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

Articles in “Yoga Solutions”

Yoga for the Ladies–yoga for that time of the month

This video is for the ladies. Not one? Send the following video to one or two of your favorite ladies.

Period time affects every woman differently. Some notice no difference. Others feel tired, cranky, sluggish. Other than avoiding inversions, I’d suggest you listen to your body. When I was younger, I practiced a vigorous active yoga even on my period days. These days I ease myself into restorative poses like the ones in the video below. They’re also good when you just want some yoga postures to help your energy go downwards.

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Let me know if these yoga postures help you during your time of the month or if you have any other questions about yoga, meditation, or living well.

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

How to Calm your Anxiety with Yoga

 

Yoga asanas affect our emotional as well our physical bodies, so if you’re feeling strong emotional imbalances, yoga may help you bring your emotions back in balance.

Feeling anxious? Try the following easy yoga sequence to get out of your mind and center yourself in your body.

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ACTION STEPS:

1. Sign up for my mailing list to get a 7-minute guided breathing practice.

2. Take 10 minutes to do the yoga postures in my video. If you want to do them longer, go for it!

3. Use my mp3 to do the breathing exercise.

4. Repeat until you don’t feel anxious anymore.

Let me know if that helps with your anxiety or if you have any other questions about yoga or meditation.

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

 

How to do Yoga Secretly at your Desk at Work (Shhh!)

So you really need to take a break but can’t leave your chair at work?

Try this really simple, fast, and easy yoga exercise in my video below.

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If you like this video, you’ll love an hour of yoga in the middle of your work day.

ACTION STEP:

1. Find a mid-day yoga class. (If you’re in Berlin, come to my lunch yoga class in Kreuzberg.)

2. Tell your boss that you’d like to work out while taking a long lunch using these words from Jennifer Dziura, writer of excellent career and life advice aimed at women:

I have realized that I would work better if I came in an hour earlier [or stay an hour later]…and then took a longer break in the middle of the day, I can come back from the gym with more energy and keep up peak productivity until 6.

Obviously, if you get different benefits from yoga–like a clearer mind for more creativity or super relaxation so that you work better with your teammates–be sure to mention that when you speak to your boss.

Let me know if that script works for you when you take control of your work schedule and make time for your body and breath.

xoxo,

Bettina

Yoga F.A.Q.

Fireworks

 

Question: I have never done yoga.  How should I start?

Answer: Start with beginner’s classes at a local yoga studio. 

I advise against videos for total beginners because without a teacher’s guidance, you could practice with bad habits that could injure you. Sometimes you think you are doing something right, but it could be harmful to repeatedly practice that way. Even if you are careful, you could pick up bad habits that are hard to break.

 

Question: I am overweight / underweight / out of shape / just had a baby / have an injury / worried that I will make a fool of myself / other concern.  How can I still do yoga?

Answer:  No one really cares about what you look like or don’t look like in yoga.  

Yoga is about being mindful and present in your own body.

If something doesn’t feel right in class or you can’t or don’t want to do it, then don’t.  We’re not yoga fundamentalists here.

But what’s the worst that can happen?  You fall over?  Who cares!  We all fall!

If you fall, you have to laugh and take your neighbor down with you.

If you’re still hesitant, you can always sign up for a private yoga class with me.

 

Question : Do I have to be flexible or strong to practice yoga ?

Answer : Yoga is about bringing your awareness to your body, mind, and breath. You can do this no matter how flexible or weak you are.

Besides, through yoga you become flexible and strong. Just like starting anything else, the first few times you practice yoga, maybe you will feel creaky, stiff and even frustrated at certain poses. Through regular practice, however, you’ll notice changes in your body AND mind. Your mind will learn to be more patient and accepting with yourself.



Is there anything else you want to know? What other questions do you have? Let me know, and I’ll try to answer them in next Thurday’s Q & A.

xoxo,

Bettina

 

 

Photo by papa jesse (collage of fireworks compiled from over 50 photos!)

How is Yoga a lot like Dancing?

Watch the video below to find out how yoga is like dancing:

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How are you hiding in yoga? Are you practicing yoga for yourself or for the way it looks to other people? Are you watching other people in class?

