Back to the original (or orig-yin-al)

In what now feels like a completely different lifetime, I borrowed Yin Yoga: The Foundations of a Quiet Practice on DVD from my local library—and kickstarted my love of yin yoga. 

Laura settling in to a yin squat pose
Me settling in to a yin squat

The DVD led me to seek out yin yoga in real life and I stumbled into an amazing class at a local community centre with the knowledgable, approachable, sensitive, fantastic Brenda from Beautiful Yoga. Eventually, I was able to stop repeatedly borrowing the DVD when I received it as a Christmas present. Again and again and again I followed Paul & Suzee Grilley (its ‘stars’) through their slow, mindful sequences—and went to a real-life class one evening a week.

I left Foundations of a Quiet Practice behind when we moved to Europe in 2013 as the Canadian DVD would be about as useful as a Frisbee in German DVD players. But I never left behind the practice of yin yoga. 

After unsuccessfully searching for a digital edition of Foundations of a Quiet Practice and contacting Pranamaya (the distributor) several times over the years begging for online access*, I had brilliant revelation. My husband’s Xbox, which includes a DVD/Blu Ray player, is from Canada and works in Europe! I’m slightly ashamed to admit how long it took me to realise that I could play North American-region DVDs in Europe by simply using the Xbox. 

This delight was short-lived, however, as I realised that I no longer had the DVD itself. 

My mum came to the rescue, digging through the media cabinet in my parents’ house and unearthing my original Yin Yoga: Foundations of a Quiet Practice, minus the case. And who needs the case!

She brought it along when my parents came to Europe this past April and I’ve been practicing alongside Suzee, with Paul guiding the practice, in our Zürich apartment since then. Hearing Paul’s straightforward cues, watching Suzee’s smooth flow, and getting back to the original handful of simple yin poses has taken me back to the roots of my yin yoga practice—and let me re-discover why I love it so much. 

As I shared in a post long ago about the ‘Why’ of yin yoga, the practice is more than physical; it’s really the psychological impact that keeps me coming back to yin yoga. The quietness of the poses helps me quiet my mind, while the introspective nature helps me be more patient in my life off the yoga mat.

Returning to my orig-yin-al yoga practice with Paul and Suzee feels a little like coming home—and it’s so nice to feel at home. 

Suzee and Paul Grilley (photo from paulgrilley.com)

*Of course, a couple of months after my mum brought the discs to Europe Pranamaya released Yin Yoga: Foundations of a Quiet Practice online. Ha!

Hiding from the heat and eating flatbread

Zürich is having its second heatwave of the summer and it’s making me more than a little aggravated. I am not a fan of hot weather. (That’s an understatement!)

Weather in Zurich: Wed 8:20, sunny and 24.6°C
Almost 25°C before 8:30 in the morning!

Thankfully, this round of high temperatures isn’t quite as extreme as the +40°C days and 22°C nights we had back in June. And most of Europe is seeing the mercury climb, so I can take comfort in the fact that I’m not suffering alone—but I’ve still become somewhat obsessive about keeping our flat cool.

In addition to blocking out the sun’s rays and keeping the windows closed to prevent the hot exterior air from seeping in (vampires would probably feel right at home in our nearly permanently-darkened flat), I’m also completely opposed to turning on the oven or having anything bubling away on the stove. That makes cooking a little more of a challenge.

Bring on the grill! Lighting up the barbecue avoids raising the kitchen temperature, although standing on the patio can get a bit toasty, and produces a lot of yumminess without a lot of fuss. The summer weather has also pushed me towards to crisp greens, fresh herbs and bright citrus flavours. And, of course, ice cream, which isn’t part of this recipe, but I do have a post about making ice cream cake.

Grilled flatbread with arugula

This recipe is quick, easy and highly customisable. The one we made last night featured basil and prosciutto, but I’ve also done it meat-free with mushed up peas and mint. And you could use just about any topping you’d like, as long as they’re not too moist—soggy flatbread is no fun.

Ingredients

Grilled flatbread topped with arugula, red onion, basil and prosciutto
  • A small roll of pre-made pizza dough (ideally, get a variety that’s not round as it’s easier to cut into nice-sized pieces)
  • 150g creme fraîche (mascarpone or ricotta also work)
  • Zest from 1 lemon and half of its juice
  • A handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 150g arugula (a few handfuls), roughly chopped
  • Half a red onion, thinly sliced
  • Six slices of prosciutto, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 10g parmesan (or pecorino or another hard, flavourful cheese), finely grated
  • Sea salt & pepper

A clove of chopped garlic is nice in the sauce, too, and other herbs (oregano, mint, thyme, whatever) would be perfectly lovely mixed in as well.

