30 Apr 2011

Airports, Waiting, Books and Finally I am Aussie Baby!

My transfer from Wenara Bali to airport wasn’t so smooth as planned. An employee of the guest house forgot to book my taxi, so there I was again fixing my things on my own. In Asia, you have to double-check everything. Read: EVERYTHING! People are very nice, but they can’t get really anything done. I got a little bit mad with them and finally got a nice driver to take me to the airport. I didn’t want to pay any extra fee because of their mistake and that’s always hard in Asia, because they never return any money or give refund. But once again my background in law was useful and I got out of the people what I wanted. You just have to be very calm and determined.

My flight from Denpasar to Kuala Lumpur went fine and then I waited through the night at the airport. I love airports, but waiting at the airport over 15 hours isn’t my favorite thing. Luckily airport in KL is superconvenient, so I found a sofa and I was able to sleep at least three hours.

At the airport I finished reading a book called Choke written by Sian Beilock. Writer is psychologist and her main research topic is choking or how to avoid choking, what happens in your brains, when you choke and how you can learn to control your behaviour, so that choking isn’t taking over. Writer is specialized in sports psychology, so she gave a lot of examples regarding sports and athletes.

Personally I found intresting, that Beilock found that meditation is very effective way to control and avoid choking. She wrote that: “Experienced meditators can clear their minds of unwanted information when practicing their ancient art, but new research suggets that, even when not meditating, people who practise this tradition are better than those who don’t at facilitating their brains’ return to a calm, cool, and collected state when stressful events come their way.” “A recent study by Davidson and his colleagues showed that only three months of intensive meditation (a practise in which you observe what ever thoughts and perceptions arise in your consiousness without making negative judgements about them) reduced people’s tendency to have their attention captured by unwanted thoughts or events.” Beilock mentioned on her book famous people among other Tiger Woods, Hilary Clinton, Al Gore and Goldie Hawn, who meditate and find it helpful.

Beilock’s book included in up-to-date data about different researches and technics how to handle choking in sports, business environment and in general. She gave tips, how to succeed in stressful situations like job interviews and exams, so that you can actually use the extra excitement for your benefit. This was again excellent book about the connection between body and mind. I think that all teachers should read a book like this to be able to go to a student’s level (who suffers choking) and learn ways to help him out this kind of like situation.

After I finished my book, I couldn’t resist going to airport’s bookstore. Books are my absolute weakness. I love bookstores and I can spend hours just wandering around bookstore, reading backcovers and holding different books in my hand. I bought a book, which is the No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller, called Not Without My Sister, which is a true story about three girls’ experience living in (and later escaping) a cult called The Children of God. I will write more about this book, when I will finish it.

Feeling very dizzy after my night at the airport I catched my next flight to Brisbane. Luckily I was able to sleep a little bit during the flight, because the seat next to me was empty. Food on airplane is always making me sick, so again after this flight I felt very swollen and couldn’t function normally. However I was happy to get my luggage and pass the border of Australia. I passed the border easily, not even a single question about my visa. Guards put me to walk next to a dog, which is searching drugs (maybe because of my passport including Indian, Thai and Balinese stamps), but I didn’t catch dog’s attention, so I am now officially Aussie baby. One more night at the airport waiting for my bus to Byron Bay and then I am at my new home.

28 Apr 2011

Power Yoga with Denise

Yesterday I saw my friend Danielle, with who I did the teacher training in Thailand. We met in Kafe and also her boyfriend Rob was there. It was so nice to catch up and also hear Rob’s experience regarding Thai boxing camp, which he did in Thailand during the time Danielle was with us. I know, that I would love Thai boxing. Just kicking and jumping around so that your pulse is at least 150 the whole time sounds fun for me…

My morning practices on my own have been surprisingly good. I don’t like to practice alone, I need other person’s energy around me, but I have been happy to notice, that I can do it. I have been going through in my head the advices and tips, which I got from Paul and it has been pretty ok. I am practicing on my balcony, so I have to move all the furnitures from there inside around seven every morning to have enough space to practice. My neighbours think for sure, that I am totally crazy.

