Walking on clouds

Warning: long post :)

Yesterday was mostly a crappy day. I slept really badly but still woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep so I was tired and didn’t manage to drag myself to morning practice. I was annoyed, I was frustrated as people keep fighting at work, like it isn’t hard enough anyway without any extra BS. Then I went to the shala in the afternoon only to find that I had forgotten my yoga pants. I live  near the shala so I went home, but at that point I wasn’t sure if I was coming back as I was really pissed off at everything and nothing. Thought I should have gone to yoga in the morning anyway, then I would have remembered the pants as I would have partly dressed in yoga clothes at home. Walked around at home for a while, weighing my options. There was still time to make it to the upstairs shala, although that would have meant I’d be short on time, which would have stressed me. Then there was the opportunity to go to the downstairs shala, but there J would be teaching and for some reason I didn’t really feel like practicing with him. Or then I could just stay home. What to do,  what to do? Finally I decided to go back to the shala and to go downstairs. I thought it would be better to go practice with J than to stress  upstairs.

The class hadn’t started yet when I arrived but I took my mat and put it down on the floor and started my practice. The room was warmer than the upstairs shala, it seems to always be, and my body felt soft and strong. People say that the energy is really good in the downstairs shala. I’m not very tuned to sense those things so I can’t really say, but based on how light my practice felt, how I felt like I was floating in the vinyasa, actually being able to jump through, hold for a half a second or second or so and only then sit down on the floor, I’d say that it must have had something to do with a good and strong energy in the room. It lifted me so that I almost went over when I kicked up my legs after Virabhadrasana II, oops :) Marichyasana Ds bound easily, wrist grab on the first side and could even take hold of the shin with the other hand. In Supta K my fingers found each other again without help for the first time in months. Legs are not even close to crossing but I’m starting to think that that has more to do with them being so short than me being stiff. I mean, I don’t think that it is even possible to cross them unless they are behind my head and I can’t get them there alone until I feel ready to try the Dwi Pada entry for Supta K. And I’m starting to really get that Supta K exit. P’s advice earlier this summer to lift,  lift, lift the pelvis really got me to understand how it’s should to be done. Pasasana bound easier and deeper than usual, although still only finger hooking. Some instructions from J in Salabhasana, urging me to straighten the legs and place the heels together. Now, I’ve been thinking about this before but never asked anyone; how are the legs supposed to be? Tim told me to straighten and turn knees inward. J told me to straighten and keep heels together. The one kind of excludes the other. What is the “correct” way? When I got to Kapo I did one preparatory Kapo B and then J came to help me. As in Houtskär he first tried to take my left hand to the heel. For some reason that doesn’t work on me and I find it frustrating and irritating when somebody does it that way so now I decided to say something. Just said “try the other hand first”. And that was much better. J told me to keep my elbows pointing backwards. I guess there’s some stiffness in my shoulders that makes it difficult for me to keep my elbows pointing towards the back of the mat when hanging back and going for the heels, they tend to start pointing towards the sides. Hmm.. How to open the shoulders more? Anyway, J got me into a deep Kapo with solid heel grabbing, oh joy! :) And after a really good Supta V assist where he placed his fingers so that I could grab them when I couldn’t quite hold on to my toes. Really good way of helping me. By now I was not only sweating buckets but also warming up to J again. Arms were stating to get tired but the Bakasanas were quite good anyway. A little “rest” while stretching in pigeon pose before the Eka Padas. The first side is still so difficult, I don’t feel at all closer to being able to release the leg. But the second side was maybe the best ever. And then, without any more extra stretching I did Dwi Pada. And got the right leg behind the shoulder. But even though it’s there I found that I couldn’t find the balance to take both hands off the floor. I guess I’m too squeezed together. Tried again but no better so lifted up. I guess the lift up is also not correct as I can’t let my pelvis shift forward or I’ll fall over, but I’ll work with what I’ve got for now. But then, because I roll the right the right leg of my pants up to enable the leg to slide over the shoulder I need to put my feet down and roll the pants down to be able to do the exit, otherwise I’m too slippery to manage it. It’s difficult, this pants issue. Sometimes I need long pants, sometimes shorts :)

