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

Articles tagged “berlin”

Sadhguru in Berlin — Ticket Giveaway

The water tank beside Dhyanalinga.

The water tank beside Dhyanalinga.

When I was traveling alone in India for 2 months, I met a real live guru by accident when I stopped by a temple called Dhyanalinga. On Sunday he will be speaking live in Berlin! If you want to win a free ticket to see him live, keep reading until the last paragraph to find out how to win.

I meant to stay one night at the Dhyanalinga temple but I ended spending probably two weeks there.

Why go out of my way by a few hours to Coimbatore to visit a temple I found on the internet?

Because at that time I had been reading David Gordon White’s book about medieval yogi alchemists, and so my mind was curious about alchemical yoga where “power” substances like mercury and cinnabar were used to try to turn a human body into metaphysical gold. Mercury at room temperature is liquid, but one thing medieval yogis tried to do was to solidify mercury at room temperature.

So while researching south Indian temples, my interest was piqued by the solid mercury lingam (in short, an ovoid statue) at the water tank outside of Dhyanalinga. I wanted to see the temple, stay one night, and be on my way to Bangalore.

When I arrived at Isha Yoga Center, where Dhyanalinga temple is, I felt so much care and attention paid to the temple and the grounds around it that I decided to stay longer. At first I was there just for temples, as there were more than one temples at the ashram. Then I got curious about the man who leads the ashram and who built the temples, Sadhguru. As there were many of his books around, I started reading one. And then another. Eventually I signed up for a weekend of Inner Engineering, the introductory meditation course. I never made it to Bangalore, and I don’t regret it.

Sadhguru is quite prolific on Youtube. Below I’ve embedded one of his talks below:

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Why haven’t I blogged about Sadhguru yet?

I’m wary of gurus. I know how many gurus or yogic leaders have abused their power, so I hesitate to recommend one. My approach to Sadhguru is the same as my approach to yoga : try it and see for yourself. If it works for you, keep going. If it doesn’t do anything for you, drop it. Try it as an experiment.

And this Sunday Sadhguru will be speaking in Berlin…and I have a FREE ticket to give away. To enter, just write a comment at the end of the blog post. I will pick a winner on Saturday night and notify the winner via email.

Photo from Isha

Yoga Teachers: Where to Rent a Room in Berlin to Teach Yoga?



Yoga teachers new to Berlin email me lots of questions, even though I don’t teach yoga anymore.

Recently one new yoga teacher emailed me to ask (personal information edited out to respect her privacy) where she can rent a room in Berlin in which to teach yoga and Pilates:

I am interested in renting a room to teach my classes.

For now I have a class every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

I wonder if it is possible to rent a room in your Studio, know the price i have to pay and know if we can talk in person. I also offer my services to teach in Spanish and English for Yoga or Pilates classes in your studio if you need a professional, I have 5 years experience and have certification for EHFA in Pilates mat and Pilates elements.

I expect a prompt response on your part, happy week and thanks for your kind attention.


When I was teaching yoga, I rented a room at Heilehaus in Kreuzberg 36.

They have two rooms for movement classes. The room which I rented was on the upper floor. I chose it because it was sunny and cozy, with a wall full of windows and wooden floors.

The room on the lower floor also has wooden floors and a wall full of windows but also a wall of mirrors across from the windows. Because in my yoga classes I emphasized the feeling of the positions rather than how it looks, I deliberately chose against the room with the mirrors.

Other places where I considered renting rooms in which to teach yoga included the following:

  • Gelber Raum is mostly used by dancers and actors in which to practice. I’m not sure if they are still active, as I can’t find their website anymore. They are located at Mariannenstr. 48, 1st backyard, 2nd floor, in Kreuzberg 36.
  • Kurz und Klein is a children-centered activity center in Reuterkiez. They have a cafe space in front of one or two private rooms. They are at Nansenstr. 2, right on Reuterplatz behind the pizza shop.

I actually considered a few other places in Neukoelln and Kreuzberg, but they no longer seem to be around anymore.

Other good places to ask include acting or dance studios, because dancers and actors also need space in which to practice–and they might be interested in yoga too as students!

The same reasoning applies to martial arts studios, especially places where the practices taught include aikido or tai chi, because those are “gentler” practices.

Hope that helps, V.N., and let me know where you end up teaching.

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga






Photo by Mirna H.

Sharing the Love

Berlin Urban Sketchers

Some good things I’ve found on the internet this past week:

♥ a video interview by Kara-Leah Grant of the Yoga Lunchbox with Mark Whitwell on the principles of yoga as taught by the yoga teacher of yoga teachers.

