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

Articles tagged “yoga”

Why do we only breathe through the nose? A breathing exercise for relaxation and letting go

Most people know that in yoga we recommend only breathing through the nose. But that’s not true all of the time.

Watch my video below to learn a very simple breathing exercise that helps you let go of stress and stale air in your body by breathing out through the mouth.

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ACTION STEP: Try this breathing technique the next time you transition from a stressful situation–maybe when you get off work? Or during your lunch break?

If you’ve got any questions about yoga, meditation, healthy living, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.



How to Heal Heartbreak with Yoga

For anybody and everybody who’s ever had to go through a break-up, yoga can help. Heartbreak is the price of finding love, so don’t let it close your heart to the world.

Watch my video below to find out the one yoga pose I recommend for heartbreak as well as the greater connections yoga can make for you in your life.

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ACTION STEP: If you know someone who would appreciate this video, send them a link to it.

If you’ve got any questions about yoga or meditation or healthy eating, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.



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!



Is yoga spiritual?

Well, how do you define spiritual?

You know how some people have a life-changing experience? It could be an almost fatal accident or drug-enduced; it could be the birth of a child or a person who makes you finally fall in love. Something about these experiences touches your core, and you see the world differently afterwards. This change in your life does not mean that what happened was spiritual, but you experienced it with all of you as a transcendental experience. So can it be with yoga.

Watch my video below to find out how to make your yoga practice your own experience, whether spiritual or not.

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ACTION STEP: Chew on the idea — what is spirit and spirituality to you?

If you’ve got any questions about yoga, meditation, healthy living, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.



3* tools for maintaining “yoga mind” while working

Watch my video below where I talk about the three* (ok, four!) tools I use to keep myself aware at work:

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Here are the direct links to download the three tools to remind you to take regular breaks:

Eyes Relax for your computer

Workrave for GNU/Linux & Windows

Pomodoro Widget for Android, following the Pomodoro Technique of working 25 minutes and resting 5 minutes

As for the fourth one, you don’t need a link for that 😉

ACTION STEP: Download and install one of the programs above–any one that appeals most to you and use it the next time you work.

If you’ve got any questions about yoga, meditation, healthy living, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.



Urban Yoga Retreat: How to have a yoga retreat vacation at home

Traveling is wonderful. Abandoning daily routines, experimenting with new foods, speaking another language, turning strangers into friends–traveling makes the simplest thing different and exciting. But traveling can also be stressful: getting to and from the airport, the downtime during the physical travel itself,  visa paperwork and customs. The stress of being on time and the boredom of waiting in line are total opposites to what I’d want in a yoga weekend or yoga retreat. On top of that, the money spent…so why not just plan a retreat / vacation at home?

To replicate the yoga retreat experience at home, register for a special yoga workshop or a weekend workshop at your home yoga studio and then plan for the little luxuries that would make your apartment feel like a yoga retreat vacation.

My guiding words for resting and recharging at home would be calm & serene, self-love, and connection with nature, so those are my criteria for my yoga retreat at home.


♥ Make Time for Yourself

Clear your calendar for the day(s). I recommend 2 if not 3 days. You can meet up with friends if you’d like but don’t schedule anything that you wouldn’t schedule during a vacation. That is, yoga class and massages are ok; doing your taxes, not ok.

♥ Consider a Digital Sabbatical

Turn off your phone and check your email only once a day–or not at all. If you dare, don’t go online at all. Being offline is one of the best things about a vacation, so why not tell everyone that you will not be reachable via email or phone for 48 or 72 hours?

If you’re worried about getting bored, make sure you have a stack of books ready.

♥ Refresh your Environment

Either stay in a hotel or get your apt professionally cleaned to get the hotel experience. Change your bed linens and buy some flowers in a vase to give your home that hotel feeling. Light a new scented candle and buy a special bath product for your bath.

♥ Tune In Internally

Get in touch with yourself through writing. Buy yourself a notebook if you don’t already have one. Try to write three pages as soon as you wake up to get everything out of your head. If you don’t know where to start, try listing 100 reasons you’re grateful every day.

If you want to connect deeply with yourself, try observing silence for one day. Observing silence is exactly what it sounds like: not talking to anyone! Some people will allow themselves to speak when necessary or to write things down to communicate when necessary. You can wear a little sign to let people know that you are observing silence for the day. Decide on your boundary and stick to it! This will deepen your awareness internally when you are not focused on interacting with other people.

♥ Nourish your soul

Hide the foods in your kitchen that you want to avoid during your urban yoga retreat. Put chips, cookies, beer, perhaps even coffee in a cabinet. Lock it if you want to make it harder for yourself to access the forbidden goodies. To take it one step further, get rid of them entirely by donating them.