Backbends were good, not many Urdhva Ds needed before coming up to standing and doing the dropbacks. Then some handstands and then I decided to try the tics. They went well, especially once I managed to catch the handstand really well and move towards a good Vrschikasana before dropping to the floor. Softest and closest landing so far. Then I tried to toc twice but I couldn’t quite come over. Especially the first one was really close, it kind of stopped in a Vrschikasana were I could see my toes, but lacked like 1 mm and I couldn’t quite engage the right muscles enough to pull it over, so I fell back down into a backbend and tipped over and onto my knees. On the third try J came and gave me a little push to get me over. Finally the assisted dropbacks. I didn’t want J to try to take my hands to the ankles immediately so I told him about my issues with that. He told me to do the backbend and that we’ll see where we’ll go from there. So I did, first the small ones and then down. Walked my hands in. Crawled a bit more. All the time I was able to keep my heels down. Then J lifted the right hand closer, then the left.  Maybe he did it again, I don’t remember, but when I got to that scary point where I feel that my weight will shift too much to the hands if I move at all closer I said “no more”. “Good”, was the response I got. Yes, good that I, who mostly just shuts up instead of saying what I should say, opened my mouth and communicated my wishes and feelings yesterday, several times. It made so much difference. While giving me the Paschimattanasana squish J was saying that it  might not be that I can’t transfer enough weight to the legs but that the “problem” might lie in the shoulders. Maybe it’s the same thing as in Kapo. Again, how to release the shoulders?

After practice I was so happy I went, it was the best practice ever. Or at least the best in a very long time. Also those issues I had with J disappeared. And I fell in love with that shala downstairs. I might start going there more often… When walking home I felt filled with joy. What a good end to a day that felt so crappy before.

Workshop with Kino & Tim, practice day 6

Yesterday was the sixth and last day of the workshop. Preceded by five days of morning mysore, doing a long series, and two days of afternoon workshops, the sixth morning was tough, really tough. I felt like quitting all the time, starting from the standing series, but at the same time I really didn’t want to quit, it being the last day. So I did it all, full primary to open my hip and then all my second series asanas. If my back would have been terribly stiff I probably would have quit earlier, but even though the hip was stiff and my shoulder area sore and weak the backbends were good. Not as good as the previous days, but still good. I was very happy to get out of the Prasarita Padottanasana C adjustment due to the fact that both Tim and Kino were busy elsewhere at that moment. Did however wait for a long time to get the Supta K assist. Kapotasana was surprisingly good and after doing it twice on my own Kino took my hands to the heels, where they barely went and stayed only as long as she was holding on to my hands. Got a really deep Eka Pada adjustment on the left side by Tim, my leg really was solidly placed behind the head and I had no problem keeping it there when he let go of it. And after trying three times on my own Kino finally came to help me in Dwi Pada. She pointed out my pattern of letting the head down when trying to place the right leg behind the head. I know that I do that, it’s just really difficult not to as it’s like a natural instinct. Need to work on that. My dropbacks were good and then Tim came to do the last backbends with me. As I hadn’t done them with him previously during the workshop and as he has a slightly different approach to them than Kino there was some small misunderstanding about what I was supposed to do at first. But soon I was with him on what to do. Then he wanted me to take the ankles. I immediately came up from the backbend in a very non-graceful way, saying “I can’t do that”. “Have you done it before”, he asked. “Yes, sometime”, I answered, but went on to explain the problem with my heels rising and my weight not being carried enough by my legs, and me being scared of it. Then he said that we’re not striving for perfection immediately, that let’s just try to see how it goes. “Just breathe”. And I guess I trusted him enough as I agreed to try, even though I again felt the tears in my eyes. First he took my right hand to the ankle. I could barely hold on and I was again very close to freaking out and just come up, but somehow I, in that moment, made the decision not to do that, but to stay there and let what happens happen. And so he took my left hand to the ankle as well. Or the hands ended up closer to my heels than my ankles, and I think I totally forgot about my legs while trying to hold on, but I still stayed there for the full count to five. After I was very emotional but also happy that I did not freak out this time. Tim also said the same thing as Kino, that after watching my practice  he is sure that I can absolutely take my ankles. So I guess it’s just in my head, whatever it is. The whole thing is a bit ironic because I’ve always thought that my backbends are good, and they’ve always been quite easy, but for some reason taking the ankles freaks me out. And it wasn’t always like that. Maybe it’s because the side/chest thing once got worse after trying it. Or then it’s something else. I don’t know. But I do know that I have to start working towards it again, avoidance doesn’t get me anywhere.

