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

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Jumping back from forward bend.

This is a work in progress....but then isn't everything.

I have a hankering for those press up's to handstand from forward bend or press up to jump back. Been coming back to it off an on for a year or so but never seem to get that much closer. Some progress yesterday though with something I picked up from Kino's DVD. It's that "bringing the shoulders further apart and the shoulderblades down your back" thing that I've mentioned as being helpful in my jump back. Tried doing that yesterday and found I was feeling much stronger and more firmly grounded. I started off with the jump to point of balance I've been doing lately, Kino style, but coming in a step closer to my hands each time until I'm in a normal forward bend. then the trick is to kind of hop the hips above the shoulders hold and then shoot the legs back to Chaturanga. This morning I took it a step further with a hop up and then, still in balance, bending the arms and lowering down as I shoot my legs back....makes for a softer landing, perhaps a little more graceful too.
Anyway it feels good and I'm sure this work will all come in handy for some of the second and third series arm balances one day. Here's the video from yesterday. Ignore the jump forward I was in two minds as to what I was doing and it's a bit of a mess.

video

To get that press up to handstand I mentioned, I'm also approaching it by getting into handstand walking the feet in 'till I'm up on my toes and then slowly raising mylegs up and then down and then up ETC......... normal headstand and also three point headstands.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Backbend and drop back videos on Youtube

As promised some backbend and drop back video's from Youtube. you can find most of these on my Youtube playlist here.http://uk.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=2BC774BEFFB4F372

let me know if you've found something you think should be included.

First link is to the contributors page the second is to the backbend video

sandidanil

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=y1mJ1TzoVFQ&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=0

Sharath

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=vPljBKe4ybg&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=1

bestbuychi : building up to dropbacks

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qGK_eMN8Vgw&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=2

YogiPod : nice long hang

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EdOHDalr_lc&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=3

sadienardini dropback tutorial

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kh57dfUDL28&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=4

sarai665 : on the beach, different angle

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=sj243vg9PFk&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=5

roboramma : handstand to backbend

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=usvKytzEvYU&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=6

bestbuychi : using a wall

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gbOHAWBVypc&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=7

partneryogachs cat stevens soundtrack

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=53XCuz4rerU&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=8

yogaoctave ; working from handstand to backbend using a chair

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=njJr8fLMZEw&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=9

wendyspies 9 months pregnant backbend

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=FbkK1UEptd4&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=10


TheRealYogaChickie using a chair to work on backbends

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ShGHRy80W5E&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=11

ashtangaboi backbend series handstand to backbend etc
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nw4sYpQTG6Y&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=12

anakrousis Tiriang Mukhottanasana
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=XbN4IyO4gX4&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=13

yogamatfire one of my favourites, full ashtnga backbend series

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kDjOZexoZRU&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=14

mukimukimunmun backbend flipflops outside

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=N6jMYJ012dE&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=15

more from the great anakrousis : so you think you can do Kappo

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=l8bj-KovYF4&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=16

excellent backbend tutoriol, as ever, from lrockwood kappotasana

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=F_GXujI-fqA&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=19

AshtangaVinyasaYoga from Anne Nuotio`s DVD

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wUJBxARDSVs

htimsmot2 dropping back

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=2kRqKpqczHo&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=22

MahaMondo backbend flip flops

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=TpvNsU637Fg&feature=PlayList&p=2BC774BEFFB4F372&index=23

and from me grimmly2007 my first drop back

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=itSB7EJI4BY

and my second, crashing onto my head, a cautionary tale

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ii7PqdPCDAQ

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Jump Back: pushing up rather than lifting up.

Something happened to my Jump Back this week, think I noticed it Tuesday. I found I was getting up higher and that it was feeling easier. I started trying to focus on it, in a nice matter of fact Vipassana kind of a way, and realized I was Pushing up rather than Lifting up. "That's interesting" thinks the Vipassana practitioner in me. "Yipi ai A" shouts the Bruce Willis in me a little more exuberantly. Actually I got mistaken for Bruce Willis once in Osaka Castle, when I was living in Japan. Little old lady came up to me and asked me for an autograph. Of course I signed it, don't see the resemblance myself.
Anyway pushing up. Had read about this here and there. Different teachers saying you should push up into your lift off but I've always lifted up. When you think about it it makes much more sense. We do push ups not lift ups and when we first start getting into jump backs it's almost like were trying to drag ourselves up.
Now it could be that my core has become stronger or that I've become stronger all round or that my control and technique has improved such that I'm able to Push up where i couldn't before. However, I suspect it was mostly just a mental block re enforced by the constant reference to "lifting" up. It might also be something to do with following along with Kino's DVD (really loving this DVD by the way getting a hell of a lot out of. She chats away throughout and you start picking up on different things she says in different practices, highly recommended). I picked up on her saying something like"Bring the shoulders further apart and draw your shoulder blades down your back". She mentioned this just before going into the lift off.

