Interview with Juli

Juli continues with her yoga therapy course

In this interview with Juli, Clelia asks some questions about teaching and yoga.

1. Why are you teaching yoga, rather than just practising it for yourself?

I’m passionate about teaching. Everything I love to do, I want to share with others and help them learn how to do it too. I’m also a filmmaker, and I love teaching filmmaking. When I was learning to play the piano as a young teen, one of the first things I did was show the other neighbourhood kids how to play piano too!

2. How did you find your way through the ancient tradition of Yoga?  Why Vinyasa yoga and not another yoga?

I’ve tried a lot of different styles of yoga, and many different teachers with different styles within the same practice. Most of the studios I’d attend classes at had a wide-range of styles and teachers that I could try out – from Iyengar, Astanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Anusara, Jivamukti to Bikram / Hot, Acro, and Kundalini. I tended to get more out of the Krishnamacharya-influenced flow classes, so I spent more time practicing vinyasa. The dance-like movements work better for me than static poses in reducing the muscle-tension pain I get from endometriosis and fibromyalgia. My first teacher training was a 200-hour intensive one-month training in Mexico, at a place called Yandara. The style is influenced by Anusara, and more flow-based, but it was very open. Everyone brought their own style to the training, and then learned the basic history and philosophy of yoga, and how to teach, not just a specific style of postures / movement, but about the different aspects of yoga. The advanced teacher training I’m attending now is Svastha yoga therapy (yoga for physical and mental health), founded by A.G. and Indra Mohan, who were students of Krishnamacharya, and taught by their son, Ganesh Mohan. What I learn with this training influences my yoga teaching as well as my daily life – how to manage the stresses of a contemporary western lifestyle, how to manage pain and chronic illness, and recover from and prevent injuries.

3. What is the relationship between tradition and development in your practice as a teacher?

Yoga has always been about being adaptable to new situations / people. The ancient yogis never intended for any kind of yoga to stay the same, static or rigid. Patanjali writes about this in the Yoga Sutras. Yoga was intended to be passed down from one practitioner to another and adapt with each person and their community or environment. That is one of the beautiful things about yoga, is that it’s such a diverse practice, different wherever you go, whoever you meet. The things I learned from my teachers that resonate with me, I hold onto, develop further and adapt to my community. For instance, yoga practitioners often use gendered language that I find sexist and transphobic. It’s not necessary, so I use non-gendered and more inclusive language in my classes. I came to yoga from a very westernized viewpoint, but I’m on the path now to learning as much as I can about honouring the history of yoga, as well as respecting the contemporary south asian practices, as they evolve to be more inclusive to poorer communities, women and trans folk, and people with a variety of abilities. And as I keep learning more and more about the philosophy of yoga, I realize that there is nothing in it that cannot be adapted to my communities.

Juli offers Community Yoga classes at English Yoga Berlin, with an emphasis on creating a space for those who feel marginalized in other classes but still want to discover the yoga benefits. You are invited to join Juli in creating an atmosphere of alliedness by recognizing our privileges and creating space for others (queers, transfolk, sex-workers, b&pocs, differently abled, abundant bodied, low/no-income).

Is there such a thing as Accessible Yoga?

What is NOT accessible yoga?

accessible yoga

Do we all have to look the same?

You know the story. You’ve hurt your back and a friend says “you should do yoga!” And then you go with your friend to their favourite weekly yoga flow class. You put down 20€ and hope for the best. It’s fast, sweaty, the music’s hip, everyone’s dressed in the latest yoga fashion trend and almost everyone looks like a ‘yoga journal’ or ‘sein’ cover model. You find yourself struggling to keep up. You try your best, but somehow your body just won’t let you contort itself into those poses. The next day, your back hurts more than it did before, along with your wrists. And you swear you’re never trying yoga again.