This morning I woke up, and my throat was sour. My belly was upset again, even if it has been better lately. I did my pranayama practice and after that decided to try something different today. One girl at Yogabarns recommended Denise’s power yoga class for me before and I wanted to try that. In the class description it was written among other things, that this class will take you out of your routine, and right into that sacred space between the external force of gravity and the internal force of the breath. Oh boys, it really did! I loved this class, we started with sun salutations, but then the rest of the class was mixed. We did quite many different balancing poses, which I like, because those are so tricky for me and I really have to concentrate maximum. We also tried some poses from Second and Thrid Series, but it was more playing around than being serious. This class was very rebel, but safe at the same time. My body felt great after the class, even when during the class I was shaking and sweating so much. Denise is excellent teacher and I would love to practice with her again. She did some demos for us and it was great to see, how easy it is, when you can…

I have been so happy with this experimental yoga period herein Bali. My last week with different teachers and different styles has been the best in Bali. It has absolutely done so good for me and my body. I think that it’s sometimes very good go out of the box and have some fun with different styles. It gives totally new approach to asana and you learn to use your body in various different ways. With other styles, there is not that much flow and meditation during the practice, but you can increase your body knowledge hugely. Personally, my body needs cooling practices and restorative classes too, so I am planning to continue this experimental yoga. And I have to get back to my stretching exercises. Those are just so beneficial for ashtangi.

Tomorrow is flight day again and I am heading to Kuala Lumpur. My flight schedual is terrible, but hopefully I will make it well to Byron. And yesterday it was published online, that Sharath will be teaching in Sydney, when I will arrive there, if they get his visa in order. So I am really hoping to get a chance to take one class with him. I can’t afford more (and even that one class is actually too much), but I just want to go, see the shala and practice with him once.

Yin Yoga with Denise and Back to Mysore Practice

Superyoga day today! I woke up early wondering, what I should do today. My belly was better, so I decided to start ashtanga again. I started with pranayama and it was ok. Also asana practice was good today. It’s interesting to see, how fast you actually lose strength. My arms never hurt, but today I noticed, that I had difficulties with Chaturanga Dandasana and also jump throughs were heavy. I had kept my flexibility well and also mind was surprisingly calm and focused.

After almost three hours practice, I had a little swim and small breakfast and then it was time to go again. I walked to Yogabarns to try Yin Yoga with Denise. Denise was one of the recommended teachers, when I spoke with the people in Little K before. And I liked her a lot! She was active, exact and her demos were good. She knew many of the students by name and talked to everybody at least something. Most of all she was very natural, beautiful and I was able to feel her experience regarding yoga.

Denise was teaching Yin yoga, which is according to her a cooling practice and so opposite for many other practices. During the class focus was on connective tissues and we started with a tennis ball. We kept the tennis ball under back, butt and shoulders. Practice was powerful and painful, but in a good way. It was possible to feel, how the pain was melting away. In Yin yoga class you keep the poses for long time and the duration of the poses increases towards the end of the class. Some of the poses are easy stretching moves, but when you have to keep those poses so long time you can really feel your body opening. Last forward bend was really long and I could feel it in my back, but my whole body felt good after the class. Tomorrow my muscles will be so sore, but all in all it’s just good for my body and practice.

After class I headed to Kafe, because Little K was closed. Kafe was packed and busy. I was lucky to get a table and ordered vegetarian sandwhich and cappuccino. Next to me came Australian Emma, who did the same class with me. I didn’t recognize her from the class, but she remembered me. It was nice to talk with her, because she had travelled and worked in India a lot and now her work with international health had brought her to Bali. Her home base is now Melbourne, where she stays three weeks and then she travels three weeks in a row. It was nice to share experiences about constant traveling. Also she thought that it’s really demanding for your private life to travel all the time. And our experiences related to India were pretty similar. She said that working with Indian male ministers isn’t the easiest task for a young woman. Indian culture is very male-focused and white girl trying to change things is facing difficult moments for sure.

I had this morning difficulties to turn my head to left again, so we will see, what I am able to do tomorrow. This problem is related to my back, which actually feels quite ok now. During the yin class we kept block under belly for a while and Denise said, that back problems are often related to tension in a belly. That pose was so hard for me, I felt literally sick. Yin yoga really forces you to breath, because that’s the only way to release your pain and tension. I liked yin yoga and got a feeling that it could be a nice, supportive practice for ashtanga.

Inspired by the Book: Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

I am going to cite a couple of things, which I found so fascinating in Robbins’ book (btw his dad is that icecream Baskin-Robbins and he is writing about him in this book, too), so don’t read further, if you are planning to read this book later…

“In the modern world, when people are feeling down they are often told to “take it easy” to simply lie in bed and relax. --- So great is the recognition of the healing power of walking to visit a friend that there is a saying in Vilcabamba that each of us has two “doctors” – the left leg and the right leg.”

