I made a video of part of it. My camera only shoots 15 minutes, so I made three and stitched them together. I changed my headband after 20 because I was dripping sweat ( I weighed myself before and I was 78.4, I weighed myself again afterwards and I was 77.6, I sweated almost 2 kilos, as you can see from my mat). When I pressed Record for the last part I must have pressed too hard because I moved the camera and lost the clock. This is going to be a very very boring video but maybe it's Ok if you fast forward a couple of times.
- Yama and Niyama: Krishnamacharya, Jois, Ramaswami
- How to meditate
- Chanting Yoga Sutras
- Sri K. Pattabhi Jois - Resources
- Manju Pattabhi Jois Resource
- R. Saraswathi Jois Resource
- Sharath R. Jois Resource
- Srivatsa Ramaswami Vinyasa Krama Resource page
- Old Ashtanga Videos : A selection of old Pattabhi Jois Led Ashtanga videos (also interviews etc.).
- Asana Lists Inc. Original 1974 Ashtanga Syllabus
- Ashtanga Rishi Series
- Slow Ashtanga PLUS Yoga Makaranda Part I and II
- Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu (1941) (translation project)
- VINYASA KRAMA sequences/subroutines
- Ashtanga Workshops Reviews
- On Ashtanga Practice
- The Ashtanga Key - Surya Namaskara
- Developing a home practice
- YOGA GLOSSARY
- How to practice Krishnamacharya's Early Ashtanga Yoga
- How to practice Vinyasa Krama
- Yoga Reading List
- Ashtanga History
- Beginning Yoga / Ashtanga / Vinyasa
- Derek Ireland, the teacher's teacher.
- Ashtanga History: Authorisation 1980 - Present.
- Proficient Primary.
- Some suggested posts 2008-Present
- Free Downloads (Updated with more links)
- Ashtanga/Yoga and Ageing
- Workshop photos and my Books on Krishnamacharya's Original Ashtanga Practice and Vinyasa Krama yoga
- Krishnamacharya resource page
Sunday, 31 May 2009
I made a video of part of it. My camera only shoots 15 minutes, so I made three and stitched them together. I changed my headband after 20 because I was dripping sweat ( I weighed myself before and I was 78.4, I weighed myself again afterwards and I was 77.6, I sweated almost 2 kilos, as you can see from my mat). When I pressed Record for the last part I must have pressed too hard because I moved the camera and lost the clock. This is going to be a very very boring video but maybe it's Ok if you fast forward a couple of times.
Saturday, 30 May 2009
I started to move on to Intermediate series December 08, and blogged about it in the post reprinted in full below. There was quite a heated response 25 comments or so that you can read here http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/12/when-to-start-intermediate-if-your-home.html
This week I finally made the split to 2nd series, making it my main practice. That makes it took about six months of working Intermediate into my practice. Sometimes this meant Primary in the morning and Intermediate in the evening and sometimes half a week of one, the rest of the week the other. Sometimes I would practice Primary plus 2nd up to Kapo and other times primary plus the second half of intermediate.
What I want to do now, in the next couple of posts, is reassess that decision to begin it when I did and look at how I personally found the change.
There's also clearly a lot of tension around the issue of new poses and moving on to the next series. In the Shala the decision is made by the teacher, but for us who practice alone, at home, the decision is ours. There are of course guidelines which some may consider to be hard and fast rules. It all becomes even more confusing and murky when we consider Ashtanga historically and contrast how the practice is taught in Mysore currently as opposed to back in the 70's when you might learn the first two series and part of the third in three to four months.
My own views have probably changed a bit since the December 08 post too. Anyway below is the original post and here's the link again to it's comments http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/12/when-to-start-intermediate-if-your-home.html
When to start Intermediate if your home practice Monday, 8 December 2008
I'm Sure everyone has different views on this, Swenson's has this to say.
" The general criterion I offer for entering Intermediate series is that one should have sufficient knowledge of the flow of the Primary series so that it is not necessary to refer to any external source, such as a video, book, tape or diagram, to prompt the mind as to which asana is next in the sequence. It is also logical that one should be able to continue through the entire Primary sequence from beginning to end, without stopping.'
Ashtanga yoga: The practice manual p129
I flirted with Intermediate a couple of months ago but decided to stick with Primary a little longer. I wanted to nail my Jump Back as there are less standard Jump Backs in Intermediate and I figured, if I didn't get the kind of jump back I wanted before I started I might never get it.
I also wanted to be able to do Pachimottasana's better. My forward bend had improved but I'd never been able to get my calves to stay on the mat until recently. The improvement in my Supta Kurmasana was the deciding factor. I could now get my leg to stay behind my head and wanted to develop that in all the pada sirasanas. Back Bending was improving and EVERYONE goes on and on about Kapotasana, wanted to get in on that. and thought it would help me with dropping back.
Basically it just seemed right. It certainly wasn't out of boredom, I LOVE Primary series, and of course it still needs work but then wont it always and besides it's not like you stop doing Primary altogether. The plan is to do intermediate five days a week and Primary once a week.
The other factor was time. Moving my practice to after work meant I had more time. A new series takes a lot of working out before you get that flow going and can bring the time down. It's taking me a little over two hours at the moment.
First impressions? I have to say it's exhausting. This surprised me as a couple of times I'd done all Primary and then all of Intermediate as well and was knackered but still walking. Maybe taking it more seriously and trying to do it properly is making the difference. I mean I'm into handstand as you know, and yet the forearm stands are killing me, and how come the Shalabasanas and Dhanurasanas are so dammed hard, my thighs ache to ........ well to wherever aching things ache a lot to when they want to make a big deal out of it aching. Kapotasana.....forgetaba ,and what the hell is Vatayanasana all about?
And the Intermediate Jump Backs / Jump Through? What a mess, one that should keep me and this blog busy for a couple of years. If I spent the last six months working on one style of JB where to begin on the eight or so weird transitions in Intermediate. I mean jumping back from lotus, come on already!
