Sunday, September 30, 2012

Disturbed Night= No Morning Practice

Last night was a doozy for me. The little baby that is roaming around my insides decided it would be a neat/fun idea to cause me discomfort all night. It wasn't so much that he was moving or even kicking... he was PUSHING in all sorts of directions. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. My alarm went off at 6:00 this morning which inevitably was reset for 6:30, 7:00, and then 7:30. Lazy, I know. But at 7:30 I roused myself from bed and fixed a cup of coffee (I'm beginning to wonder if it's not the coffee that's doing me in; even though I've drank it throughout pregnancy). After that, I grabbed Iyengar's book Light on Yoga and headed for the front porch.

The rain could have another effect on my drowsy tendencies this morning as well, but either way I was content to sit on the porch to drink my coffee and read my book. I'm making it more slowly through this one than Maehle's book on pranayama. Mostly because I've never been good at reading multiple books at once. I like to delve myself into one particular book until it's finished, but I'm exploring two right now. Well if you count textbooks it's technically five books, but those aren't for fun or pleasure.

Anyways, my thoughts thus far on this wonderful book...

I would have loved to practice with or even be taught by Iyengar. His stance on yoga in this book fascinates me. I guess my fascination comes into play with the religious tie-ins throughout the text. While yoga is not based in religion and religion not necessarily based in yoga, there are a lot of things that coincide with one another from the two different aspects. 

For instance, when Iyengar begins his dictation of the eight limbs of yoga he, of course, begins with Yama (the first limb) and tells about each of the subheadings that fall within yama. The first of which is ahisma (non-violence). I guess because I'm Christian, I can find all the different facets/ways that these aspects of the limbs of yoga can relate to the ten commandments, because ahisma is similar to the commandment 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'. Iyengar writes, "the yogi believes that to kill or to destroy a thing or being is to insult its Creator." That line caught my eye and stuck with me. Only yoga takes it further than just killing. Ahisma also relates to harming others with words thoughts or deeds, and a yogi refrains from harming others in any way. He/she believes that, even though one may be evil, they can be brought to light and forgiven. A yogi is supposed to help others rather than subject them to prejudice. 

Sounds a lot like Jesus, does it not? Speaking of, Anthony Grim posted recently a blog concerning the Orthodox Church that is a pretty interesting read concerning Jesus and yoga. It can be found here

Next, after ahisma, the book moves into satya or truth. Kind of like the saying, "the truth shall set you free," the same concept applies here. However, Iyengar covers not only speech, but also thoughts. He describes four sins of speech though: "abuse and obscenity, dealing in falsehoods, calumny or telling tales and lastly ridiculing what others hold to be sacred" and then goes further to state, "the man firmly established in truth gets the fruit of his actions without apparently doing anything. God, the source of all truth, supplies his needs and looks after his welfare." To me, so far, this is all reminiscent of the Bible and all the things it describes for us from God. 

Moving forward though, we find asteya or non-stealing. This section, though, covers the act of not coveting anthers life, belonging, or attempting to take what others have. What shocked me the most, I think, was the fact that Iyengar even stated, "He who obeys the commandment Thou shalt not steal, becomes a trusted repository of all treasure." (My bold) So interesting to read it as I am making my own connections.

The next one I have a little trouble understanding. Bramacharya, while I understand it to mean the life of celibacy, religious study and self-restraint. The celibacy still throws me off. Mainly, because marriage isn't thwarted off, but encouraged because "without experiencing human love and happiness, it is not possible to know divine love." So my question is, basically, does one practice celibacy at certain times? Or is marriage, in itself, a form of celibacy since one is no longer tempted by others during bachelor/bachelorette life? The religious study and self-restraint aspect is a bit easier to understand. I think the only saving grace for a bit of understanding is when Iyengar writes, "the brahmachari will use the forces he generates wisely; he will utilize the physical ones for doing the work of the Lord, the mental for the spread of culture and the intellectual for the growth of spiritual life." 

Lastly, but certainly not least, we read about aparigraha or non-hoarding. My basic understanding of this sub-limb of Yama, means that one should not hold worldly possessions close to ones heart. Rid oneself of material attachments to become closer to God. He will provide us with all that we need and therefore do not need to hoard worldly attachments in an attempt to feel successful or even worthy of others approval. Many men/women crave the need for more objects and possessions and then will end up focusing more on their possessions than on the Lord. Relinquish all ties to this world because we are only a passing through as we make our way home to God. There are a lot of things that clutter our lives just as much as they clutter our home. Think of Spring cleaning as a way to rid yourself of attachments that aren't being used. If you go through your belongings and come across things that have dust on them or you haven't used them on a daily basis, chances are you're hoarding it merely because you want to keep it not because you're using it. Give it to someone else who you think might benefit from its use and keep moving with your daily life. 

