Document and measure your practice.

The first step of anything someone wants to learn is to find out about the current ability. From there the student can move on. An analysis at first allows to create a plan. The next steps can be defined.

Sometimes the analysis can take rather long. If someone wants to have better eating habits the first step is to find out how someone is eating and what a person is eating. The more data one collects the more useful. This might last a week. Everything shall be documented. The first mistake often happens during this first documentation. Soon scientists found out that people didn’t write down every ‘tiny’ snack, not knowing that these snacks have often the most calories and sugar. An improvement was to take pictures of anything someone ate. This is a faster and a better method to get to true data.

If someone wants to learn English or any other language, usually she has to pass a test so that the school can find out the current level of the student. This is important to chose a class that fits.

It’s the same with yoga. To document the practice and to measure the progress is a huge support.

I use my multi timer to start my practice. After 2 hours the timer stops with a sound. If I practice shorter I can switch off the timer. The App creates a journal of my practices. It allows me to check how often I practiced and how long. If I practiced only once a week I couldn’t expect miracles. Rather the opposite. When I see that I practice 6 times a week I give myself an opportunity to grow. What was a disciplined behavior first becomes a habit over time. It’s motivating to see last accomplishments.

On one of the walls here I draw lines. It helps to see how deep I bent backwards when exercising kapotasana i.e. I always want to reach the last line. It gives me an orientation of what was possible already. I’m looking forward to draw the next line.

Without these orientation I’d feel lost.

Documentations help to adjust a plan. It helps to see these little accomplishments, that deserve to be celebrated.

This week I practiced already twice. Only four further practices are planned. This seems doable. I’m looking forward to my morning practice.

These are the advantages of a home practice. Not everybody can use a timer in a class. To draw lines on a wall is impossible in a yoga school.

Documenting and measuring are part of a wise strategy:

1. step: What is the status quo.

2. step: Defining a goal.

3. step: Creating many tiny steps how to get there.

4. step: Documenting the practice.

5. step. Planning the next reflection and adjusting the plan.

To give life a structure helps to get things done. Time doesn’t fade away without contents.

A decade of asanas

In 2009 I started a blog on that complemented my main blog ‘my-yoga-blog’. I published only pictures of asanas there. The blogger page allowed to label the pictures and blog posts. So when I searched for urdhva dhanurasana i.e. all the pictures that I had published to that topic got listed. This allowed me to see the development of any asana over time. This was very motivating. All my pictures were a huge support. Nothing gave me more feed-back than my asana pictures.

So much has changed in the last decade. When I started this asana blog I had a point and shoot camera and no tripod. I used the self-timer that was built in the camera. That meant that within 20 sec I had to push the button, I had to run to my mat, quickly I had to get into the pose and then I had to wait for the click of my camera wich usually came very soon after being in the pose. Often it was too quickly. Then I had to repeat everything only faster. Twenty seconds can be very fast. In the first years I was happy that I could take pictures at all. Sometimes I went to a public place where I live. Many students relaxed on the steps in front of this museum. When I had the courage I asked a friendly looking person if she would be so kind to take a picture of me.

The best pictures are indeed those that were taken outside. The light was better than in my home, there was more space around me. Indoor I faced mainly two difficulties: The light situation and the rather tiny yoga room.

I kept updating this blog till 2018, that is more than a decade. Within this period I had published about 800 pictures. What to do with this blog? The pictures don’t have the standard anymore that we’re used today. I have also not the intention to keep publishing pictures there as I publish my blog posts and pictures on my own website.

It would have been sad to delete everything without keeping a memory. The picture on this blog showed my development. My asanas got often better, my pictures as well. I decided to make a book out of my blog. I found pixxelbooks online. This is unpaid advertising. (Do I have to mention this?) Quickly I learned that three volumes had to get produced. It was so easy.

This Saturday when I returned from grocery shopping the postman was in the elevator with many parcels. I could ask him if he had a parcel for me, too. He had one. I didn’t expect that it got delivered so fast and that it these three books are so heavy. When the postman handed me the parcel it almost fell on the floor.

I was so curious. Quickly I opened the parcel and found these three volumes in it. All the pictures are printed on high-gloss paper. The cover is attractive. I turned page after page and traveled back mentally to all these yoga sessions.

A couple of weeks ago I had already downloaded all the pictures. I have the pictures online and collected in these three volumes now.

The next final step will be to delete this blog.

Thank you for all the visitors of this blog. Nothing lasts forever.

Padmasana at sunset in 2009 was one of my first pictures that I had published on ‘my-asanas’ blog.

Padmasana at sunset in 2009 was one of my first pictures that I had published on ‘my-asanas’ blog.

Different levels of flexibility


There are different levels of flexibility.

  • I can do few asanas without a warm-up, without even preparing asanas. Lotus pose is such an asana, but also baddha konasana. I could mention other asanas, too.

