Sunday, December 30, 2012

On to 2013

It's the end of 2012 - so time to look back - everybody does it, so why shouldn't I?

Since this is a blog about my journey in yoga, I'm not going to bother you with all the other stuff that happened in my life this past year, nor the good, nor the bad.

As for yoga, that has defenitely became a part of my life this year.
The first 6 months, I practised occasionally in the garden - sometimes accomponied by my biggest fan, my 3-year old daughter.

But since my wife and I decided to take a teacher training, more time goes into asana's. And with the start of this blog, more time goes into reading and thinking about yoga in a broad perspective.

I found another great blog - - with the advantage that it has regular new posts. That is the hardest part about maintaining a blog by yourself - how frequent can you post something that is potentially relevant....

I'm also thinking more about how big a part yoga can and will be in my life. Will it stick to daily practice of asana's, or do I want a more holistic approach and incoporate more of the first 2 limbs of yoga into my daily life (but no, I will not become a full time vegetarian, and no I will not start believing in a supreme being and the after life.....). In fact, taking those things out of the equation, I'm already doing a decent job in being yoga ... but I'll see how far this journey will take me.

I've started my second 40-day challenge on December 25th, and have been practising on a daily basis since then - mainly in the morning since I'm home for the holidays, and even twice a day from time to time, just because it feels good.

First thing on my 2013 to do list .... buy a larger size yoga mat - most mats are 183cm long. I'm 190cm tall, I just don't fit comfortobaly on them. Found a 210cm long mat on the web.... so hope to get it before the next class...

So on to 2013 and the rest of the teacher training...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Yoga bitch

I don't really enjoy reading books - I would love to and envy those who can really get completely consumed by a book when reading it. I guess it is the slow pace that has always limited me to reading educational books, or at least books with some level of science in them, like "sex, sleep, eat, drink, dream" from Jennifer Ackerman.

The only exceptions I can tell you were the books they made me read in school, and 3 "Dan Brown"- books. I read those in a limited amount of time, but since then.... I can not seem to finish another book.

My wife recently told me I should read this book - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison. She thought I would be able to relate to her and might enjoy the book as she describes her first steps into the field of yoga.
Until now, she has been right. I have been reading it on more than one occassion and have enjoyed every moment of it. I am now up to a point that I try to look for time to read it.... which for me is exceptional.

I also discovered a new interesting blog that I defenitely want to check out more in detail - happy tree pose about yoga and also food - happen to be two things I like....

Coming to think of it - in this festive season of abundant food consumption, I really start to long for things that scream "healthy" whereas I used to be looking forward to meat in gravy, mashed potatoes, high calorie desserts ..... maybe the yoga practise is starting to have an effect on me?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Virus - "40-day challenge": 1 - 0

So a virus got me and took me out for a while. I wasn't feeling well, and decided to hit the bed - only to come out after 24 hrs of mainly sleep and an occasional run to the toilet.

Needless to say, no yoga for a few days  - virusses, although little buggers, seem to manage to suck out  all the energy that you have.

Just because I did not do any yoga, didn't mean I did not thing about it.
I have decided to re-start my daily routine once I feel up to it (should be any day now) and at least once a week to a full Prana Yoga Flow 1. Because I can not follow it at Alberto's studio every week - the 1h30-drive spoils it - he has recorded his instructions for the complete flow on a CD. So that is what I am planning to use at least once a week, the book and the CD to get me through the whole flow.

I will also work on my own sun salutation - the easy one for beginners - to be able to teach it next time.

And I have decided to look at other blogs about yoga.
A first one I really want to spend some time on is this one:

As a beginner, I consider myself the target audience - let's hope I'm right.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Me no speak no Sanskrito

One thing that I noticed in Saturday's training, is that both our teacher, but also some of the more experienced students like to refer to the different postures with their Sanskrit name.

