Terminology Tuesday: Niyamas

In our previous post we explored the concepts presented by the Yamas.  Today, for our Terminology Tuesday post we bring you the second part of Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas.

Hanging the laundry can be an exercise in Tapas

 

The Niyamas (the second limb) are the attitudes and behaviours that yogis can work towards to cultivate happiness and to improve their lives and environments. There are five niyamas as there are five yamas. Below is an introduction to three of them.

Tapas
“Tapas” is an attitude of passion and commitment. Some people think of it as discipline, or austerity. The word actually comes from the Sanskrit verb ”to burn”-so Tapas is all about fiery consistency. I think that we often get this mixed up with difficulty and striving. I prefer to think of it more as a gentle flame that inspires us to keep going, even when the tasks at hand seem very, very mundane!

Svadhyaya
Svadhyaya means active self-reflection, or study of the self. This doesn’t mean egotistical navel gazing. Rather, it’s about learning enough about yourself to see that you are part of something much, much bigger. Asana practice brings the body and mind to a place of quiet, so that we can experience our union with everything.

Isvara Pranidahna
The last Niyama is Isvara Pranidahna, which means ‘surrender’ or ‘faith’.  Isvara Pranidahna means that you do your best, in the moment, with the tools you have, and then you release your attachment to the outcome.

 

For a more in-depth exploration of the Niyamas, read here.  If you wish to learn more about how these values influence your own life, then we invite you to our 2.5 workshop on Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas coming up this Sunday. In this workshop we will use 10 guided mini self explorations to make the yamas an niyamas something applicable to our own personal 21st century lives.

We offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli.  Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. We also offer Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes, including for people struggling with chronic pain.

Terminology Tuesday: Yamas

looks like morse

Yamas are guidelines

Now that the western New Year has settled in, many of us are resolving to change some of our habits. The yamas is an aspect of yoga that guides us to change certain deeply ingrained habits. Let’s begin here.

 

Yamas and Niyamas are the first two steps of yoga that Patanjali discusses in the Yoga Sutra. They are ethical, behavioral and spiritual guidelines for living.

The Yamas are ethical principles about attitudes and behaviors that cause suffering (greed, dishonesty, violence, etc).  They are about stopping the behaviors that cause you to suffer.

Ahimsa is the first Yama, and it is most commonly translated as ´non-violence´. Non violent consciousness is defined by some as connecting with what is alive in ourselves and others. It´s also what we use in yoga, when we decide not to push beyond our limits.

Satya is the second Yama, and it means ´truth´. Satya urges us to be honest with  ourselves, and with others. In asana, we practice Satya when we listen to our body and, again, respect its limits.

Asteya is the third Yama, and it means ´not stealing´. This is a more complex concept than the translation conveys.   We believe Asteya is not about stifling need, it is about restraining greed. Asteya guides students to ask themselves: do I really need this?

Brahmacharya is the fourth Yama. It  is translated into English as ´celibacy´, but can also be looked at as a ´conscious use of energy, especially sexual´.

Aparigraha is the last Yama, and it means ´non-comparing´. This Yama is about jealousy, and acceptance. Patanjali recognized that the human mind has a tendency to compare, in order to understand. In our Kreuzberg yoga classes we often tell students to observe without analyzing.

For a more in-depth exploration of the Yamas, read here and here.  If you wish to learn more about how these values influence your own life, then we invite you to our 2.5 workshop on Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas coming up at the end of the month. In this workshop we will use 10 guided mini self explorations to make the yamas an niyamas something applicable to our own personal 21st century lives.

We offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli.  Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. We also offer Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes, including for people struggling with chronic pain.

New Year’s Wish for 2019

May we experience peace, joy, solidarity and lots of laughter.

snow and stillness

Peaceful wishes

May our  eyes be open to all the small, and not so small, acts of care and love everyday.  May we notice the love in our friends’ quirky jokes, relentless listening, shared farts and smiles from strangers on a bus.   Random acts of love are the network that sustain us in our lives.  They are the juice that fuels our healing, our hope, and our connection.

May our eyes be open to both our own and the world’s suffering. Open like a mother’s embrace, awake like a vigil at midnight.  May solidarity warm our bones and give us strength to do the work that needs to be done.

May 2019 provide a place for change, healing, deep understanding and sustainability for the whole world.

With love,

English Yoga Berlin

Sliding-scale Queer Yoga

Introducing a new payment guide for the ongoing community class on
Sundays at 4pm at our English Yoga Berlin studio!

Queer Yoga Berlin

Sliding-Scale Berlin Yoga guide

What is Sliding-scale Queer Yoga?

If you’d like to be part of our Berlin queers and friends yoga community on Sunday afternoons, and;
* the regular prices would make it difficult for you to cover your basic needs, use this reduced rate guide.
* you’ve got some extra, you are welcome to pay it forward to others.
* if even paying the lowest price is not possible, please talk to us about other options.

