Tagarchief: home yoga

6/21: Happiness comes in plenty

5239b1f3ffc0c937d79bbd7b5028907e6eby Suzanne L. Beenackers

I have tried to understand them and sympathize with them. Every time someone claimed that happiness came in small doses, that life was suffering, or that our era suffered from an obsession with happiness, I could see how this was true. In a way. And that even if it wasn’t, it was how they perceived reality, so that made it valid. Most moments are indeed not characterized by abundance, nor marked by remarkably witty things happening, nor will they be remembered for their immense pleasure. Rationally, happiness comes in small doses. Then how come I have always experienced it differently?

To eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory
The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Aha! There you go: anticipate, savor, express, and recall. Four things I had been doing instinctively way before I read/spelled/declared to be holy, the book The Happiness Project from Gretchen Rubin.

Plan ahead. Look forward to. One of the reason I m not fond of surprises is that you miss out on the anticipation phase. Why do you think kids like Christmas so much? Because they look forward to it for months and expect it to be nothing short of awesome.

Absorb the energy, store it in every cell of your being. Enjoy it, use your senses: smell, taste, watch, feel, listen. Linger. This is the time to be present. This is where you want to be IN THE MOMENT.

To the ones you re with, to your diary, to yourself, call a friend and share: That was fun! I really enjoyed doing that! 

Keep souvenirs. Retell stories. Cherish memories. Frame photos. Recalling is what you do afterwards, and I believe it is the secret ingredient a lot of us seem to miss out on….. it’s like we’re so busy going for our next kick that we forget our past experiences still have life in them.

Any single happy experience may be amplified or minimized,
depending on how much attention you give it.

The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Every time you recall a happy memory, and every time you retell it, you are giving it attention and therefor amplifying it. And it goes without saying that this also gives you a choice in how much attention you are prepared to give to your negative experiences. Life has its moments of despair, of loss, of sorrow, which are hard on all of us. Don’t make the mistake of dwelling on the hard times, and rushing your way past all the good life has to offer. Or of rationalizing yourself out of the best part of your life.

Agenda: Sunday March 8 the book reading club American Book Center Amsterdam is reading The Happiness Project. I anticipate it to be fun ;)

adriene 6week 6
I’m teaching from Yoga with Adriene for 21 weeks & provide her videos here for home practice. I ll be teaching a sequence by combining video 6 & the extra video.

week 6:
Six pack abs  (17 minutes)

Flexible, Fearless and Fun (16 minutes)

week 5/21: The Yoga of Banking

by Suzanne L. Beenackers Dharma-Greg-dharma-and-greg-34207050-2004-2494

The presentation by banking blogger Joris Luyendijk at the library in Nijmegen was sold out. More people were anxiously waiting. If anyone would fail to pick up a reservation some of them might still get it in. Book readings are usually visited by crowds so small you could drive them around in a yellow schoolbus called Old Yeller, but then again most book readings are not a highly acclaimed international journalist on the opening night of his 6 week book tour.
Someone at the library of Nijmegen had booked him for the kick-off of his Big Book of Bankers Tour (my words), before the winter festivals got him, before the large department stores claimed him, and before the Big Libraries That Mattered could program him prime time.
Someone at the library had done his or her job so well a 6 figure bonus would have been in order.

The only reason I had been in time for a ticket, was because I check Twitter on breaks; I do it when I should be scrubbing the floor; when simultaneously doing admin and when I am already late for yoga. A despicable habit that was bound to pay off one day. And it did: on my timeline I read there were only 3 tickets left and I had been just in time to book one.
I joyfully waved my ticket at the hostess and skipped the coffee and tea table in favor of getting a good seat.

Welcome to Planet Yoga

During the break I got my book signed and ran into a colleague who I consider a hard-core yogi;
modest in his spending, high on ethics, and dedicated to a rigid two hours on the mat daily. Possibly without checking his Twitter. Discussing the content of Joris Luyendijk’s book about the world of finance, he asked me if I thought the ethical principles of spiritual founder of yoga Patanjali (non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, non-grasping) could be used to solve all this.
“If there was something like a yogic political party, what would it look like?” he wondered.
“Yoga is not activism,” I argued, and quoted a more practical approach. “Hatha Yoga Pradipika starts with Find a Kingdom, peaceful and prosperous. Not create a Kingdom peaceful and prosperous. ”
A text for a text.
One yogi outsmarting the other, or so it seemed.
What I didn’t tell him was that I had never cared much for what Patanjali had said. And as far as I was interested in morals they were a private matter. We “only” have ourselves to answer to. And what I definitely didn’t tell the straight-edge yoga teacher was that I nourished a guilty pleasure….. or, as I put it in my tweet to Joris Luyendijk:
I have a progressive fetish for bankers.
My dating life is somewhat of a jungle, and I hang out with my lovers like you would with other predators: enjoying moments of closeness but just like Steve fatal stingray bite Irving I try to get out on time and never let down my guard. At risk of being stabbed in the heart.

