Weekend Hatha Yoga Retreat on Softening the Heart

Pinelopi is organizing a weekend long Hatha Yoga retreat dedicated to:

“Softening the Heart”

You are warmly invited to immerse yourselves in a weekend full of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and presence.
Hatha Yoga Retreat Berlin

Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash

When:   Friday March 8th, 2019; 15.00 – Sunday March 10th 17.00

Where:  Rosenwaldhof  – This is a beautiful place in Brandenburg, 1.5 hours South-east of Berlin, on the river Havel, surrounded by nature.

What is included:

  • Four yoga sessions
  • Meditation instruction
  • Mindfulness walks to explore the river and nature
  • Bio vegetarian food: breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Accommodation based on your preference

 

Prices:  Prices include all the above plus one of the following accommodation options:

  • Double room 245€
  • Single room 255€

** All bathroom facilities are shared. If you have a need for a private bathroom please inquire.

Who:

  • Up to 15 yoga students

Early registration discount:   15 € discount if you register before January 15th, 2019. To reserve your space, please send an email and deposit 50 Euro by bank transfer or paypal. *The deposit is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than 21 days before the retreat. Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

For more details, please write to:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

6 day intensive Yoga and the Alexander technique workshop

yoga and the alexander technique david mooreWe here proudly present the next level in our Yoga and the Alexander Technique adventures: a six day intensive workshop!

In the past year we have hosted two workshops at our yoga studio with David Moore and Rossella Buono. The workshops were a great success. Everyone left feeling they learned something valuable to bring to their practice and are now asking for more. So here it is!

WHEN: July 18th to 23rd 2018

WHAT: A six day Yoga and the Alexander Technique workshop that will give us the opportunity to explore the basics of posture movement and breathing and give participants the skills to develop a personalised approach to their yoga practice based on their own unique characteristics and needs. The practice does not end on the yoga mat, but involves the development of our awareness to how we are living and moving in all aspects of our lives. Besides examining and refining yoga poses we will be looking at everyday activities as simple as walking, standing and sitting.

In this workshop we will explore:

  • Coordination and posture from an Alexander Technique perspective
  • Modifying yoga poses

  • Breathing and pranayama

  • Deepening observation skills

  • Meditation

  • Freeing the energy flow through the body

  • Identifying and overcoming habits

  • Doing and non-doing

  • Developing an individualised practice

WHO ARE THE TEACHERS:   David Moore (author of Smart Yoga: Apply the Alexander Technique to Enhance Your Practice, Prevent Injury, and Increase Body Awareness ) and Rossella Buono

FOR WHO IS THIS WORKSHOP:  It will be of particular interest to yoga teachers, Alexander Technique teachers and experienced practitioners in those disciplines. However, if you are not any of these things, but still wish to participate… you will be very welcomed!

WHERE: our English Kreuzberg Yoga studio

PRICE: €450 (€400 early-bird if paid before 19 May)

For more details please click here.

Hatha Yoga with Pinelopi is back!

Pinelopi is now back from summer holiday, full of new energy and happy feelings, ready to teach yoga again!

 

Pinelopi’s classes are a mix of Hatha asanas (yoga poses), grounding techniques, pranayama (breathing exercises), pratyahara (practice of detachment), yoga nidra and meditation. She is an injury conscious yoga teacher and is a firm believer that yoga is for everybody and any body. She believes that no one should ever be in pain during class. All yoga poses can be adjusted so that one is still stretching, growing, strengthening, challenged, without experiencing pain or triggering old injuries.

Yoga, for her, requires becoming conscious of where you are at physically, emotionally, spiritually and what means you have available at this moment. Once the practitioner identifies this, yoga will work from there to release blocks and open up one’s spirit to new ways of seeing the world and receiving its’ gifts.

Join her at one of her regular Hatha Yoga weekly classes starting September 1st, 2016:

Monday

Tuesday

Thursday

9:45-11:15
Hatha Yoga

18:00-19:30
Hatha Yoga

18:00-19:30
Hatha Yoga

20:00-21:30
Hatha Yoga

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She  also offers Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain.

What is Tantric Meditation?

Meditation is a means to train the mind. By repeating certain mental exercises —like fixing the attention on one point for awhile, or experiencing the whole body— the mind becomes more able to do those things. Just like when we train a muscle: Repeat the action and you get better at it. looking

From another perspective, meditation is a means to clear the mind of unconscious patterns and complexes. By entering the meditative state, we allow repressed memories and traumas to surface and dissipate, while we remain as the passive observers of this process.

