March 1st: Embodied Kundalini for the Glands Workshop

This 2.5hr yoga workshop is a great opportunity to get to know your own body in a different way, learn some Kundalini techniques and give your endocrine system a supportive boost as the Springtime arrives! Poet, dancer and bodyworker Laressa Dickey will use embodied anatomy techniques from BMC (Body Mind Centering) to guide participants through a non-dogmatic, highly personal exploration of what Kundalini Yoga can offer for the glands. For more information, click here.

English Yoga, 10997 KreuzbergWhen?  Saturday, March 1st, from 11h until 13h30

Where? English Yoga Berlin’s Kreuzberg yoga studio, Goerlitzerstr 39 (map here)

How much? sliding scale, 15 to 30euro

The workshop is limited to 10 participants; please get in touch if you would like to reserve a space.

Laressa Dickey teaches a Kundalini Yoga (inspired) Workshop

The Endocrine System: Glands & Balance

Chances are, some of us may have come across Kundalini Yoga before. And chances are, some may have walked away with definite opinions and reservations. While there is a brand of it that is perhaps over-the-top for many of us, Kundalini Yoga as a practice has much to offer in terms of kriyas (set of exercises) that target and promote health and balance in particular body systems.

This workshop will offer the chance to experience Kundalini Yoga in a non-dogmatic way, and instead through an embodied anatomy approach. We’ll work using techniques from Body Mind Centering (BMC) to learn about the endocrine system: where these glands are, what they do and why they are important for our health and well being. Then, we’ll integrate this new body awareness into our practice of the Kundalini kriyas.

Why glands? Why now? The endocrine system is an underlying support for so many of our human cycles: metabolism, sexual development, immunity, mineral and hormonal regulation, menstruation, sleeping/waking, digestion, survival instinct, etc. This system regulates the function of the body’s organs, and its job is to preserve our balance (homeostasis). This time of the year in the transition between Winter and Spring is a great time to promote balance in the body; we are not quite finished hibernating and not quite ready for blooming yet, even though we may feel the coming new season. With emphasis on the glands, we give time to really be where we are, and we “tune up” so we can maintain balance as we transition.

Come with your imagination and curiosity! Come with loose clothing and a willingness to try new things. 

About me:

As a yogi, I come to the mat also as a dancer, a poet, and bodyworker. I come from a perspective of movement, having studied dance since I was a child, and I teach (and try to live) from my experience working with the body in the study of dance improvisation and somatics. I also come with a keen interest in health and healing, and my own life experience of working with the limits of the body using yoga, expressive arts, and alternative medicine. Kundalini Yoga as a modality has been a big support to my health and development as a person, without me having had to adopt any of the perceived dogma of it. I now understand what my own Kundalini teacher used to say: “We don’t do Kundalini yoga because of how it makes us feel while we are doing it. We do it because of how it makes us feel afterwards.” It is the benefits Kundalini Yoga offers that make it meaningful to me.

  • Date: 1st March 2014
  • Time: 11 AM – 13.30 PM
  • Cost: 15-30 on sliding scale
  • Where: English Yoga Berlin

Please email englishyogaberlin@gmail.com to reserve your place.

Endometriosis and a Personal Approach to Healing

It wasn’t until my 30s that I started realizing there was something off about my menstrual cycle. I’d always had pain during the first few days accompanied by heavy bleeding, and often experienced what is called ‘breakthrough bleeding.’ But it gradually started to get worse, until there were months when I was bleeding every day of my cycle. With the advice of a friend, I went to see a naturopath, who prescribed homeopathic medicine (specifically, venom from the snake, Lachesis). I was open to trying it, but after about half a year, I felt no change for the better, and out several hundred dollars. In the meantime, I moved 5000km to another city for graduate school.

