Computer Work and Posture Part II – The semi Supine

Computer Work and Posture Part II

In part I of Computer Work and Posture, I discussed the importance of learning how to take care of ourselves while working in front of computers. Since computers are our new way of life, learning skills of body care and presence while using computers is vital. In order for us to have an upright posture, we need to first know how we define upright and what we mean by it. I suggested that we start thinking of upright less as a fixed straight position, and more as a balanced relationship between your neck, head and back.

A good way of becoming familiar with the relationship between your head, neck and back is to lay down in the semi supine pose with some books underneath your head for ten to fifteen minutes daily. The height of the books you will need underneath your head varies depending on both the shape and the present use of your body. It is best to let a trained Alexander Technique teacher help you determine the height of the books needed, but if you are not yet in contact with one you could use this video as a starting point.

The following instructions and mindful exercise are also available on audio here:

Instructions for the Semi Supine

Lay down on your back with your head placed on top of some books for support (5 to 8cm as a starting point). Put the soles of your feet on the floor with your knees facing upwards towards the ceiling. Place your hands on the belly with the elbows pointing outwards

Mindful exercise while you are in the semi supine.

First let yourself notice how your body feels in this position. For the moment, let your intention be to notice without wanting to change anything. Simply to become familiar with what is.

Some questions to help you in your process:

  • Is my back in contact with the floor? If not, which parts of my back are not touching the floor?

  • Are the parts not touching the floor similar on both the right and left side? Or is one side more lifted than the other?

  • Is it easy for me to have my knees pointing upwards? Or would my preference be to let them drop inwards towards each other or outwards?

  • Are the soles of my feet carrying equal weight? Or is the weight traveling more towards the inside or the outside of my soles of my feet?

  • Do my shoulder blades feel comfortable on the floor? Or are there places where they feel crammed.

At the end of this reflection mentally tell yourself, “this is the relationship that my neck, head and back have throughout the day”.

Now allow for some subtle changes to happen in your posture. Let your intention be to explore an easier relationship between your neck, head and back rather than to “fix” your relationship. As the word “fix” implies, the mentality associated to that is too static and creates a one fit all mentality. We wish for a subtle fluid relationship rather than a “fix” solution.

Some subtle changes you could invite:

  • You could gently lift your pelvis, place your hands on your upper back and caress the back downwards in the direction of the pelvis, while coming back down to the floor. Did that increase your back’s contact to the floor?Creating more back contact to the floor through the semi supine

 

  • You could gently lift your shoulder blades to allow for more space in the upper back, and then place them on the floor again. What change did this movement bring with regards to how much of your back is in contact with the floor?

 

  • If you feel that you wanted to bring the knees inwards, you could try placing your feet closer to each other.  If you feel that you wanted to let your knees go outwards, you could place the feet a bit further apart from each other. Do these changes to your feet make it easier for your knees to be pointing upwards without tension? Did this also bring a subtle change to the pathway of weight distribution in the soles of your feet?

 

  • If your shoulder blades feel cramped, you could gently lift your elbows and place them again on the floor. Did that bring a subtle change or do the shoulder blades still feel the same way?

Once you found the most comfortable place in this position, then do nothing. Allow for 10-15 minutes to pass where you simply enjoy doing nothing. Let gravity do the work for you.

Before you come out of the semi supine position, mentally tell yourself, “This now is the relationship that I invite my neck, head and back to have during my computer work”.

When to do this practice

It is good to do this practice before you begin with your computer work, once in the middle of your computer work and/or at the end of the work. It will help to find  your center during computer work. Do remember, however, that this is a starting point, a step one, if you will, for how to take care of yourself while using a computer.

Tune in for the next blog where we will investigate positions of mechanical advantage while working on the computer.

About the author

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

Live Online yoga Classes Continue

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.”

— Helen Keller

 

Greetings Yogis,

            Here we are a few months into the Corona virus pandemic, with some time spent in lockdown and getting used to a new way of life. Whether we like it or not, we are going through changes that affect us each individually as well as societally. What this means for our future, we cannot yet say. However,  if distancing truly makes our hearts grow fonder, let’s hope for a kinder, gentler and more just world when we finally come out of this. In the meantime, online yoga is here for a little while longer. Both Juli and Pinelopi continue their regular schedule online through June. With Pinelopi dropping to one class a week through July for summer holidays. Near the end of July we hope to know more about the regulations and peak statuses of Berlin to make a decision whether we return to the studio in August.