  • There are asanas that I’m able to do, but only after a decent warm up and enough preparation. All the leg behind head poses are such asanas. I remember that I was able to do yoga nidra without any preparation. This has changed. These days I need a lot of preparation, but after the preparation all these leg behind head asanas are possible. They even feel good. To be more precise: When I practice primary the first leg behind head asana is supta kurmasana. I usually add all the leg behind head asanas from second series. I also add some extra exercises that turned out to be very useful and help me to relax in that advanced poses. This is all possible and I enjoy these asanas. It’s not possible to do one of these asanas without minimum half an hour ‘warming-up’.

  • Another level of flexibility is to switch from back bending to forward bending asanas. Usually these different forms are separated by twists. Twists shall neutralize the body. I think my back bending asanas are very OK, my forward bending asanas are very OK, too, but to switch from back bending to forward bending asanas is almost impossible. All the leg behind head asanas are not possible when I practice second series. I do preparing exercises only. I lost this level of flexibility.

The most intensive asanas feel better and better. This is for me the best sign that I’m on the right track.

I practice daily and this makes the difference. The body and also the mind like routines. I feel that I make progress again.



Yoga always reminds me to take care of my time. It’s limited. My yoga practice is time-consuming. I love to spend my time on the mat. We all have also other duties and activities we want to do. One must decide what is important and what not.

What are the activities I want to focus on.

When I practice I try to use my energy wisely as well. Extra movements are to be avoided. They use up energy for no good reason. Breath, drishti, body, mind become a unity. They all work together, this gives a lot of focus and strength. I focus on the present.

Concentration is as important as any asana. My ability to concentrate has improved a lot during the last years. It’s easier to stay focused when practicing in a group. I was able to bring this focused atmosphere to my home practice. Otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to practice 2 hours without interruption.

When I practice, I practice.

On Thursdays and Fridays I want to practice the Ashtanga yoga series without many extra exercises. During the other days flow is sometimes interrupted because I use blogs and do extra exercises. I always keep breathing. I almost never leave the mat.

The pictures that I take are not taken during my morning practice anymore.

In the film ‘The breathing God’ students wanted to learn yoga to improve their concentration. Without focus and concentration learning becomes impossible.

it is a general skill.

Distraction makes it often impossible to accomplish anything. The energy goes in all directions. It has not intention, no focus, no direction.

In the long run being able to concentrate betters life.

Concentration can be learned gradually. Beginner of Ashtanga Yoga practice the sun salutations and the first asanas. Then they move to the closing sequence. A practice might last 15 minutes. With every new asana the practice lasts longer, the student has to concentrate longer. The practice builds up gradually. A few years ago I was able to focus 2 and a half hours.

Setting a timer is. trick. Everything that has a beginning and an end seems doable. Between time A and time B I do a certain activity. This is a clear message.

Stay focused. Stay present.

Focusing on one activity is enough.

Falling in love with the process.

Urdhva dhanurasana 2009 and 2020

Urdhva dhanurasana 2009 and 2020

Between these two pictures lies a decade of practicing yoga and also practicing urdhva dhanurasana.

The first picture was taken by a friend. I had not yet discovered the self-timer of the camera. I wanted to see if my back bending was so deep already that it was possible to come up. It took years till I could drop into this pose from a standing position. I learned this skill and lost it again.

The second picture is taken 2020 after recovering from this back injury (SI joint went crazy) that accompanied me for about two years. These days I practice more effectively. I hold the poses longer. I stretch different body parts isolated. I thing it’s visible that the pose improved. But it didn’t improve very much. I mean 11 years are a long time and the difference between these two pictures is not so huge. Perhaps I’m wrong, because the inner work that I do these days cannot be seen. But that’s how it is. Patience is needed and perhaps I’m just before a real breakthrough. Haha…… It’s not so important. I love this asana and I love to work on it. My understanding of this pose deepened. I learned how to stretch, how to become stronger.

I’ve other asanas in my library that show more development. Every pose is different.

This morning I held this pose again 1 minute. I was surprised when I heard the alarm of my timer. One minute became shorter already.

The process is volatile


Not one single practice is like another one.

On Sundays (today) my yoga week begins. My arm was still a bit warm and hardened due to the vaccination, but I could practice. After a break of three days I felt stiff. The practice today was a warm-up. My approach was rather easy-going than ambitious. Only one thing I wanted to do and I did it. I held urdhva dhanurasana for one minute. It was hard, but I could feel that it’s going to be easier. Two weeks ago I couldn’t hold this position so long. When it gets tough, I start counting. After 15 breaths I walk my hands a tiny bit closer to the feet. It distracts me from the thought that I cannot hold this pose for another fraction of a second. I know, I can. After 5 more breaths the minute is over. The sound of the timer is impatiently awaited already.

