6 Simple things to fight the flu season

Those of us who live in the 52nd latitude are well aware that when winter comes the days grow shorter, and our lovely sun is not giving us as much vitamin D to feed our immune system. And as the weather gets colder and wetter, more people pack themselves into crowded transportation rather than ride their (t)rusty wire donkeys. Being the international city that it is, Berlin gives one’s immune system a workout, with germs coming from all over the world, rather than the ones we grew up with and learned to adapt to. A challenge I gratefully accept because I believe that learning about, and adapting to, all kinds of different cultures (including those as small as the ones that take up habitat inside my gut) is what keeps me strong, flexible and ready for other things that come my way. So I compiled a list of 6 simple things to fight the flu season that have worked for me to keep my immune system strong during these cold and dark months.

staying warm during winter

Wear layers to regulate body temperature

1. Layers

Moving in-between different temperatures is a good recipe to foster cold and flu bugs. Dressing warmly is necessary for being outside, but then with a heavy sweater or coat on inside, sweating can promote their growth. For me, what works is wearing layers. I can regulate my body temperature by removing one or more layers depending on how warm or cool a place is kept. For instance, grocery stores tend to be cooler than a city bus.

2. Deep Breaths

While standing to wait in the cold, we have a tendency to hunch the shoulders up to stay warm. But this actually has the opposite effect, and can result in tension in the neck and shoulders. Hunching up restricts the lungs and causes more shallow breaths. This cools the body down even more. Not only does breathing deeply and slowly warm up the body, but it also helps more oxygen and other nutrients to move through the whole cardiovascular system, hence strengthening the immune system. Exhaling slowly has also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress. Also very helpful in these busy, end of the year days. So, in addition to wearing layers, I make sure to wear a big scarf to keep my neck warm. Then I can let my shoulders relax down and lengthen up my torso to widen my chest and take deep breaths.

3. Drink fluids

Tea, tea, and more tea. That’s all I’m going to say. No, seriously. It warms me up, and flushes out any built-up toxins. Just plain water is good too, of course. Hot cocoa and coffee can also be very nice. But if I feel myself coming down with a cold, I’ll try to eliminate any sugars, because it can lower the immune system’s response.

4. Sleep, rest

My body’s circadian rhythm is somehow very attuned to how dark it is outside. It tells me I need more sleep and rest during these months of 16 hours of daily darkness. I wonder what it would be like if I lived in northern Sweden? I may not always listen to my body, but when I do I feel more rested.

5. Exercise

I’m riding my bike less and less, so I try to compensate for the lack of cardio by walking more and going to dance classes. I also prefer to walk the stairs instead of taking the escalator. It not only feels good on my cardiovascular system, but also for my mental health.

6. Public spaces

I don’t use hand sanitizer so often. After playing ball with the dog, or when there’s no hot water or soap in a public washroom, it’s quite useful. But I try to avoid it if possible, so as not to remove the helpful bacteria that my body needs. I feel quite blessed that I have a strong immune system (well, I have a few chronic conditions that I struggle with, but on the whole I’m rather healthy). I *can* move through public spaces and hold handrails, and somehow manage to not get sick. But I know people who would get sick instantly. Carrying around hand sanitizer would be a definite benefit. But I also find for myself, that avoiding touching my own face in public also helps. If I’ve been traveling around on public transit, when I finally get a chance to I’ll wash my hands.

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.

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.

Private Yoga Classes: a teacher’s point of view (Juli)

Since I have started working with English Yoga Berlin, I have been in an enquiry about private yoga classes and what they have to offer, and how the teachers themselves experience them. Here is Juli’s experience:

pirvate yoga classes: Juli

I have never had a private lesson myself, although I have given them. I have received private sessions with osteopaths, naturopaths, physiotherapists and psychotherapists, and while I do not want to draw parallels with these professions (I am not a therapist), I do find that when I give private lessons it feels something like that: it’s private, it’s personal, focusing specifically on whatever people share, be it about how they are feeling or what is going on with their body. Over regular sessions, trust develops a more directed and personalised approach.

As a teacher I help a client learn how to pay attention to their own body, breath and mind, and how those sensations are connected through thought patterns, emotions, and daily activities. I really like to look at ADLs (activities of daily living), and how to unwrap repetitive patterns. When I give a first-time private lesson, I will communicate through email to prepare what a client might need for the first session, and then develop a program for home yoga practice until the next time we see each other. The program usually includes 15-20 minutes of yoga three times a week and some ADLs.

private yoga classes: Juli

the benefits of a private session with a teacher need to be nurtured in our home practice

Yes there is homework, because as my Svastha yoga teacher says; “once a week is nice, twice a week is maintenance, but three times a week is progress.” What he means by progress can be any goal, whether it be to recover from an injury or to feel more lightheartedness.

The mentor/student relationship is essential to the Yoga experience – where you are learning from someone who knows more than you (an expert? but who is an expert in Yoga, we are all learning).  In the ancient tradition, a guru would decide if a student is ready and a student would decide whether this guru was the right fit for them – and I really believe that you can’t learn yoga from just anybody, any teacher – it has to be someone you connect and resonate with. I imagine how the experience of a series of one to ones would magnify the opportunity of that connection and resonance. This is why it’s important to find the right fit.

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.

 

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).