“In Okinawa, elders tend to stay remarkably fit and healthy until the last year or two of life, but in the modern Western world, the prevailing lifestyle takes a toll far earlier in life. In the United States and similar countries today, most of us hit our peak between twenty and thirty and gradually decline after that. By the age of seventy, most of us have lost 60 percent of our maximal breathing capacity, 40 percent of our kidney and liver functions, 15 to 30 percent of our bone mass, and 30 percent of our strength.”

“If you eat until you experience yourself to be 100 percent full, you actually go about 20 percent over capacity with every meal. And if you do that regularly, your stomach will stretch a little bit each time to accommodate the extra food. Then you have to eat more next time to get the same feeling of fullness.” What is written on that page before: “..it takes the stretch receptors in your stomach about twenty minutes to tell your brain (via the hormone cholecystokinin) how full you really are.”

“We must treasure tradition, but we must also embrace change.”

“Many studies have found farmed fish to be far higher than wild fish in toxic chemicals and other pollutants that affect the central nervous system and the immune system and can cause cancers and birth defects. --- The study found that the levels of PCBs, dioxins, and banned insecticides such as toxaphene in farmed fish were so high that, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, no one should be eating farmed salmon more than once a month.”

“…muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest. A pound of muscle burns roughly 15 more calories a day than a pound of fat. If you lose ten pounds of fat and gain ten pounds of muscle, you would thereafter burn 150 more calories a day without increasing your exercise level…”

“When the study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics in 2004, Professor Lloyd said that “although calcium is often cited as the most important factor for healthy bones, our study suggests that exercise is really the predominant lifestyle determinant of bone strength in young women.”

“One study found that subjects who ate meat as their main source of protein were nearly three times as likely to develop dementia as their vegetarian counterparts.”

“And now modern science is recognizing that loving and intimate relationships also keep us healthy. It is a striking fact that mortality rates for all causes of death in the United States are consistently higher for divorced, single, and widowed individuals of both sexes and all ages.”

This book includes in so many modern studies related to health that at least I got so many things to think about and pay attention to. The cover of the book is pretty self-help oriented and sometimes the text is pretty creamy, but if you can get over those things, you can learn a lot from this book. Nutrition and exercise matter a great deal – wanted or not!

24 Apr 2011

Yin Yang Yoga with Malika

This morning I woke up without alarm before six. My stomack was still hurting, so I couldn’t really think doing my normal practice. At Yogabarns was a class called Yin Yang Yoga at seven o’clock, so I decided to try that. According to class description, this class was supposed to explore the body’s polarity activating yang energy through movement, and yin energy by relaxing both body and mind to attain inner balance and harmony with nature.

According to Wikipedia in Chinese philosophy the concept of yin yang, normally referred to in the West as yin and yang, is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other.

Traditionallay yin is female and yang is male. They fit together as two parts of a whole. From a philosophical standpoint, practitioners of Zen Yoga see yin-yang as a flow. In Wikipedia it’s mentioned that the Taijitu is one of the oldest and best-known life symbols in the world, but few understand its full meaning. It represents one of the most fundamental and profound theories of ancient Taoist philosophy. At its heart are the two poles of existence, which are opposite but complementary. The light, white Yang moving up blends into the dark, black Yin moving down. Yin and Yang are dependent opposing forces that flow in a natural cycle, always seeking balance. Though they are opposing, they are not in opposition to one another. As part of the Tao, they are merely two aspects of a single reality. Each contains the seed of the other, which is why we see a black spot of Yin in the white Yang and vice versa. They do not merely replace each other but actually become each other through the constant flow of the universe.

The teacher of the class was called Malika and her English was very hard to understand because of her really strong Asian accent. She was obviously aware of this problem herself, because she apoligized her English a couple of times. Her opening mantra was totally wrong, but never mind. Quite in the beginning of the class she advised us to do a deep twist (where you sit in half-lotus, turn and take a grip of your big toe with your fingers so that your hand is behind your back), which was ok for me and for one other girl, but the rest of the room couldn’t even do half of the asked rotation. I was a bit afraid, that the class will be too demanding based on the beginning, but then Malika started to show modifications and the class got better.