More important than having practices that are mega, is to practice. This stiff practice today is the basis for the good ones to come. One must love the process. The process is volatile. It comes with many different feelings. They range from joy to frustration.

Ups and downs are part of life, too. Some days are excellent others not. Sometimes we blame people and things for our days, but this doesn’t help much. On the mat we learn to stay relaxed. I keep breathing when I feel discomfort. I keep breathing when I get frustrated. I keep breathing when things go well. Breathing is always possible. Observing is possible, too. These are methods that can also help us during difficult times.

One practice out of 6 is done already. This gives me confidence that I’ll practice tomorrow as well.

It’s going to be a nice day with a lot of sunshine.

Lung capacity


Twenty years ago I discovered the Sivananda Yoga studio, that was very close to my home that time back. I appreciated that I had found a yoga community. The Sivananda people offered yoga classes also in the evening so that I could be part of it despite my job.

In the beginning of each Sivananda yoga class pranayama is exercised. Kapalabhati was usually the first exercise which is rather a cleaning exercise than pranayama. This is followed by alternative nostril breathing with a certain rhythm: Exhaling through the left nostril ( counting till 8), inhaling through the left nostril (counting till 4), holding the breath (counting till 16) , exhaling through the right nostril (counting till 8) and so on

The rhythm is: 8 : 4: 16

This was too long for me 20 years ago. It was not allowed to breathe according to my own abilities. We all had to follow the instructions of the teacher. The counting of (every) teacher was loud and forcing. Some counted slower, some faster. It was always impossible for me to follow the rhythm.

I complained. I couldn’t hold the breath so long. I was told that I wasn’t a beginner anymore and I should be able to hold the breath so long. Of course they wouldn’t change the course of the yoga classes because of me. Guiding the yoga students through the breathing exercise was part of every yoga class. To breathe against the breathing of a group was so unpleasant that I decided not to attend their classes anymore. I wanted to breathe according to my own rhythm.

Last summer I returned to this Sivananda yoga school. I was looking for a yoga community and for yoga classes that were a bit more relaxing than Ashtanga Yoga classes. I had to step back for a while. I had to get out of my routine. I felt reluctant, but one day I found myself in a beginner class there. When the breathing part started I was curious. Kapalabhati felt great. The class was designed like 20 years ago. After Kapalabhati came alternate nostril breathing. After a short explanation the teacher started with the counting. Oh no, I thought, not this again. Suddenly I remembered why I never ever wanted to get to a Sivananda yoga class. But I had no issues anymore to follow the rhythm (8:4:16).

I never did pranayama beside my Ashtanga yoga practice. But when practicing Ashtanga Yoga the breath is as important as the asanas. A deep and even breathing accompanies the movements. Without noticing my lung capacity must have improved.

Rather exhilarated I left the yoga class. I found new joy with pranayama beside the asana practice.

Practicing yoga also trains the inner organs. Yoga is so holistic. I still get surprised how good it is for every part of our bodies.

Why is it useful to train the lung capacity? The lung transports oxygen to the muscles and the heart. That way it supports the cardiovascular system, the sportive performance gets better and one feels better in general. Much more information on this topic can be found on the Internet. The advantages of being able to breathe deeply can be a motivation to start pranayama.

Involuntary break


Yesterday at 7:40 I had an appointment with the family doctor. I took the earliest possible time available. I thought that I could go home quickly after the consultation and that I would have a nice yoga practice before breakfast. But I got a vaccination (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) and this had consequences. The nurse told me not to do any sportive activities for the next three days. Your immune system will have something to do. Most people feel slightly ill, some get even low fever. In any case you’ll sense your arm. Oh yes. So true. My arm hurts. No way to do a chaturanga dandasana.

Yesterday in bed I covered my body till the chin. Only my head could be seen. My body should have it cosy and warm. I hoped that in the morning everything would be OK again. My arm is worse today. The nurse was right. It takes 3 days.

I never hear that people get vaccinated. The above mentioned vaccination we get every ten years here in Germany. I was two years too late already. It’s a luxury to get this prevention. But now is enough again for the next decade.

Practicing yoga and taking care of one’s health belong together. Sometimes this can mean to get vaccinated. Sometimes this can mean to take a break from everything. This can be difficult. My routine was so strong. A break of 4 days is long. I guess on Sunday I’ll start practicing with full power again. I’ll feel stiff.

To do nothing today is not an option. Panayama, meditation and ‘easy’ asanas are possible.

Balancing asanas and age


When we come into this world, we cannot balance at all. As babies we mainly lie on our backs. It takes some time till we can sit. Then we crawl. I guess it’s curiosity that we want to learn to walk. Usually we find furniture that supports us in the adventure to come to a standing position. The next milestone is to take steps without getting held by someone and without leaning against a chair or sofa or what ever. This is the time when these little human beings fall a lot. And they stand up again. They usually remember how to crawl to a furniture when on the floor. This helps to stand up again. Sometimes it also helps to scream as loud as possible to get help from a grown-up person.

