Oh wow, one week since I committed to a daily practice! It’s a milestone for me. On to writing about practice!

Day 5, Saturday, was a traditional ashtanga rest day. I had a full day of baking and errands ahead of me (I have a small custom-made cupcake business on the side), so I relished getting extra hours of sleep. I finished my baking earlier than I had anticipated, and this gave me a free hour and a half before getting ready to for dinner out with my fiance.  I also wanted to get my body in motion–baking, frosting, and decorating cupcakes usually requires one to stay standing in a particular position for extended periods of time, and I needed to shake out the accumulated tension.

I ended up doing a 30min restorative sequence that I had downloaded free from YogaDownload.com about 6 months ago. I enjoy this sequence a lot because it’s full of great hip and shoulder openers and forward bends. I have tight hips from sitting down in front of the computer, and tight hamstrings from standing a lot (apart from baking, I teach at a university, and I project my voice best when standing, so I always conduct lectures while standing/walking around the classroom). I’m seriously considering incorporating it into my daily practice (I could feel the difference in the succeeding days), maybe in the evening.

Day 6, Sunday, I had gone to bed late (again!) and overslept. I gave myself the reason that there wasn’t enough time to practice that morning because of my schedule, so I went about the rest of the day. I finished with my deliveries and errands earlier than anticipated, though, which again gave me about two free hours. And I thought to myself, sod this, and hit the mat. Since I had a considerable amount of free time, I did 3 Surya Namaskar As, 3 Surya Namaskar Bs, the full standing sequence  (I can’t do the full poses yet, so I did modified Utthita Hasta Padangustasana and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana), most of the seated sequence (modified Triang Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana, no vinyasas between sides, just between poses, no Marichyasana B and D), Salamba Sarvangasana, Plow, Bridge, Paschimottanasana, and the four closing postures.

I had a big revelation today, Day 7. My biggest challenge so far in my practice has been getting past Surya Namaskar B! It’s not yet clear to me why, but my experience of Surya B is such a chore. I take too many breaths between each Surya B, I feel like it’s so boring, like it takes SOOOO LOOOONG, I resist all the way. But once I get past it, it’s smooth sailing until Navasana! Part of me wants to get to the bottom of it–why, why, why?–but another part of me recognizes that answering why is not directly correlated to me getting over my resistance to it. Heh. 😀

I did the same practice as yesterday, as today was holiday here and that gave me the luxury of time. It felt great–after Surya B, everything went smoothly, and I stayed focused with no unnecessary breaths.

Now, to focus on finishing my revisions to the third chapter of my master’s thesis…

Today, I’ve had to come to terms with time and my relationship to it. Especially my awareness of its passage.

The past week I’ve tended to sleep late, 11 in the evening being the earliest time I’ve hit the sack. This is not sustainable for me if I want to have a full practice in the morning, and still have enough time to eat breakfast and go to work.

Much as I hate compromising, I also need to be real. And right now, being real is acknowledging that I’m  not getting enough sleep.

My plan for the meantime: sleep more, and practice David Swenson’s 30 mnute short form.

Which is what I did this morning, just omitting the invversoins. Today was my period’s last day–just in time! I miss my salamba arvaghsana 🙂

(By the way, today’s photos are the view of the window in my room, as seen from my mat, and my list of the asanas in David Swenson’s 30 minute short form. :D)

Moon day! I didn’t practice, not even sneaking in a vinyasa flow class. Hm. My lower back isn’t too happy. (My work requires me to sit down for extended periods of time, and even the sporadic practice I’ve had over the last year has helped me a lot with managing the backaches I would often get.)

I discovered today: Govinda Kai’s flickr account! He takes beautiful photos, and I stumbled upon it serendipitously while searching for photos of prasarita padottanasana D. I love the austerity of some of his photos of people’s asana practice.

He’s visited Manila to give classes and workshops a few times this year, and I often think of going to one of his classes. I don’t think that I’ll seriously consider it for now, though–have got to finish my master’s thesis first!!