 

Hatha Yoga Classes Live Online

Pinelopi’s regular Hatha Yoga classes continue online through June, and will reduce to once a week in July for summer holidays. Here is how to join.

 

yoga online

yoga online

Sunday Yoga Live Online

Juli‘s regular Sunday Yoga classes from 4-5:30pm continue live online through June and July. Here’s how to join.

We continue to be thankful for your practice and your support of our work. Stay healthy, stay safe, protect those at risk by keeping a distance.

 

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

Computer Work and Posture – Part I

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

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

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

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

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

Good posture in front of the computer

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

What does sitting up straight or upright actually mean?

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

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

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

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

Terminology Tuesday: are mindfulness and meditation the same thing?

I often hear people use the terms mindfulness and meditation interchangeably. Are they, though, the same thing?

So let’s look at these two terms.

Mindfulness

photo by Fern

I define mindfulness as the practice of having one’s mind fully present in any activity or inactivity that they are performing. The English term was originally created by the Buddhist scholar T.W. Rhys Davids at the beginning of the 20th century. Later on, this term was used by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his popular Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. He defines mindfulness as ‘the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.’

Many mindfulness practices increase the ability to attain this state of mind. One example is the practice of mindfulness walks whilst using a modified version of  the 54321 technique.  This is one of my favorite mindfulness practices that I always include in our English Yoga Berlin retreats.

Meditation

Meditation, on the other hand, is the practice of letting the mind quiet down from thoughts and worries. It is experiencing ones’ own presence beyond the mind. It requires sitting (or if necessary laying down) and purposefully creating a space to practice. In the Vedantic tradition, there are two types of yogic meditations: saguna and nirguna.

In the saguna meditation, the meditator focuses on one thing only (be it a mandala, the breath, a candle flame). The meditator keeps the mind anchored on this focal point. Think of the mind as a bird that flies from one thought to the next.  Eventually the bird gets tired and needs to rest on a branch. The one focal point of saguna meditation is the branch for the bird-mind to rest on. In nirguna meditation, the meditator focuses on abstract concepts that are indescribable, such as Existence, Cosmic Love, Consciousness and fuses themselves into the object of meditation.  In both ways of meditating the focus is to sharpen the mind into being able to focus on and experience only one thing,  be it something concrete or something abstract.

So what is the difference?

The main difference between mindfulness and meditation is that mindfulness can be applied to any activity and although the mind is fully present in what it is doing, there is still motion in the action of doing. Whilst in meditation one creates a space  where one sits and practices bringing the mind to an inactivity so that it remains settled only on one thing. Of course, a meditation practice will increase your mindfulness awareness in your everyday activities, and a mindfulness practice, on the other hand, will  also help you settle in quickly into meditation. These two go hand in hand strengthening each other, which I believe, is why people often confuse them.

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

Chakra course Berlin – the Details

Please note: In the original Tantric yoga tradition there are many forms of chakra systems that have been mentioned: five-chakra system, seven, nine, ten, fifteen, twenty-one, twenty-eight. We will focus on the seven-chakra system that became dominant around the 16th century and that has been influenced by the psychologist Carl Jung who presented the idea that human behaviours get felt energetically.

Saturday October 13th, 2018

The first class of our chakra course will have a different format to the rest of the classes to explain the basic concepts of the yogic philosophy of prana, nadis, koshas, and chakras. These concepts will be needed to understand the rest of the chakras course.

Through this talk we will understand in which plane the chakras are found and the energy flow pathways. We will explore what is meant when referring to phrases such as:

  • energy leaks
  • biography becomes biology
  • healthy/blocked chakra

The yoga session will be brief and basic followed by a guided relaxation on the location of each chakra.

Format of first class:

  • 45 minute talk
  • 30 minute yoga session
  • 10 minute visualization
  • each student will get a handout with the information covered in this talk.

