How to set up an Ergonomic Home Office – a two part Workshop

This two-part workshop will focus on how to set up an ergonomic office in your own home so to minimize pain created from long hours of working on the computer.

At the beginnings of the lock down it felt ok to not think about setting up a proper ergonomic office space in our home. After all, in a month or two we would be working from our office chair again, in a quiet environment without that many distractions…. or so we thought… But now that the lock down has gone on for nearly a year, it is past time to shift our way of thinking and to invest some time and effort into looking at what our computer working habits are and how can we create a better working space for ourselves.

how to set up an ergonomi home office

In this two part workshop we will look into all aspects of how to set up an ergonomic home office that provides good health while still getting your work done. We will look into the basics of posture, as well as back, wrist and eye care. We will also look into the proportion of working while sitting, standing and walking; and the quality and frequency of your breaks. Furthermore, we will look into the infrastructure used, such as the height of the table, chair, monitor; type of keyboard and mouse. The suggestions to better your office infrastructure will include a diverse range from DIY ideas or cheap props as well as introducing you to what is available on the market. The workshop will be given on ZOOM and will include both mindfulness and practical exercises, as well as a short stretching session.

When:

February 27th, 17.30 – 18.40 CET – PART ONE: posture, infrastructure, quality of breaks

February 28th, 17.30 – 18.40 CET- PART TWO: wrist care, eye care, general environment, questions

Where:

After signing up to the workshop, you will receive a link to access the ZOOM meeting.

Who:

This workshop is opened to the general public. You do not need to have any yoga or mindfulness experience to participate. You also do not need to have any fancy office equipment. It is designed to help you create a better working situation starting from exactly where you are. The workshop will be limited to 20 participants.

Prices:

24 Euro for the two part workshop (25 euro if paying by paypal).

About the teacher:

Pinelopi co-founder of English Yoga Berlin

Beginning her yoga journey in 1999, Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain.  For the last decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. Currently she is deepening her knowledge through Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy Course,  David Moore’s “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses and is studying with Jorg Asshof to become an Alexander Technique teacher.  Her workshops and retreats are inspired by Tara Brach‘s teachings.

How to sign up:

To sign up please write an email to express your interest. You will receive an answer with payment details. Please transfer the money through bank or paypal within the next two days. Your registration will be complete and your spot will be saved when the money has been received.

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

Cancellation policy:. The workshop is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than February 20th, 2021 after which 50% refund.  No refund is possible after February 26th,2021. Register early before the spots fill up!

Hatha Yoga Retreat on “Conscious Intention”

***Due to the extended corona lockdown regulations this retreat has been cancelled.***

Pinelopi is organising a three day long weekend yoga retreat near Berlin on:

Conscious Intention

We warmly invite you to intentionally spend three days together in presence and mindfulness!

Why am I reading this book? … meeting with this friend?…  meditating?…  going to work? How often do we stop to become aware of the intention behind the things we are doing, and how often do we simply do them because they are automatic, a habit, the “right thing to do” and we no longer question them?   Living with intention firstly transforms the way one lives and one loves, and, as a result, the way one interacts with the world.  Since intention is one of the three pillars of mindfulness, setting intentions, therefore, becomes essential to living consciously.  In this yoga retreat near Berlin we will explore the power of intention and ways to bring it into our yoga practice.

Yoga Retreat "Conscious Intention" Berlin

What is the intention behind my wish?

When: 

Thursday May 13th, 2020; 15.00 (Berlin public holiday)

to Sunday May 16th, 2020; 14.00

Where:

Rosenwaldhof  – This Yoga retreat on “Conscious Intention” will take place in a beautiful place in Brandenburg, 1.5 hours South-east of Berlin, on the river Havel, surrounded by nature.