I only made it through the discussion on Yama and felt it best to stop there and digest what I had read. I will work through Niyama tomorrow, either before or after my practice. I hope to be able to practice later this afternoon— if my body feels up to it at least. I was given some information pertaining to my discomfort in Utanasana and I'm going to give it a shot to see how it works out. Therefore, in substitution for Utanasana I'm going to try Malasana. It may or may not feel comfortable but it's worth a shot if I find myself feeling discomfort in Utanasana again.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Morning Practice Gone Awry../Kumbhaka Chapter from Maehle

I couldn't sleep last night too well. I was up every hour— hooray for a squished bladder. Rather than getting up at 4 am and letting my body wake up and get ready for practice, I chose to sleep until 6:45 instead. I am beginning to think it was the wrong choice.

Starting my practice was... difficult. I began with Surya Namaskara A (sun salutation). That lasted for 3 rounds. Initially, I wanted to complete 3 of A and 3 of B and then move on to the fundamental poses. I was feeling frisky before I started the practice. Frisky didn't last long though. I ended up quitting after 3 A's and 2 B's.

It felt like my uterus was being squeezed every time I folded forward. It didn't matter how wide I spread my legs to fold either. I'm not sure if it was the position my son was in or what, but it definitely made practice difficult and even painful at some points. I was infuriated for a moment because I wanted to go further, but as I dropped back into Child's Pose I realized I was upset for no reason. You can't force yourself to do things because it would only make things worse in the long run. So, as I sat in Child's Pose I breathed and tried to quiet the pain. I completed a few rounds of Cat and Cow and then completed the last round of Surya B and the closing poses.


Maehle's chapter on Kumbhaka was quite interesting to read over. There was a lot of information that was gone over and needs to be digested. Another good over read probably wouldn't hurt either.

Kumbhaka, or breath retention, isn't merely holding ones breath. Anyone can attempt to hold their breath and elongate the time one is able to hold their breath. A good example would be free divers, those people can hold their breaths for a really long time as they try to go deeper into the ocean. What separates Kumbhaka from a person holding their breath is the end result.

"When kumbhaka exceeds 10 seconds, the bandhas, i.e. Jalandhara, Mula and Uddiyana bandha, need to be applied . . . The length of all inhalations, retentions and exhalations must be counted to such an extent that their ratio to each other follows precisely a predetermined count (such as 1:4:2) and a predetermined number of rounds is practised" (Maehle 57).

I can't begin to attempt to explain all that this man has included in his book on pranayama and kumbhaka, at least to the extent that he has. However, in this chapter Maehle describes the three lengths of kumbhaka (short, medium and EXTRA long). They are all goals that a yogi attempts to master in their quest to raise Kundalini as well as increase prana (life force). 

The most interesting thing I found in this chapter was a story that Maehle tells of his time ascending the Himalayas with an Indian Shaivite sadhu (religious ascetic). It is a great example of a use of kumbhaka as a way to ignite heat (or angi=fire) within the body. The sadhu would use kumbhaka as a way to heat their bodies in the crisp cool mountain air. It was necessary for them to maintain their warmth because they were not able to enter into any human made habitations (crazy right?).

Maehle states, "after a while, not being bound by a religious vow I forsook my pride and joined the locals inside their house in the vicinity of a smouldering campfire. Despite this – and my expensive Western-made doona sleeping bag – I was woken by the freezing cold. Sheepishly I ventured out into the open, half expecting to find my sadhu either frozen to an ice block or at least suffering from pneumonia. I was surprised to find that he was absolutely fine. He told me he was used to keeping his body temperature stable overnight by use of kumbhaka" (Maehle 62).

The longer one practices kumbhaka the warmer the body becomes, and thereby allowing one to withstand extreme cold temperatures with little clothing. It is amazing what the human body can withstand with so little.

Claudia does a much better explanation on her blog for this particular chapter (and for the others too actually). If you want to read further, you can access her blog on kumbhaka here. OR you can read along with both of us and share your own thoughts by purchasing the book :).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yoga: A Religion... Or Is It?

WARNING: This blog contains information that you may or may not agree with. Please be civil in your comments or email me your concerns. This blog is my interpretation of Yoga, and if you disagree I am ok with that but please do not leave foul comments, there are others who may not wish to see them. 

Thank you.

Something has been nagging in the back of my mind lately, and it stemmed from a radio segment my husbands grandmother heard on a Christian radio station. She came to me and told me that she heard a man preach, "Yoga and Martial Arts are against Christianity and God"...Wow.. It took all of my willpower not to get angry at this comment, but most people look at yoga from the outside without trying to understand it. I couldn't help but think to myself "I am a Christian for Pete's sake. How can something as wonderful as yoga be against God?" Yoga does nothing, in regards to religion, but bring one CLOSER to God — at least in my opinion.

