Apr 8, 2014

10 Cool Things to Do in Berlin


 
My sister will be visiting Berlin this month and asked for insider tips about what to see and do. I compiled this list and thought it might be interesting for some of you out there as well. Full disclosure: All of the places and brands listed here are personal recommendations. None of them have compensated me in any way, shape or form for mentioning them in this post. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comment section!

walk, walk, walk
I love walking around Berlin. My favorite routes include the following, just click on the bold print for detailed directions:

* Prenzauer Berg Tour *
Hackescher Markt -> Mauerpark (≈ 45 minutes non-stop)
See the Hackeschen Höfe, Prenzlauer Berg, Zionskirchplatz, and the Mauerpark flea market.

*  Sunday Walk *
Bahnhof Zoo -> Brandenburger Tor (≈ 45 minutes non-stop)
See Berlin Zoo and the Aquarium, the Tiergarten Park, Goldelse and Brandenburg Gate)
* Hip and Trendy *
Hermannplatz -> Warschauer Str. (≈ 1 hour non-stop)
See the hip and trendy districts Neukölln and Kreuzberg, Berlin's famous outdoor clubs Club der Visionäre,  Freischwimmer, and Badeschiff and explore Friedrichshain.
* Politics *
See the Reichstag, Berlin Main Train Station, government offices, and Friedrichstraße. Walk along Unter den Linden and see Museum Island and City Hall.
* Cultural Tour *
Viktoria Luise Platz -> Potsdamer Platz (≈ 1 hour and 20 minutes non-stop)
See Viktoria-Luise-Platz, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, KDW, Bauhaus-Archiv, Neue Nationalgalerie and Potsdamer Platz.


ride the 100 bus
If you're pressed for time or too lazy to walk, take the bus. The 100 bus is a sightseeing tour for a tenth of the normal price, pretty much. For 2,60€, you can ride from Alexanderplatz to Bahnhof Zoo and view most major Berlin sights. Try visitberlin.de for more information on the 100 and more typical things to see and do in Berlin.  

eat lots of vegan food
Undoubtedly, Berlin is Germany's vegan capital. From lifestyle blogs to meaty looking burgers to fashion, fancy dining and even enitre vegan supermarkets, you can get anything cruelty free. Veggie Love is a great resource for vegan trends, Berlin vegan is the community page to research vegan food in your area - they even have an app for when you're on the go! My personal favorite vegan restaurants include Satyam (sooo good and super affordable) and Kopp's (a little more expensive, best to make reservations). I also enjoy the coincidentally vegan vegetarian platter at Abissinia, an Ethiopian restaurant owned by Dantina, the friendliest owner ever.


go to a concert / the ballett / a reading
Berlin overflows with all things cultural. There's really something interesting for everyone! Before I turned 30, I liked to take advantage of the ClassicCard, with which you can go see balletts for as little as 10€. Even when you're over thirty, though, tickets to the Staatsballett Berlin are inexpensive in international comparison.

For booking concert tickets, there are plenty of options, but I always liked eventim: You can buy online tickets with them for (almost) any event, then all you have to do is download, print and bring them. Easy as pie.

Berlin's literary scene is awesome, too. There's the young and hip Literaturwerkstatt in Prenzlauer Berg's event space Kulturbrauerei, and also the somewhat posh Literaturhaus close to Ku'Damm. The Literaturhaus has a nice café attached to it, where Berlin's rich intelligenzia likes to hang out. With plenty of shops around the corner, it makes for a nice stop after a visit to the Gedächtniskirche and/ or the surrounding shops. Three relatively hidden gems in the same street are Umasan (vegan fashion), lululemon athletica's City West Showroom (Canadian sports fashion and free Yoga classes on the weekends) and Thull + Schneider (fine scarves) - neither of these are for shoppers on a budget, though. If you like your readings a little more indie and underground, try Kookbooks publishing for contemporary poetry readings that often include musical performances, too, and usually end with a party.  


see art
After London, Berlin is my second favorite city when it comes to art. There is so much stuff - from ancient to postmodern, decent to crazy. My personal museum of choice is the Hamburger Bahnhof near the central station. The East Side Gallery (art painted on remaining parts of the Berlin Wall) is another hit with visitors. To get an idea of just how many museums there are, try Museumsportal Berlin for more info, exhibition recommendations and up to date news on what's on.  

shop around Weinmeisterstraße

The area around Ubhf Weinmeisterstr and the Hackesche Höfe certainly is one of the most exciting and convenient to shop in. With a cool mix of international brands and national designers, the younger audience will certainly find something to their liking. Famous cafés Barcomis (bagels! chocolate fudge cake!) and St. Oberholz (wifi!) are nearby, too, and if you have time, you might want to explore the small designer shops around Mulackstr and sample Mamecha's green tea selection.   

