2.5 hrs Workshop Pantanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas

yama and niyamas

Yama and Niyamas: the non-physical benefits of Yoga

In Patanjali´s classical texts about yoga, eight parts of a yogic practice are outlined. These parts can also be referred to as “limbs”. The most widely known limb of yoga is Asana practice– the practice of physical postures. In our English Berlin Yoga Classes, we understand the value of going beyond the physical. This workshop, therefore focuses mostly on two specific limbs of Patanjali´s eight-fold path: Yamas and Niyamas.


Yamas and Niyamas are the first two steps of yoga that Patanjali discusses in the Yoga Sutra. They are ethical, behavioral and spiritual guidelines for living. There is a lot of room for interpretation with the Yamas and Niyamas–because of basic translation issues (some concepts are very tricky to twist into English!). These guidelines are designed for yogis to personally interrogate, observe and experience in the context of their own lives. They are given to students of yoga to contemplate and  incorporate into their everyday lives.

When:  Sunday 27th of January, 2019 14:00

Where: At The Yoga Hub Berlin, Greifswalder Str. 8, 10405 Berlin, Germany

Who is this workshop for:

Anyone who would like to be introduced to the dimension of yoga that is both beyond and essential to the physical practice. This workshop is also good (but not only) for yoga teachers wishing to refresh or deepen their knowledge.

Format of workshop:

This workshop is given in the form of a talk with ten mini self-explorative guided meditations to make the material relevant to you and your every day life.

Please note:

  • Most of the talk will focus on:
    • Patanjali and the goal of yoga
    • the Yamas and Niyamas (ethics and moral observances)
    • Pratyahara (the practice of dettachment).
  • The talk will focus very briefly on:
    • Asanas (yogic postures)
    • Pranayama (breathing techniques)
      • As these are explained in the regular Hatha Yoga classes
  • The talk will briefly introduce the goals of:
    • Dharana (concentration)
    • Dhyana (meditation)
    • Samadhi (liberation)
      • as these subjects are too big for a 2.5 hr workshop.

About the teacher:

Pinelopi teaches Berlin Yoga workshopsBackground info: Beginning her yoga journey in 1999, Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain. This training is recognized by the Berufverband de Yogalehrenden in Deutschland (BDY), World Movement of Yoga and Ayurveda and the European Yoga Federation. For the last decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. Currently she is deepening her knowledge through Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy Course and David Moore’s “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses.

Price: 35 Euro

Early registration discount:10 € discount if you register before January 15, 2019. The workshop is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than January 13th, after which 50% refund.  Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

To book a place please contact:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com


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.

Interview with Juli

Juli continues with her yoga therapy course

In this interview with Juli, Clelia asks some questions about teaching and yoga.

1. Why are you teaching yoga, rather than just practising it for yourself?

I’m passionate about teaching. Everything I love to do, I want to share with others and help them learn how to do it too. I’m also a filmmaker, and I love teaching filmmaking. When I was learning to play the piano as a young teen, one of the first things I did was show the other neighbourhood kids how to play piano too!

2. How did you find your way through the ancient tradition of Yoga?  Why Vinyasa yoga and not another yoga?

I’ve tried a lot of different styles of yoga, and many different teachers with different styles within the same practice. Most of the studios I’d attend classes at had a wide-range of styles and teachers that I could try out – from Iyengar, Astanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Anusara, Jivamukti to Bikram / Hot, Acro, and Kundalini. I tended to get more out of the Krishnamacharya-influenced flow classes, so I spent more time practicing vinyasa. The dance-like movements work better for me than static poses in reducing the muscle-tension pain I get from endometriosis and fibromyalgia. My first teacher training was a 200-hour intensive one-month training in Mexico, at a place called Yandara. The style is influenced by Anusara, and more flow-based, but it was very open. Everyone brought their own style to the training, and then learned the basic history and philosophy of yoga, and how to teach, not just a specific style of postures / movement, but about the different aspects of yoga. The advanced teacher training I’m attending now is Svastha yoga therapy (yoga for physical and mental health), founded by A.G. and Indra Mohan, who were students of Krishnamacharya, and taught by their son, Ganesh Mohan. What I learn with this training influences my yoga teaching as well as my daily life – how to manage the stresses of a contemporary western lifestyle, how to manage pain and chronic illness, and recover from and prevent injuries.

3. What is the relationship between tradition and development in your practice as a teacher?

Yoga has always been about being adaptable to new situations / people. The ancient yogis never intended for any kind of yoga to stay the same, static or rigid. Patanjali writes about this in the Yoga Sutras. Yoga was intended to be passed down from one practitioner to another and adapt with each person and their community or environment. That is one of the beautiful things about yoga, is that it’s such a diverse practice, different wherever you go, whoever you meet. The things I learned from my teachers that resonate with me, I hold onto, develop further and adapt to my community. For instance, yoga practitioners often use gendered language that I find sexist and transphobic. It’s not necessary, so I use non-gendered and more inclusive language in my classes. I came to yoga from a very westernized viewpoint, but I’m on the path now to learning as much as I can about honouring the history of yoga, as well as respecting the contemporary south asian practices, as they evolve to be more inclusive to poorer communities, women and trans folk, and people with a variety of abilities. And as I keep learning more and more about the philosophy of yoga, I realize that there is nothing in it that cannot be adapted to my communities.

Juli offers Community Yoga classes at English Yoga Berlin, with an emphasis on creating a space 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, transfolk, sex-workers, b&pocs, differently abled, abundant bodied, low/no-income).

