Hatha Yoga classes are Back after summer break

After a wonderful summer holiday, Pinelopi has returned full of new energy and happy feelings! The Hatha Yoga in English Classes are starting again on September 5th!  This year there is also a mindfulness and yoga weekend retreat dedicated on presence, scheduled from the 15th of September to the 17th of September.

 

Pinelopi’s classes are a mix of Hatha yoga asanas (yoga poses), grounding techniques, pranayama (breathing exercises), pratyahara (practice of detachment), yoga nidra and meditation. She is an injury conscious yoga teacher and is a firm believer that yoga is for everybody and any body. She believes that no one should ever be in pain during class. All yoga poses can be adjusted so that one is still stretching, growing, strengthening, challenged, without experiencing pain or triggering old injuries.

Yoga, for her, requires becoming conscious of where you are at physically, emotionally, spiritually and what means you have available at this moment. Once the practitioner identifies this, yoga will work from there to release blocks and open up one’s spirit to new ways of seeing the world and receiving its’ gifts.

Join her at one of her regular Hatha Yoga weekly classes starting on Tuesday September 5th, 2017:

Monday

Tuesday

Thursday

9:45-11:15
Hatha Yoga

18:00-19:30
Hatha Yoga

18:00-19:30
Hatha Yoga

20:00-21:30
Advanced Hatha Yoga

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain. In mid-September she will be offering her first English speaking yoga and mindfulness retreat dedicated to presence.

Weekend Hatha yoga retreat dedicated to presence

Pinelopi is organizing a weekend long Hatha Yoga retreat dedicated to presence.

You are warmly invited to immerse yourselves in a weekend full of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and presence.
Photo by Melissa Askew

Photo by Melissa Askew

When:   Friday September 15th, 15.00 – Sunday September 17th 17.00
Where: Rosenwaldhof  – This is a beautiful location in Brandenburg, 1.5 hours South-east of Berlin, on the river Havel, surrounded by nature.
What is included:

  • Yoga twice a day
  • Meditation instruction
  • Mindfulness walks to explore the river and nature
  • Bio vegetarian food: breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Accommodation based on your preference

Prices:  Prices include all of the above plus one of the following accommodation options:

  • Double room 225€
  • Single room 235€

** All bathroom facilities are shared. If you have a need for a private bathroom please inquire.

Who:

  • Up to 15 students from English Yoga Berlin

Early registration discount:   15 € discount if you register before August 15th. To reserve your space, please respond to this email and deposit 50 Euro by bank transfer. *The deposit is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than 10 days before the retreat. Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

Please write to pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin.com  for more details.

Spiritual Sunglasses

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

There is no doubt to me that 2016 was a bad year for the world. The Syrian war, Brexit, Trump, 34000 people forced daily from their homes as a result of conflict or persecution, thousands of children at risk of starvation in Nigeria are only SOME of the things last year had in store for us.

It is hard to really feel the pain of this world. So we don’t. We turn away. We try to focus on our smaller scaled- seemingly more controllable lives. And understandably so… who could allow themselves to feel it? What if our heart simply breaks? We do our yoga. We visualize light around us and in us. And, often as a result, we distance ourselves more and more from the reality of this world.

But was that the point of yoga?

Does forming a spiritual understanding of the world -one where Light and souls exist- mean distancing ourselves from suffering?

When I asked my teacher this during my training, he said that we must learn to wear spiritual sunglasses. I liked the metaphor in that. He said that we have to be able to see a spiritual world where souls walk this Earth and Light is in everything AND to be able to put the sunglasses on and see the world that is in front of us, to feel the suffering and the reality that comes through. One would be a deeper reality and another would be a manifestation of reality. Both equally important to be able to see and feel as a yoga practitioner.  We are to practice putting the glasses on and off.

Tara Brach talks about the Tonglen meditation from the Tibetan Tradition. This meditation is about listening to the cries of the world and responding to it. As you breathe in, you feel the pain of this world, as you breathe out you respond with love and care for it.

Now many would rightfully wonder what good would breathing in and out do to the suffering of the world? When seen as just a breathing in and out, I would say that this will do no good at all. But, as mentioned above, feeling the world’s suffering can be so overwhelming for most of us, that we shelter ourselves from it and become more self-centered and apathetic. So being able to feel and connect with both the suffering of other people and the love you have for this world, I believe can do a lot. We first must be able to connect with our reality, feel the pain and love in our hearts before we can respond by taking action.