If you like to cook, stock your kitchen with fresh fruits and vegetables in season.

Otherwise, get some new herbal teas, some fruits, and some lemons for your water, and order delivery or eat out at organic vegan restaurants. Even if you’re not usually vegan, it will do your body good to cut out dairy and meat for two to three days.

♥ Move your body

Take a yoga workshop to delve into a subject you’ve always been curious about. Walk in nature. Swim in a lake.


I would love to hear your tips for recreating a yoga retreat experience at home, so please share your ideas in the comments below.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting my ideas for recreating a yoga retreat experience in different neighborhoods in Berlin, so stay tuned!



3 teachings from John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga

Last weekend I had the honor of practicing yoga with John Friend in Zurich, Switzerland.

Because Zurich was such a great experience, I want to share what I learned with you instead of answering a question for Q&A Thursday–next week, I’ll be back with some A’s to your Q’s.

Watch my video below to hear what I learned:

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Which of the three teachings from John Friend resonated with you the most? Let me know in the comments below.

ACTION STEP: Dedicate your next yoga practice to someone who just doesn’t stop getting on your nerves or someone who invokes your worst self. Let them inspire your practice and see where that takes you.

If you’ve got any questions about yoga, meditation, healthy living, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.



Are you concentrating or are you paying attention?

To expand on last week’s video about “yoga mind” a bit further, do you know the difference between concentration and attention?

Watch my video below to find out how I’ve experienced the difference between concentration and attention in my own practice and as I’ve learned from J. Krishnamurti.

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J. Krishnamurti writes in ‘Life Ahead’ in the book Total Freedom:

Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to a point, whereas attention is without frontiers. In that process the mind is always limited by a frontier or boundary, but when our concern is to understand the totality of the mind, mere concentration becomes a hindrance. Attention is limitless, without the frontiers of knowledge. Knowledge comes through concentration, and any extension of knowledge is still within its own frontiers. In the state of attention the mind can and does use knowledge, which of necessity is the result of concentration; but the part is never the whole, and adding together the many parts does not make for the perception of the whole. Knowledge, which is the additive process of concentration, does not bring about the understanding of the immeasurable. The total is never within the brackets of a concentrated mind.

ACTION STEP: And you? When do you concentrate and when do you pay attention? In the comments, tell me how you experience the difference between concentration and attention.

If you’ve got any questions about yoga, meditation, healthy living, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.



Urban Yoga Retreat in Zurich, Switzerland

On Friday I’ll be in Zurich for a long weekend to study with John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga. Since the last urban yoga workshop I attended left me a bit frazzled, rushing to see old friends and waking up at 5:30am every day, I researched where in Zurich I could replicate a yoga retreat feeling : calm, serene, connected to nature, and delicious and indulgent vegetarian / vegan food.

Zurich Urban Yoga Retreat

Photo credits, clockwise from top left: deliciousness at Hiltl, Lake Zurich by zoonabar, Luxemburgerlis by andres_colmen, Zurich at night by aforeo


♥ A place to journal

Cafe Sprüngli
over some coffee and macaron-like Luxemburgerlis

♥ A place to sit down and eat

the world’s first vegetarian restaurant Hiltl

♥ A casual cafe

tibits (yes, the lower-case is on purpose)

♥ Unique snacks to buy

Camille Bloch Ragusa Noir, a chocolate filled with whole hazelnuts

Appenzeller Bärli-Biber, a gingerbread cookie filled with sweet hazelnut or almond paste

Tete de Moine cheese (literally translated from the French: monk’s head cheese!), which must be shaved like a pencil with its own specific machine–and you eat the shaving like it’s a flower

♥ for when I take a walk in nature

around the Zurich Lake on its Panoramaweg


If you’ve been to Zurich, have you any other recommendations for me? Or what else would you need to make an urban setting a retreat? Tell me in the comments section!



How to bring your “yoga mind” to your desktop & workplace

This past week my friend A. asked me about how to prevent repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinoisis from working at the computer. Even if you don’t work with computers or your hands, what I have to say will help you bring your “yoga mind” to any kind of work you do.

What do I mean by “yoga mind”? Check out my video below to find out.

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ACTION STEP: In a spirit of compassion rather than judgment for yourself, ask yourself : How have you either ignored or didn’t pay attention to your body’s signals at work? And how can you start paying attention?

In the comments, tell me what you are going to change to bring your “yoga mind” off the mat.

If you’ve got any questions about yoga, meditation, healthy living, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.