Okay, it’s perhaps an exaggerated stereotype of what an accessible yoga class is NOT. But it does represent a rather broad view of what contemporary westernized capitalized yoga is all about. One of the problems is that most western people (both lovers and haters of yoga) believe that yoga is only that which is written above. I am not the first to say #notallyoga. But like all #notall hashtags, it tries to absolve the writer of responsibility that we should all be taking. Yoga is a 5000 year old practice stemming from South Asia. By believing that yoga is only that one thing that has been exploited by sporty opportunistic Californians erases its history and invisibilizes the decolonial work done by contemporary yogis such as nisha ahuja and Be Scofield. As yoga practitioners in a western world, we should all be working towards decolonizing our practice, promoting the diversity of yoga styles (eg; restorative) and practices (yoga nidra, pranayama, bhakti, etc.), and making yoga more accessible to everyone. Cultural appropriation does not make yoga classes at all comfortable or accessible to people who experience racism. Nor do expensive fees to lower-income folks, body-image and ‘healthy-living’ marketing campaigns to people who look different than what the mainstream expects healthy yogis to look like, nor to those with dis/abilities (physical or mental). Yes, I say “we,” but it means “I” and perhaps you too. What can I do as a non-South Asian yoga practitioner who teaches classes?

What IS accessible yoga?

I don’t have all the answers to this. But I have some ideas and would be happy to hear from you about what you feel that means. At English Yoga Berlin, we strive to offer accessible yoga classes. But we recognize that there are many things we cannot offer as well, and our studio is not accessible to just ‘everyone.’ Our Kreuzberg yoga studio is up one flight of stairs – this does not allow those who cannot take the stairs to even attend our classes. We also do not provide sign-language interpretation or any other language that we ourselves do not know (Greek, Spanish, German and English). We run our small back house yoga studio in a city with people from all over the world, with many different languages, and with a lower-income average than most bigger European cities. Our regular rates are significantly lower than bigger studios in Berlin, and we offer our classes in simple English, making it more economically and linguistically-accessible to newcomers. Pinelopi‘s injury conscious and gentle Hatha Yoga classes are especially suitable for participants who suffer from chronic pain. Juli‘s community yoga classes have at their focus the creation of an intentional space for people who feel marginalized or excluded in mainstream yoga classes, eg. queer and trans* folks, abundant bodied, bpoc. As well as an additional sliding-scale reduction for lower- / no-income folks who make Berlin their home (this reduction is not for tourists). Both of us include a 15-20 minute guided relaxation, based on yoga nidra techniques, at the end of all of our classes. Yoga Nidra is a proven method to help reduce stress, insomnia and anxiety. These are just some of the ways that I try to counter the dominant culture’s exploitation of yoga. But it’s a continual learning process and there are many more strategies that I continue to learn about and adopt through reading articles and discussing with others. There are other yoga practitioners who I’ve met in my Berlin community and in other places, who are also exploring various strategies. This movement is growing. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on it, and appreciate links to articles and other yoga spaces! Thank you.

 

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.

Queer Yoga takes a break

This Wednesday August 17th is the last Queer Yoga Flow class of the summer season. It has been nice to see the community grow, but now it is time for a break.

queer yoga

community yoga in berlin

Queer Yoga prioritizes a space for queer and trans* folk. Allies and other misfits are welcome.

Read more about Queer* Yoga.

Juli‘s Sunday 4pm classes continue without a break, but with substitutions by 3 different teachers in 3 different styles. Here’s your chance to check out some of the other yoga teachers in our Berlin yoga community!

* August 28: Kanchi – Body Positive Yoga
* Sept. 4: Pedro – Tantric Yoga
* Sept. 11: Pinelopi – injury-conscious Hatha Yoga

All of Juli’s classes (including the classes by the substitute teachers) are available to low- / no-income people at a sliding-scale reduced rate. Read more about our community classes and payment options for low-income students.

Juli’s approach to vinyasa flow is slow and injury-conscious, including postures and techniques learned from the Svastha Yoga Therapy teacher training program that support the body in healing injuries, chronic pain and illnesses. Last winter, Juli offered a 6-week series of workshops based specifically on these trainings. And will begin a new course in winter 2016-17. Stay tuned for more info!

Juli’s aim is to make a class comfortable for those who feel marginalized in other classes but still want to discover the yoga benefits. You are invited to join Juli in creating an atmosphere of alliedness by recognizing our privileges and creating space for others (queers, transfolks, sex-workers, b&pocs, differently abled, abundant bodied, low/no-income).

Yoga and Wellbeing: thinking outside the box

It’s difficult to think about yoga and wellbeing these days when there is so much pain and suffering in the world.

