to myself to drive slowly. I don't want to have an accident. It became rather dangerous to drive as there are so many wild bicycle drivers on the road.

Summer time is wonderful.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

July challenge - I'm in


Kino's July challenge #ashtangayogachallenge has started on Instagram today. It's focused on primary. I'm in. I love to feel part of the worldwide Ashtanga community.

It can be that I show on Instagram the correct pose and on my blog a variation of it.

Today I beamed me on a coast close to Portland. The dogs in the background fit to the pose: downward facing dog.

Join the fun, if you like........ as always one can connect with yoginis around the globe.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Omstars


Every morning before my Ashtanga yoga practice I watch a video on www.omstars.com.
It's very inspiring and very motivating.

Omstars is Kino's TV channel. She and other yoginis like Laruga upload tutorials. Even after 12 years of Ashtanga yoga practice I learn a lot. One of Kino's strength is that she can analyse the asanas. She learned a lot about didactic. She can also explain how to perform an asana step by step. She has no tabus: If a block makes an asana safe, why not using one. To practice safe is important for her.

I am enthusiastic and the 14 USD per month are really worth it.

A few days ago I listened to the Marichyasana tutorial. I'm so sure that what I learned will protect my back. I knew at once that it makes sense what she said. The foot of the bent leg is not placed next to the stretched leg. It's also not placed so far outside that the outer rim of the foot is in line with the body. The foot is in the middle of the thigh. This is the most natural movement for the knee. There is also no pressure on the lower back that way.

This morning I watched a tutorial about the first sitting asanas of primary. It was a reminder of the bandhas. Engaging the abdomen protects the lower back. Each time when I felt back pain this morning I engaged my muscles even a bit more.

Even though the practice of Kino is very advanced, she doesn't expect perfection from students. Whatever is possible this can be done. Correctly. She shows very easy vinyasas.

This was my highlight today. I get closer and closer to the perfect jump through and jump back movement.

This post doesn't end with a happy end. At the end of my practice, out of the blue, the pain got awful again. Perhaps shoulder stand was the reason. Whatever. I had to use my fascia roll. I walked around. I took a shower. Here we go. I feel excellent again.

I have to and I will work on strong abdomen.

Happy weekend.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Because it's fun


On pinterest I collect pictures of Indian yogis. One of these yogis levitated. He got my full admiration. I always wondered how he did it. One day I found out how to do it. It's inhaling and UP.

The show, the fun is the same like hundreds of years ago. Only the tricks have changed a tiny bit. (wink, wink)

When I created this picture I laughed. This is why I practice yoga, it's fun, so incredible much fun, not only when levitating.

There are obstacles, yet the fun is always larger than any shadow that might darken the view.
Some of the obstacles I removed from my life, others introduced themselves. I didn't invite them. Yet here it is. It's back pain. One day it will leave me. Till then we'll get to know each other closer and closer. This pain wants to tell me something. A few things I already understood. I practice alone these days i.e.. There is more to understand than this......

So also today I practiced. In the middle of my practice, just before ustrasana the valley of pain was reached. One cramp in the back followed the next one. I switched to relaxing poses. 90 min I want to practice. The twists always feel good. So I continued with the twists. A tiniest wrong movement and I'm in the hell and back to heaven again if the movement is correct. That's how it is.

When I finish my practice I stand on my mat and whisper: Thank you.
So much is possible and I'm thankful for this.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Alone and happy on the mat


The picture shows my most relaxing posture when back pain is felt.

Today I had to relax only twice in that pose. I practiced primary this morning. I motivate myself with videos from omstar.com, Kino's TV channel. Having seen a video makes unstoppable. I have to practice.

It's amazing how flexible I am. Even supta kurmasana was possible. Many asanas also tell me that I have the weight that allows these challenging postures.

There were also asanas that I couldn't perform:
- Purvottanasana and setu bandhasana. Both asanas require that the back is engaged. After all these forward bending asanas this is impossible.
- I don't try urdhva dhanurasana. It's a torture to even try it after all the forward bending asanas. It's added later in history. It's an advanced back bending pose that comes out of nowhere. There is no preparation, nothing. Exercise smart, I think.
- Shoulder stand is impossible. To get out of the pose triggers horror. I have to fall out of the  pose. This is an uncontrolled movement, that scares me a lot. How to fall out of the pose is the question. I leave it out. One day it will return, then I'll welcome this pose again.
- The vinyasas are lost, I don't care. To get stronger again takes time. I give my best. I lift myself up again and again.

So 4 asanas were not possible, BUT all the other challenging asanas were possible. I was able to perform all the core asanas: baddha konasana, supta kurmasana, marichyasana D and garbha pindasaana. This is good.

Nevertheless, I won' t forget to add pranayama to my practice. I don't want to sit and breathe and meditate right after the asana practice. I want to shower first. It feels better. I want to sit on a blanket and not on a sticky mat.

Walking around and the pose on the picture are most relaxing for me. They have the effect of a pain killer. They probably take away the cramp in the muscle. What exact happens in my body is still a secret.

A brand new week has started. Wonderful.

By the way, I'm also on Instagram and flickr.
If you like to see me levitating, please have a look.





Sunday, June 25, 2017

An intrusive challenge


The pain doesn't go away, it doesn't go away. I took a break again last week, that I interrupted today. The beginning pf my practice was great. Then it got worse. Back bending asanas were not possible at all. To force anything is not possible. I focus on what feels good.

90 min on the mat, practicing asanas is my goal. I have to decide from one second to the other what I can do. The pain leads me through the practice.

Whatever I read, with whoever I spoke to, everybody advised not to give it up. I won't. It's hard.

I would miss the practice, I would regret if I gave it up. The focus will shift from ambitious exercising to mindful breathing. I have to practice smart. Sometimes I have to be creative. There are so many ways to move into an asana. Some way are easier than others.

It felt good to sweat. The shower after the practice relaxed the muscles.
Tomorrow I'll focus on primary.






Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Practicing asanas is a mental exercise


1. Discipline
The first asana is discipline, I often think. It starts with going to bed early. This makes it easier to get up in the morning. The discipline to practice every day in the morning gets easier the more often this muscle is used. When a behaviour becomes a  routine, a habit, less discipline is necessary.
For the time being it's very easy for me to practice. I came to the conclusion that it's better to practice yoga than not to practice. My practice is not pain free. So what.

2. Coolness
This leads to the second mental state. It helps not to be involved that much in whatever one is doing. To observe what's happening is a great start to develop a cool attitude. Today kurmasana is possible, tomorrow not. Who cares?

3. Focus
To learn to focus and to change the focus is such a great skill also off the mat. I check my posture, I check if my asana is stable. Then I focus on the breath.

4. Faith
To have faith that daily practice will improve the practice helps a lot to have a long long breath. It can take years and decades till an asana looks fantastic (own view!). For critical yoginis this can take a bit longer than for those who are happy very fast and not so critical.

Today I focused on forward bending asanas. I alter primary with second series. What a joy when I realized that I could lift my body in kurmasana.



Tomorrow back bending is on the schedule.

Monday, June 12, 2017

This makes me happy


To motivate myself I watched a video by Kino on omstar.com before my yoga practice. It was about eka pada sirsasana. I wanted to see if I was still able to do the four key asanas of primary: Marichyasana D, supta kurmasana, garbha pindasana and baddha konasana. Supta kurmasana is the most challenging one for me. The idea was to start with one leg behind the head....
I'm able to sit in lotus pose, I could bring my feet to my front, so what could stop me?
After eka pada sirsasana I tried supta kurmasana again after a very long time. I could bring my legs behind my head and I could bind. Hallelujah.

I could dance around out of joy, yet this pose doesn't allow so much movement. Not much thinking happens either when in this pose. Just being in this posture is it.

90 minutes I was on the mat. The last 10 minutes I lied on my back and relaxed. It's a good idea to alter primary with second series. One day I focus on forward bending asanas, the other day on back bending asanas.

To stand up after all these highlights of today was difficult. Oh my, my back screamed for attention. I walked up and down, up and down, like a lion in a cage and my back relaxed.

Tomorrow back bending.




Sunday, June 11, 2017

A tiny wrong movement


A tiny wrong movement and I have the hell on earth. The faster I can relieve the muscle cramp, the faster I escape from this hell called lower back pain. Yet this is sometimes a challenge. What luck that this lower back pain is not permanent.

I practiced. It started wonderful. I felt flexible, I was focused. To get from a back bending asana like ustrasana to a counter pose seems to be difficult. My back gets confused and this was it then. My timer is set. I want to be 90 minutes on the mat no matter what happens. I could continue after this sudden shock pain. Twists always feel good. They released my muscles. I could even do mayurasana. I finished my yoga practice with padmasana, left leg first to balance my body again.

I have a list now of activities that help when this sudden pain arises:
1. walking around (to get out of an asana and to stand up can be challenging)
2. twists
3. rolling on the foam roll (It's important to have it handy.)
4. baddha konasana
5. Engaging the abdomen and bandhas
6. a shower (afterward)

Here I sit in paradise again. Pain is gone.

The experience from this morning strengthens my opinion that I can stabilize this SI joint when I do strength training. My Monday morning will start with Day 1 of strength training. It's the third start.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The SI joint is misplaced, not blocked


My SI joint is not blocked, it's misplaced. The right terminology helps to understand what happened, it also points at possible healing methods.

If one speaks of a blocked SI joint, one might think: OK, then I go to a chiropractor. He/she makes a jerky movement with my body and everything will be OK. The joint will be in place again, unblocked so to say.
Yet this is not the case. An SI joint cannot be blocked.

An SI joint can be misplaced.
This might be the cause for lower back pain on the right or left side of the back. Some have pain on both sides. The pain comes from another source. The muscles get cramped around this joint. To release these muscles helps but only for a while. The cause, the misplaced SI joint is still misplaced.

Why can an SI joint be misplaced?
There are many reasons, I think it can be helpful if we understand the why.
1. Pregnant women often have lower back pain. The hips open during the pregnancy. This can cause a lot of pressure on the SI joint. After the pregnancy the body can adjust itself. Back pain disappears.
2. Sitting all day long in a wrong position might be a reason for a misplaced SI joint.To move more, to sit correctly can be a solution.
3. Too much weight on the body can be another cause. Many people are overweight these days. It can put too much pressure on these tiny joints at the end of the spine. To lose weight might help. Others lift weight. This might lead to the same issues for the same reasons. I consider weight lifting not as healthy.
4. Imbalanced and overstretched ligaments around the joint  is another reason. This might be the cause for yoga practitioners. Too hard adjustments or one-sided poses can cause this pain in the long run. I consider it wrong that I put always the left leg first behind my head in supta kurmasana. I was asked to take the right leg first in padmasana. Also here I think it's better to alter the legs to keep the body in balance.

The reason why the SI joint is misplaced can point at healing methods. It can be to lose weight, it can be to give up weight lifting. It can be that major life style changes could be a solution. Most people sit too much.

How can I heal my misplaced SI joint?

What does not help:
1. Pain killer only helps to be pain free for a limited time. Family doctors give pills, orthopedist give injections. Finally it's the same superficial treatment. I don't say that it cannot help sometimes.
2. To stop Ashtanga yoga is also only a solution for a short period of time. Soon I'll get issues because of inactivity, stiffness and weakness.

What can I do?
I think I have to do strength training. Strong abdomen support the back.
A few days back I found a video by a woman who had SI joint related pain and became pain free after having found exercises that strengthened her hip muscles.



During my practice today I took care to engage the abdomen. I was astonished what was possible. Yet at the end nothing was possible anymore.
How to get into the shower, I wondered. It was difficult to put off the yoga clothes. Finally the hot water and then the cold water calmed my back. I feel good again. The pain is volatile.





