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.

Is there such a thing as Accessible Yoga?

What is NOT accessible yoga?

accessible yoga

Do we all have to look the same?

You know the story. You’ve hurt your back and a friend says “you should do yoga!” And then you go with your friend to their favourite weekly yoga flow class. You put down 20€ and hope for the best. It’s fast, sweaty, the music’s hip, everyone’s dressed in the latest yoga fashion trend and almost everyone looks like a ‘yoga journal’ or ‘sein’ cover model. You find yourself struggling to keep up. You try your best, but somehow your body just won’t let you contort itself into those poses. The next day, your back hurts more than it did before, along with your wrists. And you swear you’re never trying yoga again.

Okay, it’s perhaps an exaggerated stereotype of what an accessible yoga class is NOT. But it does represent a rather broad view of what contemporary westernized capitalized yoga is all about. One of the problems is that most western people (both lovers and haters of yoga) believe that yoga is only that which is written above. I am not the first to say #notallyoga. But like all #notall hashtags, it tries to absolve the writer of responsibility that we should all be taking. Yoga is a 5000 year old practice stemming from South Asia. By believing that yoga is only that one thing that has been exploited by sporty opportunistic Californians erases its history and invisibilizes the decolonial work done by contemporary yogis such as nisha ahuja and Be Scofield. As yoga practitioners in a western world, we should all be working towards decolonizing our practice, promoting the diversity of yoga styles (eg; restorative) and practices (yoga nidra, pranayama, bhakti, etc.), and making yoga more accessible to everyone. Cultural appropriation does not make yoga classes at all comfortable or accessible to people who experience racism. Nor do expensive fees to lower-income folks, body-image and ‘healthy-living’ marketing campaigns to people who look different than what the mainstream expects healthy yogis to look like, nor to those with dis/abilities (physical or mental). Yes, I say “we,” but it means “I” and perhaps you too. What can I do as a non-South Asian yoga practitioner who teaches classes?

What IS accessible yoga?

I don’t have all the answers to this. But I have some ideas and would be happy to hear from you about what you feel that means. At English Yoga Berlin, we strive to offer accessible yoga classes. But we recognize that there are many things we cannot offer as well, and our studio is not accessible to just ‘everyone.’ Our Kreuzberg yoga studio is up one flight of stairs – this does not allow those who cannot take the stairs to even attend our classes. We also do not provide sign-language interpretation or any other language that we ourselves do not know (Greek, Spanish, German and English). We run our small back house yoga studio in a city with people from all over the world, with many different languages, and with a lower-income average than most bigger European cities. Our regular rates are significantly lower than bigger studios in Berlin, and we offer our classes in simple English, making it more economically and linguistically-accessible to newcomers. Pinelopi‘s injury conscious and gentle Hatha Yoga classes are especially suitable for participants who suffer from chronic pain. Juli‘s community yoga classes have at their focus the creation of an intentional space for people who feel marginalized or excluded in mainstream yoga classes, eg. queer and trans* folks, abundant bodied, bpoc. As well as an additional sliding-scale reduction for lower- / no-income folks who make Berlin their home (this reduction is not for tourists). Both of us include a 15-20 minute guided relaxation, based on yoga nidra techniques, at the end of all of our classes. Yoga Nidra is a proven method to help reduce stress, insomnia and anxiety. These are just some of the ways that I try to counter the dominant culture’s exploitation of yoga. But it’s a continual learning process and there are many more strategies that I continue to learn about and adopt through reading articles and discussing with others. There are other yoga practitioners who I’ve met in my Berlin community and in other places, who are also exploring various strategies. This movement is growing. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on it, and appreciate links to articles and other yoga spaces! Thank you.

 

This Summer at English Yoga Berlin: Two workshops and more!

The summer at English Yoga Berlin is full of wonderful offerings: We will be hosting David Moore for a workshop on Yoga and the Alexander Technique,  Yes Hernandez brings us a Sound Healing workshop, Juli has completed the third module of Yoga Therapy, summer holidays are coming up and much more!