Photo by Bär Baer

Photo by Bär Baer

So much of western yoga is focused on the individual and how one can get healthier, be more relaxed, stronger, eat right, get enlightened, feel better, etc. It’s internally focused and urges us to forget about the problems of the outside world. It offers a retreat from everyday life and horrific news stories.

For some people, those who experience oppression, harassment, chronic pain and other stresses on a daily basis, self-care is a necessary antidote. And a regular practice of yoga in a space that feels safer than the outside world can be a valuable tool in being able to tackle daily life. More and more of us are feeling the pressure building up and yoga is a way to alleviate it and be more at ease when we are confronted in our everyday lives. Office places know that yoga helps to increase productivity of their workers, keep them happier and more compliant. But if we all keep retreating into ourselves, and learning how to go with the flow, who’s left to fight when injustice rears its ugly head?

Yoga selfies won’t change the fact that black people are being killed by police in massive numbers in the United States, right-wing anti-immigration movements like Pegida are popping up all over Europe, while thousands of people drown at sea trying to flee war and tyranny, Rom*nja people are being deported daily into the hands of people that would rather see them dead, people who practice the Muslim religion are shunned and treated poorly everywhere, an automatic weapon is sold to a homophobic citizen who slaughters 49 queer Latinx in one night, and nearly 300 people are bombed to death in Baghdad by a terrorist group and nobody in the western world blinks.

I met someone at a yoga teacher training a few weeks ago who reacted with a strong shock of awe when I told her that I live in a shared flat and prefer it to living with my partner or alone. She responded “what a completely different life!” I didn’t even go into the other things about my life that would make me seem even more foreign than she could imagine, like my queerness for instance. She couldn’t even imagine that someone would want to share their living situation. This makes me very sad for the state of the world. Instead of coming together we are distilling down into individual units, battling against all other external forces. I feel a growing fear closing in on itself. People are building bigger walls, gating communities, separating from one another, creating divisions, more national boundaries.

We come to yoga to shed those bad habits that hold us back, the Samskaras. But what if we were to think of our yoga practice in connection to the world? What if we worked on yoga not for our individual self and wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of the world? What if, we as individual practitioners were to see ourselves as part of the world, moving and breathing with it, all of us together? What can yoga teach us about healing our communities and freeing the world from the Samskaras?

Laurie Penny has recently written an article about the relationship between self-care and its relationship to our ailing world. Michelle C. Johnson offers some ideas about how yoga and activism can come together through social justice. And Kinisha Correia writes about 4 yogis who practice Karma yoga, the yoga of service, to raise collective consciousness. Offering yoga to marginalized communities is one way to help heal those communities. But those of us with more privilege than others can take yoga out of the practice space and into our everyday life too.

We talk about mindfulness as a way to be more aware of how we are treating ourselves. For example, not sitting so long at a computer desk in a bad posture because it causes longterm pain. But what if we were to use mindfulness to be aware of how we treat other people? How can we be mindful of our own actions and privilege and make room for others and treat them with kindness and respect? We often talk about yoga as a way to heal the self in order to help others, but I feel that we are all so focused on the first part, that we never get to the second. How about we take yoga outside the box and use what we learn in a practical way? Make more space for BlPOC to speak, move and breathe, recognize the invisible work that others do, put our bodies in a protest, use our voices to show resistance to oppressive measures.

Juli offers Community Yoga classes at English Yoga Berlin, with an emphasis on creating a space for those who feel marginalized by mainstream yoga classes: sliding scale prices for no- / low-income earners, and a weekly queer yoga class.

Workshop Series: ”Exploring Your Sexual Self: Past, Present and Future”

exploring your sexual self

Past, Present and Future

We’re excited to announce that Kitty May and former EYB yoga teacher Meg Saxby will be offering a third round of their 3-part workshop series ”Exploring Your Sexual Self: Past, Present and Future” in July 2016 at the EYB studio. This engaging workshop series will give participants tools and space to explore their sexual selves and define their own vision of erotic empowerment.

Meg and Kitty–with their backgrounds in feminist sexual health education, peer counselling, bodywork/movement, creativity and group praxis–have designed this innovative workshop series to help participants uncover and develop their knowledge of their personal erotic self. Because sexuality is composed of so many different elements, the workshops are similarly designed to work at different levels: the body, mind, spirit and collective/community existence.

