Berlin Yoga Gift Card

“For it is in giving that we receive.” — Francis of Assisi

Berlin Yoga Gift Card

Berlin Yoga Gift Card

 

This December is full of many things – an end of a decade, as well as the darkest days drawing upon us, both politically and celestially. Holidays of various religious and non-religious affiliation draw us together, but for those of us with complicated relationships to or without family, it can feel even more stressful or depressive. A consumer culture encourages us to buy more things to fill the void or fulfill gift-giving obligations, which seem to miss the point of honestly giving something to someone we love.

A nice dinner, a visit to the hammam, or a guided tour are a few gift ideas for those who’d like to give something that does not contribute to Co2 emissions through the shipping of packages, or add more waste to the world by purchasing more plastic gadgets that nobody actually needs. If you’re at a loss for an idea for a friend who likes yoga, why not a Berlin yoga gift card? At English Yoga Berlin we offer them all year round.

And if you feel you need a special place to go inwards for yourself during this dark holiday season, why not come and try out a class in our candle-lit cozy and warm Kreuzberg yoga studio.

Please take a look at our up-to-date schedule for our holiday closures.

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

6 Simple things to fight the flu season

Those of us who live in the 52nd latitude are well aware that when winter comes the days grow shorter, and our lovely sun is not giving us as much vitamin D to feed our immune system. And as the weather gets colder and wetter, more people pack themselves into crowded transportation rather than ride their (t)rusty wire donkeys. Being the international city that it is, Berlin gives one’s immune system a workout, with germs coming from all over the world, rather than the ones we grew up with and learned to adapt to. A challenge I gratefully accept because I believe that learning about, and adapting to, all kinds of different cultures (including those as small as the ones that take up habitat inside my gut) is what keeps me strong, flexible and ready for other things that come my way. So I compiled a list of 6 simple things to fight the flu season that have worked for me to keep my immune system strong during these cold and dark months.

staying warm during winter

Wear layers to regulate body temperature

1. Layers

Moving in-between different temperatures is a good recipe to foster cold and flu bugs. Dressing warmly is necessary for being outside, but then with a heavy sweater or coat on inside, sweating can promote their growth. For me, what works is wearing layers. I can regulate my body temperature by removing one or more layers depending on how warm or cool a place is kept. For instance, grocery stores tend to be cooler than a city bus.

2. Deep Breaths

While standing to wait in the cold, we have a tendency to hunch the shoulders up to stay warm. But this actually has the opposite effect, and can result in tension in the neck and shoulders. Hunching up restricts the lungs and causes more shallow breaths. This cools the body down even more. Not only does breathing deeply and slowly warm up the body, but it also helps more oxygen and other nutrients to move through the whole cardiovascular system, hence strengthening the immune system. Exhaling slowly has also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress. Also very helpful in these busy, end of the year days. So, in addition to wearing layers, I make sure to wear a big scarf to keep my neck warm. Then I can let my shoulders relax down and lengthen up my torso to widen my chest and take deep breaths.

3. Drink fluids

Tea, tea, and more tea. That’s all I’m going to say. No, seriously. It warms me up, and flushes out any built-up toxins. Just plain water is good too, of course. Hot cocoa and coffee can also be very nice. But if I feel myself coming down with a cold, I’ll try to eliminate any sugars, because it can lower the immune system’s response.

4. Sleep, rest

My body’s circadian rhythm is somehow very attuned to how dark it is outside. It tells me I need more sleep and rest during these months of 16 hours of daily darkness. I wonder what it would be like if I lived in northern Sweden? I may not always listen to my body, but when I do I feel more rested.

5. Exercise

I’m riding my bike less and less, so I try to compensate for the lack of cardio by walking more and going to dance classes. I also prefer to walk the stairs instead of taking the escalator. It not only feels good on my cardiovascular system, but also for my mental health.