Interesting thing though, Intermediate seems to be more about Jumping Through than Jumping Back. There's the whole jumping into asana which I haven't really touched on yet. If your NOT moving into Intermediate and are afraid this blog will no longer be for you, then I think The whole jumping in and out of asana will be as much for Primary as for Intermediate. Watch John Scott's jumps into asanas in his Primary video or David, Lino or Kino. It improves the flow more makes the practice seamless still. My Intermediate transitions so far this week? Laughable really giggle-able. Thank god I practice at home, how does anyone have the nerve to begin this in a public Shala?
Next : 21b Approaching Intermediate
Friday, 29 May 2009
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Monty Python's The Life of Brian
Watching the above video I can't help hearing them talking about the different versions of Ashtanga, Vinyasa flow, Power yoga core plus max Zero flow, etc. rather than the PFJ
Now I'd always thought that splitting the practice referred to doing one series plus part of the next, so all of Primary say, plus 2nd up to Kapotasana (thus splitting the 2nd series). But NO, according to Mr Sweeney it means splitting your practice by practicing Intermediate series Sunday to Thursday, then Primary on Friday, Saturday being your rest day, thus 'splitting' your practice over the week between two or more series.
Supposedly each series is associated with particular day,
Friday= Primary series
Saturday= Rest day
Sunday= Intermediate / 2nd Series
Monday=Advanced A / 3rd Series
Tuesday= Advanced B / 4th Series
Wednesday= Advanced C / 5th series
Thursday=Advanced D / 6th Series
This just means that when you progress to the next series the previous series gets practiced once a week on it's associated day
If you move on to 3rd series/ Advanced A, then, you would supposedly practice 3rd (your new series) Mon-Thurs, Primary would be practiced on Friday only , rest on Saturday, Intermediate practiced on it's associated day Sunday, then it's back to 3rd again on Monday.
Source: Ashtanga Yoga As it is. Matthew Sweeney
As I think I mentioned yesterday, although I've been practicing Intermediate since the beginning of the year, I've tended to practice it about three days a week. This would be on my day off, Sunday and one evening. This was partly due to having the room temperature too high and being in no fit state to go to work afterwards and also because I tended to spend too long on some of the intermediate asana, extra attempts, working them out etc.
Last month I took a break from Intermediate altogether due to a minor twinge in my back but started back up with it on Sunday. I sorted out the whole temperature issue and am now practising at a more comfortable 26C and going straight through the practice, staying pretty much on the breath and enabling me to complete 2nd in about the same time as my Primary. Which means I can practice Intermediate before work.
So I'd practiced Intermediate, Sunday to Wednesday and had planned on doing Primary this morning, until I came across the above info from Sweeney. Seeing as I'd been doing 2nd all week anyway, I thought I might as well embrace the split and do Intermediate today as well and then do Primary tomorrow.
So that's it, I'm a SPLITTER" and have, officially, moved over to Intermediate. No big drama about it, or angst about how much I'm going to miss Primary (trying not to think about it actually, I LOVE primary, especially now), it's just kind of happened.
Matthew Sweeney is hosting a weekend workshop at Yoga Place on: Friday 29th, Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st May 2009.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
6.00 Wake up without alarm.
6.15 Check email, small glass of OJ
6.30 Make M's lunch
6.45 On the mat. Sury's
7.00 Standing Sequence
7.15 Primary or Intermediate
8.00 Prepare 1/2 grapefruit (Waitrose Pinks)
8.10 Make large cappuccino and Slice of toast (polish bread) or bowl of Harvest crunch
8.15 Eat breakfast while catching up on the news, other blogs or posting to my own ,
8.45 Shower etc
9.10 Leave for work (15 minutes by bike)
If I get up any later M's sandwich has a little less love in it and I'll tend to fly through the Sury's and Standing until I catch up. Obviously I can take a little longer with my practice especially if I'm working on something particular but for some reason if I don't get on the mat by 7am at the latest I feel fidgety and find it really hard to get into my practice and enjoy it.
This morning was the first morning that I managed to fit Intermediate into my usual Work day schedule. Until today I'd practiced Intermediate on my day off, Sunday and one evening a week. I was taking too long between asanas, extra attempts at Kapo and Karandavasana etc. Plus I was so exhausted from the heat I was in no fit to head straight off to work. Now with the heat turned down to around 77F, I'm better able to flow through the practice and feel pretty much the same as after my primary.
I know, I know, only a minute. Could say I was kidding about the one minute Savasana but to be honest I'd rather sit in Padamasana for five to ten minutes than lay back in my sweat for an extended Savasana. One minute is the lower end though, I tend to stay in Savasana long enough for my breathing to become regular again, usually two or three minutes but it can be only one.Did I hear correctly that Sharath sends you off home with only a minute or two Savasana in a led class? "Go home, take rest" But then, like me, he sees the whole practice as a meditation rather than a preperation for Savasana.
and there's this from the great man himself
'Finally, jump through the arms, lie down and rest for five minutes. This concludes the practice.'
SKPJ Yoga Mala section 42. Uth Pluthi
Although in the comments to this post Tina says that Guruji recommended 30 minutes.
Publisher: New World Library (November 1, 2009)
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Ashtanga Yoga by Gregor Maehle p 21
Picture above is of my sweaty manduka eQua towel. Makes a good Rorschach inkblot test don't you think. I'm seeing 'The dark Knight'.
The first time I went to a Shala I was struck by the heat in the room. It was like walking into a wall of heat. I could hardly breathe and struggled with keeping my ujaii breath regular. I was sweating buckets throughout the practice and to be honest it was an unpleasant experience. There were other things about visiting the Shala that made up for it but the heat I dreaded and it's probably one of the reasons I only went back once.
Back home I thought I needed to acclimatise myself to the heat and ended up dividing a room off so I could trap some heat. In the morning I turn the thermostat all the way up and turn on an electric heater as well. It's hot but feels a lot like the Shala I visited and I'm kind of used to it.
