In a medium size bowl, mix 1 cup of water with the yeast and sugar. Let it sit and rest for about 10 minutes until yeast dissolves and it becomes foamy.
In the bowl of your mixer, mix the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture to it and using the hook attachment, mix until the dough is soft but no longer sticky. Add additional flour if needed.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for about an hour or until it doubles in size.
Preheat oven to 450° F / 230° C. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl add ½ cup warm water and 1tbsp baking soda and microwave it for 1 minute.
Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a long 2 foot (60cm) rope. Fold the rope in two and twist it, then bring the ends together and pinch them to connect the rope.
Dip the pretzel in the baking soda water on both side for few seconds and place on the cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces.
Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and/or poppy seeds. Let the pretzels rest for 10 minutes.
Bake pretzels for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.