Monday, June 05, 2017

It gets worse


This back pain is behind me like a stalker.
Yesterday I had planned to do the asana sequence from Rishikesh that starts with salamba sarvangasana. It should be something easy as I had not so much time. Just nine asanas, I thought, a piece of cake for someone who has more than 10 years of Ashtanga yoga behine me. It was not possible to get into that inversion asana, shoulder stand. My back screamed. A tiny movement and the pain can become horrible.

This morning my back didn't feel much better. So I thought it would be a good idea to start practicing in the afternoon. I did some poses in the afternoon, yet didn't experience flow or joy. Frustrated I stopped.

Kino's videos on omstar shooed me  out of my mental valley. I have to pick myself up every day where I am. I cannot compare my practice with the practice 2 years ago.  I have to work around the pain.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Variations




In order not to get bored with the asana sequence from Rishikesh, I looked up variations of the asanas. The sequence starts with salamba sarvangasana, The book by B.K.S. Iyengar 'Light on yoga' is an excellent source in order to find variations for any asana. 

Unfortunately my back hurt so awfully again, that I didn't know how to get out of the asana during the photo session. I fell out and stopped my photo session. Be sure there are so many more variations but these three.

The idea is that it can be interesting to have such a short sequence like the sequence of Rishikesh, if one explores the single asanas in great details. Variations help to understand the asanas. 

Today I rest, I don't do asanas. 

It's a sunny day here in Germany. Summer is my favorite time of the year. 

Friday, June 02, 2017

The asana sequence from Rishikesh


This series starts with sun salutations for about 10 minutes and it ends with nauli, pranayama and savasana.

I found this series decades ago in the book 'Yoga' by André van Lysebeth. These nine asanas accompanied me for a very long time.

It's not that spectacular, yet balanced.
The series of nine asanas consists of inversions, balancing asanas, forward bending asanas, back bending asanas and twists.

It's possible to practice variations of the asanas, yet it is not recommended to change the order.
One shall hold the asanas for 1 min. Sirsasana can be held up to 10 min.
For me 1 minute is about 15 breaths.

After all the years with Ashtanga yoga, this series seems simple and easy. Sometimes this is exactly what the body and mind needs.

André van Lysebeth talks about concentration in the book. It's an exercise that one can do with easier asanas, too.

This series can be found in the page section below the banner. It can be an alternative on days when it's difficult to practice Ashtanga yoga.

Ignore it - it's chronic


This morning I woke up with back pain. I cannot explain why my back hurts after having slept and relaxed, but it is so. We have a very good mattress. So this cannot be the reason.
Yesterday I wrote my journal and stepped rather early on the mat. Back pain got worse. Today I didn't want to make the same mistake.
Today I wanted to stabilize my back first. I did chores as if my life depended on it. I filled the washing machine, folded clothes, vacuumed, made the bed. It all distracted me from my back. Pain faded away.

During the rolfing session I was asked to move my hips forwards and backwards while I was lying on my side. The rolfer pressed the hand against my back. It didn't hurt. Remember, that you can move your back without pain, she said. Your pain memory shall be reprogrammed.

I feel so relaxed now. To do the chores first was the right strategy.

Soon I'll prepare a light breakfast for myself. My practice can take place later. 

It's difficult to start with strength training regularily, but I have to do it. I must talk myself into it. Strong muscles are always good. I must do it before my yoga practice.

What's so special with Ashtanga yoga in comparison to other styles, I wondered yesterday?
Firstly it's the vinyasas, how the asanas are connected with each other.
Secondly it's the advanced poses.
Thirdly Ashtanga yoga became a cult.

I'm not able to do the vinyasas right now. I can lift up myself to build strength, but to jump doesn't feel good. I omit it.
Other styles have advanced poses, too.
That it's a cult is fun, but I'm out already as I practice at home.

Yesterday I flipped through my yoga books and I found out that there are always series, often fixed ones. Also in the book by B.K.S. Iyengar are recommendations for asana sequences.
When I started yoga decades ago I focused on the series by Rishikesh that I found in a book by André von Lisbeth.
My idea is to practice other sequences to get out of my routine. I want to confuse my pain memory.

For those who care: I feel good with and without pain. I curse when I feel pain, I become optimistic when I don't feel pain, but I'm in peace with what life has to offers. I observe the journey. Will it end in a happy end?

Summary:
- Ignore the pain. Do anything that helps to ignore it. Reprogram the pain memory.
- Do strength training.
- Postpone the practice. Start when feeling good.
- Practice other series to confuse the pain memory and to get out of a routine that creates pain.

Wow, I have a plan.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Horror practice this morning


This morning I was again a bit earlier on the mat than yesterday and the day before yesterday. At 7am I started with the sun salutations. I'm not sure if this has been a good idea. In the morning my back is often not yet stabilized, means it hurts.

Yet first I had to go through blood circulation issues. When I moved out of the standing asanas with head close to the floor I got dizzy. I had to pause. I understand now why it makes sense to come out of poses. Perhaps I hanged forward too long.

Next issue: It must have been difficult to perform the counter poses. A tiniest wrong movement must have happened. Pain became unbearable. I didn't know anymore how to get into a standing position. I fell back on the mat. I had to attempt to stand up again. Finally I was upright. I walked consciously around. Pain was gone almost immediately.

The lower back on the right side must be so unstable that a tiny wrong movement can spoil everything. Nerves must get pinched. Perhaps an evening session could be good....

I walked around, made many rounds, happy that this was possible. Ustrasana was my last asana today.

I took a shower. This is usually relieving as well. Then I went to bed with 'The tree of yoga' by B.K.S. Iyengar.
This back pain exhausts me.

Tomorrow primary..........l'll explore what will be possible.

Picture: This is an asana that I'll integrate in my practice. It feels good as a preparation for kapotasana. It stretches the upper body.

Rolfing Session 1


About one year ago when my lower back pain had reached a peak, I made a list of activities I could do for myself. Rolfing was one activity on the list.

