from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta

Monday, 29 September 2008

Second Mysore class

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.html

Was 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..talking of habits.

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.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Alternative to a Yogitoes Skidless yoga towel

If you've read the last couple of blogs you'll know I went to my first Shala for Mysore last week. Sweat buckets and have been thinking what to do about it. Wanted to take My rug this week but was worried about my Jump back and Jump through as my toe tends to brush the top of the mat still and gets rubbed raw on the rug. Wanted to get a Yogitoes Skidlees towel but hard to get in the UK and bloody expensive. However, pretty sure the skiddless is made from microfiber....basically a pretty coloured microfiber towel with sticky dots on. Picked up a cheap microfiber towel on eBay for about £5 and it works great. Sticks well to the rug or a mat, feet don't slip once it gets a little moist and best of all it's soft as a chinchillas underbelly. So if your feet still brush your mat it's not a problem. And of course microfiber towels are very light and absorb something like 7 times their own weight and drie 1/3 of the time of a normal towel...or so they say. Mine is by highlander and in a very tasteful olive green. And here's a video with said towel on my Manduka. Used the towel through my practice this morning, the occasional bunching up but not enough to become irritating.....Don't all rush to eBay at once.
videoPS. Think this is my best jump back yet, exploring something from Kino's DVD, post to come. http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/10/kino-macgregor-workshop-journey-jump.html

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Flicking through Lino Miele's Ashtanga Yoga book

videoLino Miele's book finally arrived from Yogamatters via Amazon, or is that the other way around. Turned out they didn't have any in stock and had to wait for the next delivery. Bit annoyed because they didn't bother to tell me what was going on. But....may Yogamatters be happy, may Yogamatters be safe etc....

Wasn't able to find any previews of the book, no sample pages on Amazon. And to be honest had I had a look inside it I probably wouldn't have bought it. iIwas expecting something along the lines of Swenson's book but from Lino's perspective on Ashtanga. That said, while I wouldn't have bought it myself I would have loved to have received it as a present. It's nicely bound and laid out and I have and will use it.

So what do you get. Well a nicely bound and produced hardback. It's pretty much just first and second series vinyasa. Each page has a picture of Sharath, not Lino, in an Asana. Beneath that the supposed benefits (never really convinced by all that). On the opposite page is the point of the book, the corresponding vinyasa count.

IN 1 EKAM Hands up

EX 2 DVE Uttanasana

and so on. At the end of the book there's a couple of pages on Pranyama and the Chakras. Oh and at the beginning of each sequence you have the whole sequence laid out in John Scott's cool line drawings.

I've found it useful a few times to double check the breathing sequence and it's lay out makes that quick and easy. If you don't have Lino's DVD I'd recommend spending your money on that instead. But if you have loved one who practices Ashtanga and they don't have it, well next birthday or Christmas .......

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Straight leg jump through, a cold and a Netti pot.

In bed with a cold right now trying to sweat the bugger out so I can go to the Shala on Sunday. No better way to sweat than Practice so turned the heating all the way up waited until it got good and warm and got going. Practice when your sick is quite something, kind of dreamy, floaty not all there spaced out kind of a practice. Hoping the cold sticks around for tomorrow morning then tails off.

Still trying to get used to using my rug. Jump backs are OK, pretty much clearing the mat by keeping my feet in really tight and leaning further over but Jump through! Rubbed my toe raw again and had to go back to a basic jump to sit. Have decided to nail the straight leg jump through. Tried the Swenson approach a few times http://www.ashtanganeworleans.com/Old%20Website/StudentSection/Jump-Through-DS.htm (hips high) but it's beyond me Think Tim Miller's style is do able though http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/765?print=1. Tried it a few times with blocks and Nike grips and it was fine. Tried it without, but no luck. suspect it's all about confidence, a Kierkegaardian leap of faith kind of a deal, and you don't get much more absurd than trying to jump through your arms in your pants.

