Quick fix

_DSC1854-Bearbeitet.jpg

Of course one can learn some skills very fast. Headstand (not handstand) can be learned within half an hour. The Sivananda Yoga schools still offer headstand workshops that last 30 minutes. I learned sirsasana from Sivananda teacher. The teaching was convincing. If one knows how to do it, one is able to do it. The issue in other yoga styles is that even the teacher does not know how to teach it. They send the students to the wall and this makes it very likely that this student will never learn headstand in the middle of the room.

I’m convinced that most processes can get more drive, more speed. Doing things right usually speeds up the process. Quick fixes on the other hand are often a bad solution to an issue or goal.

Yet in the meantime almost every branch offers quick fixes that are lousy solutions. Often it deserves the name fraud.

  1. A quick fix is to go to a restaurant. Since Corona I cook. The restaurants were closed. Yet I started to eat out for lunch since the restaurants are open again. Very seldom I eat out, but each time I regret it. It’s not a good solution when I want to eat well. True is that my stomach gets quickly something to eat. But usually I gain weight, I feel full after lunch. If I get only few vegetables I’m happy. I compromise already when I order a vegetarian meal as most restaurants don’t have vegan options. I get quick something to eat that’s the point. It takes time to cook. I must have ingredients at home, I must cook and do the dishes afterwards. But it’s so much better and healthier than a quick fix.

  2. Many doctors offer quick fixes. A patient has high blood pressure. Instead of talking about the possible causes for instance the weight, the doctor has a pill. This pill must be taken for the rest of the life of this patient. To lose weight would be the better solution, yet this takes time. It often requires that someone changes habits. A quick fix is often welcomed, but it remains a lousy solution in comparison to start a healthy life. There are pills for almost every ‘disease’.

  3. In the photography community quick fixes are offered, too. It sounds like that: Use square format. In addition use the filters we’re offering for only xy-Dollars and your pictures are better. Yes, might be. But nobody becomes a better photographer that way. Applying filters is fun, a quick fix. Learning photoshop takes time. It comes with frustrations, but it opens a world of creative possibilities.

  4. We all know the get rich quickly books. It can happen for sure. If someone has a strategy that makes him/her rich in 80 years, it’s not such a good strategy. If someone wins the lottery he/she gets rich quick. How often does this happen? There are ways to speed up the process of becoming wealthy. If someone offers 25 % interest or even more if banks pay 0 interest, one can be sure that through this quick fix someone will lose money. It’s fraud and no quick fix.

  5. Diets is another huge topic. Lose 5 pounds within a week. Most diets cause the opposite the client wants. The promise to lose 5 pounds within a week might be realistic, but what after the 5 weeks. Many people gain weight. Soon they weight more than before the diet. A quick fix was harmful.

  6. It’s now the same with yoga. Splits within a week. 80.000 went through the program and learned the splits already. I read the comments and found some critical ones. I saw this advertising many times already and changed the preset. Quickly a message by fb popped up. You were interested in ads like this. Have you changed your mind? Learning asanas takes time. It’s a journey. Splits require stretching and this takes time. Quickly one is overstretched and injured. Indeed one can speed up the learning process through right exercises, commitment, repetitions, daily practice. Some yogini learn faster than others. Some are talented and are able to do all poses almost at once. Most people have to start a learning process that last forever. If you stop practicing the splits after a week you’ll lose this ability to split. It’s that simple.

No quick fix for me today:

  • My yoga practice humbled me already. Since a decade I work on some poses. I’m still burning to learn kapotasana, standing up from urdhva dhanurasana and so on. I can tell already how it feels to face frustrations and joys, mountains and valleys, ups and downs. I keep practicing.

  • I have the motivation to prepare my own meal today, because it tastes so much better and it’s so much healthier. Staying healthy is important.

Side plank - two attempts

_DSC1578-Bearbeitet.jpg

The next asana of this handstand challenge created by Kino on Instagram was side plank. Side plank is doable, I thought. There is no easy asana, of course not, but there is a hierarchy. There are challenging asanas and impossible ones and many levels in between. Side plank seems to be relatively manageable. To balance in any asana requires strength and technique as well. I opted for an easier version of this pose. Instead of balancing on my hand I wanted to balance on my lower arm. To lift myself up was not within my possibilities at the moment I took this photo. I lacked energy. I lied there and called it an attempt.