If you don’t have 45 minutes to watch the complete video, here are my notes on what Mark said:

+ Yoga is not for making money; it’s about caring for each other and communicating.

+ Yoga is direct intimacy with life itself, not spiritual or gymnastic idealism–that only makes people unsatisfied with their lives.

+ Trying to become something else is a denial of who I am right now.

+ Yoga is giving people direct access to the wonder of their present life: stop looking, start living–embrace your ordinary life.

+ Do yoga for the sheer pleasure of it–like sex, not as a duty.

+ Yoga is participation in what is already given.

+ There is only one illness–stress. Remove stress, and let life heal you.

♥ beautiful food photography, beautiful enough to frame as art

urban sketchers in Berlin and all over the world–drawing is to photography what slow food is to eating.

♥ this sad and funny and true song from Jeffrey Lewis, called “Don’t Let the Record Label Take You Out to Lunch.” Be sure to read the lyrics here.

Jeffrey Lewis- Don’t Let the Record Label take you out to lunch from Zack Wolk on Vimeo.


Hope that floats your boat straight into the weekend!

Feel free to send me your good links–and it doesn’t have to be related to yoga, just beautiful and brings a smile to my face.

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga


How to DIY a Yoga Staycation Retreat in Berlin, Germany

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Want to go on a yoga retreat but don’t have the time or the money?

DIY your own yoga staycation–stay-at-home vacation–for a weekend in Berlin with my series on DIY-ing an urban yoga retreat.

1. Start with my tips on planning your yoga retreat staycation.

2. Either pick a new neighborhood you’d like to explore or stay in your own kiez :

♥ Mitte

♥ Friedrichshain

♥ Kreuzberg, part 1 & part 2

♥ Neukoelln

♥ Treptow


4. Let me know how my guides helped you.


If you have any resources to share in creating a DIY yoga retreat staycation, let me know in the comments below. I’d love your input!

Any other practical questions about yoga, meditation, or healthy living? Let me know and I’ll answer you in my Q and A video series.



DIY Yoga Staycation in Treptow, Berlin, Germany

Treptow Yoga Retreat

Photos, from left: view of and from Badeschiff by del planeta imaginario, interior of the Krematorium Treptow by berlin.unlike.net

Only about two months left in 2011–what have you chosen to leave undone and what have you accomplished? And for the ambitious ones among us, what can you still do before we blow the candle out on 2011?

Now is the perfect time to slow down, unplug from the internet & gadgets for a weekend, and reconnect to your body and your goals. I’m a huge advocate of DIY-ing a yoga retreat weekend at home in the middle of Berlin. Treat yourself to a yoga workshop or a weekend series of classes at a local Berlin yoga studio and then relax, indulge, and get quiet in my favorite Treptow places :

♥ Swim or sweat

at Badeschiff–an outside pool on the River Spree by summer and an insulated sauna by winter

♥ Brunch

at Freischwimmer if you can get a seat on the floating platform on a sunny day

♥ Journal & meditate

at the crematorium–yes, the Krematorium Treptow. Designed by Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank who designed the Kanzleramt on the other side of Berlin, the crematorium opened in 1999. The architecture is modern, simple, and open.

In medieval India groups of ascetic practioners of yoga hung out at cremation grounds, smeared themselves in ashes, grew their hair long, and basically lived on the margins of society. I’m not advocating this lifestyle, but the idea is food for thought : how you live your life depends on your relationship with death.

Think of what you’d like to look back at on your deathbed. Write that down in your journal and keep it somewhere where you can see it every day. No regrets; give life a whirl.

♥ Paddle in nature

on the Spree at Insel der Jugend

If you’ve been to the Treptow neighborhood of Berlin or live here, have you any other recommendations for me? What else would you need to make an urban setting a yoga retreat? Tell me in the comments section!



Why do yoga? : Kreuzberg Community Projects

Community Kreuzberg Projects

Photos, clockwise from top left: Jakob Fischer heritage apples, bicycle by moriza, preparation for the Homeless Veggie Dinner by Janina Gallert for Ex-Berliner, Prinzessinnengarten

The weather has been blah in Berlin and decidedly not like summer, with its clouded skies and occasional rain. I wish I could say that astrologically speaking, it’s a good time to retreat and be solitary, because that’s what I have been doing lately under this weather. Frankly, I’d love to continue my series on how to create an urban yoga retreat weekend in the middle of Berlin to indulge and treat yourself.

But I know that the world doesn’t really need my recommendations of cute cafés to soothe your pain away with herbal teas and sweet but safe cakes. I still stand by my belief that the world needs more yoga, that everyone can benefit from yoga, that there is a kind of yoga for everyone.