Yesterday and today I practiced Intermediate and was all over the place. I was sweating a kilo and a half, breathing badly and feeling completely wasted by the end of practice. At first I put it down to coming back to Intermediate after a month lay off but I took a thermometer in with me this morning and it was about 33C/91F. I mentioned it in a comment here http://donutszenmom.com/2009/05/23/2183/
'I'd die' said Liz, in response to my comment, which got me thinking and Googling resulting in the above quote from Maehle. 68F give or take 15 degrees, that's 83F max and Maehle makes a point of discouraging anything above 77F , and there's me practicing in 91F and wondering why I'm sweating rather a lot and feeling a little weak at the end of my practice. Tomorrow I'll bring the heat down again and let you know how it goes.
I'd be interested to hear what kind of temperature you all tend to practice in or what you may have heard or been told is supposed to be the ideal.
Practice today was Intermediate again and I cranked the temperature back to a more comfortable 26C, 78.8F. Much much better. Still warm though and by the end of the Sury's I was sweating as much as usual. Difference was I could breathe. Managed to keep my ujaii breath nice and focused throughout the practice which felt altogether more controlled. Felt stronger throughout too and while I can feel that I've had a good intense practice I still feel alert and up for going into work.
I think I've been lucky and managed to avoid injury until now. Of course there where the odd slightly pulled muscles here and there which were irritating. One in my hamstring that seemed to take forever to go away. It's annoying having one eye on how your hamstring is feeling throughout a practice, trying not to go into poses too deeply on one side. Funny enough I seemed to manage to walk it off in Paris. I would walk miles all over the city listening to Podcasts and it started to feel better rather than worse.
Hate reading about injuries in other blogs, so afraid of damaging my wrist or knee. It was a knee injury back in the 80's that forced me to give up Aikido. The thought of damaging my wrist and having to cut out jump backs and handstands altogether scares the hell out of me and makes me wonder if my practice could survive it.
But it did survive a 'Time Out' on back bends. Luckily I'd watched Sharath's Primary DVD again and wanted to tidy up my primary anyway. I completely fell in love with the series all over again, cutting out all my fidgeting and shifting about. Learnt to jump back from half and full lotus too and would jump back and through with alternating legs and even straight into some asanas. Nice, really nice.
As an extra I worked on coming up from Karandavasana with some, if not complete, success. And when I landed on my knees in Lotus last week I just dipped into 3rd series and played around with all the arm balances to make up for no Back bends or Duck. Really looking forward to third, I'm thinking 2ND for the next six months and then move on to it in January.
Last Tuesday on my day off, and to cheer myself up, I worked through 3rd up to Viranchyasana. Kind of playing at each pose really, just to see what I would be up against and what I most need to work on developing in preparation for it. Of course I have a long way to go with the LBH asana but it's coming and should be good enough by the new year. The arm balances were fine, but then I expected that to be my strongest area, plus I'd done some of the poses in The Rocket. Hanumanasana is the only asana that I think 'No way'. But then how many asana have I thought that about. I think 3rd will become my favourite series. I like the idea of doing two of each series a week one day, I've no interest in going beyond that, don't see the point of fourth, too.... pretzely, though I quite fancy Sayanasana and Punga Kukkutasana.
So basically I've been distracting myself from the niggling injuries and have managed not to get too down about it. Yesterday I started 2nd again, approaching it in a much more relaxed way. Where before I would end up doing three or four Kapo's and four or five Duck attempts, Yesterday I just went through the series and if I got the pose first time fine, if not, well then there's always tomorrow.
Nice practice. But exhausting! I ended up sweating a kilo and a half, why is that????? Surely Primary is more demanding, with a jump back every couple of minutes. because I didn't push it my back felt fine. Kapo I was back to just touching my toes, and I couldn't bind left leg first in Dwi pada, Oh and couldn't come up in the Duck, but otherwise it was a nice practice. I managed to gotthrough it in an hour, so no problem practicing before work. I can even throw in three or four drop backs though I seem to have lost coming up but it'll come back. Once you know you CAN do something it's much less frustrating. The plan is to practice 2ND four days a week and Primary twice for the rest of the year. Wish Sharath would bring out an Intermediate minimalist DVD so I can work on tidying it up but then there's Kino's to look forward to at the end of the Summer.
Monday, 25 May 2009
Friday, 22 May 2009
I didn't manage to come up in Karandavasana yesterday but came up with another way of working towards it. Urdhva Kukkutasana A, nicked from 3rd SHhhhhhh. The idea is, you have to make sure you come down a lot more slowly in Kukkutasana, you can't cheat and whiz down or you'll take your arms out. Also you have to stay engaged or you drop on your ..... lotus, and my backside is too bony to make a habit of that. (thank god for manduka!).
Now I haven't managed to hold it long enough to see if I can go back up again yet but I'm thinking I'm not going to be as locked up as I am in Karandavasana so I might be able to work on that lifting motion more freely and then transfer the whole process over to the Duck.Nice plan, best of all it's a fun asana to work on and you know I'm a sucker for handstands.
From this morning.
Managed to hold it but am collapsing my arms at the elbow, isn't this where I go wrong in Karandavasana too? Need to keep my arms unaffected as I bring myself back up in both asana. Must stop my chest from going forward too. It's not so much that I need to pivot at the shoulder but that as I bring my pelvis and back up the motion shouldn't go beyond my shoulders. More and more convinced that I can nail this in Kukkatasana and that it'll be transferable to Karandavasana, probably Press to handstand too.....in fact everything, Swine flu, you name it this is the cure for everything.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
I'm not really sure what the Cybershala is but I've heard it referred to more and more lately. It seems to be an online community not located at any one site or of a fixed membership. It seems to be made up of blogs, comment threads and forums, corners of facebook, YouTube, chatrooms, and skype connections. Anywhere where one's practice can be posted, discussed, commented on.
When I began this blog with the intention of exploring the Jump back I'd hoped it might be a two way street, that others might send some links to articles or forum threads. I'd hoped I might get the occasional comment on one of my videos, perhaps with a suggestion or two, but truth be told I didn't really expect that many people to come across this.
