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.