get a cheap massage
My favorite place to get a massage in Berlin is with the lovely ladies of Bootsabong. 30€ for 60 minutes of traditional Thai Massage is an unbeatable price even for Berlin standards, and quality and service have always been impeccable. While you're in the area, take a stroll around the shops and restaurants on Bergmannstr. and the Marheinekeplatz. Parlamento Degli Angeli has some of the best pizza in town. If you like your Italian food a little more upscale, try the Osteria No.1 at the bottom of Berlin's Viktoriapark. Tomasa at Villa Kreuzberg offers great brunch. Just make sure to reserve your tables, as all three places can get pretty busy.

do yoga!
Berlin offers Yoga for every taste, and most studios welcome travelling drop-ins (a drop-in class usually costs around 15€). There are also plenty of interesting workshops with visiting international teachers - try the Jivamukti events list. With lululemon having set up shop in the city last summer, there are also opportunities to take free classes on the weekend in one of their Showrooms (Mitte and West). For fancy studio time and English language instruction try Spirit Yoga.

get a hair cut
Berlin is renown for it's avant-garde style, and quite a few of Berlin's hair salon's are different from what you are likely to know. Salon Notaufnahme in Prenzlauer Berg, for example, offers a live DJ and loud club music while you're getting your new look. For Rockabilly styling, try Kaiserschnitt and their 1950's inspired shop in Friedrichshain.


spend a night at Kumpelnest or Kaffee Burger
I know Berghain is all the rave, but I've spent some of my most enjoyable Berlin nights in the curiosity shops that are Kumpelnest 3000 and Kaffee Burger. Both places attract a cool mix of locals, tourists and crazies, and should make for unforgattable early mornings. Don't start your nights off there, though, go as late as possible!

Mar 14, 2014

Speakerinnen.org

Image Source: Speakerinnen.org
Immer wieder gut zu wissen, dass es Speakerinnendatenbanken gibt. Was auch immer Euer Thema sein mag, registriert Euch schnell und unkompliziert hier, wenn Ihr daran interessiert seid, künftig Vorträge dazu zu halten. Organisatorinnen sei die Seite aufgrund ihrer übersichtlichen Struktur ebenfalls empfohlen. Man kann nie genug Frauen kennen!

Mar 1, 2014

My Feminist Wedding - 10 Things I Won't Do Just Because

I'm getting married this year, and here are ten things I won't do just because:

Lose weight for a dress
No way in hell will I subject myself to this kind of unnecessary pressure! Everyone knows perfectly well what I normally look like, my partner loves and accepts me for who I am, and the time wasted on counting calories will be better invested in finding an outfit that underlines my personality. And who says it has to be a dress I should be wearing in the first place? No need for white, either. (Although I will probably end up wearing off-white.) There's also the possibility of getting a second hand dress, if you're into vintage. Here in Toronto there's a great charity called The Brides' Project that resells used wedding dresses and donates all profits to cancer charities.

Have a hen night 
Oh, the embarrassment! On average, a group of thirteen women spends their day learning how to mix cocktails, lying around with pieces of cucumber on their faces or running their fingers over some Chippendale's abs. In the UK, the cost of hen nights increased by about 50% from £102 to £157 per person in the past five years alone, with travel destinations becoming ever more exclusive: Las Vegas and Barcelona are the new Manchester and Bristol. And aside from the monetary cost, there seems to be a moral one, too; 43% of British women (and 73% of British men) will lie to their partner about what happened that night. The only way I could see myself bidding farewell to my legally single life - that I won't be missing at all - would be a night in with my friends of all genders. Why limit the fun to my female friends?

Keep my last name just for the sake of it
Within 90 days of my wedding, I will legally change my surname to Oliver's. This is not because I want to become his property, but because I like his name better than mine. Simple as that. If my name would have been cooler, he would have changed his. Since we are a bi-national couple, I believe that sharing the same name will simplify legal matters, especially when we are travelling. Should we ever have kids, I want them, too, to have the same name. However, I will never refer to myself as "Mrs. Oliver Dawson-Clark". I am Annina. Annina Dawson-Clark for friends and family and before the law, and Annina Luzie Schmid for everyone else. I'm eager to continue publishing under my maiden name, because this is how people have gotten to know me, and because a pen name creates what I believe to be a healthy distance between your professional and private lives.

Have my dad walk me down the aisle
This is because the tradition of one man handing me over to another is crazy. I am my own woman. And there is a practical problem, too: I have a biological father that I get along with very well, and also a step dad that I get along with equally well. So, if anything, they would have to walk on either side of me, with my mom and step moms somewhere in the picture, too. Like Jessica Valenti. She and her husband Andrew had both their parents walk them both down the aisle. If I did the same, I would have a procession of five just for myself. Pretty awesome, really. 