Looking at my blog counter today, I see that I've received over thirty thousand visitors and am averaging a hundred and fifty hits a day. From the feedjit application I see that visitors come here, stay a few minutes and then head off to one of the other blogs mentioned on my page, sometimes coming back a few minutes later before flitting off somewhere else. I have this image of bees buzzing from flower to flower. Twenty percent of visitors are new and arrive following a google search for something or other, which delights me when it's something I know I've posted on. My favourite is when someone arrives for the first time while googling 'Jump back' , I'm thinking, I've got fifty-eight posts on the ruddy Jump back, knock yourself out. I love it too when someone searches for me by name, 'grimmly jump back guy' being my favourite.
Visitors come from all over the world, I'm looking at feedjit now and in the last three hours visitors have arrived from USA, Korea, UK, Australia, France, Switzerland, Japan, Austria, Turkey, Germany and Spain, Singapore (i was actually born in Singapore, hi). I like to look at feedjit at different times of the day and watch patterns of timezones emerge. And this is just a small Ashtanga video blog that's only been around for a year I've seen blogs with feedjit maps blanketed with red visitor dots from all over the globe and comment threads of fifty or so.
It's always nice to receive a comment on a post. Comments range from words of encouragement, suggestions for improvement, constructive criticisms to warnings of impending injury. All are welcomed. I couldn't have progressed as I have without the feedback and encouragement I've received. My favourite comments though, are those that come out of the blue, from someone who's never commented before, but wanted to say that they've found something that's motivated and inspired them in their practice. Hearing this is inspiring and motivating in return.
And friendships are formed. From visiting one another's blogs regularly and becoming familiar with each others practice, to comments shared along with in jokes and references that may connect through three four or more blogs and are more like shared conversations.
A home practice doesn't have to be a completely solitary affair. The community I've woken up to, fond myself a part of has had a tremendous impact on my practice, inspiring, motivating, encouraging and generous. Thank you.
I'm sure we're all thinking, off and on today, about Guruji's passing, our sympathies being with the family in their loss but also with all who have felt touched by the man whether directly or indirectly. I wasn't going to write anything myself. However writing this post has made me think not just about the gift of the practice itself or how it may have changed us for the better (am sure it saved me from a heart attack at fifty), but how this practice connects us.
PS. I just went to close down feedjit and found somebody had just arrived from Utah, googling 'youtube ducks jumping catching' .
Monday, 18 May 2009
My left knee is still a little tender so only gave it two goes today, plus I'm a little cautious about tucking my lotus in too tight As the knee loosens up I should be able to come down more slowly again as well as a little tighter.
This screenshot pretty much shows where I'm going wrong. While I'm managing to come up, and don't get me wrong I'm excited about that, it's probably the major psychological hurdle to overcome, but the posture is awful........ Actually I've just done a Karandavasana search on YouTube and my posture isn't as bad as I thought. Everyone seems to have the same arch of the back, the only difference being is that most of the videos on YouTube show the shoulders further away from the hands. mine has tended to pretty much collapse.
Here's the video, I've added a slow motion replay at the end. Day off tomorrow so perhaps one more duck post where i can try and work out exactly what it is that's making the difference between coming up and my crash and burn on day 5.
The important thing is that I'm up, the rest I can work on developing as I go.
Things to work on:
Coming down more slowly
Not collapsing the arms
Weaning myself off the chin brace
Hmmmm pretty much everything really.
Sunday, 17 May 2009
So Day 6 of my Karandavasana week was postponed last week, due to injury on day 5. I had planned on starting it again tomorrow which would have been a full week in between, but my knee felt good during practice this morning so I just went for it.
Perhaps it was having a few days off or the little exercises I came up with the other day http://tinyurl.com/pwryor but I managed to come back up again first time and during Intermediate. OK there's the chin cheat going on (putting the chin on the mat to give some support) and I don't manage to get my arms up, oh and the 'dismount' is pretty lame but it still counts no? Just about? Sort of?
As I said this was during my normal practice thus the lack of clothes and lousy camera angle, I put it in black and white to soften it a little.
My knees felt fine afterwards but don't want to push it so wont do any more until tomorrow when I'll take the video from the side so I can see what's really going on.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
I used the Yogitoes solidly for a couple weeks after It arrived and was very excited about it, but I've found that in the last week or so I've been going back to the eQua.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Just can't leave this alone.
Ok so I can't get into lotus at the moment, or at least it's ill advised and even if I can, I can't bring it down. But this may be the best thing that could have happened.
I started to think how I could practice Karandavasana without the lotus. Well, I can practice Pincha Mayurasana of course., and perhaps, I thought, I could practice coming down with just my legs crossed rather than in lotus. But then I realised, I could practice going up without being in full lotus too.
Check out the video I think I may be onto something. I was getting locked up when I tried to lift/uncurl myself back up, you can see this in the first attempt on the video. But now look at all the exercises after that. It's our old favourite 'pelvis in space'. In each exercise I try to bring myself in tighter to my arms. Something seems to be happening, I'm going up. Question is, will this work when in Lotus, or can I adapt it to work in lotus. I'm not going to be able to find out for about a week.
This practice is about..... when you say this practice, are you referring to ...
2 Ashtanga Yoga (the whole eight limbs deal, or
3. the practice of Asana as sequenced into primary, intermediate, Advanced, including of course, drishti, bandha, breath and vinyasa.
According to Yoga Mala...
1. 'Yoga signifies the means to the realization of one's true nature'
2. Ashtanga as eight limbs, to make the mind 'one pointed so that we can see the universal self'
3. Asana, 'the preceding step', before all else 'The method for purifying and strengthening the body is called asana'.
As long as your purifying and strengthening you can think about anything you please no?
Now I personally, happen to use my time on the mat for a kind of moving Vipassana meditation. I let my mind do what it wants through standing with just some noting on my part. By the series proper it's settled and I'll observe where it settles, an emotion perhaps, some sensation or maybe it just settles on the breath in a kind of Zenish no mind type way. This works for me.