Here's a video from the front to try and show this pushing up aspect.

videoOn youtube for itouch readers http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-SGosMDzfAQ

I think I'm doing the Kino shoulder thing but also leaning further forward , ahhhh is that it, my shoulders more over my wrists, does this allow me to push up more? ....Just broke off from my scrambled eggs to give that a try....No I think I've been getting further over for awhile. Just seems to be that, out of the blue, I've started pushing rather than lifting. Going to hit the blogs now and see if anyone else has mentioned this in the past.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

backbends

I'm moving into the back bend business.

Been feeling, for awhile, that back bends/drop backs and handstands http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/10/early-handstand-work.html would be suitable for this Blog. Like the Jump back they're elements of the practice that can be looked at and worked on separately from the rest of the practice. Actually, I'm not that sure whether this is the case with the back bend, as you wouldn't want to approach them cold in the way that you can the jump back and the handstand, but hey.

I've been working on them for awhile now and as with the Jump Backs I want to document the transition from getting close to being able to achieve them with some confidence. I've felt all along that the great ashtanga teachers are sometimes too far removed from the struggling student. They can appear godlike. Take Lino Miele for instance, watching his practice in the beginning was almost enough to make me give up there and then, just didn't seem possible for me.

I hope that progress I've made over the past couple of months with the Jump back and Jump through from sliding my toes along the floor to just about clearing it, is encouraging and makes it seem more possible, even likely that anyone can achieve the same.

As with the Jump back I want to bring together some resources, Youtube video's, information, advice, tutorials, Etc.

With all this in mind this is where I am with my back bend.
video

Felt I was getting close to be able to come up to standing this morning which is why I want to start documenting this now. Going to the shala a few weeks ago and having L lift me up deeper into the back bend made me realise that perhaps it would be possible to achieve the sort of back bends I've seen on youtube (video links to come)in the not so distant future.

I've started stretching more deeply into it and doing five instead of the three I used to do. Coming down after each lift I've started moving my hands a little closer to my legs. I noticed a while ago that after the fifth lift and fifth time moving closer to my legs I was beginning to feel a small shift in my weight towards my legs.

video

In this second video I've started walking my hands in and started to rock back and forth onto my toes and fingers. I tried this for the first time about two weeks ago but just couldn't get the coordination. Managed it for the first time this week the rocking not the full lift). Still got a way to go but I'm starting to believe it's possible.

The other thing to do, of course, is to work the other way, i.e. Drop backs. Tried drop backs about a month ago. I started off dropping back on to the sofa then onto cushions and finally to the floor. First one was caught on camera and was pretty good (beginners luck?)http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/08/2-ashtanga-accident-videos-dropping.html

Next time I tried it I landed on my head. http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/08/2-ashtanga-accident-videos-dropping.html Haven't tried them since as I wanted to work on deepening my back bend first. After the this mornings practice I'm feeling more confident about giving them another go.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Came across some new Jump back videos

Love this almost slow-mo Jump Back and Through from M_in_M seems to defy the laws of gravity for a moment
http://malaysianinmysore.blogspot.com/2008/10/testing-video-upload.html

and a couple of new tutorials from irockwood on youtube. Lucas also has some excellent backbend tutorials.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=DSdMAmbowhY

and

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=9O7X4OMWuR4&feature=related

Monday, 20 October 2008

New problems with my jump back and jump through

Having a problem with my jump back lately, actually there are still several problems but this is a new one that seems to have come about quite recently. Not sure when I started doing this but noticed it the last couple of practices. It's all to do with the breath. I Lift up OK on the inhale but then when I want to exhale and kick back into chatauranga it's like I'm stuck. I tend to bounce in the middle of it dropping my toe and then exhaling and kicking back. My toe doesn't always go down, I can sometimes muscle it out,but it's awkward. It's not a smooth transition from the inhale to the exhale, from the lift up to the Kick back.

