27 Apr 2011

Me too, straight leg jump through!!!

Inspired by Grimmly's post, I too tried to jump through with straight legs. 

To my utter surprise did it!!  First time, and now first time to post a film clip.

I cannot express my happiness and amazement, which in the bigger picture of things is such a small and insignificant matter, but I’m sure some ashtangis out there will understand.
I have always done the so-called Kino style jump through, balance and swing through cross legged. At the moment this is the more controlled way for me, and it seems to let me really connect with my bandhas, lets me feel them in action.  I think this is the best way to start jumping through, that is just my opinion though.

However, the straight legged version has been a major obstacle. I've had a block with straight legs.  Years ago a teacher in a jump back/through workshop told me to just not cross my legs and I'd have it nailed, ha easier said than done.  Total head block. Frustrated, I blamed my short arms and long body. But I tried and tried and tried, and every time I would cross my legs at the last minute, or my feet would shudder to a sudden stop between my hands. I gave up. Bad lady that I am.

Until today.  I watched the video on Grimmlys blog very carefully, and thought I'd give it another go.  My legs shot through, straight..ish!!!  OK so I landed with a huge thwump! But it's a start, here begins a mission for a modicum of control.  Now I think that to land without a bottom thud requires far superior bandha control.  I need a lot more work on this.   Feed back, hints, tips welcome, pleeease.

24 Apr 2011

Existential Happiness

The Myth of Sisyphus, has this week provided me with a little thought nutrition and so I have manged to roll my as....ana up the hill through injury, which, by the way, is getting better. There I was, miserably imagining myself a sisyphus, doomed to work through yet another modified practice.

Why have I always thought exestentialism to be so bleak? The absurdity of our existence, doing the same thing over and over again, not just ball rolling asana but everything, waking, eating, sleeping, working, cleaning, conversations. Yet this is life. Years ago the routine, the repetitiveness, depressed  me, I had to give up my existential reading in order to get out of bed and deal with life.

But now, since daily yoga practice, I have become more at peace with existing, and found a happiness less dependent upon external factors.  Still very much a work in progress, but there IS progress.  Especially with  ashtanga, practicing the sequence over and over and over and over, going deeper and deeper.  The forms are the same yet the currents run deep. Repetitive, yet always different. I never would have thought that after seven years of primary I am still very much engaged with the practice, still discovering, not just the phsycial, but the mental, the energetics, the whole lifestyle, the never ending practice that is life.  Enjoy the process. 

The words of Albert Camus hit the yogic spot

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.  One must imagine Sisyphus happy"

Be happy to exist.

Happy to practice everything.

Oh and big thanks to my fellow ashtangi artist friend Birgit Deubner for letting me post her photos of "Sisyphus Dungbeetle"  which she rolled around the city of Liverpool. 

17 Apr 2011

Sisyphus Syndrome

Got a whole new spurt of yogic inspiration, positive thinking, full of love and light, had the most wonderful practice; focussed, calm, smooth, almost got my ankles in Kapotasana, feet locked and comfy in Yoga Nidrasana, even decided to go all out and add on Tittibhasana A and B, back bends good, worked on parallel feet albeit with heels lifting considerably coming up.  I didn't push too hard, everything felt good and open and very energetic.  There was one glitch, Supta Vajrasana when I put my right leg into lotus there was  a cracking sound, not sure if it was hip or knee, think knee and then a little pain, so I layed off it for that asana and continued.  The ending lotuses were OK, a teeny weeny pain but nothing major.  Finished practice, felt wonderful, had a lovely evening.

However, the next morning, before I even move I am aware of pain, big pain in my right leg.  Pain that makes me hobble around unable to put weight on it while coming down stairs...what the ...  ?  First time ever for this.  I had pain on the front and side of my hip and the inside knee and back inner knee.  Feels a little like a ski accident I had with damagaed ligaments.  A day of pain. A day of rest.  Next three days ladies holiday, topped off with a full moon tomorrow.   Good timing. Total rest needed for this one.

Went to see the healer the next morning.....seemed to help, movement coming back, four days on now and walking and stairs and squatting OK, but bent with external rotation as in Janusirasana still painful.

Am beginning to feel like Sisyphus.  I get over one thing, a brief reprise of regular feel good practice and then, here we go again. February had me out a bit with my shoulder, heals, then March with earthquake induced craziness, now right leg for April.  Feels like I irritated a ligament in my knee.  Looked at my anatomy books, need to study more.  Oh well, maybe that is the purpose of this, to become better aquainted with the intricacies of my hip and knee.

Ha!  Then I was checking my spelling for Sisyphus... and found:

Sisyphus 'syndrome'
Psychiatry A mindset typical of a stress-driven type 'A' person, who obtains no gratification from accomplishing the difficult goals he or she places upon himself or herself.

Can relate a little, not stress driven, but gratification upon achieving goals.....achieve one and then straight onto the next.  Hmmmmm something in that perhaps.
Any advice? Opinions? Same experience? Cyber shala, help!!