I'm not so concerned with 1 and 2 above. I'm quite happy with employing the Western Philosophical tradition for 1. It's organically a part of me and makes more sense to me to stick with the devil I know, rather than take on another. Likewise for 2. I'm brought up in a Christian (though I'm not practicing or a 'believer') and Western philosophical tradition that deals well enough with most of the other eight limbs. Where It's lacking I've always had some Western Buddhist leanings.
So, No, for me the practice isn't necessarily about focusing the mind or reigning in thoughts though I might choose to employ the practice that way.
But you know what, this practice, it's about pretty much whatever I want it to be about. Ashtanga, it's out there, authorial authority died a death a long time ago.
Who knows what the Korunta was about before it was taught to Krishnamacharya (assuming it was) or what it became about when he taught it to Jois. Surely it became about something else when he turned it into what we find in Yoga Mala. And is that what the practice is about to Sharath or is it different in his mind, we shall see in time. It certainly became about something else to the Western students who brought it back with them from Mysore with their Western paradigms and preconceptions. Notice the focus on anatomy, or the post Freudian/Jungian/Kleinian/Lacanian discourse that gets woven into talk about the practice. The influence of New Age philosophies, NLP, cognitive theory .........
In the end a practice is practiced. It's practiced by somebody and this is a hard, intense, demanding practice. Anyone who practices it six days a week, year in year out, earns the right to determine for themselves what the hell this practice is about. And you just know that what it's about to you, is going to change over time. Hey, you might even go through a phase where it isn't necessarily about anything, but you love and enjoy it just the same.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Just a bruised knee from the landing on day 5. I did Primary today to see how it coped with half lotus. It was OK, definitely felt more like a bruise than anything else. I could feel it more as I bent forward in half lotus and it coped well with those jump backs, oh and by the way, have you thought what a great exercise the full lotus jump back is in preparing for coming up in Karnadavasana, knew it would be useful.
Anyway gave Karandavasana a try. Bit awkward getting into Lotus, but it was as I started coming down that it began to hurt. I landed it but the left knee was quite low on my arm. Decided to give up and rest it for a couple of days. Maybe I'll take Days 6 and 7 next Monday and Tuesday.
Bit annoyed with myself, such a stupid injury. I should have considered the landing aspect when I threw myself up up like that, of course I was going to come crashing down on my knees.
However on a more positive note, I think I've said before that when you focus on something in this way, whether it's the Jump back, Kapo or in this case Karandavasana, then the other asana seem to take care of themselves. Recently I seemed to have lost my Jump through, for the last two or three weeks I haven't really been coming through but just landing on my backside. Well today it came back. I seem to bring my head and chest up as I begin to come down and through and that must be making all the difference.
Did a nice handstand down and through to Navasana too today, though not on camera.
Perhaps I'll focus on handstands and arm balances for a couple of weeks instead.
What do you guys call it a Crim week?
First Visit Sunday, 21 September 2008
'This morning I went to my first Mysore class. Now I've been practicing Ashtanga from books dvd's etc, 6 days a week, for a year and a half but never had a lesson class or workshop. Often thought about it but the longer I didn't go the more apprehensive/uncomfortable I was about going. Settled for the excuse that there wasn't anywhere nearby. I figure I'm not alone in this so for anyone else shala shy here's how it went.
Took the train into London and went to Ashtangayogalondon for Sunday Mysore. Make sure you write down the door number if you go as it's very inconspicuous. Eventually found it after walking up and down Drumond street a couple of times. Buzzed in, met at the door, L, friendly, asked if I knew the series and if I had any injuries and told me to be sure to say if I found an adjustment too much. I guess it's a small Shala, maybe room for 15 to 20 mats. Not much room to change but I'd come with my yoga shorts under my trousers so no problem. I had been concerned about the etiquette for placing my mat but they very cleverly have these little logos all over the floor that you center your mat on. And there was a wall! Each mat is next to a wall, something I'm used to having at home so that made me more comfortable though I didn't need it.
Felt so strange striped down to my shorts walking through the room to put down my mat, but then you start on the oh so familiar Surys and your just in your own world again. Occasionally I would notice that someone would quietly chant before they started their practice. Liked that, nice way to get yourself in the right frame of mind, might learn it this week. I'd thought I would get to see a bit of other peoples practice but I was facing the wall and it didn't feel appropriate to be looking around. Felt like such a lack of pretension, everyone just getting on with their practice. Loved the sound of the breath in the room but it was so hot I found it hard to breathe and my breath was all over the place for most of the session. Had expected it to be hot but not this hot, I've never sweated so much in my life. There were pools of sweat on my mat, half way through I would move back up into downward dog and a stream of sweat would start coming out of my Nike's. I weighed myself later and worked out I'd sweat 3-4 kilo's. Foolishly I'd just taken my sticky mat, next week I'll take the rug or maybe buy a Yoga towel (any advice?).
Adjustments were excellent and if you've only ever practiced at home then this is really why you should go to a Shala. L and R would come around the room and give me a little bit more of a twist here a press on the small of my back there and it made such a difference. The occasional lift and support giving focus and finally a lift in my backbend that was just fantastic. All done calmly, professionally and effectively. Did wonder about the etiquette though. Wanted to say thank you as they adjusted me but felt I should be focusing on my breath and then they had moved on before I could say anything though I managed to thank them before I left.
Got through my practice, Jump backs and Through went well on the whole but then my mat was so sweaty I was just sailing though....no literally sailing "life on the ocean ways" through. After backbends you go into the other room which is cooler and such a relief, Savasana was glorious. And that was that, changed quickly and rushed out into the fresh air thinking about how good a bottle of cold water was going to taste.'