dharmagreg_show_2The most joyful example of a yoga teacher and a smart banker (as I remembered him), a lawyer (according to Wiki), is illustrated by the series Dharma and Gregg. I even look a bit like Jenna Elfman, and her sarcasm and cheerfulness definitely ring a bell. Dharma and Greg marry on their first date, because Dharma suddenly has the bright suggestion to “skip the whole dating thing”. Awesome!
I remember the series well, including them having great sex.
Maybe Dharma planted the seed for what later would become my fascination with the opposites of me. And what could be more opposing to a non-materialistic, status-free yoga teacher than a City banker?

The Good Banker

It was a warm day in August and the phone rang. An international number. A man introduced himself, told me he was calling from London, and inquired about private yoga classes for his mother. Now yoga is not a fraud prone business, but there are a few red flags.
1. contacting from abroad.
2. asking for multiple private classes
3. dealing on behalf of someone else.
With all three flags waving I was on my guard, although otherwise he sounded fine. Arrogant and bantering yes, but this couldn’t disguise that he loved his mother. My guess was he worked in finance , felt guilty he didn’t visit his mother, and was now trying to make up with a gift.
He explained why yoga would be so good for her, and that if he would pay for the sessions in advance, she would be compelled to go.
“Who are we to tell your mother to exercise more?” I shared my concerns. “She’s 30 years older than we are. Something we have yet to achieve.”
He laughed. “I m not used to this. We are so much more commercial here.”
I bit my tongue and could only just keep myself from snapping: and look how that turned out.
“I could refer you to two colleagues of mine, ” I suggested. “They are the same age as your mother, and have a small inspiring studio. They also teach therapeutic yoga. If you send me an email, I ll get you the referral.”
He accepted my suggestion.

Although I was almost certain he was okay, I did screen him. My two colleagues would more than likely fail to do so and it could still be a scam. I Googled him and discovered I had been right: he was indeed a banker. Like all bankers he didn’t leave any personal information lingering around, but I managed to verify the email account. He was clean.
I emailed him the name of the yoga studio and was satisfied knowing I had done the right thing.

Joris LuyendijkTintin in the World of Finance

The book about bankers, Dutch title This can’t be true is the result of four years of Going native in the world of Finance (words of the Guardian), and talking to 200 people working in finance. Half of those interviews were published on The Guardian Banking blog. After 90 minutes, the sold out library still had lots of questions for Joris Luyendijk, most of them revolving around what needed to be done. He explained the best way to achieve more stability was not by holding individual bankers responsible (Joris still hoped the upcoming Banker’s Oath was a Dutch April fools day joke) but by reforming the system.
“And the most successful bankers, will excel within any system,” he explained. “They’re not bad people, but we have to change the system. It now only rewards short term thinking.”

Reforming the financial system is no easy task, and will have to come from politics, creating new laws. Joris predicted America and UK will remain incapable of doing this as their political parties receive campaigning money from the banks. Nothing will change there.
On the continent there is a conflict of interest too: politicians who behave bank-friendly get high paying jobs at those very banks, after their political careers. But it is still a lot easier for non Anglo-saxon countries to adjust legislation. In Europe we could start by making baby banks (my words) that are Small Enough to Fail instead of the Too Big to Fail ones we have now. The baby banks would be run by people who benefit from profits, but lose money when investments fail. A good example is Canada: they have always had different legislation around banks, and were therefor nearly untouched by 08’s financial collapse.

And although I share Joris’ concerns and hopes for a better future, I was also hoping for something else: That bankers will read this book and self-reflect, re-prioritize. And that before anybody reforms anything, they book a ticket and visit their mother.

adriene 5week 5
I’m teaching from Yoga with Adriene for 21 weeks & provide her videos here for home practice. After a holiday, we’re resuming classes Monday February 23. I ll be teaching a sequence by combining last week’s video 4 & this week’s number 5.

week 4:
Yoga has your back  (20 minutes)

week 5:
Feel alive flow (16 minutes)
“This practice will help you shake off the blues to feel revitalized and fresh again!”
Ow…that sounds nice, Adriene! <3

Yoga Fights Nothing

Xenaby Suzanne L. Beenackers

The Hatha yogi should live in a kingdom that is properly governed, virtuous, prosperous and peaceful.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika

I have a Dutch article here about Gandhi. We see Gandhi as the loin clothed advocate of non-violence, but this is a distorted view. He was a religious extremist, believed himself to be spiritually superior, and encouraged his followers to be overrun by horses or beaten black and blue by the Imperial British aggressors. Not peaceful. Nor is starving yourself to death. Before the rest of the world had even heard of the term, Gandhi developed passive aggression into a weapon that was as effective in battle as an atomic bomb.  