Yesterday I had my first session. The woman who offers this treatment is originally from Northern Italy. Last month she had passed the very difficult test for alternative healing. I found her on my way home from my family doctor who is located in the same building.

There is the method and there is the person who applies the method. A very good method applied by someone inexperienced might be ineffective or worse.
Yet if one finds a committed experienced person miracles might happen.

I read on the website that she has had back pain as well and that she had made best experiences with rolfing. She got so excited that she wanted to become a rolfer. This experience of her was that convinced me that she would be the right person.

When she opened the door to her practice yesterday, I found her very nice from the first moment on. She is a beautiful slim woman. She seems to walk the talk.

My expectations re these 10 sessions are not that my back gets healed. I want to do something relaxing for myself after these 2 and a half aggressive years, that injured my body. .

The first moment I met her was important. We do body work together, so it's better if there is trust and sympathy.

In the practice is a skeleton. I got explained where the SI joint is. It is interesting to see the anatomy. This SI joint is so protected. That I injured myself there after so many years of Ashtanga yoga is incredible.

All doctors, rolfers, physiotherapist, orthopedist seem to agree: Don't stop practicing Ashtanga yoga. It will only limit my possibilities in the long run.

Rolfing: The method is rather soft. It's possible to feel the connections of the body. For instance on the muscle below my arms a soft pressure was executed. I should lift the arm, yet it almost flew upwards. No effort was needed.
The rolfer is very attentive. At first she only touched my spine to connect with my body and to create trust.

The first rolfing session traditionally focuses on the neck. Yet I was glad that my injured area was treated, too.

I can stand, I can walk. My body is balanced. The simplest things are often the most demanding ones.

The treatment felt good to me. It's also sort of pampering for my body. I see that softness can be effective, too. To learn more of the connections of the different body parts will surely deepen my understanding for the asanas.

Next week I'll have the next session. Focus will be the feet.




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Most people stop


Most people stop practicing Ashtanga yoga. Classes are full of beginners. Some people are talented and very flexible, yet they just started with the practice. Less than 10% practice a decade. Most people stop for different reasons after some time.
Most people retire one day. They don't want to work one day longer than necessary.
Most people have had friendships, yet one day the paths divided.

There might be very good reasons, but also excuses why this happens.

Not always people stop doing something. A few weeks back I went to an exhibition by Peter Lindbergh, the photographer. He is now 71. Someone asked him if he considered to stop working. He doesn't want to stop working. He is in the flow now. Now he can play with the different skills. He has the connections to people in the community. Why stopping?

There are few people who find activities, jobs they want to do till the last breath, till they die. It's worth looking for such activities. It's fulfilling.

It's of course also fine to stop an activity if interest fades away. Sometimes priorities change. Why not.

Often people quit a community, an activity or whatever with complaining, blaming, discontentment.
A few days back I found a blog post by an ex-Ashtangi, who explained in great detail why she stopped practicing. She has been an aspiring Ashtanga yoga teacher. There was no single good word about yoga. She wrote about Mysore and has never been there. The community was provoked. The list of comments were long and so committed.

It is an art to quit. I even think it's OK to point out the negative aspects. To have a critical view on something can solve issues. Yet to generalize and to think that the own feelings and experiences are the only truth is simply wrong.

This is also why I prefer to share my experiences. At the same time I wish that other practitoners who read my blog might be inspired, but everybody must make his/her own experiences. What is true for me, can be wrong for someone else. I enjoy the exchange of experiences and stories.

I'll surely not quit Ashtanga yoga that fast. I face obstacles, they are not huge enough to make myself doubt about my practice.

Also today I practiced. Today primary was on the schedule. After 90 min my alarm clock rang, I was still in the middle of the middle part. My practice became slow. The extra asanas need extra time, too.
My practice improves slowly, very slowly. Today I could do  kurmasana again. Eka pada sirsasana (a substitute for supta kurmasana) was possible, too. At the end the lower back pain (SI joint issues) dominated the practice and I was glad when I was finally in savasana.
Strange, but after the shower, first with warm water, then with cold water, I feel relaxed again, so does my back.

Today will be my first rolfing session. I'm very curious.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Second series today



Again I set my timer. After 100 min I had just done the twists. I practice slowly and I add exercises that shall prepare my body for the deep back bending asanas. Every day I practice the split poses, i.e.. This might be a reason why I have have not enough time for the entire second series. Quality over quantity. I'm not in a hurry. 

I also repeat asanas. Ustrasana is such an asana. I so know how it felt some years ago. It felt good to be in that asana. These days I'm not sure if I'll reach my heels. I do, I do. Yet I want that the asana feels good. With every repetition it feels better. 
I repeat kapotasana and urdhva dhanurasana. 

To alter the series seems to be a good solution right now. 

Strength returns!
Flexibility returns!

Slowly. 
Important is to practice. 
My breath became so fearful. I work on a deep even breath, too. The practice is painful and satisfying at the same time. 

I wonder how easy it is to step on the mat in the morning. I don't want to miss this daily practice, no matter how modest it might be. The practice teaches me to stay patient. It teaches me not to give up. 
What a luck that I can practice. 



Monday, May 29, 2017

Quality over quantity



The timer was set for 90 min. It rang before I had finished primary today. I had enough. I felt exhausted.

My focus is to relax when I practice the asanas.
I also want to regain strength. That is I lift myself up between asanas, not between sides. This would still be too much right now.

The two asanas above are often my counter poses to all these forward bending asanas of primary. It feels good. The movement starts from the hips.

That I could stretch my legs in kurmasana was a surprise. After that pose not much happened, but the wish to stop. I stay on the mat for 90 min. It's great to do only fav poses or relaxing poses or savasana, but I want to be on the mat for 90 min. I need again a feeling for time.

It was a perfect start of the week.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

No discussion - I practice


No discussion: I practice.

I stop these inner discussion of the ambitious me and the lazy fearful me at an early point. Too often the lazy me wins. It's OK to practice only relaxing asanas, but not to practice at all is not an alternative.