Format of the other eight classes:

  • 10-15 minute talk explaining the thought patterns, behaviours and emotions of the specific chakra we are exploring and its physical repercussions.
  • 55 -60 minute asanas (yogic postures that activate the specific chakra)
  • 20 minutes guided relaxation in which the students self explore these concepts in regards to their own lives.
  • At the end of each class students will be given ideas of small tasks they can do daily till the next class to better embed the learnings of the chakra explored.
  • Students will also receive an email with the basic teachings of the class and optional self-exploration questions to journal about.

October 20th, 2018

Photo by Craig Starhorn on Unsplash
Photo by Craig Starhorn on Unsplash

In the chakra MULADHARA we will explore our roots as an archetype. This refers to how the psyche views the group of people, subculture, culture, nation (s), that grew you up as a child. The ones that passed all those messages that “we do things this way and not that way.” In this class, we will explore who is the “we” in that phrase and what messages one has received at that level.

The guided meditation will invite the students to find and release a personal belief passed down from their roots that no longer serves them.

October 27th, 2018

In the chakra SVADHISHTHANA we will explore the role and power of choice and how that affects creativity and one to one relationships. A healthy second chakra allows for creativity to reshape our lives and for the world to become a playful place.

The guided meditation will invite students to visualize the creative space within.

 

Exploring our personal power in the Chakra Course Berlin

November 3rd, 2018

In the chakra MANIPURA we will explore the four stages of personal power and the ability to separate ourselves from group thought.

The guided meditation will take the students through the four stages of personal power as they choose a personal subject that they wish to work on.

November 10th, 2018

Exploring Anahata at the Chakra Course BerlinIn part one of the chakra ANAHATA we will explore the definition of forgiveness and why we would wish to let go of past wounds.

We can not will forgiveness, we can only be willing. -Tara Brach

The guided meditation will focus on forgiving someone the student is ready to let go of.

November 17th, 2018

In part two of the chakra ANAHATA we will explore the “armoured heart”, ways to soften it, and learn to trust it.

The guided meditation will be a practice of loving kindness.

There will be no class on November 24th, 2018

Finding your own voice through the chakra courseDecember 1st, 2018

In the chakra VISHUDDHA we will explore communicating your “inner truth” and then surrendering to what you can not control.

The guided meditation will be a practice of accessing your inner truth.

 

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December 8th, 2018

In the chakra AJNA we will explore intuition, healthy detachment, and symbolic sight.

The guided meditation will be a visualization exploring the movie that is your life.

Chakra course Berlin

December 15th, 2018

In the chakra SAHASRARA we will explore our own private spirituality.

The guided meditation will be a visualization of exploring your own spirit connection.

 

For further information about the course such as location, prices, how to book or to know more about the teacher please click here.

5 signs that you need yoga at your workplace

 

short attention span1# Do you find that your concentration lags after 45 minutes, even if you did: 

  • have a healthy breakfast?
  • walked into work with plenty of fresh air?
  • slept fairly good last night?

There are countless articles on business organisations attempting to combat distraction in the office.  The issues are the technology employed in communicating internally (too many emails); the hyper-connectivity available to us all the time demanding our attention (mobile phones, social media); the multitasking nature required by our job roles.

Concentration and focus is rapidly becoming a real issue in the modern workplace.  Interruptions can be beneficial in refreshing our resolve and perspective when we look back at a task.  Still, productivity can take a toll as workers go back to the job in hand working faster and faster, causing stress.

Yoga at your workplace is one of the most efficient and effective ways of counteracting these concentration lags and grounding the multitasking nature of today’s world.

A regular yoga practice helps employees develop skills in how to clear and focus the mind and become more aware of their sensations, learning how to release them. This gets taught through techniques of movement, breath, visualization and relaxation.

 2# Do you make far too many cups of tea, and make them for the whole department?

  1. a) your true vocation is to open a tea and fancies shop or
  1. b) your brain is just crying out for more oxygen – through movement rather than through tea.
yoga at the workplace

Your body needs a breath of fresh air, like a stretch

In our experience of delivering yoga in office environments, the latter is the most common. Regardless of our best intentions, it is a challenge for our bodies to sustain its energy in a closed environment, sitting on a chair for long periods of time.

