• Went to Richard Freeman’s  workshop in Oxford last week-end. First time with the “world famous guru”.

    Learnt  about joining coccyx and the pubic bone via the “pc” (no connection with Bill Gates’ desktop.. ) pubococcygeus – muscle (pelvic floor muscle) (in orange).

    Learnt about prana and apana which I still have to explore further.

    Learnt about bringing my shoulders  further back.

    Heard about Astanga being cheaper than Iyengar, because  using no props.

    Heard about a lot of images helping you into the right posture right (hoodie on your head –  feel how to hold your head; kidney wings to  open with the breath).

    Learnt about preparing for headstand, kneeling first and placing your hands crossed behind you head, extending the elbows towards the ceiling and away from the shoulders, making space between the ears and the shoulders and pushing the wrists up.

    Richard Freeman is famous. You can follow his teaching on Youtube. Several times. He looks so “cool”.

    He’s been practicing Yoga for the last forty years, studying various philosophy movements. His popularity makes him an all powered man  (we were fifty in the hall and Vishnu knows  how many on the waiting list?)

    Richard Freeman was late. Started late, finished late. But the majority of us didn’t mind. In the meantime, students were giggling at his jokes. They were not all funny, but he tried hard to make us smile. Release the mouth, the jaw, the palate. It works. RF is aware of so many connections in his own body. he sadly hoped we can follow his pace of mind.

    I felt slightly battered after two days. It went well but I still think  a guru has the right (duty?) to start and finish on time. Respect!

  • Went to Brian Cooper ‘s workshop last Saturday in Oxford. Great time. Brian chatted just the right amount. Spoke about his tongue becoming longer after practicing Khechari mudra (Yoga technique where you turn you tongue into your mouth so as to have its tip against the back of the palate). “Soon I won’t be able to speak anymore…”
    We practiced Mulabandha, contraction of the anus and perineum + more if possible. Lift of the pelvic floor, something which you need to experience  before being comfortable to talk about.

    ” How many of you pratice mulabandha in each posture?” Not often, I thought but cowardly didn’t tell. Since, I’ve practiced the dog pose (up and down) with legs tightly pressed against each other. It helps the mulabandha . Once you’ve got that muscular contraction, you can introduce uddiyana bandha, where you also contract the abdomen and try to hold the stomach in at the end of the inbreath. Have been trying every day for a week with raised arms before breakfast. Must be quite hard  on a full stomach.

    I missed the third bandha(in the throat which was taught on Sunday). I also missed some of the navasana and ardha navasana practice ( the boat posture). Brian says he holds it for 60 breaths. Good for him. I can just hold it for 15. I’ll speak to you in a few weeks , see how I’m getting on.

  • After Astanga, I went back to Iyengar. I wanted my neck and upper back sorted. Within four hours I got the job done. And felt so much happier.

    The secret? “Bring your intelligence into the posture”,jhm_paravatasana_padma said Johanna Heckmann-Mohan (pictured above), from The London Iyengar Yoga Institute . I had started to think again, drawing my attention to the infinite parts of my existence. You might think: “Is that all…”

    Johanna has been teaching at the Institute for over a decade. She’s been many times to Pune, in India to practice with the Iyengar family.
    She sounds strict (you better have practiced Iyengar Yoga before you turn up to her workshop) but she’s sensitive and clear in her directives. Enjoyable!

    We started with three basic postures with the head supported. “To release all anxiety!” Ado muka virasana, uttanasnasa and ado muka svanasana . Then we went into Trikonasana (the triangle). From there, we lay on the floor to work on

    4338-MJ05_50 supta padangustansana (reclining big toe pose) with a strap. Leg well rooted  in the joint and released to the side. Stretch and surrender.  A partner adjusts the pelvis, pushing the opposite hip back to the floor and rolling the grounded thigh inwards.

    Then back into Trikonasasna, aware of the space created in both sides of the groin.

    Prasarita padottanasana : watch to keep inner feet parallel to each other, with pressure on the outer feet.

    Ado Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) against the wall twice

    Sirsasana (headstand) 40f311c12952ba14c47cd04a303d5479with variations.

    ardha_chandrasana ardha chandrasana (half moon facing the wall, a partner holding your trapezius down with a strap, also pressing the lower buttock down while reaching over and holding up your abdomen.  You probably had to be there.)

    dogup urdhva mukha svanasana (upward facing dog),  hands supported on two bricks.  Visualising the posture once with the feet pointed, once with the toes tucked under (and not just visualising). Holding the abdomen in, pushing on your arms, lifting up. Tailbone tucking down, inner thighs back and up.

    imagesUstrasana, (the camel) same thing, high on your legs, knees hip width apart and tailbone well tucked under.

    Here Johanna reminded us to only use the props we really need. “In India, stealing doesn’t only mean taking something which is not yours, but also using something which is not necessary”. Good quote.  She also talked about compassion (helping others into the postures) and responsibility for oneself (don’t let everything collapse when someone is helping you).

    Standing back bend, hands behind the back drawing the upper back thighs out. Lift the quadriceps, don’t bring the pubic bone forward, but tuck your tailbone down and lift you chest; arch your back and only bend your knees when you start going down into scan0006urdhva dhanurasana (the bridge ).

    Counter postures: Ado mukha virasana and Bharadvajasana with a chair

    Salamba yoga7bSarvangasana, shoulderstand in a chair with two bolsters (the second bolster should be placed on the chair to support the lower back. From there lift your pelvis and bring the toes against the wall behind you)

    Relaxation prone (upper body lying on a bolster).  No, really.  You can relax now. Turn on your back:

    Savasanaimages

  • Back from Oxford. “Happy breathing!” Spent four hours practicing with Richard Adamo. Richard is a British Wheel of Yoga teacher trainer. He introduced his Astanga class by justifying the “speed” test he was going to submit us to.  We then did one hour fast practice with Astanga primary series. No relaxation, half an hour pause and back to it.

    hath_yogaWe focused on Navasana (the boat). With a round back which was a very helpful alternative to bring the legs higher and work on the abdominals. Usually, when you start Yoga you stretch you back and take your chest out to lift yourself up. Here you try to absorb your navel back stretching your arms forward and lifting your legs with the strength of the abdomen.

    We practiced balancing forward on the wrists, keeping the legs straight a few cm behind the hands, to prepare to lift the legs into handstand nagy_yoga
    or to jump back into chaturanga.images

    Richard also had a chat (slightly too long though very relevant) about the joy we should feel practicing, forgetting about the worries one usually has about not “performing” in one or the other posture.

    Once again, Yoga is not a performance, it’s a life experience. It is enjoyable.