Today is Sunday, second Ashtanga series was on the schedule. Back bending was the focus.

Forward split is always part of my practice, every day. It helps me to stretch the hip flexor of the leg that stretches backwards.
The first step is  being able to be on the floor with both legs. Then one can think of back bending in that position in addition. To make it easier it could be useful to bend the leg that is in front of the body.

Whenever a pose felt weak, I repeated it. Often the pose is much more relaxing when it has reached a perfect form. Feeling good in a pose is my goal. I want to breathe deeply also in difficult asanas.

Highlight of today: I could bind pashasana again. I celebrate this.

When under the shower after my practice I tell my brain: Time to give trouble to my back is over. This shows effect.

It's time for breakfast now.

These 100 minutes were so worth doing it.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Utthita parsvottanasana





To move into utthita parsvottanasana with that blocked SI joint is painful. That is it's painful when I move into this pose from standing position. That's the classic movement. One steps the feet apart from each other, then one turns to the right sight. In the meanwhile the hands are in prayer position behind the back. Then one lowers the upper body to reach with the chin the shin. During this movement the lower back has to carry the weight of the upper body. It's not only this, What I read it's much more than the body weight, it's four times more due to the leverage effect.
This is also why it's recommended to lift things very close to the body. This prevents the back from damage in the long run.

My version these days: I bend forward, I reach my feet with my hands. I can support this movement while putting my hands on my legs. This takes away weight from the back. Then I step back. The smaller the step the more difficult becomes this asana.
In classes I often heard that one shall move the weight to the back leg. With my hands on the floor I can support this shift. When I feel comfortable, I move my arms behind my back. See picture three. A warning: the shoulders are usually a weak part of the body. Take care not to injure the shoulders when using them to leverage this asana.
Yet from there it's so much easier to take the hands behind the back in prayer position.

All forward bending asana improve when the abdomen are engaged (bandhas).

I want to relax in a pose. It must feel good. Not at the beginning, but after some time. If this is not possible, I go to the position, that feels good.

On chronic pain: I was very astonished when I read that one speaks of chronic pain if someone has pain for only a few years.Then the brain shall sent messages to the nerves that sustains the feeling of pain even though the cause for this pain doesn't exist anymore.
The recommendation is to ignore the pain. It's recommended not to talk about it, not to think about it, not to read any literature about it. One shall even not do any exercises to relief the pain. Forget about it, is the advice.
This is what I tried yesterday. Taking picture distracted me from the pain, too.
I got that point.
Nevertheless I think in my case, the cause, the blocked SI joint is still there. I can locate it. I got to know the movements when it hurts. However. I'm looking forward to the rolfing sessions next week. I must believe in this treatment!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Parivrtta parsva konasana


These days I practice sometimes variations of the asanas of the Ashtanga yoga series due to my lower back pain (SI joint issues).
I also move differently into an asana than it is foreseen in the classic Ashtanga sequences.

This deepens my understanding of the asanas.
I don't feel anymore that I practice not correctly. I gave up the idea that everybody around the world has to practice exactly the same, no matter of age, experience, body, wishes and whatever. After decades of yoga practice I became flexible in many ways.

I move into parivrtta parsva konasana from adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Usually one jumps from standing position to the side. Most of the time my step was not wide enough. The shin bone of the leg bent shall be parallel to the wall, the upper leg shall be parallel to the floor. It's easier to have this exact distance of the feet when moving from downward facing dog into this position. For me it's less painful as I can move the weight of the body on my hands when I make the step forward. The lower body has not to carry any body weight.

I don't turn my feet of the stretched leg around anymore. This shall preserve the SI joint.

That way it's also easier to have the shoulder next to the knee. This pose is a twist.
With the one feet on its toes it becomes a balancing pose, too.

This morning I woke up with horror pain in the back. It's a pain killer day, I thought. But again, the pain disappeared after some time.
The  words of the orthopedic came into my mind: Don't give it up. No, no, no, I won't give it up.
(Being a yogini is the best life style I found for myself.)

The practice turned into a photo session. Nothing is more useful than seeing oneself on a picture if one studies alone at home.

I've mastered again the first obstacle: I practice on a daily basis. I don't postpone the practice. Often it's postponed to the next day and the next day.........

The sun is shining. I feel really good.




Thursday, May 25, 2017

Done


I love to practice at home. The feeling for the duration of my practice is lost. That's why I set a timer. Ninety minutes asana practice is a fantastic time. My practice slowed down. I stay in an asana till it feels good. These days I close my eyes. I focus on the inner sensations. It helps me to relax. With closed eyes, I can also better focus on my breath. Time flies. The 90 minutes are over so quickly.

Unbelievable how painful the transitions were today. I crawled from one asana to the next. Doing vinyasas is something else. After the twists of second series the ninety minutes were over. The three lotus pose position finished my practice.
The asanas are improving again. Even urdhva dhanurasana is coming back and it feels good to bent backwards. Patience is needed.

Right now I feel excellent. The mornings offer me horror pain. It's fading away during the day.

Yesterday I had a first phone call with the rolfer. Next Wednesday I'll have my first session. She asked for any issues. I told her about my sacroiliac joint. She is optimistic that she can help me. I don't expect this. But this nice lady is optimistic, why shouldn't I be optimistic, too?


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

90 min Ashtanga yoga


Good things first:
I'm very happy that I practice daily again. I practice at home. The timer is set to 90 minutes. During these 90 minutes I stay on the mat. My concentration has improved a lot. Today primary was on the schedule. I alter primary and second series. When the alarm clock rang, I still had to do the closing sequence. So slow is my practice. Today only the three last asanas as closing sequence were possible.

Slowly I close the gap between what was a year ago and now. I become stronger, I become more flexible. My breath is very fearful, especially between poses. Jumping is not possible. Setu bandhasana is impossible. But so much is possible, except 2 or three poses.
I observe my breath. Whenever I realize that it's flat or that I don't breathe at all, I start intensifying my breath. That's what I aim for: The asanas shall feel good. I want to reach again a certain level of relaxation when I do the asanas.

