Steadiness and ease

I remember quite well when I heard this for the first time; it was in my teacher training and my only thought was: now she (my teacher) lost her mind.

I was sweating my heart out, my concentration at a peak, my muscles sore, my entire body a mess of tension. Ease? Really? I rather felt like made of concrete, ease was a term I wasn’t even dreaming of!

It took some time to get an idea of what this means, to find steadiness and same time ease in a posture. Stability and consistency without effort. When holding a posture, while being in correct alignment, there’s a certain moment when it feels just easy, almost like a relief! This is ease.

The best postures to understand the concept of steadiness and ease for me are headstand and handstand. There is this moment, when all of a sudden you feel weightless, your body is in every detail in the right alignment. As if you can stay forever in this posture, almost levitating.

This happens when it all comes together: concentration and an inward view through drishti (focus point), proper ujjayi breath, stability through activating  the bandhas and correct alignment. For me it’s additionally about not thinking how to do a pose, but just do it. 

Then your yoga starts.

The beauty of Aging

Many of us experience some changes around the age of 50. I’m not talking about any kind of midlife crisis or menopause for women, while this might also be a trigger to rethink where we are in life. No matter the reason, it seems to be the time to reinvent oneself.

A friend of mine, who turns 50 this year, takes this as an option to rethink what he wants his life to be and he takes the necessary changes. Those changes can be quite big things; it might even come to a real turn over.

I heard from another friend who had a rigorous 6 days a week Ashtanga practice, that with her menopause starting, she allowed herself to be less strict and her yoga practice turned to be more calm, slow and gentle, always listening to what her body needs that day.

This time might be an entry point into a new phase of life, with new options, new strength, and the courage to change and eventually start something new. It might concern the job, the place we live, relationships, our practice or the entire life set-up; no matter what direction we’re aiming to go, if you feel called, do it. Even if aging shows us at this stage the first indications that not only the outer appearance is transforming, but also the body complains more. And hey, where is that fear coming from all of a sudden?

Many yogis start taking it easier at that point, while for me the full story started then. At the age of 49 I did my first teacher training and instead of getting calmer, my yoga journey took off and was at its best around 52. I’m 54 now and my body talks to me loud and clear, mostly not what I want to hear and I learned that it’s not always about doing the full Ashtanga series each day, it’s about showing up. Being on the mat every day, doing what I can. Luckily, my body is still improving, still learning, adapting, bending more, even if progress takes much longer. My practice teaches me to be patient, the most difficult thing to learn for me! To accept, that it’s totally fine where I am on my journey and not just that, it is phenomenal how my body and mind changed over the past few years.

We move on, the three of us, together, body and mind and soul. We keep on changing, improving, learning and the very new thing: we take it easy.

Ashtanga workshop

Yogis!

We are doing an Ashtanga Workshop! Friday, 21st June (international day of yoga), 18:30 – 21:00 in Winterthur @Yoga Bliss.

It will fit all levels, but expect a bit of sweating 🙂

I’m mixing languages now, as most probably the workshop will be taught in German, however if participants speak English only, this might change! Are you in? Let me know! Click here to sign up.

Einführung in Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga ist ein dynamischer und kraftvoller Yoga Stil, bei dem Positionen und Atem synchronisiert sind. Wir üben eine gleichbleibende Sequenz mit dem Ziel in einen meditativen Zustand zu kommen. Dabei kräftigen wir den Körper und bringen den Geist zur Ruhe.

Das machen wir: 

  • Ein klein wenig Theorie: Was ist Ashtanga und warum macht dieses System Sinn (ca. 20 min)
  • Etwas mehr Praxis: Ashtanga Primary Series, led class (2 Std)

Der Workshop ist für dich geeignet:

  • Wenn du Lust hast auf eine anstrengende Praxis
  • Wenn du etwas Neues kennenlernen möchtest
  • Du solltest schon ein wenig Yoga Erfahrung haben, es werden aber auch Modifikationen für einzelne Asanas angeboten

Bitte mitbringen:

  • Ein Handtuch (schwitzen gehört dazu!)
  • Offenheit und Lust auf Neues
  • Ein Lächeln 🙂

Katonah Yoga

Four intense training days of Katonah Yoga. A great concept based on Taoist theory, geometry, magic, mythology, metaphor, and imagination.

A body in an asana becomes origami, form becomes function, and measurement becomes key. 

My body was challenged, naming rather basic postures can’t do’s, while granting me break-throughs in poses I never imagined I could ever do. Yes, I had my feet behind my head, shoulders and arms in front. Ups.

My mind was flipping between an overload of information, chaos and structure. Love and hate, happiness and frustration. Struggles and insights. The entire bloody package. 

