Hi, I’m Bettina. What I'm working on : Forget to slouch. Relaxing is freedom. Choose life.

How to Dress for Yoga Class during your Work Lunch Break

Fashion Yoga Pose

 

As comfortable as yoga pants can be, maybe you don’t want to wear them to work–at the very least, you don’t want your co-workers to be able to check out your yoga butt, right?

So if you go to yoga before, after, or in the middle of your work day, you’ve probably wondered how to integrate your yoga clothes and your work clothes.

Unless you work for a very young start-up or are an artist, where you can wear whatever you want.

Watch the video below to see how I integrate my yoga clothes into my work outfit.

 

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What do you wear to yoga class when you’ve got to look professional too?

 

Let me know if you have any requests for a short yoga routine and/or questions about yoga or meditation.

 

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

Photo by Vogue Italy

How to Transform your Tongue into an Air Conditioner

Tree Lung Breathing

It’s summer in Berlin, even though the weather isn’t quite hot here yet.

Nonetheless, when the heat does turn on, sweating through a yoga class could feel like heating your body too much.

To address overheating, two yogic breathing / pranayama techniques called sitali and sitkari use your breathing to cool your body down. Not only do these two breathing / pranayama techniques cool your body down physically, they also cool down any heated emotions you may have, like anger or resentment. They both calm the mind, cool the body, and lower blood pressure.

The first breathing / pranayama technique sitali asks you to sip air through your rolled-up tongue. If you can’t roll up your tongue like a straw, the second breathing / pranayama technique sitkari is when you suck air through your teeth.

Watch the video below to see how to practice these two cooling breaths.

 

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ACTION STEP : The next time you feel overheated either physically or emtionally, try a few rounds of sitali or sitkari breaths as I show you in the video above.

If you feel light-headed, dizzy, or in any way uncomfortable during these breaths, stop and breathe normally for several rounds. Begin again when you’re ready.

 

Let me know if you have any requests for a short yoga routine and/or questions about yoga or meditation!

 

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

Photo by Jamesdguy

Wanted : Guest Posts about Yoga!

Future

 

Currently I’ve been publishing an interview for Yogis Talk the first Friday of the month and Q and A video posts on the second and fourth Thursdays. When I have something written to publish, that comes out on the occasional Tuesday.

I realize, however, that I’m gifted by a wonderful community of awesome yogis, and so I’m opening up Active Hands Yoga to the community to share their valuable wisdom and experiences. Are you a yoga teacher or a yoga student? Or just yoga-curious?

I’m specifically looking for….

* …”My Favorite Asana” posts where you tell us your favorite asana and why, especially if you have a story

* …Real Life Yoga Style Icon where you show us with photos or videos how you dress for yoga class and your daily life

* …‘Traveling Yogi’ posts where you share your experiences in a yoga ashram or meditation retreat

* …any other guest post (it can be written, video or image-based) that my readers’ll love….

As long as  you have something valuable and unique to share, you’re so welcome here. And it’s so easy!

To submit a post, please email me at info at activehandsyoga dot com, and tell me what you’d like write / film / interview about. After you submit an idea, I’ll work with you to create something that works well for our readers and for you. As necessary, I will also edit the piece with your feedback, so we can all be 100% happy about our work together. For more information, I’ve created some submission guidelines for guest posts here.

 

 

Photo from 7ustaGirl

Stressed? Here’s how I deal with intense negative emotions

 

Now that I’m going through some life changes, I’ve been dealing with lots of stress and anxiety about them. You’ve been there, too, right?

We all know that it’s totally normal to have some stress and anxiety about changes, but it’s still an uncomfortable phase to get through.

Here’s how yoga helps me get through it…

 

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ACTION STEPS :

1. If you need a way to get back into your body without making it to a yoga class, download my free 7-minute mp3 to relax through yogic breathing by going here : http://activehandsyoga.com/stop-stress-and-anxiety-by-spending-just-7-minutes-a-day-on-relaxing/

2. Help me out! Tell me in the comments section what you do to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy way.

 

Let me know if you have any requests for a short yoga routine and/or questions about yoga or meditation!

 

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

Artists, need some inspiration? Here are some yoga poses to enhance creativity

 

I’ve been meeting lots of artists and entrepreneurs lately, creative people who work with ideas all the time. So I made a video showing you how to get inspired with yoga.

Even if you’re a beginner or new to yoga, you can do these postures because the inversions are supported.

 

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ACTION STEP : Try at least one of these yoga poses the next time you’re feeling stuck or unmotivated. Nothing gets the brain moving faster than getting the blood going.

If you loved this video, you’re going to love my upcoming beginner yoga class starting on Monday, May 14. Go here for more information:  http://activehandsyoga.com/classes/6-week-beginner-yoga-class-series/

Let me know if you have any requests for a short yoga routine and/or questions about yoga or meditation!