We must know how to put these spiritual sunglasses on and off many times a day, keeping both realities close to heart, caring for both our human condition as our spiritual one.

 

 Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Berlin Kreuzberg classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She is a sivananda yoga teacher that also offers Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain. All her yoga classes end in deep relaxation using yoga Nidra techniques.  In her Berlin Chakra course, she uses the chakras as a base line to self-explore concepts such as forgiveness, group thought, letting go, and becoming self-aware of limiting beliefs.

Sound Healing – Nada Yoga workshop

Did you know the Sound of your Voice is a profound healing modality?
Connect with the Power that resides in YOU!

Nada Yoga

Sound Healing through Nada Yoga

Travelling Yogi, Yes Hernandez, will offer a Nada Yoga Sound Healing workshop to help participants connect to the power of their own Voice to find balance and peace within and without.

When: August 6th, 2017, 12-3pm
How much?: suggested donation 10 – 25€

(all proceeds will go to Frauenprojekte BORA – a local org that helps people out of domestic violence)

What?: A 3 hour workshop on Nada Yoga, its history, the different techniques, and how they help. We’ll prepare ourselves with a little Yogasana and self massage for sound based practice and then move into the specific Nada Yoga practice of Vocal Toning. Once our vocal practice is complete we sit for a 10 min silent meditation before moving into Savasana for the Tibetan Bowl Healing practice.

There is no pre-registration process. The spots are available on a first-come drop-in basis. Just show up!

What is Nada Yoga?

Nada means ‘flow of sound’ and has a long history as a yoga practice. The methods use breath and vocal toning to listen to one’s own inner sound, move through obstructions and onto personal transformation. “On the path of Nada Yoga, the body is healed, the mind recovers its balance and the person becomes a fully functional individual, living with a sense of well-being. In this sense Nada Yoga works as medicine and therapy, helping a person to lead a healthy, happy and balanced life in the world.”

About the teacher

Yes is an American Yoga instructor currently based in Sri Lanka. She has trained with Anandra George in Rishikesh, India on the techniques of Nada Yoga. She works with the method of Vocal Toning- a way of creating sound using syllables- no words, no harmony- to move energy through the body and chakras, bringing balance to all systems while becoming familiar with and connecting to Voice. This practice has a purifying effect on the body and mind, cleansing us from the inside out, helping release what no longer serves us and empowering us on many levels. This practice is then followed by a Tibetan Singing Bowl Meditation, while in Savasana, to relax the body and release any tensions that may have been brought out by the toning exercises.

“As a survivor of physical and sexual child abuse, I myself had issues with my Voice, with speaking out. It took years before I was able to tell anyone of my suffering. This influenced me and my relationships in detrimental ways. Through a lot of work and practice, I broke through it and found connection to myself in Yoga. I find this disconnect to the power in our own Voice not only affects those who have been sexually or physically abused but also those bullied by classmates, and those of the LGBT community, afraid to speak out and be heard.”

On the reason for holding this workshop to raise donations for the Frauenprojekte BORA, Yes writes: “It is often so hard for women to leave these situations, and it takes a lot of courage to finally speak up and ask for help. As the workshop involves finding our Voice, the power and vibration behind, I thought it appropriate to honor those who have found some strength and have spoken up.”

**This workshop is open to FLTI* – Women, Lesbian, Trans*, Inter*, and Genderqueer folks only. 


English Yoga Berlin is a Kreuzberg yoga space that offers Community Yoga classes, with an emphasis on creating a space for those who feel marginalized by mainstream yoga classes: sliding scale prices for no- / low-income earners, queer & transfolk, sex-workers, b&pocs, differently abled, abundant bodied, etc. Our emphasis is on teaching about yoga and its healing potential. Read more about our Hatha yoga, Vinyasa flow and Restorative Yoga classes here.

This Summer at English Yoga Berlin: Two workshops and more!

The summer at English Yoga Berlin is full of wonderful offerings: We will be hosting David Moore for a workshop on Yoga and the Alexander Technique,  Yes Hernandez brings us a Sound Healing workshop, Juli has completed the third module of Yoga Therapy, summer holidays are coming up and much more!

“I have been a seeker and I still am,
but I stopped asking the books and the stars.
I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”

― Rumi


A workshop on Yoga and the Alexander Technique

We are delighted to host David Moore on the 2nd of July who will teach a five hour workshop on Yoga and the Alexander Technique. This is of particular interest to yoga teachers and experienced yoga practitioners who wish to deepen their knowledge on injury free yoga. Check out the details.