Next day I had this glorious idea to watch the instructions by Kino on her omstars channel before heading to the mat for a photo shooting.

See the difference:

_DSC1655.jpg

This is a side plank. After the tutorial I was motivated to try the more challenging plank pose. To look at the hand on the floor is a great variation. Even my feet are as they are supposed to be. I could hold this pose easily.

All balancing asanas support the journey to handstand. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to do handstand press. But the journey towards this pose is indeed an exciting one. I enjoy the trip so far.

Urdhva dhanurasana

_DSC1727-Bearbeitet.jpg

Great. I did it.

Today was my back bending day. I usually start with the second Ashtanga Yoga series on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I add asanas that I consider as supportive. For instance do I add the splits before ustrasana. Today I stretched also the upper body. Usually I practice urdhva dhanurasana against a wall. I hold it for one minute. These tiny variations make it easy to repeat the pose. Repetition is so important. Often the back bending asanas take so much time that I don’t have the time to do all the poses of the second series. I usually add twists and one or two forwardbending asanas. A longer or shorter closing sequence finishes my practice. Tomorrow I’ll work on forward bending asanas and vinyasa again.

The floor on the picture tells me that my hands couldn’t walk closer to the feet since I took pictures the last time. The pose looks like a few weeks back. This is OK, because practicing this pose is already an accomplishment. The pictures are so similar, that I wonder what is different. This time I had put my T-shirt into my pants to prevent it from sliding. I used the black yoga mat as it is thicker and softer.

Utthita parsvottanasana

_DSC1610.jpg

Monday is primary day for Ashtanga Yoga practitioners. Primary is focused on forward bending asanas mainly.

The back of the body gets stretched. The hamstrings might sing a song about forward bending asanas.

I’m surely a fan to practice effectively. I personally want to do what works. Miracles don’t happen.

Stretching takes time. It takes much longer if not done correctly. It takes a felt eternity if injuries happen. Injuries are setbacks.

How to stretch:

  1. Firstly the closer the feet the more challenging the asana is. It’s good advice to move from easy to more challenging. Gravity helps to get deeper into the pose. Yet, the pose must be held longer than 5 breaths if one wants to see results. One minute is a good beginning. More than 5 minutes is not necessary. If the asanas becomes a piece of cake 5 breaths might be enough. There are other asanas who scream for attention…..

  2. The weight is on the back leg. Also this shift helps to deepen the asana.

  3. Engaging the abdomen and the pelvis floor show sudden effects.

  4. With each inhaling the body stretches, with each exhaling the upper body moves closer to the front leg.

I used the arms as a leverage. It helped me a lot. Yet this variation must be used with care. Once I injured myself. Hamstring were pulled. We always remember the injuries. As it can be seen on the picture this variation helps me to move deeper into the pose. It’s more about lengthening the upper body. With the arm as leverage it helps to keep the back straight.

Most standing asanas can be practiced everywhere and even with clothes (if those are not too tight). I always preferred clothes that allowed me to move. Minimum requirement of a pair of trousers is that it allows me to sit in lotus pose. Sometimes I try this in the shop. One can feel at once if a piece is comfortable or not.

My Monday morning practice was so intensive, I didn’t like to spoil it with taking pictures.

As mentioned. Stretching takes time. When practicing correctly the process is faster. Yet it takes time to stretch. Stretching can be done often. Take care and stretch.

Being flexible gives me a feeling of freedom. My body doesn’t limit myself.

This is how the asana looks after having applied the leverage with the arms. Abdomen are engaged. I guess I was one minute in that pose.

_DSC1613.jpg

Twists and back bending asanas

Twist, July 2020

Twist, July 2020

The twists support back bending asanas. They can serve as a warm up for back bending. The twists open the upper body and move one shoulder after the other backwards. I got a feeling for the shoulder blades. They can actively support the process of twisting and bending backwards. The above asana is in addition a balancing challenge. Next challenge could be to lift the stretched leg. There is always another fancy variation. This keeps the practice lively and interesting. One must learn to be content with what is, even though there could be always more. The status quo is that something could be always better. It’s important to find highlights in the practice. To practice is alway the first accomplishment.

Today my yoga week began with second series, that is the focus was back bending. Two hours were over so quickly. I could stick to my plan. I held urdhva dhanurasana for over one minute. One minute can be rather long.