Using movement, bodywork, meditation/visualization, discussion and creative tools for reflection, participants will explore ideas about and experiences of desire, pleasure, fulfilment, the body and more. Over the course of 3 sessions, we will connect with our sexual selves as they are today; remember who they were in the past; imagine our brightest erotic futures – and consider the most luscious, fun and self-loving ways of getting there!

Each participant will choose an area of focus, creating a personal path within a collaborative learning process. There will be opportunities to share with one another, but no obligation to disclose more than is comfortable.

Some participant feedback from the 2014 round…

  • “the workshop series had a really well balanced structure and a great flow”
  • “I loved the mix of bodywork, writing, crafting, personal reflection and sharing.”
  • “there isn’t pressure to share too much and I felt ownership over my own journey”
  • “the facilitation was really seamless. Meg and Kitty are badass together, bringing different skills and strengths”
  • “a really refreshing space […] that is very physically grounding and that supports taking an appropriate pace that fits you”
  • “very thoughtful and a warm and open space”
  • “the workshop is really worth it!”
  • “a very freeing experience”

The series is open to FLTI* (female, lesbian, trans*, intersex) people only.

When: Sundays July 10, 17, and 24, 11:00-15:00

Where: at the English Yoga Berlin studio, Görlitzer Straße 39, 10997 Berlin

Cost: Because we want this series to be both accessible for participants and sustainable for us as workers, the price is based on participants’ take-home monthly income and an hourly rate for our work. The fee for the series is:

• 75€ if your monthly income is less than 700€
115€ if your monthly income is 700-1000€
165€ if your monthly income is 1000-1500€
10-15% of your monthly income if you earn over 1500€

How: If you’d like to register for participation (or if you have questions), please send an email to:
contactkittymay@gmail.com.

Registration is necessary.
In order to reserve your spot, we’ll ask for a non-refundable* deposit of 1/3rd of your fee.


English Yoga Berlin is a collective of teachers offering yoga in English from our yoga Berlin Kreuzberg studio. We offer hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, restorative yoga, classical yoga and yoga nidra. We specialize in community yoga and offer yoga for beginners through advanced. We look forward to practicing with you!

A Tantric Way of Dealing with Pain

Does it hurt?  Can you do something to get rid of the pain?  No?  No problem.

You can remain content and relaxed in the midst of any experience. Including pain, sorrow, fear, or anger. Hang on… nobody said it’s easy, but we categorically say that it is possible. And not only that, it is possible for everyone.

rocksOne way I know of dealing with pain is amazingly simple: To directly experience what is happening, in a steady and concentrated way. In other words, to meditate on the source of the experience.

I have been using the Tantric meditations to deal with chronic pain for years. And, although the pain hasn’t entirely gone away, a lot of the side effects (mental anguish, fear, or other physical tensions) have disappeared.  When my knee hurts I can accept it and remain relaxed, so it doesn’t cause me any real disturbance.

Of course, if you don’t know the cause of a pain, it’s best that you seek prompt medical advice. But, if the pain is already there, you might as well meditate on it on your way to the doctor.

You will find that many pains actually disappear when you experience them in this way. Or the quality or intensity of the pain may change. Or it may move, or get smaller.

How does one do it? Simply by going to the place of the disturbance. Locate it physically with your mind, and then experience it with curious detachment. Experience it, not like you want it to go away, but like you want to know about it. Where is the center of this sensation? How big is this area? Explore it like an objective investigator; or watch it like you watch a film.

We experiment with this method during the Tantric Tuesdays at KiKi, for example, feeling a tension during a yoga pose.  We also practice some of the meditations that (like Antar Mauna) cultivate this ability of detached experience, or (like Tratak) teach the mind to concentrate intensely on one point.

I recently visited a friend, who’s also been coming to my guided moments.  I found her in a desperate state due to an intense headache.  Although she has only practiced for a few months, she has been very consistent and regular, so I felt that the meditative approach would help.  Below I transcribe her impressions of what happened next, written the day after.