What is so special about the Tantric meditation? Tantra doesn’t try to control the tendencies of the mind or to lead the mind in one direction or another. It allows anything that comes-up in the mind to fully express itself. We devote ourselves to whatever we experience, and use it as a tool in our meditation. We learn to be with whatever is happening without struggling, reacting or getting overwhelmed by it.

For a very clear example, see my post A Tantric Way to Dealing with Pain

Tantra documents a myriad of different meditations, for every temperament or life situation. Some of the most potent ones are Antar Mauna, Trataka and Yoga Nidra; which have themselves countless variations.  In these meditations you remain still, while devoting yourself to different experiences (a fixed point, the sense impressions, certain visualizations, etc.).  Their effects can not easily be summarized, but include: greater awareness and intuition, more calm and contentment, higher ability to concentrate, etc.

From Tantra we also receive the Kundalini meditation, which don’t so much work with the mind, but with the inner energy (prana) that animates body and mind. These meditations make us aware of pranic energy and of the chakras, where this energy is concentrated.  Two of the main energy meditations are Source of Energy and Ajapa Japa, in which you combine breath, concentration and visualization to connect with, and influence, our subtle energy flows.

Pedro teaches Tantra Yoga and Meditation at English Yoga Berlin.  He will be teaching the 10-Week Meditation Course: Clarity and Energy, where one has the opportunity to learn the meditations mentioned in this post, and to be guided step by step into creating their own meditation practice.

A Tantric Way of Dealing with Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Pedro teaches Tantra yoga and meditation at English Yoga Berlin.

Tips for starting your personal meditation practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Small Yoga Classes

Making yoga in Berlin more accesible

Small yoga classes in Berlin

Practicing yoga is a personal experience. We go deeper into ourselves to become more aware of how our bodies move, what our thoughts are, how we feel and what we need in the present moment.

Distractions while practicing yoga can pull us out of the moment, create negative thoughts or feelings, or cause us to injure ourselves. And while a meditation or yoga practice teaches us to become better at being present despite distractions, this may be difficult to do for beginners or experienced yogis alike.

A room packed full of people can easily create distractions. The proximity of others, their scents and sounds, or even our own minds making comparisons, can pull us out of our focus on the self. A private practice at home may seem like a solution, but listening to a teacher’s guiding voice helps to keep us present and less caught up in our own thoughts. It also helps us to relax and just follow.

In a practice room with less people, a yoga teacher is able to be aware of each student and give more attention where needed. They can see when you are doing something that could injure yourself and correct it or give individualized modifications. Often, in small studios, the teachers also get a chance to talk to students before the class to check how they’re feeling that day and if the student has injuries or issues to be aware of during certain exercises. At English Yoga Berlin, we also check in after the class to see how it went for the students, answer questions and gather any feedback for the next class.

At our yoga studio in Kreuzberg each student has about 3 meters square of space they can be in by themselves for their own practice. With this space, there’s no worry about hitting another student or falling into them if you lose balance. Yet students have commented on how intimate it feels and that there’s a sense of community at our space. With less people in the room, it’s much easier to recognize others, gain trust, and become aware of the interconnectedness between ourselves and others while sharing space as we move through our own individual yoga practices.

Often, small yoga classes are offered at higher rates than fuller classes, but at English Yoga Berlin all of our classes offered at regular rates (or sliding-scale rates for community classes) with a maximum of 10 students in the room. We offer Hatha yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Classical yoga and Restorative yoga classes in English at our collective studio in Berlin, Kreuzberg. Our teachers are injury conscious and will be happy to assist you before and throughout the class with tailored variations for your yoga poses. We believe that the increased awareness that we cultivate in our yoga classes together with the suggested variations for your unique body, make a difference both to practicing yoga in daily life and to the yoga benefits you take with you after class.

A Tired Mama’s Yoga – Part II

In the previous blog,  A tired mama’s yoga – Part I , I talked about the difficulties of practicing yoga while being the mother of a small child. In today’s blog, I d like to give an example of one of the multitasking practices of yoga and mommyhood. It’s this specific practice, I think, that has kept me the most in tune with yoga.

Photo by Fern

Photo by Fern

After not managing to practice yoga in the traditional way, I found I have to use whatever time I have to practice. Half a year ago I realized that sometimes I would spend over an hour putting the baby to bed at night. First I’d sing her lullabies, and then I would just stay there by her side making a wo wo wo sound for her to fall asleep. One day I thought, why not change this sound to my beloved Om and use this time to meditate? At the beginning of the meditation, I felt too tired to even sit up straight. Slowly the Om got more powerful, and my back started to straighten on the chair. At the end I was very surprised to feel so incredibly energized again – something had been able to break through to the new parent tiredness.