Of course, in response to this, YouTube videos of desk yoga are popping up all over the place. This, however, ends up being another entry in our endless to do lists, another random distraction and can at times be dubious of actually delivering results.

A weekly group yoga session in your workplace can instead provide an interactive and supervised experience.  It brings the benefits of controlled, injury conscious movement, tips on posture, breathing techniques.  It nurtures ways to cultivate a mind-set that also helps with anxiety, depression, sugar and nicotine cravings – so the workplace becomes invested in health promotion.

yoga at your workplace

Posture related back pain is common in an office environment

 

3# Do you take a painkiller everyday because your back hurts? Or maybe it is your neck that is stiff, and your shoulders and upper back are crying out for relief? Or your eyes are burning and your head feels full of fog by the end of the day?

You might work in an office that can afford to invest in one of those adjustable desks for every employee to be able to work standing for part of the time. However, the issues connected to repetitive movement, of holding your arms forward to type, of staring at a lit surface like a screen all day remain.

Yoga at your workplace offers most of all the opportunity to become aware of what we do and how we do it;

how we sit

how much interrupted time we spend at the screen

how we breathe unconsciously

how we slump and more.

 

We do all of the above differently as individuals according to our health and psychological history.  Meeting an experienced Yoga teacher every week can help workers address their specific individual issues.

4# Do you wish you could connect to your colleagues in better conditions than during your quick trip to the water cooler or while washing your hands in the bathroom? Are you wishing they didn’t just see you rushing from the desk to the kitchen?

business yoga

Yoga as a group at the office (photo by enfad)

Practising yoga as a group helps to build empathy, solidarity and communication amongst participants. It allows each person to relax individually, to look at their colleagues in a different light, to learn something new and to nourish themselves amidst their busy work day. Participants report going back to their desks feeling refreshed, energized and positive.

5# Are you hooked on books about anxiety and success? And you really would love to learn to embrace your workload as a challenge to look forward to, rather then the familiar old anxiety ridden pattern of achieving through pressure?

The workplace nowadays requires you to thrive, and that is exciting. It speaks to us about opportunity and development, which are all human needs.  Unfortunately the price tag for many of us is anxiety, fear of failure, hyper-alertness and burnout.

When a person burns out, it takes a huge toll on the individual and on the people around them: their family, friends, community and co-workers. Managers need to stay alert to these risks, and put structures in place to help their staff cope. It’s estimated that burn out and mental health stress costs the European economy billions of euros per year. Any business that wants to remain effective, cohesive and innovative needs to invest in the physical and psychological wellness of its staff: happy, balanced employees make for a creative, capable team and an effective, flexible organisation.

Yoga at your workplace addresses all that with a mix of physical movement, breathing techniques and an understanding of how body and mind are connected. It raises an awareness and provides concrete steps to address imbalances and a self-responsible attitude.

Are you interested in providing a business yoga class to your employees? Pinelopi offers high quality business yoga that addresses all the issues named in this article.

Click here to book a class, or contact Pinelopi directly: pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com.

SPRING/SUMMER NEWS FROM ENGLISH YOGA BERLIN

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“Time
doesn’t heal,
consciousness does”

                                                                      ― Danielle LaPorte

Greetings Yogis!

The spring weather is all over the place, but we are not. We have grounded ourselves in preparation for a bright season to remember.  News from English Yoga Berlin bring you: Clelia joins the team, courtesy of Erasmus, to learn from EYB about survival in the world of small sustainable enterprises. Pinelopi is getting stronger and stronger after her accident.  There are still places left in the 3 hour Yoga and Alexander Technique’s workshop with Rossella Buono and David Moore – read all about it!!

News from English Yoga Berlin

Pinelopi is back

Pinelopi’s Back

Pinelopi is back after her bike accident in December.  Lots of thanks to the wonderful substitute teachers that have kept the yoga Kreuzberg classes going for her.  She is now feeling stronger and enjoying giving the Hatha Yoga classes again. Thank you to all the wonderful people who sent flowers, healing wishes and kindness!   This time apart doing physical rehabilitation and healing has allowed her to focus on how to better the injury conscious aspect of yoga.