Serve meat
I'm sure you have read plenty about veganism and vegetarianism in the past year, so I won't give you the whole rundown on why I think that a vegetarian, mostly vegan diet is the way forward. Thanks to my daily, dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practice, I know of the effects that eating meat and dairy have on my body, and I know that animals do not deserve to die for my indulgence. Given the choice, I oppose serving my guests with platters of death. Veggie buffets tend to be easier on the budget, too, and there are plenty of awesome vegan wedding cakes.


Invite people we don't normally see
There's always uncle Jimmy who your mother has very fond memories of showing her the Roman Basilica in 1973. And your neighbour Cynthia who keeps bringing you cookies because she is lonely. These people sure are nice, but they do not need to be at my wedding. I want to spend the occasion with people dear to my heart. A wedding invite is a lovely gesture, but it shouldn't come from a bad conscience. Our wedding day is not the time to accommodate other people.

Save money on the photographer
My friend Jenn advised me that the one thing we shouldn't economize on is a decent photographer. She had held her own informal wedding in the backyard, with disposable cameras put on tables for people to use... And it didn't go well. Jenn said that while she did get a bunch of nice shots from this, the moments most important to her were lost. Being the photography fiend that I am, it didn't take much convincing; I'm pretty sure the photographer we will hire will end up being the single highest expense in the budget. 

Keep a gift registry
One thing I know is: I won't set up shop as a housewife any time soon. (Even though studies show that most people fall back into traditional gender roles pretty much right after they get hitched.) Rather than pressuring people into spending their money on kitchen supplies we won't actually need, I will ask them for something we will always enjoy: a contribution towards the wedding photos, however small. Like that our guests will help us (and themselves) memorize an important day in our lives. That said, a wedding is only ever the first step of a journey, and never the one goal or defining moment of a woman's life.

Read a gazillion wedding blogs - aaaaaaaaaargh!!!
I have limited myself to two: A Practical Wedding for handy advice and Rock n Roll Bride for a somewhat out of the ordinary approach and pretty pictures. I have stayed away from the other stuff because they tend to reproduce patriarch stereotypes, and also because seeing beautiful things on the Internet has rarely ever done anything for me aside from empty my pockets. I am making sure, too, that it's not just me who does all the party planning and organizing. Oliver and I are in this together, and he has agreed to do his share of the pre-wedding work.

Obsess about every detail
Luckily, when it comes to decorations, my mother-in-law has got it all figured out. She's a table setting tornado with a Master's Degree in Art History, and I won't question her taste. I have not set my heart on a particular colour scheme, flower arrangement or whatever the fuck else it is that other brides obsess about. While I like a good general plan about what happens when as to keep our guests entertained, I trust that some room for happenstance will actually improve the party. Like with anything else in life, really. Letting go usually helps lighten up!  :)


If you would like to get to know Oliver and I a little better, check out our YouTube videos and his tumblr

Feb 18, 2014

Diversity in the Western Yoga Community



Important docu series on diversity in Yoga. And if you're still wondering why you should start practicing, read why Haley gets up at 5.30 every day for her Ashtanga fix.

Dec 14, 2013

Netzfeministischer Jahresrückblick 2013


Heute ist bei iRights.info mein netzfeministischer Jahresrückblick erschienen. Der Text kann entweder nach dem Klick kostenfrei online gelesen oder im 176 Seiten dicken Jahresrückblick Netzpolitik als eBook oder Printausgabe käuflich erworben werden. Außer meinem sind darin Artikel von Edward Snowden, Sascha Lobo, Dirk von Gehlen und Stefan Niggemeier enthalten. Leseempfehlung!

Dec 10, 2013

Ashtanga Yoga und Tattoos

Letzte Woche ist die neue Ausgabe des kostenlosen Online-Magazins ROSEGARDEN erschienen, zu dem ich einen Beitrag über Ashtanga Yoga und Tattoos beitragen durfte. Als kleines Schmankerl ist dem Text ein Interview mit meinem Lehrer David Robson angehängt, der selbst weiß, wie sich das Surren einer Tätowiernadel anfühlt. Los geht es auf Seite 50, Feedback immer wieder gerne.

Oct 30, 2013

Wer nicht isst, bleibt dumm

Teresa Bücker und Mario Sixtus haben einen Clip gedreht, in dem es um Essstörungen geht. Ein thematischer Dauerbrenner und vor dem genannten Hintergrund dessen, dass das tägliche Kalorienrechnen immer Hirnkapazitäten frisst, die an anderer Stelle konstruktiver eingesetzt werden könnten, auf jeden Fall ein Denkanstoß zum Umgang mit der Problematik. Unter dem Titel "Kriegserfahrungen" hat Teresa ihre Punkte im Film auf ihrem Blog außerdem schriftlich ergänzt.  