Method

  • Preheat the grill to medium heat
  • Make the sauce by combining the creme fraîche with the lemon zest and juice and half of the finely chopped basil; season with sea salt & pepper
  • Cut the pre-made pizza dough into easy-to-handle pieces, about the length of your hand from wrist to the tip of your fingers and as wide as your palm
  • Grill the pizza dough pieces for 3-4 minutes per side, checking to make sure there are beautiful golden-brown grill marks on the bottom before flipping
  • Take the flatbread off the grill and spread one side with the creme fraîche mixture, then top with arugula, red onion and prosciutto
  • Garnish with the extra basil and parmesan cheese, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Serve warm while the flatbread is still crispy

Friday Evening Yoga Escape in Copenhagen

Person lying in effortless pose on the grass under leafy tree branches

While I’m starting to feel more settled in Zurich, Copenhagen remains my yoga home. And since I’ll be back for a quick visit in May, I’m squeezing in teaching a class!

If you’re in Copenhagen, you can join me for an extra-long, extra-relaxing class on Friday, 17 May from 19.00-21.00 at Østerbro Yogaforening.

It may seem like this is a ‘workshop,’ but I didn’t want to use the word work anywhere in the name of the session, as it’s the exact opposite of what I hope students will do. This extended class is an escape from the everyday and encourages deep relaxation with well-supported yin yoga poses and rejuvenating yoga nidra (guided relaxation). It’s perfect for both beginners to yin yoga or regular yoga practitioners and ideal for anyone feeling stressed or fatigued.

This extra-long class, and my almost hypnotically relaxing voice, will bring deep relaxation to the Great Prayer Day holiday – and let you play hooky from your everyday life!

The cost for this extra-long class is 145 DKK (non-member price: 195 DKK) . Space is limited and online registration is available through the Østerbro Yogaforening membership system.

Østerbro Yogaforening is a co-operative yoga studio and everyone is welcome to become a member.

Why I resolve to ask for help more

Writing can feel like a very solitary task – and it often doesn’t provide much opportunity to ask for help. But at both cylindr BBN, the Copenhagen content creation agency where I work, and in our larger community of BBN, people are always open to lending a hand – and there are tremendous resources to draw on.

My New Year’s resolution is to draw on those resources more often. To both ask people for help and to turn to the wealth of case studies, best practices and other guidance available through BBN. 

Getting lost in translation

Content creation is somewhat a solo activity, but it doesn’t need to be a lonely one.

For example, I’ve worked on several dozen Danish-to-English translations for a company with a stable of lifestyle brands. Sometimes I’m not quite sure what the Danish text means or if a turn of phrase is universally understood. (Local context can be everything!)

I could turn to Google and dive down the rabbit-hole of publicly-available opinions. Or I could simply ask for help from a real person.

I’m thankful to work with native-English speakers who can field the ‘Does this make sense?’ kind of requests for help – and even more grateful that a couple of them are Danish citizens and long-term residents. Getting their feedback saves me time, dramatically reduces confusion and delivers content that reflects the original Danish text – and makes sense to non-Danes around the globe.  

Check what tools are available

Seth Godin recently pointed out that rather than finding a ladder (or asking for help) we waste time and energy throwing ourselves at the wall, trying to find a solution on our own. Is re-inventing the wheel the best use of time and energy? Why not ask for help from others who have the tools you need?

For a recent pitch, one of my colleagues asked our BBN compatriots if any of them had experience with the same kind of branding quandary our potential client was experiencing. The quality of responses was impressive. Some of our partner agencies had worked with clients with almost precisely the same needs and they were happy to share their insights.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, we used our colleagues’s methodologies as inspiration – and put together a robust pitch that was filled with real-world examples.

The perks of not knowing it all

Asking for help might be a challenge. After all, who likes admitting that they don’t know something? But tapping into collective knowledge can speed up the process, provide an opportunity to incorporate varied perspectives – and create content that builds deeper connections with your customers.


This post was originally published on Integrated B2B.

Five ways clear ‘opt-outs’ encourage subscribers to opt-in

Many companies are still reeling from the tightened requirements for subscriber consent in marketing. The turbulence that accompanied the full implementation of GDPR has prompted some less-than-ethical marketers to devise creative ways to prevent users from opting out or unsubscribing. The assumption being that un-willing subscribers are better than reduced list sizes.

But making it simple to leave is part of the equation for convincing people to stay.

Why bother?

Maybe your re-permissioning emails as part of GDPR compliance are still a work in progress. Perhaps you’re ready to re-build your email lists and attract interested subscribers. Or maybe you’re part of a new breed of marketers who are proactively asking customers who haven’t been active for a while if they actually want to hear from you.

Whatever the rationale for asking people to opt-in to your communications, you want to make sure that you’re getting the right message to the right audience – and ensure that only customers who want to stay in touch get your marketing messages.