Yamas and Niyamas Part 4

The final installment in our 4 part series about Yamas and Niyamas would not be complete  without talking about passion, self-reflection and surrender. In part one of this series, we talked about Patanjali´s limbs of classical yoga practice and started to explore the ethical guideposts within them (aka the Yamas). In part two of Yamas and Niyamas, we spoke about aspects of self-control with regard to possessions, sexuality and energy. Part three covered clarity and calm with regard to your inner life–the first installment of the Niyamas.

The Yamas and Niyamasa are ethical elements of practice, and they are what takes yoga from the level of physical exercise to a deeper, potentially life-altering point. All aspects of human life can be touched if a person is able to understand and practice the deep implications of yoga. Once again, the Yamas are ethical principles about  attitudes and behaviors that cause suffering (greed, dishonesty, violence, etc). The Niyamas (the second limb) are the attitudes and behaviors that yogis can work towards to cultivate happiness and to improve their lives and environments.

“Tapas” is an attitude of passion and commitment. Some people think of it as discipline, or austerity. The word actually comes from the Sanskrit verb ”to burn”-so Tapas is all about fiery consistency. I think that we often get this mixed up with difficulty and striving. I prefer to think of it more as a gentle flame that inspires us to keep going, even when the tasks at hand seem very, very mundane! Think of doing your family’s laundry, or having the same conversation again and again with a friend who is struggling to understand something about themselves. Tapas brings us to do these things with patience, engagement and dedication.

What areas of your life and practice feel repetitive or lukewarm? Could being more present and engaged with these areas make you feel more excited about them?

Svadhaya means active self-reflection, or study of the self. This doesn’t mean egotistical navelgazing. Rather, it’s about learning enough about yourself to see that you are part of something much, much bigger. Asana practice brings the body and mind to a place of quiet, so that we can experience our union with everything. Western Science calls this web of interbeing ´ecology´. The Yogic scriptures call it ´reality´. Both are correct, and Svadhaya is a practice that allows us to recognize this.  Svadhaya is an attitude that helps us to transcend projection, isolation and other illusions that come standard with a human body and mind.

How does yoga help you ”see” yourself in different ways? Do you have other practices that nourish this ability?

Isvara Pranidahna
The last Niyama is Isvara Pranidahna, which means ‘surrender’ or ‘faith’.  Simply put, this Niyama is about chilling the fuck out. Isvara Pranidahna means that you do your best, in the moment, with the tools you have, and then you release your attachment to the outcome. As the Bhagavad Gita says, “the future is none of your business, so don’t worry about it!” Focus on doing your best in the present moment, and leave the rest for another day.

Do your expectations and worries about a particular project or relationship hold you back from enjoying it fully in the moment? If you take a trial run at not worrying about controlling that thing, even for a minute or two, how does it feel?

Our Hatha yoga in English is a discipline of non violence that is about practice and experience, rather than dogma or rules. We offer yoga in Kreuzberg for all levels of physical ability. We believe that yoga in Berlin and around the world should be nurturing to your body and soul. And as we become happier and more balanced as individuals, we can go out and make our world a better place. We are happy to offer you a home in our sangha and hope we can offer you a place of belonging, growth and rest.

Yamas and Niyamas, Part 3

Yoga in Berlin is about more than just physical exercise. It’s about the multitude of benefits you can receive from consistent practice. Although we never push doctrine on our students, our Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga classes do incorporate a traditional understanding and awareness about how yoga can really change people´s lives when they are off the mat.

In our last blog about the non-physical benefits of yoga, we talked about the pillars of wisdom or ethical guideposts set out by Patanjali as a foundation for practicing yoga (aka the Yoga Sutras). The first being the Yamas and the second being the Niyamas. The Yamas are ethical principles about attitudes and behaviors that cause suffering (greed, dishonesty, violence, etc). The Niyamas (the second limb) are the attitudes and behaviors that yogis can work towards.

Step One: stop the behaviors that cause you to suffer.

Step Two: cultivate ones that bring you peace and happiness.


This Niyama is often translated into English as purity or cleanliness. Those words have a lot of judgmental, puritanical cultural baggage in the West, so the way we like to explain the concept of Saucha is ‘lucidity’ or ‘clarity’. In essence, cultivating Saucha means trying to keep your space, body, mind and spirit free of clutter and garbage so that you can perceive and act with the most clarity possible. Some yogis interpret this Niyama through strict dietary observances (no meat, no alcohol) or with spiritual rituals (dawn meditation, intensive asana practice every day etc.) In our English Yoga classes, we interpret it to be about maintaining a dialogue with yourself about how your surroundings/diet/thoughts are affecting you, and striving to maintain a feeling of openness and clarity.

Where could your life benefit from a good ‘spring cleaning’? What relationships, lifestyle habits, thoughts, choices make you feel icky? How could you begin to clean up these areas?

Samtosha means contentment or satisfaction. Again, this can be a difficult Niyama for Westerners to understand because it sounds very close to passivity or acquiescence. But it’s more subtle than those concepts. Samtosha is about cultivating an attitude of equanimity. Yogis who practice for a long time begin to realize that all of reality is fluid, linked, and unchangeable. Underlying life’s ebbs, flows, births and deaths is a basic, unchanging whole experience. This is also the basis of modern physics: energy moves but it cannot be created or destroyed. Cultivating Samtosha means cultivating an attitude of acceptance of constant transformation and contingency. In Asana, cultivating Samtosha means accepting your body for what it is or is not on every given day, and knowing that ”you” are indeed much more than ”your body”!

Can you think of a time in your life where a big change seemed like a total disaster- but you now see that it was for the best? What changes are you afraid of now? Can you imagine accepting those changes, and even welcoming them?