OK, been working on the above and I think I know what it is. I think when I lift up I'm coming up more and more into Lolasana and am already tilted forward. I think before, I used to come up straighter and then the exhale would come more easily on that tilt forward and kick back. Stated coming up into lolasana a little straighter and that seems to be overcoming this lock up on the breath.

Another problem that comes and goes is with my Kino Jump Through. If I don't hit the point of balance POB or even sometimes when I do, I occasionally come straight down into a kind of Jump to sit rather than a Jump through.

The way to overcome this seems to be to jump up to POB bringing the shoulders a little forward of the wrists and then pivoting at the shoulder ball up and swing through.

This video seems to catch what I'm aiming at at the moment when it's going right. (Quite please with my Paschimottanasana at the moment , legs seem to be /staying flatter, have always found it difficult).

video

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Manduka eQua yoga Towel Arrived

My new Manduka eQua towel arrived today. Will let you know what it's like after my practice tomorrow.First impressions........Green, VERY green! It's like doing your practice at Lords or Wimbledon's center court

So it's now Tomorrow. Practiced with the eQua towel this morning. Had the heating turned up really high to make it a good and sweaty practice.

One problem though, I'd requested the XL towel for my XL manduka mat but in the meantime I'd sliced off the end of my manduka (collective gasp). Thing was I was getting used to this great big long mat but going to the Shala and having to practice on a regular size mat. I was afraid of kicking the person behind me in the head so reluctantly decided to get used to a regular mat at home. So I cut my manduka down to regular size forgetting about the imminent arrival of said XL eQua.

But this is actually OK as I can fold a couple of inches of the mat over each end of the mat making it even more secure (see picture).

So does it work? is it fit for purpose?

Manduka claim

1. Super-absorbent.

It certainly is. I'm about as sweaty an Ashtangi as your likely to find, the eQua did all I could ask of it.

2. Ultra soft.

As a babies bottom. I suffer from ashtanga toes, dried skin on the front of your big toe from rolling over throughout the practice. Gets really sore huh. These days I sually lower onto my knees then adjust my toes to avoid rolling over. With the eQua it's so soft that I was able to go back to rolling over. The towel feels really nice too laying back into the supine asana's and especially savasana.

3. Slip resistant.

Need to give it a quick spray with a water mister but from then on your fine. Parasarita Padattanasana has to be one of the most worrying asanas where slipping can be really nasty. Here's a video from this morning on the towel.


video

and here's another of a jump back and jump through another area of concern with regards to slipping

. video

4. Moisture Wicking

So this refers to drawing the moisture away from the surface of the mat in the same way as my trusty Nike pro's. I guess it does, seeing as theirs no pool of sweat on top of the mat, but have always wondered.....where does it all go, wicked away to where? one of the great mystery, solve this one next Gordon.

5. Rapid dry.

Oh yeah! again, how, where does it go? pretty much dry ten minutes after practice. Also I rinsed it out in the shower, wrung it out, hung it on the door about an hour ago and it's already dry and ready to go again.

6. Light weight

Yep, weighs almost nothing and folds up into a tiny mesh bag too.

7. Durable

Will have to see about that but I imagine so. Looks well made

BUT.......... well not much a but really. But see my earlier post on making your own yoga towel http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/10/home-made-non-slip-yoga-towel.html

The eQua is basically just a pretty microfiber towel. eBay is full of them at the moment so you could make your own as I did.

However, I couldn't find one the right length for a yoga mat and had to settle for a bath towel, cut it down the middle and stitch the seams. The eQua on the other hand is designed for a mat, the right length the right width and comes in cool colours (hard to find a decent colour microfiber towel on eBay).

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Kino MacGregor Primary Series DVD Review



Practiced this morning along with Kino's Primary DVD. Exhausting as she goes at quite a pace and I was trying to do her high Jump Through throughout. My player clocks it 1 hour 15. If you take out the Intro, credits and chanting she gets through the primary series in about 70 minutes, pretty much the same as Sharath.



Here's her own promo on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciAnDkxaJE4


First thing I should say is that it arrived very quickly. I ordered it from her Miami life studio and it must have taken under a week to arrive with me here in the UK.

