Yoga Beyond Asana

One of our regulars shares a particular moment; when she realised the dimension of yoga beyond asana (movement and set poses).  We share her personal story because this is one of the hardest myths about yoga to dismantle in the West.

“There are 8 limbs to Yoga, you know” the Yoga teacher kindly reminded me at the end of the lesson.

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I had just waited for everyone to leave at the end of the class.  I approached her with my concern that the movement I can muster now can hardly be called yoga – in my mind.  The doctor diagnosed degenerative osteoarthritis at the left hip.  After a decade from that diagnosis, I can’t sit crossed legged, or hold a Warrior I pose, or Crescent Moon pose, the list goes on.

But the Yoga teacher was having none of it.  She went on to say that, contrary to Western trends, yoga has at its heart the intention of liberating us from pain and restriction.  Our practice is meant to deliver us to a place where we can meditate freely and deeply.

“There is pranayama, for example, becoming conscious of breath”.

She wasn’t suggesting even for a minute that I would not do asana practice any longer.  She was helping me into taking ownership of where I can guide my own practice towards.  I was clearer on what aspects I can focus on, where I can find challenges and limitations I can learn from.

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you can do so much with your breath, remember?

Yoga goes beyond asana as we understand it.  Maybe that is closer to my experience now. Yoga for me is a field where I can find what works for me, right now in the modern world, with my unique needs and requirements.

I have been practising yoga at English Yoga Berlin in Kreuzberg since April 2018.  I now understand the importance of focusing on directing the breath and becoming conscious of spinal movement.  It’s clear to me that yoga is not about trying to reproduce the asana’s picture in your favourite yoga book. Yoga can be  so much more! And I look forward to diving deeper to learn more about what that is.

English Yoga Berlin offers classes in Kreuzberg in Hatha style and Vinyasa style, private yoga sessions, different packages of yoga for the workplacecontact us with your queries if you have any, happy unfolding whatever you do.

Hatha Yoga classes are Back after summer break

After a wonderful summer holiday, Pinelopi has returned full of new energy and happy feelings! The Hatha Yoga in English Classes are starting again on September 5th!  This year there is also a mindfulness and yoga weekend retreat dedicated on presence, scheduled from the 15th of September to the 17th of September.

 

Pinelopi’s classes are a mix of Hatha yoga 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 on Tuesday September 5th, 2017:

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
Advanced Hatha Yoga

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.

Heal Yourself Through Writing

Heal Yourself through Writing

Heal Yourself through Writing

~ A writing workshop with Nicole Olmsted ~

When: Sunday Nov. 9, 11h-15h

Where: English Yoga Berlin’s Kreuzberg yoga studio (click for map)

Cost: 30€ (20€ reduced)

 

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“The hand is an expression of the heart therefore writing is an act of love.”
~Nico

The power of storytelling is when we become aware that we create our own reality. It allows us to take responsibility for our life and to make choices towards our authentic self. When we react out of pain, confusion or fear, the story can lead down a hallow road but when we step towards our highest potential we have the ability to lead a heroic tale.

During this workshop, we will dive into techniques to heal your life through writing. We will go over the art of “Morning Pages,” a technique made famous through Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way. We will use focused writing exercises to help shift perspectives of the past and create new ways of seeing your world. We will then recast your story by identifying archetypes to empower your sense of self. Rewriting yourself is part of the healing journey to discovering your greatest story.

About Nicole:
Growing up as a writer, she explored the different stories of life. In her youth, she wrote poetry of the vast beauty of nature and the fantasy of a hidden world. As a young adult, she wrote of romantic curses of young love and the exquisite pain of loss. She wrote what she experienced and what she hadn’t.
It was when she showed up for an Artist Way workshop, that her world began to make sense. It was being dedicated to the creative force and taking responsibility for the life she had written. What she found, is that the journey to your truth, is one of the most powerful stories of all. Now, building community through sharing these techniques and self awareness is part of her devotion to this work.

English Yoga Berlin offers yoga in English out of our Kreuzberg studio. We teach hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, yoga nidra, restorative yoga and classical yoga, and our classes include yoga asanas (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing) and meditation. Our emphasis is on community yoga and we strive to make our yoga classes as high quality, accessible and inclusive as possible, so that all members of our community can share the ways in which yoga benefits modern life. You can learn more about us here.

