Back or forth?

Are you a forward folder or a back bender? I once heard that we tend to be either one or the other, well if not made of rubber of course. I have to admit, it’s very true for me. I’m a forward folder and I love it. My back is rather rounded and stiff, it’s difficult for me to go backwards. Physically spoken! As going backwards in any other meaning than physically isn’t just difficult, but a no go for me. I only know one direction, forward. Haha, yes, there it is, must be a connection. Well I leave it with this, even if my mind is just telling me stories about optional deep psychological interpretations… not now, not here!

I’d like to tell you about forward folds and hamstrings. I’m talking about a group of muscles placed on the backside of our thighs. I have an intense relationship with my beauties, a daily conversation, as they are kind of shilly-shally, everyday in a different mood. Some days very open and soft, which makes all forward folds such a pleasure, other days stiff, hard and full of tension.

„To breathe into and release the hamstrings can be very upsetting. We store many powerful emotions, such as suppressed anger, competitiveness, and fear of inadequacy, in our hamstring muscles. All suppressed emotions are potentially crippling to our health: they are toxic and have an impact on our personality…“

(Ashtanga Yoga, Practice & Philosophy, by Gregor Maehle)

Here you go, one reason! Another reason is that we spend too much time sitting, which shortens our hamstrings. Changing habits helps of course, as well as regular practice.

When working on your hamstrings it’s not just about stretching. We need both, lengthen and strengthen them. Always be careful, listen to them, treat them thoughtful and respect whatever they present you with that moment. Send your breath into the hamstrings and actively let all tension go with each exhale. Instead of forcing, go with the yin approach and get soft together with your hamstrings. Allow them to open in their own time and appreciate all they do for you!

Embrace the unexpected

I didn’t manage to sleep last night and when the alarm told me to get up this morning, everything in me shouted loud and clear “NO!” Tuesday morning means an extra early start as I teach an early bird class. So no excuses. Luckily, traffic had mercy on me and I arrived early. It was still dark outside, candles were burning next to my mat and I sat in meditation. So grateful for this peaceful time, just to connect with myself, get settled and ready for class. I was waiting for my students, not expecting many to show up, as I had a few cancellations. This time of the year, people tend to be over busy, often driven by a do-more and be-more attitude, easily forgetting to take a moment to stop and breathe or an hour to practice asanas, getting some quiet and quality time next to the daily craziness….. However, I was surprised that finally just one student showed up.

Instead of being disappointed, I decided to embrace the situation and even felt blessed when my student agreed to practice together – what else works better than a nice Ashtanga practice to move in synchronicity! Even if time was limited, I enjoyed our beautiful flow through the vinyasas a lot. I’m so grateful for this unexpected opportunity!

Early morning practice and particularly getting myself upside down into a headstand always brings my world back to peace. What a shift into a most beautiful start into the day! Thanks for your flexibility B., it was a pleasure practicing with you!

Flow

sit up straight

close your eyes

listen

breathe

focus on your navel

connect to yourself

smile

feel

 

get started

let your body guide you

warm up your joints

move your spine

stretch

forgive

connect

breathe

 

open your heart

feel your body

feel your energy

hold

extend

breathe

release

surrender

let go

smile

bild up

let your muscles enjoy the game

be grateful

breathe

twist

invert

connect

be

just be

happy

 

namasté

Reality check

If you’re stuck in a rut, if your routine and habits lost all its ease and you’re seeing yourself singing the blues with no reason at all – it’s time for a change darling!

No matter if it’s about your practice or any other part of your life, if you want something different, you have to do something different. Instead of reinventing the wheel, start with just one piece of the puzzle of your daily routine and see what happens. Be creative! Surprise yourself! Don’t allow your laziness to take over.

From time to time we need to change. It might be just a little habit, or something larger is due for a make over or even a replacement. Your measurement is your mood. Are you happy? Smiling? Are you feeling grounded, welcoming each day with open arms? No? Change! It’s all up to you. Try something new!

You don’t know where to start? What about trying this:

Change your morning routine. Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and instead of pushing the snooze button, start your day with some pranayama.

Give yourself an easy start, stay in bed, lying down. Do some deep belly breaths. Belly out when inhaling, expand your rips, lift your chest. When exhaling, chest first, ribs and belly in. Slowly. Deep. Count for 5 for each inhale and each exhale.

After a couple of deep breath, stretch yourself, arms over your head, get long! Bring your knees into your chest, hug yourself before you slowly lift up to sit. Either sit in your lotos variation or on the edge of your bed and practice some minutes Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing. As this is a powerful technique to settle the mind, body, and emotions, we usually practice Nadi Shodhana when we feel nervous, overwhelmed or stressed. However, balancing the right and left hemispheres of the brain also has its quality early morning, it feels like preparing the energetic channels for the day.

You’ll start clear and balanced into your day!