To be in a standing position means that we have learned to balance. This is not easy and usually a little child has to exercise it rather often. She falls, she stands up again, she falls and with each time she becomes more experienced and stronger. The sense of balance gets trained.

What I learn from this process of learning how to walk in the very beginning of everyone’s life is:

  • Exercise this skill as often as possible.

  • Get stronger.

  • Get more experienced.

  • Learn to fall and stand up again.

  • Develop the sense of balance.

Being able to walk is the first condition to see the world alone.

For many people, who are so lucky to get older and older it also means that they lose the ability to walk on their own. They need walking frames. Some cannot walk at all anymore. They live their lives in bed. Some older people fall, injure themselves and then they become so afraid of falling again that it becomes a limitation. They are afraid to get out. Falling becomes more likely as a result, because they get weaker. Many people don’t know anymore how to stand up when on the floor. They often have to wait till someone finds them. Physical therapist teach older people how to stand up from the floor when they fell. Some consider this as humiliation, but it’s not.

I know that I’ve not defined what ‘older people’ is. It also differs. There is the age that counts the years that we’re on this globe and there is the biological age. Some are like 40 with 60. Others are like 80. Some are dead already.

No matter how old we get, we can do something so that life won’t aggravate as it would if we’d done nothing. An improvement is always possible. We’ll get weaker when we get older, but we can do strength training i.e.

I found yoga for myself. Here we go. There are endless possibilities to stay strong, to balance, to learn how to get up when on the floor.

Yoga has a lot of balancing asanas:

All standing asanas are balancing asanas as I described it in the beginning of this blog. Just to stand is a balancing challenge, we’re only so used to it, that we forgot that we balance. We yogini also learn to be on our heads or to balance on our hands. There is always a progression.

Balancing means:

  • Develop strength.

  • Exercise to balance, develop experience and your sense of balance.

  • Learn to fall and learn to stand up. Safely.

  • Engage your abdomen.

  • Breathe evenly.

  • Be courageous.

Many balancing asanas are a combination of balancing and forward bending or back bending, even twists.

Being able to do sirsasana gives self-confidence. When doing a balancing asana we conquered the fear to fall. That’s something.

Primary Ashtanga Yoga has some nice balancing asanas. They deserve their own posts.

Keep walking. It means independence.

Back bending step by step

What was possible yesterday, needn’t be possible today.

The first three pictures were taken yesterday. The last one was taken today. I see progress. I count the boards and realize that my hands are closer to the feet already.

My question is what is the next tiny step in the right direction?

  • In order to improve an asana it’s always good to repeat this asana up to three times. Each time it gets more approachable. The first exercise is to feel it. It is a starting point. The first repetition is an opportunity to find the limits. The second repetition is rather a cool down. To give always 120 % is nonsense.

  • Another tiny step is always to hold an asana minimum 1 minute. 1 minute is about 15 breath and this is longer as I hold an asana in general. Stretching needs time.

There are always also specific next tiny steps:

  • In the first picture I used a prop, my wheel.

  • In the second picture I got into the pose with the wheel, but then I pushed it away and folded my hands behind my head. Unfortunately the elbows drifted apart from each other. I don’t know yet how to keep them together.

  • In the third picture I moved into the pose without a wheel. The palms of the hand are on the floor. This makes a huge difference.

  • The forth picture is the classic urdhva dhanurasana.

A next tiny step can be to lift the head in forearm bridge.

What looks easy is very difficult. This is my absolut limit. The hard work shows results. I’m very happy with the urdhva dhanurasana on the last picture, that I took today.

Today I held this pose again 1 minute. Today was a day that allowed me to be very committed. My pain tolerance was high. I know that every day is different.

How Covid-19 changed my life.


How Covid-19 changed my life:

I cook every day. The restaurants are closed. The pizza, pasta, burger that get delivered don’t convince me. I have no choice. I always wanted to prepare my own meals before Covid-19. But I used to be so busy in the mornings and suddenly when it was 1 pm, I got hungry. I often had not the wished vegetables for the imagined meal at home and many restaurants round the corner. They offer lunch, which is really OK and affordable. My meals at home are better and healthier. But I went for the lazy choice.

This has changed.I cook.

Every day during our lunch I repeat the sentence: This you won’t get in a restaurant. It’s true. My E agrees. It’s more enjoyable to prepare for us both a meal and not only for myself. Of course. To eat together is also nicer.

I get faster, I have more and more ideas what to prepare. Today we had risotto with green asparagus and green peas. A red onion, two limes and pepper added aroma. It was so delicious. Often I’m creative. A recipe gives idea, but I feel free to change it.

Today I read that 7 % of the Germans don’t want to eat out that often anymore. Also after Covid-19 they want to eat at home.

