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Saturday, 31 January 2009

Latest on attempt to come up from UD

Have been trying to focus on different elements and trying to internalise them, the breath, the rocking and here, I'm attempting to shift my weight forward by trying to get my hips further over my feet. Started to feel something going on, some lift happening around my hips rather than just the more obvious feeling of lifting the arms and shoulders.

I was making a real effort too in this attempt to keep my feet straight. At one point i thought they were almost pointing in but when I look at the video they're still pointing out. Beginning to think this might be key though. Thighs were getting too tired so will try again tomorrow and really try to focus on straightening the feet

Matthew Sweeney Drop back excercise seems to be working

Are my arms hanging back for a moment? Think they were, definitely feeling more comfortable with this, able to focus on the breath and no dizziness as I come back to standing.

Helping with my Kapotasana drop back as well.

Felt much more controlled as I reached back.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Drop back ; Matthew Sweeney's hang back excercise

I'd like more control in my drop back. As soon as I reach my hands up over my head I lose it and have to go all the way over. I'd like to be able to hang back with my arms outstretched working deeper into the back bend with more control.

Here's an exercise from Matthew Sweeney's new book Vinyasa Krama ( I look Mathews book more closely here, he has a long, in depth, section on Back bends that covers half bending, the Drop back and Tic-tacs.

"To begin half-bending you should lengthen the spine on the initial inhalation; you can raise your hands overhead or keep your hands on your chest or hips as you prefer. on the exhalation begin to move the hips foreword , gently firm your abdomen and then extend your hands to the wall. At no point should you fall onto the wall. Attempt to hover with your arms extended and your fingertips a small distance away from the wall (taking an extra breath or two as necessary rather than holding your breath) and only then touch the wall with your fingertips and bend your arms. i prefer students to land on the wall with their fingertips as this encourages lightness, rather than a stiff-armed jolt. once your nose is near the wall you can either come up immediately or stay there for a few breaths. remember do not walk your hands down the wall."

Coming back to standing you extend your arms pushing gently off the wall inhaling as long as possible (taking extra breaths if necessary but don't hold your breath) and with your head back the whole time. Hover again if possible when your arms are stretched and then roll the arms to the side rather than back over the head which would unsteady you .

I really like this exercise. The wall is there to remove the feeling of panic allowing you to focus on breathing and weight distribution. Think this will be good for coming up as well as for Kapotasana.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Coming up from Urdhva Danhurasana ,some suggestions

Wanted to bring together all the advice from comments scattered over the last few posts.

On the breath
elephantbeans said...
... check your breathing. Make it BIG and fluid.EXHALE your chest away from your legs, taking weight toward your hands and even past them INHALE your hips way over feet away from your hands Try doing this for every breath in each back bend. Eventually, the inhale will carry you up to stand.
Karen said...
... for awhile don't even think about coming to standing, just focus on exhaling (weight over hands), inhaling (weight into feet) and keep rocking back and forth and really EXAGGERATE the breath. as in, we should really hear your breathing in your video.
susananda said...
... VERY IMPORTANT to come up on the inhale, and inhale ALL the way up.
elephantbeans said...
...more into the chest! Slow down the breathing. Keep the hands planted until the last one which is the biggie. The rocking isn't just about momentum, it is also going to open your chest more...
On Rocking
Anonymous said... Grimmly - have you tried coming up on your fingertips before rocking forward? That should do the trick.Also think of rocking up using the inner edges of your feet as a pivot point. The goal is to come up with feet perfectly flat and parallel, but in the beginning...
susananda said... ... for me the whole pose seems to be in the heels. I recommend rooting the inner heels down through the whole cycle of inhale-weight over feet / exhale-weight over hands.
On following through
susananda said... ...I think what you need to do now is focus on the follow-through with the inhale... you know like with a golf swing or a pool shot? That's what it feels like I'm doing with the inhale when it brings me up. Also, try to keep your feet straighter - keep adjusting your heels out. Heels out, inner heel down.
On Dropping back
moo said... ... By the way, for me and for some friends, it is easier to come up after you drop back. Even now, I feel so, even though i cannot actually stand up now. You feel much open getting to UD from standing position. If you are interested in trying another new move while trying to come up, it may help.
On Shifting weight forward
Anonymous said...
...For coming up, I think all you need to do is to bend your knees a tiny bit more in order to bring your center of gravity over your heels. To get over the mental block, you could think of shifting your weight forward to land in a kneeling position, but I'll bet you will end up standing instead.
C.K. said...
...You almost have it.This may help:1. Think "Come forward" rather than "Come up"2. Push down hard on the feet as you try to come up..., er, forward.
Portside said...
I was at a back bending workshop with Steve Dwelley this past weekend and one of the big things that I took away was really releasing the glutes while in Urdhva Dhanuarasana.What I've found for me, is doing this really balances the pose and makes shifting my weight a lot easier (along with really rotating my elbows inward towards my armpits). Releasing the glutes also, really moves the strength of the pose to the front body.
On the head
Anonymous said...
... You are bending your head forward prematurely, which brings your center of gravity away from your feet. Push your weight forward with more momentum, and keep your head back until you are finally standing. Engaging the bandhas and activating your legs will enable you to stand easily.
susananda said...
...The effect of waving your head around will be to make you fall on it. Stop : )
On fingertips
(0v0) said...
... maybe imagine someone sitting on the ground in front of you just barely anchoring your calves with his palms.Or maybe come up to the fingertips on the last bend.
On Appreciation
Grimmly said...
Thank you all for your hints, tips and suggestions, finding them very helpful.