[This blog will concentrate on yoga rather than martial arts. Not that I believe martial arts goes against Christianity, but I simply do not practice it.]

I read a blog this morning on Daily Cup of Yoga called Even the Devil Does Yoga, and you may be thinking "Woah now!" but in all actuality, the blog explains that Yoga, in itself, is NOT a religion.

For a practice to be considered a religion:
"The main requirement for a religion to be classified as a religion is that it has a publicly proclaimed set of beliefs that adhere to a specifically named power that goes beyond the physical realm. A religion will generally also involve an organized hierarchy with some type of clergy or formal structure and chain of command."

With that being said, Yoga is not a publicly proclaimed religion (unless those who are ill-informed proclaim it as such). Yoga gives people a way to connect with the Divine— whether they are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jainism, Jewish, Islamic, or Spiritualist. No where does it state, "You must worship [insert God name here] in order to practice yoga and reap the benefits."

Yoga does, however, provide a way for us as individuals to draw closer to whatever God we worship. In my case, I am a Christian and therefore my practice brings me closer to God and Jesus Christ. Not only am I purifying my body through practice, but also I am becoming a better person by adhering to the discipline of yoga.

Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras, which explains the eight disciplines of yoga, so that people could understand and follow the disciplines of yoga. These eight limbs are ways of purifying oneself, as well as, a way to help draw closer to God.

I took this next section from the afore mentioned blog, because they are very well put.

[For more information on these different limbs please feel free to either shoot me an email or ask in the comments of this blog. I would be more than happy to delve deeper into their meanings for those who are interested]

The eight steps (limbs—my addition) of yoga are as follows:

1: Yama
The word “yama” means restraint, so yoga teaches practicing restraint from unhealthy practices such as violence, stealing, lying, etc.

2: Niyama
This one means observance, or being content, pure, tolerant, remembering and studious.

3: Asana
Asana means physical exercises, and this is the part of yoga that most people are familiar with; the poses such as downward dog, warrior pose, etc.

4: PranayamaPranayama is the breathing techniques that yoga promotes, such as high breathing, low breathing, complete breathing, etc.

5: Pratyahara
This is the time before one settles down to meditate, and is the moment when you are preparing for your meditation. The word can be explained as the withdrawal of the mind from the senses.

6: Dharana
Dharana is the ability to concentrate on one object for a pre-determined amount of time.

7: Dhyana
This is meditation, another yoga principle that most people are familiar with. In involves the ability to focus on just one thing (be it an object, scenery, person, etc) or nothing at all (clearing the mind) for an indefinite period of time.

8: Samadhi
This is absorbing or realizing your own nature, or becoming more self-aware.

So there you have it, the eight limbs of yoga. Yoga is not just about the asanas (or practice) nor is it a religion either. Nothing stated above would hinder anyone from practicing their intended religion either. While the ancient texts may comment or point to stories of other forms of religion, I like to think of them as merely stories that help us along our paths to understanding yoga. There are quite a number of references to different gods, but this in no way insinuates that one has to believe they are gods. Take them as stories, or parables if you will. Learn from what they are teaching and move on.

Oh, David Swenson also has a section that addresses this question. A person, J., asked if practicing yoga is against Christianity, and David responded with this answer here.

Yoga is a wonderful practice that, if looked at with non-prejudice, can help bring balance and peace to life. May those of you who are interested but fearful dip your toes into this wonderful practice and blossom in yourself for having done so. 

If I can be of any assistance to anyone (albeit there are by far many more suitable people out there to better answer your questions I suppose) I would love to help you learn as much as you can to make an informed decision for yourself.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Early Mornings and a Book (or two)

Lately, I've been attempting to get up early so that I can wake up and have a cup of coffee before I practice. Sometimes I fail, but this morning I woke at 6:45 and had a nice cup of joe and read the rest of the third chapter from Maehle's book, Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga.

I'm still two chapters behind Claudia but I'm following her in her Book Club as she goes through the book chapter by chapter. It's quite interesting to read her thoughts on this book. I can't wait to see which book she goes through next :).

Anyways, I finished Chapter 3 today and got some good information out of it. Mainly the different ways to change which nostril I breath through to activate the left or right side of the brain. Now all I need is either a yoga danda or to become really flexible so that I can work my way into Marichi A (or Ekapada Yogadandasana) to activate a particular nostril. 

So far this book is quite interesting. The idea that one can switch which side of the brain is active via the nostrils. When the left nostril is active then the right side of the brain is active and vice versa. Maehle goes over which activities are more prudent for practicing based on which nostril is active. I could attempt to give a stab at explaining this but Claudia does a phenomenal job of explaining them in her blogs Left Nostril More Active? 15 Auspicious Things to do and also Right Nostril More Active? 11 Auspicious Things To Do.

