Especially in winter when the days are short and the light is gloomy, every Berliner wishes to hop on a plane to Bali or at least to South Europe. But all the plane-hopping is surely not so good for our planet and not the best choice if you have a fulltime job and a family here in Berlin.
Exactly 11 years ago on a really hard winter night, a friend of mine brought me to my first SUNYOGA class in Kreuzberg. Afterward, I felt completely exhausted but in the nicest way. Like you had spent a whole day at the ocean. Back then I had never heard of the concept of Hot Yoga and did not know anything about the health benefits and how it would change my life for good.
Christoph Mahmat is the founder of Sun Yoga. After a while, he partnered up with Christoph Rempel the founder of the vegan-friendly coffee place goodies. SUNYOGA and goodies are both companies that over the years were always devoted to offer stressed Berliners a calm haven and an alternative way of living. I took the chance to have a chat with the two of them about their mindset and how they find inspiration in their daily life in Berlin.
So how did you guys met and what is the story behind SUNYOGA and goodies?
Christoph Rempel: I came to Christoph’s yoga-studio as a stressed-out entrepreneur looking for a balance.
Christoph Mahmat: The SUNYOGA team and our yogis loved goodies on Warschauer Strasse, simply because it’s around the corner and they have the best coffee. When Christoph came to SUNYOGA and we got along well, the cooperation developed by itself through a mutual interest in the topics of exercise and nutrition.
Healthy food and regular exercise have almost become a dogma these days? How do you manage to communicate your philosophy in a playful and relaxed way?
CRL: I think regarding healthy and vegetarian nutrition it’s important to get excited about the taste and not judge others.
CMT: Everybody has to experience Hot yoga themselves, I don’t have to convert anybody anymore. We even offer a month to try it out. The important thing is that people are open-minded and want to benefit from it on their own initiative. After all, you’re all alone in front of your mirror reflection. That can be hard. The changes and the good feeling then happen over the body and not over the head.
Yoga and vegan food tend to appeal to a young urban and international target group. But with goodies and SUNYOGA I always have the feeling that every now and then a few UrBerliners turn up there. Is my impression correct?
CRL: goodies has been operating in F’hain for over 13 years and provides the neighborhood with delicious coffee and good food. Everyone likes it no matter the age or where they come from.
CMT: SUNYOGA has been in Kreuzberg for 17 years and in Friedrichshain for 10 years, and we also have a few loyal yogis, although, during these periods, at least half of the residents in the neighborhood have changed. Many Berliners from the southern suburbs come to our Kreuzberg studio.
I often hear from friends that they classify hot yoga as an extreme sport for your health? What are your experiences with it? Is Hot yoga too demanding for beginners?
CMT: The average physical and mental conditions are quite bad. Back problems and burn-out are common diseases today. Accordingly, the standard of exercise is also falling. But should we adapt to this and make people only half-fit? People should change, not yoga. Ultimately it is the wrong kind of ambition that is being practiced. Taking breaks is first perceived as a failure, and then it’s like, “This is too hard for me.” Surprisingly, it is precisely people who really have problems that take on the intensity because they notice that they feel better afterward. But we also have less hot and intensive classes in our program than the classic Hot yoga class.
How was it for you to start a business in Berlin? What would you do differently today in retrospect?
CRL: If you manage to get past the three-year start-up phase in Berlin, you have to do a lot of things right.
CMT: All beginnings are easy if you have a strong unique selling proposition. But at some point, there will be competitors and then you should have built your model. I would have liked to sign very long rental contracts very early.
And how do you stay entrepreneurially agile and flexible like yoga? Or is that not so easily possible?
CRL: To stay open… and personal growth/awareness is the key for me and my business.
CMT: SUNYOGA has always stood for experimentation. Maybe because the classic Hot yoga series is so fixed. Hot Vinyasa, Warm Slow Flow, Yoga-Qigong – I offered them first, also because I personally like to try out new methods and feel for myself what works. So it also depends on the character of the entrepreneur to have fun in developing and changing.
Are there Yoga teachers who inspire you in particular? With whom should you definitely have a class and why?
CMT: Ditte Kotzian teaches fantastic classes and workshops at SUNYOGA. I really let myself fall for Anna Giunta in the slow flow classes at Studio Kreuzberg. There you can feel the long experience and practice. The basis for me is still the classic Hot yoga series with its basic exercises, I feel completely safe there and the inner and outer work while practicing seems to never end.
More about SUNYOGA and goodies:
If you are interested in trying out Hot yoga check out their starter offer where you can practice 8 days for 20 euro or one month for only 60 euro. More info here.
You can find goodies at:
Warschauer Str. 69, 10243 Berlin-Friedrichshain
Schlossstr. 78-82, 12165 Berlin-Steglitz
Schivelbeiner Str. 34, 10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Breisgauer Str. 2a, 14129 Berlin-Zehlendorf
goodies is also in our list of the best healthy breakfast and lunch places in Berlin.