Friday, April 16, 2010

Practice: On My Mat & In My Head

I came home from work at midnight last night, and though I'm back at my desk at 8.30am, I wanted to write a little bit here about what I've been working on, yoga-wise.

Not much.


Not really... I've not had the time to have full-on practices. On Wednesday, I was up at 6am and flew to London just for the day, taking the last flight back that same day arriving home at 11pm. It's been lots of early mornings and late nights like this. We are prepping this big shoot in 1.5 weeks, so the heat is ON.

On top of this, sometimes the insomnia strikes as well... which pretty much cancels out any hope of waking up early to get any yoga practice in, if I've been tossing and turning all night. Well, at least not a FULL practice anyways.

So I have been doing short forms. Not DS' short forms from his book, just whatever I feel like after a few rounds of sun salutes in the primary series. Some days I've done some pranayama and meditation. And even these short 15min or 30min sessions help to centre and focus my mind. But some how I seem to just dismiss these little sessions as "not a real practice". It's all I have time for really, and it does help to centre me, so what's my problem again?

This is the thing with an Ashtanga practice I need to be mindful of... so much of it seems like attaining the next goal "When can I get the next pose?" ...But really, that isn't the be all and end all, is it.

Just do your practice.

So much wisdom in that simplicity.

There've been some interesting Twitter comments on people's thoughts on short forms - that it's not authentic, that it's not yoga, blahblahblah. I mean... Really?! Some practice is better than NO PRACTICE. It's all yoga, no matter what form you're into (asana and beyond). And the way I see it, this is my short-term plan for the state my life is at the moment. I'm not planning on doing a 15min practice daily forever. And even if I do... how is that "not yoga"?

ANYWAYS... Yesterday morning I had time to practice the full Primary series. I've been watching more Kino workshop videos on ArkieYogini's site. This video's the same one Arkie linked to, and because it's so great, I'm re-posting it.

Kino's breaking down jumping back from Padmasana, but the first half of it is pretty much breaking down a regular jump-back. The good thing about me not having a full practice in the past week means that I've been THINKING about the practice a lot. This is one of the videos that has been re-playing in my mind.

Remember how I'm working on getting rid of that foot tap on the mat as I'm jumping back? It clicked a litte bit more after watching Kino break it down.

IT'S WEIGHT-TRANSFERENCE. As you're swinging back, you're transferring the weight into the upper body.


I've been focussing on trying to clear the feet through, so I've been thinking "shoot the feet back!" When really, at the same time I should also be leaning forward more too. I've been dreaming of these jumpbacks in the past week and it felt so logical, so easy. So when I finally got to practice fully yesterday, I realized how much harder this is in real life. HAHAHA. As I'm swinging back, my arms are almost straight. In order to transfer the weight forward MORE... I need to bend the elbows pretty much to 90 degrees - hence tipping the weight forward. I had visions of smacking my face flat on the floor as I was doing this. And I actually grazed my chin slightly on the floor.

Also, the other thing is the feet need to be tucked in really, really, really close to you THE WHOLE TIME (extreme core!)


Makes sense. Why are my feet tapping/ dragging on the floor? ...coz they're not tucked in close enough to the body. DUH.

The practice continues...


  1. On the short forms debate, I think the "not yoga" comment was a Guruji lost-in-translation thing rather than anybody's view - also the thing with David Swenson's short forms is that if you want to practice ashtanga in it's traditional form, then that ain't it. But for someone who wants to do some yoga for whatever reason, then it's all good. None of this "my yoga's better than your yoga" business, but for *me* (and only me) I am interested in following a traditional path so I don't do his short forms or go to fusion classes, I go to Mysore classes. It's totally personal. You are doing what you can given your circumstances (no teacher, no time, no sleep...) and of course it's yoga!! Even staunch traditionalists like Mr Williams say that in times of travel/stress/sickness etc suryanamaskar is a traditional practice. OK I'll shut up now & p.s. I still can't jump back no matter how many videos I watch! :)

  2. Have you been taking flak personally on Twitter Skipperty, hope you your not letting it get to you. I practiced the Swenson Short forms for a long time, loved them, felt I was able to get a good all round practice though time was short. Then I came across the Sharath dvd where the whole thing only takes an hour. Now I consider that a short practice. In the evenings I do a Primary a few times a week at Sharath pace.
    In the first edition of Lino's Ashtanga Yoga it was supposedly eight breaths... does that mean the five breath version we have now is a short practice? It used to be full vinyasa now it's not, short practice? The practice used to be Primary and Intermediate together, again now its not, short practice? In Intermediate they you tend to drop half of standing, short practice? And in 3rd isn't it just the Sury's.... short practice?
    So what's a full practice anyway then? How many Ashtangai's do the full 25 breaths in Savangasana and Sirsasana, 10 breaths in badha padmasana and yoga mudra or 25 in Padmasana and utpluthi.
    If your just starting Ashtanga and you've only been given Standing and the Paschi's plus finishing, is that a full practice or a short form?

    In yoga Mala where Jois is stressing that this is a practice for the busy householder he stresses that you should practice finishing ias laid out. As Sankara would argue, why would Jois say that unless he was implying that the rest was flexible.

    For my money a good bit of standing as warm up and a pretty much standard finishing then whatever you can manage time wise in between. I'd be thinking a holding pattern, the tricky poses that you don't want to lose. A nice deep Paschi, Janu A, some Marichi's a Navasana and Kurmasana oh and badha konasana. But hey David Williams knows, Surys and a headstand, sorted.

    I imagine it must be really hard getting used to a home practice again, good luck with it

  3. I think you are doing yoga when you do a 15' routine
    even 2'
    it is yoga you can practice mindfulness even wihthout doing asana going to work, working and working on awareness.

    David Swenson tells a story about a lady > she is waking up every morning , she spreads her mat on the floor .
    She goes for a long inhale exhale in om
    . she then folds up her mat and goes on with her day
    This is yoga too

  4. Good comments, guys! Sorry for late reply. No internet at home.

    And don't worry, I haven't been taking flak on Twitter at all - it's just that some comments made me think of "What is Yoga" - and doing a bit of svadhyaya. I was in a hurry writing the last post and maybe coz I used "I" and "me" in the examples it sounded like I got personal. Haha.

    I agree. It's a personal practice. Everyday is different, and it's all yoga. :)


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