“I have been a seeker and I still am,
but I stopped asking the books and the stars.
I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”

― Rumi


A workshop on Yoga and the Alexander Technique

We are delighted to host David Moore on the 2nd of July who will teach a five hour workshop on Yoga and the Alexander Technique. This is of particular interest to yoga teachers and experienced yoga practitioners who wish to deepen their knowledge on injury free yoga. Check out the details.


Sound Healing with Yes Hernandez

Sound Healing Workshop

Travelling Yogi, Yes Hernandez, will offer a Nada Yoga Sound Healing workshop to help participants connect to the power of their own Voice to find balance and peace within and without.
The workshop will be by donation (€5+), and all proceeds will go to a local org that helps people out of domestic violence, Frauenprojekte BORA.
Date and time TBA, keep an eye out for more info on our Facebook page or on our blog page.


Yogatherapy

Juli recently finished Module 3 of the advanced yoga teacher training, Svastha Yoga Therapy, and continues to bring new knowledge to the community classes at English Yoga Berlin: Queer* Yoga on Wednesday mornings at 10am and therapeutic Vinyasa Flow on Sundays at 4pm.

Summer Closures

Yoga teachers need a break too! Pinelopi will be off for the whole month of August and Juli from mid-August to mid-September. Please check out our online schedule to keep up-to-date!
We continue to be thankful for your practice and your support of our work. We wish you a healthy, happy summer, full of inner peace and connection!

8 tips to reduce menstrual pain

Queer yoga in Berlin

Goddess Pose

A little while ago, I wrote a blog about my experiences with endometriosis. And as a result, some of the participants in my yoga classes have asked me how to reduce their own menstrual pain. Not all folks with menstrual cramps have endometriosis, but perhaps some of the things I’ve found that work for me to reduce menstrual pain could potentially work for you too!

1. Painkillers

I try to limit the amount of over-the-counter pharmaceutical painkillers that I use, because I’d prefer to not feed into the pharmaceutical industry. But sometimes I just don’t have time for anything else, and they can be a quick and easy fix. Medicinally-herbed cookies can do the trick just as well, but they’re not so ideal if I have to work that day! 😉

2. Menstrual Yoga

I like to do a slow flow with lots of deep breathing, skipping abdominal exercises, mula bandha and inversions, and focusing on hip openers. Poses like Goddess (above) and Lion help me to release tension that I’m holding because of the pain. I find that my jaw and shoulders also get tight during menstrual cramping, and these poses open up the jaws and the throat. I also find that growling and hissing loudly also helps to reduce anxiety, which I sometimes get when I’m PMSing or during heavy periods.

3. Stress Reduction Sitting Exercises

Menstrual cramps arrive at the least opportune moments – at work or in social situations. Stress aggravates menstrual cramps and can either bring them on or make them worse. I have created an exercise routine that I can do while sitting with other people that’s not so obvious. I take slow deep breaths and sit up tall with a neutral spine, as if meditating. I press my thighs down against the chair, so my lower abdomen lengthens away from the chair, creating more space for all the painful bits to relax and do their thing – shed menstrual blood and tissue. In addition to that, I also do short pushes down, as if ‘bearing down’ – what they tell folks to do when they’re pushing a baby out. I make sure I’m wearing enough protection to catch everything that comes out – and it does! And the cramps go away.

4. Riding a bike on cobblestone

Most cyclists in this city think it’s annoying to ride on those bumpy cobblestones, but I find it actually helps my cramps to loosen up! Instead of fighting the bumping, I just bump along with it and works like magic. 😉

5. Dancing / Hip shaking

Speaking of which, any movement of the hips can be great to help reduce menstrual pain. I used to attend an Osho Kundalini Meditation class at the Osho Centre here in Berlin. It was a wonderful practice to shake out those tense hips and pelvis, loosening the whole region. I don’t go out dancing very much anymore, it’s hard to find the music I like to dance to here! But, if it’s something you like to do, some hip-shaking dancing could definitely be what the doctor ordered.