This morning I woke up with lower back pain again. The sacroiliac joint is obviously out of place. The psoas muscle were screaming. I prepared a cup of coffee for myself. Then I started writing my journal. I stopped it and wrote a letter to  the rolfing lady round the corner. That's the plan now, I'll do the 10 classic rolfing sessions. To care for the body in different ways cannot be wrong. The rolfer herself has had back pain. Perhaps this means that she has a certain understanding of these  issues. My intention is to do something good for my body. I don't expect that these sessions heal my back. But I'm open for surprises.

Tomorrow back bending is the focus again. I'm looking forward to it.

With every hour my back feels better.





Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Highlights and disappointments


I'm back to a good routine. I usually practice in the morning.

On Sunday I practiced second series, on Monday primary, today again second series.

Highlights: 
- I could take my leg behind my head, one after the other during primary. It was not as far and easy-going as it used to be, but it was possible. This makes me happy.
- I could stretch my legs in kurmasana, the body lifted from the floor. Wow. I could even hold this pose.
- Back bending feels great.

Disappointments:
- My practice started hurting again. It's almost impossible to add counter poses. Even a downward facing dog after ustrasana seems impossible. Then the sacroiliac joint seems to be out of place.
- I fall out of headstand, because pain doesn't allow to move slowly out of the pose, also not with bent legs.
- To get out of salamba sirsasana is impossible. I leave out this pose.
- I practice variations, but this is great.

I love that I practice. Being in the asanas doesn't hurt. The stuff between the asanas gives me trouble.

I become more and more flexible. The practice is more and more adjusted to my needs. I left the rigidity behind me.

Life is as it is. I make the best out of the situation.
I tried not to practice. This wasn't satisfying.
I ignored the pain. This I don't recommend either.
I became modest and I'm content that I can practice.

On my list are now 10 rollfing sessions. I don't expect too much, but it's something that I do for myself. It's sort of pampering.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

On food


Sunday: I know now that we all need also protein, especially those who are sportive. This is why I try to eat some protein with every meal. Chickpeas are a wonderful source. I had hummus at home, but today I wanted to make my own. It should become a little experiment. I wanted to find out if  the bought hummus tasted similar to the self-made one. On the left side in the picture is the bought hummus on the right side the self-made hummus. To be honest we didn't even like to taste the bought one. The consistency was rather hard, not so smoothy. It smelled awfully. 
Some time ago I made a similar experiment with just chickpeas. The consequences of the comparison is that one doesn't like to eat the stuff from the grocery store. It's really easy to make these delicious meals on my own. I try to avoid these convenience products whenever it's possible, also the vegan ones. 


Chickpea salad with hummus and bread was my lunch today. 

I the morning I practiced. It was a satisfying yet not pain free practice. I could find out a pattern. In the morning pain is there, during the day it fades away. That's how it is. I experiment with different ways to get into a pose. This deepens my understanding of almost every asana. 

My plan for tomorrow is:
1. Strength training first.
2. Then adjusted primary. I want to alter the two series. I want to get stronger again. 



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Inspiration by Nancy Gilgoff

Here is a link, that describes how P. Jois taught Ashtanga yoga in the very early years.

It's a very interesting article.

As said, many things were changed since the beginning. Too many people wanted to learn Ashtanga yoga. All the compromises that were made on the way made the series not better, but probably more approachable for the masses. I got injured.

I practiced today again. I loved my practice. It was painful. I find more and more ways how to avoid this pain. Posts about this topic will come.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I do it my way.


Yesterday I practiced the Moon Series by Matthey Sweeney. I think I remember that I had read that he couldn't practice one of the classic Ashtanga series due to an injury. So he created a series for himself that he was able to practice. Sorry, I cannot remember the source anymore.

I love the sequence. It seemed to be perfect for him and probably also for many others. For me it could be a series that I'd like to practice in addition to one of the Ashtanga yoga series, but not as a substitute.

Why? The series consists of mainly forward bending asanas. At the end are a few back bending asanas. After all these forward bending asanas I was not able to do an easy ustrasana. I couldn't reach my feet. After a decade of forward bending I have enough from only forward bending asanas. I've reached a level that is advanced. My back bending isn't. For me a balanced training has twists, inversions, back bending, forward bending asanas. I don't want to forget the balancing asanas.

Nevertheless I learned something that makes it easier to practice with my current issues (back pain). It's possible to move into the trikonasana poses from downward facing dog not from a standing position. This tiny variation makes a difference. It takes away all the burden on the lower back.

I could write more details. But is it really important? I won't follow another strict system. After decades of yoga practice I know my body and I know what is good for me. I keep learning. I'm interested in what others do. At the end I decide if it's good for me.
Joint pain is to be avoided.

When I get up these days, back pain is back. With every hour of being active it disappears. I consider to postpone my practice to a later hour of the day. To focus on back bending feels good, so I'll adjust second series.

I don't know why, but I still think one day this lower back pain belongs to the past. I can live with my current difficulties. It is as it is. It's really not that important. Who cares if I change the series? Who cares when I practice in the afternoon? Life would be boring without issues. I'm not so involved or down in all these happenings. I observe, I'm looking for a solution.

I remember the beginning of Burroughs book 'Junkie': He mentioned why he started taking drugs. He felt cut off from life. Taking drugs meant for him to feel life. Not that I want to recommend to create issues for oneself to get a feeling of being alive. Life means to face different situations. It's not necessary to judge everything. Life can be also observed.

Back to the title of this blog post: One  must find one's own way. Everybody has other possibilities, skills, another body and so on. To have one solution for everybody is an illusion. I do it my way.

I'll keep practicing my possible variations. Patience is necessary. I feel relaxed.



The picture is new, a few days old. Oh my, I felt weak when I tried this pose.