Sound Healing with Yes Hernandez

Sound Healing Workshop

Travelling Yogi, Yes Hernandez, will offer a Nada Yoga Sound Healing workshop to help participants connect to the power of their own Voice to find balance and peace within and without.
The workshop will be by donation (€5+), and all proceeds will go to a local org that helps people out of domestic violence, Frauenprojekte BORA.
Date and time TBA, keep an eye out for more info on our Facebook page or on our blog page.


Yogatherapy

Juli recently finished Module 3 of the advanced yoga teacher training, Svastha Yoga Therapy, and continues to bring new knowledge to the community classes at English Yoga Berlin: Queer* Yoga on Wednesday mornings at 10am and therapeutic Vinyasa Flow on Sundays at 4pm.

Summer Closures

Yoga teachers need a break too! Pinelopi will be off for the whole month of August and Juli from mid-August to mid-September. Please check out our online schedule to keep up-to-date!
We continue to be thankful for your practice and your support of our work. We wish you a healthy, happy summer, full of inner peace and connection!

A workshop on yoga and the Alexander Technique!

We are happy to host a workshop at our studio on Yoga and the Alexander Technique! As injury conscious yoga teachers, we find this workshop particularly interesting to deepen our knowledge on how yoga movements can cause injury in different people. This is yet another step to deepen our commitment to providing safe yoga to our students.  You are all warmly invited to participate!

The details:

  • What is the Alexander Technique?

This is a technique that studies movement and helps eliminate unnecessary tension in order to move in a more effective way. By using this technique you can identify your unconscious patterns of tension and change these patterns to be more at ease in your body.

  • Who will run the Workshop?

The workshop will be run by David Moore, author of the books “Yoga and the Alexander Technique: Intelligent Injury-Free Yoga” and an upcoming book “Smart Yoga: Apply the Alexander Technique to Enhance Your Practice, Prevent Injury, and Increase Body Awareness” which is being published in June (here are the reviews).  David is the director of the School for F.M Alexander Studies in Melbourne which has been running a three year full time training course for Alexander teachers since 1998. He has been developing and teaching the application of the Alexander Technique to yoga practice for over 30 years and runs workshops and retreats in Australia and internationally.

  • Who is it for?

This workshop is for every yoga or Alexander technique practitioner who wishes to deepen their knowledge in how to prevent and deal with injury. It will be of particular interest to yoga teachers, Alexander Technique teachers and experienced practitioners in those disciplines.

  • What is the workshop about?

The workshop will provide an active and practical investigation of

  • ·         Coordination and posture from an Alexander Technique perspective
  • ·         Modifying yoga poses
  • ·         Kinaesthesia
  • ·         Doing and non-doing
  • ·         Directing energy through the body
  • ·         Identifying and overcoming habits
  • ·         Developing an individualized practice

  • When?

July 2nd 2017 9am to 3pm

  • Where?

English Yoga Berlin, Görlitzer Str 39, Kreuzberg

The workshop is held in the Gemeinschaftsraum (the exKinder Kino, or KiKi). Press the button for ´YOGA´ at the front door, then follow the signs through to the last courtyard, up the stairs and find us on the first floor, by the painted trees.

  • How much?

50 Euro

  • Book the workshop:

Click here to book the workshop through paypal.

 

At English Yoga Berlin we offer regular weekly Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga classes. We are committed to using injury conscious approaches as we understand that each body is unique.  Our yoga Kreuzberg classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. We also offer Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain. 

 

8 tips to reduce menstrual pain

Queer yoga in Berlin

Goddess Pose

A little while ago, I wrote a blog about my experiences with endometriosis. And as a result, some of the participants in my yoga classes have asked me how to reduce their own menstrual pain. Not all folks with menstrual cramps have endometriosis, but perhaps some of the things I’ve found that work for me to reduce menstrual pain could potentially work for you too!

1. Painkillers

I try to limit the amount of over-the-counter pharmaceutical painkillers that I use, because I’d prefer to not feed into the pharmaceutical industry. But sometimes I just don’t have time for anything else, and they can be a quick and easy fix. Medicinally-herbed cookies can do the trick just as well, but they’re not so ideal if I have to work that day! 😉

2. Menstrual Yoga

I like to do a slow flow with lots of deep breathing, skipping abdominal exercises, mula bandha and inversions, and focusing on hip openers. Poses like Goddess (above) and Lion help me to release tension that I’m holding because of the pain. I find that my jaw and shoulders also get tight during menstrual cramping, and these poses open up the jaws and the throat. I also find that growling and hissing loudly also helps to reduce anxiety, which I sometimes get when I’m PMSing or during heavy periods.