 

Aug 22nd Community Class with Sara Hauber

Sara Hauber does ShalabasanaWe’re excited to announce that, on August 22nd, our last community yoga class before the summer break will be taught by visiting functional anatomy specialist and yoga teacher Sara Hauber!

If you have frequent back pain and have been told that yoga might help you, or if you’ve noticed that yoga classes actually make your back hurt, then you won’t want to miss our August 22nd Community Class with Sara Hauber, M.A. Sara is a functional movement and anatomy specialist, in addition to being a certified yoga teacher, and she teaches a specialized yoga practice designed to target the common sources of back pain–activating the abdominals, strengthening the back, stretching the hips and relieving the stress associated with an aching back or poor posture. Breathwork (pranayama), yoga asana and meditation will all be included, and the class is suitable for all levels.

The practice will be followed by an optional 30-minute back care lesson, open to all participants who want to join. We will learn the basics of preventative back care and some specific tips on preventing common back injuries in the practice of yoga poses, to help you enjoy yoga in daily life, without pain.

When: Friday, August 22nd, 12h15 – 13h45 (optional extension to 14h15)

Where: English Yoga Berlin yoga studio in Kreuzberg, directions here

Cost: sliding scale, 5euro – 10euro

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Sara Hauber, M.A., is a certified yoga teacher and functional-movement specialist whose mission is to help you overcome back pain and feel great through your yoga practice. Since undergoing complete spinal fusion for scoliosis, Sara has been empowering others to transform their bodies, eliminate pain and change their health for the better. She has taught throughout the U.S. and in Southern Italy, and she’s happy to be offering community yoga in Berlin! Check out her website for more information.

English Yoga Berlin is a self-organized collective of yoga teachers specializing in community yoga and yoga in English in Berlin. We offer gentle yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, classical yoga, restorative yoga and yoga nidra. Our focus is on offering accessible, inclusive, affordable and high-quality yoga classes in Berlin. You can see our yoga Berlin Kreuzberg studio schedule here, and read more about us here.

Steps to Creating A Personal Yoga Practice

 

For many people in the West, yoga is something that happens in classes, at a yoga studio, with a teacher who they don’t particularly know, in a room full of people who are more or less strangers. This is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of yoga, and this model of teaching and learning yoga asana, pranayama and meditation is basically an outgrowth of the economy of fitness, physiotherapy, massage and other wellness modalities in the West. The class/studio model has some benefits: most notably, some studio owners have found it very lucrative, and the commercialization of yoga has also lead to its legitimization in some people’s eyes. It’s not, however, a teaching model that is necessarily the most effective for either students or teachers. It’s also a model that raises some serious concerns about commercialism, capitalism and cultural appropriation. And, on an individual level, relying on classes alone can be expensive, disheartening or frustrating and often is just not feasible over the long-run.

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This is why, as most teachers will tell you, creating a personal yoga practice—one that you do at home, alone, with yourself as the teacher and perhaps some resources to guide you—is an important step to take. Often students are intimidated by this idea, but integrating yoga into daily life a lot easier than one might think. In this article, I’d like to offer some easy tips for starting a Home Practice that reflects you, your schedule, your family/work/community responsibilities and your needs.

1. Go Slow

By which I mean, start off with a modest goal: for example, 10 minutes of sun salutations in the morning, or 10 minutes breathing deeply in child’s pose. You will probably need to build your own confidence and your own commitment to the idea. You might also need to get people in your life (like children, roommates or partners) used to the idea of you taking time for yourself at home. Like all habits, It’s a lot easier to do this slowly and incrementally. When you feel ready, you can expand your sessions to 20 or 30min. If you get to an hour one day—well, hats off to you! But if you don’t—don’t stress about it. Yoga benefits you after just 10minutes of practice, and rigidity and guilt aren’t attitudes that will help you in the long run.

2. Reward Yourself

Look, it’s hard work. Even the so-called yoga basics (breathing, awareness and movement) require a high level of attention, commitment and self-love. If you’re like most yogis (advanced, as well as beginner yogis!), you’re probably facing up against a bunch of internal chatter, anxiety, worry and negativity. So, when you meet your modest goal, reward yourself! Cook yourself a lovely meal; make a coffee date with a friend; visit a museum or a botanical garden. Do something nice for yourself, and be proud of yourself.