 

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

Yogis Talk Radio Show : Erinbell Fanore

Yoga DVD

Like many other entrepreneurs, we yoga teachers get together to share business and life stories. When I met Erinbell Fanore, a fellow yoga teacher in Berlin teaching hatha and yin yoga, at one of these casual get-togethers, I was most impressed that she made her own yoga DVD on the sunny island of Malta. She talked about it like it was easy to pull off, so I had to ask how how she did it with such ease as one of my Yogis of the Month.

Even if you don’t want to make your own yoga DVD, listening to how simple and easy it is to tackle a big project once you break down into steps and ask for help is helpful for any project. You would imagine that producing a DVD would take months to do, right? But knowing that Erinbell produced hers in just two weeks completely changed my mindset of what’s possible. And expanding possibilities is always a good thing.

 

 

Listen to my interview* above with Erinbell (or download it!) to find out about:

  • her introduction to yoga through…Cindy Crawford in the desert?!
  • retraining your muscles through two somatics exercises she shares
  • where to find out more about somatics (ok, here’s a link for you : Somatics: Reawakening The Mind’s Control Of Movement, Flexibility, And Health)
  • how she produced her DVD on Malta
  • how she makes yoga videos more than just instructional but also cinematic (see one below!)

 

 

If you want to produce your own yoga DVD in two weeks, here are your ACTION STEPS:

  1. Figure out your lesson plan and write it down into a script.
  2. Record the script with a live model.
  3. Find a wonderful location like Malta.
  4. Play the recording of the script and follow it.
  5. Edit the visuals to match the script voiceover.
  6. Put it on a DVD.
  7. Extras : get a cover designed.
  8. Now sell it at your classes, workshops, and online

Interested in finding out more about Erinbell? You can order her yoga DVD and watch her free street yoga videos on her website.

* My sound quality is improving now that I’ve bought the Zoom H2 to use as a microphone, but I’m still learning how to work with it.

 

 

 

 

Photo & Video above from Erinbell Fanore

How to practice Morning Yoga when you just don’t want to get out of Bed

 

I love sleeping in under warm blankets when the air is cold outside. I love yoga. What’s better than doing yoga in your bed when you wake up in the morning?

Try this gentle stretching yoga routine and see if that helps you get out of bed on the right foot tomorrow morning.

 

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Let me know if you have any requests for a short yoga routine and/or questions about yoga or meditation!

 

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

 

Reading Notes from The Poets of the Powers by Kamil V. Zvelebil

Brihadeeshwarar Temple, Thanjavur, India

I’ve been diving deep into yoga history by reading. One book I recently read, The Poets of the Powers: Magic, Freedom, and Renewal by Kamil V. Zvelebel, has translations of Tamil Siddha poetry. It’s a thin volume, only 144 pages with footnotes included, so it was a good introduction to this group of yoga practitioners I had only heard of in passing before.

Tamil is one of the languages in South India and refers also to the culture of the people who speak the language. The Tamil Siddha school of thought is a branch of tantric yoga, with a distinct character of social radicalism and an emphasis on magical powers. A distinction of tantric yoga is the belief that liberation is possible in your human body and not just at death, which lead to technique of yoga to ensure a healthy body. The body is the seat of the experience of liberation. If your body was weak, in pain, or unbalanced, how could you experience bliss or become liberated?

What is the sign of absolute and true liberation?

The physical body aglow with the Fire of Immortality.

(Uroma risi nanam 12) p. 58

Even though Zvelebel says that the first Tamil Siddha poet was active between the seventh and eleventh centuries, it would be a mistake to think Tamil Siddhas were only active in medieval India. Zvelebel claims that the Siddha doctrines are still a vital undercurrent in modern-day South India albeit hidden from public view.

Shiva Linga with Garland of Flowers

Written in an intentionally enigmatic language, where words embody multiple meanings, the Tamil Siddha poems can be mystical or vulgar and direct. For example, Civavakkiyar who was writing immediately before the tenth century wrote (p. 87):

Why, you fool,

do you utter mantras,

murmuring them, whispering,

going around the fixed stone

as if it were God,

putting garlands of flowers around it?

Will the fixed stone speak–

as if the Lord were within?

Will the cooking vessel,

or the wooden ladle,

know the taste of curry?

The misogynist language in some of the Siddha poems really bothered me. All of the poets translated in the book were men, and women, specifically the bodies of women, were temptations for them.

WARNING WARNING: Easily offended sensibilities, please stop reading now.

Loving Couple (Mithuna) Indian Sculpture

Pattinattar wrote (pp. 99-100):

Their mouth smells of flesh.

Their hairy mess is smelly.

The pus in the blackened eyes smells

and their limbs stink of their discharge.

The chasm of the vulva stinks.

Should my mind be attached

to these women

who smell of their

sensuality?

In the Appendix Zvelebil shares health tips from his Siddha informant in Madras in 1968 (pp. 126-127):

Hints regarding the physical and mental health

Food

1. Eat only if hungry.

2. Never eat when tired; never eat when emotionally upset.

3. Chew your food thoroughly, well mixed with saliva.

4. Between meals, eat only fresh fruit, or fresh fruit juices.

5. Add to your daily diet great quantities of mor, i.e. yoghurt or buttermilk.

6. Always eat fresh fruits and raw vegetables, if possible.

Sleep

7. Try to sleep at least eight hours daily. The best sleep is before midnight. Sleep with your window open, naked, head toward the North, the feet slightly raise.

