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 -
I am offering a 7 days off to my body. Will be back to the mat by July 29th. I know I may practice in between some back bend and Sun salutation but as far as I am concern I won't do any long practice. My body is exhausted. I am really wondering if it is true, that all Ashtangi Yogis are practicing DAILY 6 days a week, 52 Weeks per year without stopping..... how is it possible?
Right now my knee is out, my hamstrings are shorter and my left wrist is getting painful.... maybe it is me, maybe I am not practicing so well, or just tired.
Starts: 4.45 AM - 20x Suraya Namaskara
Ends: 6.35 AM
Asana skipped: Shirshasana, yoga mudrasana, padmasana and kukutasana.
Adjustment: Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana (it all comes)
Knee pain, sit bone pain.... well I believe it is part of the game now. I have to manage with all different kind of pain, I think it is a stage that I have to get over it, like a test. I have now knee support for my knee and it feel definitely better but still it is painful.
I need 20 Suraya Namaskara before starting any asana, my body is too stiff in the morning. I think that on August I may practice only Suraya Namaskara the first week and see how my body reacts to that. Will do daily 54 and hopeful 108 Sun Salutation for one week. Then second week only back bending sequence (a little bit of the secondary series). Actually there are a lot of asana in the secondary series that I can do. Only problem is all balance on the forearms, this I can not manage, could not find my center.
I am mentally preparing my August practice as I will be in France and teaching the all day during our TTC. So it will be challenging. In Mysore even if we are running a TTC we are 4 teachers so I can practice early morning and teach only 3 hours during the day, in Paris it will be different, we will be 2 teachers and I have to translate in French as well, so my morning practice will be the only moment for me, I won't be able to practice any other time.
And beside I need to give a break to my knee so my program will be for August 2016:
first week - only Sun Salutation, about 54 to 108 daily
second week - Sun Salutation and back bending sequence (with of course some fwd fold)
third week - back to the primary series with all Vinyasa but skipping all padmasana
Therefore there was no practice. Sarawasti has invited all students to the Puja that took place in the main shala from 10.00 AM to late in the afternoon.
They did a fire ceremony and 2 priests were there. All Jois family was there, Sharat and his wife, his mother Sarawasti, kids, cousins. I won't display pictures of them, we were authorised to take picture during the ceremony, some people were even filming, so I took some pictures with Sharat and his wife but do not intend to display them.
However the shala was completely packed!
After the puja some students were singing Kirtans, shloka to the family. Some of them came on stage with guitare and started the Bakthi Yoga. I am not a huge fan of it, I like to sing kirtans however I do not like to sing it with a westernise style if I may say. It is just very personal, I do not feel any devotion into that, just pop music singing old shloka or kirtans which does not make any sense to me.
Sarawasti spoke about her dad, she was very emotional.
Anyway this morning it was time for the practice and I do believe it was the full moon:
It was a really good practice.
Starts: 4.45 AM
Ends: 6.40 AM
I did 20 Sun salutation in order to sweat and to warm up my body. Also I did more vinyasa at the beginning of the sitting posture.
I have been adjusted in Supta Kurmasana and slowly but sure the posture is coming.
I have bought some medicinal plaster with herbal "magic" ayurvedic and put it all around my knee, I slept with it and took my shower with it and this morning my knee was better, so I was able to manage so Ardha Bada Padma but not all of them, I think these plasters are working nicely, will put another one today for the all day.
In six day I am living to Europe, during august I will practice differently but sill will manage to be on my mat by 4.30 AM.
Improvement: Gharbapindasana and the 9 rounds. Was able to roll on my back in circle for 9 times while my hands where inside my calf muscles, so it is a huge improvement as lately I was able to roll on my back but straight, not doing the circle.
Since the adjustment of my cervical spine and thoracic with the chiropractor I have lost my center, therefore when I am doing Shirshana I have the feeling that I am not straight at all and I can't realign myself. Even worst in the shadow of my asana I can see that I am lining on my left side and I have no clue how to come back straight as I do fell straight.....
Back bending is also improving and my sun salutations just rock. Now I start the practice with 10 Sun salutation A and 10 Sun salutation B, why? because I like to sweat during my practice and also the sun salutation are getting lighter and lighter to do, so in the end why not?
Tomorrow no class, it is the birthday of Guruji and all students are required to be in the main shala by 10.30 AM; also it is the moon day, so no class.
Back on the mat on July 20th, in the end I think I will enjoy this day off :-)
This week number 6 is my last week of practice with Sarawasti. I was off the mat theses last three days, first of all the adjustment I received on my last class (July 13th) killed my upper back and my neck was blocked and then I had my periods..... So today after 3 days off was my come back to the mat.
Sarawasti does not teach 10 Sun Salutation but 4 Sun Salutations A and 3 Sun Salutations B. When I am practicing I do at least 16 to 20 Sun salutation because it is a good warming up for my body, therefore I think that my bodys was not ready or maybe the last 3 days made my body lazy, but my hamstrings were painful during the all practice.
Sometimes I do not know what to think about my practice, some days are very awful while other day are just amazing.