I liked the class, but some of the asanas were too demanding for that group. Malika herself was superflexible, but clearly pretty unexperienced teacher, because she was teaching so demanding poses for that group (for example twisted variation of Ardha Chandrasana) and sometimes it felt like she was reading a speech aloud and not actually teaching something she has experienced. I enjoyed the class anyway, because I was able to modify the poses and my focus was good. Many poses were good for my back and my lower back felt good after the class. I enjoy so much practicing at Yogabarns upstairs, where you can see rice fields, everything around you is green and you can hear monkeys as well as birds. After class my mind was still and I walked to Little K to have my morning cappuccino. Oh, how much I liked that coffee!

I am so glad that I decided to try different yoga classes. I have already learned so much about different teaching styles and this experience will be beneficial for me specially, if I start to teach later. After these experimental classes here I feel that I could teach those classes and maybe even do better. On the other hand I have noticed that ashtanga easily becomes serious and the joy of yoga disappears, when people start to be too fixed getting new poses and making physical progress. It’s nice to try different styles, modifications and poses and then get back to your own practice.

23 Apr 2011

Slow Flow at Yogabarns

My belly is still upset and it’s Saturday, so I decided to take slow flow yoga class at Yogabarns. Teacher was Donna and I was immediately able to see that she has done her training at Yoga Thailand. It’s so funny, how I just knew, that she has been practicing with Paul. I spoke with her shortly after the class and I asked, what is her own practice. I found out that she is ashtangi, too and actually she normally practices with Prem and Heather. Ashtanga world is so tiny…

Donna’s class was actually modified ashtanga class, but really slow and more focused on meditation. This was good class for me today, because I noticed, that I am not in shape. When your belly is upset, you can’t use bandhas and the whole practice is very compromised. Almoust all the poses came from Primary Series, but in different order and modified. We did for example Sun Salutation A, Utkatasana, Prasarita Padottanasana A & B as well as Uthita Trikonasana A. When the pace is so slow, I should really keep my breath strong, but it’s so hard. That’s why I feel very cold during the practice and I am stiff. We stayed in poses for pretty long time and I noticed that once again my hip flexors are killing me. I am wondering, are those ever gonna open… The class started with light meditation on ended with Shitali. Donna’s voice was nice, so I didn’t mind her speaking through the class. She also used music, which I found suitable for a class like this.

After practice I spoke with Australian-British couple, who did the same class. They were quite typical yogi tourists: done yoga some years ago and now wanted to practice a little bit during their holidays. They enjoyed the class, so I think that Donna’s style was good for holiday yoga. Donna was recommending power yoga with Denise for me. I might try that, when my belly gets better. She said, that Denise is very experienced yogini, who teaches ashtanga based practice.

I ate my lunch at Little K again. Today I had vegan sandwhich and apple/cucumber/ginger shake. My dessert was raw blackcurrant pie and latte. I couldn’t resist coffee, even when my belly is upset. I am trying different meals to get ideas, what to cook in the future. I am missing so much my own kitchen, so that I can cook, whatever I like and I know what my meals include in. When you travel, you eat what you can get and often it’s not so pleasurable. Food in Bali has been good, but it’s expensive to eat out all the time. When you can’t boil your water for tea at home, you end up paying ridiculous amount of money just for a cup of tea or coffee.

I did my pranayama practice this morning before asana class and it helps me to concentrate for sure. I have been also swimming here everyday. Pool is the best thing with this guest house. And also the monkeys on my backyard are entertaining. I have my own monkey, who comes to my balcony everyday. And last night I had my own frog, too. I was going to bed, when I saw a little frog jumping around my room crazily. I was trying to show him the way out, but he went under the bed and I couldn’t reach him. So I gave up and went to bed. Then I was listening, when he continued to jump around the room. I couldn’t see him this morning, so I think that he found his way out. So I have jungle pets now: monkeys and a frog.

22 Apr 2011

Hatha Yoga Class at Yogabarns and Some Future Plans

Yesterday I ate something bad (I think it was my breakfast papaya) and got sick. My stomack hurts and I am tired. So this morning I was thinking about my ashtanga practice as well as pranayama and didn’t really feel like it. I decided to be nice for my body and took a hatha yoga class at Yogabarns instead. I bought a card, which entitles me to take five classes there, so today I wanted to try hatha yoga.

