Core strength - plank pose

Chaturanga dandasana, March 2021

Chaturanga dandasana, March 2021

Plank pose: The body is supposed to be straight.

From plank pose one can exercise a lot of variations. They have all the purpose to make the body stronger. One can lift one arm or one leg or the right arm and the lift leg and so on. To stay in that position for one minute can be challenging as well.

It’s a great arm exercise when lowering slowly.

Important is to engage the entire body.

One can shift the weight of the body from one hand to the other.

I like that it’s easy to integrate some variations of this position when doing the sun salutations.

The core and the back must be seen together. Shalabhasana gives the opportunity to work on back strength.

All core strength exercises are preparations for the jumping back and forward vinyasa.

My experience is that it’s better to exercise a few core strength exercises that one can integrate in a practice than to aim for another strength practice. Repetition is a key here. Repeat the poses and movements that you like. After a while one can alter the exercises.

Keep practicing.

Ashtanga - jumping back

March is the vinyasa month.

Yesterday I watched a lot of YouTube videos on yoga and also on asanas and vinyasa.

I started with an interview with yogi Swenson, who sat years on my sofa in my practice room via his great book. He’s a yoga teacher and has decades of experience with students. He described the journey of yoga how many experience it: First the learning curve goes up. Then comes a plateau. The plateau might last rather long. It’s when students often stop practicing. After this plateau it gets worse for so many. A setback is experienced. And here I am, but I don’t give up. Since this back injury years! ago I’m not yet where I've been. I’m so much weaker. I lost many asanas and vinyasa. I’m relaxed and keep practicing. The yoga practice per se is so fulfilling no matter how advanced or modest my practice is on a given day.

When I write this blog I don’t come from a situation of I know it all. I am a modest student. I’m looking for the next tiny step.

And here it is. The first step when jumping backwards is to lift up. I use blocks, because my core is not strong enough to lift the body without this useful height of the blocks. .

I also watched a Youtube video by David Garrigues. He got a question from a student. She wrote that she was working on jumping back for 10 years now and she was still not able to do it. She asked if she should give up?

David’s answer was very motivating. If you like to learn a fancy movement give it up. Yet the goal is not that fancy movement, it is to get stronger. Strength is necessary for so many asanas in the series. Strength is so important in general. His recommendation was to lift up and to hold the position as long as possible. Blocks can be used. It helps enormously. To give up on the hidden goal of this crazy movement is not an option.

This morning I practice primary and I lifted myself up between asanas and between sides. It’s so easy to omit this strength exercise. Yet then nothing moves.

When I hear that someone worked on a pose or a movement for 10 years without success I know that the method was not effective. It’s huge tabu in the Ashtanga community. Just doing it again and again might not bring the wished success. One must exercise correctly. The Ashtanga community is huge and in the meantime the asanas are broken down into tiny digestible pieces. There are teacher who share their knowledge on how to learn something correctly. A lot has changed in the meanwhile, yet there is still a lack of information.

One must pick oneself up where one is. So let’s lift up the ‘heavy’ body and let’s count how long one can stay there.

Transitions

March 2020

March 2020

I don’t know how I shall call this asana on the picture. It is an in-between position. There is an overlooked position that I wanted to try. I also avoid it, because it’s scary. It’s lifting the head when in sirsasana. Sirsasana is part of the closing sequence. It’s recommended to stay minimum 25 breaths in that inversion. Yet there is also a variation that one shall exercise. It is to lift the head, the chin moves to the chest.

Because I was so scary I wanted to put one foot at least at the wall. Therefore my head obviously moved in the other direction than I had intended. I bent backwards. I totally lost my straight posture. One of the reason is surely a lack of core strength. All transitions need strength. This is the topic of this month. So from tomorrow on I’ll add some strength exercises in my practice again.

Without strong arms, a strong core, strong muscles in general, transitions become difficult if not impossible.

It’s dark here already, too dark to take another picture.

To lift the head and to move the chin to the chest when in sirsasana is a position I’ll work on. I think it helps to learn pincha mayursana.

A new month, new energy

Urdhva mukha paschimottanasana, Feb 2021

Urdhva mukha paschimottanasana, Feb 2021

It’s March. February somehow went by so fast, that I missed to blog. Here I am again. The focus of this month is the Vinyasa.

When we speak of the vinyasa count in Ashtanga yoga, we count the number of breath that are required from a starting position to an end end position.

The above asana ‘urdhva mukha paschimottanasana’ has 16 vinyasa according to the book ‘Ashtanga yoga’ by Patthabi Jois. It assumes that the student starts from a standing position and returns to that position.

In a daily practice adho mukha svanasana (or down dog position) is the starting point.

When yogis talk about vinyasa they usually refer to a difficult transition like jumping forward or jumping backward. Yet there are much more transitions than the jumping. Every asana is connected with the next position or the next asana.

There are challenging vinyasa and easier ones. Sometimes it can make a huge difference how a yogi moves into an asana. It can make an asana possible or impossible.

Vinyasa is part of the Ashtanga yoga practice.

Other yoga styles have awesome combinations of asanas as well. Yet the vinyasa are not really a focus. In Ashtanga yoga the vinyasa are a focus. They are an invitation to work on strength. The vinyasa system makes the Ashtanga yoga practice rather dynamic and exhausting.

So let’s start this month with fresh energy.

Thank you for reading