13 Apr 2011

Nature: The Master Teacher

More and more earthquakes have been rocking my little world and playing havoc with my nerves, yesterday I hit an all time low.  Irrational.  I had just HAD enough, ok.  The scales, which had been in very fine balance, tipped. Felt like I was gonna go crazy, even had a little sob.....which didn't help.  Would things just please stop moving! Escaped into my book for a while and then engrossed myself in cooking dinner.  Yoga class was packed. The energy was strong and I dwelt on surrender, as I struggled with newbies' limbs resisting my attempts to help them, and I am not talking about sphaghetti style adjustments, just small alignment details, but the unecessary muscle power, people were as taut as strings on a bow.  Surrender, relax, let go.  Returning home with smiles.

Regarding the quakes, I have done what I can to prepare myself for another big quake, now I need to surrender, just as I do in my practice.  The quakes are showing us where the power lies, where the control is. Do not be fooled. There is really nothing else one can do when the earth shakes, but let go of any idea of control, fear and just take what happens.  Not an easy lesson to swallow, but it is coming.

Another thought of the day was the popular phrase, to take practice.  I really get it.  Up until now I have practiced.  But these days I've been taking practice, as one would take medicine.  Primary series, therapy, strengthening and balancing in every aspect. 

Breathe deep, calm and let go,so thankful for this practice, om shanti shanti shantihi om.

6 Apr 2011

Sun is shining

This morning felt a little lighter than previous ones with the news that they finally managed to stop the radioactive water from leaking into the sea.  It's a small step in the right direction.  There is so much to be sad about, this week I have been thinking of the sea, and the battering it's taking.

Even light enough to practice in silence,  no Sharath CD and the first intermediate in a long time.  I also made it to the mat before breakfast, back to regular practice hours. Chilly, stiff, heaterless practice but it was good, as was Macha and Japanese sweets sitting outside my house in the sun.

Last nights Earthquake donation class was packed, hard practice, great energy, good to see people connect. .    

3 Apr 2011

Yoga Chikitsa and Nuclear Meltdown.

Was waiting for all this to be over before I posted again, but it's looking like that could be a long time.

It has been a very tense and heartbreaking three weeks. People on the verge of tears.  Meeting  friends, students, at some point we will well up.  It really is just such a horrendously enormous disaster. Physcially, mentally we're ok here in Yamagata City, but emotions are raw.

Feeling bad for all those people who haven't had the support of a yoga practice and community both material and cyber.  This is where the power of yoga is.  Bringing people together on a higher plane of being. To coin a phrase (sorry can't remember the name of the Zen Ashtangi) I've been trying to 'practice heroically'.  It's tough at times to focus under these circumstances, but practicing primary everyday, often with a friend, with Sharath's CD has been a comfort. Just to listen, surrender and breathe.  One of my students wrote, its for times like these that we have been training in yoga., to make our mind, body and spirit strong.   I have even more faith in Yoga Chikitsa now, my body is sorted, mind is following, and emotions, well that'll come in time, keep breathing, practicing, oh and that teeny left over of shoulder weirdness...GONE, along with four kilos of weight....nerves'll do that to ya!
For my small part I've tried to keep our group together in spirit, we've had some classes and people are practising hard, like they need it.  Which of course we all do. I shall help with donations, with a primary  led class for charity. When the time is right I'd really like to offer more.  One of the most difficult things is being so close but relatively useless, everyone wants to help. 

The first few days really were quite terrifying, and I'm not even in a disaster zone, just the neighbour of three.  But talks of nuclear explosions and melt down, radiation levels, winds, possiblity of another big earthquake anytime anywhere, constant constant tremours. Subtle vibrations, shakes, jolts. There was a lack of information, or rather lots of things being written but trying to find the facts, what is actually happening, what do we need to do to prepare. Reseach skills have seriously been honed, as has my knowlege of nuclear reactors and radiation. New respect for the services and miltary, and eyes opened to the workings of mass media.  I have been sticking to technical reports and serious, informed journalism. I must say the government broadcasting messages have been really good at keeping people calm. Information is out there, after the weather forcast we have now a radiation level forcast.  Each prefecture also publish hourly updates on air radition levels, and daily for water and food.  For the first week many slept ready to grab their survival pack and get out of the house.  There is a fault line near here, if a big quake occured there would be liquification of land in one area.  Nerves frayed, heart races at every tremor. Tremors experienced in shouldstand and urdvha padmasana were two of the more memorable ones.  But these are worries, worries don't actually exist, some mind control needed here, ok prepare, but don't worry. 

Still there is so much suffering around, so much, the consequences are vast and seemingly never ending. Those courageous workers in Fukushima battling away, other's trying to just survive day to day in the massive clear up.  Nerves are frayed and lives have been destroyed the situation in the worst hit areas is tense, people are starting to crack. The tsunami has produced 23 years worth of rubbish.  Just that is unfathomable, what will be done with it all?   However the human spirit is strong and will overcome, support is coming in, in all shape and form.  The motto here is: all that can be done is just to do whatever it is you can do. For the most part that means carrying on with daily life, keep money circulating, keep society ticking over.

Thanks to everyone keeping Japan in their thoughts, a lot of positive energy is needed, it really makes a difference. x