I have never done hatha yoga before (I mean a class which is only hatha), so I was pretty excited about the class. My teacher was called Uma. We went through different elements: ground, water, fire and air/space. Ground was mostly about hip opening, water about feet and stretching, fire about vinyasa / movement and air/space about hands and upper body. We also did quite much sort of sound meditation, where we did poses, when repeating some syllables. The class started so that we were observing, which nostril is more open. According to Uma, if it’s right, you are thinking logically and using your brains and if it’s left, you are more grounded. So hatha yoga is about searching balance between these two sides of you, balancing your moon and sun.

What I liked about this class was that she talked a lot about letting go and getting rid off your fears. I personally also like sound meditation technics, because it’s the easiest way for me letting go. When I have to only concentrate on creating a sound or listening to a sound, I can be still. This was a typical led class, where the teacher was speaking through the class, but she didn’t do any adjustments or corrections. The main purpose of the class was just to balance yourself. It wasn’t superathlete class, but I was able to warm up my back and also noticed some tensions in my body. I think that hatha yoga is so much about grounding yourself better and that way it worked for me. I wanted to take a hatha class to relax more and release the pain in my belly and for that it worked well.

After class I had an early lunch at Little K, which is the restaurant downstairs at Yogabarns. I had green mango tea and vegetarian wrap plus extra avocado on the side. It’s interesting to see, how I am a little bit nervous now all the time, because I have to make decisions regarding my plans in Australia. I walk fast, I eat fast, my mind is busy and my sleep is nervous. I really have to focus on calming myself down and being just here (and not yet in Australia). I am also very sensitive for traffic sounds, busy people and smoke. When somebody is smoking near me, I have to move a way and drunken people are making me almost angry. I obviously need my peace.

However, my Australian plans are now starting to be more in order. I will fly to Brisbane 28th of April and practice with Dena. Then I will fly to Sydney probably 26th of May and start my house sitting job. I will take care of a house and one cat during three months (June, July and August). At least for that period, I have to find a job. I might stay in Sydney for a little bit longer, but I don’t have to decide that yet. I heard a rumor that Sharath might be teaching in Sydney just, when I will arrive there, so I might have a chance to practice with him. Keep your fingers crossed, that I can do that and my life in Sydney will be a success otherwise, too!

21 Apr 2011

Practice at Home and Balinese People

This morning I practiced alone first time in months. It was good, my body felt good. I was a little bit unfocused, which is typical for me, when things are changing around me. So I forgot a couple of poses, but then I did those poses just later. It was nice to get back to proper vinyasa. I have missed my flow lately. I was first practicing by the pool, but couldn’t continue there, because the floor wasn’t good. So I ended up practicing on my balcony. I don’t like practice outdoors, because flies are coming and it’s noisy, but the temperature here is perfect for the practice and air is fresh during the morning.

After asana practice I did my pranayama. This was first time, when I did pranayama after my proper asana practice. It was interesting to see, how my muscles were so much stronger after asana. After pranayama I was full of energy and my focus was superb.

Yesterday I left my sunglasses to a local restaurant, where I go every morning for a coffee. So I walked back there after I noticed that yesterday and the staff started to look for my sunglasses. They tried to call to the girl, who had worked earlier and figure out, where my sunglasses where. When they couldn’t reach the girl, they asked me to come back later. So this morning I went there and got my sunglasses back. That just made me so happy. This is just one example, how good and honest Balinese people are. The staff in my guest house is also really nice. They are always in a good mood and they really try to help me, if I have any questions. In India I often felt that people were trying to get advantage of me, but herein Bali I have felt very welcomed.

Last Yoga with Prem and Heather / Bali Food

Yoga Mamas and Bali Playboys

I have never seen so many female, single travelers than I have met in Bali. It doesn’t matter, where I eat, I see women eating alone, reading a book or just sitting in front of laptop. This must be the first place, where I can actually fit in that way. I carry my laptop, go to various different cafés and people are not staring at me. But what is the same thing in every country, is that men really like to approach a woman sitting alone. In Bali this seems to be like national sport. Other sports must be running after tourists and offering them taxi lift.

Yesterday one man was desperate to talk with me in a café. I was going through my internet stuff and he just kept talking. Finally I gave him a nasty look and he understood to be quiet. But he didn’t give up so easily. When I was heading out, he ran after me, gave his business card and was begging me to go for a drink later. Huh. It’s not always so pleasant to travel alone.