Sep 17, 2013

"Überwachte Gesellschaft" - Das erste E-Book zum Alltag nach PRISM


iRights.Media hat heute früh das E-Book "Überwachte Gesellschaft" veröffentlicht. Darin enthalten sind Texte und Interviews, die sich mit der Frage beschäftigen, was die derzeitige Totalüberwachung des Internets durch diverse Geheimdienste eigentlich für unsere Gesellschaft bedeutet. Neben Essays wie "Auf dem Weg zum Überwachungsstaat" finden sich in der Datei auch eine Chronologie der Enthüllungen des Whistleblowers Edward Snowden sowie Einschätzungen zum Thema Datensicherheit in der Cloud.
Das E-Book kann für 4,99€ auf Amazon und iTunes erworben oder - zumindest in Teilen - aus bereits auf iRights.info erschienenen Artikeln umsonst zusammengeklaubt werden. Es wird im Zuge neuer Enthüllungen aktualisiert werden und steht unter einer Creative Commons-Lizenz, seine Weitergabe ist also ausdrücklich erwünscht.

Aug 14, 2013

It Can Wait



"From One Second To The Next" is Werner Herzog's heartbreaking new documentary on texting and driving. Watch this full length clip to be reminded that whatever it is you think you need to say, it can wait til you're there.

Jul 22, 2013

GCB Tests: The Ruby Cup

The Ruby Cup

tldr: Eco-friendly, cheap, convenient. Absolute recommendation! 

Not too long ago, I received an email asking me whether I'd like to test Ruby Cup, a re-usable menstrual hygiene product developed by a female-run social business. According to the email, Ruby Cup was a healthy, safe, convenient, cost-saving and environmentally friendly way of dealing with your monthly business (or, as coined by Stan, "shark week"): You insert it, leave it alone for four to twelve hours depending on your flow, take it out to empty it, and put it back in. Every month, after your period is done, you boil it in hot water and put it away until next month. Sounded easy as pie.

Originally designed for women in developing countries, the advantages of the cup are obvious for women anywhere: Less tampon waste, less money spent every month, no need to run to the bathroom every couple of hours, no drying out of your vagina's natural balance. And since the Ruby Cup is made of non-allergenic medical grade silicone, it can be used up to ten years. A totally novel concept for me - I had only ever used disposable tampons. Admittedly, I was a little worried about whether I really would be able to do "everything", as the product's 'You can do everything!' slogan indicates. "Everything" to me includes lots of Yoga, upside down poses on the later days of my period, and being generally active just as I would be using tampons.

With the Ruby Cup in hand, I was prepared for a long session in the bathroom to figure out how to place it right. Turns out, inserting it took only about two seconds longer than a tampon would have. The idea is to create a leak-proof vacuum by putting the cup right up the cervix. Depending on your anatomy and preferences, you can then shorten the little knob at the lower and of the cup that you would use to pull it back out (I just left it). If all goes well, just like with tampons, you won't feel a thing of the cup. For me, in the very beginning, I did feel a little more pressure on my bladder, but that went away as soon as I moved around a little; one of the advantages of silicone is that it warms up with your body and becomes flexible. So flexible, in fact, that it wanders right up to where it needs to sit almost by itself. 

Taking the Ruby Cup out was a bit of a dance the first couple of times, similar to when you start using contacts. And I do have to say that even with practice, it is not the most comfortable of feelings. I really had to activate my lower abs and pelvic floor, because it does sit a little higher up than an ordinary tampon would. Working against the vacuum still feels unusual and, frankly, can be quite hard work. But you get used to it quickly and I'd rather spend half a minute longer in the bathroom than keep on spending money for tampons or worrying about tampon strings. I'm so happy those strings are gone! So don't get disheartened if working the cup needs a little practice - I found it was totally worth it.

How to use the Ruby Cup. (Source)
Once the Ruby Cup's out, the bloody cup is a bit of mess, but you get used to that, too. There was just one incident when it leaked due to my mistake (I got that fixed by taking it out and re-inserting it).

By the end of my period, I had gotten used to working the cup with similar ease like I would have tampons. I found the Ruby Cup especially great during the last couple of days of my period. Because you can let it sit for up to 12 hours, I only had to remove it once in the morning and once at night - ideal for travelling (but do watch out for bathrooms where the sink is located outside of the toilet booth - you might not want to wash your used cup for everyone to see.)

The Ruby cup comes at 27,95€ a piece or 45,95€ for a double pack - just order with a friend or give the other one away. You can find the online shop here. They also have an FAQ section.

Have you made your own experiences with (other) menstrual cups? Would love to hear about them in the comment section! 