My timer allows to set intervals. This could be useful for poses that one wants to hold for five minutes for instance. To hear every minute a sound helps to be committed. One more minute is doable, five minutes sound so incredible long.

Difficulties to perform an asana are an opportunity to deepen the understanding of this asana. One learns to be patient, one learns to develop a plan, one learns to stay committed despite the stones on the path.

Time to cook. I’ll prepare eggplants with Basmati rice for us today. I’ve even a fresh water melon in the fridge. It could be our healthy dessert.

I wish my readers an awesome start in the new week.

I get stronger again

_DSC1003-Bearbeitet.jpg

On Fridays Ashtanga Yoga practitioners focus on the first series. So did I this morning. Primary helps to get stronger due to the many many vinyasa between asanas and sides. I integrate the handstand drills that I learned lately. That is I knew many of them, but with a goal in mind I’m motivated to do the extra work.

My feet are always sliding on the mat when I jump forward. In order to make the next step I must film myself. A cursing yogini is a contradiction, but each time when one of my foot is sliding I curse. I have the feeling that I’m so close to a nice swinging through my arms. Yet when the floor stops me, the movement is uneven. The handstand training is very supportive. Perhaps I won’t learn handstand, but to do a nice vinyasa one day with all these handstand drills.

My handstand training with Kino motivates me also to work on strength. Practicing with an online community is a joy as well. Every single practitioner gives energy to the group and receives energy. This exchange of energy is perhaps not so strong like in a yoga class, when I sweat next to yogini who fight with the asanas like I do. Yet the energy of the community is there and it’s very positive.

Yepee, I practiced. There is no discussion if or if not. I don’t ask myself what mood I have today. I know it will change as soon as I start with the first inhalation. It will change during the practice. Highlights are experienced during every practice. In the beginning I’m strong. The longer I practice the more exhausted I feel. The stretching pain feels awful. But when finally the poses feel good and when I can relax when I practice once challenging asanas it’s rather satisfying.

That I don’t omit vinyasa anymore is a huge step. It took me years to recover from my back injury.

It’s always a joy, when I feel no pain at all in my back. I don’t even think about my back when I practice these days. This is a gift.

Daily practice is the key

_DSC1062-Bearbeitet.jpg

Slowly I understand asanas better and better. I know strength, stretching and balancing exercises. I know how to focus and breathe. My mind has learned to think: go for it, it’s possible. I also know that learning never stops. What we all know now, might be proved wrong tomorrow.

During my daily practice I always experience: Nothing is more important than the daily work, the daily practice if one wants to be a serious student of anything. The most effective exercise has no positive effect if not applied minimum three times a week, better every day.

That is after an intensive strength training, a break is recommended. Stretching must be done correctly as well.

My idea is to integrate supportive exercises in my morning practice. Sometimes I step on the mat in the evening as well, but not always. It’s summer time and it’s nice to go out for a walk in the evening.

It’s also important to find one’s own learning method. There are tested methods, but there is also an individual part. There is a tsunami of yoga tutorials on the internet. Many are produced so fast and they are so difficult to follow that they do more harm than good. I try to remember three exercises, when I watch a tutorial. During the next practice I try it. One cannot do everything. It’s too much. Everybody is a master today. Everybody has something to teach. To run from one exercise to the next makes no sense either. Firstly I’d like to being able to perform an exercise easily before moving on to the next challenge. Slowing down might finally speed up the learning process.

We learn from others a lot. It’s also possible to learn from the own practice.

The above exercise is a stretching exercise. Instead of virabhadrasana I practice the above pose as a preparation for the back bending.

My timer is always next to me. It’s easier to hold a pose longer when waiting for an external clue. The sound of a timer can get a lot of authority.

The grip

_DSC1378.jpg

In the very first handstand lesson of the 30 day handstand challenge created by Kino on omstars I learned how important the grip is. The fingers work hard. Their task is to balance the body. With time and exercise even the fingers can get stronger.

I realized during my practices that a strong grip is useful whenever the hands are on the floor. It helps enormously in asanas like bakasana, all vinyasa, buja pidasana, chakrasana. Alone this insight was worth starting the handstand journey. Today I had the feeling as if my practice improved, because I always remembered to have a very strong foundation. Also the toes can be active when on the floor.