I started practicing every night again. I started liking the bed time ritual even more. Is it an uninterrupted practice? By no means. Sometimes I have to help the baby lie down again, or hold her because she is having a hard time… sometimes I have to sway her back and forth and continue with the Om standing up. Sometimes I finish the meditation and I realize that she is still awake, has been holding on to her sheet, and has been listening to her mama s om in absolute serenity for the past 20 minutes. Whichever way the meditation goes… I always feel I’ve benefited at the end of it.

I realize now, that we’ve created a mutual dependency. The baby needs the Om to fall asleep and I need the obligatory sit down time to meditate. If my internal mama duties didn’t oblige me to be by her side at bedtime, I would probably just lay down on the couch feeling too tired to do anything else that day. Fortunately she still needs me to fall asleep, and I benefit massively from this fact. Have I created a sleeping crutch for my child? Maybe. Lots of people say it s much better for children to learn to fall asleep alone. But, then again, what kind of a sleeping crutch is it? I’ve thought a lot about this. Is it such a bad thing to get her used to the Om before falling asleep? There are hundreds of documented benefits of meditation and the vibe that meditations creates for the people surrounding the medidators. I believe she is benefiting from this. Maybe through this practice I m even teaching her how to meditate before she falls asleep. That s a falling asleep habit that I am very happy to give her for her life. A habit that will strengthen her throughout.

 

A Tired Mama’s Yoga – Part I

Yoga Mom

Yoga Mom

Since I became a mom last year, the ability to do yoga in a concentrated grounded way dissipated. You could say it’s the lack of space. The baby’s play area is where I previously would practice and now is covered with cute toys that make noise during my sun salutations. Or maybe it’s the absolute lack of time. Yes, I imagined how little time I’d have. But somehow, I always thought I would find that one hour for yoga. I was mistaken. Or maybe space and time are not nearly as important as fighting through the tiredness of those sleepless nights and lack of alone time. As soon as I would start on the relaxation, I’d fall asleep. Yes, there are many obstacles to yoga as a mom.

So how can yoga and mommyhood coexist?

Well yoga, for me, has had to transform. It’s traditional disciplined form that requires alone time and quietness is totally incompatible with my present life. It has had to become a playful, in-between tasks, light type of yoga. My new yoga practice includes things like observing myself wash plates in a non-judgmental way, meditating while putting the baby to sleep, teaching the body parts to my toddler while doing a sun salutation, learning the animal kingdom through asanas, and calming the mind down by pretending to be a bee.

Does this yoga give the same benefits to that of the grounded focused yoga? Probably not. The only way of getting that focused space now, is to physically remove myself from my home and attend a class. My yoga teacher used to say “an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of theory”. This light transformed yoga is the one that’s available to me now. This is my ounce of practice. If we all were to wait for the circumstances to be absolutely right in order to practice yoga, then we’d probably never get started!

Yoga is a life companion. As our lives change it’s practical application will also change with us. But yoga’s essence will remain stable, present, and loving – guiding us through the changes of our lives like a loving parent.

Pinelopi teaches Hatha yoga classes in English at our collective studio in Berlin, Kreuzberg. Our teachers are injury conscious and will be happy to assist you before and throughout the class with tailored variations for your yoga poses. We believe that the increased awareness that we cultivate in our yoga classes together with the suggested variations for your unique body, make a difference both to practicing yoga in daily life and to the yoga benefits you take with you after class.

The Gift of Yoga

Yoga is a beautiful gift for Christmas and for life

photo by Fern

Christmas time is here and you already know the drill. It s supposed to be fun, it s supposed to be a moment to rest, for reminiscing, of gratitude and happy times together with loved ones. You re supposed to be generous and show your love with gifts. Some people even manage to make it so. But for most, this period of gift shopping in Berlin ends up being such a stressful marathon of accumulating more stuff than needed, of frantically getting everything ready for Christmas day… and at the end of it all …one ends up needing a vacation from the vacation!

For those of you following this tradition: December is stressful. Yoga classes will help you get through this month, and who knows?… maybe even enjoy it. Our yoga school in Berlin Kreuzberg will only close between the 23rd to the 28th of December. Make sure to give yourself the gift of yoga during this cold dark month. Gentle movement, gentle breathing, deep relaxation are the yoga benefits that will make all the difference.

And if you are in need of a present, you can always purchase a 5er card online or at the English Yoga Berlin studio for your loved ones this Christmas. You wouldn’t be giving them yet another material present to cramp up their home… but five yoga classes full of tools for a healthier life, for staying in the present moment, for meditation, and for deep relaxation!