I have to say that I admire those yogini mums traveling alone with their kids. Many Western mums come here to practice and live: they rent a villa, take some yoga classes and their kids go to Green School. It’s pretty suprising to see, how many women are actually able to do that. I mean private school, nanny and driver for your kids as well as flight tickets for your whole group isn’t that cheap. At least these people know, how to enjoy their money. And your health is always a good investment.

I am personally starting to feel, that I want to work and / or study again. For me practicing only asana isn’t enough. I liked to be in Yoga Thailand, because the course was so busy and I had all the time so many things to do. Now I am trying to self-study a bit. I want to learn more about ayurveda, so I sent a message to my friend, who has studied Western and Ayurvedic nutrition and asked some advices regarding good nutrition books. I also checked YT’s website and found some intresting, recommended books that way. I was able to find one of those books here, so I am now reading Healthy at 100 by John Robbins, which is about certain nationalities, who have typically lived long and healthy lives. Studying even a little bit everyday keeps my brains going…

12 Apr 2011

Final Report regarding Teacher Training in Yoga Thailand

This is going to be a long post with many subtitles…

Paul, Modifications and Kriyas

Ok. So I met Mr. Paul, director and main teacher of Yoga Thailand as well as certified teacher by Guruji and I practiced with him during four weeks. And what is my opinion about this man, who sometimes calls himself as yoga rebel and who people either seems to love or hate? Well, I think that he is fantastic. He is very devoted to Guruji as well as Tiwari (his pranayama lineage teacher), he is still keeping up his asana practice even when his main practice seems to be pranayama nowadays. He has two kids + wife and he is running a busy yoga retreat place as well as traveling and teaching internationally. He is very present, up-to-date and knows, what he is teaching. I personally consider him as a very inspiring person. For me, he is a yogi, who believes in this practice and who is trying to live as he is teaching. His teaching style includes modifications, when those are beneficial for the student as well as “extra” asanas, if needed. He understands that all the bodies are very different and he is constantly searching information regarding for example good nutrition and health in general.

What I valued most in Paul, was his psychological eye with me. He was getting on my nerves and I am sure that I was getting on his nerves a lot too, but he didn’t loose his mind with me. He was patient with me until I was ready to listen to him. He was challenging me most of all mentally, he wanted me to think my practice and decide myself, what was the best for me. He didn’t let me go easily and I appreciated that. I wasn’t trying my best during the first TT week, I think that I had one kind of like attitude problem. I came directly from Mysore with very strong ashtanga vinyasa background and during the first week in YT we were basicly going through Primary Series very slowly, pose by pose, and I couldn’t do my normal practice at all. Oh my God. It was so getting on my nerves, because there was no flow, my body was cold and I was worried to hurt my back again because of all stiffness and coldness in my back. I also didn’t get, why we were doing all those modifications, when I had originally learned ashtanga without blocks and modifications following very by-the-book practice.

After a while I started to see the benefits, which came through those extra asanas. My back started to feel better, my mind was calmer, my hips were obviously more open. I was struggling every morning with Ardha Chandrasana, the pose, which I hated first so much. But I learned to like that pose, because it was and is so difficult for me. I love challenges, one day I want to do that pose perfectly. I learned, that all the people aren’t the same, so it’s useful to know a couple of modifications. I am still not a big fan of blocks and robes, but if those can bring the people happiness in ashtanga, I can tolerate that. It’s good to keep in mind, that all the people don’t want to take ashtanga so seriously than I or my friends do and for them ashtanga might be just a hobby among others.

Paul showed me a nice mixture of Western and Eastern thinking. I am still very much indeed Mysore girl, because I love Sharath, flow and Mysore friends, but I learned in YT that constant studying is important. It’s good to keep eyes open, listen to your body, learn ways to cope during injuries, learn to think yourself, too. I am ready to study more with Paul later and I am glad that I went to YT. If I teach someday, I want to combine Eastern style with Western style. I want to keep the lineage clean, but I also want to help people. I believe that balance between those two is possible.

Paul is a big fan of kriyas and Yoga Thailand’s wellness center is also very focused on detox and cleanses. I didn’t try kriyas, I still have a very big resistance, what comes to staring at the candle, vomiting salty water and putting a string inside your nose. I just don’t believe that body needs all those extremes to be happy and healthy. I would like to try detox someday, but kriyas I will skip. However, it was good to hear about those tehcnics, if someday one of my students will be very interested in kriyas.