I woke up with pressure in the head. Something very usual for me since I´m eight years old. Lucky that since I´m a teenager I can take medicine against it. And I do, immediately, with the first signs of pain. So hard is it for me to resist the pressure, the burning and stinging at my forehead. So with 3 pills per day I get over it and stay 2-3 days without pain, and can continue my daily life …. Therefore, I always have medicine in my handbag. Always!

 

But this morning I received a lovely massage from caring hands and I felt I din’’t want to swallow the pill. The pain got worse and then my stomach rebelled, so it was too late to take a pill. Ohhh I wanted to hit my head against the wall, like I did as girl, when the pain was unbearable.

 

I actually do not remember how I got on the chair in my room. I just remember this voice guiding me into my body, the stillness inside…. Ohh the throbbing got so heavy.. But I trusted and followed the guidance into the movement of my breath. I felt how my body was relaxing little by little, and at the same time the pain in my head became more intense. And I was guided directly into this pain. I felt the pain coming in waves and my tired body, leaning forward devoting to these waves. There was only pain and heaviness, and it felt eternal. I was awake and at the same time like sleeping, sitting on the chair. Until… Hari Om Tat Sat.

 

I just observed how my body laid down on the bed beside the chair. When I woke up, my head was completely free! I could not believe it, and noticed how I started to search for the pain. But quickly I dropped this idea and enjoyed my day.

 

Kathi hasn’t had any more headaches in the two weeks since this happened.  But she claims to be eagerly awaiting for another episode, so she can try this method again.  She also says that this experience has completely changed the way she approaches any pain or unpleasant feelings:  Now she meets them as their curious explorer, rather than as their victim.

On another post, we will write about the mechanisms that make this shift in the experience of pain possible.  For now, just take our word that it works.  Or come and practice it yourself to find-out.

Pedro teaches Tantra yoga and meditation at English Yoga Berlin.

Queer Yoga Wednesdays

Queer* Yoga Wednesdays started as a collaboration between Kanchi and Juli to bring two queer yoga classes together in one evening. We called it queer Wednesdays to prioritize a space for queer and trans* folk. Allies and other misfits are welcome.

As of May 2016, Kanchi returned to Freistil Yoga, and Juli continues to teach a Queer* Yoga Flow class on Wednesdays at the English Yoga Berlin, Görlitzer Str. 39, Kreuzberg Yoga Studio.

When: Wednesday at 10am-11:30am (10h – 11.30h) Queer* Yoga Flow

Prices: Community Class prices for low- / no-income folks, Regular prices for those who can afford it


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.


queer yoga

Juli teaches Vinyasa Flow

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Vinyasa Yoga is about breath-synchronized flowing movement. This particular class focuses on strength building and promoting awareness of one’s own ability at the present moment to move comfortably and freely while carrying one’s own weight. This class is open to both beginners and experienced students, as well as those with injuries, chronic pain or limited mobility, as options and modifications for poses are offered by the teacher. Read more about Juli.

 

 


Kanchi teaches Body Positive Yoga

Body Positive Yoga

This class is for all shapes sizes genders and ability levels, including beginners. Kanchi took up the practice of yoga almost 20 years ago and found that the physical practice and the philosophies allowed her to develop a positive connection with her body and healthier approach to dealing with emotional challenges. She completed her 200 hours training in Feb 2015 and her yoga for all 25 hours training in July 2015. She specialises in working with queer, trans and bigger bodies, but her classes are open to anyone who wants to develop a more positive and healthy connection with their body (and therefore themselves).

 

 

 

Tips for starting your personal meditation practice

meditatorOne way to describe meditation is that it is to experience what is happening, like we’re watching a film, rather than like we’re the protagonists. To witness with detachment. And then, behind the stream of impressions, you discover the one that is witnessing. It’s like coming home.

There’s very many meditation techniques, from all parts of the world and times of history. One of the most popular is to just sit quietly following the free-flow of breath. Although some meditations use movement, many of the best meditation practices for beginners rely on sitting completely still.

Today, with phone apps like Headspace, endless amount of guided meditations in YouTube, audio files, books, etc., it is not too difficult go get into meditation. These learning and practicing aids are good and useful, but there’s no substitute for the direct guidance of a teacher, and the inspiring energy of a group of meditators sitting around you.