What is included:

  • Presentations, discussions and exercises about “Conscious Intention”
  • Guided Meditations
  • Tratak (candle gazing)
  • Five yoga sessions
  • Nature Walks
  • Star gazing and bonfire
  • Gratitude practices
  • Mantra chanting
  • Delicious vegetarian/ vegan meals, tea, coffee and fruit

Prices:

Pinelopi´s instruction on all of the above

  •  190 Euro

Plus Rosenwaldhof lodging and food according to your preference:

  • Shared double room with shared bathroom: 189 Euro
  • Shared double room with private bathroom: 204 Euro
  • Single room with shared bathroom: 204 Euro
  • Single room with private bathroom: 234 Euro

Please note that payments to Pinelopi and Rosenwaldhof will happen separately.

Who:

  • Up to 15 yoga students

Early registration discount:  15 € discount if you register for the yoga retreat before February 28th, 2021. To reserve your space, please send an email and deposit 50 Euro by bank transfer or paypal.

*The deposit is fully refundable if the Corona lock down continues. It is, also, fully refundable if a cancellation occurs before April 1st, 2021, and 50% refundable if cancellation occurs before April 25th, 2021. After which no refund is possible. The deposit is fully refundable if the Corona lock down continues.

Since space is limited, register early before the spots fill up!

For more details, please write to:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

About the author:

Read more about Pinelopi here.

Injury-Conscious Yoga in the Zoom Age

What is injury-conscious yoga?

Yoga at your workplace for postural issues

You may have seen this term, injury-conscious yoga, in some of the content here on our pages. We are referring to one of the aspects of yoga (the Yamas) called ‘Ahimsa’ – the attention to do no harm as we connect with ourselves and others. Yoga is more than simply a practice of movemement and postures. It is primarily a practice of a system that brings balance to one’s whole integrated being (mentally, physically and spiritually) and how that being interacts with others. The practice of not-harming others also allows us to be conscious of not harming ourselves. Through breath awareness, we learn to recognize where our limits are. And to only push them when we’re ready for expansion or to reduce them if they’ve gone too far.

At English Yoga Berlin, we lead a practice that encourages internal inquiry as we move through physical postures. We demonstrate these poses with a variety of options, so that each participant can find their own safety level. Over the past couple of years, both Pinelopi and I (Juli) have continued to advance our yoga teacher training in different directions. Pinelopi has been studying the Alexander Technique and Juli has completed advanced teacher training in Svastha Yoga Therapy. Both of these practices deepen our understanding of corporeal alignment and mental balance. This is just some of what we mean when we refer to injury-conscious yoga.

Yoga in the Zoom age

When we lead our classes in person, we are also able to see what each participant is doing and can offer adjustments either verbally or with a light guiding touch. At our Kreuzberg Berlin yoga studio, we provide consent cards that can be placed at the front of your mat. This lets us know what kind of touch you’re comfortable with. We can also take cues from the energy level in the room to gauge how the whole group is doing. We can adjust the rest of the class if we see that participants are either getting tired or losing focus. This adds another layer to our injury-conscious yoga practice.

Since moving our classes online due to the pandemic, we’ve had to adjust our approach to accommodate this new format. Obviously, the consent cards are no longer relevant. Participants can choose whether to show their video or not. Since our classes involve moving from standing to sitting to laying down, the participants’ video frame may not always show their whole body. And reading the energy level of the room is just not possible, as everyone is in a different room, and the distractions of each room may be different.

So, as yoga teachers offering injury-conscious yoga, we needed to learn new strategies. Each of us took cues from our new training to develop ways of transitioning through poses that encourage participants to explore their own bodies and comfort levels in a pose. And despite taking on different trainings, we are delighted to discover that the movements look the same. Even though we have different approaches and styles, our practices do not contradict each other’s! We are happy to continue to develop our offerings of injury-conscious yoga in our live online yoga classes.


At English Yoga Berlin, we offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli. Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcome to beginners, as well as people struggling with chronic pain. We also offer Berlin business yoga, and private yoga classes, as well as queer and trans prioritized community classes.

Holiday Yoga Gift Cards

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“When there’s snow on the ground, I like to pretend I’m walking on clouds.”

-Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata (Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005)

As the days grow colder and shorter, and the pandemic lockdowns continue, yoga is a great way to keep yourself active and take care of your mental health. At English Yoga Berlin, we are continuing our classes online through the cold winter months and the hard lockdown that has just now been implemented in Berlin. The benefit of having live yoga classes online is that they are available for anyone around the world! Check out our schedule for a suitable time. Please note that we will be closed for one week during the Christmas holidays.