She does such a wonderful job in her exploration and explanation of this book. My attempt would be pale in comparison. I am learning things though. Somedays, I wish I could lay around, like I did as a teenager, and read all day long. Hopefully, I'll get back to that stage. But, nevertheless, to understand what it is I'm referring to in regards to this book, you all should join Claudia and me on this wonderful journey through the world of Pranayama. 

Tomorrow morning I begin tackling Chapter 4 and continuing my journey through Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika by B.K.S. Iynengar. Join me in reading this enlightening book. I will probably read it twice and comment on it the second go around. I want to absorb everything this first time.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

IT'S FALL! And I Get to Read :)

Too bad the leaves around here don't quite turn this quickly. I would love to see trees and leaves look like this down here in Mississippi. Our trees pretty much stay green for quite a while.

How far north do I need to go to experience this gorgeous phenomenon?

Anyways, today (even though it is Saturday) makes day three of no practice :(. I DID finish Chapter 1 of Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga and I can definitely say that I'll need to end up re-reading this book once I'm finished.

I've found that, after reading this first chapter, I need to be well grounded in my practice before beginning pranayama, but I'm not sure exactly how grounded I have to be in order to begin practicing pranayama. Is there a time limit? Or is it merely a feeling that one has when practicing?

What makes me cautious about moving on to anything before I'm ready was what I read on page 28 of this book. Maehle tells about three brothers who meditated with different mindsets and the outcomes that happened to them.

"Famously, the Ramayana  shows the dangers of meditation when not done with a sattvic mind. Of the three demon brothers, the demon kin Ravana practiced meditation with a rajasic mind and wrath became his undoing. His brother Kumbhakarna meditated with a tamasic mind and fell into a deep slumber from which he only rarely woke up. Only the third brother, Vibhishana, meditated with a sattvic mind, and it was only his intellect that gravitated towards the Divine."

Yikes! One devoured by wrath and the other by sleep for not practicing with a sattvic mind. Obtaining a sattvic mind requires asana and pranayama competency. Makes me curious. I've seen people meditate without ever practicing asana, or pranayama for that matter.

I'm not sure how to examine and tell whether I have a tamasic, rajasic, or sattvic mind. I know, I need to do research. I'll get to it. Today, I'm going to try to tackle chapter two of this book. I'm curious to read on and continue the journey through this book.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gorgeous Weather and Laziness

I haven't the slightest clue why, but when the weather turns out to be extremely nice I end up turning into a lazy bum. All I want to do is lounge around and lay outside. You would think that one would be a bit more active when the weather turns gorgeous. Not this girl, I end up not being worth two cents.

That being said, I woke up late today and missed practice. I didn't even walk on the treadmill BUT I did walk back and forth from the fire we had going to the house to use the bathroom. We were stoking a fire and getting things ready to cook like pioneers. :) We had a cast iron dutch oven hoisted over a fire that we slow cooked some soup in.


1/2 deer- 1/2 hamburger sausage
1/2 stick butter
crushed tomato
chick peas
black-eyed peas
long grain and wild rice
chicken broth
beef broth
(I forgot about the carrots)

...... I think that might be all we had in it. I can't remember I was pretty much tossing in stuff and should probably say we had a goulash and not a soup haha. To top it all off we had a side of cornbread. It turned out better than I had anticipated it would.

While it cooked on the fire I tried reading through Chapter 1 of Maehle's Pranayama book. Still working on it though. I'm going to tackle some more of it tomorrow since I finished my homework today!

I also found this awesome lecture on the Yoga Sutras by a professor named Dr. Chris Chapple. He's a professor at Loyola Marymount University and has been studying Sanskrit since he was 18 (he claims in a video). You can find his lectures here. You have to scroll all the way to the bottom to get to the first lecture. It begins on 9/06/09 Part 1 and continues to 10/29/10. After I finish Maehle's book I intend to listen to these lectures as I go through the Sutras. Hopefully, it will benefit me a lot better than going through it by myself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dry Brushing and Saturday Oil Bath Together?

Alright, all you Ashtanga practitioners who are way beyond my knowledge level, I have a question. I recently found a document labeled Abhyanga: The Art of Self-Massage. In this document it seems to combine both the acts of dry brushing and the oil bath. Only this oil bath is done with sesame oil (almond or sunflower if your skin is sensitive).

Are both of these practices done together usually for the Saturday tradition?

I mean this is pretty much straightforward, and, minus the dry brushing, it reminds me of Claudia's blog on "Castor Oil, the Ashtanga Yoga Saturday Practice." Only different oils of course.

The document is from Kate O'Donnell and can be found under the Resources tab here.