6. Public spaces

I don’t use hand sanitizer so often. After playing ball with the dog, or when there’s no hot water or soap in a public washroom, it’s quite useful. But I try to avoid it if possible, so as not to remove the helpful bacteria that my body needs. I feel quite blessed that I have a strong immune system (well, I have a few chronic conditions that I struggle with, but on the whole I’m rather healthy). I *can* move through public spaces and hold handrails, and somehow manage to not get sick. But I know people who would get sick instantly. Carrying around hand sanitizer would be a definite benefit. But I also find for myself, that avoiding touching my own face in public also helps. If I’ve been traveling around on public transit, when I finally get a chance to I’ll wash my hands.

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

Sliding-scale Queer Yoga

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

Queer Yoga Berlin

Sliding-Scale Berlin Yoga guide

What is Sliding-scale Queer Yoga?

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

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

sign on the door

English Yoga Berlin is a safe space

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

 


Why “Queer” Yoga?

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

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


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

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

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

pirvate yoga classes: Juli

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

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

private yoga classes: Juli

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

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

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

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

 

Practicing Breath

practicing breath

Practicing Breath

The idea of “practicing breath” is one that’s often heard in yoga classes. But what does it really mean?

Aren’t we always breathing?

In the novel Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins writes about two characters, Alobar and Kudra, who learn techniques of immortality, one of them a slow, controlled breathing practice. I often think about them as I breathe the way I’ve learned through years of yoga practice. And no, I’m not doing it because I want to be immortal!

I started practicing yoga about 20 years ago. I’d follow along with the breathing techniques in classes, and feel their immediate effects; more openness in my body, a greater sense of calm, more energy, and sometimes just pure bliss. But I started to understand why they were so important only more recently as the practice became more a part of my daily life.

Breathing as Pain Alleviation

I’d struggled for years with pain from of endometriosis. And a few years ago I began a weekly practice of Osho Kundalini Meditation. Through this, I learned techniques of relaxation of the pelvic muscles, which helped to reduce the pain. As I would go through the exercises, I started to realize that it was my breathing that brought me to the relaxation. The deep yoga breath made me more conscious of where I was holding physical tension in my body and in invited me to release that tension. I don’t practice the Osho technique anymore, but as soon as I start feeling the pain from endometriosis, I take deep breaths and focus on relaxing my pelvic muscles. The pain quickly dissipates. I’m not saying that this could work for everyone, as not all pain is because of tension. But it works for me.

Breathing to Reduce Anxiety

Another thing that deep conscious breathing helps me with is anxiety. As an introvert, I feel the pressure of social anxiety in crowds of people. It’s easy to take a drink or too in social settings to numb that, and though I’m a yoga teacher, I’m not against that, as it does help me relax! But there are other situations where anxiety creeps up on me too. In these cases, a minute or two of deep controlled and conscious breathing help to me feel a bit more at ease. It’s not perfect, but that little bit does help me to function better.

Breathing as a Healing Practice

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been learning about restorative yoga and its healing potential. Allowing our bodies to rest through deep relaxation and conscious breath can support us in recovering from illnesses faster, reducing stress and anxiety, boost our immune systems and make us stronger. Last year, I began an advanced yoga teacher training, the Svastha Yoga Therapie program. What I’ve learned in the first couple of modules was invaluable. I’m excited for the 3rd and 4th modules which I will attend this year, which are all about the breath. I look forward to continuing to learn more about how the breath can heal.

Practicing Breath

The idea of practicing breath is not something unique to yoga, but it’s one that we focus on in yoga classes. Once or twice a week, we get together, breathe and move together. We learn various breathing techniques in a class lead by a knowledge guide. But then what happens when we leave? Do we go back to our short breaths, hunching shoulders up to ears while waiting for the bus in the cold? Holding our breath when someone makes us angry? My idea of practicing breath is about being conscious and aware of how I’m breathing in the moment. I try, when I can, to take this practice out of the yoga studio and into my daily life. It may not change the world and all society’s problems. But it can help me to deal with it better, and get strong to fight back against it in a way that is productive.