6. Masturbation / Sex

Loosening of the pelvis and all the muscles around it, is a great way to let go of menstrual tension. In my experience, a good vibrator does the trick nicely. If you don’t want to get messy, or can’t stand the smell or the blood, then the shower is always a good place! And who knows? Your partner might even think it’s hot!

7. Hot water bottle

I don’t often resort to the tried-and-true hot water bottle, but when I do, it’s very soothing. In my experience, it doesn’t work as well to relax my pelvic muscles as some of the other items above.

8. Limiting coffee / alcohol

Whenever I drink coffee when I’m cramping, it always makes it worse. So I try to limit the coffee to when I’m not cramping as much. I also find that when I drink alcohol during menstruation, my tolerance is severely reduced. Not only do I get tipsier faster, but it also causes more menstrual cramping in the morning, and has sometimes lead to a hangover after only a couple of drinks. Drinking tea is often a good substitute for me.

So! I hope some of my experiences can help you to experiment and find your own solutions to reducing menstrual pain. And if you’re in Berlin sometime, drop by one of my classes! I teach Vinyasa Flow and Queer Yoga at English Yoga Berlin.

 

English Yoga Berlin Winter News

There’s a lot happening at English Yoga Berlin this Winter! Pinelopi is giving a brand new Chakra course, Juli brings Queer Yoga back, Pedro is going solo, and Pinelopi is teaching at Dynamic Mindfulness teacher trainers’ course. On top of that we are selling yoga gift cards again this Holiday season!

English Yoga Berlin“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

― Yoko Ono

 

 

 

 


Christmas Gift Cards

We are selling beautiful Yoga gift cards for the Christmas holidays and all other celebratory occasions! You can buy yoga gift cards of one or five classes at our English Yoga Berlin studio or online. The gift of yoga is a precious gift!


Holiday Closures

Please be aware of our holiday closures! Check out our schedule page for up-to-date info.


tantric yogaPedro is going solo

We wish Pedro the best of luck as he goes solo with his new website. If you wish to follow his exciting posts on facebook, click here.


queer yoga berlinQueer Yoga is back!

Queer* Yoga Flow Berlin is back on January 18th, 2017. The class that prioritizes a space for queer and trans* people will be held every Wednesday at 10am. Allies and other misfits are welcome.


yoga teacher training in berlin200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training

Do you live in Berlin and would like to become a yoga teacher? Dynamic Mindfulness School offers an amazing teacher trainers’ course that starts in February. Pinelopi will be a guest teacher there. Check it out!


chakra course in berlinChakra Course

Pinelopi is offering a 10 week course on the Chakras. Starting date: January 12th, 2017. The first class will be a lecture and all other classes will focus on a yoga practice for each specific chakra, understanding both the emotions and the body area that chakras influence and get influenced by. Write to her here if you are interested.


Somuchmore and English Yoga Berlin partnership Update

To those Somuchmore customers who attended our classes, we regret to inform you that as of 2017 we will no longer be part of this service.


 

We continue to be thankful for your practice and your support of our work. We wish you a healthy, happy winter, full of inner peace and connection!


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).

Yoga and Wellbeing: thinking outside the box

It’s difficult to think about yoga and wellbeing these days when there is so much pain and suffering in the world.

Photo by Bär Baer

Photo by Bär Baer

So much of western yoga is focused on the individual and how one can get healthier, be more relaxed, stronger, eat right, get enlightened, feel better, etc. It’s internally focused and urges us to forget about the problems of the outside world. It offers a retreat from everyday life and horrific news stories.

For some people, those who experience oppression, harassment, chronic pain and other stresses on a daily basis, self-care is a necessary antidote. And a regular practice of yoga in a space that feels safer than the outside world can be a valuable tool in being able to tackle daily life. More and more of us are feeling the pressure building up and yoga is a way to alleviate it and be more at ease when we are confronted in our everyday lives. Office places know that yoga helps to increase productivity of their workers, keep them happier and more compliant. But if we all keep retreating into ourselves, and learning how to go with the flow, who’s left to fight when injustice rears its ugly head?

