Endometriosis and a Personal Approach to Healing

It wasn’t until my 30s that I started realizing there was something off about my menstrual cycle. I’d always had pain during the first few days accompanied by heavy bleeding, and often experienced what is called ‘breakthrough bleeding.’ But it gradually started to get worse, until there were months when I was bleeding every day of my cycle. With the advice of a friend, I went to see a naturopath, who prescribed homeopathic medicine (specifically, venom from the snake, Lachesis). I was open to trying it, but after about half a year, I felt no change for the better, and out several hundred dollars. In the meantime, I moved 5000km to another city for graduate school.

At this point I’d had a yoga practice on & off for about 8 years. After I moved, I made an effort to continue my yoga practice and
discovered many more different teachers and styles of yoga than I had before. I felt that my practice had been good for me ‘physically.’ I became more aware of the pain I was experiencing and was able to ease it a little during my menstrual cycle. But I didn’t recognize the healing benefits until much later on. I continued to struggle with menstrual cycle problems, and had now built up a lack of trust towards naturopathy. So I tried allopathicremedies – the birth control pill was advised for hormone balancing, even though I didn’t need it for contraception, and I had several invasive surgeries. After the second surgery to remove ovarian growths, a biopsy showed that it was endometrial tissue. That was when I got the diagnosis of endometriosis. But the hormone therapy didn’t seem to work: the tissue kept growing, albeit perhaps slower.Endometriosis is a rather common illness, affecting approximately 10% of people with female reproductive organs, and perhaps more who show no symptoms. The allopathic methods of treatment vary from mild hormone treatment to organ removal surgery. Sadly, I know several people who have had full hysterectomies, and yet still experience the return of growths. Growths root down onto other organs or muscles, making them difficult to remove completely and can cause lung collapse, kidney failure and/or extreme pain. Endometrial tissue can often even grow on the scar tissue from previous surgeries! Hormone therapy such as IUDs or contraceptive pills can slow the growths and relieve some pain, but not always. Sometimes androgen hormones are recommended to induce menopause. One person I know had tried this method twice and still experienced the return of the growths and painful menstruation.Often, pregnancy and subsequent breast-feeding can act to “re-set” the adrenal system so that endometriosis may not return. Menopause may see an end to more growths, but the ones that have already rooted down may continue to grow. There has been some evidence to show that even people without ovaries and a uterus may develop endometriosis on the prostate. It is seen by the medical system as a woman’s disease, making it difficult for male-identified people to receive proper treatment.

Having no success with allopathic or naturopathic methods, I began to investigate the alternatives. My personal approach to healing began when I decided to become a yoga teacher and delve deeper into my practice. I read this book that recommended a strict endometriosis diet and followed it dogmatically for one year. And I tried out many other modalities – body talk, the sadhana practice of kundalini, myofascial massage, acupuncture, mindfulness meditation and medicinal roots. I sought advice from elders and spiritual practitioners. A couple years ago, I had yet a third surgery – recommended because of something that looked cancerous but turned out not to be. All of the methods I had tried became too much for me to keep up a regular practice with, it became a stress to try to keep up the discipline of the diet. And I wanted to do other things than focus on my body all the time! But I learned an awful lot through experimenting with different things and I eventually found what worked for me.

Endometriosis is an immunodeficiency illness, attacking the body when it’s low on other resources, so I focused on trying to keep healthy. I also became convinced that stress causes endometriosis by the physical tightening of muscles around the pelvis. The practice of mula bahnda (the root lock) brought more awareness for me about what was going on in my pelvic area. During menstruation I now try to focus on letting go of any tightness, sometimes even doing exercises to push out any stuck endometrial tissue. And I am also careful not to do inversions during heavy days. I continue to make smoothies out of spirulina (for immune boosting properties), maca root (for adrenal health), and trying to not let stress overtake my life, while keeping a balance of having some fun, expanding my limits and moving beyond my comfort zone once in awhile. I occasionally get some pain and breakthrough bleeding, and then I know it’s my body telling me to slow down. So far, the growths have not returned, and I’m still years away from menopause! It may not take becoming a yoga teacher for you, but I know there’s a way that you can heal yourself too.