It happened during the teaching of the sun salutations, and again at the end of the training. Someone had a question about the "fish" posture - what is the best way to approach this posture and is there weight on your head when the posture is complete. There was a bit of discussion on how to approach the posture, until one of the more advanced yogi said - oh yes, and you come out of the "halasana" when you enter the "matyasana" (=fish pose)..... people need to start talking in a language that rookie yogi like myself understand and can relate to.

In my point of view, if you start teaching yoga to people who are not experienced, addressing the postures with their Sanskrit name can be a turn-off. New yogi will already be challenged by all the bending and breathing, no need to throw in a new language that they can not relate to whatsoever. I think it is better to define the posture with a name in their mother tongue, to take away one hurdle already when memorising a series like the Prana Yoga Flow.  Maybe it is something to throw into the group next training...

I started today with 4 sun salutations - all my muscles were aching from yesterday's training, so a morning stretch seemed ok in my mind.
The first one was terrible, but by the 4th I regained my flexibility and it all felt good again.

The good thing is, this was the 5th day in my 40 day challenge - still going strong!

Of bandas and sphincters

Yoga practise yesterday was tough. We did not spend a lot of time on the philosophical part (the theory). Someone new had joined the group - a women who started the teacher training two years ago but was not able to finish the whole course for private reasons. She has been going to Alberto's classes every Tuesday to practise the complete flow -- yep, she's defenitely more experienced than me.

We started with teaching our home made sun salutation to one of the others - a few times. Than 4 'volunteers' taught their sun salutation to the whole group.The group teaching resultated in a total of 45 minutes of cobra's, upward facing dogs, downward facing dogs and all the variants you can think of..... I had the feeling that everybody wanted to make their sun salutation quite challenging.... Helloow!!! , there are also yoga rookies in the room. So much for empathy.

For some reason, the heating in the room was not really on my side either. It was so hot in there it felt a bit like bikram yoga (where the studio is always at 40°C).

After a short break, we continued with the entire series of the Prana Yoga Flow - another 6 sun salutations and then the 32 postures......

At posture number 28, the new girl suddenly asks - how tight do we need to keep our banda's at this stage of the flow (she even called them by name)?
Are you kidding me???? My yoga mat looks like a leopard with all the drops of sweat that have managed to avoid getting sucked in my shirt or pants, and we were supposed to keep our banda's tight? I don't know if I should classify this as 'total madness' and if people who manage to do this deserve my 'utter respect' but I left my banda's already after the beginning of the 4th sun salutation of this series -  I'm glad that I still can put effort in my sphincters.....

I defenitely have a long way to go...

Friday, December 14, 2012

40 days challenge - game on!

Namasté ;-)

So today is my 3rd day of the 40 consecutive days you are supposed to do yoga to be "hooked on yoga" as in, you need your daily yoga exercise or something is not feeling right. I've decided to take on the challenge, and if it is not true, I'm going to write a letter - to that yoga magazine that is. I know this sounds very un-yoga like, but hey, I've always said I'm aiming to be a Western yogi.... nuff said.

Given the time of year, there are some challenges ahead to make the 40 days full - I will need to do morning yoga on December 25th for sure, as most likely the family party will include a) alcohol b) too much food as in "I need to lay down now or...." and c) might last till late in the evening. A sun salutation after having a few alcoholic beverages / too much food might be an interesting experience, but I think I will pass on this one.
Same goes for New Year's Eve - morning yoga on the 31st, probably late evening yoga on the 1st....

I have a feeling if I can get past those festive days without skipping my daily routine, I will be fine for the 40 day challenge.

The sessions tend to get longer after each training-saturday - it started with 3 sun salutations. Last time we added 3 extra poses and tomorrow, most likely another 3 will be added.... I practise the whole series as far as we have learned, just to get it in my brain. I will need to take this into account further on in the teacher training...need to schedule more time to yoga.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow - I have made my sun salutation exercise, I've practised a decent amount and I'm curious again for the "theoretic" part of the training....

More to come, in the next post.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yoga for beginners, by beginners ;-)

Our first challenge in yoga class - build your own sun salutation based on the sun salutation B of Prana Yoga Flow.