Second Visit Monday, 29 September 2008
'Had my second Mysore class Sunday.This is by way of an update to this post http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/09/thinking-about-going-to-your-first.htmlWas still really hot and I was sweating like crazy again, but better prepared so less embarrassed about it. The microfiber towel worked pretty well. Though if I hadn't ordered a Yogitoes I would have bought another one for finishing. Took along a nice clean fluffy towel for adjustments too which again made me feel a lot better. Could jump back on the Microfiber but gave up on jumping though cleanly and just settled for jumping to sit. Have you noticed on my video's how it takes me a while to get myself set to lift off? That's Ok at home but dont feel comfortable doing that in the Shala so just went straight into it. Probably a good habit to get into.
Made a bit of a hash of my practice, was much more focused last week. All my bad habits came out, forgetting which leg I had started with or starting with the wrong leg, creative breathing, missing out a vinyassa or two. Upavishta konasana to Setu bandhasana was a mess. I think in my home practice I tend to rush through that section, especially on a work day. But it's kind of like fast forwarding through a movie. You get to the next good bit (backbends) but lose the whole pace of the movie. And while that section might not seem as challenging as the Mari's or as dramatic as the Kurma's there's a lot of hip opening and prep necessary for 2nd.Followed Sharath's DVD this morning and going to do that all week to add a little discipline.Amazing adjustments again, Mari D in particular was an eye opener. Been able to just manage it for little while now but Sunday L. just kept turning me further and further into it until I could grasp my wrist rather than just my fingertips. Felt like if she let go my legs would go spinning round and round in cartoon fashion.
Kind of blown away by the whole adjustment thing. Seems so generous. It's one thing to stand at the frount of a room and say do this, do that but to get down on a sweaty mat and help our sweaty bodies into these asanas just seems such a generous selfless act. A big THANK-YOU to all the ashtanga teachers and assistants who do that every morning, your wonderful. '
Owning my practice Tuesday, 7 October 2008
'I went to a Shala for the first time three weeks ago after a year and a half of self-practice (see posts below) and it was great, very beneficial and no doubt just what I needed. I was made aware of some of the physical possibilities of my body through adjustments. Pulled up gently on a couple of asanas I'd missed out and came away with a mental list of things to work on; getting the sequence of the last third of primary right, focusing on the correct sequence of breath, chakrosana etc.
I've been working on all these elements for the last couple of weeks.........thing is, my practice doesn't feel mine anymore. Or less mine.I started practicing Ashtanga alone at home with a book from the library, and then a DVD, more books more DVDs, youtube and the Internet. Asana I thought were impossible for me, for my body have become possible. All the time it's just been me on my mat, alone in a room early each morning, my practice. It's followed my mood and inclination, will, desire, frustration, stubborn determination, whatever.Somehow now, after visiting the Shala, it feels a little like I'm practicing for someone else, my teacher? I need to work on this or that, improve this or that. Those elements to work on didn't come from me, didn't arise in me. Perhaps they should have done and done so a long time ago perhaps some things I might never have noticed on my own. Don't get me wrong I'm so very grateful for the attention, the adjustments, advice, suggestions it's just that each morning this last week it's felt a bit of a chore, my hearts not been in it. I feel more distant from my practice, less involved.
No doubt it will pass and it's just an adjustment but it's strange no? Wondered if anyone else had felt the same. And then I began to wonder if there's something similar when someone changes teachers and if so what that says about the teacher / student relationship ( I used to be a teacher ). And when you go to India, to Mysore does it feel more or less your practice, more Guruji's perhaps, more the traditions practice. Or does it always feel your practice.
Perhaps if you began learning Ashtanga in a Shala it's different. If you give yourself over to a teacher to the tradition it's still your practice but in a different context. For me there was just this style of yoga that appealed to me, that appeared graceful and yet powerful, beautiful, perfect. I looked at it as practiced by John Scott, Doug Swenson, Richard Freeman, Sharath, Lino, Kino. And it's the same practice but each time subtly different and sometimes not so subtle. A personal expression...... there you go, a personal practice. As far as I know they all learnt from teachers and studied in Mysore and yet all have their OWN practice. So perhaps I'm just over reacting and it will pass, I hope so because I know I can gain so much from visiting the Shala and perhaps one day, a trip to mysore. And yet...........?'
That was six months ago and it's only recently that I've begun to think about visiting a Shala again. I think it was about a month ago that I began to consider it, I'd been hearing a lot of good things about Yoga Place in London from other bloggers. I'd also started to consider again the possibility of going to Mysore, plus, while I'd now begun to practice Intermediate, I still wanted to tidy up my Primary. I made a plan to go to a shala in two weeks, in the mean time I would practice along with Sharath's DVD everyday, so as to make sure I wasn't missing anything out this time and just generally iron out some of the kinks.
If you don't have Sharath's DVD I highly recommend it. He has such an economical practice. Nothing fancy, no flourishes, handstands, it's a practice stripped down to the bare bones. I loved it. I've always had busy jump backs, arranging myself just right, preparing to lift up or jump forward etc. Sharath just comes out of a pose folds his legs and jumps back. If it's an asana with a half lotus he just jumps back from half lotus, this was great. I forced myself to follow his count and breath and eliminate all the busyness. I even learnt to Jump back in half lotus and to jump through into some of the asana. My practice felt completely different, tight and flowing. Thoughts of visiting a Shala were forgotten, I was learning new things here at home, my practice was progressing and blossoming, I didn't want to interrupt or redirect the focus of my practice, not for now at least.
So for now I'm happy with my my practice and not in any rush to visit a Shala. I'd still like to go sometime but it's a bit difficult. I can only make it on a Sunday and that's the only day I get to spend with my partner. Perhaps I could go every other Sunday, I know I'd gain such a lot from going, we'll have to see.
Next: Part 16, What's it all about http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2009/05/developing-home-practice-part-16.html
Monday, 11 May 2009
Tomorrow is my day off as well as Day 7 of this. I was hoping to end this week on a high, hopefully it'll be back to normal by then.