Give the Gift of Yoga

At a loss for a festive gift? Do you know someone close to you who would like to try yoga? Our gift cards can also be used for our online yoga classes. You can order a yoga gift card here. Each card is individually printed and sent by post if you wish, or can be sent by email.

New Year, New World?

As the year comes to a close, we can probably all agree that 2020 was a challenging one for all of us around the globe. In some ways it brought us closer together, with this shared experience of a common enemy, the coronavirus. But it also divided us – revealing the glaring rift between rich and poor, those with access to health care, and those without. With a clear emphasis that climate change was the main cause, let’s hope this will wake up our world leaders to bring us the change we need to see for our future generations! Let’s work for a better world together in 2021!

Happy holidays and happy new year to all!


At English Yoga Berlin, we offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli. Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcome to beginners, as well as people struggling with chronic pain. We also offer Berlin business yoga, and private yoga classes, as well as queer and trans prioritized community classes.

RAIN Meditation on TV Addiction – Part 2

A personal story – The RAIN meditation on wanting

In Part 1 of this blog I introduced Tara Brach’s RAIN meditation and how it can be used on the deep rooted feeling of wanting and addiction. As I started to deepen my thoughts around the subject, I realized that I have never once simply sat with the feeling of wanting TV. I always either react quickly by giving in to the feeling (turning on Netflix) or by coming down very harshly on myself for wanting this (not allowing the feeling to be here and pushing it out with harsh words). Therefore, I took the decision to practice RAIN the next time the feeling arises!

Resistance to bringing the RAIN meditation on wanting

The first thing I noticed when the feeling next arose was that I definitely did not want to practice the RAIN meditation on wanting! The feeling itself was strong and pulling towards action and was refusing to be the object of quiet observation. I had to make a deal with myself in order to practice. Much like I talk to my daughter, my mother voice came in my thoughts and said to the feeling, “Hey, listen I am not saying no to watching TV. I am saying we will observe the feeling for a while, practice RAIN and then if we still want to, we will watch TV. We will just have done it consciously. That’s all.” Just like a small child, the feeling answered, “Do you promise?!! This is not some trick to take me away from the well deserved rest we need?”. The more conscious part of me was able to respond quietly, “Yes, I promise. I am happy to watch TV if we have made a conscious kind decision about it.” Reluctantly, the feeling agreed to being observed.

Recognize is the R in RAIN

I started by giving a name to this feeling. I called it “wanting”. The first step is to name it. As you name it, you also shape it. It becomes an entity that has a bit more well-defined boundaries. This helps take it out from a nebulous kind of feeling that oozes everywhere in my subconscious to something more concrete that I can open myself up to.

Allow is the A in RAIN

The second step was to allow it to be here exactly as it is. This was incredibly difficult. Realizing how much resistance I carry towards this feeling was mind blowing. It was eye opening to realize that I never even considered allowing to be an option before now. As I formulated the words in my mind “I allow the Wanting to be here” , things started to move in my body and I was able to see the true power this feeling holds over me.

Investigate is the I in RAIN

The third step of RAIN is Investigate. Where is this feeling in the body and how does it manifest? The trick here is to stay focused on the body, not on the mind and its millions of thoughts and analyses. As I came to this step, the first thing I realized is that this feeling is very alive in my body. It is mostly in my chest and it is very strong. It has a one-pointed quality to it that is intensely forward looking. I stayed for two minutes in this step simply naming the experience: chest clenched; pointy – pushing outward; rush; pinch in the back of my neck; eyebrow center scrunched; belly empty; chest clenched; strong flow of direction forward; pulling; skin prickly; chest clenched.

It has a one-pointed quality to it that is intensely forward looking…

Photo by Fabio Ballasina on Unsplash

Nurture is the N in RAIN

As I came to the N of RAIN, I was called to nurture the feeling. There was, by now, no doubt in my mind that this feeling was much stronger than I ever gave it credit for. I started by asking the feeling of wanting, what do you need? The answer was immediate, “I am tired! So so tired! I just want to relax and disconnect. I am running all day long juggling five different roles and I am truly tired. Let me disconnect”.