On the other hand I have received my confirmation to practice with Sharat from October 5th to December 5th, 2016:
This is your final confirmation to study with Guru Sharath at KPJAYI, we have received your online registration form and it has been accepted by us. You can come according to your dates that you have mentioned in your online form. Please don’t make any kind of changes and don’t reply to this email ID.
Do bring this Confirmation print out, photocopy of passport & visa (1 each) and 1 passport size photo. You will have to provide these on your arrival to register in person at KPJAYI, Mysore."
So I am happy :-)
On August and September I will have to practice on my own and will attend some yoga class. At first I wanted to continue with the Mysore Class in other Yoga Studio in Paris and New York as I will be travelling to theses places the next few months but then I realised that maybe it will be better for me to practice other style, Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar and Back bending classes during this time.
I don't think I will lost the Primary Series and do believe on the contrary that it will give a new improvement to my practice.
Basically I want to give a break to both of my knees, I do believe that the pain I am having in my hamstrings are because of my knee issue, my body is compensating too much and it is a chain reaction that is happening.
Tomorrow back on my mat for my Mysore practice at 4.45 AM.
As my body is painful I need more sun salutation to warming up, so I do at least 20 of it. I am getting a little bit scared of some of adjustment I may received. Today there was the Indian Lady who is assisting Sarawasti and she push my back like nothing during Paschimottanasana, I was surprised and I was in a "saving mode", bending my knee and lengthening my lower back.... but she came and press right between the scapula.... now my neck is blocked, not saying that it is because of it but it may have an impact.
Since yesterday there is one lady coming out of the blue and practicing right in front of me... She does not know anything about the Primary Series, she is practicing a flow with some asanas. From Uttitha Hasta Padanghustasana she will go to Parshvakonasana A..... from Prasaritta Padtonasanasa she will go to Dandasana (sitting posture) and from Janu Shirshasana A directly to Marychasana D and so on.....
She is doing whatever she wants in the order she wants... yesterday Sarawasti helped her for Uttitha Hasta so then when she noticed that the student was "back" to Parshvakonasana she asked her "what are you doing", the lady was still continuing..... then she told her to stop but she did not.... I think she did not understand what was going on....
Anyway today after the class she was down having a coconut and I spoke with her (a very quick one), I asked her if maybe it will be better for her to come and practice with the asana on the paper.... then she looked at me and she said "no, I remember"..... okay....
So basically there are 3 teachers in the shala, David Roche, the Indian Lady and Sarawasti and no one is paying attention to this student practicing whatever.
After all it is not my business, people do whatever they want but I am here to understand what is the tradition of the Ashtanga, what is the tapas and sometimes it is just whatever.
Still I will continue, I want to see where the journey is guiding me.
I started my Ashtanga Yoga journey on April 10th, 2016. I took a vow and decided to practice DAILY the Primary Series.
I was not new to the Ashtanga but I was not a regular practictioner. Now I am falling the full moon cycle, the new moon cycle and my period cycle.
I am following the rule. I have started my regular practice with John Scott in Goa, then practiced on my own, then joined KPAJI in Mysore under the guidance of Sarawasti and David Roche.
I can tell the difference with my practice, more flexibility, more lightness while doing asana, more stamina.
I also eat more and sleep more :-)
However I have lost my balance due to my knee that are getting worst day by day.
The Primary Series will be the perfect practice for me without the Arda Bada Padma and all rotation of the knee, this is my weakest point. Outside of the knee problem everything is getting better and today I have started to practice the dropped back bending with David Roche.... and it was a really huge back bending, I don't know how but my lower back can handle it perfectly, no pain at all and actually it felt very great while doing it.
I still have 9 days of practice at Sarawasti Shala, after this I will go back to Paris and North America for 2 months. If everything is okay then I shall practice with Sharat by October until December 2016.
After December 2016 I am planning to practice in Mysore with Ajay Kumar.
I am still not sure I am "fitting" in the Ashtanga Yoga world, a couple of asana are now out of my reach because of my knee. This morning I felt in Ardha Bada Padmotanasana because I am losing theproprioception in my both knee. Which is not good.
I also felt in Shirshana ;-) but I believe it is because of the intense back bending, my pelvis was going everywhere while lifting up, however I came back right away in Shirshasana.
After 3 months I am still happy to practice, some morning I just want to sleep but still as soon as I am on my mat I am feeling great.
Yoga is a discipline, right now I am practicing the 8 limbs of Yoga and experimenting the "Tapas". The Asana and the practice of the Asanas is all about Tapas (discipline), becoming stronger than our mind.
Today I practiced in "economic mode", did a lot of variation and even though the practice was in slow motion for some asanas I shorten the breath.
I felt good and tried no to think about my knee.
At the end before changing the room to do the closing Series, Sarawasti came and asked what I did, I told her Setubandhasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana and Paschimottanasana. She told me from Monday to do the back bending (means dropin back bending).
I am not sure now I really want to do it, tomorrow is the day off and I won't do the same as last week, I will really take a day off, no practice at all. If I have to be assisted during the drop back bending then hopefully I will not be push to do it... So will see on Monday.