What are y'alls thoughts?

Combination Practices

So I've started a new thing two days ago. I'm going to start walking 10 minutes before actually doing my practice. This might be ill advised and then again it may not, but I haven't really been active lately because I've been tired throughout the day. I figured, if I get up in the mornings and do 10 minutes of walking before my practice, then at least I'll have had 10 minutes of walking in for the day PLUS whatever I can get in when I walk my dogs.

Pregnancy makes me lazy. I've heard of some folks that run constantly through their pregnancy and even train for marathons (crazy crazy), but not this girl. It may have been because I had a summer pregnancy and the humidity zapped my energy, but man I envy those women who have loads of energy.

Well, some days I have loads of energy and it's quite nice. Then it got away and I'm back to being tired again.

Nevertheless, today was morning two of the walking and Surya practice. I kind of like it actually. I don't walk to terribly fast or increase the incline on the treadmill a lot because I don't want to do to much to fast in the last six weeks of my pregnancy, but the speed I was going liked to kick my butt. I've heard of pregnant women getting out of breath fast but phewww that was not cool. I had to take a 10 minute break BEFORE doing the Surys. It was horrible. However, I was able to regain my breathing as I began my practice.

I regained my breathing but my mind was wandering. My Lord, I haven't the slightest idea why it was so hard to control my thoughts this morning. I'd concentrate on my breathing and then for some reason it would wander. I made it through 5 Surya A's, then 2 Surya B's (they don't agree with me), and then 3 more Surya A's. Them B's, I am not sure what to think about them right now. I can't seem to get my limbs and breath coordinated. Six weeks though.. round about that is. Six weeks and, well I take that back, it'll be more like 12 weeks but then I'll be back in the game.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Possible Further Regression.. ?

I skipped morning practice yesterday, I know bad me, but I kept looking at my mat and it was saying "no, not today for you." So I listened. I wish I hadn't because now I feel like a chump for skipping, but stepping onto the mat this morning was difficult even with those chump feelings. I went no further than Surya A........ I did five rounds then on the sixth I ended up with my butt on the floor beginning the closing three poses. Not sure when I decided that I would quit there, but apparently my body had decided.

Pregnancy is not making this easy and I want to keep practicing because I want to stay healthy and not become lazy (or at least lazier than I've been these last few weeks). I know I should be as lazy and as relaxed as I can be right now because my life is about to be turned upside down with having a kid, but I can't seem to make myself do it. I'm the kind of person that needs to be active. If I'm stationary too long then my mind begins to wander into uncharted territories of my brain and sometimes it isn't good.

Nevertheless, I'm not pushing my body either. Pushing will do nothing but harm me and I can't be harming myself when I'm 34 weeks pregnant. I'm 6 weeks away from my due date... lord it seems like it's so close but it feels so far away. Those aches and pains of my baby rolling around in my stomach make the practice that much more uncomfortable.

Forward bending is becoming a chore, Up Dog only feels good sometimes, and my Down Dog... that thing has altered drastically. I can still mash my heels to the ground but now my stance is wider than my MAT!! :O I have to step my feet off the mat to accommodate for my belly otherwise it is uncomfortable. I assumed I'd have to spread my feet at least to mat width but never off the mat. :sigh: I guess it's just growing pains for now.

I know that after I have my baby that I can bring my practice all back together, but I'm starting to wonder if I have to begin at the beginning again. More or less I'm going to travel once a month to New Orleans to practice with a teacher down there (she's the closest there is too me). Four or five hour drive—depending on traffic— and that is both ways, to get to her studio. She has been a tremendous help thus far via email and phone conversations. If I didn't live so far away I would one day hope to assist her in teaching, but I don't think I'll ever move that far south again.

Alas, my journey through progression and regression continues in this practice. I am still muddling my way through the Sutra and Pranayama book. I will be commenting more on that soon. Stay tuned for more exciting/unexciting news on the progression/regression series this has come to be. Hopefully, not long after Connor (my baby) is born I will begin along the progression path. I'm hopeful.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Toys!! :)

Over the past week I've been reading up on Claudia's blog and she has this awesome link to what she calls Claudia's Book Club and currently she is reviewing Gregor Maehle's book Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga.

I ordered my copy two days ago and received it yesterday :). So far I've only read the introduction but I'm eager to get reading on the chapters so I can compare notes with Claudia about the book. Lucky for me she's ahead :). Which means I get to read her thoughts on the chapters after I've read the chapter to gain a better understanding of the chapter. 

I wish there were book clubs for other books I have. Namely, Maehle's Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy.

Mostly, the Yoga Sutra portion. I'm trying hard to comprehend what I'm reading, but it's a bit difficult. Ok, maybe not difficult but there is so much commentary to wade through. 

