A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So yoga, in another language, should be able to deliver all the things it delivers at home. Right?
Since I am staying in Madrid for a while, I decided to sample one of the Bikram studios here. My Spanish is not perfect; it has to be spoken slowly for me to understand, and everyone knows that the dialog in Bikram is rapid-fire. Guess what? It’s even more so in Spanish!
The advantage of a scripted dialog and series of poses that never changes is that you already know what to do, even if you don’t understand every word. And you can always look at other students if you are confused. Instead of focusing on what the teacher is saying, I focused on my body and what I was feeling. I caught words that I knew and words that, because of the context, taught me new vocabulary.
Listening to your body, focusing on your breathing, and mindfully keeping track of the sequence makes for a different class.
I am the first to admit that I have a wandering mind. I have gone into rabbit when it’s time for half-tortoise. I have rehearsed conversations, made shopping lists, wrote a resignation letter, and packed a suitcase. All in my head and all during yoga classes.
But in this class I was able to focus the whole time! Okay, almost the whole time. And whether it was the language barrier or the fact that I haven’t practiced regularly in a while (see: why the hell am I not doing yoga article), I was on-task.
I limped down the stairs and dragged myself through the shower. (It’s a nice spacious studio and facilities, by the way)!
“Estoy muerto!” I told the teacher afterwards. (“I’m dead!”) She smiled and asked if I would be back.
Of course I will. And if I have an opportunity to travel to other places where Bikram is spoken, in French, German, Russian, Chinese, whatever–I will try it again.
Alexa Maxwell is a writer, teacher, traveler and student of yoga. She is a huge fan of elephant journal and is honored to be part of the herd. You can read more at her blog here or wait for her upcoming travel memoir which is a work in progress.