Any other questions about yoga, meditation, or healthy living keep you up at night?

Let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A.

xoxo,

Bettina

I Quit Sugar Week 3 : Breaking Up with Sugar

Breaking Up with Sugar

 

Dear Sugar,

I’m terribly sorry I had to do this through a letter. Our relationship has run its course. Don’t let it get you all upset inside; we are just not a good match.

Thanks for the years of happiness you gave me. We had a great run together, didn’t we? The birthday cakes, the Halloween candy, the chocolates on Valentines from my childhood–all happy memories. When I grew older and moved to Paris, you beckoned from pastries made by masters of sugar and deliciousness. I had a sugary snack almost every afternoon in Paris since nothing else was open other than bakeries between lunch and dinner. In Paris, you were beautiful, lit up like a jewel behind glass windows.

But it’s not working anymore for me. I expect too much of you. I’m depending too much on you to cheer me up when I’m sad or blue or just down. In these past two weeks when I’ve tried living my life without you, it’s been hard. And those times when I invited you back into my life, you still have a way of touching me deeply in my sweet spot.

But I need to outgrow you: for all the highs we have together, you also give me the lows. I always have to run back into your arms again to feel back on top. I depend on you to make me happy, and I need to find out how to do that for myself. Before I tried taking a break with you, I wouldn’t be able to walk by the chocolate aisle in the grocery store without picking you up so that you–my secret weapons–will be waiting in my bag no matter what else happens for the day. (Yes, I love you most when you’re combined with dark chocolate.)

Frankly, even though emotionally you make me feel great, you don’t do much for me physically. You turn immediately into stored fat. You’re chemically addictive. I don’t want to go down the list again of why you’re no good for me, even though the last time I forgot one more evil thing about you: the history of your cultivation goes hand in hand with the story of the evils of colonialism.

Look, I’m not saying that I want to break up with you forever. It’s not like I’ve been cheating on you or want to replace you with anyone. I don’t want to have a chemical relationship with any other substance, even though caffeine could rival your importance in my life. After the next six weeks, I’m pretty sure I want you back in my life again though probably not as my bestie like you are now. I just need a complete break to break my dependence on you so that I can be in control of my life again.

After our six weeks’ separation, I’d like to be in control. I’d like to moderate the highs and lows you give me. I’d like to feel my down feelings rather than smother them with your sweetness. Before I used to think that you were a treat for myself, as a way of taking care of and treating myself. But I see you now for what you are: you make things better like a shiny bow wrapped around a trash pile, but you don’t address the underlying problems. When I’m tired I will just take a nap. When I’m blue I will talk to a friend about it rather than turning to you.

I know that it’s going to be hard not turning to you in the next six weeks, but I’m doing this for myself—so that I can be free and autonomous, fully in control of my own body and mind. It would be great if you understood, sugar, that it’s not you; it’s me. Really.

Sorry,

Bettina

PS: Sugar honey, give me back my keys. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, if you’re ok with it, but I have to be the one who decides when and where and how.

PPS: In case you’re new around here, I quit sugar two weeks ago.

I am following Sarah Wilson‘s 8-week sugar quitting program, as outlined in her $15 handbook.

If you buy the handbook by clicking on this link, THANK YOU! I get a commission, but the price is the same no matter where you buy it. Once you make your purchase through my link, please contact me with your order receipt, and I’ll send you my bonus PDF detailing where to get some of the supplies in Germany and in the US that Sarah Wilson recommends on her Australian-based shopping list.

 

Photo from buzzfeed

I Quit Sugar : Progress Notes from Week 2

Yogurt

Thank you, dear readers, for keeping me on track with quitting sugar for eight weeks. When I feel totally alone in quitting sugar, I just think of you on the other side of the screen and how I have to report back about my weekly progress.

Quitting Sugar : Success Story from cutting back

First, a success story before I tell you about my cake attack breakdown. So the first week was to cut down on sugar, which for me meant drinking espresso black or with plain milk. Surprise! I wanted to drink fewer espressos throughout the day once they weren’t so tasty anymore. But for the entire week I stuck to this, about which I’m happy.