3. Experiment and Have Fun

Because of the way most of us were educated (in classrooms, in schools and other institutions), we tend to subconsciously associate experimentation with the risk of messing up, ‘doing it wrong’ or getting in trouble. From a spiritual perspective, these kinds of risks are absolutely essential to take; if you don’t let yourself be vulnerable, you can’t grow. And, in your yoga practice, not only are risks essential, but they can also be a lot of fun! You can close the door while you practice—and then let yourself fall over, dance, move in uncontrolled ways that feel good, make noise, whatever works for you! Don’t be constrained by what you know of yoga asanas; feel free to integrate freestyle movement, or influences from other movement modalities, like martial arts or dance. Your yoga practice doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and it’s not anyone else’s business what you do or how you do it.

4. Make Your Place

This can be tricky, because you probably share living space. But all it really requires is good communication; tell your people that, when you close the door to the bedroom and hang a red ribbon on the door, it means 30minutes of personal time. Or choose a time of day where everyone else is out of the house. Or go up onto the roof. Or into the garden. Or organize a time with where you all come together into the living room, and do your individual practices alone. Be creative and, again, take it slow; it might take some time for people to get used to it. And, finally, it’s a great idea to spend 1 or 2 minutes clearing up the space in which you plan to practice; if you’re down on the ground, you will see all of the dirt and dust at close-range! It’s easier to focus when you’ve already swept it away.

5. Take Classes To Give Yourself New Ideas/Find A Good Teacher

This is where classes can be really great. Let’s say you’ve been doing 30min of yoga asana and pranayama every morning, and you’re feeling pretty good about it, but you feel a bit stuck with how to go develop further; maybe you feel you don’t have the knowledge or experience, or maybe you just don’t have the inspiration or the motivation. Maybe you would like to learn more about less-widely-taught parts of yoga: Yoga Nidra, Tratak, the Yamas and Niyamas or the Shatkarma. Well, this is where a good teacher comes in handy. Find a teacher who supports your home practice/exploration and attend classes or workshops occasionally with this person; someone with experience and empathy, who can support you and point you in the right direction, but who believes firmly that you are your own teacher and that their role is to develop your contact to this inner teacher.

6. Finally, Make It Your Own

Many of us have rather rigid ideas about ‘what yoga is’ or ‘how to do yoga’. Well, as you have probably heard about a million times, yoga means ‘union’—unifying your mind, body, heart and soul (and, I would add, creating connections between yourself, your community and the ecology that supports you) is the only ‘goal’. If you decide that your home practice will include 30minutes of journaling, because this helps you bring yourself into unity—wonderful. If you want to dance, sing, massage yourself, pray, draw, have orgasms, garden, laugh, cry, clean your room, take a shower—all of those can be part of your yoga practice. As long as you’re doing it with love, attention, awareness and intention, it’s yoga. Your home practice is your DIY spiritual practice, and it should be as unique as you are.

Good luck! Please feel free to let me know how your home practice is developing, either by contacting me or coming by an english yoga class in at our Berlin yoga studio in Kreuzberg.

Tuning in with your Intuition – Pranayama Breath Work JUNE 30TH

We are excited to announce the third of Rakel´s Pranayama workshops! For those of you who did not attend the first two, Rakel Sosa is a very experienced Raja Yoga teacher who specializes in Pranayama (yogic breathing). She has trained widely and internationally, with many well respected teachers, and we are very happy to give her a space to do her thing here in Berlin! You can learn more about Rakel and her projects here.

Intuition is the ability to understand or know something immediately without needing physical proof, based on your feelings rather than facts. That’s how the Cambridge dictionary defines the word.

We are all natural intuitive beings. We often have a “gut feeling” on what we need to do in any given situation. We know what the next move needs to be, because it just feels right when we think about it. But then often something happens. A thought comes up, a belief, and then we decide not to listen to our intuition. Noone’s really to blame since in our western society we are raised to follow our mind much more than our intuition.

The thing with intuition is that is not about the head, it is not about figuring anything out with the mind, it comes from a much truer source: the heart.

Yes, the heart is an amazing organ. At a physical level the heart is the most powerful source of electromagnetic waves in the body. Recent studies of the Heart Math Institute in California confirm that the heart emits waves that are 60 times stronger than that of the brain. They spread around the body in 360 degrees reaching up to four feet outside the body.

Through the electromagnetic field created by the heart we are broadcasting and receiving emotions, information, like radio waves in a continual exchange with the world. Isn’t that fantastic?