* Full disclosure: I have not received any money to write this positive review, just a product sample. *

Jul 3, 2013

EntdeckerInnen gesucht!

Noch bis zum 22. Juli können sich BloggerInnen für einen beinahe kostenlosen Kurztrip nach Neuseeland bewerben (Reisezeitraum: Ende September bis Anfang Oktober). Die Teilnahme an der Ausschreibung ist einfach, nur das Kleingedruckte will beachtet werden. Weitere Informationen gibt es hier.

Jun 20, 2013

Fuck Yeah Missy Magazine!

Falls Ihr es nicht längst habt, holt Euch noch das aktuelle Missy Magazine bevor es wieder aus den Kioskregalen verschwindet. Ich finde das Heft ja eh gut, aber die aktuelle Ausgabe ist wirklich ganz besonders gelungen! Danke Chris, Sonja, Stefanie, Katrin und Margarita für so viel erhellenden Input.

Jun 7, 2013

GCB Shares: Get Involved!


Im September findet in verschiedenen Städten wieder die Social Media Week statt. Noch werden Mitwirkende und SpeakerInnen gesucht. Mehr Infos findet Ihr hier.

International:
 “Together for Europe - Advocate Europe”, an initiative supported by Germany’s Stiftung Mercator, promotes ideas that show enthusiasm for the European cause. The Mercator Foundation will award up to € 50,000 to small and medium-sized projects that are innovative, politically and socially relevant, and directly related to real life. Deadline for applications is 30 June 2013, find more info on the programme and how to submit grant applications here.

Project-E sucht immer wieder PraktikantInnen, die gerne für eine Weile in Äthiopien leben und arbeiten möchten.

Das Team for Youth Association sucht ab 01. Juli zwei Freiwillige aus Deutschland, die für acht Monate in Rumänien leben möchten. Währenddessen soll mensch sich direkt für Schulen, Jugendzentren und andere Orte für junge Menschen einsetzen. Zum Abschluss des Programms soll ein einwöchiger "Carneval of Non-Formal Education" gestaltet werden. Weitere Infos bitte so schnell wie möglich per Email beim CGE Erfurt e.V. (evs@cge-erfurt.org, 0361 602 1515) erfragen.

Ebenfalls über den CGE Erfurt e.V. läuft der internationale Trainingskurs „Equal chances for all – a chance for a better future“, der vom 23.06. bis 02.07.2013 in Vranjacka Banja, Serbien stattfindet. Dafür werden noch zwei TeilnehmerInnen aus Deutschland gesucht (keine Altersbeschränkung):
The training tackles the topic of social inclusion and combating marginalization towards migrant and minorities which main objectives to develop how to use different models used for integration of minorities in society. This TC will bring together young people, youth workers and leaders involved in inclusive projects coming from Italy, Republic of Macedonia, Albania, France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Turkey Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, Israel, Latvia, Greece, Netherland, Montenegro, Kosovo, Germany and Serbia who are working with minority or migrants or who want to learn and understand how to include minority and migrant youth in social life. Its main aim is to develop the skills and knowledge of youth workers and youth leaders and to make them more prepared to contribute to social inclusion and active participation of minority and migrant youth. 
Die Reisekosten werden zu 70% erstattet, Unterkunft und Verpflegung sind frei. CGE Erfurt e.V. berechnet eine Bearbeitungsgebühr in Höhe von 38 EUR. InteressentInnen melden sich bitte umgehend bei office@cge-erfurt.org unter Angabe des Betreffs TC Chances13 SB.


Hier könnt Ihr an einer Studie zum Thema Einwanderung in Deutschland teilnehmen und so die entsprechende Forschung unterstützen. 

Call for Papers:

Citizens for Europe is currently inviting submissions for their Open Citizenship magazine. Topic: "The promise of urban citizenship: Lessons for Europe": 
"The upcoming issue of Open Citizenship will examine how we can conceive of a politically active, legally protected and socially embedded citizen beyond the nation-state, specifically in cities. Cities create a shared identity for their inhabitants, provide a clear place of action and are often sites of innovative citizen engagement and active citizenship. In this issue, we will shine a light on what is happening in cities in order to learn lessons applicable to European citizenship and point out emerging challenges and concerns. Can urban citizenship and a local, residency-based organisation of rights and duties serve as an alternative to nation-state and supranational citizenship regimes? How can we appropriately define its scope in terms of civil, political and social rights and duties and how can we position it vis-à-vis national, supranational and even global scales?"
Different types of contributions are allowed: Academic essays, commentaries, reviews, etc. Abstracts will be accepted until June 17th, 2013. Submission deadline for full articles is July 15th, 2013. Please send your abstracts, submissions and questions to: submissions@citizensforeurope.org. For more info check out their website.