After I finish those two books are finished, I also have B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika.
This one poses interest to me. I am hoping to be able to start reading it soon. 

OH, and I also got this nifty little thing. 

Thank you Claudia for posting your blog on dry brushing. I can't wait to give this a shot. More information to come as I read both books, Ashtanga Yoga and Pranayama. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Yoga Sutra 1.14

Yoga Sutra 1.14

I know I'm moving slowly through this book. I just dropped two of my college courses (don't need the extra stress these last two months) and so I should have some free time to get the reading moving pretty swiftly.

Anyways, Maehle's translation: "1.14 One becomes firmly established in practice only after attending to it for a long time, without interruption and with an attitude of devotion."

So, you can't have a bad attitude when taking on a practice, because, if you have a bad attitude, you are ultimately practicing for the wrong reasons. For example:

"This could be because:
We think we have to get our frame into shape, so that others desire us.
We think that, when we exercise postures more proficiently than 
others, we are superior to them. (The same can be said about practicing 
meditation and samadhi.)
We practice because we want to get any type of advantage over others, 
be it physical, mental, or spiritual.
To practice with devotion is to remain grateful for being able to practice at all" (Maehle 155).

I think I actually came across this at a relatively essential point one day while I was thinking and reading. I have been frustrated lately with my practice, mainly due the the limitations that I have because of pregnancy. After reading this Sutra though, I feel a bit better. It takes years upon years of practice to have any semblance of a chance to maintain a practice. Not to mention, having a good attitude will help tremendously. 

Maehle states, "H. Aranya says that uninterrupted practice means constant practice. He is not referring to one's formal practice but to mindfulness and watchfulness." So whether we are practicing on the mat, or merely practicing any other limbs of yoga, we are still practicing, and so long as we maintain a constant practice, we will become firmly established in the practice. 

Therefore, I need to have an attitude of devotion (whether on the mat or in the books) and to maintain a practice (same concept) without interruption. I think I can manage that. 

As a side note: I bought both, Pranayama the Breath of Yoga and Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika, this evening and should be receiving them by the end of the week :). Yay! OH, and I bought a body brush to begin the daily practice of dry brushing. Come on good circulation! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's a Glorious Monday Morning

Walked outside this morning and abruptly turned back around and grabbed a jacket. It was freaking chilly outside! I LOVE IT!

Had a nice cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte (out of a packet but it's still yummy) to warm me up just a tad and to also knock the cobwebs away from my still sleepy mind. Then it was time to grab the yoga mat.

I don't remember where I read it or when, but I distinctly remember reading somewhere that practicing Ashtanga is like being a moving train. Some days I feel like this and some days I don't. Today happened to be one of them. Albeit, a slow moving train.

Since the practice is an ordered sequence, there is no guess work in what comes after the pose you just completed. There is no guess work on how many breaths you take. Your body moves with the breath to the sequence that was laid out years and years ago. It becomes almost like a dance (if one is watching from the outside). You're lost in the rhythm of the flow and ebb of the breath and movements of the body.

This morning I unrolled my mat in a slightly different place, still the living room, but it was angled east and west verses north and south. I had dogs on both sides of me and a cat begging for attention. I concentrated on the breath as I began inhaling and exhaling. I engaged the moola bandha (short time because I can never seem to keep it engaged:/) and raised my arms over head to begin Surya A. That one began slow because my uterus had to remember that it may get a little squished and that it shouldn't hurt me in the process. Took about two Surys for it to become comfortable with the movements again after my not practicing for a few days.

The first sequence of Surys flew by until I realized that I was sitting down into Utkatasana. This sequence was almost like my train hit a TALL mountain range. There were some ups and downs along the way. I was trying to find my breath, I tend to lose it here since becoming further along in my pregnancy. I finally found a rhythm that worked as I stepped into number three of the five that I was completing. I had to extend my breath count in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, as well as, Virabhadrasana I. For some reason, it is hard to move through Surya B from UMS to Vira for me. I'm not sure if it is the speeding up of the sequence because your supposed to use one breath count or the fact that I don't completely have my breath under control when I move into this sequence.

I try to make my breath steady but it tends to get ragged and rough during that portion of the sequence. Alas, I made it through the sequence though :). It made me happy to make it through 5 of each sequence this morning.

I hope the weather stays cool but then again I'm in the south and nothing is ever this wonderful so early in the year :/. I shall enjoy it while it's here though.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gap In Practice + Soul Searching

Even though I brought my mat with me for my four day drill weekend I still haven't made it on it. Last day I practiced was Tuesday I believe. Makes me sad really. There hasn't really been time though. I've been busy studying and then whenever I have the time, there is food in my stomach so I can't exactly practice either way.

