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.
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!