Cake Attack : Lessons Learned from cutting back on sugar

Going into quitting sugar, I knew that sugary snacks were ways I’d pick myself up after a long, tiring day. So yesterday I had a long, tiring day, and I just had to have something junky in my system. Now that I can’t eat cookies or cakes, I decided to buy some chips because those salty suckers must not have sugar, right? Guess what? Every single package of chips whose ingredients I read had sugar. Or else lactose or dextrose or another sugar. Who knew that to make paprika, salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, ‘Mexican’ flavors, you need sugar?!

In any case, I went home disappointed without a snack to treat myself, thinking that not eating sugar means not eating any junk food–treats–at all. This was perhaps my mistake.

Cake

A few hours later at home, my crazy monkey mind and will power just got tired of resisting–did you know that will power really is like a muscle? When your will power gets tired from being tested too much, at the end of the day, you just give in. As proof of that last night I polished off a jar of chocolate brownie cake (see photo above) that I had bought from Emma at the dessert market / Naschmarkt in late December that was standing around in my kitchen.

So instead of eating a jar of cake with a spoon like it was Ben and Jerry’s, what I should have done is anticipated my impeding lack of willpower and bought a substitute treat like full-fat yogurt with cacao nibs at the store. No judgments, however. I really needed a pick-me-up last night, so I gave myself what was convenient. Compassion leads to sustainable changes.

From week one of quitting sugar, I learned that I need to have alternative treats around so that I don’t just treat myself with cakes and cookies. In fact, I may need to have two treats–one food treat and one non-food treat so that I can start thinking of food as fuel for my body and not as ways of being nice to myself.

How do you treat yourself well in ways that are not related in food but is accessible at any time and / or portable ?

Let me know in the comments section!

And for week two of quitting sugar I’ll be eating more fat and protein so that I feel full rather than deprived. For breakfast I eat one or two hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper instead of my usual fruit smoothies. In fact, I’ll be trying to eat fat and protein with every meal.

If you want to join me, you can read my progress notes from week 1, follow along by buying for $15 Sarah Wilson’s how-to manual on quitting sugar, or read Sarah Wilson’s blog about her Quitting Sugar program.

Edited to say: Those of you who bought Sarah Wilson’s quitting sugar manual by clicking my link (you get the same price, and I get a commission from her), THANK YOU! I had promised that I’d share with you where I buy in Germany and the US the supplies Sarah Wilson recommends in her quitting sugar shopping list, since Sarah is based in Australia.

Since this is my first time working as an affiliate, I didn’t realize when I made that promise that I don’t get a list of people who bought through my link. So if you want my German and/or American version of the quitting sugar shopping list, please contact me with your order receipt. Sorry for the extra trouble! But it may be worth it: having a shopping list has helped me stay focused at the grocery store!

First photo from Michele Amato; second photo Südwind-Shop

How to Practice Yoga Simply at Home in 3 – 5 Minutes

So you want to practice simple yoga at home in 3-5 minutes?

Try one or more sun salutation A series, as it is a complete sequence that includes almost all the types of postures in yoga : standing, balancing, forward bending, backward bending, and inverting. Because the sun salute links these different types of postures together in a rhythmic sequence, it gives you almost all the benefits of yoga in a short and sweet package. It only lacks seated and twisting postures, as you can always do corpse pose / shavasana as a reclining posture at the end.

Don’t scoff at practicing yoga for just 3-5 minutes a day. Studies show that practicing 5 minutes of yoga daily is better than 35 minutes once a week.

Besides, you can really squeeze a sun salutation into your day no matter how busy you are. And because there’s minimal touching of the floor, perhaps you can also practice it almost anywhere–like in line at the post office or in a big elevator on your way up to the 80th floor. (If you get yourself on camera throwing down a sun salute in the middle of your day in a public place, let me know–I’ll be sure to feature you on my blog!)

Watch the video below to learn how you can practice yoga at home in three to five minutes:

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ACTION STEPS:

1. Try the sun salute during your next break at work or at home.

2. If you like it, schedule it into your planning for 2012, just like any other project you want to do.

 

Any other questions about yoga, meditation, or healthy living keep you up at night?