So that was the workshop practices for this time, I’ll post on the afternoon classes later. It was really nice to practice with Kino and Tim again and even though I don’t think that the remember me from last year I hope that, after these six days, they might remember me next time.

Workshop with Kino & Tim, practice day 5

Yesterday we had an afternoon workshop where we did lots of arm balances. More on that later, now I’m just going to say that I could so feel that in my arms today, they were tired! Tried my best to keep up the jumping back and through in the vinyasa, but many times I had to cheat. I was also quite stiff in the hip area so even though I was tired I ended up doing all of primary before moving on to second to stretch that area some more. Most fun today was when I was doing Prasarita Padottanasana A and Tim came over to talk to me about moving my hands a bit and pressing my head down , like as if I was in tripod headstand. “Oh, let’s try it”, he then said, and suddenly my feet were pointing towards the ceiling. Weird, fun and point made :) He also gave me a very nice Supta K adjustment, getting me deep into it even though I felt a bit stiff still, and also urged me to ground the lower leg better in Supta Padangusthasana.

I’ve not been able to bind Pasasana most mornings, at least not on the first side, but after trying to do it 3-4 times I move on. I wait for help in so many other places so I don’t want to do that there. Today was a day of three Kapotasanas, first two by myself and then Kino helped me catch my heels. She also helped me do Eka Pada and then Tim took me into Dwi Pada, deepest ever Dwi Pada so far. And so well in it I could actually manage to balance it by myself. So it is possible, just have to get deeply into it. Yes, just have to do that, easy right? ;) Did my backbends and even though my arms had been so tired the whole practice I somehow found strength for some handstands. Then I had time to tic once before Kino came and took me into that nice Vrschikasana. And then we did the same backbending as yesterday, but without the drama :) Earlier I noticed that somebody else was going through exactly the same thing in backbending as I was yesterday. A deep backbend like that, when going to your limits, seems to easily stir up emotions.

So good practice today even though I was tired. And it wasn’t just me who was tired. everybody else complained about tired arms as well. Now only tomorrows practice left and I already feel a bit sad that it’s going to be over soon. It will be nice to get back home but I’ve really loved practicing with Kino and Tim, and I feel that there starts to be a connection with them now, which is so nice.

Workshop with Kino & Tim, practice days 1-4

Okay, now I finally had some time and energy sit down and write a bit about the workshop with Kino and Tim. We started on Thursday so today was already the fourth day of practice. It’s been nice but quite tough, but that was expected :) The shala is warm and humid and not too crowded. It’s a good size shala for this workshop, Kino and Tim seem to get around to everybody without anybody having to wait for too long. Today the shala was not as full as earlier days, seems many skipped practice today, and there was one or two empty spots almost all the time. Also the energy was much calmer today, which I liked. I also liked that it wasn’t as hot and humid as the previous days as excessive sweating drains me of energy much faster.

