This Diary is all about my personal practice of the Ashtanga Yoga. Practice, practice, practice and it all comes. I want to know what comes after, the only way to discover it, is by having a regular practice.
As of April 10th, 2016 I have decided to dedicate my asana practice to the Primary Series of the Ashtanga. Here are my insights, my up and down, my best and worst. - Namaste -
Asana skipped: Marychasana A (what a shame, I started with Marychasana C.....)....
Today David Roche asked me why I was doing a Variation of Marychasana D, I explained him about my knees and he understood. I felt released because since the beginning I had the feeling I was cheating. Basically if you ask me to perform perfectly Marychasana D or Janu Shirshasana C or even Ardha Badda Pada Padma Paschimottanasana it will never EVER HAPPEN.
My right knee might be able to compromise a little bit even with a torn meniscus but my left knee simply cannot. No more meniscus in my knee, I can do these asanas sometimes but not for a long period. Right now I know my left knee is gone, completely gone, I still manage to practice with it but I really do it with caution as I started also feeling pain while walking.
So you might think why not stop the practice??? Well if someone ask me to stop until the full recovery of my right knee I can tell you that I will never be able to practice anymore. I had these (stupid and useless) surgery when I was 14 years old (in 1988), at that time when you had problem with the knee they used to open and remove whatever the problem was. My meniscus was in pieces because when I was kid I was not able to walk, just run ;-)
But still I manage it well.
It was a good practice.
I had a coconut water and I put my music in the car as I am getting a little bit tired of Indian music. After a practice it is simply a sin to come back home with David Bowie!
Variation: Each asana that require an half padmasana or a misalignment of the tibia versus femur bone (such as Parshvakonasana B).
The monsoon has officially started. It was raining this morning and I woke up at 3.45 AM. Took a hot shower, moisturized my body with Ayurvedic oil as I usually do each morning, have my lemon drink before going and by 4.45 AM was on my mat.
It was a really good practice. Today I noticed that some of the students are skipping asanas or maybe they just can't remember the all series. The transition to Utkatasana was not done by some of them while others jump from Baddha Konasana directly to Ubbaya Padanghustasana. So yes it means that once again I was not completely focused on my practice as it seems I am watching others students practicing....
I learned that you should never put oil into your hairs before the practice... could not do Setu Bandhasana, even with a yoga blanket on my mat my head was sliding...
I was distracted today as the lady on my left side was practicing the secondary series, I was amazed by her grace, she was so light, no sound, beautiful body move, all asana done perfectly without forcing, strong and flexible. I could have stop my practice just to watch her moving.
It is then useless to precise that I was not focus at all. I was practicing physically but without awareness of what I was doing. Of course I start comparing me to her, well first of all she is probably 10 years younger than me, she looks fresh, and I do believe that she has been practicing as well for the last 10 years so there is no comparison at all between her an me, I would never become her and I would never have her level of practice.
And beside she is one of the assistant of David Roche, I like her very much.
I have been adjusted in Baddha Konasana and really like it, I first thought that my knee will not be able to handle the adjustment but it did and all my torso was down the floor.
I did not feel any pain in my body as I am practicing variation for my left knee so it was a good practice after all.
Sarawasthi Shala is really really small, a tiny room. And still they manage to fill the room with about 40 students.... when you think that there is no space in fact there still is, wherever a blank spot is a yoga mat will be added... So today I was almost hit by the lady on my right side while she was spreading her arms in Suraya Namasakara.
I could not do Prasarrita Padotanasana properly as I was surrounded by too many people, while doing a vinyasa a foot (not mine) find his place in my right armpit: explanation - David Roche was adjusting Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana of one student next to me, therefore when it was about to open the leg on the left side the foot find his place in my armpit, normal.
Could not do Supta Konasana properly neither.
It did not pissed me off, everyone is in the same situation and I really believe that if it was not for the name of "Pattabhi Jois" or of the Ashtanga Yoga tradition no one will accept to practice in these conditions. Anyway here it is different, I am sure that if someone could practice in the toilet he/she will.
As a general condition my practice was good, I am working a lot with the variation on my left side as now my left knee has resigned from his good condition, it is in recovery mode well actually the knee wish to be in recovery mode but it is not really possible, so instead of pushing it I just do variation, the recovery mode will come after July 23rd.
This morning I had a huge pain when I woke up in my left knee, it sounds that the ligament (I do feel the ACL) is completely torn now.... I don't really know what will be the consequence on a long term but I try to manage it, therefore my practice is slower and done with more consciousness as I do not wish to hurt myself more.