Nice to practice Primary with Karandavasana in mind and notice how all the poses can be seen as preparing you for it just as much as anything in Intermediate. I noticed this when I focused on Kapo too, and it's probably the same when you practice with any of the big asana's in mind. All the hip openers in Primary obviously prepare you for the lotus but all the forward bending too, preparing you for curling the lotus in good and tight. Pindasana comes to mind, as does moving from that into Matsyasana.
Karandavasana really is one a hell of an asana. I had another tilt at it this afternoon and managed to get my lotus pretty much uncurled, but now what! Still a way to go before I can unbind and balance back in Pincha or unbind to land on my feet. No way I'm able to bring it back under control to lower it softly. What else is there left but to come crashing down on to my knees
My warm up for Karandavasana this afternoon consisted of making the tea in Ardha baddha Padmottanasana.
I managed to bring my lotus down nicely a couple of times but still didn't feel I was landing it high enough up my arms or indeed keeping my arms up enough. Thought I'd miss out the Pincha M aspect and try hoisting my lotus onto my arms as high up as I could and try going up from there. Also I wanted to try and get some momentum going as I uncurled to see if that helps.
Well yes it does.... BUT.... I threw myself into unrolling my lotus, managed it, but realised too late that I was committed and was going to end up crashing down. Not sure what to do about this now other than go the whole hog, commit myself and try to undo my lotus in time so I can land on my feet.....bit scary. Perhaps the act of unbinding my lotus will have an effect and take me further up.
My starting position here feels about right but I still end up squished down. Need to find a way to keep this starting position as I throw it back up again. If I can do that then it should be almost there. As it is I'm pushing myself forwards and down to then push my lotus back up. Maybe if I think more of a rolling action, that might bring me down but under and help me to go back up straighter.
Day 5 only two more days to go. Probably best as I'm getting desperate with the duck photo's
Sunday, 10 May 2009
My reasons for not going would have changed over that period. In the beginning it wasn't something I even considered. I started Ashtanga with a book from the library. At first I was just doing a bit of yoga in my living room, guys out here don't tend to think about going to a yoga class, a gym perhaps or swimming but rarely a yoga or fitness class, just not something you consider. It also took a few months before I became serious about what I was doing.
But once I'd begun to feel committed to the practice and more aware of the Ashtanga tradition, why didn't I search out a Shala then? It crossed my mind of course, Googling Ashtanga I'd come across a couple of places in London that taught it. I live outside London but it would only take me an hour at most to get to a Shala on a Sunday.
I think I was probably a bit body conscious. I was in my 40's and more than a bit overweight. When I would practice, I would feel heavy and awkward, my breathing ragged, I would get very hot and very sweaty, not something I felt like sharing with a roomful of strangers.
Another reason was that I wasn't confident about what I was doing. It wasn't just that I was new to the practice but that I wasn't even sure I'd be able to DO the practice. I couldn't reach my ankles let alone my toes in Sury A, as I said, I felt awkward, clumsy too. I know, your Shouting out, 'But that's the point, that's why you go to class, to a teacher, everyone is the same, nobody expects you to be perfect in the beginning!' You know what it was, I didn't want to make a fool of myself.
Another reason is.....I don't like teachers. (I'm hearing Chris Rock in my head ' I said it , I went and said it'). It's not that I dislike teachers as people but rather I dislike teachers as teachers. Now I say that, having been a teacher myself. I've been a school teacher, I taught for a bit at a University, I've taught in language schools and I've even taught teachers to be teachers. Perhaps it's because of that, because I'm always observing how others go about teaching rather than what it is they're teaching. But I've always been the same, preferring to try to teach myself a language rather than go to a language class or how to play an instrument. Though I have studied martial arts and had no problem with going to a teacher there.
Most likely I'm just a bit of a control freak and don't like giving up that control to anyone else. I like to work at my own pace which is sometimes faster sometimes slower than a teacher might teach it. I like to jump about here and there as I see fit. Become obsessed with something for a while and then something else, work it out myself rather than have it explained, perhaps you've noticed.
If I'd gone to a Shala early on I probably would have been fine, same as if I was studying a martial art but having left it for so long the control freak aspect of my character had begun to take.......control.
What made me want to go when I finally did go?
I think eventually I began to feel much more comfortable in myself physically and confident in my practice. I'd lost quite a bit of weight and had started to do full primary. I was much more flexible, stronger and fitter, I knew I could do this. But I was also aware that there were a lot of holes in my practice that it was untidy in places. I could pretty much do all the asana but they needed a lot of improvement. I could catch my fingers in Marichyasana D but that was about it.
I'd become very serious about the practice and wanted to progress. I'd also begun to entertain thoughts of going to India, to Mysore. Surely if I wanted to go then I would need to have my practice tidied up. I'd also heard on the net a lot of good things about some of the teachers in London as well as appreciating what I'd learnt from Swenson, Scott and Sharath, on their DVDs.
Next: First visit to a Shala, What did I think of it? Why did I stop going after only two classes?
That's what Karandavasana felt like this morning. I wanted to work on coming up but had to go though the whole getting neatly up into Pincha and bringing my Lotus down slowly, landing it higher on my arms, before I could get to the point I wanted to work on. And as you make a mess of the first bits you end up getting more and more tired until like Lara croft you find yourself out of Ammo.
So like the duckling above a little downhearted this morning (The cartoon is on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3kI7FWU6s ). However looking at the picture on the left I'm starting to feel a little better about it. I've actually managed to lift my lotus quite high. If I can work out how to keep my shoulders further up and away from my hands that would push the whole thing more upright and lessen the pull of gravity......wouldn't it?
Plus I had a fall, quite a dramatic one but not painful. It's the second attempt on the video below.
Which raises some questions.
Why did it take a year and a half before I first went to a Shala?
What made me want to go when I finally did go?
What did I think of it?
Why did I stop going after only two classes?
Why haven't I been since?
What's making me think I want to go to a Shala now?
Been thinking about this all week but am still confused about it myself, which is why I haven't written on it yet. Perhaps if I break it up into the above questions I can approach it that way.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
And this haiku by Basho, one of my favourites.
