mulling things over, self-talk

Getting established

It’s the nub of the whole project.  We love yoga, love it, love it, love it. And yet we can’t get a practice going.

A friend of mine works at a trauma center where (among other things) they are doing research on yoga and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The value of yoga to people with PTSD is clear.  Now the difficulty is getting people to do it. Somehow the home practice wasn’t being established in most of the students.  The people running the study tried upping the number of classes per week (each class is called a dose), but that had minimal impact on whether students practiced at home.

Going to class once or twice a week is a very good thing, but it’s not an internal practice.  And a serious practice is internal, or at least it is for me.

I’ve been taking classes almost without a break for 11 years, and for perhaps 8 or 9  of those years I’ve had some sort of home practice.  Yet it still feels precarious.  One little break in the routine—out of town company, or the flu, or an early morning doctor’s appointment—and I can slide right off the mat for a weeks.

I think I need to do some research on habitual behavior. I brush and floss my teeth without fail, cook and keep my kitchen clean daily, do the sudoku puzzle in the paper every morning.  How can I make my yoga practice as solid?

props, self-talk

Using the wall

Sometimes I use the wall when doing a) standing poses and b) balancing poses.  I think the wall is a wonderful prop, but not if you use it all the time.

Examples of times to use the wall:

  • Some early morning and I feel just on the edge of dizzy.  Often if I use the wall for the first time through the pose, then I gain some stability and move away from the wall.
  • When I was sick last year I gave myself permission to use the wall all the time.  My joints were too immobile for me to steady myself.
  • If I want to work on some particular aspect of a pose where I don’t want to worry about falling over, I’ll do it at the wall. This works well for me for Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch) and Virabhadrasana I, where I can’t get my heel to the ground.

I have to say, though, that I always think about it in a judgmental way and have to have a little conversation with myself about it.

“You are such a baby, wussing out and going to the wall.”
“I have good reasons today.  I want to get the big stretch of Ardha Chandrasana without worrying about falling over.”
“Well, OK for this time, but don’t get dependent on it.”
“I won’t, I promise.”

And if I DID need to do it all the time, it wouldn’t make me a bad person.

Boy, this post sure falls into the self-talk category!

Parsvottanasana
Parsvottanasana
Virabhadrasana I
Virabhadrasana I
Ardha Chandrasana
Ardha Chandrasana
hard stuff, kindness, self-talk

Self-instruction through photos

Yikes! I asked my husband to take some photos of me doing yoga, and it was very instructive. I know perfectly well how stiff I am, but I don’t really ever get to see it. I just want to reach right into these photos and push on my body to get it into better alignment!

(Sorry about the dog. I was trying to get photos of us both doing Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog.)

Straighten your arms.  Lift your sitting bones.  Drop your heels.  Your stance is too narrow.
Straighten your arms. Lift your sitting bones. Drop your heels. Your stance is too narrow.
No effortless effort here! Arms are not straight.  Hip is too high.  Feet aren't stacked.  Cripe.
No effortless effort here! Arms are not straight. Hip is too high. Feet aren't stacked. Cripe.
Ooh, that left hip is too high and tipping forward.  I need a straight line from heel to fingertips, and I don't see it.  Can't I go a little lower?  And that outer edge of my back foot needs to go to the floor.
Ooh, that left hip is too high and tipping forward. I need a straight line from heel to fingertips, and I don't see it. Can't I go a little lower? And that outer edge of my back foot needs to go to the floor.

The last thing I should say in this post is that I could be a little kinder to myself.  If I were teaching I’d never speak to a student this way.  That’s a pretty big piece of self-instruction right there.

mulling things over, self-talk

Early morning group practice

The Yoga Center has started a 6:00 am guided practice. It’s led by Katie, who is a new teacher. Today was the first day. It was a wonderful way to start the day. Some yoga experience is required, which means that Katie doesn’t need to demonstrate much or make corrections. She told us what we were going to do, and then did it with us, talking our way through.

I can only go to one of the two weekly practices, phooey.

Is it cheating that I have structured yoga on four of the seven days of the week? I don’t think so.
Sunday – home yoga by myself
Monday – ditto
Tuesday – guided practice at the YCL
Wednesday – class with Kim
Thursday – practice with Jill and Holly
Friday – practice at my house with Dana, Priscilla, Kate, and sometimes Beth and Phyllis
Saturday – home yoga by myself.