Let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A.

xoxo,

Bettina

Planning for 2012 : How to Schedule Yoga & All your Projects for the New Year

Hooray! It’s almost 2012!

I love looking forward to the year ahead and planning all my projects and experiences I want to live out. Instead of goals, I schedule projects and experiences because that’s how we get to include the fun parts–like travels, books to read, movies to watch–along with the projects we want to get done. So whether you categorize yoga as a project to do or a fun experience, scheduling it into your 2012 will ensure that you include it as a part of your life.

Watch the video below to learn how you too can plan your year in advance:

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ACTION STEPS:

1. Set aside about half an hour to write down your list of 100 experiences you want to live in 2012. If you have trouble thinking of things, try thinking about the different sectors of your life–such as relationships, money, career, health, family, physical environment–and how you could improve them.

2. Then, figure out the 10-12 big projects you want to tackle and schedule them on a yearly calendar.

3. Break down the big projects into smaller steps and write these smaller steps as well as the rest of the experiences you’ll have in 2012 on monthly calendars, color-coding them as you go.

The monthly and annual calendars you can print directly from Microsoft Word, but you can also download and print an herbal wall calendar illustrated by a 14-year-old from Etsy seller Alice Cantrell.

If you plan to include a weekly yoga practice in 2012, why not buy a class card for my Thursday noon yoga class or apply for my beginners’ yoga series, starting in the early spring? Get in touch for more details.

Any other questions about yoga, meditation, or healthy living keep you up at night?

Let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A.

xoxo,

Bettina

Yoga Tools Shopping List for Yoginis (sorry, men!)

In case you’re starting out new in yoga as a beginner, here are some cool tools for your yoga tool box including a set of practical and imminently wearable top and pants for women. Unfortunately, gentlemen, I could not find any performance wear that I could whole-heartedly recommend to you. But a T-shirt and some not-too-tight, not-too-loose shorts would be fine. You can catch my video on recommendations for what to wear to your first yoga class here.

But the non-wearables below can be used by anyone. I don’t believe you have to buy ANYTHING to practice yoga, however, not even a yoga mat. These tools can enhance your practice, but yoga is about your mind, breath and body–not how far you push your body or how deep you can stretch. No tools can replace your presence or your attention.

This Matt & Nat Satchel has enough space for your regular stuff and a change of clothes for yoga class. To boot, it’s vegan! Even though I feel like the vegan leather replacement materials are all made of plastic of one form or another, the lesser evil is still plastic, especially if you use it forever and never throw it away.

I use the Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat at home. Since my last mat lasted me about ten years, I wanted to find a mat that would stay with me for life. And Manduka has a lifetime guarantee for this mat, so I’ll have variations on this mat for the rest of my life. How many other objects in your life can lay claim to that?

My big caveat is that it’s not made of natural materials. The rubber mats may be less processed and thus better for your health, but the ones that were on the market when I bought my mat wore away after a year or two.

Not that you need a Yogitoes Skidless Yoga Towel. If your hands and feet slip all over, practicing using your core to hold yourself in your center–that’s part of yoga. But I know that sometimes it seems like you need just a bit more help or you sweat as soon as you step on your mat. So that’s where the skidless yoga towel comes in–to give you even more traction from slipping than your yoga mat.

If you’re looking for a yoga outfit that can pass for normal clothes, I recommend this Hyde Women’s Trieger Tank. You can layer over it in the winter and wear it out and about in the summer–no one would suspect that you were on your way to/from yoga class. Plus, it comes in a variety of colors.

I alternate between black stretchy yoga calf-length pants and long wool leggings that are meant to be long underwear like these Icebreaker Women’s Bodyfit 200 Leggings. Especially in this cold weather, I like the extra layer of warmth as well as coverage. What I love is that I already wear these under my clothes so I don’t need to pack an extra set of yoga clothes when I teach yoga in the middle of the day. If you are going to a super sweaty yoga class, I would not recommend these leggings for it because once they get wet with your sweat, it takes a bit longer than performance fabrics to wick the sweat away.

What do you consider indispensable for taking your yoga to the next level? As always, let me know in the comments.

xoxo,

Bettina