My practices have been good, although yesterday I was very tired. I’ve been doing primary up to Supta K and then second, as usual, and somehow managed that also yesterday even though I was so tired. Thursday, being the first day, was a little stiff but already then I got a taste of what was to come, working those deep backbends that is. After doing Kapotasana alone I was asked by Kino to do it again and she very firmly placed my hands on my heels. She also came to help me in Dwi Pada but couldn’t quite get my right leg far enough behind the shoulder as my yoga pants caused too my friction. So she told me to wear shorts on Friday to allow the leg to slide. Well, I don’t own any yoga shorts and I prefer wearing long pants (in many asanas the friction they provide is really good/necessary) so I wasn’t going to pay over 50 euros to buy shorts I won’t use, but I can understand that sometimes shorts might be useful. So now I’m pulling up the right leg of the pants when I get to Dwi Pada, that works too as long as the pants aren’t too tight. Although again today she suggested I should wear shorts. This was after Supta Vajrasana when Kino told me to do the lotus jumpback. I told her I can’t do it. I’ve never really even tried as the lotus is mostly so uncomfortable that I don’t want to even try getting out of it that way. But today it felt good and Kino tried to help me do it, but my legs were stuck in lotus. So basically I won’t able to do the lotus jumpback until my hips open up more. Or til I start wearing shorts :) Maybe some day :) Either or :) Thursday’s backbends with Kino were intense but good. But this was nothing compared to what was to come…

On Friday practice was good but I ended up falling on my head twice. It’s not as bad as it sounds though :) Kino again helped me get into Dwi Pada and as she let go of my legs they slipped, parted and I fell forward. Then while working on the backbends, Kino having me walk and crawl my hands closer and closer to my feet, telling me again and again to keep my heels down, I completely lost the strength in my arms and collapsed on my head. As Kino pointed out my problem is that I can’t transfer my weight and strength to my legs and that this causes the heels to rise. I knew that but I really, really need to work much more on keeping them down. And I wish my teachers worked me harder as well. On Friday I also, inspired by Laruga who was doing them, did one tic and then Kino helped me balance, first in handstand and then in Vrschikasana. Vrschikasana felt really good and I could relax into it as Kino was keeping my feet on my head, very nice.

Yesterday I was really tired and sore. My practice was slow but I made it through. I was told to wait for help in Kapo so I did it once, waited, did it a second time, waited, and then did it a third time, before help arrived. But at least all those Kapos opened up my back. On the third go I got hold of my right heel but not quite the left one. Then Tim came and took my hands to my heels but told me to straighten the elbows for a few breaths before I was to put my head down on the floor. Then in the B part he told me to strengthen my legs and then lifted my feet, first to my head and then to my shoulders. That was intense! It felt slightly uncomfortable and oddly satisfying at the same time. Later he took me deep into Dwi Pada after I had first tried three times on my own, figured I wouldn’t get help, and moved on to backbending. But Kino noticed and asked Tim to help me. And it was a really nice adjustment. In the backbends I asked Kino if we could take it a bit easier as I was a bit sore under my left scapula. So we did but she still had me walk in quite a lot and then try to lift up onto my fingers to transfer the weight to the legs. That was a good idea that I need to try to do by myself as well although I found it a bit difficult to transfer the weight in the right direction.