We are all such incredible intuitive beings. We don’t even need to develop our intuition. We just need to re-learn to listen to our emotions, see how intuition talks to us and most of all, once we get the message, TRUST IT!

In our next pranayama yoga session here in the English Yoga Studio in Berlin, we will be using the pranayama breath work technique to open a new layer of the heart center and connect to our source of intuition. We will be working on feeling how is it that your intuition talks to you. And what beliefs are stopping you from following it.

From my personal experience I can say, the more I follow my intuition the more I thrive in life. So I invite you to join us in this pranayama gathering that will put you right on track with that most juicy part of yourself.

Our next Pranayama workshop is on Sunday June 30, at our Yoga Studio in Kreuzberg (directions here).

Time: 16h00-17h30

Teacher: Rakel Sosa

Cost: 20 €

Places are limited.

For any question concerning this workshop you can contact us at: 
pranayamabreathwork@gmail.com

Spring Cleaning with Pranayama

Photo by Fern

Breathing is the first thing we do when we are born, the last thing before dying. Our breath is the main vital force that keeps us alive. So, it is a good thing to ask: How is your breathing doing? Besides the fact that of course you are alive, how are you breathing? Are you exploring your breath in its full potential?

At the English Yoga Studio we invite you to experience a very particular and ancient modality of the Pranayama Breathing technique. A powerful exercise that will help you unblock tensions lodged in your body, this work is designed to help you to connect deeply with your vital creative energy. A real resource of wellbeing, this is an opportunity to relax, learn more about yourself and open the way to big fun and inspiration in your life!

 

Join our first Pranayama workshop and breathing circle on Sunday April 28, at our Yoga Studio in Kreuzberg.

Time: 16:00 – 17:30

Teacher: Rakel Sosa

Cost: 20 €

Click here for more details about this and other Berlin yoga workshops.

Berlin Yoga: Terminology Tuesday

Enlish Yoga in Berlin

As yoga becomes part of our daily lives, so do the most commonly used yoga words begin to enter our every day vocabulary.   I find it beautiful when different languages merge, overlap, get reclaimed and used by people of all cultures. In these globalized times, English is no longer a language just for the English speaking nations, but it is the language that most peoples of the world use to communicate with one another, the language that makes it possible for people of totally different cultures and realities to meet, to communicate, and to fascinate each other.

In my Hatha Yoga classes in Berlin I choose to teach yoga in English. I love to see people from different corners of the world come to our Berlin yoga studio to practice yoga together. I use a lot of Sanskrit yoga words accompanied by an English translation while I teach.  Sometimes though, because of Sanskrit having such a different pronounciation to English, yoga students don’t always learn the words correctly or their meaning. That is why I started Berlin Yoga: Terminology Tuesday, a blog where I explain the basic words used during the yoga class.

This week’s words are Anuloma Viloma.

Anuloma Viloma – is also a form of Pranayama or breathing technique.  Anuloma literally means “in a natural order or direction” and viloma means “produced in reverse order”.  The Anuloma Viloma breath requires one to breathe in through the left nostril and breathe out through the right, and then to reverse that process, breathe in through the right and exhale through the left.  The natural way to breathe for a healthy person who practices Pranayama changes every 1 hour and 50 minutes.  There is always one nostril that is predominant and can breathe easier then the other, and after that time-frame the predominant nostril changes. By practicing Anuloma Viloma we are balancing out that effect.

Berlin Yoga: Terminology Tuesday

As a Hatha Yoga instructor in Berlin, I often use Sanskrit words during my yoga classes.  Sometimes I even like to take a pause after the sanskrit yoga word, and see if the older students know what I am talking about or if they are just waiting for the English translation.

In order to learn about yoga properly I find it important to aknowledge its roots in the Indian culture and the Sanskrit language. Taking the time to understand these words and their meanings makes your yoga practice a more complete experience and adds to the understanding of yoga and it’s origins.  That is why I started Berlin Yoga: Terminology Tuesday, a post where I explain the basic sankrit words used in my yoga classes. So in this blog I would like to explain the meaning of the word kapalabhati, a breathing technique we often use in the yoga class.

Kapalabhati –  is a form of Pranayama, or breathing technique. Kapala means “skull”  and bhati means “shiny” or “illuminated”. So Kapalabhati means “shiny skull”. It is a breathing technique we use to increase our Prana and clean out the air passageways before doing more advanced pranayama.