At this point I’d had a yoga practice on & off for about 8 years. After I moved, I made an effort to continue my yoga practice and
discovered many more different teachers and styles of yoga than I had before. I felt that my practice had been good for me ‘physically.’ I became more aware of the pain I was experiencing and was able to ease it a little during my menstrual cycle. But I didn’t recognize the healing benefits until much later on. I continued to struggle with menstrual cycle problems, and had now built up a lack of trust towards naturopathy. So I tried allopathicremedies – the birth control pill was advised for hormone balancing, even though I didn’t need it for contraception, and I had several invasive surgeries. After the second surgery to remove ovarian growths, a biopsy showed that it was endometrial tissue. That was when I got the diagnosis of endometriosis. But the hormone therapy didn’t seem to work: the tissue kept growing, albeit perhaps slower.Endometriosis is a rather common illness, affecting approximately 10% of people with female reproductive organs, and perhaps more who show no symptoms. The allopathic methods of treatment vary from mild hormone treatment to organ removal surgery. Sadly, I know several people who have had full hysterectomies, and yet still experience the return of growths. Growths root down onto other organs or muscles, making them difficult to remove completely and can cause lung collapse, kidney failure and/or extreme pain. Endometrial tissue can often even grow on the scar tissue from previous surgeries! Hormone therapy such as IUDs or contraceptive pills can slow the growths and relieve some pain, but not always. Sometimes androgen hormones are recommended to induce menopause. One person I know had tried this method twice and still experienced the return of the growths and painful menstruation.Often, pregnancy and subsequent breast-feeding can act to “re-set” the adrenal system so that endometriosis may not return. Menopause may see an end to more growths, but the ones that have already rooted down may continue to grow. There has been some evidence to show that even people without ovaries and a uterus may develop endometriosis on the prostate. It is seen by the medical system as a woman’s disease, making it difficult for male-identified people to receive proper treatment.

Having no success with allopathic or naturopathic methods, I began to investigate the alternatives. My personal approach to healing began when I decided to become a yoga teacher and delve deeper into my practice. I read this book that recommended a strict endometriosis diet and followed it dogmatically for one year. And I tried out many other modalities – body talk, the sadhana practice of kundalini, myofascial massage, acupuncture, mindfulness meditation and medicinal roots. I sought advice from elders and spiritual practitioners. A couple years ago, I had yet a third surgery – recommended because of something that looked cancerous but turned out not to be. All of the methods I had tried became too much for me to keep up a regular practice with, it became a stress to try to keep up the discipline of the diet. And I wanted to do other things than focus on my body all the time! But I learned an awful lot through experimenting with different things and I eventually found what worked for me.

Endometriosis is an immunodeficiency illness, attacking the body when it’s low on other resources, so I focused on trying to keep healthy. I also became convinced that stress causes endometriosis by the physical tightening of muscles around the pelvis. The practice of mula bahnda (the root lock) brought more awareness for me about what was going on in my pelvic area. During menstruation I now try to focus on letting go of any tightness, sometimes even doing exercises to push out any stuck endometrial tissue. And I am also careful not to do inversions during heavy days. I continue to make smoothies out of spirulina (for immune boosting properties), maca root (for adrenal health), and trying to not let stress overtake my life, while keeping a balance of having some fun, expanding my limits and moving beyond my comfort zone once in awhile. I occasionally get some pain and breakthrough bleeding, and then I know it’s my body telling me to slow down. So far, the growths have not returned, and I’m still years away from menopause! It may not take becoming a yoga teacher for you, but I know there’s a way that you can heal yourself too.

Juli teaches Vinyasa Flow Yoga and Restorative Yoga in our Berlin Kreuzberg studio. She continues to explore self healing with yoga and encourages her students to do so, too.

LEARNING IN ENGLISH IN BERLIN

..A view of Kreuzberg

Perhaps you’re a native German Speaker wanting to improve your English, or maybe you’re a foreigner whose German is not yet up-to-scratch; either way Berlin offers many options to learn something new or simply to explore an interest with English-speaking classes.

First there are all those CraigsList postings for guitar, singing and art lessons. AngloInfo Berlin also presents a good source for all sorts of courses for technical, artistic and higher education. And ToyTownthat most important resource for English-Speakers in Germany, gives you the possibility to post asking about specific courses you cannot seem to find in English.

Here’s but a small selection of some of the most interesting places in the Hauptstadt where courses are being taught in English:

DRAMA

If you prefer being on the stage rather than in front of it, check out Inka-Charlotte Palm’s drama courses in English. A trained drama educator, actress and singer, Inka-Charlotte has been running these courses since 2009, which have given rise to the International People’s Theatre Berlin Project, a weekly theatre training that culminates in a performance. She is also a director and drama educator at the English Theatre Berlin.

GLASS BLOWING

Berlin Glass is a dynamic and friendly studio offering English classes in glassblowing, painting on glass, and soon, glass fusing and casting. Classes are suitable for beginners and more experienced blowers. They also offer studio space rental for artists and hot glass professionals. The studio team is composed of graduate-level international artists who are excited to share their knowledge and skills. artconnectberlin has a wonderful post about this initiative with excellent photos.

SEWING

Each month Linkle Nähinstitut offers a varied program of courses and workshops, many in English and even some in Spanish. There are courses for complete beginners and for very experience sewers. Here you can learn how to sew almost anything. They also offer intensive customized courses and access to their studio space for those who want to work on their own. Read some independent comments about classes at the Nähinstitut in Maria Joao’s blog.