Today was again better, I wasn’t as sore or as tired as yesterday. And the nice energy in the shala made practice really nice. Again I ended up doing Kapo three times by myself before Kino came and brought my hands to my heels. Dwi Pada was the best so far during the workshop, I managed to slide the leg almost where it needed to go with the help of that pulled up right pant leg. Kino saw me, said something like “very nice” and then helped me all the way into the pose. Then, as I was working on my dropbacks, she came and helped me do the last two, having me focus on keeping my heels down. Then we did the half bends, going down to the floor on the last one and Kino again had me to walk and crawl my hands closer and closer to the feet. When I got to the same point as on Friday and Kino tried to lift one of my hands off the floor (although I actually thought she was going to try to get both my hands to the ankles) I panicked, saying I have to come up, I have to come up. It just felt that my arms will bend and that I’ll fall on my head, again. Kino said it’s not that I can’t do it, but that I seem to freak out at a certain point. That point seems to be when my hands come closer than about 10 cm from my heels and the weight shifts too much onto my arms. I have gone closer before, I have even grabbed my ankles a couple of times, but then I’ve always been totally supported by the teacher, not having so much of my weight on my arms and not doing much else myself than holding on to the ankles for dear life. But Kino is right, I need to find the strength in my legs. But I was quite upset, coming close to a small meltdown. There were even a couple of tears. But Kino continued to say that I don’t have to be afraid, shes’ there to support me, and that I’m lucky, it’s just emotional stuff, not pain or anything like that. And that this is going to be much easier one year from now. I hope so. So after verbally walking me through what we were going to do I bent back again, walked my hands as close to the feet as I felt comfortable with and then lifted one hand, put it down, lifted the other, put it down, while pressing, pressing, pressing the heels down. Tomorrow I need to do the same thing, but I need to move my hands a little closer to the feet, get past that point where I feel comfortable. So a bit of an emotional morning but I also felt I got the support I needed, which is very important. A little later I fell out of Sirsasana. That’s the second time ever, the first happened the first time I did Sirsasana, and I have no idea how or why that happened. But it doesn’t matter, those things happen.

So those were the major things happening in my practice the last four days. Other than that I’ve gotten very nice adjustments, corrections and/or advice from both Kino and Tim on a lot of stuff. On the position of the arms in Utkatasana, Virabhadrasana A and all the other places where they are lifted with palms together, the shoulder in Utthita Parsvakonasana, the arms in Prasarita Padottanasana C, the weight distribution and hip rotation in Janu Sirsasana B, Marichyasana A, Supta Kurmasana, Pasasana, the legs in Salabhasana, Bhekasana, weight distribution and legs in Parsva Dhanurasana, Kapotasana, Supta Vajrasana, Eka Pada Sirsasana. And there’s two more days left! I wonder if I’ll manage my whole practice for all six days…

As I wrote in my facebook status update: pushing the limits and loving it! :)

That’s it for now but more will follow.

Back from Houtskär

It was a fun but also a tough weeks. Much heavier than I could have anticipated actually. Maybe it was the very early morning practice. Maybe it was the massive sweating during practice that drained all energy out of me. Maybe it was my quite long series. Maybe it was morning stiffness. Maybe it was a combination of all these things. But whatever it was I was completely exhausted every time I came to Eka Pada and Dwi Pada. Twice Petri helped me into Dwi Pada, twice I was left to do it myself. Or trying and failing. One day Juha told me to do Eka Pada twice before moving on to Dwi Pada. OMG, my arms will soon drop off from being too tired if I do that. I did Eka Pada twice on the island but I don’t think I’ll do it back home. I prefer doing the Kasyapasana-like stretch, keeping it for 10 breaths on each side. It’s stretches the muscles more and it’s easier on the arms, shoulder and neck. Anyway, neither Eka Pada nor Dwi Pada was good during morning practice as I was stiffer than during my normal afternoon practices. I felt like I was regressing and had a bit of a crisis during the week. So much for non-attachment. Not quite there yet…

Other than Dwi Pada I got many nice adjustments, especially from Petri, in Supta K, Pasasana and Kapotasana. At first I was a bit sceptical about Petri’s way of trying to get me into Supta K. His is not a strong adjustment like the ones I’m used to and it doesn’t get me quite as deep into the asana as some of the other teachers’ or assistants’ adjustments, but it’s a very gentle and nice feeling one. And on Thursday Petri still got me into it deeply enough so that I could almost cross my ankles.

As my twists suck during morning practice I was only able to bind Pasasana by myself one  morning. But I loved getting those deep Pasasana adjustment from Petri. Much, much better than when binding myself. Also got a lovely Mari C adjustment on Friday. Yes, I practiced during moon day, just because it was my last day on the island, but only primary.

The Kapo adjustments were also great, almost getting the heels every morning. I also had an aha!-moment in the assisted dropbacks when Petri told me to keep moving my hands closer to the feet by bending the elbows and using the fingers to crawl the hands closer to the heels. Like in Kapo. Of course. That day I ended up with my fingers under my heels. Need to keep doing that at home and I might be ready to try grabbing the ankles soon again. I’ve been a bit afraid to try that again but as I got so close on my own it made me realize that it might be doable.