 

DM FB event

Yoga and the Alexander Technique Workshops

Our 6-day workshop with David Moore and Rossella Buono has one place left. Write to us if you are interested! Because of the popularity of the workshop, we’re now also offering a 3-hour workshop on July 18th, 6pm to 9pm. Register here.

 

Erasmus – Clelia

Erasmus meets English Yoga BerlinHello, pleased to meet you!! My name is Clelia and I am here to learn from EYB what it takes to run a yoga enterprise committed to people and their needs – I hope to meet as many of you as possible.  Read more in the blog about how I got here, it’s a story about how to live through limitations and transform pain into a great opportunity.

 

 

 Yogatherapy

Juli continues with her yoga therapy courseJuli is excited to continue with the advanced yoga teacher training, Svastha Yoga Therapy at the begining of June. Module 5 will bring new knowledge about yoga for depression and anxiety to the community classes at English Yoga Berlin: therapeutic Vinyasa Flow on Sundays at 4pm.

 

 

New EU regulations on private data collection

EYB is GDPR compliant

Sign up for our newsletter

No doubt you know by now what GDPR is.  We have been reviewing all our administrative processes and our privacy policy as regards to the use and retention of the private data of our students.  As you know we only send out our newsletter for a maximum of four times per year, so if it would bring you joy to receive our heartfelt seasonal updates, click here and then scroll down to the bottom of the page. You can subscribe to our mailing list on the right.

 

Holiday Closures

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Holiday time

Everyone needs a holiday, even yoga teachers! Hatha Yoga classes will be closed from July 1 – 23.

Vinyasa Yoga classes closure will be from July 20th to mid-August, check the website for up to date schedule information.

 

 
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.

Yoga Alexander Technique workshop-3 hrs-July 2018

As our six-day Yoga Alexander Technique workshop is booked up, we are now offering a smaller version of the workshop for those of you who didn’t get to take part.

Berlin Yoga and the Alexander TechniqueWHEN:            Wednesday 18th July 6pm – 9pm

WHERE:          English Yoga Berlin, Görlitzer Str 39, Kreuzberg

FOR WHO:      For any one with an interest in yoga or the Alexander technique.

TAUGHT BY:  Rossella Buono and David Moore from the School of F.M. Alexander Studies

PRICE:              €30

The Yoga Alexander Technique workshop consists of one afternoon in which we will develop an individualized practice and an understanding of the uniqueness of the use of yourself in movement and at rest.

The workshop will offer an active and practical investigation of:

· Coordination and posture from an Alexander Technique perspective
· Modifying yoga poses
· Kinaesthesia
· Doing and non-doing
· Directing energy through the body
· Identifying and overcoming habits

– All abilities and levels of experience.

– Absolute beginners are welcome!

– Please wear comfortable clothes.

Booking is strongly recommended to insure a place. To book your place click here or contact:

Rossella: rossella (at) rossellabuono  (dot) com

David: info (at) alexanderschool (dot) edu (dot) au

Pinelopi: pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

David Moore will also be offering private lessons in Berlin on Wednesday 24th July, if you are interested contact us.

ABOUT THE TEACHERS:

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 benefitting 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.

 

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 Martin Jackson from 1991 – 1994, including undertaking a teacher training course with Martin 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.

English Yoga Berlin is the host of this event.  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 for people struggling with chronic pain.

Yoga Kreuzberg here I come!

Yoga Kreuzberg here I am!
Yoga Kreuzberg here I am!

Hello Yoga Kreuzberg, pleased to meet you!!

My name is Clelia and I am here to learn from EYB what it takes to run a yoga enterprise committed to people and their needs – I hope to meet as many of you as possible.  But let me tell you a little about how I got here, it’s a story about how to live through limitations and transform pain into a great opportunity.

My path to English Yoga Berlin begun one day about one year ago: I had an office job, a radio show in the student radio at Glasgow university and an arthritic hip.  This meant I was spending most of my time sitting down inputting data or listening to music; anyone of you who has experience directly or indirectly in arthritic pain will know that lack of movement is going to make things chronically worse.  My only lifeline was my daily yoga practice, as yoga is the only movement based activity with no impact and enough awareness to care for my condition.  I had tried the gym, but it only left me in pain at night: I also used to swim, but not being able to move the leg meant that I was only using my upper body.  Yoga was able to tackle posture, injury-conscious movement and offered breathing techniques that relaxed all the tense muscles doing their best to cope but becoming chronically tight.