FILMMAKING

Met Film School is one of Britain’s main provider of practical filmmaking courses. Given their success in London, and the preeminence of Berlin at the heart of independent filmaking, they have opened a Berlin campus at the BUFA Studio in Kreuzkoelln. Classes are primarily in English, but since last August they have been offering some short courses in German. Like in their London campus, the Met in Berlin prides itself in offering “an intensive practical filmmaking experience taught by industry professionals in an active film studio”. Expat Blog has an interesting discussion comparing the Met Film School with its rival London Film School.

SWING DANCING

Swing Patrol Berlin offers English courses and workshops in Lindy Hop. They also organize social dances and events all around Berlin. Check their schedule for more details.

FOR THE SMALL ONES

Berlin Kids is a International english-speaking playgroup in Schöneberg. They organise a regular playgroup for kids up to 5 years of age. They also host classes and workshops for children and their parents at Farida’s comfortable and child-friendly cafe/activity centre, Kids Corner Berlin.

The Center is Berlin’s English performing arts school. Since opening its doors in 2005, it has steadily grown to offer a truly diverse range of activities for people of all ages, imparted by professionals in the fields of dance, drama, music and other performing arts. Their concept is to keep it small, cozy and intimate, bringing a personal touch to all their classes. See their web site or checkout some photos and a little more information at Working Berlin Mum.

Wanted: Community Feedback Yogis!

IMPORTANT: We’ve already found our Community Feedback Yogis for this round. Thanks for your interest, but we’re not looking for any more people right now! This post has been left up for reference about the initiative. 

As part of our collective’s commitment to accessibility, we are always interested in gathering feedback and having dialogue. We strive to be as accountable, inclusive and accessible as possible, and we want to know how and where we can improve. So, we are looking for 3-5 people who are willing to help us with an accessibility and quality review.

And it goes a little somethin’ like this…

We are looking for people to take a total of 6 free classes at English Yoga Berlin,  and provide us with feedback forms about their experience. You don’t need to have much experience with Yoga, although it is also fine if you do–your interest and honesty are more important factors, as well as flexibility in your schedule. Since we are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere in our yoga classes, we especially want feedback from people who feel marginalized by mainstream Western yoga (people who have chronic pain, are differently abled, queer or trans*, a person of colour, working class or poor, elderly and/or otherwise). To keep the feedback as neutral and impartial as possible, we are limiting this initiative to people who are not current students or friends. (Current students and friends are welcome to give feedback, with or without forms, anytime they want!)

After each class, you will be asked to complete a feedback form and give us your opinion about the teaching, class, space, accessibility and general vibe. Your feedback will be used to make English Yoga Berlin a more welcoming and accessible space. 

In addition to the free classes, you will get a gift certificate to an awesome local collective/alternative business! If you are interested, please send us an email with a short explanation of who you are, your availability, why you’d be great as a feedback yogi and a representation (CV, portfolio, statement, link to website or blog, etc.) of what you’re all about! Please note: Applications are now closed (as of Feb 1, 2014) for this initiative. Thanks for your interest!

Thank you!

Free (or Cheap) Health and Wellness in Berlin

free or cheap wellness in Berlin

In Germany, everyone is legally supposed to have health insurance. Unfortunately, it is not a universal health care system: rather, insurance is verdammnt expensive and is only available to documented people—and the most recent estimates suggest that up to 1 million undocumented migrants are living in Germany. In addition, there are plenty of people who have health needs which are not covered by their insurance. That is a lot of people with their health needs not getting met. What a stupid situation! What dumb laws! (If you’re trying to find your way through it, you can read more here.) 

And they wonder why we feel like fuck the law

Anyway, so, there is a lot of demand for cheap or free health services in Berlin, especially in languages other than German. We see this a lot at English Yoga Berlin, because so many of our students are new migrants or expats in Germany and they often feel disoriented and uncertain. It often takes a long time to find what you need in a new country, and online lists make things easier! Teaching yoga in Berlin has brought us into contact with a lot of cool, free or cheap health services available. We teach yoga in Kreuzberg, so we’ve highlighted services in that area. And we offer yoga in English, so we’ve tried to find services that are English-speaking, too.

So here is our list…

The Gesundheitsamt system in Berlin offers a series of free clinics. They are usually really crowded but it only costs 10euro and you can get STI testing, dentistry, pregnancy tests, psychiatric help etc. You do need to bring some kind of identification but you don’t need insurance, and they’re legally obligated to keep your data private. Make sure you arrive early, because you will have to wait for a couple of hours. If you can, bring a German speaking friend or support person. You can see all of the various clinics and their opening hours and specialities here (in German). 