Dropback !

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Building up to the Drop Back to Urdhva Dhanurasana (Omnibus edition)

Dropping back to the Sofa bed, sofa bed minus cushions, cusions on mat and finally to the mat.

Suggestion: Place a yoga sticky mat on the cushions to improve grip.

Or a similar idea but using plastic pads discussed here

Working up to Dropping back

This comment yesterday from Moo in Tokyo

"By the way, for me and for some friends, it is easier to come up after you drop back. Even now, I feel so, even though i cannot actually stand up now. You feel much open getting to UD from standing position. If you are interested in trying another new move while trying to come up, it may help."

Haven't dropped back for months, first time I tried I landed it fine, second time I landed on my head. Decided it was best to come back to it after working on my backbends some more.

Promised Momo last night I would give it a go and post a video. So here goes.......
Drop back attempts 1 and 2.... to the Sofa bed

Drop back attempt cushions

Drop back attempt 4...... to mat

Warning: My hand slipped a little on the 2nd attempt and I Jarred my wrist slightly. I suggest laying a spare sticky mat over the cushions to give you more grip as you land and to give you some purchase for trying to come back up again.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Vrischikasana : The camera LIES

It's lies I tell you, I was there and I know my feet were just inches, centimeters, millimeters even from my head. I was bent double, a paperclip, the ubiquitous Ashtanga pretzel and yet this is what I see on the camera afterwards, miles away. Cheap digital cameras, should have bought an SLR.

Coming up from UD attempt: gaining some control

Was thinking I wouldn't post another of these 'till I actually made it up. Felt much more controlled though this morning and I think it shows in the video so perhaps worth documenting as a "stage".

Breathing is getting better and the rocking onto the inside of the foot is definitely where it's at, think I'm beginning to push up from there. Seems like it's just a matter of timing and coordination now.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Rockin' the Breath

Thank you so much for all the recent comments, re. Coming up from Urdhva Danhurasana. Feel I'm making real progress here.

Exaggerating the Inhale/Exhale (trying to project it so the camera can pick it up).
  • Inhaling weight over feet / exhaling weight over hands

Rocking on the inside of the heel

Coming up onto fingertips

Battery ran out at the end of this one which is probably a good thing as it forced me not to over do it.

Noticed I'm dipping my hips a bit tried to limit that on this Video but will need to work on that. now I'm starting to leave the ground I'm going to have to face up to the fear aspect, might be worth doing some dropbacks again.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Best Kapotasana yet, Thanks to all that work on coming up from UD

All that work on trying to come up from UD (gave it ten attempts last night) seemed to help my Kapo. Couldn't resist throwing one in after the last back bend. Got so much deeper I surprised myself. Think I might end up coming up from Kapo before UD. But as with UD I think I need to work on exaggerating the breath for a bit and see how that helps.

Owl said we get all religious over our backbends. this randomly chosen screenshot by Blogger suggests she may be right.

New motto, "Breathe and all is coming".


Another attempt at coming up from Urdhva Dhanurasana

Following the encouraging comment on my last post I felt half convinced I was going to nail it this time. Flew through my practice thinking with every Asana how it would prepare me for coming up. Still didn't happen but felt closer, a lot closer.