So I placed my hand on my heart and with compassion responded with what the feeling needed. “I see how tired you are”, I told myself with love. “I am here for you. In this moment here we are disconnecting from the running machine of life. In this moment now we are disconnecting and re-connecting. I see you and I am here for you. I see you and I am here for you.” I kept on telling myself these words on repeat. As I did this, my compassion for myself started to grow. As it grew, everything in me started to soften. Everything started to feel less immediate, less pointy, less intense.

After The RAIN meditation

Tara Brach often gives the example of the ocean and the wave as a practice one can do after the practice of RAIN. This image has become one of the strongest guides in my life in the past years. Think of this feeling you are now experiencing as one wave in an ocean. The wave belongs to the ocean just as this feeling belongs to you. But the whole ocean can not possibly enter in a single wave. You are the ocean, not the wave. When I can finally connect to my “Oceanness” is when I enter the sweetest meditation space I know. There is no denying that this wanting feeling is very strong. It is a big wave. Nonetheless, I have been reducing my whole Self to a wave whenever I experience it, thinking it defines me. I am much more than that, I am the whole Ocean itself. I stayed meditating on the sweetness of my “Oceanness” for a while and it was touching.

Funnily enough, when I came out of the meditation, I was inspired to jot down ideas for this blog, looked up articles on the addictive power of TV to reference, listened to music and……I sincerely forgot to watch TV! I simply forgot. Later my partner came in the living room and we had a sweet moment of connection that I would have missed out on had I not paused to do RAIN and had I been immersed in the TV world.

RAIN meditation on wanting was definitely an exploration worth doing!

About the author:

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yogaprivate yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain, yoga courses, retreats and workshops.  She is currently deepening her knowledge through Leslie  Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy course and training to become an Alexander Technique teacher.

Letting go is not

by Pinelopi Sioni and Haritini Mataragka

We often hear the words “let go” both in yoga classes and in the meditation world in general. These are powerful words, but alas, their meaning is not often clear. We created this little poem to help clarify our interpretation of the meaning behind the words “to let go”. Understanding the subtle meaning that these words carry can make a big difference in the way we practice the action of letting go. And yes, it does take practice. Letting go does not mean that one immerses themselves in a laissez faire way of life. It takes practice, as well as intention and effort. Despite the effort, making letting go part of your daily practice is very worthwhile as it lightens your heart and frees you in many ways.

A leaf lets go easily when the time is right.  May we mirror the ease with which it does that.

Letting go is the hardest Asana.

Letting go is not letting go of a feeling, but freeing oneself from the power the feeling holds over them.

Letting go is not forced forgiveness, it is freeing one’s heart from somebody else’s power.

Letting go is not consenting to a harmful situation, but to stop reliving the situation in one’s mind on repeat.

Letting go is not forgetting the past, but to let go of the deep held belief that the past should have been different.

Letting go is not easy, it takes introspection and courage.

Letting go is not inaction, it requires effort and intention.

When letting go feels impossible, let the intention to let go be enough.

About the authors:

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yogaprivate yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain, yoga courses, retreats and workshops.  She is currently deepening her knowledge through Leslie  Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy course and training to become an Alexander Technique teacher.

Haritini is a long term student of English Yoga Berlin. In 2019 she finished her 700 hour Hatha Yoga teacher’s training and has now become a substitute yoga teacher at our Yoga studio in Kreuzberg.

“Welcoming Autumn – Forest Yoga Retreat”

We warmly invite you to intentionally spend five hours together in presence and mindfulness at a forest yoga retreat with Pinelopi!

The leaves have started to turn, the soil has that particular Autumn smell, rays of the sun flood the forest at a low angle and the first mushrooms are popping out. The beginning of Autumn is here. So let us welcome it by spending a day together in nature; practicing yoga under the open sky; laying down on the grass; taking deep breaths in the forest; and harmonizing with each other.

