Two poses that prepare the leg behind back poses

_DSC2660-2-Bearbeitet.jpg
_DSC2678-Bearbeitet.jpg

Marichyasana A is a pose that prepares leg behind head poses. The knee is already above or behind the back. Sometimes this is the pose I exercise when my body feels too stiff for these leg behind head poses. Important is to move forward and to bring the abdomen close to the leg. To bind is the next step. It can be useful to stretch forward and to bind the hands in front of the foot.

For me the asana in the second picture is a very nice preparation, too. I stretch the leg and I stretch the body. The hand gives support. It’s not all or nothing. Tiny steps in the right direction are sometimes the best advice in order to approach challenging asanas.

Of course I appreciate the day off today.

Might be that I do some asanas today or strength training. I will surely not practice Ashtanga yoga.

Leg behind back

_DSC2692-Bearbeitet.jpg

Most asanas of the first Ashtanga yoga series are forward bending asana. It seems to me as if all these asanas shall prepare the body for one of the most difficult asanas of primary: supta kurmasana. Supta kurmasana is one of the four core asanas of primary. Most people struggle with this pose. Often this pose is not possible even after years of practice.

Supta kurmasana means to take both legs behind the back. Then one lowers the head to the floor. The arms bind behind the back. This is advanced.

There are approaches to supta kurmasana that are more reasonable than trying something again and again for years.

First one must be able to take one leg behind the head, before one tries to take both legs behind the head. This is a difference. This was the way I learned supta kurmasana. I had a flexible teacher who ‘allowed’ me to do second series even though I was not able to do supta kurmasana. Soon I learned to take one leg behind the head. After this interim step supta kurmasana was possible one day.

In order to adjust myself I put one leg behind my back while lying on the floor. That way my body can push my leg backwards. There is much less pressure on the neck. It allows me to stretch the body. After this exercise it becomes easier to sit in that position.

_DSC2686-Bearbeitet.jpg

Each pose shall feel good finally. This feeling good experience is easier to get when on the back. It’s more relaxing than sitting. In the above pose the body pushes the leg to the ground. When in a sitting position, the leg pushes the neck forward.

It can make sense to hold this interim asana up to a minute. The body and mind need time to relax.

After this preparation pose I exercised eka pada sirsasana (see first picture). It allowed me to have my back rather straight.

_DSC2698-Bearbeitet.jpg

I practiced primary. this morning. It was good to practice with an empty stomach before breakfast. During the last decade I have learned some asanas, surely. More important is that I learned how to learn these challenging asanas.

Self-study is recommended, but how?

  • To hold an asana longer than 5 breaths can be useful.

  • Finding similar, but easier asanas is very helpful

  • To find out how one can adjust oneself can help a lot, too.

  • To encourage oneself is also important. Yes, I can.

Today I still omitted supta kurmasana. I feel it already, it becomes possible again, soon.

I’m thankful for a challenging practice without back pain.

The spine

_DSC2613-Bearbeitet.jpg

The spine has 24 vertebras. They are connected via joints. This is why we can move our body in different directions. The perfect construction of the spine allows this flexibility.

  1. We can do inversions. When the head is below the heart we have an inversion pose. It feels as if one can create room.

  2. We can bend backwards.

  3. The spine allows to move the upper body sidewards.

  4. Twists are possible.

  5. We can also round the body and bow forward.

This is a lot. Most people don’t move the body in these different directions, even though the body allows to do it. One day the spine is stiff and not so many movements are possible anymore. Having limitations often comes with age, when people didn’t work on staying flexible. Yet this needn’t be the case. We can keep the spine flexible.

I always aim for a balanced practice. I don’t think that primary series of Ashtanga yoga is a balanced practice. 80% of the asanas are forward bending asanas. They aim at making the hip joint more flexible, but mainly in one direction: forward. The spine remains in it’s natural state. I have the feeling that all these forward bending asanas shall prepare the body for the leg behind head poses. I like these advanced asanas, but are they really important? I don’t think so. It’s more important to move the spine in different directions.

I often add a side stretch these days. I hold the twists longer than 5 breaths. I alter primary with second series.

Today I had to motivate myself to start practicing. As soon as I had done the first sun salutations I was concentrated and enjoyed the practice. The three sun salutations B were easier already than yesterday. Nevertheless my heart rate went up and I sweated a lot. After 90 minutes I was exhausted.

I did urdhva dhanurasana. After all these forward bending asanas it was a weak pose. It makes more sense to work on back bending asanas when I practice second series.