Pretty good support for my daily practice.

mulling things over, self-talk

Focus poses and why some stick better than others

I just figured out why, in January, when I did Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle) and Supta Virasana (reclining hero) almost every day, Upavistha Konasana didn’t improve nearly as much as Supta Virasana did.

I’m adding Parivrtta Trikonasana (revolved triangle) as a focus pose this month.  It’s such a difficult pose for me that I need to do a fair amount of prep for it, starting with Trikonasana (triangle), then Parsvottanasana (stretch to the side), some twists, e.g., Marichyasana, before I can manage it.  It’s also helpful to do it against the wall or lying down.

Similarly, I simply couldn’t do Supta Virasana without preparatory poses – lunges, Virasana (hero), maybe Ustrasana (camel).

However, I can approximate Upavistha Konasana without a lot of prep.  That doesn’t mean it’s good, but it means I don’t work as hard to get to it.  Therefore, I did not improve much in that pose during January.

I can think of several prep poses for Upavistha Konasana:  all wide angle standing poses, particularly Prasarita Padottanasana (standing wide angle forward bend), Malasana (garland), and seated poses.  I guess this is my assignment to myself to do the prep work.

Upavista Konasana
Upavista Konasana
Supta Virasana
Supta Virasana
Parivrtta Trikonasana
Parivrtta Trikonasana
Utthita Trikonasana
Utthita Trikonasana
Parsvottanasana
Parsvottanasana
Standing Marichyasana
Standing Marichyasana
Virasana
Virasana
Ustrasana
Ustrasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
general blather, self-talk, YoMo

YoMo begins, can’t find my notes!

During my morning practice yesterday I wrote myself several notes about things to write about relative to YoMo.  I’ll be writing a couple of emails a week to participants who signed up to practice yoga every day during the month of June, and I’ve been thinking about what to say.  My desk is a big mess and now I can’t find the notes.

I keep my yoga space very neat.  I have a cabinet for my props, and I keep the floor clear to make it easy to get started without any fuss.  My desk is another matter entirely.  Maybe that should be part of my yoga practice this month: the yoga of daily living.

On the other hand, maybe I should be kinder to myself.  The notes will turn up.  And I just remembered one of the things I was going to write about.

poses, self-talk, YoMo

Focus pose

When we did YoMo in January, I chose two poses that are really hard for me to work on during that month – Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle) and Supta Virasana (reclining hero).

Supta Virasana improved enormously, as I’ve described recently.  Upavistha Konasana, not so much.  So during this June YoMo I’m going to work on it some more, and I’m going to add Parivrtta Trikonasana. In that pose I have trouble staying upright, trouble twisting enough, trouble keeping my hips in the right place, oh, just trouble all around.

This method works well for me.  I really like delving into one pose and paying attention to every aspect of it. I am also always delighted by my improvement.  

I just don’t know about Upavistha Konasana.  My hips have a lifetime of stiffness.  I’ll keep trying, though.

Upavista Konasana
Upavista Konasana
Supta Virasana
Supta Virasana
Parivrtta Trikonasana
Parivrtta Trikonasana
mulling things over, self-talk

Being in the pose

I’ve noticed that when I practice alone I tend to start thinking about the next pose before I’m done with the current one.  It’s worse if I don’t make myself a written list of what I plan to do.  There I am in my Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), thinking about whether I should do Ardha Chandrasana or Parsvottanasana after Trikonasana.  

My new bit of self-talk is a reminder that this is what I’m doing right now.  Next is next and will take care of itself when the time comes.  So what if I forget to do a twist in the sequence.

For some reason I lost the habit of writing down my plan.  Time to return to it.

nuts and bolts, self-talk

Yoga and visitors

We had company this week.  This is when I wish I had a dedicated yoga room.  My yoga space is part of the family room and part of the hallway leading to the guest room, our son’s room (but he’s away at college), and the table tennis cum furnace room.  

Most of the time I am alone in the space and all is well.  When we have guests sleeping in the guest room, I am not very happy practicing in my space.  I don’t want to wake anyone up, for one thing, particularly if I’m practicing at 6 am, and I also don’t want anyone watching me, or talking to me, or just walking through.

OK.  Having written this, I see that I simply need to be more flexible.  I didn’t practice while my brother-in-law was here.  I could easily have done so in my office with the doors closed.  All my props are downstairs, but I can put together a perfectly good practice without props.  The bamboo floor is good underfoot too.