DIY & Community Yoga

What is DIY?

Photo by Fern

Photo by Fern

I call myself a DIY-practitioner, but the term “DIY” means different things to different people. The term is an acronym for “Do-It-Yourself” and can encompass many different tasks or fields in an approach of taking matters into one’s own hands. My dad is a DIY home repair kinda guy. This came from his rural immigrant background of a hard-working interconnected community without resources or proximity to hire professionals. If you needed your roof fixed, everyone in the community came together to help you do it and shared their skills. As an artist who grew up in a globalized metropolis, DIY means something different to me. I am influenced by self-published ‘zines, punk music and handmade films. More so than just because of economic necessity (but also that), this DIY approach is about autonomy – having my voice heard in a world that privileges the perspectives of white men and their so-called ‘universal truths.’ If I was to wait to produce films after gaining approval from the status quo, I’d be holding my breath until I die. I take matters into my own hands, and use what I have at hand, to create my own films on a significantly reduced budget, saying what I want and how I want. My films will not likely get screened at big festivals, as my production budgets are low, but getting my perspective out into the world can have an emancipatory effect on me and other people in similar situations. And like my father’s, my approach to DIY is also dependent on an interconnected community. I trade resources and skills within the various queer and film communities I am connected to, and organize screenings of others’ work as they do for mine, as well as often working collectively. I could not do what I do without a community. In this way, I think the term “DIY” is a misnomer, and others have felt this too, coming up with “DIO” (Do-It-Ourselves) and “DIT” (Do-It-Together). I stick with the term “DIY,” as it’s been with me for a long time.

Why Community Yoga in Berlin?

photo by Fern

photo by Fern

My approach to yoga feels similar to me. I began practicing yoga about 18 years ago now at bigger studios, but then eventually found that more ‘community-based’ yoga centres suited me better, like Open Door Yoga in Vancouver. I learned a lot there, and really thrived in the community feeling – cleaning and washing blankets in exchange for unlimited yoga classes. I joined the English Yoga Berlin collective in 2013. I enjoy the autonomy of running a collective consensus-based business with other like-minded yoga teachers. We offer small yoga classes (up to about 10 people) so that we can give more individualized attention, which reduces the likelihood of injuries from happening, and helps to support yoga students with chronic pain or other difficulties that might not get addressed in larger groups. We aim to create a community around our yoga classes, though each of us teachers are individuals and have different approaches to yoga – we come together with this concept. We also aim to keep our prices affordable, though even these might be out of range for some people, and during periods in my life I have definitely been in the same situation – and could be again. I would love to offer free yoga classes, and if I were independently wealthy I would. Teaching and sharing what we know about yoga to others takes our time, rent, administration costs, and expensive education, and though I have strong views about it and fight against it when I can, we live within a capitalist system where we are required to earn money to survive. My approach to counter capitalism and make yoga classes more accessible to people with low/no income is to offer sliding scale classes. Some of us earn less or have less/no savings, and this is a way to recognize that and support those who can’t afford to attend a regularly-priced yoga class. If you earn more or have savings, you can pay a bit more to help subsidize someone who pays less. These ‘community classes’ are offered with the same quality and attention as all of our classes, each ending with a guided relaxation using yoga nidra techniques. Because of my personal commitment to a DIY approach and creating interconnected communities, as of this month all of my English yoga classes in Kreuzberg will be offered as community classes. You are welcome to pay the regular prices if you choose – become a registered monthly student, use a 5er card, etc., but the sliding scale option is always open to anyone who attends.

Juli teaches Vinyasa Yoga and Hatha Flow Yoga in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

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!