Loads of stuff to absorb and integrate, input for my own growth as well as my teachings. Lots to work with and I’m keen to do so. However, it was rather a surprise to feel kind of confirmed, that my Ashtanga home practice is my perfect match. It showed me what Ashtanga did for me, through me, with me, during the last couple of years. A huge transformation. Which is supposed to go on, with new options to organize myself – my stability, ability and imagination.

Every method, every approach has its individual beauty, there is no right or wrong; however, it always feels so good to add some new ingredients to the meal. 

Bon appétit!

High energy

Do you feel it already? It’s not only the first Full Moon and Supermoon (when the moon is closest to Earth) of the year, but also a total Lunar Eclipse – coming up between this Sunday and Monday. There are loads of readings out there if you are interested, as I won’t step into any astrological findings here. 

I’m feeling this huge energy since yesterday afternoon. My practice in the morning wasn’t affected, however, it came up a bit later. My mood shifted from laughing to sadness, and everything in-between. This emotional seesaw was my companion of the day and evening.

This morning I started my practice careful. Listening to my body and my mood. As usual I turned music on, not this kind of yoga music, I prefer some good beats when practicing at home. I couldn’t stand it. Awful. I switched to some slow pling-plong background something. Much better. My practice mirrored this – poor strength, less flexibility. Alright, I adapted. Appreciating the clear signs, so I don’t harm myself. My practice was still Ashtanga, but slow, mindful, skipping some postures and Vinyasas to honor my bodys’ messages. I’m happy I practiced anyhow, and very grateful for being that connected, feeling the energies around and within.

What does this Full Moon mean for your practice? Be mindful yogi, always listen to your body and be even more attentive the next days. Take a rest day tomorrow and use the time to meditate or if you want some physical practice, go for a slow Yin Yoga sequence. Use the moon energy to focus on yourself and what’s going on within. Grant yourself some time tomorrow and think detoxing, cleaning, charging. Think let go and same time abundance.

Happy Full Moon!

Props

Are you using props?

Different yoga styles, different approaches. It’s nothing about right or wrong, each approach is right. Coming from an Ashtanga background, I’m not much into props, as we say, if you can’t reach a posture, you’re not ready yet. Simple like that and I fully agree. However, if being really picky, a mat could also be counted as a prop, but I think this is a bit of a stretch, isn’t it. I definitely need a proper mat to avoid slipping, which can really be an issue. However, I sometimes use a block for a supported bridge pose to carefully open my body before going into full posture, urdhva dhanurasana. I’m not a backbender, my body prefers to fold forward, so this is a soft opening as an entry point. Even if I’m an Ashtanga devotee, I also believe, that it’s not about blindly following the rules, but the most important thing is to listen to my body. Accepting where I am that day, open, flexible and strong or rather stiff and exhausted with complaining muscles and joints. That’s life and I learned to accept and work with it. Also if this means using props or skipping a vinyasa here and there…. Finally, it’s my practice and there’s nobody to judge me, apart from my ego 😉

The yoga wheel is also a nice tool to play with. Not part of my practice, but part of playing, same here for supporting my body going backwards.

When it’s about my students, I’m not that strict, I allow them to use blocks and even a strap if it comes to hasta padangusthasana or binding in supta kurmasana, as I believe it leverages the learning curve in some postures significantly. Blocks can be very useful particularly for beginners, when eventually even sitting in easy pose with a long and straight spine is already a huge challenge. Just sitting on a block can be a game changer.

When it comes to yin yoga, the world is a different one. While we can do this style without props, I really prefer using them and everything can be used as a prop. We stay for 3 to 10 minutes in a posture and should make it as comfortable as possible. In this case, comfort is queen! After some minutes, a posture usually starts to get challenging anyhow, and we should be able to fully focus on our breath, releasing and letting go.

How about you? Props yes or no?

The impact of the season

The summer is definitely gone when the coconut oil isn’t liquid anymore! The summer here was a very hot and dry one, which made most of my students getting exhausted quite quickly. I love to practice in the heat. It’s so much easier for the joints, the muscles…. well, the whole body is softer, much more flexible. I felt strong, filled with energy. Furthermore, I’m under the impression my body forgives easier in the heat when I push too much. 

Season is changing right now, the temperature went down, the long desired rain is there. While the plants outside might feel a relief, my body started complaining. Some pain here, less stamina there… I know I need to practice with a stronger focus and fully aware to avoid injury. My Ashtanga practice was difficult today, the change is in my body. Got the message and put yin yoga on my schedule for tomorrow. Also using different essential oils to minimize the impact of the season change. 

How about you? Do you feel the seasons in your body? Is there any that supports your practice?