As you can see from the top screenshot you get the primary sequence and then an extra section on beginner options, see below.



These tend to be variations or easier ways of getting into the asanas. Very welcome to this blog is a section on the Jump Backs and Jump Through where she gives about five variations (She has another DVD of one of her workshops that goes into the Jump back and Through in even more detail).
The main Primary sequence is broken down into scene selections. Where it says Advanced, this refers to a panel that pops up in the main practice with an Advanced variation or transition. EG. in Parasarita Padottanasana D she mentions the option of pressing up into handstand. She says while it's not traditional it can be fun. (YES! Thanks Kino for recognizing that the practice can be fun).



This morning was the third time I've practiced along with her Primary. First time I almost turned it off before the end of Sury B. She seemed to be talking too fast, saying too much, just sounded really busy and distracting. To be fair John Scott also talks pretty fast at times on his DVD, It's seems a bit much at first but fine once you get used to it. Sury B has a lot going on so it's bound to be an issue there.

I have DVDs by John Scott, Doug Swenson, Lino Miele, Sharath and Mark Darby. I can't say one is better than the other because they are all so different. I'm in awe of Lino's but can't imagine practicing along with it. Similarly with John Scotts though I've used his for reference quite a bit. Watching his practice made me fall in love with the Primary sequence again after a brief flirtation with The Rocket (power yoga). Doug Swanson's' is just so relaxed, something about his Texan drawl perhaps, but he is the master of the practice voice over. Mark Darby's DVD is still my top pick for a beginner DVD. Having him doing the basic practice with some advanced transitions thrown in and Nicole Bordeleau alongside him doing the beginner variations seems the best option for a beginner and it's the DVD I learnt with.


Kino's is probably the next best package for the beginner in that it has the separate section with beginner options. However these are not just for the total beginner but for the intermediate student as well. I've been practicing for a year and a half but like many practitioners have difficulty with Supta kurmasana and until recently marishyasana D as well, both are explored in the options.

I've found her comments throughout helpful in getting deeper into an asana. Kino seems to focus a lot on skeletal structure. Focus on the spine here, lifting out of the hips there. She constantly reminds your that your legs are your foundation and pressing down into your foot when you want to come up reminding you that your whole body is involved in an asana.


Pace is a little fast though that suits me. In most of the video's I have there is a full breath count. Kino doesn't count the breaths, reminding us at one point that our breathing cycles are all different, this frees her to comment and encourage you to get deeper into, or open up more in an asana.

Oh and I hope Kino has a sponsorship deal or something with Yogitoes Skidless towels. She practices her primary on a black one and on a green one in her workshop DVD. They look great and don't move or bunch up, testament indeed, I want one!

Will add anything else that comes to mind as I continue to practice along with the DVD over the next couple of weeks. Feel free to ask in the comments box if you want to know something specific about it.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Working towards leg behind head asanas and jumping back from Eka Pada Sirsasana

Good practice with the new Kino Primary DVD this morning. (Half way through a review but want to practice along with it another couple of times first. It's growing on me, she says some helpful things that help you open up more in an asana).

In some extracurricular practice this afternoon I managed to get my leg behind my head/neck/shoulder and keep it there no hands for the first time today. Amazing to think I'll be able to do this someday with a straight back, hardly seems possible. Had a go too at getting my other leg behind as well so I could get into Kurmasana. Couldn't stop laughing as fell out of it over and over. In the end I propped myself up so I wouldn't fall backwards and managed to just about get into it. Not a lot of style and grace but it's a start. Was surprised at how well the jump back from Eka pada sirasana went though. Excited about it, can see a whole new world opening up.

video

Also worked on slowing down the Kino jump through and back, quite pleased with how it's coming along.

video

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Early handstand work

Following on from my last couple of posts about the Kino Jump through and how I thought it was useful to work on some handstand and half handstands first. Here are a couple of videos from earlier in the year when I was working on handstands and trying to chuck them in everywhere. The second one is telling I think, no way I could lift myself up to handstand from seating then. Had to be all about shifting the weight forward as well as up.

Hips above shoulders above wrists!

video
1. Fitting handstands into the Sury's


video
2. Navasana to handstand

Friday, 10 October 2008

One way of working towards Kino's Jump Through

This is pretty much how I learnt to do it. I picked up the handstand and the float up to standing pretty quickly from the Sadie Youtube video. I used that in my Sury's A & B in frount of a wall for a few months, fun going up to handstand. Only after seeing Kino's DVD this week have I started putting the jump through and the half handstand together. So you might want to spend some time just playing with the handstands and getting comfortable with that. Anyway hope this helps.