It is not as challenging as it sounds - in the book, each posture of sun salutation B has a number of variants that can be used to add some challenges or just do some slight modifications.

I really got energized by the idea of creating something ourselves, so I scanned in the pages with the variants of Alberto's book (sorry for the copyright infringement Alberto, but I won't publish my creation). I went into presentation mode, started creating a 4 page powerpoint slideshow. Some cutting and pasting of the images, followed by what to do in my own words and tadaa, my first sun salutation was a fact. That it was a powerpoint presentation on my laptop made me feel a bit more in my comfort zone, but that should not be an issue.

I specifically looked for those variants that I consider to be usefull and manageable for beginners - like me.
Some rotation out of the "awkward chair pose", both to left and right, to make my spine more flexible.
A variant on one foot in the forward bend - to open the pelvis which will come in handy for other postures.
And, the part that I am most proud of as a rookie,  I have included a posture in between the upward facing dog and the downward facing dog, where it is easier to create a long back  - go down on your knees, sit on your heels, bring your belly as close as you can to your upper legs and stretch your arms as far as you can. I've asked my wife to check if it made my back straight when going into downward facing dog.... and it did.... I had a sense of victory, being able to create yoga for beginners, as a beginner. (maybe I should start including pictures instead of trying to explain the whole thing - pictures speak louder than words right?)

Now it is just a matter of practising it for the rest of the week.... and the good thing is, I'm back in my yoga zone where I want to practise every night.... game on!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"I'm not in the mood for yoga"-virus

Oh dear - where I almost did yoga on a daily basis in the first two weeks, the last two weeks were terrible when it comes to practice.

The first week was still OK - but then I caught a cold or something last Friday and ended up on the couch under a pile of blankets.... and then in bed long before my usual bed time. It was only a one day thing, I started feeling better by the end of Saturday, even gave it a shot to do a few sun salutations.... but I felt I was stretching it (not only my muscles).

Sunday was a day without exercise, and on Monday, I had to fly to the US for work and stayed there for 3 days returning on Thursday morning.
The intention to take my yoga mat with me was there, but it did not fit in my small suitcase. I abandonned the idea quite quickly. I did take my yoga outfit and the exercise book.... just in case.
Monday evening US time, I went to the gym to do some cardio training. Back in my room, I stretched and started a sun salutation. I moved into cobra and downward facing dog - but the shear sight of the carpet in the hotel room made me stop. Too little room and a dodgy carpet resulted in no yoga in the US.

Then, back home - Thursday was all about re-adjusting to CET. And for Friday and Saturday, I can only conclude I have caught a new virus - the much feared "I'm not in the mood for yoga"-virus.

I once read in a yoga magazine that if you do yoga for 40 days in a row, it becomes part of your daily routine and you will feel energized to practice every day.
I'm not there yet - nor am I going to make it my New Year's resolution to get to the 40 days starting on Jan 1st.

No, I'm starting the 40 day challenge right..... tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will also work on the exercise that we need to make, to make our own sun salutation and possibly teach it the next lesson. I've already scanned in the book we work from, and will be photoshopping my own sun salutation tomorrow afternoon... and then, I will get started again... I hope.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Abstinence - no thank you....

I've been looking at the first 2 of the 8 limbs of yoga again... and again...

Respect, love, no violence.... values that have been copy - pasted in each religion - no need to argue. They should be a standard in everyone's life.

But then .... the whole "sense control" thing - why? Why is sexual abstinence always a critical success factor to show a certain devotion?

I believe the whole abstinence thing was designed for men who aspire a certain respect not loose their credibility in the years their hormones are having a party - or during the afterparty in their 40's. Would you believe a priest that had his share of the community (if you know what I mean)? Maybe this is linked to the whole karma thing again....

It's a good thing my objective is to be more of a Western-yogi - focussing on the 3rd limb of yoga, the asanas (body postures). Which doesn't mean that the first 2 limbs don't matter to me - most of it is already integrated in my life - but I'll skip the whole abstinence part - thank you very much.

And I'm sure it will not be the only part I am skipping....