The Beautiful details:

Photo by Fern

When: 

Sunday 13th of September, 9.30-14.30

Where:

Grunewald forest on the outskirts of Berlin.

We will meet outside the Grunewald S-bahn station at 9.30 am. At 14.30 pm we will end our day at Teufelsee (40 minutes walk away from the S-bahn station).

What is included:

  • Hatha Yoga session
  • Sound Meditation
  • Nature Walk
  • Pranayama (breathing excercises)
  • Mantra chanting and harmonizing

Who:

  • Up to 15 yoga students (beginners are welcomed!)

What to bring:

  • yoga mat
  • packed lunch
  • water
  • thin towel or blanket
  • hand sanitizer

What about the corona virus?

We kindly ask that everyone respects the Health Ministry regulations:

  • Yoga mats will be spread 1.5 meters apart from each other
  • Although it saddens us, we will not be able to share food with each other this time round.
  • Keep some distance to each other when walking in a group.
  • Since we will be exclusively in open spaces, the use of a mask is optional.
  • If you suffer from allergies and sneeze a lot, please wear your mask when you do that.
  • If you have a sore throat or are sick, please stay at home.

Price:

25 Euro for the forest yoga retreat day

Early registration discount:  5 € discount if you register for the forest retreat before September 8th, 2020. To reserve your space, please send an email and transfer 20 Euro by bank transfer or paypal. A refund is possible if cancellation occurs before September 10th.

Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

For more details, please write to:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

About the author:

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yogaprivate yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain, yoga courses, retreats and workshops.  She is currently deepening her knowledge through Leslie  Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy course and training to become an Alexander Technique teacher.

Berlin guidelines for teaching yoga during Corona

Please note that this post was written in July when we were coming out from the first lock down. As of this week, November 2020 we have re-entered lock down and are not allowed to teach in the studio until the guidelines change again. Below, we refer to a Health Ministry phone number you can call that specializes in sports, if you have further questions.

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus lockdown in Berlin, we at English Yoga Berlin have been offering our yoga classes exclusively online. Slowly things are starting to open up, as the number of infected people go down. The question of whether it is safe to practice yoga in the studio again is one that yoga practitioners can only answer for themselves and their close contacts. Until there is a vaccine or easily accessible effective treatment a risk of infection remains. Here we put together a list of questions and answers for yoga teachers who have questions about teaching yoga during Corona times.

Safer Space

Safer Space for Yoga Guidelines

The question of what is safe regarding any risk also depends on the individual people involved. We all feel different levels of safety in different environments depending on our lived experiences, as well as both our physical and mental capacities. Those of you who have attended our in-person yoga classes know our safer space guidelines, we say “safer” because we cannot claim to create a space that is safe for everyone, but our aim is to do the best we can.

 

So, is it safe to practice yoga in the studio again?

The main page of the city of Berlin’s website about the measures in order for prevention of the spread of the virus don’t give specific info for teaching yoga during Corona, so on July 17th Pinelopi called up the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Sport (phone number: 030 902230) to get answers about the guidelines they both suggest and enforce. These guidelines can be your starting point as someone who offers yoga classes in Berlin to help make your decision as to whether it feels safe for you to start practicing yoga in the studio again. But remember that they can change again.

How many participants can I have in the room?

Each person in the room needs to have a space of at least 1.5 meters in every direction around them. Since every room is shaped differently, it is not calculated by square meters.

Do we need to wear masks while practicing yoga?

Masks must be worn when you enter and move around the space, and go to the bathroom or change room. You can take your mask off at your mat, as long as you are keeping 1.5 meters distance from each other.

As a yoga teacher am I allowed to touch the participants to assist in poses?

If both the yoga teacher and participant are wearing masks, you are legally allowed to touch the participant, but it is strongly discouraged.

Can bathrooms and change rooms be used?

Yes, but only one person at a time in the bathroom or change room. Try to reduce bottlenecks and lines. It is the responsibility of the yoga teacher to disinfect the bathroom and any surfaces that have been touched after the class is over and everyone else has left.

Can we accept cash payment?