I could not afford to pay for the amount of classes I needed every week (at least five), so I practiced at home.  I confess that practicing yoga on my own felt lonely at times, and the available online yoga classes would not help me learn how to address my individual needs; as my hip became tighter and tighter, it was harder and harder to motivate myself on the mat.  Nevermind full splits, I could not even sit crossed legged!  I craved a teacher, a guide, another human to help me, and maybe other faces with me in the room to let me know I was not alone in caring for our bodies and minds.  I decided I needed to take action in far deeper ways that what I had been doing, I needed a true commitment to my health: my job came to an end, I had to find another way to make a living.  I thought “can I put these two things together? make a living and commit to my health in a supportive community?”.

The answers came: where I live in Scotland, there is a commitment from local government to invest funding for both entrepreneurs and initiatives to help tackle physical and mental health.  I looked into setting up a social enterprise, and the answers kept coming: I found out from a dear friend about Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, a programme to support new entrepreneurs to go abroad and learn in a paid internship from more experienced entrepreneurs.  I searched and spoke to many yoga teachers, studios and organisation across Europe, until I found Kreuzberg Yoga with Pinelopi and Juli: they offer a yoga practice that nurtures and potentially empowers individuals as interconnected to each other through mutual respect, and that is proactive in making the benefits of yoga available to those traditionally marginalised from it – whether it is for physical ability, economic background, transgressive identity, ideals of body shape, perceptions of yoga as exclusively spiritual, esoteric, for experts.  It was, and is, the loudest answer to my needs I could ever hope for.

Clelia is an Erasmus entrepreneur working as an intern in learning how to set up a small yoga business such as English Yoga Berlin. 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 for people struggling with chronic pain.

 

Sit up straight

 

“Sit up straight” is a phrase we often use as yoga teachers. The very premise of the asanas in Hatha yoga is to create a body that is comfortable enough to sit still, with a straight back in order to meditate. That is why we practice asanas: to reduce the dis-ease in our body, so that our minds can quiet, and that we can experience Existence beyond our body and mind.

But what exactly does “sitting up straight” mean.  In my ten years as yoga teacher, I have seen that this instruction is up for a myriad of interpretations. Everyone tries to do what their perception of straight is. However, the perception is created from deeply ingrained patterns and beliefs and does not always end up bringing you to a more balanced posture. Many interpret “sit up straight” to mean that you should concave your back and look like a ballerina. Others interpret it as pushing your hips forward and lean back, like swaying in the wind. Often people use a lot of muscular energy to try and hold their perception of straight.

Now, the fact that this instruction can be interpreted so widely constitutes an actual problem for asanas. Sitting up straight is the pose that all other poses stem from. One could interpret it as the mother pose that gives birth to all other poses. So when we are confused with what this means, and see our students use immense amounts of energy to execute it, it distorts the rest of the practice. There is an important link missing in our teaching.

But unfortunately, most yoga teacher trainings do not prepare you for this kind of analysis. Mine included.

This is where the Alexander Technique can help immensely in modern day yoga.

Last July, I had the pleasure to host David Moore and Rossella Buono, in a six hour workshop at our studio in English Yoga Berlin. They brought the Alexander Technique into yoga and into my life. They provided me with the “missing link” I was needing in order to take my yoga teaching to the next level. I understood that certain students were getting stuck in yoga poses because they were losing sight of the overall process of coordination. The “missing link” was in understanding and coordinating the basic posture from which all other poses rise…. or in other words, understanding what “sit up straight” really means.

In a merely six hour workshop, I learned so much as a yoga teacher! I was so inspired by this workshop that I immediately starting applying my new knowledge to my every day yoga classes, seeing a real difference in students. Since then, I have been working on getting David and Rossella back to teach Berlin yoga teachers more about how these two practices can work together. I am delighted that in July 2018, practitioners and yoga teachers from all over the world will come to attend a six day workshop doing just that!

 For more information about the workshop please click here.

 

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain. In mid-September she will be offering her first English speaking yoga and mindfulness retreat dedicated to presence.