Nevertheless, the feet don’t lift yet. I can lift one feet, but not both. I don’t want to jump. If I jumped I wouldn't be able to hold the asana.

Some handstand teacher recommend to float the feet between the hands. Then the hands step forward. That way one can move forward and backward on the mat. It surely is a good exercise. There are many exercises. It makes sense to look for the most effective ones. And one must like to do it.

_DSC1384.jpg

Another exercise that strengthens the core is to lift the body when in the above position. I need support. It can be seen that my feet don’t reach the same height than my hands. Core strength is necessary to lift the body when the hands are on the floor, but not only. The hip flexors must do a lot of work as well.

Being able to do this exercise well is crucial if one wants to jump back. I still have potential. :)

Keep practicing. Being strong feels good.

Handstand training

_DSC0780.jpg

Lately I started with handstand training. This was just an idea. The advantages of this training I realize already now. In order to balance handstand a strong core is necessary. Core training is part of every handstand training. I belong to the fraction who prefers stretching over strength training. Being strong and being flexible is evenly important.

There are core strength training exercises that I like. One is to lie on my back and to lift the legs straight. Everything becomes easier when we get better. Tiny steps are always a good beginning.

Whenever I find an asana or a strength exercise I wonder if I can integrate it in my daily Ashtanga practice. The above pose can easily be done after or before paschimottanasana. To lift the legs is the first step. To hold the pose is the second step. I needed to hold the pose till the camera made click. Having an external clue motivates enormously to push the limits.

Advantages of handstand training:

  1. The general posture improves.

  2. Finally core training is inevitable.

  3. A strong core protects the lower back.

  4. Like a miracle suddenly the vinyasa improve as well.

  5. Something new keeps the practice exciting.

  6. Exercising handstand makes you courageous. Handstand is a scary pose. One faces the fear and conquers it.

As always: The journey is minimum as important as the goal.

Handstand exercises

Something is still not as it’s supposed to be. To jump into a tuck handstand is perhaps not the right approach. I wish I could bend the legs when in position of the left picture. In yoga the movement shall be under control.

What is easy is not interesting. So I keep trying. I modify exercises. I take pictures. I read. I watch tutorials.

What I hoped became true. The handstand training is very good for the vinyasa of Ashtanga Yoga. I got stronger. Today I could do all vinyasaa of primary. Unbelievable.

I’ll work on core strength for sure.

Today I checked my handstand books. One exercise is always recommended. It’s climbing up the wall with the feet, belly is facing the wall. All handstand authors agree that a strong core is important. The shoulders shall be trained as well. They are injured very fast if they are not strong. I’ve a full schedule. Realizing that the exercises are useful motivates me.

Amazing how many people like to learn handstand. This must be something very special.

Online classes

I’ve a subscription for Kino’s omstars.com channel. From time to time I buy a yoga class. Today I tried to practice with the video. It’s difficult for me. When I practice I put my glasses off. In order to see the instructions and poses I need my glasses. When I finally know what to do the next pose is announced. I also try to follow the teacher while on my mat. Then I have to turn my head to the screen. This brings me out of a proper alignment.

My solution: I write down the main asanas and implement them in my daily practice.

I faced a similar issue in the vinyasa classes. Sometimes the teacher turned on music. I don’t like this spiritual music. To listen to these music and to the teacher at the same time was impossible. At my age I cannot hear so good anymore. In order to being able to follow the instructions I watched other students. I picked a person who seemed to be advanced and I copied her asanas. This usually feels very awkward. I stopped going to vinyasa classes with music.

Online classes are a solution during Corona times. I learn a lot from the classes. Yet I either practice or I watch. Sometimes I watch the videos several times to remember the suggested asanas and sequences.

Since yesterday night we’re at home again. My throat was a bit sore this morning. It was cold yesterday in the north. I had not much energy for my practice. One hour I was on the mat, then I gave up, I took a shower and bought fruit. I wanted to have a healthy breakfast. Finally again. No industrial sugar, no white bread, no jam. As fast as possible I want to get back to my fine-tuned healthy routines.

Another day off

_DSC5541-Bearbeitet.jpg

A funeral, parties, lovely dinners with my beloved one, gatherings with coffee, waffles and strawberries alter with daily life that is filled with healthy rituals.

Both life styles often don’t fit together even though I try to blend them.