Die Deutsche Nachwuchsgesellschaft  für Politik- und Sozialwissenschaft sucht Vortragende (nur Studierende und Promovierende) für eine Fachtagung zum Thema Sport und Gesellschaft im November 2013 in Kiel. Auch Genderthemen sind willkommen! Einsendeschluss für Papers ist der 14. August 2013. Weitere Infos hier.


In Berlin:

Am 24. Juni findet an der FU Berlin die Gründungsveranstaltung von Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) statt. Eingeladen sind alle Interessierten, vor allem jene, die die deutsche Zweigstelle der Initiative mitaufbauen möchten. Anmeldung und weitere Workshopinfos über ASAPDeutschland@gmail.com, die internationale Projektseite findet sich hier.

May 30, 2013

What's 'Provocative', Anyway?


Here's Laurie Penny saying some very smart and interesting things yet again. Her blog has moved to a new address, by the way, so make sure to click the link and update your reader!

May 29, 2013

Mobile Education mitentwickeln!

Photo: techcrunch.com
Am 11. Juni findet im betahaus in Berlin um 15.30 Uhr ein offener Workshop zum Thema Mobile Education statt. Eingeladen sind Developer, Kreative und Lehrer, die ihre Erfahrungen austauschen und zur Entwicklung von Innovationen im Bereich mobile Bildung beitragen möchten. Für die Teilnahme wird lediglich eine Anmeldung per E-Mail unter Angabe des beruflichen Hintergrundes benötigt. E-mail Adresse für die Anmeldung sowie weitere Informationen zum Workshop findet Ihr hier.

May 28, 2013

Submit Your Session Proposal to OKCon

Photo: Source
The Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) just extended their call for proposals by a week. Submitting is simple and takes barely more than five minutes, given you have an open data related session idea up your sleeve. Find more info on the event and its submission guidelines here, new deadline for applications is 31 May.

May 25, 2013

Notes on Mysore Rooms, Mindfulness, Feminism, and Sex

image
Photo source: ashtangatoronto.com
tldr: Mysore rooms must be safe spaces. Teachers must ensure that and are not supposed to look at their students in a sexual way. For students, there’s no need to suffer through bad and inappropriate adjustments. You can always just leave. Yoga is not a competition/ performance/ beauty contest.
Remember how I said I was going to tie in feminism and Yoga more? Well, tonight’s assistant teacher training gave me my first cue: We learned about how to act mindfully in the Mysore room. And while we didn’t talk about the issue from a feminist perspective, I wanted to give it some feminist thought.
Since a combination of factors makes Mysore rooms special places, teachers and their assistants are responsible for making them safe spaces. Safe spaces are spaces where you can let your guard down because there is no need to fear discriminatory behaviour. They are a concept I first came across in feminist writings. All Yoga rooms - not just Mysore rooms - need to be made such safe spaces. This is not only because certain poses might trigger memories of sexual violence or abuse, but because these rooms work along power structures, too. We might or might not have been aware of that, just like some of us might or might not have been aware of the fact that they’re feeling uncomfortable in down dog for a reason. 
In any given Mysore room, everyone should be able to practice, irrespective of their gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, body type or ailments. We should be able to feel comfortable in our bodies without having to fear even so much as a sexual thought coming our way from teachers or assistants. This is important because thoughts alone create energy - and I’m saying this in the least esoteric way possible, maybe just think of ‘vibes’ instead. That energy will waft through the room and affect its atmosphere, even when unintentional. Similar to aggressive or competitive behaviour maybe, or a strong smell that cannot be contained.
Traditional Ashtanga Yoga Mysore style is a very physical, sweaty practice, that requires one-on-one attention and hands-on adjustments. As someone once put it: “Assisting in a Mysore room is basically cattle roping.” Lying on top of each other for relaxation at the end of a practice is frequent and generally desired. Physical contact is intense, and both male and female assistants need to watch where they’re putting their stuff in assists (*hint*: far away from student bums!). This does not just apply to men: I have heard from many guys that they don’t like feeling female pubic bones rub up their backs, either. And from personal experience I can tell you that putting your chest onto strangers needs some getting used to, too.
So as much as we might like to lead monk-y, chaste lifestyles and think pure thoughts only, I doubt that this is the reality of what’s going on most of the time. In fact, as I just learned tonight, the mind is processing 30.000 automatic, involuntary thoughts every day. And we all know those statistics about how often we think about sex. Very often. So even when looking at half-naked people in a non-sexual way over multiple hours seems like an impossible task for Yoga teachers and assistants, they will have to make a conscious, concentrated effort. Tough one! But as David put it in different contexts: “Yoga is not supposed to be easy” and “your practice doesn’t end on the mat”, right?
Chances are that teachers and assistants will never hear the personal back story of their students in intimate detail. Instead, they will have to assume that what they are seeing in any given person is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The tip of a rather disturbed iceberg, really. “Never just assume that an adjustment is okay”, is how it our workshop leader put it tonight.
When we think about it, how we approach people makes all the difference. David likes to stress how important it is to be polite with students. And politeness like that automatically respects certain physical boundaries. As soon as these lines are crossed by teachers or their assistants, we students have every right to defend ourselves. And by defend I mean we can refuse adjustments, move our mats, or leave the room altogether and report inappropriate behaviour to someone in charge. There is no need to suffer through bad adjustments! If a teacher touches your private parts, (s)he is supposed to apologize. If this happens frequently, I would advise you to unroll your mat somewhere else. Yoga is supposed to make us feel better about ourselves, not worse.
Which leads me right to last point: It really doesn’t matter what you wear to practice, as long as you feel comfortable in it. If you need high-end sportswear to feel adequate, think about why that might be the case. Surely, there’s nothing wrong with looking good and treating yourself to nice equipment, but please don’t let others create fake needs and silly standards you feel you have to live up to. Don’t even worry about what they might think. It’s all in your head; in any decent Mysore room, no one would even notice, let alone care. Yoga is no competition, and Mysore rooms are certainly not catwalks. Every serious practitioner of Yoga will agree on that. No need to wear make-up, either. It will just melt away. And those heels that you’re wearing to “improve” your posture… once you realize what they are doing to your leg muscles, tendons and bone structure, you might want to consider getting svelter legs by committing to a regular practice instead. A regular practice in a well-attended to Mysore room where you will be welcome for the no frills, sweaty awesomeness that you are.