Even among yogis there are different views on war, what to fight, when to intervene, etcetera. Where the Hatha Yoga Pradipika clearly indicates you should simply move to a better turf, the Bhagavad Gita speaks of Dharma, the tasks you have, the role you play. This includes the option of being a warrior and fighting for (or if you’re lucky against) an evil king.

On a personal level too, you can choose between fighting or fleeing or developing other coping strategies. I totally dislike the idea of fighting something. The only thing you should fight is something you want more of because that is what you re going to get.
War on Drugs. The Fight against Aids. Battling cancer.
How do you expect to get less of something you give so much power?
If you want to read more about how words influence your life I recommend You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay (book or movie). 

Yoga-Fights-Flab-9781592330584 - newThis month and in December too I am teaching from a book with the title Yoga Fights Flab. I have taken the second half of the title away, with software in the picture right, and with stickers on the book I bring to class.
You can download the home yoga schedules for November here
If you really think your weight needs addressing I recommend “The Gabriel Method” (book) It is the only method that starts with acknowledging that your body is (already) acting on your behalf. But it has its own wisdom and that the only way to lose weight is to understand why it is holding that weight (for you).

We may not be able to understand, and certainly not fight, all the evil in the world, but we can make peace with our own body. And we already live in a kingdom that is prosperous, virtuous and peaceful.


4 books about Yoga for Women

by Suzanne L. Beenackers

20141020_123342In October I teach the all-round and pretty challenging Yoga Turns Back the Clock schedule. I am also adding 4 books especially for women. In November I will give these four schedules Yoga for Women a rerun.
I fully understand four books is a bit much, and I hope you experience that you are free to pick up or engage as much or as little as you like.
This blog is merely to give you some background info on the stuff we do in class, and provide you with tools for your life or home practice, should you desire that.

Yoga for Women October and a rerun in November:

week 1: Yoga for Women by Shakta Kaur Khalsa (on Amazon UK). Here are the schedules:
1. Moon Salutations & small sun salutes
2. Breathing exercises, jaws and meditation

week 2: The White Tigress.
I wrote a blogpost about The White Tigress, including a photo schedule.
The White Tigress is not a yoga book, nor is it necessarily a complete do-it-yourself method, but it is a brilliant read and it does provide you with key insights on spirituality and longevity.
Its origin is a Taoist female sexual cult, so expect unconventional advice too.

week 3: Luna Yoga
I wrote a blogpost about Luna Yoga, including two schedules, covering all yoga postures in the book. But the book offers much more, including tea recipes and help to common ailments.
Luna Yoga is the sweetest book of them all!
Luna Yoga 1  – seated openings sequence, strength building, backbends & hip openers
Luna Yoga 2 – hip openers, lying twists, lying butterflies

week 4: Hormone Yoga from Dina Rodriguez
This the most well-known method of controlling hormones, especially during menopause.
I selected about a dozen of them, but I significantly changed them and proposed a different breathing technique.
Here is the Hormone Yoga schedule.
You can buy her book (in English or Nederlands) if you want to know the original exercises and more about her work.

Yoga for Immortality. For women.

by Suzanne L. Beenackers

1001004000877166There are self-help books that get you over the hump, inspire you, or change your life. And then there are the ones that really work. The ones that are so potent that even touching their cover burns your fingers, and you quickly put them in your mouth to cool them, while already thinking of ways to hack it. They’re often virtually unknown, coming to you through a final clearance sale or a secondhand book store. They carry the perfect disguise, making them invisible or unattractive to those who do not understand. It should come as no surprise I have several of them.

“One who constantly practices Uddiyana becomes young, even if old. Draw in above and below the navel. Practice diligently for six months then one conquers death without a doubt.”
Hatha Yoga Pradipika

I own many books on the Tantric (=Indian) roots of yoga and how to achieve immortality but they are all aimed at men. And submitting my estrogen curves to a men-only routine hoping to stay young and juicy, would be brainless. Aging is a hormone controlled process: Women who age get less estrogen and men who age get less testosterone. Both sexes slide towards a sexless equilibrium, where men and women look alike. That is usually exactly the direction we don’t want to go. According to my logic, using a male-based yoga routine could actually speed up female aging.