As for the Netti pot, thought it might be good for a cold. Bought it a while ago, got the hang of it, surprisingly pleasant. Then woke up the following morning used the Netti pot before practice, nice clear sinuses, first downward dog all this water came flooding out of my nose all over my mat. So pretty much gave up on the Netti pot. Until today.......now here the faint of heart might want to turn away. So I'm over the sink watching clear water come out of my nose in the cabinet mirror and slimy slug trails of mucus start appearing and then big .........well you get the idea. point is nose feels good and clear afterwards for a while at least and got to be better than blowing your nose raw. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=CYoZcCfUyj8&NR=1

UPDATE
See label ' Straight leg jump through' and late Jun 09 posts

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Jumping back on a Mysore rug

I've been cheating, huh. Flying though on my Jump backs.....well actually sliding through my Jump back and especially my jump through. You too? Still there's been an improvement, up until a couple of months ago I couldn't jump through on a sticky mat with or without the coating of sweat. But my little toe still brushes along the surface of the mat and I've even resorted to a quick spray of water before the first couple of jumps when the mat is still dry. Even gone so far as to roll around the mat like my chinchilla trying to transfer the sweat from my body to the mat, The shame of it! But no more, no mas , time for a Regime change. This is due to my visit to the Shala for the first time Sunday, jumping through and landing on my sweat soaked mat sending a shower of my salty toxins to every corner of the shala. A rug is called for.
video

I bought a Mysore rug about a year back one of those black red and yellow Shiva trident rugs but never really used it, looks nice though. Trying to get the hang of it this morning. My regular jump back bunches up the mat and my jump through rubs the bottom joint of my little toe raw. Around the end of the practice I started to adjust it about right. My legs are pulled in tighter and the feet don't move forward as much as I start to lift off. I'm just about clearing the mat, enough not to bunch it up anyway. Think this will be a good thing, get out of my bad habits. The video is from just after this mornings practice.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Thinking about going to your first Mysore class? Ashtaga yoga London

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 sweat 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.

Link to follow up post http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/09/second-mysore-class.html

Friday, 19 September 2008

Matthew Sweeney's new book Vinyasa Krama



Matthew Sweeney's new book arrived from http://www.theyogashop.co.uk/ yesterday. Impressed with Yogashop, ordered the book Monday arrived Thursday with a thick piece of cardboard in the envelope to stop the book bending. First thing, the book is huge, A3 so almost twice the size of his other book (Will he be bringing out an A3 version of that I wonder). This too is ring bound and with the same format as his earlier book "Yoga as it is". I really like the first book, it's deceptive, more in it than you think. they both have two pages of text on each page so when you see the contents page you need to take that into account.







Another thing you need to take into account is that old chestnut " A picture says a thousand words" Mathew likes pictures! So when he's exploring (just changed explaining to exploring) something, like Jumping back crossed legged he'll have five sequences, each picture in the sequence labled with what's going on, and then he'll refer to each sequence in the text.








Jump back fans wont be disappointed as he has sequenced sections on Jumping back to surynamaskara, jumping forward to surynamaskara, stepping through and stepping back, jumping through crossed legged, jumping back crossed legged, jumping through straight legged, jumping back straight legged. Mathew clearly knows what we want (What some of us want, I was recently told off that it's about the asanas not the jump backs. Next I'll be told perhaps that breathing is about the inhale not the exhale.....hang on I like that. Ashtanga, is like breathing, the asana is the inhale the vinyasa the exhale, couldn't have one without the other...must write that down). Yes, he knows what we want, all the cool stuff is here the handstands, dropbacks, tic tacks etc. all the stuff that joyously links the asanas together.


And that for me is the point. The asana are linked and once you have a nice version of the jump back and jump through working, and some nice floaty handstands the asanas link together beautifully. You flow from one to the other and can really ride the breath and get into that wonderful meditative state. Isn't that what makes Ashtanga different from other forms of Yoga. And it's why I think the five new sequences that make up the second half of Mathew's book are Ashtanga. The sequence of poses are different but the principles are there. Can't really talk about the new sequences yet as I've only glanced at them but I know of another couple of bloggers that are exploring them and having a great time (links to come). http://theyogabum.blogspot.com/search?q=krama

Will add to this review as I get further into the book and feel free to ask if you have any questions about it's contents as it's not on Amazon so there's no decent preview of it anywhere and it's not cheap. (but worth the price alone though is the visual Asana library at the back 19 huge pages worth).