This post appeared first on Yogannina. The David I refer to is David Robson of Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto.

May 19, 2013

This Is How I Work


Wenn Trotzendorff mich so freundlich darum bittet, einen lustigen Fragebogen über private Gewohnheiten auszufüllen, sage ich natürlich nicht nein. Nach dem Sprung also mehr dazu, wie ich arbeite.

May 11, 2013

May 10, 2013

Laptop Yoga @ #rp13


Zu meiner Überraschung hat die Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung meine re:publica Session Laptop Yoga nicht nur schriftlich zusammengefasst, sondern auch mit der Kamera begleitet. Herausgekommen ist eine schöne zweiminütige Erinnerung - ich hoffe nur, ich habe während des Vortrags langsamer gesprochen als im Interview im Clip? Oje, oje, ich war wohl einfach noch zu aufgeregt. Der Workshop hat mir aber tierisch viel Spaß gemacht, was natürlich nicht zuletzt an meinem großartigen Publikum lag. Der Vibe hat gestimmt, alle waren zufrieden - besser hätte es nicht laufen können. Danke an alle für's Kommen und Mitmachen, hoffentlich sehen wir uns nächstes Jahr wieder! :)

May 7, 2013

Laurie Penny on Cybersexism

In case you missed Laurie Penny's excellent talk on cybersexism at re:publica 2013 yesterday, watch it here and now.

Apr 30, 2013

Stockholm


Oliver and I just returned from a ten day trip to Stockholm, Sweden. Among the things we noticed were that Stockholmers like to put lamps in their windows (a Swedish thing?) and that random shop assistants were greeting us like we've known them for years (very nice, albeit a bit confusing). Getting hold of Vegetarian food was not always easy, but we managed - we spent most of our time at Yogayama anyway, where they even serve vegan dishes. -> Click this way for workshop photos. Thanks to David, Laruga, the other workshop participants and our super nice airbnb apartment, we had an amazing time. Certainly not the last time we went to Stockholm!





 

 


 



 


 


  


 





All photos copyright by myself.

Apr 10, 2013

Scholarship for Social Entrepreneurs

Photo Source: Vodafone Institute
The Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications is currently offering a 15.000€ scholarship for Social Entrepreneurs. The grant is provided to study Public Policy (M.A. degree) at the Humboldt Viadrina School of Governance in Berlin, Germany, in either English or German. Applicants should understand mobile technology as a crucial tool towards positive change and should contribute to the "development of intelligent solutions for current social problems". Application deadline is 31 May 2013, find out more here