The Selbstverwaltete Heilpraktikerschule (Autonomous Naturopath Training Programme) at the Bethanien offers some cool free or low-cost services. They have a Massage Abend where you can get a back, foot or shiatsu massage for 5euro (schedule here). They also do affordable homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and herbal medicine consultations on Mondays and Fridays.

Berlin Community Akupunktur offers sliding scale acupuncture (17e to 35e).

Friedelpraxis is a collective that offers non-commercialized osteopathy andTCM (traditional Chinese medicine) in Berlin. To become a member of the practice, you choose a fixed monthly rate that you can pay. You can get in touch and make an arrangement with one or more of the folks in the collective.

Every Wednesday from 11h until 13, Autocuratio offers Natural healing advice and treatment (nutritional advice, ear acupuncture, massage, spinal adjustment) at Zielona Gora (Gruenbergerstr 73).

The Berliner Krisen Dienst offers emergency mental health counselling that is anonymous and multilingual. You can ring them anytime, and here are the phone numbers.

Multilingual, free peer counselling for women is available at women’s centres like Paula Panke, Schokofabrik, Frieda and EWA. You can see a whole list here.

The FFGZ in Schoeneberg (Feminist Health Centre for Women) offers counselling and other health resources. They specialize in reproductive and women’s health.

Health and wellbeing is strongly linked to relaxation, and that is why saunas are so amazing and important. You might feel a bit uncomfortable at first with the naked part, but you’ll get used to it. The Berlin Baederbetriebe has an amazing array of saunas and pools. If you have some cash to drop, the Liquidrom is a cool, salt water based spa and sauna.

Heile Haus e.V. is a former squat that is now a grassroots community health centre. They offer workshops, individual consultations, sports and dance, language courses, a little cafe and a bathroom/shower/washing machine area that people can use.

Another very good resource for people with longer term medical conditions is the ARTABANA network. It’s a decentralized non profit network of medical health professionals and other healers who provide free, confidential services all across Deutschland for those without insurance, or without adequate insurance. The Medibuero fuer Fluchtlinge is a network of medical professionals that treat refugees and undocumented people free and anonymously.

We offer Hatha Yoga in English, Vinyasa Yoga in English, Restorative Yoga in English and Classical Yoga in English and Spanish. All of these classes are available for a reduced price—just ask one of us at the studio. If you know of other cheap or free health services in Berlin, please let us know and we will add them to this list!

Guest teacher Anastasia Shevchenko comes to our next Community Class

Anastasia’s yoga journey started over 10 years ago.  Throughout her growth as a yogi, she has experienced many different yoga styles, which she credits with deepening her understanding of the essence of yoga.

“In my personal practice and in my teachings, I enjoy combining static postures held for a prolonged period of time (Hatha-style) with more dynamic exercises, synchronized with the breath (Vinyasa-style). Both types of exercises have their distinct benefits on the physical, psychological, and mental wellbeing.”

On our next Community Class at English Yoga Berlin, she will guide a yoga lesson that everybody can relate to, with postures that build core strength, increase flexibility in the limbs, and relax the body and the mind. The class is open to students of all levels and abilities.
WHEN?    Thursday 21st November, 2013 (15.45 – 17.15)

WHERE?   English Yoga Berlin – Görlitzer Str. 39, Kreuzberg

HOW MUCH? Donation based / Pay What you Can

Ayurveda Workshop Sunday 21st July

What is Ayurvedic Healing?

In our last blog What is Ayurveda, we talked about the main parts and purposes of this ancient healing modality. Once you find out what are your doshas and have an idea of both your prakurti and vikruti, it may be time to start using this new understanding of your personal make-up to improve your overall health.

photo by Fern

Ayurvedic treatments are varied but may include any and all of the following: custom food plans, daily routines, herbal remedies, poultices, pranayama breathing exercises and yoga as well as other therapies such as oleation, massage and chakra balancing. (It is important to note that Ayurveda is not meant to be a substitute for Western medicine. It is best used as a complement to the allopathic system.)

We are excited to be hosting Yasmin F. Gow this Sunday (July 21) at our yoga studio in Kreuzberg as she presents an Intro to Ayurveda workshop. This workshop is designed to help you to deepen your understanding of yoga, help you choose the best kinds of asana and pranayama practices for you and help you to further love, appreciate and listen to your own unique body.