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Kino Mcgregor Jump Back

Just added Kino Mcgregor's Jump Back to the screenshot comparison on the left of my blog. This is from the youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2ridk2lflY Should point out that she's demonstrating the Jump back in one of her workshops here rather than it being taken from her primary series. It was the only example I could find in the public domain. I've just ordered her video from http://www.miamilifecenter.com/ $22.95 good price. Hnia on yoga.com forum recommended it to me thus " Hey, have you seen Kino's new DVD? She has a section called Strength which is all about jumping back.She says that you have to learn to fold the rib cage inward and she has several prep exercises for jumping back and through.. check it out..."
In the Youtube video she demo's jumping through from handstand which is impressive and seems to be focusing on pulling the ankles in tight in her jump back.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Moola bandha Jump back: good days, bad days

Wednesday was great, was doing some Moola bandha (MB) work in my jump backs. I'd read somewhere about focusing on MB while exhaling and feeling the bandha rise naturally (been trying to find where I read this), it's very subtle but you can feel something going on down there. So during practice at the end of my inhale I would tighten then relax my perineum to focus attention on MB then, as I exhaled, allow MB to rise but resisting any effort on my part. Then draw my abdomen in and up engaging uddiyana and holding. Lifting up with a strong inhale.
Wednesday it seemed to work really well I flew through primary and as it was my day off decided to go up to Kappotasana, felt so strong I ended up doing all of intermediate and a long closing too. Was I strong because of the new MB approach to my jump backs? Not sure.
Thursday and Friday were pretty bad though. Thursday, I think because I moved my room around and was trying to practice in another part of the room and didn't feel comfortable. Friday I was running a little late and felt rushed. Today was better but still not able to focus. Good days, bad days.......

Monday, 8 September 2008

Moola Bandha in the Bath

So I'm laying in the bath reading John Grimes' Sankara and Heidegger (worth a look, but think he probably knows his Sankara better than his Heidegger, good bath book though), my mind starts wandering to something on the bandhas I read earlier in Heart of Yoga. I start doing some exercises, exhaling and feeling "moola bandha", then exaggerate it a bit. I get the idea to pull my legs up as if I was about to Jump back (still on my back in the bath) and then exhale, engage the bandha and lo and behold as I continued and began to engage uddiyana as well, drawing in and up my belly concave, making that vacuum I notice my backside and hips start rolling up on their own (remember I'm in the bath so there's this floating thing going on) My feet start coming up higher.....ahhhh so this is what it's all about.

After my bath I tried it on my back and and then tried a couple of jump backs, starkers in the middle of the bathroom. Tricky, will need work but can see there's something going on in the bandha inspired pelvic tilt thing, just seems to bring the feet up and out of the way. Got straight on to Amazon and bought the Moola bandha book.
Moola Bandha: The Master Key by Swami Buddhananda)

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Manduka mat review




First impressions:

Heavy, very, very heavy about 9lb for my 100" mat But feels heavier. This is a solid mass of rubber and seems like it's cut out of a formula 1 racing tire. And it's Solid too, thick with seemingly no give. When you roll it out on the floor it rolls out quickly finishing with a loud thud.









Looks:

Looks like you mean business. If your feeling half-hearted about your practice one morning, stepping onto this mat will focus your mind, it demands a serious approach. It's like stepping out onto the grass at Wembley, Lords, Wimbledon... (OK getting carried away a bit now but it kinda feels a bit like that).






Feel:

It's thick about 6mm, but because it's so solid it appears thinner. It's not spongy and there's hardly any give but this makes your feet and hands feel more grounded. And yet it cushions your bones more than other mats.

It's sticky when dry but any moisture sits on it's surface and doesn't get absorbed into the mat. This means it can get really slippery quickly but it also means that you can wipe the moisture off easily. With other mats once they become sweaty you pretty much have to put up with it as you can't wipe it away, they are like sponges. With the Manduka, one wipe with a towel and it's as if you just unrolled it.



In Practice:

Slipperiness is the biggest issue with this mat. I tend to sweat quite a lot but I managed to get through the standing sequence without slipping. I tend to throw a few handstands into my Sury's and it felt firm and solid. I felt more stable and in control, likewise in headstands, forearm stands and especially in Utthita hasta padangusthasana

However in seated I found myself gliding through my jump backs and jump throughs, the faintest sheen of moisture was enough to make it slippery enough for my feet to glide across the surface.

Half way through seated I needed to start using a towel to regularly wipe my hands and the sides of the mat, perhaps every other jump through. But it only takes one wipe and your good to go.

Support:

Just what I'd hoped for, it took the pressure of my coccyx when rolling forward to jump back and off my spine in Garbha Pindasana. Also being a little wider there's less chance of you rolling off the mat as you work your 360. The knee has more support too in Vatyanasana from Intermediate. Nice bonus is that Nakasana is quieter on this mat which should please the neighbors.