Step 1. Pick a wall

Step 2. Bunny hops (Shakti jumps?), Small ones at first, building up to half handstand using the wall to stop you going too far. See the Sadie's 30 Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90pFU8YsTso

Step 3. Jump up to half handstand from Downward Dog and hold.

Step 4. Place large cushion between arms. Repeat step 3 and come down crossed leg on to cushion. (the cushion is basically just to remove the fear factor i was paranoid at first abouyt coming down but only ended up using the cushion about twice).

Step 5. Work on slowing your descent by shifting your body weight a little forward as you come down and curling your hips round and in like a ball.

Step 6. Repeat Step 4 coming down onto a smaller cushion

Step 7. Repeat step 3 then come down softly as before but without the cushion.

Step 8. Repeat step 3 and as you come down lead your frount foot through your arms bringing the other leg through behind Kino style ( see the screen shot slideshow on the side of my blog).

Step 9 Repeat step 7 and then 8 in in the middle of your room away from the wall

Step 10. Repeat step 9 in your practice, fitting it in a couple of times here and there and then building up to all the way through.

Still working on steps and 8 and 9, tricky leading that frount leg through and it's hard to hit the point of balance without the wall as security (notice the unsightly arch in my back). Wednesday I was doing it every time but yesterday I managed to get it right five out of, what, twenty jump throughs in primary.

Here's a video of the above
video

PS A big big Thank you to Kino for her inspiration and kindness.

Home made Non-slip Yoga towel

Thought this was such a good idea that it deserved it's own post.

I'd ordered a yogitoes skidless towel but the place I ordered it from was out of stock so had to cancel the order. Shame, Kino uses one in her DVD and it looks great and doesn't appear to bunch up. Almost impossible to find them in the UK. I am, however, expecting delivery of a Manduka Equa any day, but until then here's what I've been using.

Yoga towels are made of microfiber so pick up a cheap microfiber towel from eBay. Try to find an XXL one. Cut it down the middle, fold the cut edge slightly over and use a straight forward blanket stitch and there you have it. Two non slip yoga towels that work, for half the price of a branded one. Great absorbency and they dry really quickly too.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Chakrasana ( 3 of 3 )

Seem to have pretty much got the hang of Chakrasana. Trick appears to be finding the " sweet spot". Practice with Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) , take it up really high so your on the tips of your shoulders. now move into halasana and again aim to get as high up on your shoulders as you can. Now if you put your hands under your shoulders, I think that's the sweet spot and where your aiming for. Come down and now while it's fresh in your mind perform your chakrosana. Don't need as much momentum as you think and you don't need to push up with your hands as much as you think either, both of which can be a distraction. The chin is tucked down, your aiming your pointed toes for the the right angle of the floor and the imaginary wall behind you. When you go over it's as if your lightly rolling over your head most of the weight having been taken in your hands. Anyway that's what I think is going on and this is as much for me to be able to remember tomorrow as help for anyone else struggling with it. Here's the video.


video

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Kino style Jump Through and how to make a home made nonslip yoga towel

OK, enough winging, back on topic!

I've been watching Kino MacGregor's DVDs lately (Review of her primary Series DVD to come). Been interested in her Jump Through, especially since mine is now much weaker than my Jump Back. You can now see a new screenshot slide show of her jump back and jump through in the comparison panel on the side of my blog, compared with Doug Swenson, John Scott, Lino Miele and Sharath. She jumps really high into a half handstand point of balance and then brings herself down and through. What interests me is how she leads her leg through. I've been trying this and find it much easier for clearing the mat and it seems a great way to start to move into jumping into an asana. In the video below I'm trying to lead my right leg through as she does, it's not as pronounced as hers, looking at it, but felt it at the time. I then try jumping through into Tiriangmukhaikapada Paschimattanasna (one leg fold back).

video

Whether this works for you will depend how you are on the jumping into handstand. If you haven't done much of it I can assure you it's not as hard as it looks and there's some help on hand. Sadie has a handy Youtube tutorial called sadies 30 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90pFU8YsTso that's great for building strength. Do it against a wall to build confidence. If you can nail it then your closer to those floaty jump ups to standing in the Sury's and jumping into Bakasana etc. I like it because it seems to give me more time for bringing my leg through, it looks cool, feels light and floaty and brings a nice pace to the practice. Mine is still untidy but think it's worth working on and probably going to become my Jump Through of choice. Cheers Kino!