Once you choose a method, and maybe a class or a group of friends to meet regularly with, you may want to set a few minutes of each day to “come to yourself”. Having a daily (or semi-daily) meditation practice, as short as five minutes, will simply change your life. You’ll be wondering how you lived so long without it.

Here’s some things to consider if you want to try it out at home. Think of it as an adventure, an exploration of the inner landscape. Each day, you sit for a few minutes to go into another dimension for a little tour.

  • Find a suitable space, away from disturbance or too much activity. Make yourself a little corner for you and your meditation.
  • Find a suitable time. The best time can only be determined by you. Maybe link your meditation practice with another activity that you must perform each day (do it either before or after that activity).
  • Set a timer, so you don’t have to think about it, but also so that you meditate just the amount of time you decide.
  • Do it on a fairly empty stomach.
  • Do it without caffeine or sugar highs.
  • Consider your pose. If you sit on a chair, don’t lean against the backrest and have your feet flat on the floor. However you sit, have a straight back and, most importantly, be comfortable. When your body distracts you often from the meditation, then you know is time to review your pose.
  • Remain still. The stillness of the mind is easier achieved and maintained when we don’t move the body. The simple act of being still (not acting) activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Set an intention to be there. Just a decision that you will be engaged in the meditation; for example, that you will be present (if you tend to daydream) or alert (if you tend to doze-off). Make it positive.
  • Come to the meditation without expectations. But if you do have expectations, then be aware of them and how they influence you.
  • Keep a journal. It is a great tool to chart your journey and keep your meditation in perspective. Don’t use it to analyze, evaluate or judge your meditation, simply note your experiences and insights.
  • If you ever combine your meditation with other yoga practices, do them in this order: yoga poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, meditation.
  • Breathing exercises, specially Nadi Shodana, are an excellent complement to meditation and will give you a deeper experience if you practice them before.
  • When you end the meditation, move slowly and mindfully.  But don’t try to hold on to the meditative state.  Just be natural and engage life fully. 

At English Yoga Berlin we host Tantric meditation courses.  Stay tuned for the next one, or send us an email to find-out more.  All of our Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Flow and Tantra Yoga classes include the meditative deep relaxation Yoga Nidra, or a similar guided relaxation.  See our schedule for details.

Body Positive Yoga

pic_bodyposi2This Sunday, Juli will be away and Kanchi brings Body Positive Yoga to our Vinyasa Flow Yoga community class.

When? : Sunday, October 25, 2015 (4-5:30pm)
What? : Body Positive Yoga
How Much? : 12€ drop-in / reduced rate (pay-what-you-can)
Where? : Our Kreuzberg Yoga Studio

Kanchi uses her 20 years of experience practicing yoga to provide Vinyasa Flow or Hatha / Hatha-Flow classes that are designed to provide a safe environment for people of all shapes, sizes, genders and ability levels to experience a yoga asana practice and build a deeper connection with their bodies. All of Kanchi’s classes are queer & trans*friendly.

Why Community Classes?

If you’ve been following our blogs or attending our classes, you know that we’ve been offering sliding-scale community classes at English Yoga Berlin since June 2013. The rising cost of yoga classes in Berlin can deter lower- / no-income people from seeking out a practice that could potentially help them deal with stress and burn-out, or symptoms of chronic illnesses that with less income are harder to treat. We’d like to be able to provide a place where people can learn about the benefits of yoga without worrying about the cost.

Why Body Positive Yoga?

In Juli’s blog “I’m No Barbie Girl”  she outlines the problems of the modern western yoga industry and how it paints a picture of the picture-perfect yogi. This can also be a deterrent to practicing yoga for those who don’t fit that type and who feel they must be flexible to practice yoga. If you’ve ever taken one of our Tantra Yoga classes, you’ll know that yoga is not just about the postures, there’s a whole other world! Literally anyone can practice yoga.

Why Yoga for Queer and Trans* folk?

Also part of body positive yoga is making the space safe for queer and trans* people. 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 teachers (Juli and Kanchi), we can take the first step in making the space more queer and trans* friendly.

We’re looking forward to Kanchi’s Body Positive Yoga on Sunday! It’s a great fit for us at English Yoga Berlin and especially for Juli’s Vinyasa Class.