Restaurants have to make profit.

I want to eat healthy. Restaurants and myself have different goals.

Nevertheless we’ll meet friends at restaurants. From time to time we’ll go out for sure. But I don’t want to get back to that laziness that seems unsurmountable when I’m hungry. I realize now that it’s doable to prepare meals when hungry. I collect meals that are ready within 15 minutes (CousCous, pasta with vegetables). I won’t get my lunch that fast in a restaurant.

We stay at home. This also means to travel is impossible. This allowed me to establish a yoga routine in the morning, which is rather strong.

Many situations can turn into opportunities. Of course I like to go out much more than now. I cross my fingers that my fav small business survived. I’m looking forward to go to exhibitions again.

Nothing lasts forever.

90 minutes are too short

I became stronger during the last months. I got stamina. To interrupt my practice only because 90 minutes are over makes no sense. When I went to Mysore classes a few years ago I practiced 2 1/2 hours. I was one of the first in the yoga room. The teacher was still practicing closing sequence, while I started with the sun salutation. I was one of the last who left the room. Yogini came and left the room, I was always there. The classic approach in Ashtanga Yoga is to add one asana after the other. This makes the practice longer and longer. Every day I practiced the entire primary series in the beginning. After two hours I was exhausted. Then I could finally work on these deep deep back bending asanas like kapotasana.

I altered these strategy. One day I focus on primary, the next day on second series. The back bending asanas come very quickly after the standing asanas when I practice second series on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I feel fresh, I still have strength and will power. I also have the energy to prepare these asanas with extra exercises. I realize that I progress. This strategy makes a difference.

Sometimes I stare at my pictures to find out what exercises could make the back bending asanas more approachable.

I do always splits to stretch the front side of the hips.

I practice kapotasana against a wall to stretch the front side of the upper body.

It’s so important to hold the asanas for minimum 1 minute. One minute can be soooooo long, but it makes sense. I read this advice in many many books on gymnastic i.e..

The very good news is that it’s easier to start with my practice. My practice became again a daily routine that I don’t question every day.

The asanas feel better. It’s no more so uncomfortable and unpleasant to be in a back bending position. It feels even good. (I know that tomorrow I might right the opposite. )

Today I’ll reset my timer. 2 hours of yoga in the morning seems to be a reasonable time without feeling whipped through all these asanas that I want to exercise. I don’t have to rush, I feel as if I have plenty of time for all the exercises.

On Thursdays and Fridays I try to practice as close to the Ashtanga series as possible. Yet during my other practices I work on asanas. I test variations. I stretch parts of the body isolated. Sometimes I even add strength exercises. I hold asanas longer than 5 breaths. I repeat them up to three times. This is very effective. Each time a pose gets easier and I can go deeper.

A day off


Yesterday was Saturday. This is usually a day off from yoga for those who practice Ashtanga Yoga. In the morning I thought I could do a Sivananda series for an hour. I’m glad that I didn’t do it. The body needs a day off. The mind, too. Today is Sunday morning and my yoga week begins. I feel fresh and motivated. I’m well-rested, because I didn’t practice. The body had time to integrate the stretches and strength training of the last week. I’ll have an intensive week before me. This cut on Saturdays helps to structure the week. It gives intensity.

I remember times when I had difficulties to begin with yoga or another task.

I remember times when I had difficulties to stop with a task or activity.

Conscious beginning rituals and conscious ending rituals are helpful to organize the days and weeks, even years. I know days on which I started cleaning and didn’t stop anymore. In the evening, when I reflected on my day I only cleaned. This was not really satisfying. I know days on which I put on my yoga clothes and in the evening I still was in my yoga clothes. The yoga practice was watered. It lacked intensity. My practice got distracted by taking pictures, checking the Internet. It lacked focus and concentration. At the end of a day I couldn’t say anymore where the time went and what I’ve done.

Today I start and finish activities. Theoretically I could practice 2 or three times a day like my pranayama teacher in India. But then every session would have a beginning an end end and a middle part.

Six yoga practices in a row are doable. A break feels even deserved. I use this time off for reflection. What was good and why? What do I like to change? These are questions I ask myself. It allows me to create a plan for the coming week. It’s rather that I observe what happened and less judging.

For me the day off is also necessary to do all the things that I postpone during the week. Yesterday I cleaned the kitchen. As a yogini I’m also a cook. It’s not possible to eat out because of Corona. The restaurants are closed. I learned that a lot of people gain a lot of weight, because they order pizza, pasta and burger. We lost weight, because I prepare delicious vegetable meals. I dare to say: Only self-cooked meals are healthy meals. Eating healthy is part of a yogic life style.

My ambitious mind whispers on Saturdays: Come on, practice. Only one hour. Take it easy, but practice..

My reasonable mind knows that breaks are as important as the daily practice during the week.