What I Learned?

Regarding my own practice, I learned lots of new, very useful things. I learned more about alignments, deepening my poses, proper breathing technic, keeping my back straight and armpits little open, twisting properly, keeping my mouth shut in Savasana, keeping my chin up in Salamba Sarvangasana and doing light practice. We did a couple of times Ashtanga Lite, which is a restorative, modified asana practice, where you do Savasana basicly between every seated pose. Ashtanga Lite was a nightmare practice for me because of my back, but I learned to breath a little bit better during the weeks and my second Ashtanga Lite was better than my first one, when I walked out of the shala after half an hour practice…

Most of all I learned to deepen my practice and not rush around so much. I learned to focus better. I learned a lot of small, helpful details and I learned also, how to teach and watch myself.

I was really glad to learn more about nutrition. I have had obviously a really big lack of knowledge regarding proper nutrition. It is a topic, which I would like to study more. Just keeping myself properly hydrated all the time and avoiding sugars is making my practice to go another level. I see the ayurvedic approach regarding nutrition very interesting. I think that Western nutrition is typically more fixed to give the same guidelines for all the people, when ayurveda is understanding better the different kind of like body types and characters. I also like ayurvedic thinking regarding paying attention to your eating environment and reasons, why you are eating. Often you eat just based on habit, not based on hunger or lack of nutrients. Ayurveda is also happier to accept use of honey, cooked foods, dairy products, pasta and rice than modern raw food junkies. Raw food is good for me personally, but I like to keep a lot of variety regarding my meals. Good food is keeping my energy levels high and even when we had broccoli everyday in Thailand and I was so bored with it, I noticed during the last days in YT, that it was giving really good boogie for my practice.

I enjoyed teaching practices so much. When you watch and adjust other people, you learn all the time also for your own practice. When you really have to think, how to explain something for another person, what is easy for you and so hard for other person, you really challenge yourself. In a way you have to go to other person’s body and then start to think, how to move it. Teaching is extremely difficult, but so much fun too. And it’s so wonderful to see, when somebody actually follows your advices and improves the practice. You do so many mistakes, but when you finally learn to adjust, somebody can be like wax in your hands.


Big part of the course was pranayma practice. Every morning we started with pranayama practice before moving to asana. Our common pranayama class took about one hour including a little bit chanting and sitting.

First I thought that pranayama is crazy boring. You just keep breathing using different technics and that’s it. Well, those technics are really difficult (at least for me) to learn. And it takes time to see the benefits of pranayama. When it was the end of the course, I started to enjoy pranayama more. It made my practice more focused and helped my back, too. It’s going to take a while that I will be able to really use those technics, but even my little pranayma helps me to find the connection between my breath and body (specially bandha connection). I believe that in asana practice, I can lift myself easily up, when my breathing is correct. Asana will be also deeper and flow will get better. So I decided to give a little chance for those breathing technics. I will try to keep up my own pranayama practice at least during half a year to see, is it really beneficial for asana and my life outside the shala, too.

Technics, which Paul was teaching, are very basic and not include long controlled retentions of breath. I agree regarding heavy pranayama with Sharath, it shouldn’t be started before your asana practice and/or body control is on certain level and for sure, my level isn’t even near that yet. Mastering Kumbhaka takes years after years practice under competent teacher’s surveillance. I was happy to get a glimpse of better breathing and that keeps me going with pranayama, too.

Teaching Exam and Final Exams

The program included in three different exams. We started with teaching exam. I was keeping one 60 minutes class and Paul was observing my teaching technics. First I was really nervous to get Paul as my commentator, but after all I was happy, because I got feedback directly from him.

My teaching class was the last one of the day. We all had already done five classes before I got my change to teach. So obviously it wasn’t the best shift, when it was late afternoon and nobody was anymore interested in at all to practice or go through the same practice again. I was very nervous, when I started to teach, because I was so worried to mess up with the mantra. I have done the mantra thousands of times, but when it’s call and response, it’s so difficult to remember, where to continue. Quite many people had this problem, I am sure that this gets better after a while, but you really want to do it correctly, when you are doing it under your teacher’s eyes in exam. Luckily I got it right, I was really close to forget, but I was able to pull myself together.