I found it more difficult to wake up at 5.30 AM than 4.00 AM. Even my practice is better early morning.
It was the first time that I did not sweat AT ALL during the all practice. The weather in Mysore is getting colder due to the monsoon coming so morning are about 15° (I know it is not that cold) and maybe it is the reason. Not even a single drop of sweat....
David wants to adjust as many of students we are, therefore you can hold an asana for 1 minute and the count did not even start, after adjusting 10 students then the count is starting..... in some way I found it kind of frustrating as my body was getting colder but it was also a good practice for focusing and bringing awareness to what I was doing.
My left knee is gone, completely gone, I am doing a lot of variation as I could not bend it anymore in proper ardha padmasana however in the full Padmasana I do not have any problem.
I stop also all Chakrasana, I said it already but I am working with a chiropractor in Mysore and after doing the Xray of my cervical spine we notice that I do not have any lordose to it, which everyone is supposed to have. My cervical spine is straight.... the C4 is smaller and the shape of my vertebrae are not the same. Therefore I could not turn my head completely and it has impact on all my spine, however this is not "new" and my body has been able to manage it properly by compensating a lot....
Now that I am getting older I have to pay more attention on how I practice and practice with more awareness. I should not feel any frustration and should practice in the respect of my body.
Well after my rewarding day as of yesterday this morning was another story. I don't know if it is related to the monsoon that just started but my body was not responding well to the practice and especially my knees.
From now and then I will stop all the Ardha Padma because my left knee can not handle it anymore.
I refuse the adjustment of one of the assistant, first of all I don't like how she is adjusting and second thing she came to me while doing Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana - she was about to push from my UPPER BACK, right where I was rounding on purpose because of the pain in my knee and I told her "No" - then she told me "touch" while pointing my left knee. She thought I had pain in my hamstrings and I told her the pain was with my knee.... Therefore she did not came back to adjust anything on me.
I love to be adjusted don't get me wrong, but for some reasons the adjustment they are giving at the Sarawasthi's shala make me cringe a little bit.... for instance they are pressing directly on the knee to bring them back on the floor while in Badakonasana.... one of the student, I do believe she is Russian got scare also during one adjustment and told David to stop it. I think she was about to cry.....
I understand that the Primary Series is not about be aligned but more about to go down, catch the big toe, twist as far as we can, bend back with straight legs etc.... but when the body is not ready or when you know that you need to save your body from certain movements I do not understand while we are pushed to do so.... the goal of Yoga (if there any) is not to break your body, I want to be able to walk until my late 90s if I go that far in life, I don't care of grabbing, touching, bending, I want to practice in a safe mode....
Rob Lamport Chiropractor from UK told me that he does not know any Ashtangi WITHOUT any injuries due to the practice.... I don't want to go on that path...
Tomorrow is the last day of the 3rd week and I will give a full day off to my body on Saturday. Even though I feel stronger my joints are crying....
I have added some full vinyasas at the beginning of the sitting postures then I stop to do full when at Janu Shirshana.
The bad new is my knee, specially the left, does not want to bend properly, painful...
The good new is the all series become easier and easier. Breathing okay, hamstrings perfectly fine, focus 200% and smiling while practicing.
I have added 2 more weeks to my practice so I will be finishing on July 23rd. I have also bought a new yoga mat and a mat for my yoga mat. Tomorrow I will try both of them, I still really love my former yoga mat but my "yoga blanket" bought at Purple Yoga Valley is sliding so not very convenient during the Vinyasa....
I will be flying to France on July 26th then back to India by October. I hope, I would be able to continue my regular practice on my own, it will be slightly challenging as I will be teaching on August, but if I keep the 4.30 AM practice then it completely possible.
Also I would like to practice in New York when I will be there on September.
Even though my knees are painful I am 100% hooked to the Ashtanga practice.
Today we have moved into the Sarawasthi Shala.... and damned it is small..... still people manage to find a place. So if your neighbour did not shower before the practice you will be lucky enough to receive his smell during the all practice.....
Beside I don't believe that a "Ujjayi" breathing done with a huge sound is a sign of a good practice, to me it is a sign of "help me I need to breathe"....
I did not really enjoy my practice. I am still on my menstruation (the 3rd day) which now as the effect of kind of slowing down my menstrual flow, I know I was not supposed to practice before tomorrow but I was missing it.
So basically I did not enjoy my practice because first of all the shala is very VERY SMALL, when you are reaching the closing series you are required to move into the...... bedroom!!!! which is cooler than the shala, so you are sweating like nothing during the practice and then when it comes Sarvangasana you moved into a coldest room..... basically I was freezing, did not do Shavasana, I just wanted to leave at that point.