If you’ve been following us over the past few years, you may remember that in 2013 we started a community class. We offered this at a sliding-scale price where participants could pay what they could afford, in order to make a yoga class accessible to those with less financial resources. All of us yoga teachers of the collective would take turns leading the class. When the class ended because of low attendance, Juli wanted to keep the class going, so the Sunday 4pm yoga class was converted to a community class with sliding-scale payment.

sign on the door

English Yoga Berlin is a safe space

As the years went on, Juli also wanted to try to provide a yoga class for the queer community to practice yoga in a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere. So a collaboration between two queer yoga teachers began on Wednesday mornings. Since these classes also came to their end, and the Sunday yoga is already a space for solidarity with marginalized folks, it will now, in the spirit of alliedness, be a space for Queer Yoga and friends. This doesn’t mean that if you’re not queer, you are not welcome! It just means, that it’s asked of you that once you enter this space, to take into consideration your position in the world, recognize what your privileges are, make space for people more marginalized than you, and avoid assumptions and judgment.

 


Why “Queer” Yoga?

In western contemporary society, yoga classes can often feel excluding to those of us who are not middle-class, white, thin, flexible and cis-gendered. A common misconception is that if you don’t look like the person on the cover of a Yoga Journal, then you are probably doing yoga so that you can work towards that ‘ideal.’ For those of us who don’t, it can be discouraging to even attend a yoga class, knowing that we might be seen that way by others in the room.

When the room is filled with stereotypical “yoga-bodies” and unawareness of heterosexual and cis-sexual privilege, it can make some queer and trans* people feel uncomfortable and unable to focus on their own practice. And often the language used in mainstream yoga classes can be very hetero- and cis-sexist. As queer yoga teachers, we can take the first step in making the space (and the practice) more queer and trans* friendly.


At English Yoga Berlin we offer small classes for more personalised practice and private yoga lessons. Juli‘s yoga classes in English are a slow Vinyasa Flow yoga / Svastha yoga mix. Contact us here to learn more and book a private session, or check our classes schedule to participate in a group class at our Kreuzberg yoga studio.

Yoga & Alexander Technique in Berlin – Intensive 3 Day Workshop

David Moore's workshop

Alexander Technique Intensive 3 Day Workshop


 

In 2018 we have hosted two workshops at our yoga studio with David Moore and Rossella Buono. The workshops were a great success. Everyone left feeling they learned something valuable to bring to their practice and are now asking for more. So here it is!

 

WHEN:  Friday August 30th – Sunday September 1st, 2019

WHAT: A three day Yoga and the Alexander Technique workshop that will give us the opportunity to explore the basics of posture, movement and breathing.  The workshop gives participants the skills to develop a personalised approach to their yoga practice based on their own unique characteristics and needs. The practice does not end on the yoga mat, but involves the development of our awareness to how we are living and moving in all aspects of our lives. Besides examining and refining yoga poses we will be looking at everyday activities as simple as walking, standing and sitting.

In this workshop we will explore:

  • Coordination and posture from an Alexander Technique perspective

  • Modifying yoga poses

  • Breathing and pranayama

  • Deepening observation skills

  • Freeing the energy flow through the body

  • Identifying and overcoming habits

  • Doing and non-doing

  • Developing an individualised practice

WHO THIS WORKSHOP IS FOR:  Yoga teachers, Alexander Technique teachers, and other body work practitioners who are interested in connecting these different disciplines might find this workshop particularly beneficial. However, anyone who’s curious to learn more about overcoming ingrained habits in their everyday posture or yoga practice are very welcome to join!

WHERE: our English Kreuzberg Yoga studio

ABOUT THE TEACHERS:

David Moore teaching Yoga and the Alexander Technique in Berlin

Photo credit: Rossella Buono

David Moore, Director at the School for F.M. Alexander Studies graduated from Australia’s first Alexander technique training course in Sydney in 1985. After graduating he spent some weeks each year for several years studying with senior American teacher, the late Marjorie Barstow.  Since then he has established private practices in New Zealand and Melbourne, run many  residential courses in Australia, Italy and New Zealand, and taught classes and intensive workshops in the UK, Germany, Japan Italy, Taiwan, and the USA. In 1999 he set up an Alexander Technique Teacher Training course which is approved by the Australian Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique. This 1600 hour training course runs over three years.