Juli teaches Vinyasa Flow Yoga and Restorative Yoga in our Berlin Kreuzberg studio. She continues to explore self healing with yoga and encourages her students to do so, too.

New Year News: Workshops, Classes and Babies, oh my!

English Yoga in Berlin

English Yoga Berlin

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

– Victor Hugo

Welcome to a brand-new year!  We wish you a healthy and happy 2014, full of laughter and learning.

Our collective is very excited about the beginning of 2014: we have opened new morning classes, will offer a deep-cleansing workshop and are celebrating the arrival of a special and very small new member of the EYB community!

New Morning Classes

To help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, we will be offering Yoga on Friday mornings. From 10am until 11h45, Pedro will offer Classical Yoga. Each class includes yoga asana (poses), breathing exercises (pranayama), deep relaxation and Yoga Nidra. Yoga on Friday mornings is an ideal way to relax and prepare for a great weekend! Check out this and other classes on our schedule.

Shatkarma Workshop: Yogic Detox

Over the weekend of January 18/19, our collective will be offering a yogic detox, cleansing and self-care workshop! In this workshop, you’ll learn a range of detoxifying practices that you can use to bring balance to your body and clear toxins and stress. You can see more detailed information here.

Community Class Re-Schedules

Our collective’s popular Community Class has moved to Fridays at 12.15pm.  This is a donation-based class  that we offer for people in low-income situations or those who cannot otherwise afford our regular classes.  It is guided by a different teacher each week and is part of our collective’s commitment to accessibility. For more information check out What is a Community Class?

Yoga Mom

Zoe has Landed!

Our Pinelopi has given birth to a healthy and gorgeous baby girl!  Zoe arrived last October to the delight of her proud parents and the cheers of all of us at English Yoga Berlin.  Pinelopi’s maternity leave will continue for a little while longer, as mother and child get to know each other and enjoy this very special time together.

We are looking forward to a full year of offering Hatha yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Classical Yoga and Restorative yoga classes in Kreuzberg. We would like to, once more, extend our appreciation and gratitude to the wonderful community of yogis who practice with us at English Yoga Berlin! Your presence and contributions transform our Kreuzberg studio into a place of belonging and community. Thank you for your practice and your dedication!

New Year’s Message from English Yoga Berlin

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.  So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.  Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.  Make your mistakes, next year and forever. – Neil Gaiman

In order to help you stick to your resolutions, we start the year with a new class, specially for those who prefer morning yoga:

Friday 10am – Classical Yoga

and a new schedule for our popular community Class

Friday 12h15 – Donation Based, a different style each week.

Consult our schedule for more details.

We wish all of you, the EYB community, a healthy, happy and brimful 2014.  May your mistakes lead to achievements, and may your achievements lead you to dare making more mistakes.

December got you wrapped up in stressful knots?

Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, or Dōngzhì, or no religious-cultural festival at all, the month of 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, depleting finances, 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.

Acknowledge your stress

Sometimes we can get so caught up in all these activities we don’t realize we’re wearing ourselves down or getting irritated in the process. Once you acknowledge and recognize that stress is indeed affecting your mood or sleep cycle, you can give yourself permission to slow down, take breaks or drop things with less priority. It may seem counter-productive to schedule more things in, but adding some regular breaks, and things that are for ‘you’ to your schedule, will make the other stressful items on your list seem easier. You can look forward to the little present you give yourself – your Friday evening acupuncture session or swing dance class.