Apr 5, 2013

Vegan kochen mit der Bloggerin Nicole Just

Vor nicht allzu langer Zeit landete das neu erschienene Kochbuch "La Veganista" in meinem Briefkasten - ein Titel, der mich stark an das ehemalige Modeblog "Veganista" von Franziska Schmid erinnerte. Ihr habt bestimmt schon mal von Veggie Love gehört - in meinen Augen das vegane deutsche Lifestyle Blog überhaupt! Ich war also entsprechend neugierig darauf, was sich hinter diesem für mich sehr positiv besetzten Namen verbarg.
Nicole Just, die Autorin des Buches, ist wie Franziska ebenfalls Bloggerin und in der deutschsprachigen veganen Szene inzwischen ziemlich bekannt. Es ist kein Zufall, dass Franziska Nicole bereits 2011 einmal zu sich und ihrem Blog interviewt hat. Auf vegan-sein beschreibt Nicole nämlich seit mehreren Jahren, warum Veganerinnen keinesfalls verhungern müssen - von Verzicht auf irgendwas kann bei Nicoles Rezepten wirklich keine Rede sein.
Jedenfalls ist mir bei La Veganista, ebenso wie damals bei Yoga für Fortgeschrittene, direkt die wirklich schöne Gestaltung des Buches ins Auge gefallen. Die vielen bunten Fotos und kleinen Grafiken machen das Buch zu einem Gegenstand, den man wirklich gerne in die Hand nimmt - und wo ich fast ein bisschen Angst davor bekommen habe, es in der Küche aus Versehen mit Fett zu bespritzen oder mit öligen Fingern zu begrabbeln. Vielleicht wäre hier das ebenfalls sehr schön gestaltete enhanced eBook eine Lösung? Das iPad legt man ja vermutlich nicht direkt neben die Spüle. (Achtung, das enhanced eBook ist nur auf dem iPad mit der iBooks App lesbar - auf meinem iPhone hat es leider trotz der iBooks App nicht geklappt!)
La Veganista - Enhanced eBook
Als nächstes habe ich mir die Rezepte angesehen. Das waren viele, denn das Buch hat 192 Seiten und nur eine kurze Einleitung. Spontan am meisten angesprochen haben mich das Chili sin Carne, die Soljanka, das Gulasch, die Sonntagsbrötchen, die Lasagne della Casa, der gedünstete Pak Choi, die polnischen Piroggen, der Linsenbraten und die Brotknödel mit Kirschkompott.
Für einen Testlauf hier auf dem Blog habe ich mich letztlich für die Zubereitung der Lasagne entschieden, die ich dann besonders in puncto Einkauf ziemlich aufwändig fand. Zwar habe ich alle benötigten Zutaten bis auf die Pflanzensahne nach längerer Suche im Bioladen gefunden (auf die Pflanzensahne habe ich schlußendlich einfach verzichtet), aber ich hatte die wenigsten davon bereits zuhause, so dass schwere Tüten und eine ziemliche Rechnung zusammenkamen. Und obwohl ich mir fest vorgenommen hatte, alle Zutatenreste schnell zu verbrauchen, stehen immer noch eine kaum angebrochene Packung Hefeflocken und eine kleine Flasche Agavendicksaft herum. Ich muss mal weiterblättern und herausfinden, was man damit noch so alles zubereiten kann...
Zutaten, Vorbereitung, vor dem Backofen, nach dem Backofen
Die Kochanleitung innerhalb des Buches fand ich dann aber super. Leider hatte mein Backofen allerdings keine exakte Temperaturanzeige und für Gasöfen war im Text keine Einschubhöhe vorgegeben. Ich habe also ohne nachzudenken einfach die genommen, zu der geraten wurde ("unten"). Das war wohl leider ein Fehler, da die Hitze bei normalen Backöfen offenbar von oben kommt (?) und ich es also genau falsch gemacht habe - im Gasofen hätte die Lasagne vermutlich nach ganz oben gehört. Wie Ihr auf dem Foto sehen könnt, führte das Weglassen der Pflanzensahne gemeinsam mit der falschen Einschubhöhe nicht zum allerhübschesten Ergebnis - oops! Aber wenigstens die nicht verbrannten Teile waren geschmacklich top. ;) Im Buch sieht selbstverständlich alles einwandfrei aus und Menschen mit Lasagnenerfahrung wäre mein Fehler sicher nicht passiert.

Gesamteindruck

Insgesamt erscheinen mir die Zutatenlisten zu den Gerichten jeweils relativ lang. Die Mehrheit der Rezepte erfordert außerdem einiges an Zubereitungszeit. Das Buch ist also nicht unbedingt etwas für Schnellkocher, sondern eher für solche, die mit aufwändigeren Kreationen Gäste beeindrucken wollen. Für diesen Zweck scheint es mir hervorragend geeignet, und besonders die Süßspeisen sehen extrem lecker aus. Ich werde die anderen oben genannten Rezepte auf jeden Fall noch ausprobieren. Vielen Dank also an Nicole Just für das Teilen ihrer veganen Ideen und an GU für die Bereitstellung des Rezensionsexemplares.

Mar 29, 2013

Word!

Found this somewhere on the Internet (where?) - so true!

 
var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push (['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXXX-YY']); _gaq.push (['_gat._anonymizeIp']); _gaq.push (['_trackPageview']);