OK, I know this isn't the attitude but I'm sure we've all done it when we feel we're getting close and ,besides my morning practice is the meditative one, evening practice is more of a workshop.

Look at me getting all defensive, and there's me thinking I was a POMO Marine.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Towards coming up from Urdhva Dhanurasana

So I've been working on the rocking from toes to fingertips thing but hadn't really thought about it until I noticed this on a YouTube Video (can't find which one it was - Ahhh, found it about 0:40 sec into Saw somebody come up using the rocking motion. First they rock back on the heel and then forward back onto the ball of the foot generating some momentum to help them lift up. That rocking movement, heel to toe, though subtle can instigate a lot of momentum and energy (boxers and martial artists use something similar beginning a punch by planting the ball of the foot, the energy builds as it travels up through the leg, hip, up the back to the shoulder and down the arm).

In the video keep an eye on the feet, it's a pretty subtle movement at least how i'm doing it at the moment.

I'd always lost my sense of direction when upside down. I know I know I'm supposed to go forward and up...but which way is forward again...? This rocking motion from the heel seems to help, you get the forward motion as you rock onto your toes and a lifting motion from your heels grounding your sense of direction.

OK I'm not up yet but I think this might be one of those elements that may help. I'm already beginning to walk my hands closer (though not in the above video) and can feel my weight beginning to shift from my shoulders down towards my hips. Plus this morning trying to come up from Kapotasana I felt I made some progress. I still wasn't able to come up but for a moment I was able to hold myself using my thighs, hips and back. It was just a moment and then I had to lower to the floor but I felt I'd "found the spot". Want to try to carry that over to Coming up from UD.

Jumping into Bakasana : Pelvis in space

As with the two leg hop up to Pincha the "pelvis in space idea" (this series of posts ) helped me with the jump into Bakasana Rather than focusing on landing on the arms I'm trying to focus more on the movement of my pelvis, the landing almost takes care of itself. In a sense it's the first half of the Kino jump through, jumping up and then settling onto the arms. ,

That said, I do try to hold the memory of of how I'm holding the first Bakasana both in my mind and in my muscle memory for when I land the second jumped version. This is important because when you jump you tend to be focused on your hands arms and shoulders yet when I hold Bakasana, I tend to feel it more in my Lats and that's where I shift my attention as I lower onto my arms.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Had my first Ashtanga dream : Kapotasana

Had my first Ashtanga dream last night. Very realistic, dreamt I was dropping back into Kapotasana then kind of noticed I was holding my feet and my heels were in reach of my fingers. grabbed them drew myself in and got comfortable. Remember having a "oh that's how you do it" thought.
Maybe I need to get out more.

Towards karandavasana Part 2

Managing to get the two leg hop to Pincha, think all the "awareness of the pelvis in space" work courtesy of Lydia helps there (see this series of posts ). Walking the legs in close as you can, being aware of where your pelvis is in relation to the line of your shoulders and then hopping up focusing on that short distance your pelvis needs to travel to attain balance.

Only a half serious attempt to come into lotus here. Think I'm aiming at a half lotus so I'm not too bound up when I lose balance. I think I can see myself getting into lotus and maybe coming down a little way but can't imagine keeping enough balance and control to bring them all the way down and land them let alone taking them back up again.. But hey, "all is coming"

Monday, 19 January 2009

Working towards karandavasna

This is one of those Asana that's going to take a lot of work and one that I want to focus on in this blog this year. Rob Lucas suggests approaching it via the tripod handstand as you have a stronger base and can work on developing the other elements away from the forearm stand which you develop in Pincha Mayurasana . Below is one my first attempts before Christmas.

Actually I lied this was my first attempt (the good bit happens 1:10 in).

Friday, 16 January 2009

Latest Jump back : Lifting up from staff

So Lino Miele has this beautiful Jump Back, where he lifts up from Dandasana, holds it for about an hour and a half, legs still as you like, calmly crosses his legs and jumps back through.
After all this Kapotasana work I've been noticing my legs getting stronger (at least they've been aching like hell) so decided to give it a try.
Lino it ain't (check out the quivering, quaking toes as I lift up and I only manage to hold it for half a second or so ) but I couldn't have done this, even this poorly a month ago.

Part of the trick is leaning forward a bit and placing the hands further down the thigh .

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

More Kapotasana (yawn) and "If you can do Langhvajrasana you can do it (come up from Kapo)".