I woke up with no desire to practice. I was emotionally “not feeling like it.” I was feeling drained from the events of yesterday here in Manila–a hostage drama involving a bus of Chinese nationals, irresponsible media coverage (where have you seen media that *broadcasts live* every single police strategy employed, knowing that the hostage taker has a television on the bus?), and deaths.

But if there’s anything that life has taught me, it’s that it goes on, whether one likes it or not. So I hit the mat and practiced. Was distracted at the beginning, and I only had 30 minutes scheduled for today’s practice. I ended up doing 5 each of Surya Namaskar A and B, then going straight to paschimottanasana to hold for more than 5 breaths. (In the past, I’ve found paschimottanasana helps me let go of anxiety.)

As I stayed there, I noticed that my hamstrings and inner thighs were tighter than they were yesterday. Later in the day, hours after practice, it occurred to me that my practice has helped me become more aware of the subtle, day-to-day differences in my body, and how they are related to what I did or ate the day prior. [In this instance, I was surprised to realize that this morning’s unusual tightness of the inner thighs had much to do with having to climb multiple flights of stairs in (very comfortable) high heeled wedge sandals.]

From Paschimottanasana, I went to Janu Sirsana A, Marichyansana A and C, then on to the finishing sequence, omitting still the inversions because of my menstruation.

To get some more order into the days that I have less practice time, I researched David Swenson’s short forms. The 30 and 45 minute ones look perfect for those days.

my mat

Slept fitfully last night–woke up at two AM for no good reason and took half an hour to get back to sleep–so I chose to be compassionate with myself and wake up an hour later than originally planned.

Which all worked out fine–I didn’t do the complete standing sequence/finishing sequence. As it’s the third day of my period, I omitted the one leg balances (I tend to lose a sense of balance during my period) and inversions.

I was very excited to wake up and practice today, I’m hoping to sustain the enthusiasm for practice. Have to learn to write about the practice though–it’s something I’m unaccustomed to as yet.

Hello, I’m bloodsugar and welcome to my practice journal.

I finally chose to begin a practice journal to help myself give structure to my practice of ashtanga vinyasa yoga. My on-and-off attraction to ashtanga in particular began about two years ago when my fiance’s cousin invited us to a free led/mysore class by YogaManila, and I have taken the sporadic Led Ashtanga class at PulseYoga.

Although I have had good experiences in both shalas/studios, I also had personal issues/qualms about practicing regularly in a shala/studio.

You see, I live in Metro Manila, the bustling megalopolis that is the capital of the Philippines. I work as an academic, teaching philosophy to students at a prominent private university. Although my income is well above minimum wage, and though I am part of a fairly large middle class that stabilizes the national economy, I also have some ethical problems with cultivating a studio practice in my context.

The price of one mysore or led class in Metro Manila is, on average, 500 pesos (roughly US$10). To someone working in a developed country, this sounds very cheap and affordable. Here, however, minimum wage is less than 400 pesos (US$8) a day. In that equation, a month of classes in a shala/studio would cost me the rough equivalent of a fellow citizen’s monthly salary. Though I consider the mind/body practice of yoga as part of my human flourishing, I also can’t stomach the idea that my human flourishing has to be accomplished at a cost that emphasizes the economic inequality in my country. Partly inspired as well by the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, who asserts that one’s very existence is the deprivation of the existence of an Other, and partly inspired by the principle of ahimsa (or non-violence), I was torn by the paradox of how my desire to practice yoga perpetuated inequalities and deprivations.

Enter the cyber community of yoga. I don’t remember anymore how I discovered these blogs, but I began semi-regularly reading two blogs by two people developing their home yoga practice–Reluctantashtangi.com and Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama at Home. Through their blogs, I discovered that the practice of ashtanga yoga can be done at home.

It has taken me two years to begin this journey, but I think it has been worth the wait. I’m excited by the possibility of practicing daily in my home!