David Roche has 2 assistants with him. One of them just sat on the UPPER BACK of one student during Supta Kurmasana..... how to break people? well here it is... I've never seen that before, the worst adjustment ever! She felt confident and happy to do so, good for her, but if she is doing this to me I will tell her no thank you.
I wish we will move back to the big shala but I know it is not possible.... Still I will see if I can practice until July 23rd. Then on October when I will be back to India I will apply to Sharat class. Hopefully I will be able to practice with him by the end of this year.
Led Class with Sarawasthi is always a blessing. She is counting all Vinyasa and it is a time for me where I really focus on her voice, where I glue my breathing to her instructions, where I lift my head up and inhale deeply to bend forward on the exhalation, where I am following all vinyasa count and it is also where my body is moving in a flow motion. Easy.
It was a really good class.
From Sunday morning David Roche will take the class as Sarawasthi is leaving to Norways for 2 weeks.
Starts: 5.00 AM
Ends: 6.30 AM
Stops: Supta Kurmasana
Saraswathi: "What is your last Asana"?
Me: "Supta Kurmasana"
Saraswathi: "Why stop"?
Me: ".... I don't catch the hands"...
Saraswathi: "You go further. From next week you do all the series, catching okay, just try".
Me: "Thank you very much".
I am very happy. From now and then I will practice at the Shala the all series :-)
Starts: 4.45 AM
Ends: 6.00 AM
Stops: Supta Kurmasana
Today practice was harder.
I am amazed by Sarawasthi. She starts her day at about 3.30 AM with the first batch of the students, then at 5.00 AM she led the class for the beginners, as she is teaching she helps others students in Uttitha Hasta Padanghustasana, means that ALL STUDENTS coming to the shala are at least touch ONCE by her, everyone is having at least one adjustment from her.
She has interaction with all of us. Therefore you never feel alone, you really feel assisted. When you know the number of students coming to KPAJI I think it is amazing. Beside the class finish at 10.30 AM or 11.00 AM for those who have been required to practice at 9.00 AM and when the shala is crowed and people doing the line up at the door she is still there, means that she is staying with all students from early in the morning until at least 11.00 AM. 8 hours in a row of adjusting, watching, teaching, without eating....
R E S P E C T!
Basically you don't come to KPAJI to be adjusted, if it is your goal then it is not the right place. You come there to practice, Practice AND PRACTICE. The goal is not the alignment the goal is to do the asana as it has to be done.
If you can not reach then you stop and you go to the closing series. End of the story.
I understand it and I also understand that you can not do any YTTC in Ashtanga Yoga. There is no Yoga Teacher Training course in Ashtanga, not at all. This has to be stopped....
Ashtanga is all about the practice from one teacher, from the Guru, from the source. There are so many others styles I think it is better to let the Ashtanga as it is and to follow the tradition.
Starts: 4.45 AM
Ends: 6.30 AM
Stops: Supta Kurmasana then closing series
Since I am drinking Turmeric my body is less painful and more flexible, I do not know if there is any relation to it but it is a good surprise to me. I have also introduced to my diet the Cinamon in hot water as I have read that it was good for tight muscles.
David Roche help me with Supta Kurmasana, was able to bring my feet behind my head but not able to grab my hands. It was good.
Sarawasthi said that she does not want to have any woman with their period during the first 3 days of their cycles, so I know when my turn will come I will have 3 days off ;-)
My back has been fixed on friday evening from a manipulation done by Rob Lamport, very talented Chiropractor and highly recommended.
My body is still in need of other fixes but this manipulation was really helpful today during my practice - Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana was easier and my rib cage was more open.
Also I have started since last week drinking daily the Golden Milk (Turmeric beverage done with vegetal milk and a bit of honey), it has many benefits such as releasing the muscles cramp and also give a natural glow to the skin as pimples are removed.
Tomorrow for the next 5 days back to the Mysore practice. I really enjoy the class today, Sarawasthi count slowly so we all stay longer in all asana which I really start to appreciate more and more.
Stops: Supta Kurmasana then back bend to closing series
It was a really good practice, actually since I have started at Sarawasthi I did not have any bad day.
My hamstrings were painful the last month but this month they are very flexible and this right away from the first sun salutation.
Knowing that I won't be allowed to do the all Series I am lengthening my breath for all asanas.
Actually my obstacle is more about Supta Kurmasana than Marychasana D, because I had several surgeries on both of my knees, and the right knee does not have meniscus anymore, the left knee has a torn external meniscus and it is already a miracle that I can manage Padmasana, therefore what ever happens with my practice I won't be able to bend in Padmasana (half) and twist at the same time for Marychasana D because I directly feel the movement in my knees.