I know, I know, MORE Kapotasana and no doubt the differences are very slight to you dear reader (Jane Austin, another famous Ashtangi) but to me they seem huge, massive, earth shattering developments of cosmic proportions.....I gained an extra 1/2 inch up my foot, my hips another degree or two closer to perpendicular.
Just feel at the moment that things are happening here and I want to catch them, even the wrong turns. ( Is it helping bringing the arms out and back or was it better straight back? Do I have Grilley sitting on my shoulder whispering that there's bone in the way and I need to work around it?).

"If you can do Langhuvajrasana you can do it"

NB. Apologies for being an Idiot. Susanada is talking about Langhuvajrasana I'm thinking of Ushtrasana.

Thanks to Susananda for this inspiring comment "If you can do Langhuvajrasana you can do it (come up from kapo). OF COURSE !!!!!! I'd pretty much given up on coming up from Kapo. Have felt my legs/thighs developing (Ouch) can even see the muscle development (will this hinder Eka pada's?) but thought it was something that would take a while, a long painful while. Coming up, seems such a long way to travel and as you can see in these videos I tend to just give up on it for now without really trying. But, "If you can do Langhuvajrasana you can do it". From Kapo B to Laghuvajrasana is only a couple of inches instead of thinking about coming up all the way up I just need to think about coming up to Laghu. I know I can come up the rest of the way from there.

LATER: OK, just tried this and I'm not even close coming up. Think it's the angle of my thighs/hips can't get any leverage. think I need to improve that angle by keeping my legs straighter/hips further forward as I go back and continue building strength in my legs.

Day off today so will do Primary and Intermediate up to Dwi Pada, (OK maybe Tittibhasana because it's fun and silly and I cant resist it) find I'm getting closer to it after all the primary hip openers.

Towards coming up from Urdhva Dhanurasana ( wheel )

Received a comment from Anon. asking "have you tried standing up from backbend recently?" Hadn't been that focused on it until I started focusing on Kapo this week. As I'm getting deeper into that I've been trying to transfer developments from one to the other. I've been bringing my hands back closer to my ears to push up. There's not as much leverage at first but once you get an inch or two off the ground it becomes easier and you can get a deeper backbend. My hands appear to be getting a lot closer to my feet bringing my weight closer to my hips and legs. I SHOULD be able to come up from here. Can't seem to get the necessary coordination. I'm sure that just a couple of fingertips on my hips and the slightest directing, rather than lifting, from a teachers assist would be enough to do it.
Here's where I am at the moment.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Kapotasana breakthrough?

I'd thought yesterday that I'd got about as far as I could in Kapotasana, for the foreseeable future anyway. Didn't think my back would bend much more for a while and my arms seemed to be locked, couldn't see them moving any further. Was OK about it though, happy that I could drop back and at least grab my toes, thought I'd concentrate on trying to come back up with at least some semblance of grace.
In finishing sequence though I discovered something in my back bend. I'd always put my hands above my ears when I pushed up but this time I had my hands in line with my ears. Not much leverage at first to raise up but when you get a couple of inches off the ground it gets easier and the back bend seemed much deeper. Wondered if this was something that would help my Kapo.
Tried it tonight and though I couldn't land my hands more in line with my ears just knowing I had more movement in my arms than I thought allowed me work them closer to my feet and get as far as my instep. Had the feeling too that I'd be able to go further too. Reaching the heels seemed like something that might be possible rather in the realm of fantasy I'd thought only the day before.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

