Tuesday, March 1, 2011

#1 office arms

At last! After just over a year.
From spark,
to thought,
to finding a fantastic creative partner,
to talk,
to yes why not,
to okay lets start,
to woah this is going to take some time,
to summer time break followed by fall time getting
other things together,
to winter time,
to back on track,
to back to filming,
to editing and more editing and more editing,
to now,
to the release:

#1 office arms

The first spark for this project came last January as I was riding the Ringbahn to Ostkreuz on my way to teach a private class. I was meeting Nina Hynes beforehand in one of Berlin's many funky retro cafes.

Last winter was cold and the Spree was elegantly frozen. I loved riding the S-Bahn and gazing out at frozen Berlin. The city was still so new to me and it felt like every time I turned, something else was catching my attention making me laugh or smile or think or dream. Like the gorgeous punk couple who busked in the subway car one morning. They were talented and so obviously in love. He played shyly on his guitar while she belted out a song to the five of us: two turkish women across from me, a young smartly dressed blond woman at the other end of the car, and an old man in the middle. I loved it that the punks didn't rush to finish the song to fit the stops of the subway. When, as the singer was collecting money, the old man stopped her to ask her questions about the song, she stopped. She talked with him openly, freely. Their love, their music, and the obvious enjoyment of it by me and the others in the car stays with me and warms me. Of course Berlin isn't always sparkling. There are off times. Moments or days in the subway, in the city, at home where it feels that all is going wrong and all is sticky and bumpy. Times when I am grumpy with a dark cloud swirling above my head. But being the optimist that I am, I tend to hold onto the dreamy, inspired moments and forget as quickly as I can the mucky ones.

So it was on one of these inspired subway rides in the middle of an icy, slippery, cold cold winter that I had this idea:

Why not make a few yoga videos of simple postures done at different moments in the day around this city I so love. I am always encouraging my students to do a daily yoga practice. It doesn't have to be much. A little something each day helps nourish and relax the body. I suggest that you can do mountain pose while waiting for the train, in the shop, before washing the dishes, or anywhere really. So why not make a few videos of just that: of me doing dashes of yoga in my daily going abouts here in Berlin.

Full with this idea, I show up at the 70's styled Zebrano on Sonntagstrasse and meet Nina Hynes. Over espressos and croissants with nutella, we chat. I tell her my idea and she smiles back at me a full bright and excited smile and says, “Yes. Lets do it.” We begin. We mix my yoga with her filming, my eagerness with her funky quirkiness and slowly, slowly over the course of the year, we create:

5 Short Yoga Instructional Art Films

Each one is very different than the other: in style, location and content. Week by week for the next 5 weeks, I will upload one at at time. This week, I present to you:


#1 Watch
#2 Enjoy
#3 Watch again and join in with me
#4 Repeat # 3 often
#5 Take it to the streets: Learn the sequence, do it
now and again, here or there, at home, at the
office, in a cafe, or ... anywhere and everywhere

Have fun
Get a kick out of yoga

Benefits of this sequence:
  • Relaxes and removes stiffness in the shoulders and upper back
  • Strengthens the upper arms and shoulders
  • Quiets the mind
  • Focuses thoughts
  • Refreshes oneself
  • Bring awareness to one's posture promoting better posture
This is a great sequence to blend into or interrupt long stints at the computer.

About the Filming:
This was first filmed last spring at an sideway cafe on Mehringdamm. Early one sunny morning on my way to the Actor's Space to teach yoga before my Meisner acting class, I sat with my laptop at one of the empty tables. I played my audio and did the sequence as the cars passed behind me and people walked by in front of me smiling.

Unfortunately, Nina's hard drive crashed and I, while trying to create space on my hard drive, accidently permanently erased all the footage. Oops.

Take two:

We then decided we wanted to film it at the Staatsbibliothek on Potsdamerstr., where scenes from Wings of Desire were filmed. Nina said that the film was a big factor in her decision to move to Berlin. I had watched the film over and over in my undergrad. When I was invited to Berlin in 1998, with our graduate show, what I wanted to see most in Berlin was the golden victory angel from the film. Still to this day each time I drive past or take the train by the Siegessäule, I look up at in awe, in a heightened giddy excitement. I am not sure what it is but beautiful old buildings and certain monuments thrill me.

So one very cold day in January, I got all dressed up for the shoot and met Nina there. But filming at the Staatsbibliothek is complicated. Written permission, an appointment to film when the library was closed, and I didn't bother finding out what else, is needed. We didn't have any of that.

I was geared up to film that day. I can be so stubborn. We walked up Potsdamerstr. shivering. I wanted to film that day. Where? Another library? We tried the Kunst Bibliothek across the way but they have the same filming policies. Where? Just as we were about to give in and have a coffee, I saw the Hyatt Hotel and thought lets have a peak in there. We did and we found our location for #1 Office Arms.

What I hope for:
My hope is that you watch the video and like it and do it with me. Every once in a while, maybe every day, you click play, close your eyes and listen. You listen to me and more importantly, you listen to you. You check in to how you are. You roll your shoulders, you stretch them, you reach up lengthening your spine while strengthening your arms. You finish. You observe any shift in your body or mind and then you get back to whatever it was you were doing, feeling maybe a bit more at ease and relaxed in your body.

May yoga be a support to you.
Peace and daily dashes of yoga,

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