So basically I am not cheating, it is just that for this one physically this asana does not work for me.
I see a lot of improvement in my practice, as I am staying longer in the asana I am doing all Vinyasa on slow motion without any jerk and it brings more stability to my mind and also I am getting stronger. Today I hold Shirshasana for 25 long breath, I was very comfortable, then was able to hold from Shirsha, Urdhva Dandasana for 5 breaths. For me it is a real clear improvement.
On the other hand and completely out of the blue, today I have noticed that some of the students are very arrogant.
Tomorrow is the day off. Sunday at 6.00 AM led practice.
It is about a practice done WITH RESPECT TO THE TRADITION.
Traditionally Yoga was taught from mouth to mouth, from Guru to Student, one asana at a time. Once the asana was done properly, with proper breathing, bandhas and alignment then the second asana was given to the student.
Therefore to become a Yoga Teacher took years and years of practice.
In the West we are wrong, we are all wrong.
So now when I am practicing I stay longer into the asana because I know that anyway I won't be authorised to practice the full series.
Then I am repeating the asanas.
I am still cheating as I should not even do Navasana because of Marychasana D that I can not properly, my torn meniscus does not allow me to do it.
My morning practice was beautiful, I really enjoy it!
Actually I should have stop before but my ego was bigger than me. Sarawasthi came to a student today who was at Supta Padanghustasana. She asks her "Have you done Marychasana D?" the student says yes. Sarawasthi: "Show me".
The student did Marychasana D. She was not able to twist or grab the hands.
Sarawasthi: "Why going further into your practice if you can not do a proper Marychasana D?"....
Sarawasthi: "Stop here, go to backbending".
The only reason I want to do the all series is to reassure me that I can do it. But technically if I look deeper into my practice and if I am honest and MOST OF IT if I follow the tradition, my practice stops at Marychasana D.
I can do the half lotus no problem, therefore I can not do the half lotus and then twist at the same time as required with Marychasana D.
If I do the variation then I can twist, but the variation IS NOT THE PROPER ASANA.
David Roche asked me: "Where did you stop yesterday" as he was helping me in rolling back in Gharbhapindasana. I told him "Supta Kurmasana". Then he looked at me and said "then your practice is stopping there".....
Acceptance: I have to accept and deal with my limitations.
Practice: And it all comes, I should not go further if the practice is not done properly.
Satya: I should not cheat. Because I am cheating me and doing prejudice to me not to Sarawasthi, not to David Roche, just me.
And everybody else is following this so why should not I? I am not better than anyone else, unfortunately my ego is still in my shadow.
Was it a good class today? Damn yes, I learn a lot and tomorrow if I can not twist properly (which will be the case) I shall stop my practice at Marychasana D and honore Marychasana for what it was, a GREAT YOGI!
I was doing Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana, Saraswathi came to adjust me. Then I got lost and did not know if it was Badakonasana after Supta Kurmasana or Garbha Pindasana (it is is Garbha Pindasana)... so I asked and it was my lesson, do not ask anything ;-)
Sarawasthi assitants did not reply to my question and they finally told me "your Kurmasana was not good go directly to the back bending".
Then I wanted to do the drop back, her assistant told me not to do it.
So I was happy to have done before all vinyasas, I was the only one to do so and I was scared that at one point they will stop me or tell me not to do so, they did not. Some students were looking at me like I was doing something wrong but in the end it was fine.
Tomorrow morning I won't ask any question and will practice silently and hopefully I will be able to do the all series, if not then I will improve my Supta Kurmasana. Actually it was not bad at all, it is jut that I need assistance to grab my hand and bring my foot behind my head, but for the forward fold I am pretty good.
Morning Practice: 6.30 AM
Led class with Sarawasthi
I was getting emotional during the opening mantra, the energy in the main shala was awesome. David Roche was there and I introduced myself to him, he is such a peaceful person. He was practicing with us.
Saraswasthi started to stop some of the student at Uttitha Hasta Padanghustasana. They were required to seat on their mat and to join us for Virabhadrasana.
She was stoping the practice for some of the students, therefore I did not do any variation, the only one I try to do was for Parivritta Parshvakonasana with hands in Namaste and she asked me to bring my hand on the mat, which I did promptly.
I was scared about my Marychasana D, I can do the half lotus but I can not twist properly.
Fortunately she did not stop my practice and was able to do the all series.
Tomorrow is Mysore Class, will see if she allows me to do the all vinyasa between all sitting asanas.