PS. Notice too this is done on a yoga towel on top of my Manduka. It's a home made towel. Pick up a cheap microfiber towel from eBay. An XXL one. Cut it down the middle, fold the cut edge slightly over and use a straight forward blanket stitch and there you have it. Two non slip yoga towels that work for half the price of a branded one. great absorbency and they dry really quickly.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Owning my practice

Hmmmm not sure how to articulate this....best to just jump in and let it work itself out.



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...........?

Just read over this and I'm not sure this is what I'm trying to get at, but it's a start.......

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Chakrasana Redux ( 2 of3 )

Was going to post on Chakrasana again earlier in the week, a post filled with expletives. Had also decided not to go to the Shala again until I'd nailed it, even if it took six months. But it's gone and crept up on me. Thanks to easeandeffort's comment and something I found somewhere about aiming the feet for the edge of the wall and floor, Oh and watching Sharath do it incredibly slowly. So here's this mornings attempts. Took two goes, I think mainly to get some momentum but not as much as I thought. Yes, important to keep the chin tucked in, mainly for that last bit as you roll over your head. Most of all you have to just trust it, bailing out at the last minute is the dangerous bit (see previous post BAD!).

video

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Chakrasana The Roll back (1 of 3 )

So I was pulled up on my lack of a Chakrasana at the Shala on Sunday. I'd forgotten all about it. I think I had a go a couple of times when I first started Ashtanga but didn't have much room then and was worried about damaging my neck so gave up on it. Gave it another try during practice this morning but crashed and burned. After practice I decided to have another go, just one lame attempt after another, but funny. Decided to video my sorry attempts and was lucky enough to catch my first ever. So it's possible but I ask you this.....how are you supposed to do this in the Shala without smashing into the wall or taking out the person behind you, surely you need two body lengths, no?



video


Here's how John Scott describes the crucial stage.


"At the exact time that you roll on to the point of your shoulders, press firmly through your palms. keeping your legs energized and, synchronous with the push through your palms, shoot your legs backwards". John Scott Ashtanga Yoga

Addendum: Watching this I think where I'm going wrong is failing to tuck my chin in. Would give it another go this morning.......................but I have a stiff neck.


KINO MACGREGOR: a workshop, a journey : Jump back Jump Through Workshop

First off this is not an Ashtanga Primary series teaching video in the sense of Swenson, Scott, Sharath or Freeman. It's about 40 mins and split into two parts (NOT two DVD's) First part is basically a promotional video for Kino and her Studio in Miami. Her thoughts on Ashtanga inter cut with her performing a demo of some advanced series asanas. You can get a flavor of it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAHh0ysgyC0&feature=related The second part is a workshop on Strength. Basically preparation for jumping back and Jumping through. I watched it tried it and pulled my best jump back and jump through right away.

So what's she doing? Well nothing really new, you'll find the different elements all over my blog from one source or another but Kino brings them together well. She starts off having you on all fours in a relaxed collapsed state.

Then she starts working up the body, tilting in and up the pelvis, drawing in and up the stomach, arching up the back and drawing the ribs together. She focuses on the point between the shoulder blades attaches it to the sternum. Imagine a thread passing through the point between your shoulder blades through to your sternum and as you pull up on the thread everything lifts up, that kind of thing. So you now have this "arched structure" if you look from the frount your hands are the base of the arch which comes up one arm over the shoulders and down the other arm, the total opposite of the collapsed posture. And it's that, and the shifting of your body weight over your hands that you want to transfer to your Jump backs and your jump through. So before you lift off your create that structure and it does seem to help.

videoThis video is following my practice the morning after watching her DVD and trying to employ her principles. It's probably my best jump back so far.

If you can't get to one of her workshops then this is the next best thing. You can get the video from her website here http://ashtanga-awareness.com/dvd.html best of all you can use Paypal. Took a little over a week to reach me in the the UK

STOP PRESS : Just noticed that Kino now has an Ashtanga primary series DVD out available on her site.

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