Eat Hearty Warm Food

Being on the go all the time can deplete our resources and zap our body of nutrition. It’s more important than ever during stressful times to eat well. There are a lot of sweet treats around this time of year, which fill us up without providing nutrition. Depending on where you live, you might also feel more dehydrated because of cold weather. Also, according to Ayurvedic nutrition, our bodies need more Vata energy during the cold winter months. They recommend eating more heated root vegetables, rather than raw salads. You can save time by making large batches of soup or stew. If you spend most of your time away from home glass jars can provide a DIY alternative to a thermos in order to carry around your delicious hearty lunch.

Breath and Movement

Outdoor activities in the cold can be quite exhilarating if you’re prepared for it. Wrap yourself up in a warm scarf and wear loose clothing made with natural fibres. One misconception most people have in countering the cold is to hunch their shoulders up by their ears and round forwards. This actually makes us colder! If you open up your chest and drop your shoulders down, your lung capacity increases and allows more oxygen to enter and warm up your body! If you breathe deeply and slowly or take slight pauses as you hold the breath in, it helps to keep the warm air in longer. Keep your body moving by riding a bike or walking quickly. And when you reach your destination do some gentle stretches to come back to the warmth of the inside temperature.


A regular yoga or meditation practice helps to recuperate us from stress. Keep going to your yoga class, despite your busy schedule. Or even add a new one!

Take advantage of our special offers this month at English Yoga Berlin – bring a friend for free to our slow and rejuvenating Restorative and Classical yoga classes.

And remember, as the daylight hours grow shorter, the actual Winter Solstice on December 21st is approaching, which means the daylight hours will start to increase again!

And as the New Year is shortly upon us, so is our new yoga schedule for 2014.

Free (or Cheap) Health and Wellness in Berlin

free or cheap wellness in Berlin

In Germany, everyone is legally supposed to have health insurance. Unfortunately, it is not a universal health care system: rather, insurance is verdammnt expensive and is only available to documented people—and the most recent estimates suggest that up to 1 million undocumented migrants are living in Germany. In addition, there are plenty of people who have health needs which are not covered by their insurance. That is a lot of people with their health needs not getting met. What a stupid situation! What dumb laws! (If you’re trying to find your way through it, you can read more here.) 

And they wonder why we feel like fuck the law

Anyway, so, there is a lot of demand for cheap or free health services in Berlin, especially in languages other than German. We see this a lot at English Yoga Berlin, because so many of our students are new migrants or expats in Germany and they often feel disoriented and uncertain. It often takes a long time to find what you need in a new country, and online lists make things easier! Teaching yoga in Berlin has brought us into contact with a lot of cool, free or cheap health services available. We teach yoga in Kreuzberg, so we’ve highlighted services in that area. And we offer yoga in English, so we’ve tried to find services that are English-speaking, too.

So here is our list…

The Gesundheitsamt system in Berlin offers a series of free clinics. They are usually really crowded but it only costs 10euro and you can get STI testing, dentistry, pregnancy tests, psychiatric help etc. You do need to bring some kind of identification but you don’t need insurance, and they’re legally obligated to keep your data private. Make sure you arrive early, because you will have to wait for a couple of hours. If you can, bring a German speaking friend or support person. You can see all of the various clinics and their opening hours and specialities here (in German). 

The Selbstverwaltete Heilpraktikerschule (Autonomous Naturopath Training Programme) at the Bethanien offers some cool free or low-cost services. They have a Massage Abend where you can get a back, foot or shiatsu massage for 5euro (schedule here). They also do affordable homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and herbal medicine consultations on Mondays and Fridays.

Berlin Community Akupunktur offers sliding scale acupuncture (17e to 35e).

Friedelpraxis is a collective that offers non-commercialized osteopathy andTCM (traditional Chinese medicine) in Berlin. To become a member of the practice, you choose a fixed monthly rate that you can pay. You can get in touch and make an arrangement with one or more of the folks in the collective.

Every Wednesday from 11h until 13, Autocuratio offers Natural healing advice and treatment (nutritional advice, ear acupuncture, massage, spinal adjustment) at Zielona Gora (Gruenbergerstr 73).