Sun

8. Take frequent sun-baths; however, do not get too much sun at one stretch.

Breathing

9. Breath deeply, rhythmically, slowly, regularly and relaxedly. Be conscious of the speed and rhythm of your breath.

Walking

10. Walk at least two hours daily.

Sex

11. Regular and frequent sexual intercourse is beneficial. However, be master, not slave of your sex-life. Oral-genital sex is not harmful; on the contrary, it is often desirable. Visualize yourself as the creative Siva, and your partner as your (i.e. Siva’s) sakti, energy. Let her lie on you, and drink your sperm; let you suck her discharge of pleasure (curatanir).

Mental attitudes

12. Never give up. Never be idle. Try to maintain always a cheerful and positive attitude. There is no harm in satisfying a desire, when the satisfaction destroys it. Do not suppress forcibly any desire. Liberation is always here and now with you. If you cannot believe in god, it does not matter. Believe in yourself, in your own existence. Find out the source from which you came.

Conclusion : The Poets of the Powers: Magic, Freedom, and Renewal is a strange little book that serves as a good introduction to the Tamil Siddhas. It’s definitely not Yoga Journal. Pick it up and connect to the roots of one subset of yoga before it became what it is today.

If you have read The Poets of the Powers, what do you think of it? Or what do my reading notes make you think? Let me know in the comment section below.

Photo credits, from top to bottom: swamysk, Natesh Ramasamy, wallyg

How to Relieve Headaches with Yoga

 

I hardly ever get headaches, but some good friends suffer from headaches pretty regularly.

If you do too, please watch the video below to find out what you can do to relieve the pressure in your head that comes with headaches.

 

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Let me know if you have any other questions about yoga or meditation or any other problems you have may that could be solved by yoga!

 

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

 

Yogis Talk Radio Show : Alessandro Aliosha Pedori at Wat Suan Mokkh

Hot Spring at International Dhamma Hermitage of Wat Suan Mokkh

 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meditate for ten days on a silent meditation retreat? I definitely have.

During my yoga teacher training in India, we were not supposed to speak during meals. The idea was that we were supposed to be fully conscious of our food rather than getting distracted by socializing. Some people took it further and did not speak for an entire day, wearing a little sign around their neck that they were observing silence aka mouna. Some people say observe silence so that you save your energy to turn inwards rather than focusing outwards in idle talking. Once you quiet speech, the mind quiets down too. Others say that there is no need for communication if you realize the great truth that there is no other–‘they’ are no other than me. Whatever the reason, observing silence is a powerful practice especially in conjunction with meditation.

Alessandro Aliosha Pedori

I decided to connect with Alessandro Aliosha Pedori, teacher of contact improv and yoga in Berlin, who meditated in Thailand for ten days at the Buddhist International Dhamma Hermitage of Wat Suan Mokkh. Even though their website is quite comprehensive, even giving out a detailed 11-page description of their yoga classes, I wanted to know what it was really like to experience and live there for a silent meditation retreat.

 

Listen to my interview* above (or download it!) with Alessandro to find out:

  • The most painful part of sitting meditation
  • Why Wat Suan Mokkh is way better than Vipassana meditation centers
  • What he would have done differently at Wat Suan Mokkh knowing what he does now (hint : bring a pillow!)
  • Who would be your fellow meditators and the leaders / facilitators?
  • Was the food good?
  • The lasting effects of meditating for ten days in Thailand

 

If you want to meditate for 10 days at Wat Suan Mokkh, here are your ACTION STEPS:

  1. Pack a yoga mat, a pillow, tiger balm, and some paracetamol. No pretty clothes allowed, so leave them at home.
  2. Get yourself to Thailand by plane, train, automobile, boat, foot in outside the months of January and February.
  3. Make it to the Buddhist hermitage by 3pm on the last day of the month to register for the next ten days.
  4. Meditate, practice yoga, soak in the hot spring, and eat delicious Thai food for ten days.
  5. Celebrate with a Thai iced tea upon your ‘graduation’ from meditation.
  6. Stay at the main monastery in the woods for a few days.
  7. Escape to a tropical island in Thailand.

Interested in finding out more about Alessandro? His soon-to-be-launched website is aliosha.info.

* I apologize for the poor sound quality. My skype-to-skype interviews sound fine, but my skype-to-phone interviews get a lot of static and interference. My new microphone is in the mail; stay tuned to hear the difference with a Zoom microphone.

 

Have you attended a silent meditation retreat or ever wanted to?

Share your experiences–critical and cynical or blissed out–in the comments below please.

 

 

 

Photos (from top to bottom): Hot springs at Wat Suan Mokkh and Alessandro Aliosha Pedori