“White Tigress is the name for a female who has undertaken disciplined sexual and spiritual practices for the purpose of restoring her beauty and youthfulness in order to realize her full female potential and the condition of an immortal.”

I encountered a book that was a lot more appealing then plowing through Sanskrit texts: The White Tigress. This is not of Indian/ Tantric origin, but Taoistic/ Chinese. And if becoming a DIY courtesan appeals to you, its detailed instructions on how to live (including a few yoga postures I deciphered) may be your best bet of staying young and juicy for ever.

Game on. 


This post is second in a series Yoga Schedules October 2014. 

Keep Calm and Carry On

2014-07-14 18.36.29

At Notting Hill Gate

I anticipated to fall, hit rock bottom, and camp in the pit of self-pity anywhere between 5 weeks and 5 months. And I had my most sensible rescue remedy in place (the alternatives are vodka or chocolate): a Yoga Challenge. This one was going to be 42 days. It would shift my focus to the future, give me a sense of control and take the sharpest edges of my grief.
When all else fails and all hope is lost, do a yoga challenge. And I knew that when I went through the gates, returning from my holiday, I would feel like I had failed. Most of all myself.

Except that’s not at all what happened.

RENOIRYes, it was the most emotional week in years. And the most significant one. A month ago I was uncertain about an unfinished book, melancholic over an unavailable man, and unsatisfied with my inability to let the past go. And now? I found love, can let the past rest and see the book simply needed these six years to receive its proper ending.

But instead of a personal drama, a far bigger catastrophe took place: flight MH17 had departed from Schiphol just hours before mine arrived. And when it was shot down, we all saw that abyss of despair, gaping right in front of us. Like many, I was glued to my tv, even switching to BBC News when the Dutch news had stopped because it was the middle of the night. I was feeling awful. A numb feeling, overwhelming and unclear.

Today I wondered what I could blog, or what I should teach. Most people in class will be in the same position as me: they are not directly related to the victims and are caught somewhere between the virtue of empathy and the trap of second hand trauma. And it was then that I realized I had the answer right on my wrist:
Keep Calm and Carry On
A watch I had bought in London to mark the beginning of a different time in my life.

Keep Calm and Carry On originated in the second world war, although it was never brought to the public. The prints were discovered in 2000 by owners of a book store, who started selling and reprinted this reassuring poster.

If you need to be rescued from the thoughts in your head, to be released from haunting images, if you need guidance in these troubled times: Keep Calm and Carry on.

keep-calm-and-carry-on-1704242 Day Yoga Challenge *)
Day 1-6 (28 min)
Day 7-14 (22 min)
Day 15-18 (25 min)
Day 19-20 (10 min)
Day 21-22 (8 min)
Day 23-26  (15 min)
Day 27-32 (15 min)
Day 33-34 (12 min)
Day 35-42 (30 min)


*) If you prefer 21 smaller series (f.e. for a 21 day Challenge) you can check my original blog 21 weeks Tara Stiles here.

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May’s videos and yoga schedules

by Suzanne L. Beenackers

NC 10410627_791502784223700_741687807120002421_nOh là là! We’re getting to the final series of our Dutch yoga guide “De Complete Yogagids”, still available at the website and I have a few copies left for you € 10,-. At the bottom of this post you find a complete overview with the final 8 schedules from that guide, completing our journey through The Yogagids.

Here are some cute videos, tests, and tips that you may want to check out!

1. Plank all over me.
plank all over meSwooning over young British actor Luke Pasqualino planking over a radio DJ. Planking (on the forearms) has actually become a bit of a hype, with people going on planking challenges, increasing the amount of time they hold it to up to 5 minutes. And posting their results on Fb of course. Luke holds it 1 min 48. Most of us dropped out considerably earlier in class.

2. Shoulder series video with Paula Lay

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3. 5 Yoga Poses to practice first thing in the morning (photos)

4. Which Yoga Pose are you? Take the test.

5. funny animals doing yoga (photos)

This is an overview of the pages and titles (Dutch) that I weaved into class.

1. Helende Houdingen voor je weerstand 94-97
2. Gun jezelf een rustig herstel 98-101
3. Blijf gezond en energiek 102-105
4. Relaxed en ook nog slank 126-129
5. Train je buikspieren 130-133
6. Oefeningen voor buik, billen, benen. 134-137
7. Stoere houdingen voor sporters 138-141
8. Pittig en dynamisch 142-145