After that all my excitement went away and I started to enjoy teaching. It was just pure flow. After my class I wasn’t able to remember, if I taught all the poses, so this was my first question for Paul. I remembered the sequence and all poses. In this exam you have to teach different technics like how to jump through or back and how to close the knee properly. You also must hesitate certain things like keeping back straight, twisting in a correct way and you have to offer modifications, because this class is designed for beginners. It was really interesting to notice, how everything just came from somewhere so clearly. I was thanking all my teachers in my mind after the exam. I have learned so well from my previous teachers, that the exam was after all suprizingly easy for me. And I have pretty serious stage fright, but this time I forgot the whole thing. I was just so happy to talk about the things, which are so dear for me.

I got very good feedback from Paul. Next time I have to keep in mind to do all demos so that I am facing the students. I was happy to hear that he liked my style to approach the students and I also got good from him regarding my demos. I remembered to mention the key points and the flow of the class was good. I was so pleased after the class. It was just so cool to be able to see, that I can actually do it!

Our second exam was oral exam. That was easy for me. They wanted as to repeat the pose names of Primary Series in Sanskrit and tell them kriyas as well as pranayamas. For many people this exam was difficult and they studied really hard to be able to pass. For me, this was something, what I learned in my home school, when I started ashtanga. I was once again so grateful for my yoga background in Finland.

Last exam was written exam. It was very long (included around 60 questions) and we had three hours to finish our papers. I didn’t have enough time to answer all questions, but I was pretty sure after exam, that I got enough points to pass. And yes I did. In exam we had for example some anatomy and sutra questions. I really have to focus more on anatomy, but sutra questions went suprizingly well.

All exams were once again just reminders, how much there is actually to study to become teacher. But that is the reason, why I love ashtanga so much. You are never ready, never complete and you can learn from everybody.

Oh Man! It Rains Again!

Morning and Monkeys

9 Apr 2011

Ashtanga Yoga Bali and Yoga Politics

Day Off and Saturday Morning in Bali

Saturday, the famous day off for yogis. How much I love Saturdays! I love my practice and I love my weekly day off equally. Once a week my body needs total rest and I also try not to think about my practice that much during Saturdays. And on Fridays I can eat, what I like (pizza yesterday) and I can stay up longer. It’s difficult to explain for other people, why I don’t think that it’s a big sacrifice to have only one day off and have otherwise pretty controlled life. My practice is giving me so much, that I go happily to bed early and I don’t eat that much late. And I take everything out of my day off every Saturday!

It’s early morning now. I am still in my friend’s villa and I just finished my pranayama practice (you can practice pranayama everyday, but I am taking at least one day off from pranayama practice, too). I did pranayama outside, sitting in lotus pose in front of my friend’s pool and enjoying nature around me. After pranayama, my mind was superstill and extremely focused. I felt, how my body was getting all its energy back. Now I am just enjoying all the nature’s sounds around me and I am trying to breath in the maximum of this peace.

My friend Yan has been so great hostess. I was planned to move out two days ago, but her friend delayed his travel, so Yan was so kind to let me stay longer here. I absolutely love her villa and Yan has been such a good friend for me. I have been sleeping in a nice bed, I have had my own bathroom, internet access all the time, superb company, car lift everywhere and pool in my use. I couldn’t have asked more!

Yesterday it was raining and we just decided to have home delivery and stay in. We were watching Sharath teaching in New York live online. It was so nice to see my friend Susan practicing there on first row under Sharath’s eye. I was suprized to see that so many people actually finished Primary Series. And also Sharath’s daughter Shraddha was practicing there, which was superentertaining, because that little girl is quite a character. She loves attention and she also seems to know, how to get what she wants from her dad. In Mysore, she could walk in during the conference and start to talk with her dad. And she also danced and sang for us sometimes. After practice Sharath gave a little speech in New York about the importance of yamas and niyamas. It was good to hear that he pointed out once again, that practice is supposed to continue also out of the shala. Seeing him teaching there, made me miss him and my Mysore friends so much. Nothing beats practicing with him and my friends in Mysore!

Today it's time to move to a guest house and learn to walk to the shala here on my own. I will never forget Yan's hospitality and I will cherish these moments in her villa for a long time. Before moving out, I am gonna enjoy the pool and hopefully sun, too!

On My Way to Bali...

Time to change the country again. After pretty impressive floods in Koh Samui, I decided to change my plans, skip the rains and travel to Bali instead of Koh Phangan. I really wanted to go to Koh Phangan, because my friends just loved it, but I think that the time for that will come later.