Seas slowly darken
and the wild duck's plaintive cry
grows faintly white
Yesterday I said the focus for today was to bring my lotus down even more slowly and keep it engaged before trying to take it up again. Think I managed that so why am I feeling a bit less optimistic than yesterday? In the second attempt in the video I try the chin brace. Seems to help a little but don't think I want to get into that habit.
Need to think more about this unfolding. I can get it to a point but then everything seems to lock up. More thought needed.
No extra practice tonight, am off out to see Star Trek, quite excited about it. Any lessons for Karandavasana? Well there was the famous Krishnamacharya episode
Scotty : You canna' change the laws of physics!
Krishnamacharya: What comes down must go up.
Engineer Scott and Basho in the same post, nice.
How about this to get you in the mood for the movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCARADb9asE
And here's Spock singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC73PHdQX04
Was able to consolidate this mornings practice and am feeling much more comfortable. My body is straighter and I'm curling my lotus in keeping the weight straight down through my shoulders and elbows, so my arms aren't feeling as tired. All the way down I'm thinking about keeping it tight , tighter, tighter still. Came down very slowly in the first one on the video but made the mistake of resting once I'd landed. Should keep everything activated, supposedly, making it easier to go back up again.
I'm sure I'm on to something with the unfurling/unfolding/uncurling of the lotus rather than attempting to lift it back up. Think I was better at it on the second attempt on the video, though I came down more quickly. It still starts to go out, which is when I lose it. Need to keep it tighter.
Plan for tomorrow is to bring it down just as slowly and keep it activated for a breath or two and then try to unfold it thinking all the time about keeping it tight.
When I started this a couple of days ago I wasn't expecting so much, perhaps some more control and a slower descent. Am starting to believe I can do this now.
Friday, 8 May 2009
Inspired by Susan's Karandavasana success I practised Intermediate this morning as I couldn't wait for my evening extracurricular duck chase. This really is becoming feverish.
Glad I did. I wanted to focus on curling the lotus in and for some reason I didn't worry about where my weight distribution was going to be. Didn't even think about lowering so much as just curling and curling some more. You see, I think I've worked it out, it's not about lowering or raising the lotus but just curling it in and unfurling it back out again. As you curl it comes down automatically. That's why that statement I referred to yesterday makes sense. Karandavasana is a back bend, at least it is when you unfurl the lotus. In a dropback you don't lower your back you kind of curl back.
Anyway managed come down much more slowly, quite a soft landing and a somewhat improved unfurling. Noticed on the video that as I unfurl my knees start coming way out and that's what makes you lose the balance. Need to try to keep it tighter.
Can't wait to go again tonight. Oh and I have a wonderful Duck haiku from Basho saved up for tonights post.
Have decided that before I can think seriously about taking it back up again I'm going to have to control the descent. Once I can do that then I can start thinking about getting my head more under and uncurling the back. Think on my last dose of karanda fever I came across somebody saying that Karandavasana is a back bend.
On the video I've started out with some exercises I thought might help.
1. Sirasana. Slowly going up and down and to inverted Dandasana
2. Baddha hasta Sirasana C . Slowly going up and down and to inverted Dandasana
(Noticed here that if I had my head forward then I couldn't bring it down, but having it farther back seemed much easier which seems to confirm Susan's getting the head further under suggestion).
3. Mukta hasta sirasana. Getting into lotus and slowly bringing it up and down
4. Baddha hasta Sirasana C. Getting into lotus and slowly bringing it up and down
At the end of the video is the Karandavasana I'm going with tonight, felt a bit slower and a little more controlled than the others (yeah but you should have seen the others). Not much of a lift at the end but wasn't really focusing on that tonight.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Susan has some suggestions over at her place and I want to give them a try and see if I can't make some progress towards coming back up. It may be that the most I can manage for now is coming down more slowly and with more control, keeping my arms a little straighter but that would be a start. There's a Mysore video on YouTube http://tinyurl.com/c2sgw5 where everyone is lowering their faces, foreheads, chins, noses to the floor to brace before lifting up. I'd settle for that for awhile, though hopefully my forehead rather than my nose.
So a week of evening Karandavasana progress posts I'm afraid, though I'll try to mix them up with something else.
In the video below I'm trying to get into a tighter lotus and bring it down more slowly. I'm also trying the chin brace. Not getting as much lift as I'd managed a couple of months ago on my last Karanda intensive but I'll take this for the first night.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
This was a good time for my practice, I work 9:30-5:30 and am only fifteen minutes away by bike from my workshop. I'm able to get up and do a full Primary or Intermediate in the morning without rushing, and when I get home I can take an hour or so to work on some extras. Extras then, were mainly the Jump back and the Press to handstand (Still, STILL can't do that ). Now I might work on some Dropbacks, Karandavasana, That ruddy crocodile, Mayurasana. Asana's that don't need a lot of warm up. Strength based poses are especially good, Karandavasana in the middle of Intermediate is exhausting (see yesterday's post) and it's hard to focus on the technique but practice it on it's own when your feeling stronger and you can think more about what it is your doing.
Sometimes I feel almost guilty that I'm able to practice so freely. I know many have to try to fit their practice around family commitments, Jobs with long hours or long commutes. I'm lucky to be able to practice like this and the progress I've made is probably more a reflection of this than anything else. It's not just that I was able to devote myself to the practice, but also that I had the time to work on this Blog and use it to reflect on my practice. I was able to take Jump back clips from all my DVDs, break them down into screenshots and turn them into slideshows (half way down in the right hand column of this page). Such a great exercise and something I still do now, with Karandavasana for example. I'd break down my own Jump back as well as Kino's say, and run the two slide shows side by side and try to work out what she or Lino or Sharath where doing right that I wasn't.
Sharath's Jump back
Mine, Aug 08
But this all kind of begs the question. Why, if I had all this time and passion for the practice, didn't I go to a Shala with a teacher, rather than practicing alone at home. Well I did, I went twice the following month in September 08.
NEXT: First visit to a Shala
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