Halleluja, it’s Sunday. Back bending is my focus today. I’m looking forward to an intensive week that will end with a day off.

What is a balanced practice?


For months I was no more interested in information about the SI joint. I had enough from all the voices of experts. I saw enough exercises that back pain patients should do. I consider myself healed, at least 95 %. A few days back I googled ‘SI joint’ again and stumbled across a YouTube video produced by a sports therapeut. His patients, who suffer from back pain, caused by a malfunctioning of the SI joint, often do sedentary work. They bow forward 8 hours a day. The muscles get weak, the skeleton deforms. Pain is the language of the body. It tells that something goes wrong.

We can have a life style that damages the body. We can also exercise in a way that deforms our bodies in the long run.

I’m sure that I did too much forward bending asanas in the last decade. Mainly forward bending asanas was my daily bread for too long. Secretly and at home I started back bending asanas. I started the second series. Then I found a teacher who asked me: What can I do for you? Me: I want to learn the second Ashtanga yoga series. And I learned it. After years I changed the yoga school. I had my reasons. I was asked again to do primary only. Yes, these forward bending asanas got better, much better. I learned to concentrate for 2 and a half hours. My practice lasted so long. Whyever it happened that I injured myself, it is my own responsibility. it took me a long time till I could use this injury as a learning opportunity.

P. Jois pushed his students. He wanted to teach as much as possible. Within a couple of months the students learned primary and second series. It was more or less taught as one series.

These days authorized teacher want to see a perfect performance of every single asana. Variations are not allowed. Only when one pose is mastered the next pose is taught. Didactic is the weak point at Ashtanga Yoga. The situation today is totally different than a decade ago. Too many students want to learn Ashtanga yoga. To have one system for everybody makes it easier to teach. The individuality of a yogini is ignored. This is the sacrifice.

These days I strive for a balanced practice.

One day I focus on forward bending asanas. The other day I focus on back bending asanas.

I approach every day with a different attitude. Sometimes I feel that I can give 120%. On other days I’m glad that I practice. This is accepted as it is.

I also want to balance strength and flexibility training.

I strive for training the right side of the body and the left side of the body evenly. Usually when doing padmasana (lotus pose) one shall take ‘right leg first’. I alter legs these days. For 2 years I followed the rule ‘right leg first’ with the consequence that my body got out of balance. It was even visible. Lotus pose with the left leg first became difficult.

I also alter the legs when I cross the legs before jumping into another asana.

The exercises of the sports therapist that I mentioned above were more or less back bending positions to readjust the body.

An unbalanced practice has the potential to deform the skeleton.

Wrong shoes can do the same. I wear shoes that have no heels. This is good for my feet and for the entire body. Walking is so much more natural. Find good shoes. This is unpaid advertising. I love ‘allbirds’. I’ve never had so comfortable shoes.

Another story:

Yesterday I saw an interview with a runner. She trained for the Olympic Games. Suddenly she had back pain. The sciatica nerv was sore. Even at night she had unbearable back pain. She was lucky and found a doctor who made a correct diagnosis. She had to stop exercising. Luckily she healed. She started doing yoga and according to her own words, she learned that it makes no sense to ignore body pain. It’s not useful to push through everything. Sometimes the body needs to rest in order to heal.

The runner approached her injury with an open mind. Otherwise she wouldn’t have been open for yoga. The same advice is good for yogini. I learned a lot from gymnastics and those people who do strength training, calisthenics, you name it. We can learn from each other. This can also mean to adjust what we used to do for decades.

In the last year I went to the Sivananda yoga school:

The classes are very balanced. It starts with pranayama. But also the asanas sequence is balanced. Within a yoga class that lasts 90 minutes inversions, forward bending asanas, back bending asanas, balancing asanas, twists, standing asanas are exercised They offer variations for every sequence. Asanas are held longer for those who are more experienced and shorter for beginner. The class has a structure, but at the same time it has a lot of flexibility.

It’s surely not necessary to do all sorts of asanas on one day. But within a week all sorts of asanas should be exercised to have a balanced practice. To be hold back on the first Ashtanga Yoga series can deform a balanced body.

My yoga homeland is Ashtanga Yoga. It fits to my personality. I love to be challenged. I love the dynamic. Yet I think one must approach it non-dogmatic and smart.

On Fridays Ashtanga yoga practitioners do primary. It’s the last practice of this week. Last week was very intensive. I’m glad to have a day off from Ashtanga Yoga tomorrow.

Balancing asanas


To try a pose is totally different than to look at it.

This one is easy, I thought. Twice I fell on my knees when I tried it the first time. This was it, I thought. This is not good for my knees. Usually I do this asana with the hand next to the foot. To balance is also a challenge, but not that much.

Being in downward dog with one foot in padmasana pose and holding the big toe is another challenge. I saw so many beautiful pictures on Instagram, so I tried it again. This time my hand was not so far away from my foot. Slightly easier poses often allow to study a pose.