50 ways to practice Ashtanga

1. The current official Mysore approach.2. The current official Mysore approach as interpreted by your Shala/teacher.3. As presented in Yoga Mala (Long slow steady breaths, plenty of them /Full Vinyasa).4. As presented in Lino Miele's 1st edition of Ashtanga Yoga. (Eight breaths in a pose ?).5. As presented in Lino Miele's current edition of Ashtanga Yoga, (five breaths/ Full Vinyasa).6. Following David Swenson's book (some poses have changed in the current official model).7. Full Vinyasa. (John Scott, Lino Miele's DVD's Some demos on YouTube from Guruji's 1987 tour).8. Sharath's Led primary DVD ( Sury's to finishing in just over an hour, half not full vinyasa).9. With the main focus on creating heat, fast pace, powerful Ujaii, Dynamic.10. With the main focus on long, slow steady breathing.11. With focus on loud almost deafening Ujaii.12. As foreplay for Savasana.13. With Soft Ujaii.14. With the main focus on engaging bandhas.15. Attempting to focus equally on the breath and bandhas.16. With the main focus on the Vinyasa, on movement, following a rhythm (using a metronome perhaps - want to try this).17. Focusing strongly on the asana.18. Focusing strongly on alignment (Iyengarish/ashtanga blend).19. A flexible approach that allows for extra asanas within the practice as you choose (Vinyasa Krama influenced).20. To a time limit, forty minutes of Ashtanga practice followed by Pranayama meditation and chanting. (the forty minutes can include part of Standing, finishing and different sections of a series).21. Primary all the way up to Karandavasana in 2nd.22. 2nd and 3rd series.23. Intermediate half standing.24. Courageously 25. Intermediate full standing.26. Practicing in silence.27. Practicing blindfold (re John Scott).28. Practicing with music.29. In candlelight.30. Alone.31. In a Shala.32. Outdoors.33. On a beach.34. In a Yurt.35. With the main focus on fun.36. With the main focus on getting fit.37. With the main focus on staying fit and healthy.38. With the main focus on spiritual growth.39. In a workshop environment.40. In Mysore.41. In a led Class.42. In self practice mysore class.42. In A gym with an unauthorised teacher because that's the only option around.43. Meeting with a group of friends once a week.44. Home practice all week but at a Shala on Sunday.45. With a book, DVD etc.46. Reflectively employing a camera to view your progress.47. Obsessively.48. Reluctantly.49. Enthusiastically.50. Employing any or several of the above depending on how you assess your physical and mental requirements at the time.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Kapotasana....wasn't a fluke then

So it wasn't a one off, a fluke. Had been a bit worried as the first time I tried a standing dropback I landed it beautifully, the following day I tried it again and landed on my head.

So some trepidation as I approached it. Needn't have worried though, seem able to hang in the air in a way I find difficult on a standing drop back. I did it three times and wanted to do another three, love this. Can see how 0v0 is right about backbends becoming almost a religious devotion. (right too about trying to dig the toes in, seems to help a bit, thanks).

The one above is a little better than yesterday I think. I drop in a little closer to my feet, am able to walk in a little and almost able to grab my instep. Amused by the little hand/ toe dance, like something out of an old horror B movie. Was that Michael Caine in THE HAND.

OK, I know this isn't a jump back but dropping back is a Transition, no? I want to catch the small developments of this so expect a few posts. As with the jump back I'll see about trawling the net to bring together all the little tips tricks and suggestions I can find.

Sadly the video tape ran out on my digital camera and so my perfect lift back up to standing is missing, bugger.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

First Dropback into Kapotasana

Don't know what made me do it!
Have been convinced that I wouldn't be able to get my hands down before my head, that it would be a while before I'd be close enough to risk it. However, first Kapo I did tonight gave me a good view of the mat behind and I felt in good control. Was making the video to see how much more of an arch I was getting as I'd got the feeling I was getting my hips a little further forward. Usually I start going back and then bottle out and lower down the rest of the way via my arms and work my way into the pose. This time I just seemed to keep going back further and further feeling comfortable, confident, in control.....and then it just kind of happened.
Was going to edit it cunningly, cutting at the soft landing and leave it at that, but in the interest of warts an all I've included my lame "come up". "lift up" what do we call that anyway?

Still a long long way to go but damm that felt good.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Kino MacGregor coming to town

My blog review of Kino's DVD

Shot by shot breakdown of Kino's Jump back on the right side of my blog

Strength, Presence + Awareness A Weekend Of Ashtanga Yoga

Triyoga Primrose Hill London Fri 17th Apr - Sun Apr 19th.

Yoga + Meditation for Daily Life
Friday 17 th April 2009 7.30 – 8.30 pm
In this seminar you will learn introductory meditation techniques as well as explore a contemporary approach to Yoga Philosophy. Experience how this ancient tradition holds many life lessons in the postures and technique and a sample daily practice session of meditation. Come, ask questions + discuss the inner journey openly.

Guided Primary Series
Saturday 18th April 2009 10.00am – 12.00pm

Strength: Yes, You Can!
Saturday 18th April 2009 2.30 – 5.30pm
If you think you will never be able to lift up, or if you want to take your lifting up to a new level, this class is for you. We will integrate the elusive bandha and core work in a way that is accessible for everyone. By using natural and scientific principles,like gravity, weight distribution, and mind-body connection, you will gain a new understanding of the potential for natural strength in your body. You will leave this workshop with tools you can apply to reach a new level of strength, presence and awareness.