Soul searching will be beginning soon. Having a Bachelors degree isn't as successful as I had anticipated. Of course I anticipated doing something with my degree that was related to my degree. Sucks when your mind has something totally different planned but it doesn't share the idea with the rest of your being. I know what I want to do but have to wait quite a bit before that happens. In the mean time, I need to find some sort of job that I can do while waiting for my plans to take flight. I just don't see how people can work doing something that they don't enjoy. For instance, those who work at, say, an office but hate office work. I substitute, but dread every day that I get called in.

You aren't supposed to dread your job. Of course that is why it's called a job and not a career I guess. How does one figure out what sort of career would be worth doing for the rest of ones life? I get bored easily. Quite easily.

All of this has led me to my soul searching expedition.

Monday will be the beginning of the search and my attempt to get back on track with my practice. Tomorrow I still have one drill to complete. It's going to be miserable. They're so protective of me since I'm pregnant. I can't life anything. Not even things that are small.

I feel like an indian giver. Promising always to return to my practice, only to fall away from it time and again. ONLY this time I'm pregnant and not just getting away from the practice due to a lack of interest.

Sorry for the randomness.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Well Folks

 First off.. I said that I would let you all know if I managed to check off items on my to-do list for yesterday.

Here they were:
1-GET UP EARLY and complete at least 10 Surya Namaskara's (whether they are all A or half A and half B).
2-Doctors visit3-Study
4-Afternoon wind down practice (mainly consisting of legs-up-the-wall to combat RLS)
5-Reading of the Yoga Sutra
And this is how they went:
1- Got up, but not as early as I wanted. Completed 5 Surya A's and 3 Surya B's (them B's are kicking my pregnant butt with moving the foot forward and backward in the Vira part of the sequence)
2- The visit was good and quick. Gained 4 pounds since the last visit; bringing my total to a whooping 24 lbs gained now in 32 weeks.

3- I did indeed study. I finished my A&P and Nutrition homework for the week :)

4-Does Savasana on the bed count? If not, then I didn't make this practice cause my stomach felt like poop.

5- I actually read some of the Gita yesterday instead of the Sutra. The Sutra will be read tonight.

6- Sleep was much disturbed by frequent potty breaks. Darn my ever living small bladder.

Nevertheless, even though today was a hectic day it was a pretty good/bad day. Good, because my husband sold his Jeep. Bad, because he didn't get the job he had applied for :(. Now he's kicking his butt for not getting it. BUT, the lord knows where he wants us to be at and it wasn't Texas apparently. 
With the Jeep sold we have extra cash in the savings account for junior if we should need it in the future. I'm going to continue keeping on with my practice and studies and hopefully I'll come to some conclusion of what I can do for a career in the near future. Considering beginning an MBA degree first and then gonna go from there. Nutrition would be great but I live too far from universities at the moment to consider driving three days a week. Maybe I can get some sort of certification later though. 

I think I'm going to attempt to keep the same general routine going for a while. I liked it. Well maybe not a doctor visit everyday but the rest will be nice to try. Not to mention having a routine set out is nice too. Claudia wrote a nice little blog on routines not to long ago. Except hers detailed 7 morning practice that are great for a yoga practice. I hope to use most of her tips as my world begins to become shaky with a baby coming my way.

Oh, the changes the changes. But of course the only constant in life IS change :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Have Reached That Point

It's sad to say, but for the second day in a row forward bends have been troublesome. I must re-analyze my practice and adjust for my enlarging belly.

I suspect there will be bent knees and my breath counts will elongate a bit more during the practice as well. I'm going to experiment tomorrow to see which adjustments feel best. Not to mention I will be going in for a visit to my doctor, I imagine she will give me an estimate on how big my baby is now.

The time is starting to slow down now. The last few months of the pregnancy have flown by and now that the ending is in sight, it feels as though things are slowing down as my impatience gets the best of me. Of course, my impatience is probably due to my uncomfortableness at the moment. I swear it feels as if someone has tried to squeeze an overgrown watermelon into my stomach, and my stomach isn't adjusting for the extra matter in my belly. Uncomfortable!

Anyways, practice needs adjustment. I'm almost getting bummed out because of how drastically my practice has changed up to this point. Most of the changes have really happened in the past two-three weeks. (sighs)

I can't wait to be able to practice at full speed once again...... I guess I should relish the lacksadaisy practice for the time being since most of my energy will be taken away by my child once he is born. They say to get rest while you can in the last month or two because you won't get it once your child is born... I just can't seem to rest like others. Heck, I tried napping today and ended up studying. Go figure.

Tomorrows agenda:
GET UP EARLY and complete at least 10 Surya Namaskara's (whether they are all A or half A and half B).
Doctors visit
Afternoon wind down practice (mainly consisting of legs-up-the-wall to combat RLS)
Reading of the Yoga Sutra

Lets see what I can check off tomorrow.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Finally, I Practiced, But Wait!