To balance means to engage the abdomen. This stabilizes the body.

This is not a variation that I will integrate in my daily practice. Nevertheless I’m glad that I tried it.

My focus is back bending.

Today is Thursday. I practiced every day. Most practices were intensive. I know that I need a break on Saturday.

Elbow bridge with a wheel

I have two wheels that I like to use. One is taller than the other one. When I use the taller one (see picture) I manage it to bring the elbows to the floor. My back gets obviously enough support. Without a wheel it’s difficult to bring the elbows to the floor. When I use the smaller wheel I struggle in vain to bring my elbows to the floor.

When I get out of the above pose, I realize what I’ve done. It’s a deep deep stretch for the upper body.

  1. My next tiny step is to hold this pose longer and longer till I can hold it for 1 minute.

  2. Another tiny step could be to roll away the wheel, so that my palms can be put on the floor.

There are so many exercises to do. I tried a lot. The simple ones are often the best ones. The pose above stretches the body on both sides at the same time. It’s relatively easy to get into the pose. When I found an exercise that feels good (and effective) I like to stick with it for some time. When the position feels super good time has come for a change.

Today was my back bending day. It was neither easy to start with my practice nor to do back bending asanas. Yet I also got momentum. If you do only one exercise today, start the timer and do urdhva dhanurasana for 1 minute, I thought. I left the wheel one second before the alarm clock told me that my time was over. Nevertheless, I did it.

Stretching needs time. I do not expect quick progress, but progress can already be seen.

Every practice is important as it’s always good for the body and the mind.

I’m more and more also my own coach.

Get to know yourself


A few days back I got a letter from a friend. In my opinion she is a very committed and disciplined person. She accomplishes a lot. I had sent her a picture of myself doing a back bending asana. (Hahaha) She wrote that she misses her yoga classes. It seems impossible for her to practice alone at home.

One can give tips, but finally someone must find out by herself what makes it possible to do anything.

The reason why we do anything goes from ‘I have to’ (tax declaration) till ‘I desire to’ (yoga practice). One must find out how we can motivate ourselves.

The very first question is: Is an activity possible theoretically. Not everything is possible, but if the answer is yes, one can ask the second question: How is it possible.

Many yogini have shared tips and tricks already. They can be all useful. There is this individual part that one has to find out by oneself.

My general tips:

  1. Go to bed early and get up early. The early morning is best to practice. Know the time when you want to roll out the yoga mat.

  2. Even more important is to start the practice very slowly. I usually hang forward (see picture). I do nothing else but this. After a while I get bored and I start with the sun salutations. In the Sivananda classes the yogini started with lying on their back to relax first. It’s possible to give oneself a feet massage. One can chant ‘Ohhhmmmmm’. Be creative. Find something that is easy to do. This is then your beginning.

  3. Limit the time. Set a timer at first for 15 minutes. Then go for 30 minutes. In the meantime I need 2 hours to do everything I want to do.

  4. Starting the timer is a trigger for me. When the timer starts running the point of no return has come.

  5. Know what you want to do. This is also one reason why I love Ashtanga Yoga. I practice one of the series. I don’t have to be a choreograph in the morning. People who go to vinyasa classes or to Jivamukti classes don’t learn fixed series. Every class is different. One week they focus on back bending, the other week on twists. This makes it difficult to practice at home. Have a plan, have a fixed series. From there you can alter your practice.

  6. I love the CDs by the Jivamukti founders. It’s possible to practice along with a CD. Everything is allowed that helps.

  7. Take it easy. Start slowly. Start with a short practice of 20 minutes. Get used to the new habit.

  8. Appreciate your practice.


  1. Thoughts: Today I’m tired, I can also practice after a tiny breakfast. After breakfast other tasks are more important. After lunch the stomach is too full. Then I’m tired again. Then it’s evening. And so on.

  2. Don’t discuss every day if you want to practice or not.

  3. The imagination that from now on I’ll practice till the end of my life is too huge. Think of today. Today is a good day to practice.

In my very first yoga class the teacher recommended to start a home practice right after the first yoga class. Right from the beginning on one can start the own yoga journey.

Being independent from circumstances gives freedom.

Learn to learn


On the surface we learn asanas. True is we learn much more than just asanas. Many things that we learn are not visible at first sight.

  • We learn that when we have the thought or the feeling we’re done, we’re still able to hold a pose a bit longer or to do another chaturanga dandasana. Beginner give up much earlier than more experienced yogini.

  • We learn to bear discomfort. In order to bear discomfort it’s useful to keep breathing evenly. This helps to relax despite the discomfort or pain.

  • With time we get to know our limits. We often can do much more than we think. This is the experience that we can make over time. With this knowledge we’re often able to do a bit more than usual.