Yes, exchange of cash can be made, but after handling disinfect with hand-gel or wash your hands.

Do the windows need to be open?

Yes, you should ventilate the space as much as possible. If you can keep the doors and windows open the entire time, it is best. Try to create a through-flow from one side of the room to the other.

Do participants need to bring their own mats and other supplies?

Yes, this is highly recommended. If someone forgets to bring a mat and there are some available at your studio, you can lend one. But the yoga teacher is responsible for ensuring that the participant thoroughly disinfects the mat BEFORE and AFTER use.

Are we required to keep a list of contacts?

Yes, in case someone was infected in the class, the yoga teacher is required to keep a list of participants for 4 weeks, so that all participants can be contacted. The list should contain every person’s full name, address, and phone number.

We hope this answers some of your questions about teaching yoga during Corona times. If you have any other suggestions, please comment below!

For the month of August, Pinelopi’s Hatha Yoga will be back at our space on Görlitzer Str.

As always: wash your hands regularly and try not to touch your face. And if you are feeling some symptoms and you don’t know what they are, please stay home.


At English Yoga Berlin, we offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli. Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcome to beginners, as well as people struggling with chronic pain. We also offer Berlin business yoga, and private yoga classes, as well as queer and trans prioritized community classes.

 

 

Computer Work and Posture – Part I

The virtual world is here. It has been here for some decades now. It has waltzed into our lives with dizzying speed….with all its charms, promises and dangers. Some promises of connection and closeness were kept. Others were delivered in unexpected ways. Many ended up creating the icy feeling of loneliness in an over-connected world. One thing is clear. The speed in which this digital world has entered our lives has not given us enough biological time to adapt.

We spend incredible amounts of time working in front of computers, absorbed in our social media feeds, or receiving various forms of entertainment. Few times do we stop and become aware of our bodies. We forget about the living body. We increasingly get lost in a cloud of thoughts. Until eventually, the body starts to complain, desperately trying to catch our attention, asking for us to return to the biological vessel that makes our existence possible.

Since computers are here to stay and our use of them is not bound to diminish, is there a way that we could coexist in peace all together: computers, bodies, and presence? We must find one for the sake of our bodies, our mental health, and the quality of presence that we wish to live with.

In the next series of blogs I will suggest a combination of different aspects to become more aware of our bodies and our ability to stay mindful while working on computers. This will include looking at positions of mechanical advantage; bringing variation to the working positions we chose; ways to remember body awareness; eye care and mindfulness practices while doing computer work.

But for today, let‘s start with the preparatory work.

Good posture in front of the computer

We often are told to “sit up straight”, but do we actually know what that means? Many people use excessive amounts of energy to keep their version of “straight” in front of their computers. It is not possible to use such amounts of physical energy for a long time without cramping or becoming very uncomfortable. As a result, they then have to swing to the other extreme of slouching or collapsing while on their computer work. Many continue to swing between excessive tension and collapsing for the rest of their computer time. Both yoga and the Alexander technique are ways that people can use to help them find a middle place where sitting up straight becomes possible without using excessive muscle tension.

What does sitting up straight or upright actually mean?

I believe that the direction of “sitting up straight” or “upright” is confusing to begin with.  Does being straight mean to not have curves in your spine? To flatten out the curves? No. This would be setting us up to failure and to more problems. Rather, I suggest that we look at sitting upright as a balanced relationship between the head, neck and back.

Alternatively, some people may find it easier to think of “upright” as balancing out the three curves in their back. This would mean that not one curve is extreme and out of proportion from the other two. The challenge, though, is to balance out the curves without using excessive muscle tension.

A good way of becoming familiar with the relationship between your head, neck and back is to lay down in the semi supine pose with some books underneath your head for ten to fifteen minutes daily. In  Part II of this blog I will explain the semi-supine pose, a mindful exercise that you can practice to help increase your familiarity with this pose, and the relationship between head, neck and back.

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yogaprivate yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain, yoga courses and workshops.  She is currently deepening her knowledge through Leslie  Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy course and training to become an Alexander Technique teacher.  Due to the corona virus, we are currently giving all yoga classes live online.