Yoga doesn’t have to take the shape of a luxurious (if only luxurious in time spent) weekend for yourself. That’s only one of the contemporary takes on yoga. If you go back to vedic scriptures, yoga had a very different meaning. The book I am reading, Sinister Yogis, documents changes in the meaning of the word yoga between 500 BCE and 500 CE. Yoga used to be action, war, being ready to hitch your war chariot to the animals–to get out there and fight. That, and…uh…leaving your body to take over those of parrots and dead kings (don’t worry, that’s not what we do in my classes or workshops!), hanging upside down, and being the ‘evil wizard’ in stories.

Now yoga has a strong bent towards meditation as an end goal, but I’m playing with the idea of yoga as the yoga of action. Because, after all, why do we practice yoga? To improve ourselves? To indulge ourselves? We must learn to heal ourselves, yes, but don’t let that become a trap from taking on something larger. Yoga doesn’t stop with just me. The question I ask myself these days is how I can expand my yoga into a collective experience, one geared towards action rather than contemplation.

So, even if they seem to have nothing to do with physical yoga postures, I offer you some suggestions of projects in Kreuzberg to inspire community, connection, and action :

♥ Eat with the homeless at the monthly Homeless Veggie Dinner

Come hungry and with your donations for this project that provides a 3-course vegetarian meal for the homeless and those with permanent roofs over their heads in a socially integrated context.

Sponsor a square-meter bed of vegetables at Prinzessinnengarten

Reclaim an urban lot! Make it a green oasis, for only 55 euros!

♥ Sign up for a shift to water 8 heritage apple trees newly planted in Görlitzer Park.

Watering these trees is good in so many ways : help the climate, keep these heritage apple lineages active and diverse, introduce nature into the city, make the parks edible, and I’m sure you can think of some more.

♥ Repair your bicycle at Regenbogenfabrik.

At Regenbogenfabrik’s self-organized bike mechanic workshop, your 3 euro / hour donation keeps them going.

[Right after I published this post, I get an email about another great community project, mobile in Kreuzberg, Neukoelln, and Prenzlauer Berg, so I have to add it below.]

♥ Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger with  Fliegender Kaffee.

In different coffee shops around town, you can buy two cups of coffee–one for yourself to drink right away, and another for a needy stranger later. Even though you don’t get to meet the recipient of your generosity, the other coffee drinkers around you share your values. Sure, coffee in a cafe is not a need–but being social is. And it feels good to pay for someone else, right?

So what do you think about the yoga of action? Why do you do yoga?

If you know of any other projects that inspire community and action in Kreuzberg, let me know!



Urban Yoga Retreat in Neukölln, Berlin, Germany

Neukoelln Yoga Retreat

Photos, clockwise from top left: pomegranites, Stadtbad Neukölln, cake at Vux, Körnerpark

To continue with my series on how to create the calm and serene atmosphere of a yoga retreat weekend at home in the middle of the city, I’m showing my Neukölln favorite places.

Treat yourself to a yoga workshop or a weekend series of classes at a local Berlin yoga studio and then relax and indulge and connect with yourself :

♥ Swim and sweat in a sauna

at the Greco-Roman-styled Stadtbad Neukölln (but watch out for the nudist nights! unless that’s how you like to roll)

Also, tip for Americans / shy people, the saunas in Germany are nude all the time. Yes, it’s true.

♥ Sit down and eat

at the omnivorous Fortuna’s Feast whose menu changes every day. Get the mashed potatoes (creamiest potatoes ever, like mousse) with the cherry chutney if they are on the menu; you will not regret it!

♥ Journal

over vegan cake and cupcakes at the darling Café Vux

♥ Walk in nature

at the Comenius Garden, where you have to ring the doorbell and wait for them to buzz you in, and at the neighboring classically designed Körnerpark

♥ Go to market

on the Lankwehr canal at a small organic market on Tuesdays and Fridays, right at the end of the conventional vegetable market at Schinkestrasse. There’s food, music, and TONS of people. It feels like the heart of Kreuzkölln on these days, because all sorts of different types of people come together at market.

PS: It’s not organic, BUT…at the other end of the market, where the Maybachufer meets Kottbusser Damm, there is a fresh orange and pomegranite juice stand. Fresh pomegranite juice is delicious on a hot sunny day, take it from someone who knows.

If you’ve been to the Neukölln neighborhood of Berlin or live here, have you any other recommendations for me? What else would you need to make an urban setting a yoga retreat? Tell me in the comments section!