Getting stronger, becoming more flexible again is a journey that requires patience. There is no shortcut. It takes time.

Back bending

_DSC2603-Bearbeitet.jpg

Today I was curious how the back bending asanas would look. They always feel intensive. What I realize is that I have a starting point that is motivating. Not everything is lost. The above pose was possible after many many repetitions. Today was my back bending day. Also my wheel helped me to get deeper and deeper into back bending poses. 90 minutes were over very fast. 90 minutes is enough. I try to fill this time with exercises that make sense. Quality over quantity.

The plan:

  1. The classic exercise is to lift up and to hold urdhva dhanurasna for 5 breaths. Then one lowers the head to the floor. The hands walk to the feet. and again the arms stretch and lift the body into urdhva dhanurasana. I think this is a good start.

  2. In order to get stronger one can lift up as often as possible. One can do 3 sets of this.

  3. It can also be useful to aim for holding this pose for 1 minute. The body needs time to stretch. Last but not least urdhva dhanurasana is a pose that stretches the body backwards.

Urdhva dhanurasana is an asana that Ashtangis practice every day.

After the twists of the second series the time was over.

I was strong

I was strong. Focus is on ‘was’. Today I practiced primary. The plan was to do all the vinyasas. I’m too weak for this these days. I couldn’t even fake myself through this dynamic movement between the asanas. I’m relaxed. It will take some time to get stronger, but it’s possible.

Most important is that I can practice without back pain.

I was so much stronger than I’m now, but I was never strong enough for some poses. Strength training will help me to perform the vinyasas. It will make my practice easier. Today I reached my limits.

Last week I bought these grips. They shall support my effort to master the vinyasas one day. The first step is to lift myself up with straight legs and with crossed legs. To hold this position for 10 breaths is demanding. Then I can aim for swinging forwards and backwards……..

My practice must have priority again. All the other tasks that rise every day, don’t run away from me. They stick like glue. They don’t disappear in the evening like the sun. They can wait at least a bit.

Tomorrow I’ll focus on back bending again. I’m looking forward to my practice.

On Sundays my yoga week begins

_DSC2559-2-Bearbeitet.jpg

So much went well today:

  • I started my practice before breakfast. This allowed me to get deep into the twists. The breakfast after an intensive practice tastes also better. It feels as if it#s deserved.

  • Today I was able to do 5 sun salutations A and 3 sun salutations B. Yoga in general doesn’t cover everything. The cardiovascular system doesn’t get trained very well. Only during the sun salutations and during back bending asanas my heart is challenged. My fitbit watch told me this. So to get back to 8 sun salutations felt good. My back does allow to do sun salutations B these days.

  • 90 minutes I practiced one asana after the other. I linked them with vinyasas. This is a challenge in concentration.

These days I wonder how I can learn the asanas more effectively. Practice and all is coming, sounds easy and nice, but it’s not very useful. One must practice correctly. The didactic is neglected in the community. This is why I want to focus on my blog on this topic.

A useful advice is that if an asana is difficult, it makes sense to hold this asana longer than 5 breaths. It can be helpful to repeat the asana up to 3 times. Additional asanas might be helpful, too.

I repeated ustrasana 3 times. It didn’t feel so good as it used to. Each time it got easier. I had also put a block between my ankles to have resistance when engaging the legs. The knees move inwardly.

Amazing how optimistic I’m after each practice. Nevertheless the break was good. My back needed it. My practice is now pain free. It took me more then 2 years to feel healed at least 98 %. Sometimes when I pick something up from the floor, a sudden pain arises. It disappears fast.

My injury brought me back to practice alone. At home I can take care of myself and I can adjust the practice to my needs.

The happiness pill

_DSC2304.jpg

It was the early afternoon when I started with the first sun salutations. Very soon I knew that it would be a great practice. This is not important if a practice is intensive or not. But important is to practice. I admit before I stepped on the mat I had exhausted myself with cleaning the kitchen. An inner voice protested. Don’t exhaust yourself with daily chores. Exhaust yourself with a yoga practice. Thought and done.

Almost 90 minutes I was on the mat and practiced primary. Today I even pushed me into urdhva dhanurasana. This is a gift from heaven that I’m able to do this again. Thank you.

When I walked to the fruit and vegetable dealer round the corner, I felt so exhilarated that I swore to practice tomorrow again. I felt so stable and also so protected. This practice grounds me.