Prior to studying the Alexander technique David did many years of yoga practice. He spent over seven years in India and Thailand, including over two years in Thai meditation monasteries, and two years in Madras studying with TKV Desikachar at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandaram. In Sydney he studied Iyengar yoga for four years with Martyn Jackson from 1991 – 1994, including undertaking a teacher training course with Martyn in 1994. He now teaches classes applying the Alexander technique to yoga and is the author of “Smart Yoga: Apply the Alexander Technique to Enhance Your Practice, Prevent Injury, and Increase Body Awareness”. He also has a strong interest in voice and performance, and has run numerous classes and workshops for singers, storytellers and public speakers.

Rossella Buono will be teaching in Berlin

Photo: Ralf Hiemisch

Rossella Buono relocated to Canterbury, UK in January 2013 from Melbourne where she had an established Alexander Technique practice. Working with a great range of people, Rossella has applied the Technique to improving the lives of people with issues such as back, neck or shoulder pain, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, sciatica, asthma, stuttering, anxiety and stress. She has also enjoyed attaining tangible posture and movement improvements for musicians, sportspeople, office workers, and the elderly. In her capacity as a care worker, she has developed strategies to improve the quality of life for people with physical and mental disabilities. She is the co-author of “For the Love of Games”, that offers a collection of more than 100 Alexander Technique games and activities to use when working with groups and individuals.

Rossella was first introduced to the Technique as a means of her own rehabilitation, after breaking her leg in an accident – and found herself benefiting greatly from the approach. After eliminating residual pain and regaining sustainable, coordinated mechanical function, Rossella decided to train as an Alexander Technique teacher. Since then she has worked to offer others the same opportunity for the elimination of pain and improvement of overall quality of life.

PRICE: €260 (€230 for the first 8 bookings) – max 16 participants

For more details and to book a place, please click here.

The gift that keeps on giving

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Khalil Gibran

 

know your light through the dark

Candles In The Dark
photo by אליעד מלין

Yes, yes, you know what I am going to say now: the Season is upon us. Or should I say the Seasons: Hanukkah, Bodhi Day or Rohatsu, Christmas, Kwanzaa, plus all the ancient festivals associated with the Winter Solstice.

It’s cold. It’s dark.  There seems to be an ancient intuitive call: to walk towards the light, the bonfire, the candle, reflect and get warm.  A lot of us go into this dark cave of hibernation and feel the need to reach inside our own psyches with a sign of care. Similarly, we reach out to our loved ones with a gift, a thought, a phone call, an act of kindness.

Additionally, the winter holidays mark the passing of another year. Memories, family dynamics, losses and longings all come up again, stirring a mix of emotions that makes winter hibernation hard to escape!

This time can be very overwhelming for a lot of us.

My way of dealing with this time of the year is by going into my body, into my breathing, into creating moments with myself. It is by going into my yoga.

If you feel you need a special place to go inwards during this solstice, we invite you to come and try out a class. This is also a great gift for a loved one who you think could benefit from the calmness and grounding, the gentle moments of solitude, and a more emotionally sustainable way of life.

English Yoga Berlin offer yoga gift cards for one or more Hatha yoga and Vinyasa yoga classes. You can buy them at our yoga studio in Kreuzberg, or online.

2.5 hrs Workshop Pantanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas

yama and niyamas

Yama and Niyamas: the non-physical benefits of Yoga

In Patanjali´s classical texts about yoga, eight parts of a yogic practice are outlined. These parts can also be referred to as “limbs”. The most widely known limb of yoga is Asana practice– the practice of physical postures. In our English Berlin Yoga Classes, we understand the value of going beyond the physical. This workshop, therefore focuses mostly on two specific limbs of Patanjali´s eight-fold path: Yamas and Niyamas.

 

Yamas and Niyamas are the first two steps of yoga that Patanjali discusses in the Yoga Sutra. They are ethical, behavioral and spiritual guidelines for living. There is a lot of room for interpretation with the Yamas and Niyamas–because of basic translation issues (some concepts are very tricky to twist into English!). These guidelines are designed for yogis to personally interrogate, observe and experience in the context of their own lives. They are given to students of yoga to contemplate and  incorporate into their everyday lives.

When:  Sunday 27th of January, 2019 14:00

Where: At The Yoga Hub Berlin, Greifswalder Str. 8, 10405 Berlin, Germany

Who is this workshop for:

Anyone who would like to be introduced to the dimension of yoga that is both beyond and essential to the physical practice. This workshop is also good (but not only) for yoga teachers wishing to refresh or deepen their knowledge.

Format of workshop:

This workshop is given in the form of a talk with ten mini self-explorative guided meditations to make the material relevant to you and your every day life.

Please note:

  • Most of the talk will focus on:
    • Patanjali and the goal of yoga
    • the Yamas and Niyamas (ethics and moral observances)
    • Pratyahara (the practice of dettachment).
  • The talk will focus very briefly on:
    • Asanas (yogic postures)
    • Pranayama (breathing techniques)
      • As these are explained in the regular Hatha Yoga classes
  • The talk will briefly introduce the goals of:
    • Dharana (concentration)
    • Dhyana (meditation)
    • Samadhi (liberation)
      • as these subjects are too big for a 2.5 hr workshop.