Mysore Style Ashtanga Self-Practice
Sunday 19th April 2009 09.30am – 12.30pm
Participants will be given staggered start times to ensure everyone gets the attention they need. Please ensure that you give your phone number when you book so that we can call you to arrange your start time.2.30 – 5.30pmWhy is my Back so Stiff? Backbending, Flexibility and MoreIn this workshop you will learn the basics of what it takes to bend your body backwards on all levels; physically, emotionally and mentally. By integrating sound anatomical principles, body awareness techniques and movement mechanics, you will leave with an elevated understanding of what the journey into your spine actually entails. You will begin to expand your natural potential to go deeply into the deep stretches of backbends in a safe, fun and easy way.

For those who have been practising for 6 months or more.

Price: £130 for whole weekend

Kino's videos on youtube

From Triyoga's website
Kino MacGregor is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. The youngest woman to hold this title, she has completed the challenging Third Series and is now learning the Fourth Series with Guruji and Sharath. She and her husband Tim Feldmann are the founders of Miami Life Center, a space for Ashtanga yoga, holistic health and consciousness on Miami Beach Both teaching locally on Miami Beach and traveling internationally, you will find Kino leading classes, privates, workshops, yoga conferences and retreats in traditional Ashtanga yoga and total life transformation.Passionate about the environment, Kino recently pledged a monthly donation to Go Zero! to make her heavy travel schedule carbon neutral. Dedicated to sharing the amazing tradition of Ashtanga yoga with its growing number of practitioners in her unique, inspirational and playful approach, Kino helps her students expand and deepen their understanding of yoga and spirituality. She has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga Mind Body Spirit, Yoga Joyful Living, Travel & Leisure Magazine as well as appearing on Miami Beach’s Plum TV and the CBS Today Show.Fri 17 Apr 2009 until Sun 19 Apr 2009 £130

Friday, 2 January 2009

Straight leg Jump Through - The Toe Breaker

I was asked if I could do the straight leg "toe breaker",Jump Through in a comment on my last post. Think there was a time back in September where I was going to give it a try but then something happened with my crossed leg, a major improvement and I focused on that style again and forgot all about the Toe breaker. Had a go at it again yesterday, got the Nike grips out and the yoga blocks to give me some height and seemed to get the movement right. Doing it without the blocks though would take time. Thing is, I don't think I like it.

Now maybe I'm doing it wrong, but it feels too fast, too energetic, almost aggressive. I can see why this might be attractive to those who want an energetic, fast flowing Ashtanga but I think I'm looking for a more meditative, smoothly flowing practice. The crossed leg Jump through seems to fit better with what I'm looking for and why I like that Kino half handstand float in the air element to my Jump Through as well as the float up and float back in Sury A and B. Looks very impressive though ( here's a nice example ) and I'm curious which method everyone is most drawn to so am adding another of those mini polls to the right side of my blog. Straight leg or Crossed leg Jump Through? You can vote for which one you can do or which one you like best or would most like to be able to do, up to you.
here's another example
and here's Lino
Lino has a much slower straight leg jump through but it still doesn't float my Navasana.

If anyone has a link to a nice slow meditative straight leg Jump Through that proves me wrong please let me know.

See posts end of June 09 and the label ' Straight leg jump through'

Are my arms too short? Paul Grilley DVD Anatomy for Yoga

I bought Paul Grilley's DVD from Yogamatters via Amazon UK for £16.99 . However, if you buy it direct from their website I think they have it listed at £22.00 . I gave Yogamatters a hard time when I had to wait a couple of weeks for the Lino Miele book but this time the DVD arrived within a couple of days (and over the Christmas period too).

It's good value running at over four hours. The lecture section takes up most of the DVD. The first lecture, The big Picture, is over an hour and outlines his basic premise the other lectures are about half an hour each and illustrate the argument further by focusing on different aspect of our anatomy. It's in a presentation setting and he uses several yoga practitioners to illustrate and
demonstrate.There's also a question and answer session and some special features.

Paul looks at two kinds of Resistance that he labels tension and compression. Tension is concerned with muscles, sinews and tendons and can be stretched/developed through Yoga and exercise. Compression, however, is where bone meets bone and can't go any further.

This is a comparative anatomy presentation, Paul shows how we all have different bone idiosyncrasies and considers how our bone structure may determine our asana.