This post got inspired by the Saturday night competition show ‘Let’s dance’. Twelve celebrity try to win. Every Friday a couple ( a celebrity who dances with a professional dancer) is out. The couples get judged by a jury and the spectators who can vote by phone for her favorite dancer.

The dancer have different qualifications. Some are sportive already, they climb and run. Others are musicians. Some have experience to be on stage. Others are not so experienced. Those who are not so experienced perform better when they dance in a group. They profit much more from the energy of others than those who are more experienced.

  • I think that the more experienced we are the more we’re able to exercise alone without the energy of a group. Everybody can profit from a group and group training, yet for those who are not used to exercise it can make a huge difference.

The Ashtanga Yoga week has started. At 6:30 am I began with the first sun salutations. The practice today was very intensive. Focus was back bending. Slowly it becomes again a joy to bend backwards.

Balancing asanas

Carmens May challenge on Instagram is about balancing (#balanscience). My approach to these monthly challenges are playful. I’m less ambitious as many asanas are too advanced. I don’t want to risk injuries. I reflect on certain asanas. Sometimes I try new variations to see if I can integrate them into my practice. Mainly it’s fun to be part of a group of committed yogini. Some asanas are so challenging that I leave them out. The starting point is sometimes already my end asana……..

Balancing asanas vary a lot. One can fall out of a sitting asana, that has a balancing aspect. This is more or less funny. One can also fall out of handstand.

How to conquer the fear of falling?

  • Learn first to fall out of a pose. Learn a somersault.

  • Have enough space around yourself. Often injuries happen, because the student falls against things (yoga blocks) or the wall or a piece of furniture. Years ago I fell out of headstand. This happened once to me in my lifetime. I fell against the corner of a wall. This hurt and I got a huge bruise. If I had space I would have been shocked, but everything would have been OK.

  • Imagine what to do when you lose balance. In the above pose I know exactly what I have to do when I move too far forwards. Chin to chin. Then I land on my head (bone) and not on my nose or face. Falling usually happens very quickly. Exercise the exit and you won’t be surprised if it happens.

How to balance?

  • Engage the abdomen.

  • Breathe evenly.

  • Keep the eyes calm, gaze towards a point.

  • Ground yourself. In bakasana (picture) I feel more stable, when I try to turn the hands on the floor. Suddenly I become also stronger and more stable.

All the balancing asanas give self-confidence when mastered.

The balancing asanas force the mind to focus on the presence. Dreaming and thinking often comes with losing balance.

Utthita hasta padangusthasana is a standing asana. It’s a challenge to balance on one leg. I’m rather good at it these days. Yet when I start thinking I start wobbling. I remember days when I could perform this asana already very good. Then I started thinking: Oh, today is a good day. Et voilà. I started wobbling. Balancing asanas train the mind to focus on an even breath and to keep the eyes calm. If the core is strong in addition one can enjoy these asanas. Balancing asanas can give the feeling of weightlessness.

Carmen shows a tiny variation of bakasana on Instagram. She lowered the head. This makes the asana more difficult. My next step is rather to stretch the arms. Strong arms and core strength is needed to lift the body. This makes is possible to stretch the arms. To jump into this pose is another step further.

There is always a variation that is a bit more demanding. For me it’s important to know my next tiny step. When this tiny step is mastered, the journey can go on.

Elbow bridge

Elbow bridge

Elbow bridge

The elbow bridge is a very useful variation of the classic bridge (urdhva dhanurasana). It helps to stretch the upper body.

Pincha mayurasana is a balancing pose. It’s performed on the lower arms. The fear is to fall out of the pose. It’s a good idea to fall out of this pose on purpose in order to conquer this fear. We’ll land in elbow bridge, when we fall out of pincha mayurasana. The more familiar we are with elbow bridge the more courage we can have when learning pincha mayurasana, because we know we don’t injure ourselves when falling out of this pose.

Elbow bridge helps to stretch the upper body. The classic urdhva dhanurasana becomes easier. My elbows are still away from the floor. When upper arms and upper body are in line without this curve at the armpits I’ll be able to take the hands closer to the feet in urdhva dhanurasana. Every centimeter of flexibility needs time. Especially stretching requires patience.

It’s important to work on the next tiny step. 10 tiny steps further is a huge step further.

Back bending (urdhva dhanurasana) is part of every Ashtanga Yoga series. This pose is difficult for me after primary and all these forward bending asanas. Yet today it was doable. I performed urdhva dhanurasana 3 times and held it for 5 breaths. I dropped back against a wall. More was not possible. I felt I had reached my limit for today.

Every practice counts. Every practice is good for the body.

A new month has started. It will get warmer here. This makes it easier to bend and stretch. It’s still good advice to stay at home because of Corona. I’ll have a lot of time for my yoga practice. Distractions are limited. Cinemas, exhibitions, restaurants are still closed. It has really sad aspects. On the other hand it helps to focus on yoga.