3. Stress Reduction Sitting Exercises

Menstrual cramps arrive at the least opportune moments – at work or in social situations. Stress aggravates menstrual cramps and can either bring them on or make them worse. I have created an exercise routine that I can do while sitting with other people that’s not so obvious. I take slow deep breaths and sit up tall with a neutral spine, as if meditating. I press my thighs down against the chair, so my lower abdomen lengthens away from the chair, creating more space for all the painful bits to relax and do their thing – shed menstrual blood and tissue. In addition to that, I also do short pushes down, as if ‘bearing down’ – what they tell folks to do when they’re pushing a baby out. I make sure I’m wearing enough protection to catch everything that comes out – and it does! And the cramps go away.

4. Riding a bike on cobblestone

Most cyclists in this city think it’s annoying to ride on those bumpy cobblestones, but I find it actually helps my cramps to loosen up! Instead of fighting the bumping, I just bump along with it and works like magic. 😉

5. Dancing / Hip shaking

Speaking of which, any movement of the hips can be great to help reduce menstrual pain. I used to attend an Osho Kundalini Meditation class at the Osho Centre here in Berlin. It was a wonderful practice to shake out those tense hips and pelvis, loosening the whole region. I don’t go out dancing very much anymore, it’s hard to find the music I like to dance to here! But, if it’s something you like to do, some hip-shaking dancing could definitely be what the doctor ordered.

6. Masturbation / Sex

Loosening of the pelvis and all the muscles around it, is a great way to let go of menstrual tension. In my experience, a good vibrator does the trick nicely. If you don’t want to get messy, or can’t stand the smell or the blood, then the shower is always a good place! And who knows? Your partner might even think it’s hot!

7. Hot water bottle

I don’t often resort to the tried-and-true hot water bottle, but when I do, it’s very soothing. In my experience, it doesn’t work as well to relax my pelvic muscles as some of the other items above.

8. Limiting coffee / alcohol

Whenever I drink coffee when I’m cramping, it always makes it worse. So I try to limit the coffee to when I’m not cramping as much. I also find that when I drink alcohol during menstruation, my tolerance is severely reduced. Not only do I get tipsier faster, but it also causes more menstrual cramping in the morning, and has sometimes lead to a hangover after only a couple of drinks. Drinking tea is often a good substitute for me.

So! I hope some of my experiences can help you to experiment and find your own solutions to reducing menstrual pain. And if you’re in Berlin sometime, drop by one of my classes! I teach Vinyasa Flow and Queer Yoga at English Yoga Berlin.

 

What is your definition of healing?

Photo by Gabriel Barletta

Photo by Gabriel Barletta

“Many of us define healed as the opposite of needy. Therefore to be healed means to be fully self contained, always positive, always happy, always sure of oneself, and never needing anyone. No wonder few ever consider themselves “healed”.”

  • Caroline Myss

 

In today’s western world where trauma and wounds have taken a significant place in our society, we hear a lot of the word “healing”. This is a common word used in a very wide spectrum from yoga classes to psychology to random talks between friends. Healing has taken an important place in our lives, both as a concept and as a reality we strive to achieve.

So what is emotional healing?

I think this is an important question to ask. Is healing about no longer being affected by an event of the past? Is it about the event no longer holding power over you? Is healing about being well and not ever needing anything again? When can someone consider themselves healed? Or is it an ever going process that we can never attain?

I believe that for all of us using this word, it is important to take some time and give our own personal definition to it. And once we have defined it, to look at it again and decide if this is an attainable goal or a never ending process that we are setting too high standards for.

I personally define healing as letting go of the power that a wound holds over me. I don’t need to always be happy, I can be needy, I still have the scars of the wound… but the wound no longer defines me or directs my actions in my life.

 Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Berlin Kreuzberg classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She is a sivananda yoga teacher that also offers Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain. All her yoga classes end in deep relaxation using yoga Nidra techniques.  In her Berlin Chakra course, she uses the chakras as a base line to self-explore concepts such as forgiveness, group thought, letting go, and becoming self-aware of limiting beliefs.

Happy Spring from English Yoga Berlin!

Dear Yogis and Friends!

Every year I get very excited when the sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night become of equal length.

Photo by Melissa Askew

Photo by Melissa Askew

The spring equinox marks the beginning of a new season, and living in Berlin, that symbolically marks the end of a long winter and the beginning of light shining through again!  It might still take some time but it is happening!

