Is Yoga Really a Universal Language?

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As wonderful as it is, teaching abroad has it’s challenges … you rarely teach the same person for more than a few classes, people are invariably late as they’re in holiday mode, they sometimes turn up a bit squiffy after one to many lunchtime beers (I’ve had one student turn up high on mushrooms!) and you get people coming to class in teeny bikinis (yes, really).

But by far the most challenging is teaching to people who have limited English language.

Ok, I know some of you are thinking “but what about the ‘universal language of yoga’ that has the power to transcend dialects and language barriers?”. Yup, for experienced practitioners, fair do’s but for the beginners in the room it’s more like a universal panic of “I haven’t got a frickin’ clue what she’s banging on about, how the hell am I meant to follow this!”

I’ll openly admit to using pretty flamboyant language in classes. I’m trying to take people on a journey so I like to use imagery and provoke imagination. I also teach to music as I feel it helps people to move more freely and explore their capacity for movement. And while I would love to teach all my classes with bells and whistles, sometimes we need to honour our students and simplify things. For me that means leading some classes with … wait for it … NO MUSIC!! Using simple instructions and speaking slooooooowwwwwwly (my friends will appreciate how hard this is for me!)

But this isn’t a skill only international teachers need to master. How many times have you heard a teacher instructing beginners to “load ujaii breath” without a demo or explanation? Fine if they’re regulars and have been taught ujaii, but I had to laugh when I heard one student having a post-class discussion with another student about his ‘faginii breath’ … sounds like ….. 🙊!!

So this week my challenge is to simplify, to slow down, to nurture my students and to teach with empathy. Namaste #yoga #yogaeverydamnday #yogalove #yogagirl #yogaeverywhere #yogaeveryday #yogalife #yogapose #yogainspiration #yogapractice #yogagram #yogadaily #lombok #travellingyogi #travellingyogijenn

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