As the practice was so tough a nap, sometimes a longer one, sometimes a shorter one, was a must, and a luxury, every day after yoga, sauna and breakfast. Otherwise the days were mostly spent sunbathing, eating good food, eating ice cream, chatting with nice people and going to the sauna. Some days there were fun yoga playgrounds where we played around with Bakasana, Pincha Mayurasana, handstand, one-arm handstand, different versions of Chakrasana, Utkatasana jumpbacks, adjusting Marichyasana C etc. There were also yoga philosophy/psychology lectures and chanting and meditation but I was too tired to join these classes. And I’m still not a fan of pranayama. Tried Petri’s pranayama once again but it still didn’t feel like something I want to do. Too long breaths. Too difficult. But maybe some day.

I wish I had signed up for one more week as one week was too short. I did two weeks last year and that was much better. Hopefully I can do two weeks next year again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

LBH and backbends

Good one yesterday with nice adjustments from M in Supta K, Bhekasana, Kapotasana, Supta Vajrasana, and Dwi Pada. Kapotasana is getting better, or back to where it used to be before I started with the leg behind the head (LBH) asanas. I suppose it’s both the warm weather and the fact that I’m not so jammed in the upper back anymore. Anyway it’s really nice to be able to get deeper into it by myself and that M could finally take my hands to the heels after many months of no heel grabbing. If only that shoulder stiffness would go away, the I could manage it even better on my own…

Eka Pada was OK, no big progress there. Then laid down on my back and stretched the right leg by putting it behind the head. I added that as the right leg seems to get less stretching and it is the one that would need more. Then switched to the left leg behind the head and then put both legs behind the head for the Yoganidrasana stretch. Then, when I was trying to get into Dwi Pada, M came to my help, he adjustment is just great, really pulling those leg back. After that I tried it twice on my own. I think I got a bit closer to getting it. On the last go I actually had my ankles hooked, just need to get the right leg a bit further back behind the shoulder as I’m currently all pressed together and can’t lift my head at all.

Good backbends although it’s funny how things change as the state of the lower back/hips change. Currently I need to shift the weight to the inner sides of the feet to get a nice, deep backbend that doesn’t stress the lower back. A while ago the weight needed to be on the outer parts of the feet. Well, whatever works on a particular day I guess…

After backbends I did a few handstands, two tics, and then I tried to toc. Came over twice. I finally figured out the breathing, which has been somewhat unclear for me. It’s a bit difficult since when one needs to come up to standing from backbend the “regular” way, like in dropbacks, you breathe out when moving towards the back of the mat, i.e. when putting more weight on the hands, and in when moving towards the front of the mat and shifting the weight towards the feet. In the tocs one needs to do it the other way around to be able to breathe in on the jump over and this had me a bit confused. It comes automatically when doing the tic toc without stopping in between, but since I tic, then stop to deepen the backbend, and then start rocking back and forth I kind of loose the rhythm of the breath in between. But now I figured it out. So how I do the toc now is that I walk the feet in to get a really deep backbend. Then I do a little rocking back and forth, maybe once or twice, and the I jump, focusing on lifting the head and chest up. And that does it, over I come. I still haven’t tried to tic toc without pause in between, I think I want to do it with help a couple of times before trying it myself but usually I’m too tired in the arms after the tics and the tocs to be able to do any assisted tic tocs. I wonder how they would feel if I could do only the second series asanas before tic tocs… I think I would have a lot more strength left in the arms by the end of the practice. Can’t know as I’m not allowed to leave out primary yet. Wish I would be allowed to do that during the summer as I imagine that it would be easier to adjust to doing only second during summertime. But I still need two or three asanas before that will happen and I can’t really see that I’ll get all those, or even any, in such a short time.