Ayurveda and Yoga: The Ultimate Blend
“As a yoga teacher, studying Ayurveda and becoming a certified Ayurvedic practitioner has changed everything for me, from the way I eat to the way I teach. My understanding of yoga, its Eight-Limbs, and its healing process has deepened through the study of Ayurveda. Not only am I happier and more aware of my own personal needs, I am also increasingly sensitive to the needs of my yoga students and Ayurvedic clients. Ayurveda has shown me that no one diet or any one yoga practice is necessarily good for everyone. Success and healing lie in the art of creating a tailor-made routine for the individual and simultaneously empowering that individual to observe his/her own natural rhythms and make his/her own conscious choices to lead him/her towards health and happiness. In teaching yoga, I call this approach Sustainable Yoga for Long-term Happiness (SuYoLoh).”

-Yasmin Gow

Date & Time: Sunday, July 21, fom 13:00 till 16:30
Teacher: Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow
Cost: 20 € (15 € for current English Yoga Berlin students)

About Yasmin
Yasmin F. Gow, ERYT 500, has taught yoga for over a decade. She is also an accredited Ayurvedic practitioner and the producer of five yoga DVDs. In 2010, she completed 108 days of 108 sun salutations and became the first woman to break the Guinness World Records™ Record for the longest yoga marathon lasting 32 hours. This initiative raised thousands of dollars for charity and was featured in publications worldwide, including India’s national newspaper the Times of India. A former studio owner, Yasmin currently offers Ayurvedic consultations, leads workshops internationally and mentors others to reach great heights.

Vinyasa Yoga: Fusion for Your Flow

Recently, we added a new Vinyasa Flow Yoga class in Kreuzberg. Not your average yoga, this fusion style offers so many substantial benefits to those who practice it. But some people still seem to have questions about what makes this type of yoga so dynamic. We thought we might try to explain.

Vinyasa Flow yoga, aka “power yoga” takes its inspiration and principles from Ashtanga, but it is a more creative style. Each class is designed individually, using different asanas to focus on different parts of the body. Like Ashtangis, we pay very close attention to the transitions between each asana, or posture, and use breathing to coordinate the smoothest transitions. For example, while inhaling we focus on lengthening the spine and then while exhaling as we fold forwards. We also take from Ashtanga the use of the Sun Salutation as a ”link” between posture sequences.

When Cardio Meets YogaChandrasana during a Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class in Berlin

Vinyasa Flow classes, like Ashtanga, also tend to be a cardiovascular challenge because they are relatively fast-paced. Unlike Ashtanga, however, Vinyasa Flow postures are held for different lengths of time and movement is often incorporated into the posture (for example, moving the upper body rhythmically while keeping the lower body stable). Exercises and sequences from other traditions are also used such as tai chi, pilates and bellydance. Because these all use breath synchronized movement, they can be incorporated into Vinyasa Flow classes with ease to enhance the practice.

The popularity of Vinyasa Flow classes is probably the result of its diversity. Students find the classes fun, challenging and relaxing. For this reason, we decided to add another Vinyasa Yoga Class at our new studio in Kreuzberg. We would love to see you there!

What is Vinyasa Yoga: A History of “Flow”

Like any other practice, yoga can be quite different depending on two main factors: who is teaching it, and what style is being taught. Of course you want to find a teacher that you like, one you connect to and feel comfortable with. But beyond that its also important to find the style of yoga that best fits your needs.

There are four original types of yoga. It is important to understand the background of the method of yoga you are practicing so that you can decide if it is the best one for you. Because each type of yoga has evolved out of different teaching lineages, the following is a bit of history of Vinyasa Flow Yoga, one of our newest class offerings at English Yoga Berlin.

Vinyasa Background

Vinyasa Flow Yoga was born out of the Ashtanga lineage. The Ashtanga school was developed by a yogi named Sri Krishnamacharya, who taught it to Patthabi Jois. Jois taught in Mysore, India in the first half of the 20th century. Ashtanga has since been popularized in the West by his students.

Ashtanga yoga was taught by Jois as moving meditation. He believed that the movements between each asana should be considered just as important as the postures themselves. The idea behind this is to deepen concentration and body consciousness through the entire practice. Rather than focusing on “getting into the posture” and then breathing, in Vinyasa, we try to keep the deep breathing and correct alignment consistent throughout all movement during the class.

Ashtanga Yoga prescribes a specific sequence of postures (known as the Primary Series), done in a very specific way – each posture is held for 5 complete breaths and the transition between postures should take no more than 1 breath.

You can practice Ashtanga anywhere and anytime, as long as you know this series. You can also join us for our new Vinyasa Flow Yoga class at 8pm on Thursdays at our new studio in Kreuzberg.