It’s time for that  (internal and external) spring cleaning  and I, for one, could not be more excited about it!

I find that every winter, a symbolic hibernation takes place in us that wisely slows us down, makes us go inwards, meditate, ponder, self-explore. It asks of us to explore our inner strength when the light is dim and the air is heavy. And in doing so we start planting new seeds into our subconscious, new wishes for our lives, new directions to follow.

And now? Now it’s time to open the windows, to clean up the cobwebs, and get rid of all the extra things that have accumulated and are not needed. It’s time to let fresh air into our hearts and minds. It’s time to enjoy the butterflies, the singing of the birds, smile at strangers, and let the sun touch our skin.  It’s time to bloom!

HAPPY SPRING EVERYBODY!!!

 

 Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Berlin Kreuzberg classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She is a sivananda yoga teacher that also offers Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain. All her yoga classes end in deep relaxation using yoga Nidra techniques.  In her Berlin Chakra course, she uses the chakras as a base line to self-explore concepts such as forgiveness, group thought, letting go, and becoming self-aware of limiting beliefs.

Returning to the Definition of Drishti

A Return to a Drishti Definition

Almost 5 years ago, we wrote a 2-part blog about what Drishti is and its meditative benefits. From it’s Sanskrit meaning, coming to a Drishti definition in English is complicated. But as we wrote in our blogs, we can put it simply as “the gaze” or “where one’s eyes rest.” Once again, I’d like to return to the topic, but this time from a practical point of view, both in a yoga class and outside of it.

Drishti is about focus

Drishti Definition

Drishti Definition

In an asana yoga class, your teacher may ask to use your Drishti point to keep you balanced and focused. In balancing poses, we can use this point as a focus point, a point that does not move, to help steady our inner ear – where our sense of balance is located. For those of us who feel queasy in bumpy traffic or on boats, we know that staring at the horizon line can help us to overcome motion sickness. Using this focal point in an asana class encourages our bodies to find a posture in that helps us feel steady. In this sense, Drishti is a very tangible and useful anatomical tool. Where your gaze rests is a pretty good indicator of the line your neck and spine are following.

When we turn our focus towards our navels, in Cat/Cow or in Downward Dog, for instance, we are turning our focus inwards, towards ourselves. And when we look out over our finger tips in twists or Warrior poses, we keep our central line from ourselves outwards towards a blurry outside world. It helps you to quiet the mind, increases concentration and relaxation, and allows your attention to flow into whatever you are focusing it on, yourself and your connection / support to the world. It helps us to not look around and get distracted by the other people practicing in the room, which for some of us can turn to negative thoughts if we compare ourselves and how we do the postures, or worry if we are doing them “right.”

 

Another important subtlety in the concept of Drishti is in the different ways of gazing. This is a variation on the practice of detachment but specifically, a Drishti can be described as ´soft´, ´pointed´, ´wide´, ´gentle´, etc. Again, there are very practical reasons for this. Even though Patanjali never gazed at a computer screen, he could imagine what hours of single distance, harsh gazing can do to your eyes. Varied distances of Drishti, as well as varying degrees of hardness or staring in the postures, helps to exercise the optical nerves and reduce the strain that can produce tension headaches.

Early yogis and yoginis realized that the quality with which you observe something radiates through your body. Your body naturally becomes more tense and rigid, or soft and relaxed, depending on how you are looking at something. A soft Drishti promotes internal reflection, relaxation, meditation. A harder one pushes the focus externally. In our contemporary world, we often find our attention being pulled in multiple directions at once, our eyes have no time to rest on anything. A regular yoga practice can help train us to focus ourselves, but only when we take it outside of the yoga studio, do we feel the real benefits. A Drishti point can to calm our thoughts, reduce chatter and anxiety, allow our breath to flow freely, and give us something to dream about other than who posted what on Facebook.

So, the next time you find your eyes wandering, watch your mind and body, and see if you can notice how your Drishti affects you, notice how you feel when you let your eyes rest on something that you don’t normally allow them – give some attention to that plant on your windowsill, follow the path of a beetle in the sand, notice what the squirrels are doing in the tree in your yard. And next time you practice yoga, play with your gaze point and see how it affects your practice and your life.

One of our main goals in our Kreuzberg Berlin yoga classes is to educate people about the benefits of our practice. We believe that by making yourself more centered and focused you are better equipped to make an impact in the world around you. For more info about our Hatha Yoga in Berlin or Vinyasa Yoga, check out our yoga in English schedule.