I definitely meant to get up and practice this morning, but lately I've felt like poop. I really don't feel like doing much of anything. It literally takes energy to get out of bed to walk my dogs, and that is sad. It really is. I've often considered calling on my husband to walk the girls by himself, but then if I did that I'd feel like a total bum and I'm not even that big in the belly yet. Albeit, I am uncomfortable.

Nevertheless! I waited until lunch time food had sufficient enough time to pass through my stomach so that I wouldn't get queasy from all the up down movements of the Surya Namaskara's. My intention: get at least half primary in today. My accomplishment: 5 Surya A's, 3 Surya B's, and the two closing postures (I've omitted the lifts from now on).

Now, there is a particular reason WHY I stopped where I did. Although, I wish I could have kept going. I started feeling some stretching pains in my lower abdomen. The kind of pains that aren't exactly "the good kind of pain". I pushed through the last Surya B and said "well Brianna, I guess that's where you're stopping today," and I did a few cat-cows and minor twists to try to ease some tension in my back. I wasn't happy I had to stop, but I managed to get on my mat and I managed to practice.

Then, after I had come to the conclusion that I can't keep up like I use to because of my present condition, I came across a shared link by Anthony Grim on Facebook for a post on "How to start an Ashtanga Yoga home practice, and how to fail at it (several times)." Maya Lassiter was the woman who posted it, and— granted I wasn't away from yoga as long as her— I felt like I was reading a blog that I could have posted. All I had to do was swap out names for certain books and DVDs and that was how I felt about starting a home practice.

Her post hit the nail on the head when it comes to starting a home practice. I started one because I live in BFE and the nearest place to practice is over an hour a way. Not to mention, the closest Ashtanga studio is either 2 hours north of me or 5 hours south of me. The one 5 hours south of me is the reason I got "hooked" on Ashtanga. Melanie Fawer has a wonderful DVD that helped me along with my practice.

Coming across Maya's post though made me think back on my own little trek to where I am. I'm just wondering where I'll be in two or three years from now. Maybe I'll finally be into the intermediate series. Provided I don't get pregnant again haha.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Yoga Sutra 1.10

Yoga Sutra 1.10
Deep sleep is that fluctuating of mind which the waking and dreaming experience are both negated. 

Going over this sutra by Maehle was....... confusing a bit. He spoke of four different states; the waking, dreaming, dreamless, and transcendental states. When in one of the first three it negates the others, but when in the transcendental state there is awareness of the first three. Then he speaks about the dreamless sleep fluctuation...where does that one from?

"For liberation to occur, objectless samadhi has to become permanent. If the deep-sleep fluctuation were still present, it would make objectless samadhi impermanent."

I guess my question, that I'll research, would be "what is objectless samadhi, and how does one attain it?" I think I've read over it before but at the moment my brain isn't wanting to pull forth the information.

Saturday, September 1st

Beginning of a new month and with the beginning of a new month in the year, I begin a new month of pregnancy. I can't believe that on Tuesday I will be EIGHT months pregnant! I made it up to the end of 7 months before I started becoming uncomfortable, but I guess that can only last so long before the pains of pregnancy begin to set in.

With the dawning of a new month, I am hoping that some good changes are in the makings for me and my husband. I'm not just meaning the birth of our son, but also changes that could impact our life in a good way further down the road.

I am patiently waiting for news so that, not only can my husband have a new job, but also so I can figure out what I am going to do for a job once my son is old enough. Trouble will be considering what really matters to me and what I would want to do for the remainder of this life. I thought it was teaching children, but learned quickly that while, it may be rewarding sometimes, I don't think I'm cut from the cloth that long time school teachers are.

Therefore, this month is my EXPLORE month! :)

Yes, I want to eventually get my teaching certificate, but the more I delve into Ashtanga, the more I want to visit Mysore. Not just for the practice or learning capacity I'm sure to experience, but also for the experience of being drenched in the historical aspect of the practice. The history behind the practice is fascinating.

I was reading through the second Preface in Guruji last night and came across an interesting tidbit of information. Guy Donahaye explained how Saturdays off developed in the practice. Guruji was always at work except days of the full moon and new moon. His family complained about not seeing him often and so he began taking Saturdays off too. Low and behold, Saturdays are off days. And here all this time I thought the Saturday off days were because of the intensity of the practice. I'm sure that is the reason that has evolved over the years since he installed the Saturday being an off day.

It's nice to know where things come from though. I'm going to look up all sorts of information to fuel this fire I have inside me. Hopefully with my ending pregnancy, I won't lose my drive to practice.

Enjoy the day off and the Labor Day weekend everyone!