Here’s why it’s advantageous to include a clear way to opt out or unsubscribe:

1.    Make your customer-focus clear

Companies that make it easy to unsubscribe or opt out of their mailings demonstrate transparency and respect for users. By indicating that you don’t want to make it difficult to stop receiving communications, you show that you value your customers’ desires – and customer centricity is key to better business performance.

2.    Show you’re worthy

Including an easy way to opt out or unsubscribe builds credibility with users. It reassures them that your company uses personal data appropriately – and is worthy of being entrusted with their own personal information.

3.    Keep the good vibes going

Any reader who opens a message from you has already demonstrated that they’re not hostile to your communications – otherwise that message would have been deleted, ignored or, even worse, marked as spam. Keep that likeability intact by behaving nicely.

4.    Avoid the spam sandwich

Having an easy unsubscribe or opt-out makes it less likely that recipients will mark your messages as spam. Garner enough clicks on ‘This message is spam’ and your email domain will be blocked by spam filters, lowering the likelihood that interested parties will actually receive your emails.

5.    Use opt-out to say ‘hello’

The landing page you send people to when they opt out is a great way to engage. Provide ways to re-join the conversation, perhaps pointing them to another of your other lists that may be more relevant or offering to deliver more targeting messaging. Giving users the option to change the frequency of messages is another common retention method. At the very least, give departing subscribers a fond farewell and direct them to your social media channels.

Opting out doesn’t have to mean saying good-bye

Instead of seeing an opt-out or unsubscribe as the end of a customer relationship, consider it a way to get to know your audience better and ensure you have clean subscription lists populated by people who are really interested in hearing from you.

There’s some evidence that companies who clearly offer opt-out and/or unsubscribe links actually retain more subscribers – now that’s a strong case for giving opt-out options right alongside any opt-in messaging!


This post was originally published on Integrated B2B.

What is We the North? Why local matters in marketing

I doubt that anyone outside of Canada recognizes the slogan ‘We the North’ or thinks that it has any particular marketing magic. But for millions of Canadians it resonates deeply and spurs them to open their hearts and wallets – proof that local know-how matters in marketing.

We the North in LEGO block - the perfect combo of Canadian and Danish
We the North in LEGO blocks – a perfect combination of Danish & Canadian influences

The phrase isn’t particularly evocative, and its grammatical accuracy is questionable, but for most of the 36 million inhabitants of the Great White North (aka Canada), ‘We the North’ is instantly recognizable as the slogan for the Toronto Raptors – and a patriotic rallying cry. Their minute-long hype video delivers a hard-hitting message that the Raptors are not like the others, clearly defining what differentiates them. The Raptors are the only NBA team not based in the USA and the ‘We the North’ campaign started in 2015 to bring excitement to Canada’s single top-tier professional basketball team.

It’s been hugely successful within Canada, even among non-sports fans. The slogan adorns sweatshirts and ball caps throughout the country and draws masses of fans to the NBA underdogs, but it holds no meaning beyond Canadian borders. Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Finns are all equally from the north, but Nordic dwellers wouldn’t see this as a point of pride or distinction, nor would they brag about it.

Laura and Chloe and tag
Me with Chloe Lackman, BBN coordinator at tag agencies.

The success of ‘We the North’ is only possible within Canada – and it took an agency with deep local understanding to get that. As part of BBN, the world’s B2B agency, we have marketing specialists on five continents who really get their local cultures and understand the messaging that appeals within their markets. It’s true that B2B marketing is growing globally and keeps expanding through technology – but it’s still important to have a local touch.

Branding and marketing strategies are useless if they don’t resonate with buyers you want to reach. And there’s no more sure-fire way to ensure that connection than working with experienced, trusted advisers on the ground in your desired markets.

Where do you want to go today? Go North.


I recently visited tag agencies, our BBN partners in Toronto and the photo accompanying this post is proof of how prevalent the slogan is – it’s proudly displayed in their offices.


This post was originally published on Integrated B2B.

The season of yin

Beige woolen socks with bokeh effect in the background
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The weather in Copenhagen has turned colder, greyer and windier. The leaves are changing and this morning was the first dog walk in a long time that I needed gloves. Likewise, I’ve put away my sandals and lightweight dresses and embraced wooly socks again.

With the sun setting noticeably earlier, there’s an invitation to be inside more, to get cozy, to hygge it up.

Bring on the yin yoga!

While I love yin yoga anytime, autumn and winter are natural seasons for this slow, restful, meditative practice. This autumn, I’m teaching yin yoga classes at Østerbro Yogaforening most Thursday evenings and a few Sunday afternoons.

I’m also really excited to see that there’s a restorative yoga class with Louise coming up on Sunday 7 October at Østerbro Yogaforening. I won’t be teaching that one, but I’m definitely going to be wearing my fuzziest socks and letting Louise guide me to perfectly propped, seriously deep relaxation!

Perhaps I’ll see you at a yin yoga class this autumn? Or practice alongside you for Louise’s restorative class?