Keeping calm in times of uncertainty

The whole world has been affected, we’re all in this together

Keep Calm in Times of UncertaintyThe COVID-19 pandemic has revealed some unexpected things about our society. In the past, when we’ve imagined through films or literature what the world would look like during a viral outbreak, the current situation is not one we’ve anticipated, one where (unless you’re a medical worker, caregiver, garbage collector, cleaner, bus driver, grocery store clerk, or work in food service or production) most of us are asked to stay home. Those of us with the privilege of comfortable, safe homes, clean running water and access to grocery stores can easily do that. But the crisis is also showing more clearly the inequalities around the world, that most of us live in cramped quarters, abusive home situations, unsanitary conditions, or don’t have access to clean water, a roof over our heads, or are incarcerated. It also clearly shows which demographics have access to proper healthcare. Nobody is as of yet immune to the virus, but we have different positions from which to fight it. In all of this it’s hard to keep calm in times of uncertainty.

Other epidemics in the past have been isolated to smaller parts of the world, but this is the first one that has spread worldwide. Our world has gotten smaller through international travel, dwindling habitats for wild animals, mass production of food and worldwide shipping. All of this has increased and sped-up human contact. One of my favourite guided relaxations includes a visualization of how we’re all connected through the earth, the animals, plants and each other: the butterfly effect. But thinking about all that inter-connection right now, when we’re supposed to be apart from each other feels counterintuitive. So I’ve been avoiding this visualization these days. But it’s also rewarding to see how neighbours are looking out for each other more, like buying groceries for those more vulnerable or wearing masks in public places to reduce the risk of asymptomatic infection. It shows that people are actually acknowledging our inter-connection.

Panic is about things we cannot control

Even for those with the privilege to work from a safe, comfortable home, and with loved ones nearby, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the future will hold. Going out to the grocery store and wondering if you’ve touched your face while standing in line, or whether you’ve cleaned your vegetables properly can cause a panic attack. Our enemy is microscopic. We don’t know when it will hit, if it has hit, or if we or those we love will succumb to it. We also don’t know what it means for our society and how we will interact once this pandemic is over, how long it will last, or even if it will end. Who will we be once it is over? How will it change us? What new behaviours will we have to take on in the future? Will everyone go out with face masks and latex gloves? How will we go to events while maintaining distance? What about flights and cramped long-distance bus rides? What about our jobs?

Uncertain Times

Strange Times, Cartoon by Leunig

The future is never something that we could ever predict, but there are certain things we can usually count on that will most likely be there tomorrow or a week from now. With the corona times as they are, our normal everyday routine has been disrupted, and there is the feeling that our support system has been pulled out from under us. This is a panic-inducing scenario. Those who didn’t already have anxiety or panic attacks before this will now know what it’s like for those who have that as a regular experience. One thing we can do to manage it is to learn to observe the things we have control over, acknowledge what support we do have right here and now in the present, and act mindfully. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some tips that can help with keeping calm in times of uncertainty, some of which may work for some, but not others, take care of what you can manage yourself right now:

  1. Meditation or guided relaxation
  2. Listening to Sound Healing music
  3. Breathing techniques, such as the Bee Breath during Pinelopi’s grounding sessions
  4. Practicing yoga, Qi Gong or other calming movement practices
  5. Practicing mindfulness as you walk, noticing your feet on the ground
  6. Chewing food slowly, being mindful and grateful for the food you have available
  7. Taking control of the things you can right now – plant a garden, dive into a new project
  8. Joining a new streaming platform and binge watching obscure movies
  9. Being there for others, helping a neighbour, supporting a friend
  10. Reading about how to overthrow capitalism and planning actions to help re-build a future world
  11. …. What are your strategies to remain calm in times of uncertainty? … post in the comments below …

 


At English Yoga Berlin, we offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli. Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcome to beginners, as well as people struggling with chronic pain. We also offer Berlin business yoga, and private yoga classes, as well as queer and trans prioritized community classes. We are currently offering all of our yoga classes live online. See our schedule for more info.