Jump back specific:

My toes still tend to brush the top of the mat in my Jump backs and on my other mats at the beginning of practice this will tend to stop me dead until the the mat becomes a little sweaty. However with the Manduka I went straight back through. As it picked up a little moisture I was just gliding across the top, both jumping back and jumping through allowing me to focus on other elements. Slipperiness is an issue with the Manduka and I had to wipe my hands and the sides of the mat a few times throughout the practice. However, with other mats once the sweat starts seeping into the mat there's not a lot you can do about it but with the Manduka the sweat just sits on the top of the mat and will wipe away. Besides I kinda feel that if you're slipping on your mat then your doing something wrong, in that perhaps you haven't shifted your weight correctly or your stretch is too wide for your current muscle development. That said you do have to be careful with your hands slipping in Jump through but don't have to worry about rubbing and blistering your feet as you pass through allowing you to approach it With more confidence and more able to concentrate on your bandhas or keeping your knees up, feet tucked in etc.I've also noticed on my other mats that, with my bony backside, it can be a bit hard on my coccyx, same in Navasana, but on the Manduka, because the mat is so much firmer and gives much more support, I didn't feel a thing.



Intermediate Series:

Practiced Intermediate today and the slipperiness of the mat became intolerable, it was like a skating rink. Because of the Shalabasana series the mat gets sweaty from the word go. There's much more body/mat contact throughout Intermediate than primary so you get really fed up with wiping it down after every asana. In the end I threw my Mysore rug over the top and it was perfect. Jump backs and Jump throughs are different in Intermediate anyway so there's not the rubbing your feet raw on the rug concern as there is with primary. So plain manduka for primary, Manduka plus Mysore rug for intermediate.





Conclusions:

Only been a couple of days but I love this mat. It's helping me with my jump backs, not stopping me dead if my feet brush the surface. Moisture just wipes away with one wipe of a towel. It's firm and gives you a nice secure base for balancing and supports your joints and bones. It's a serious mat.

Drawbacks:

It's heavy and not really ideal for taking to class. Can be slippery and could be dangerous, so not for the total beginner, need to be a little adept at shifting/distributing your body weight. Would be unforgiving if you over stretch.


I'll come back to my conclusions a couple of weeks from now with an update.


-Just ordered Lino Miele's book. I couldn't find many reviews of it or any pictures of the layout or contents so will review it here in a week or so. Might as well review some of my other books and DVDs while I'm at it. Will justify it to the topic of this blog by paying special attention to their treatment of the Jump back.

September Jump Back on new Manduka mat ( Jump back specific Review )

Have decided to post a new Jump back video in the first week of every month. Should be a good way to judge any progress and gives me something to work towards. I also want to set up a slide show, perhaps at the bottom of the page, with the last six months Jump backs embedded from Youtube. That way anyone visiting this page should be able to find one that comes closest to their own jump back and can see how mine developed from that point.

My Manduka mat arrived yesterday afternoon and the video is taken following this mornings practice, my first Manduka jump back video. Think i'll do a snapshot comparison with last months video later in the week.


video

I'll publish a full review of the mat tomorrow as I'm tending to do Intermediate on Wednesdays and want to see how it holds up. However.......

Manduka mat Jump Back review: Jump back specific.

I already love this mat! My toes still tend to brush the top of the mat in my Jump backs and on my other mats at the beginning of practice this will tend to stop me dead until the the mat becomes a little sweaty. However with the Manduka I went straight back through. As it picked up a little moisture I was just gliding across the top, both jumping back and jumping through allowing me to focus on other elements.
As you'll see in the full review, slipperiness is an issue with the Manduka and I had to wipe my hands and the sides of the mat a few times throughout the practice. However, with other mats once the sweat starts seeping into the mat there's not a lot you can do about it but with the Manduka the sweat just sits on the top of the mat and will wipe away. Besides I kinda feel that if you're slipping on your mat then your doing something wrong, in that perhaps you haven't shifted your weight correctly or your stretch is too wide for your current muscle development. That said you do have to be careful with your hands slipping in Jump through but don't have to worry about rubbing and blistering your feet as you pass through allowing you to approach it With more confidence and more able to concentrate on your bandhas or keeping your knees up, feet tucked in etc.
I've also noticed on my other mats that, with my bony backside, it can be a bit hard on my coccyx, same in Navasana, but on the Manduka, because the mat is so much firmer and gives much more support, I didn't feel a thing.

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