Two times primary

Two stiff and unmotivated primaries done. I think my body wants its Christmas holiday. Yesterdays practice was a bit better although certainly not good, today I was just terribly stiff and couldn’t keep the heat. Maybe it’s because of the breath, somehow I’m finding it hard to keep the uddyai going right now.

Yesterday I found the energy and strength to work the Urdhva Ds and from there to standing and dropbacks. Was analyzing the movement in the hips and I’m thinking that I might be creating an external rotation in the hip in the dropback even though you can not see it on the feet. This leads to externally rotating femurs and a jammed sacrum. So I was trying to focus on keeping the hip straight and not let any external rotation take place. Actually it’s internal rotation of the femur that needs to happen. And when really focusing I think I got it and the back didn’t mind the dropbacks as much. I don’t know whether I’ve been doing the dropbacks with external rotation all the time and my back has just been able to handle it until now, or whether I’ve started doing it wrong lately. Anyway, with all the backbends I’m doing nowadays I need to be careful of the alignment. Since correct alignment of the back is so important I wonder why teachers are not paying more attention to splaying feet during backbends, something which you can see a lot of in the shala…

This morning I didn’t even bother working on the backbends. I actually almost quit after standing, everything felt so cold and stiff and terrible, but then I decided to plow through primary anyway. But after the obligatory three Urdhva Ds I threw in the towel and decided it was time for my Christmas break. Jumped on the train to my parent’s home town, where I’ll be spending Christmas with my loved ones. I doubt there will be any practicing done while I’m here, I just can’t be bothered, I’m already dreaming of practicing in the warmth in India, and I do enjoy the occasional yoga break.

Workshop with Kino and Tim in Stockholm

Last weekend I attended a workshop with Kino and Tim in Stockholm. It was good, they were both very good and it was tough. With me from Helsinki were my friends Johanna and Suvi.

The workshop lasted for four days, Saturday to Tuesday, with morning mysore class each morning and three-hour workshops during the day on Saturday and Sunday.

The workshop was held at Atmajyoti-shala (which was very nice) where 20 yogis could practice at the same time. We practiced with our mats in two rows along the walls, facing each other, it was fun but a bit strange at first as I’m used to everyone facing in the same direction. It was also more crowded than I’m used to which made me realize how lucky we are here in Helsinki, having a big shala where we never need to place our mats this close to each other.  Anyway, twenty yogis in a room with Kino and Tim meant quite a lot of attention and adjustments. Some of course got more attention than others. Kino mostly gave quite fast and powerful adjustment (to me anyway) while Tim was taking more time with each and everyone, focusing a lot on the correct alignment.

During the four days of mysore practice I got many adjustments and many things to try to work on: breathe more into the back (Tim put his hand between my shoulder blades in Adho Mukha Svanasana and said “breathe into my hand”, so I guess that was what he meant); relax the shoulders and pull down the shoulder blades in Adho Mukha Svanasana; work hip of lower leg inwards in Trikonasana (could do that with Tim’s help, but I don’t know how to do it by myself); ground back foot more in Parsvakonasana; turn hands out a lot more in Prasarita Padottanasana C (also difficult to do by myself, the hands keep turning in); ground back leg better and have more strength in it in Virabhadrasana A and B and do not sink so low; don’t keep the weight as far forward in Janu Sirsasana C but instead “fall back” on the heel of the bent leg; more strength in the shoulder region in all lifting action, in jump back and forward, in Bhujapidasana etc.; relax the gluteus in all backward bending asanas; activate especially mula bandha more in Laghu Vajrasana and keep the arms straight and if necessary allow the hands to slide up towards my calves a bit, and do not bend the back so much. Tim also said that I should have the wrists on the inside of my feet in Laghu V, but at home most of the teachers say that the arms should be outside the feet, or above them. I think it’s easiest to do Laghu V with the wrists on the inside of the feet so I will compromise and keep them above the feet. On a whole, the help I got from Tim in Lahgu V in the shala and what he covered about the bandhas in the Saturday afternoon workshop was he most important thing I learned during this workshop.