Saturday, May 06, 2017

SI joint, new insights from someone who has been there


Yesterday I listened to a video with David Keil on the SI joint. David Keil is an expert for three reasons:
1. He is an Ashtanga yoga practitioner for decades and also a teacher
2. He wrote a book on anatomy
3. He had awful lower back pain, caused by the SI joint, too.

What strengthens my hope. He got rid of it.
I don't know how often I nodded with my head when I listened to his video. He verbalized what I felt. I know that I'm right with my theory and my experience. I got background information.

I share this experience and also what I think might help to get rid of this pain, because there is not so much expertise. One must really search to find information.

David Keil first described the pain. It can be felt as a bit of pain. It can be also be experienced as a nightmare that influences the entire life. There he was. There I'm sometimes.

What caused this pain?



The first reason that David mentioned were the leg behind head poses. Many students of Ashtanga yoga are not yet ready for this pose. They force the leg behind the head. The hip doesn't allow this movement. Quickly the SI joint is injured. 
In my case my hips were open enough after a decade of daily practice. The picture is from 2015 before my injury. I can tell exactly when I injured myself. It happened while performing one of these leg behind head poses, but not because I was not able to do it, but because I got too fast into such a pose. 
I've been in a led class. 80% of the students in led classes are beginners. So the teacher helped several students to bind marichyasana C and D. I got cold. Due to this interruption of the flow time for the rest of the series was short. The teacher started counting faster. Students for the next class were already in front of the door. Quickly I moved into supta kurmasana as I liked to perform this pose. Damned, I felt at once that I made a wrong movement. 
I cursed and swore not to go to a let class anymore.
As it is these days, led classes are designed for beginners. 
Then followed the next huge mistake. The pain didn't disappear. I wanted to avoid all the leg behind head poses, but I was asked to practice them in the Mysore classes. This made everything worse. I didn't go to classes anymore. 

What is injured?
According to David Keil the SI joint is held by ligaments. Ligaments cannot be stretched. They hold the joint. Many soccer player or basketball player tore ligaments, mainly those of the knee joint, finger joint, feet joint. Who tries to take the leg behind the head? It's a minority world wide. This is also why most doctors have no clue. 
The consequence of this injury of the ligaments of the SI joint is that the muscles around this joint are stressed and hurt.

What can be done?
1. Please have a look at the first picture. When the body moves forward, the lower back must carry a lot of the weight of the body. This hurts, when the joint is injured. During the last months I avoided this pose. I practiced a variation. I lied on my back. It's a hip opening asana, it's not necessary to balance in addition. 
This also explained why I couldn't get into sirsasana (headstand) with straight legs. It has been too painful. The back had to carry my body weight, this was not possible anymore. Some students are rather long in sirsasana. It's not recommended to be longer in sirsasana with the legs parallel to the floor as it's too much stress for the back. 
I had/have pain when performing all these forward bending asanas while starting from a standing position. I'll avoid this till my back is healed. I can support the movement, I can put weight on the arms. It's possible to get into sirsasana with bent legs.  There are variations, that don't put pressure on the lower back.
In sum: All forward bending asana that stress the lower back shall be avoided. It's easy to find out which poses shall be avoided as it hurts to practice them. 
2. All poses that are not symmetric shall be avoided, according to David Keil. This can even be Janu Sirsasana A.
3. Last but not least something that can be done actively. Muscles are the second layer. Strong muscles can protect the joint and ligaments. Also this can be felt. When I engage my abdomen poses become less painful. Strength training is important. Strong abdomen protect the lower back. 
4. Fascia massage of the back muscles bring almost immediate relief. 

Obviously ligaments need to heal. Even inflammation can arise. It takes time. But healing is possible. 

What I still don't understand is why the pain disappears when I move. In the morning when I wake up back pain is so awful, I really wonder why. This makes it difficult to start practicing. 

Saturday is my day off. 

A lot can be practiced, but pain must be avoided. 
Strength training is important!!!! I'll start my yoga practice with strength training. It's a good warm up. 



Thursday, May 04, 2017

SI joint and Ashtanga yoga

http://loveyogaanatomy.com/pain-issues-and-injuries-in-yoga/

There is a a video especially on SI joint issues and Ashtanga yoga in that link. It's the very enlightening and it acknowledges my suspicion. Imbalanced practice.

David Keil has been there.

Painful practice


PP - Painful practice.

I have a fantasy: It is that I make a very awkward movement and from one second to the other the back pain caused by my sacroiliac joint is gone from one second to the other. Till this fantasy becomes true, I do what is possible. From time to time I curse, I also motivate myself. You don't give up, I tell myself. I'm not a couch potato and I don't want to become one.

I practice very slowly. But I practice: Hallelujah.

Today back bending was my focus. Before the intensive asanas ustrasana, laghu vajrasana and kapotasana I do the split pose. It lengthens my front side. This allows me to get so much deeper into the back bending asanas than without this exercise. I repeat kapotasana against the wall. It helps me to adjust myself. I think a pose should feel good. In the beginning stretching pain might be felt, but after a while of deep breathing the body should relax and feel good.

I feel like a hero, because I didn't use the pain as an excuse not to practice. Every practice makes the next one easier.

Nutrition is as important as the practice. Both influence each other. These days I try to eat protein at my two main meals that is breakfast and lunch. Today I had soy yogurt with almond puree and the best strawberries I've eaten for a long time for breakfast. My mother-in-law is still here as our guest. I'll go to an Indian restaurant with her for lunch. I know already that I'll order the black lentils. Lentils are also protein. The huge asset of protein is that one feels full for a long time. In addition it's necessary to build muscles.

Oh, I can't wait. I'm so looking forward to my next practice.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Being content


When I remember how strong and how flexible I've been already and how weak and stiff I'm now, I could get crazy. Yet, this leads to nothing. Only daily modest work helps to get out of the valley of discontentment.

Every day one has to pick up oneself. Sometime I feel tired. Sometimes I feel over motivated. Not thinking too much, stepping on the mat and exploring what is possible on exactly that day is it.