Today I hang forward for 5 minutes. My hamstrings liked it….At least this, I thought.

I crawled up the wall with my feet to do a handstand. Did I get stronger already? I was less scary with the green soft grass under my hands than the last times. To walk the hands closer to the wall is a skill. It’s not only strength that helps to walk the hands closer to the wall while the feet lean against the wall. It helps to shift the body weight from one hand to the other. I didn’t fall the last times, so it was very likely that today I wouldn’t fall either. So it was. I got confidence and was less scary.

I don’t want to miss life due to my yoga practice. To live the life of a hermit is not for me. Sometimes I have to find a compromise.

Tomorrow it should be possible to practice primary despite the temperature. It’s fresh here. My idea of summer looks differently. There is room, there is time, I plan primary tomorrow.

We all have to face life with creativity and flexibility.

Every moment is precious.

Headstand

Sirsasana July 2020

Sirsasana July 2020

As I do this handstand training on omstars.com, headstand becomes interesting again.

To hold this pose at least up to five minutes will surely better the ability to balance.

During the closing sequence of Ashtanga Yoga, after the second series, headstand is done a bit differently than on the picture. One shall lift the head. The chin moves to the chest. I found very very few videos on that movement. Kino had produced one. In order to lift the head, the arms must lift the body. this creates room for the head. This tiny movement requires a lot of strength. To bring the chin to the chest is not a huge movement, yet it’s a challenge.

  1. Every asana gets more difficult when held longer.

  2. For most asanas variations can be exercised that are more challenging.

  3. How to get into an asana can be easy or difficult. To get into headstand with straight legs is surely more challenging than getting into the pose with bent legs.

Headstand can be rather relaxing.

How to balance:

  1. The finger hold the head.

  2. The arm position must be correct. It’s often said that the elbows shall form a triangle. Very often yogis have the elbows too far away from each other. My arms are rather parallel.

  3. An even breath helps to balance.

  4. Calm eyes help to balance.

  5. The bandhas (abdomen and pelvis floor) shall be engaged. This gives a certain lightness.

  6. Pressing the wrists against the floor stabilizes the pose as well.

Last year I went to Sivananda yoga. They always do handstand in the beginning of the asana series. They hold sirsasana rather long and do variations. Sirsasana is such a classic asana it’s worth to get to know this pose a bit better.

I knew a person who did only headstand, no other asana. He has found his asana, for sure.

Handstand training

Handstand training July 2020

Handstand training July 2020

It starts with strong fingers.

The wrists must be able to be in a 90 degree angle. Reverse dog, fingers pointing to the toes, is a good exercise.

Core strength is essential.

Yesterday I climbed up the wall again. It’s scary. I tremble for fear and because I’m weak. If one wants to learn handstand one must be patient. One needs trust that it will be possible one day.

The handstand program by Kino on omstars is very good. Kino shares generously her knowledge. What makes her so experienced is that she had difficulties as well to learn certain asanas.

Let’s keep practicing. It’s time well spent.

Handstand training

_DSC0536-Bearbeitet.jpg

I do create my own adventures for sure. Shall I really learn handstand? Yes, why not. If not now, when? How long shall I postpone this asana. It will support my vinyasaas. And I’m forced to have a really good posture. Otherwise handstand gets even more difficult as one has to compensate a bad posture with strength. A good posture is also important when standing on one’s feet.

Kino offered on her page omstars.com a handstand training. I’m in. Merciless as Kino is already in the second training the students are asked to climb the wall. I would get closer, but I lacked strength. That is: I have to repeat this pose. Shoulder strength must get developed.

It requires courage to do this pose. I don’t think that this asana is risky as seen on the picture. Nevertheless not so often i’m upside down that way. Kino is so experienced. I’m looking forward to the handstand challenge. She had created an Instagram challenge in addition to her videos on omstars.

Next adventure: Today I’ll prepare anything with my already cooked chickpeas. Cooking without recipe is my next adventure. It’s not risky at all. Restaurants are open again.

Playing around

_DSC0463-Bearbeitet.jpg

I’m so happy that our TV program is not interesting today. I’m not in the mood to watch a thriller or a life style documentary on a daily basis. So I have time to play with my wheel. The days are long. It’s 7 pm and still don’t need electric light. I can create my own adventures. Will my feet reach the wall? Will I fall out of the pose?

I think this is a nice bow.