There was a lot of work done on the backbends. And it was tough! The first day I did backbends with Tim. He emphasized having strong legs and had me do backbends with my head to the floor while having my arms folded across my chest. Of course he was holding me the whole time, otherwise I would have crashed on my head. After that he had me walk my hands in towards the feet as much as I could, all the time working to have strong legs. The other three days i did backbends with Kino. It was even tougher, especially as I was starting to get tired in the arms and shoulders. But I tried my best to follow her directions. “Bend backwards. Walk your hands in. Heels down! Bend your arms and walk the hands in more. Heels down! Bend your arms and try to get the hands even closer to the feet by “crawling” closer using your fingers. Heels down! Drop your head down on the mat and crawl hands even closer. Heels down! Push your arms straight.” Oh my, how much work that was! But I realized that I should work more on walking my hands closer to the feet at home as well. Usually I’m just so tired when I get to the backbends that I just do what I have to to be able to stand up and then I sometimes cheat through the dropbacks by not working enough on keeping my heels down. One day I did the tics by myself and one day Kino helped me to do them because she wanted me to jump up to hand stands with feet together. If I do it by myself I will kick up the legs one at a time. With her help I landed the tics with much more bend in my back and feet much closer to the hands so there was no need to move hands or feet closer to each other in order to get up to standing, which was great. Then she helped me do Vrschikasana where she also pointed out that I need to relax more in the legs. This was only the second time ever I did Vrschikasana but it felt great! It’s so cool to feel the feet touch my head, but of course I could never do that without help.

Otherwise, I also got one adjustment in Mari D, several adjustments in Supta K and Bhekasana, but no help in Pasasana which I thought was a bit strange because I was having a hard time binding it all during the whole workshop.

It was really warm  and sweaty in the shala on Saturday and Sunday but on Monday and Tuesday there were fewer yogis there, probably everyone couldn’t make to Monday and Tuesday morning classes, so the last two days the heat in the shala was more humane :).

On Saturday we had a workshop with Tim on the theme “Breath and Bandhas”. Tim knows a lot about anatomy, which is also noticeable in his adjustments, and during the workshop he explained in great detail how to activate the bandhas, especially mula bandha which in general is very difficult to grasp. He pointed out that mula banda means both the front and back of the pelvic floor, ie. both the anus and what he called “the vegetables”, which refers to the cervix for women. Mula bandha is something I’ve thought a lot about, still not fully grasping it, and I realized that I haven’t activated the rear part of mula bandha enough. But now, by doing so, I can manage to get up from Laghu V without collapsing, hurray! After going through the bandhas while seated we then did a couple of different asanas where we practiced activating the bandhas and finished with some backbends where we worked on activating the bandhas, extending the back and chest and relaxing the gluteus muscles. It really was a great workshop!

Kino’s workshop on Sunday was about “Inversion, Handstanding & the Art of Balance”. After chanting together following Kino’s lead we started by standing on our knees in “table pose”, working to strengthen the shoulder area by working from your fingertips up to the shoulders and the back. Grounding fingertips and palms, turning elbows to a 45 degree angle forward, activating the deltoids, bringing shoulder blades down the back and lifting the sternum. From this position, we then worked to “plank position”, Bakasana, jumping back from Bakasana, Sirsasana, lifting the head from the floor of Sirsasana, Pincha Mayurasana and finally handstands. We worked a lot in pairs. It was three very intensive hours during which I realized that I have to work more on strengthening the shoulders and the back, especially if I someday want to be able to do Pincha M. Afterwards we were all completely drained and we could barely lift our arms after all the work we did but I still felt that the workshop was great.

What else? I guess there is much more to say  about the workshop but I can’t think of anything else right now. Kino and Tim were great but I’m not sure whether I could practice with them for a longer time without hurting myself, it was so intense. But maybe if one had more time then perhaps one could take it a bit easier, not needing to do everything every day or try to have great practices every day. But definitely it was worth attending the workshop and most likely I will attend again next year.