Yesterday I saw a May challenge on Instagram #untagleme. Something new is often inspiring. I have the opinion that those who practice Ashtanga yoga can easily do the poses of other styles and fantasies. So it is. Even though not every crazy pose might be possible. I learned to change anything in a way that it serves my needs.

Today I'll work on back bending again, that is second series.

Stay curious.
Stay hungry. (Not for pralinés.)
These feelings guarantee an exciting life.

Time to move.




Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Untangle me


Party is over.

We're back to daily life. I found a May challenge online: untangle me. So this is day 1, a twist. Twists feel very good. So I'm in.

You can follow this challenge on Instagram.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Luck is on my side



Today we have rainy weather. Tomorrow the sun will come out, partly it will be cloudy. On my birthday it will be warm and sunny. And on Monday it will rain again.
This entertains me a lot. This morning it even snowed. The roofs were all white. And exactly on my birthday in 2 days it will be sunny and bright. A big thank you flies to the weather makers in the sky.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cardio, strength training, Yoga, nutrition


Cardio:
It's overrated. It's time-consuming and boring. I have the feeling that it has not so much effect on my body. My feet have wounds now from all the walking. OK, I could find better shoes. I admit, that to walk a bit is better than sitting all day long. In order to have a good training for the heart, I think it must bump hard. That is interval training should be added.
Many people do cardio in order to lose weight. Yet not much kcal are used up when walking. In addition one has found out that people get hungry after cardio and eat more than usually.
What I take from all the researches AND my own experiences: It's good to move, but I won't set my goals higher and higher. 70.000 steps every week is enough. I will take steps fast, so that I get out of breath. I consider to go by bicycle much more often. With that goal I won't win a prize on fitbit...haha....

Strength training:
I think it's important and underestimated. It's also rewarding. 30 min every second day is enough. Breaks are important. Being strong makes daily living easier. Being stronger will help me to master some of the difficult asanas. I'm sure. I won't lift weight. My own body weight is enough to work with.

Ashtanga Yoga:
The asset of this activity is that one can get very flexible. I love it. I got stronger, I got very flexible with time. Ashtanga yoga is my focus. The rest of the activities circle around this activity.
Pranayama and meditation is part of this practice, too.

Nutrition:
Everybody knows something else. As a yogini I want to live without doing harm to other creatures. I also want to eat well. It's possible these days. Everything is available, but we also have to make smart decisions.
I had underestimated the importance of protein. I try to avoid sugar when possible and processed food. My portions are small. I have 2 meals every day, breakfast and lunch. this is enough for me. I love to eat.
I'm on my way to become a chef.


On my yoga practice:
The last few days I woke up with back pain. I was not motivated to do anything, but walking around.

Today a new Ashtanga week has started, and I practiced. Oh my it was painful. Several times I did fascia massages. NOW I feel good. To practice these days requires a lot of motivation. I have a focus and a plan. During the next week kapotasana will be my focus. I'll dedicate 20 min to that pose when I do second series. My timer supports me. I started today with the execution of this plan. I did different exercises. I also added passive stretching.
Pictures will follow.

Practice is over. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Picture: Myself 7 years ago on my former balcony.

Monday, April 17, 2017

One hour on the mat, despite Easter


One tiny wrong position, one wrong movement and this sacroiliac joint gets crazy and the muscle around it, too. Then I curse, not loud, but I curse. This tiny joint dominates my life. It causes pain again and again. I know what to do to calm it. I have to roll out the muscle with my fascia roll. I had forgotten it at home. Nevertheless, I also know asanas, especially the twists, that help to relax this huge muscle.

I think now strength training will stabilize my back. Let's see.

It was surely a mistake to practice only here and then. This is past, too. I'm on the right track again.

This journey is an adventure. Sometimes it's bumpy. I'm looking forward to my practice tomorrow morning.

This morning it snowed. It looked great. Some trees were green already and then the snowflakes sat on the green leaves to rest there for a while, for a moment.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday means second Ashtanga series


Wow, Yes, I did it. I did it with many variations, I practiced slowly and after the twists I started the closing sequence. As it was not possible to get from salamba sarvangasana (shoulder stand to halasana, I finished my practice with the last three sitting asanas. Great. It's so much harder to practice with pain. But I get to understand what's going on in my body. I'm learning to take care of my body during the practice. I force nothing. But I also keep practicing.

One hour was enough.

Tomorrow I'll start with strength training again before my practice. To document the progress I ordered a journal. Everything is available these days to make it easier to practice. One only has to do it.

My new rules, if an asana is not possible and not painful:
1. I prepare this pose with an additional exercise. I.e. it's very helpful to do a split pose before the back bending asanas. If done correctly it stretches the front of the hip flexor.
2. I repeat this difficult asana up to three times.
3. I try to hold it longer, at least for 8 to 10 breath.
4. Another motivation could be to take pictures of the pose. Every month I could compare what happened within  this month.

This sounds like a good plan. Every finished practice makes incredible optimistic.

The picture is taken in 2010 in Barcelona. Today I found a title for it: Being blond is a life style.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Primary


I practiced primary today. I don't want to lose the asanas of primary. The picture is a few years old already. This pose is no more possible. I must still learn again to lift up the feet. But these days I know how to do it. It's about stretching the legs and not trying to lift them up. This is a tiny, but important difference.

It was a painful practice. Three times I used my fascia roll to relax my muscles. It's not permanent pain. I can more and more locate the pain. I also found out in which position it can be felt. I don't want to focus on it too much.

Not all vinyassas were possible. I was astonished that it was possible to jump forward and it felt good.

My focus these days is discipline. I want to have a daily yoga practice again, no matter what happens. I get up at 6 am. To make it easy I go to bed at 9:30 am. Sounds easy, but you know there are so many distractions these days. I set priorities. It's my yoga practice. No discussion.

One must really believe in oneself if one falls back that much.

It's still before breakfast. I'm looking forward to it.