About the teacher:

Pinelopi teaches Berlin Yoga workshopsBackground info: 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. This training is recognized by the Berufverband de Yogalehrenden in Deutschland (BDY), World Movement of Yoga and Ayurveda and the European Yoga Federation. 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 and David Moore’s “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses.

Price: 35 Euro

Early registration discount:10 € discount if you register before January 15, 2019. The workshop is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than January 13th, after which 50% refund.  Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

To book a place please contact:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

 

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.

Private Yoga Classes: a teacher’s point of view (Pinelopi)

I asked Pinelopi (from English Yoga Berlin in Kreuzberg) what does a private yoga class mean to her practice as a yoga teacher.  Her answer sheds some light on what yoga can bring to one’s life.

Private Yoga with Pinelopi

Pinelopi from EYB

I love to share what my own practice of yoga has provided me: a journey into becoming aware and connected to the body, and in my case, transforming my relationship to chronic pain.  From that I have learnt that each body is unique and each person’s requirements, needs, and goals are unique too.

A private one to one session with a student provides me with an opportunity to work specifically for what their body requires, focusing on one specific pattern – be it a small postural habit acquired in the office chair, or a life-long struggle with pain.  In a class, the teaching can be more generalised about habits and patterns, and it is about becoming relaxed, alert and awake in a group context, something that is also special and appreciated by yoga practitioners.  They are just two different things.

Personalised experience

At the beginning of a private yoga session, I get to do a check-in and find out what is going on in the student’s life at that moment.  I also get to understand their learning style, if they are a visual person, seeking metaphors, or more drawn towards an experience of ‘embodied presence’, centering on sensations and more like an investigation.

The relaxation I give them at the end often has to do with what they are dealing with using a learning style method that works powerfully for them.

Private Yoga classes for finding your pieces

Finding the pieces

People mostly book a session bringing a challenge with them, like chronic pain.  I often feel that  people come in a big knot, and the process of yoga is to slowly loosen the knot by tackling a little piece at a time, first this piece, than that piece, continuously, with repetition. Often it’s because of this knot that several habits get created: the pain might have started from one thing and then the body is trying to protect and compensate creating new habits.

I see a private session with a student as a chance for the student to find the puzzle pieces of their own selves through Yoga. It’s an approach that requires an openness to transformation in our bodies, energies and minds.

Contact us here to learn more and book a private session, or check our classes schedule to participate in a group class.

 

Private Yoga Classes: a teacher’s point of view (Juli)

Since I have started working with English Yoga Berlin, I have been in an enquiry about private yoga classes and what they have to offer, and how the teachers themselves experience them. Here is Juli’s experience:

pirvate yoga classes: Juli

I have never had a private lesson myself, although I have given them. I have received private sessions with osteopaths, naturopaths, physiotherapists and psychotherapists, and while I do not want to draw parallels with these professions (I am not a therapist), I do find that when I give private lessons it feels something like that: it’s private, it’s personal, focusing specifically on whatever people share, be it about how they are feeling or what is going on with their body. Over regular sessions, trust develops a more directed and personalised approach.

As a teacher I help a client learn how to pay attention to their own body, breath and mind, and how those sensations are connected through thought patterns, emotions, and daily activities. I really like to look at ADLs (activities of daily living), and how to unwrap repetitive patterns. When I give a first-time private lesson, I will communicate through email to prepare what a client might need for the first session, and then develop a program for home yoga practice until the next time we see each other. The program usually includes 15-20 minutes of yoga three times a week and some ADLs.

private yoga classes: Juli

the benefits of a private session with a teacher need to be nurtured in our home practice

Yes there is homework, because as my Svastha yoga teacher says; “once a week is nice, twice a week is maintenance, but three times a week is progress.” What he means by progress can be any goal, whether it be to recover from an injury or to feel more lightheartedness.

The mentor/student relationship is essential to the Yoga experience – where you are learning from someone who knows more than you (an expert? but who is an expert in Yoga, we are all learning).  In the ancient tradition, a guru would decide if a student is ready and a student would decide whether this guru was the right fit for them – and I really believe that you can’t learn yoga from just anybody, any teacher – it has to be someone you connect and resonate with. I imagine how the experience of a series of one to ones would magnify the opportunity of that connection and resonance. This is why it’s important to find the right fit.

At English Yoga Berlin we offer small classes for more personalised practice and private yoga lessons. Juli‘s yoga classes in English are a slow Vinyasa Flow yoga / Svastha yoga mix. Contact us here to learn more and book a private session, or check our classes schedule to participate in a group class at our Kreuzberg yoga studio.