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Juli teaches restorative yoga and vinyasa flow at English Yoga Berlin in our Kreuzberg yoga studio.

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).

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).

 

 

 

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.

Beat the Winter Blues with Restorative Yoga

Rejuvenate

Relaxing by candlelight

Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, or Dōngzhì, or no religious-cultural festival at all, the months of November and December in the Northern Hemisphere can be a stressful time of year. Winter is starting to hit hard, the hours of light dwindling down to their shortest, and the temperature is dropping. Additional stresses can wear us down; such as family or work social obligations, exams, deadlines, trip-planning, and attempts at tying up our own loose ends or goals for the year. Our hibernation impulse kicks in, and we want to stay inside where it’s warm and snack on comfort food.

At English Yoga Berlin we are offering a special 6-week Restorative Yoga course to help you alleviate winter stresses and regenerate your self-care, ending with a special class on December 21st, the winter solstice. Just in time for the daylight hours to start increasing again.

When:   Sundays 6-7:30pm, Nov. 16 through Dec. 21, 2014.
Where: Our Kreuzberg Yoga Studio
Price:    100€ for the whole course / 20€ per drop-in class
               registered monthlies 90€ / 2 stamps on a 5er card


Please contact us for more info – (to register, bring half the fee in cash to the first class)


Why Restorative Yoga?

In our everyday lives, we are often encouraged to push further, achieve more, do more, be more social, be more productive, fill our days with activities and take on more work. It is easy to lose sight of our own capacities, our own limits, and we can push ourselves beyond them without nurturing the support structure that we need to maintain a healthy balance, inviting stress, anxiety, injuries or illness. A restorative yoga practice (as well as yoga nidra and other practices that focus on relaxation) can help to rejuvenate the body and mind after pushing too far, thereby fostering balance. Once we know our limits and have nurtured them we can then gently (and with support) test the waters and play at the edges.

Expanding our limits (and moving beyond our comfort zone) can cause great rewards such as opening our minds to new concepts, becoming more flexible or physically strong, and strengthening our empathy towards other people. But it’s not possible to find balance if all we feel is stress, low energy and burn out. Restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for nurturing our bodies and restoring them to health. When we are in a rushed and high-energy state, our bodies activate the ‘sympathetic nervous system,’ which is responsible for releasing certain chemicals to keep us going, so that we can react quickly and do more within a shorter period of time – a state of fight-or-flight. These chemicals can linger in the body until the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in to counter them. And we can remain in this state long after the specific things that have caused us anxiety or stress have ended. This is why we sometimes feel that ‘relaxing’ (meeting friends, watching TV, reading a book) cannot rejuvenate us. We may have trouble sleeping or have anxious dreams, which only perpetuate the feeling of urgency, stress, and low energy.

What is Restorative Yoga?

The only way to counter these effects in our body is with complete and total concentrated relaxation. Activities that remove distractions, such as meditation, sitting by a fire, or going for a solitary walk can help. Yoga Nidra and Restorative Yoga are specifically designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, so that the body and mind can restore to balance. Restorative Yoga is based on the Iyengar tradition of using props to support the body during poses.

Some of these poses were adapted by Judith Lasater for a restorative practice, so that deep relaxation could occur by holding positions longer (up to 15 minutes) with the support of bolsters, blocks, chairs, pillows and blankets. The body is positioned in such a way that it is totally supported, without the need to either stretch the muscles or use their power. A restorative pose should be very very comfortable and relaxing so that the muscles of the body can decompress, and the mind can completely unwind, fostering the release of chemicals from the parasympathetic nervous system. The restorative yoga classes we provide at English Yoga Berlin incorporate a gentle flow, along with some chair-supported Hatha poses (beneficial for those needing to strengthen their bones and joints because of Osteoporosis or Arthritis), followed by long-held poses in a warm candlelit room, and accompanied by gentle pressure point massage.