The Berliner Krisen Dienst offers emergency mental health counselling that is anonymous and multilingual. You can ring them anytime, and here are the phone numbers.

Multilingual, free peer counselling for women is available at women’s centres like Paula Panke, Schokofabrik, Frieda and EWA. You can see a whole list here.

The FFGZ in Schoeneberg (Feminist Health Centre for Women) offers counselling and other health resources. They specialize in reproductive and women’s health.

Health and wellbeing is strongly linked to relaxation, and that is why saunas are so amazing and important. You might feel a bit uncomfortable at first with the naked part, but you’ll get used to it. The Berlin Baederbetriebe has an amazing array of saunas and pools. If you have some cash to drop, the Liquidrom is a cool, salt water based spa and sauna.

Heile Haus e.V. is a former squat that is now a grassroots community health centre. They offer workshops, individual consultations, sports and dance, language courses, a little cafe and a bathroom/shower/washing machine area that people can use.

Another very good resource for people with longer term medical conditions is the ARTABANA network. It’s a decentralized non profit network of medical health professionals and other healers who provide free, confidential services all across Deutschland for those without insurance, or without adequate insurance. The Medibuero fuer Fluchtlinge is a network of medical professionals that treat refugees and undocumented people free and anonymously.

We offer Hatha Yoga in English, Vinyasa Yoga in English, Restorative Yoga in English and Classical Yoga in English and Spanish. All of these classes are available for a reduced price—just ask one of us at the studio. If you know of other cheap or free health services in Berlin, please let us know and we will add them to this list!

Honouring your limits and restoring balance: A new restorative yoga class, and a guest teacher!

This Thursday, Natalie Kakon joins us as a guest teacher in our community class: “Unwind and release; allow your stress to slip away by yoking to a feeling of infinite space within the body. Learn how to expand your chest and lengthen your spine with the support of blocks, blankets and chairs. Bring your body back to its individual balance while connecting to a deep sense of relaxation. Join us for a restorative, yin practice.”


What?:  Restorative Yoga with Natalie Kakon

Where?:    At the English Yoga Berlin studio

When?:    Thursday, November 7, from 15h45 till 17h15

How much?:   Donation based/pay what you can


Our weekly Restorative Yoga class with Juli happens every Sunday evening at 18h in our Kreuzberg yoga studio.




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. A restorative yoga class may contain some gentle flow or Hatha poses before moving into the longer-held restorative poses.

The classes we do 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). Our community class guest teacher, Natalie Kakon, will incorporate some Yin poses in her class. Yin poses use gravity to help open up the body to deeper stretches, encouraging more flexibility. Yin yoga is about finding the edge of your limit and breathing through it to open up a little more space. This particular combination of restorative and yin poses can be very juicy, as it can support the return to balance as well as gently push the edges all in one class!

Fall Schedule and Special Offers!

photo by Fern

The days are getting shorter, the first leaves are falling and there is only just the slightest hint of chill in the evening air, but we all know what it means…

It’s time to do more Yoga, dammit!

To accommodate everyone’s return from their Summer Adventures, we are happy to announce that we will be opening three new classes!

From September 1 onwards, our new schedule will look like this…





Community Class


Hatha Yoga


Classical Yoga



Vinyasa Flow

starting September 15th


Vinyasa Flow


Classical Yoga



Restorative Yoga

starting September 15th

  taught by Juli; taught by Pedro; taught by Meg

To celebrate the change of season with our lovely student community, we have 2 Special Offers

Buddy Pass: Receive a free yoga voucher to give to a friend when you purchase a 5er card or month of classes in September. We know you all love yoga so much that you talk about it to anyone who will listen, so… the voucher is valid until the end of 2013 and can be given to a friend who has not been to one of our classes before. Then they will know what you’re always talking about!


Early Bird Special: Sunday yoga till the end of October for only 50euro! Sign up for Sunday classes on or before September 15th and get 7 classes for the price of a 5er card.