Yoga selfies won’t change the fact that black people are being killed by police in massive numbers in the United States, right-wing anti-immigration movements like Pegida are popping up all over Europe, while thousands of people drown at sea trying to flee war and tyranny, Rom*nja people are being deported daily into the hands of people that would rather see them dead, people who practice the Muslim religion are shunned and treated poorly everywhere, an automatic weapon is sold to a homophobic citizen who slaughters 49 queer Latinx in one night, and nearly 300 people are bombed to death in Baghdad by a terrorist group and nobody in the western world blinks.

I met someone at a yoga teacher training a few weeks ago who reacted with a strong shock of awe when I told her that I live in a shared flat and prefer it to living with my partner or alone. She responded “what a completely different life!” I didn’t even go into the other things about my life that would make me seem even more foreign than she could imagine, like my queerness for instance. She couldn’t even imagine that someone would want to share their living situation. This makes me very sad for the state of the world. Instead of coming together we are distilling down into individual units, battling against all other external forces. I feel a growing fear closing in on itself. People are building bigger walls, gating communities, separating from one another, creating divisions, more national boundaries.

We come to yoga to shed those bad habits that hold us back, the Samskaras. But what if we were to think of our yoga practice in connection to the world? What if we worked on yoga not for our individual self and wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of the world? What if, we as individual practitioners were to see ourselves as part of the world, moving and breathing with it, all of us together? What can yoga teach us about healing our communities and freeing the world from the Samskaras?

Laurie Penny has recently written an article about the relationship between self-care and its relationship to our ailing world. Michelle C. Johnson offers some ideas about how yoga and activism can come together through social justice. And Kinisha Correia writes about 4 yogis who practice Karma yoga, the yoga of service, to raise collective consciousness. Offering yoga to marginalized communities is one way to help heal those communities. But those of us with more privilege than others can take yoga out of the practice space and into our everyday life too.

We talk about mindfulness as a way to be more aware of how we are treating ourselves. For example, not sitting so long at a computer desk in a bad posture because it causes longterm pain. But what if we were to use mindfulness to be aware of how we treat other people? How can we be mindful of our own actions and privilege and make room for others and treat them with kindness and respect? We often talk about yoga as a way to heal the self in order to help others, but I feel that we are all so focused on the first part, that we never get to the second. How about we take yoga outside the box and use what we learn in a practical way? Make more space for BlPOC to speak, move and breathe, recognize the invisible work that others do, put our bodies in a protest, use our voices to show resistance to oppressive measures.

Juli offers Community Yoga classes at English Yoga Berlin, with an emphasis on creating a space for those who feel marginalized by mainstream yoga classes: sliding scale prices for no- / low-income earners, and a weekly queer yoga class.

English Yoga Berlin – Spring Offerings

Just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snow
lies the seed that with the sun’s love
in the spring becomes the rose

– Janis Joplin, The Rose

 

Greetings Yogis!

Here are some seasonal updates from all of us at English Yoga Berlin. We are bringing on Queer Wednesdays, a new workshop series for yoga and the lower body, and lots of fun new knowledge from courses that our teachers are attending!

Queer Wednesdays

Juli and Kanchi are bringing two new weekly classes on Wednesdays that prioritize a space for queer and trans* people to practice yoga. Click here for more details!

Pedro’s Return!

Pedro will be returning to us at the end of March bringing back Tantric Tuesdays and lots of new workshops at the Lab! Check out our schedule for more info!

Restorative Yoga Workshop Series

Juli is guiding six Yoga workshops for the lower body, based on techniques from Svastha Yoga Therapy. The workshops have a specific focus on the feet, knees, hips, lower back, menstrual pain and everyday activities. Workshops are held on Sundays 18.00 at The Lab. For a more detailed description, click here.

Growing as Teachers

We are currently expanding our knowledge through attending two new courses: Yoga Anatomy and Yoga therapy. We’ll be bringing some changes into our teaching methods at our regular yoga Berlin classes. Come and experience new ways of breathing, protecting your back, and taking care of yourselves!

We continue to be thankful for your practice and your support. We wish you a good transition into spring, lightness and end of winter!

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).