In the neck example on the left, he shows the limits of neck extension on different models. These are all yoga practitioners who have been practicing Yoga for a long time, their limit is a matter of bone compression rather than their flexibility. He has even more dramatic examples on hip rotation, shoulder extension etc. These skeletal limits are important for teachers of course but especially for the home Yogi. We tend to try and make our poses look like those in a books and videos and, especially in the early days, think that if we don't look like the picture then it's a lack of flexibility. It may be flexibility but it might also be our bone structure and no matter how flexible we may become we might never be able to look like the picture in the book.

However, and this is an important point that Paul stresses throughout the video, although we may not look like the picture in the book it doesn't necessarily mean we're not benefiting from the stretch. It might just be that we're feeling the stretch at a different point than the model or another yogi or our teacher. We might feel the benefit of the stretch at less or more extension than someone else.

It also doesn't mean that we cant necessarily do an asana, although it may. If our bones are built such that they stop us extending our arms back, in wheel say, it might just mean that we need to adjust our arms, shoulders or elbows to enable us to achieve the pose and it's benefits.
Watching the DVD I was constantly jumping up to see how I compared to the models on the screen, and in this sense it's an excellent DVD for gaining insight into your own bone structure.
The presentation is very clear and you don't need an MD to keep up.

Here's a link to Pranamaya with some video samples of the DVD

"So Paul, are my arms to short for the jump back?"

Had I watched this DVD a few months back I might have just switched off and not listened to what Paul is actually saying and given up on ever achieving the Jump back. He looks at "Arm to torso proportion" in section 5. take a look at these two pictures.

The first models hands reach the floor naturally without any stretching or leaning. The second models hands are several inches short.of the ground. He will need to lower his scapula and bend forward just to touch the floor. As the first model is already touching the floor when he engages his scapula and bends forward he's able to press down with full leverage to raise himself from the ground. To get the same height Paul argues the second model would need to use blocks to regain the extra couple of inches, as his leverage has been halved just reaching the floor in the first place.

As with all the other examples I jumped up and checked where I came in comparison with the models. "OH NO!" thinks I, "my hands are a long way from the ground, I'll never be able to Jump back." and I start googling Iyengar and Bikrim to consider changing styles. But hang on a minute, I CAN JUMP BACK, check out my last few jump back videos.

But this fits with what Paul is saying throughout the DVD. Sometimes you'll have to find ways of working around your bone structure, of living with it because it ain't gonna change.

I've had to work at my jump back to make up for my bone structure. The design of my bones appears to suggest that I begin with less leverage. However, I've been able to find ways to maximise the leverage I do have and if I look at the seven elements in the series of posts I presented in December that seems to be what I'm doing.

"So Paul are my arms to short for the jump back?"

"No, but you might have to work at it some".

PS. Why is it so so hard to format and reformat a post on Blogger, Grrrrrrr...!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Free online Mindfulness Meditation Course just started.

The link above is to the Audiodharma Free online Mindfulness (Vipassana) meditation course.

The lectures are by Gil Fronsdal. I've been listening to talks by him on the Audiodharma and Zencast podcasts for the last year and a half. (easy going, insightful, fun) Find mindfulness fits well with my Ashtanga practice. Gives you great tools to help you stay present.
Still possible I think to "Audit" the course which, for the non Americans, means follow the course but without the feedback from tutors. But if you miss it or this is a bad time to follow the whole course you can find intro to mindfulness meditation lectures by Gil on the Zencast podcast on itunes.

First week is on the breath

Here's the course outline
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Gil Fronsdal and Ines Freedman Support Teachers: Bill Hart, Chris Clifford, Dave Judd, Ines Freedman, Kim McLaughlin, Maria Straatmann, Mary Helen Fein, Michael Whiteley, Nona Olivia, Rebecca Dixon, Susan Ezequelle and Uri Silberstein.
January 5 - February 21, 2009
This is an online course based on Gil Fronsdal's six-week introduction to Mindfulness Meditation class. The course will be supplemented with written material, mindfulness exercises for bringing the practice into daily life, and reflective questions. Ines Freedman, as the online teacher for the course, will provide further teachings. Additional guidance will be provided by the various teachers.
The course is not live, so it can be done at any time during the day. Any questions during the course will be handled by email or at pre-arranged times using telephone, Skype or Instant Messenger.

Cost: Following the Buddhist tradition that all teachings be given freely, there is no charge for this course. Donations are welcome. For questions, send an email to Audiodharma Course.

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A Reminder

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
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