After all I really enjoy my practice, it is just that now I have several limitations....
Pain: well, where should I start..... of course knee and as of this morning pain in the right sit bone.
Was it a good practice: YES!
There is something addictive when you have a regular practice. Before I used to practice 3 to 4 times per week, sometimes the full primary series, sometimes flow and other time Hatha.
Since April 10th I am practicing 6 days a week only the Primary Series.
There are a lot of changes in my physical body. On the first 2 months I gained weight, my upper body was bigger, my hips were wider and so were my thighs.
My hamstrings were the first suffering which was really surprising me as I used to practice and I thought that I was already flexible enough... well I was wrong.
I directly start the regular practice with John Scott, we were taught the primary series with full vinyasa. At that stage the Primary Series itself was quite challenging for me but adding the full vinyasa was over the top.
After the second week of it my stamina was coming slowly but surely.
As of today I am not practicing the full vinyasa during the Mysore class at Saraswasti shala and not one is doing it. Just what I call baby vinyasa after each side.
After 3 months my body is changing again. Muscles are getting refine, spine getting more straight, hamstrings definitely more flexible, lower back more open, upper body more flexible and all twisting are way much easier than 3 months ago.
The only problem I am facing are my knees, because now the two knees are very painful and the left one is completely out.
I would be very down if someone tell me that I should stop to practice because of my knee.
I have to step back. If I continue to practice all padmasana, ardha padmasana by the end of the month I won't be able to walk. So I should stop the knee rotation and adapt my practice if the so call tradition allows me to do so.
Today was really hard for my knee, even Janu Shirshana is becoming painful and Tryanga Mukha Eka Pada is very uncomfortable.
Knee is gone, it needs a rest.
The rest of the practice is better than ever, I don't understand why the tradition is forcing you to masterise all asana before going to another, what in the case of injuries such as myself? It creates a special elite of practictioner and I do believe that I am not the only one in this case, however I also noticed that others practictioner are pushing themselves. But until when? When the body will stop to work properly.
I do understand now why in Ashtanga there are so many injuries. If you want to win the authorisation of practicing the all series you need to go over your limit.
I've seen so many students completely unaligned but catching the big toes or the hand, and they are allowed to practice everything. The alignement is secondary, just practice. I do believe that before Ashtanga becomes so popular Sri Pattabhi Jois used to give a special set of asana for students, it was not only about the Primary series, Student one has his own practice, Student 2 had another one etc...
But now it has become an Ashtanga Factory, no one is really looking at you, specially if you are practicing in the changing room..... it is only about catching, grabbing, bending, if not catching then stop, whatever the problem is...
So my question is am I really practicing Yoga right now or just a physical exercice?....
Today on our way to the shala we hit a bird.... it is a strange way of starting a day, by killing a bird... he was not flying but running from nowhere in the dark, then he starts flying but too late and too low, we hit him with the car.
The shala was not packed today.
My left knee is back on strike, I think I will have to pass an MRI to check my ligaments. Painful, its getting harder to ben it in a simple Janu Shirshasana....
This morning woke up at 4.00 AM and I was clueless... was it the day of the Led class? Or Mysore style. Did not even think one minute that it could be the day off....
I had to check my blog to realise it was my day off....
Anyway I could not sleep so I decided to practice. I did half of the primary series, today both knees were painful and then decided to practice backbending. Hopefully it will not ruin my tomorrow practice but I really wanted to work the back bend as it has been a while since I did it.
It was a good one (practice), really enjoy Ustrasana, came down completely but could not manage to open my shoulder to grab my feet. I also practiced Parivrita Janu Shirshasana and Parighasana and it was a very good stretch for the side of my body.
Tomorrow is the led class with Sarawasti and then new week (Week 5) is starting.
It was a really good practice and also a very surprising one. Since the last 10 days I have been working my gluteus, doing simple exercice in the afternoon to reinforce it.
Also since the last couple of days my left knee was out, could not bend it for ardha baddah, tryanga mukha was painful etc.
This morning I don't know why I decided to give it a try. And to my huge and big surprise I was able to bend my knee WITHOUT any pain in all Ardha Badda Padma Padotansana, Paschimottanasana, Marychasana, Tryanga Mukha and even Janu Shirshasana C. However could not twist with a knee bend for Marychasana D as the feeling is like my skin is ripped, actually this is the TFL that gives me huge pain while twisting...
So I think I need to investigate this path. Is a weak gluteus compromising the flexibility and the comfortability of the knee??? I will continue to work it as I did, nothing very big, it is every day 10 to 15 minutes of repetitive movement that I will documente later, but I do believe that there is something here.
Okay so to be perfectly honest right now as I am typing I can feel my knee "pulsing" a little bit and I have put some oil (ginger and juniper) on my full body - enjoying the feeling.
And another note the registration for Sharat has been opened today, and I just applied :-) Will see if I am accepted or not.
I am very happy whatever happens, if it is a no for Sharat then I will reapply for Sarawasthi.