The truth of the matter is that I put off taking a yoga class in Sweden for ages. I mean ages. With two back operations behind me (pun intended), yoga is not an option but a necessity. But do I do it? Am I religious about it. Er…no. Don’t you wish we did everything we were supposed to do?
Awhile back I researched places to take yoga and found a perfect health center with yoga classes in the Stockholm suburb where I rent an apartment. One Sunday I even went and checked it out, got a little tour of the place. They were very nice and when I mentioned my fear about taking an exercise class in a foreign language and how I worried about that, the woman smiled and said it would be good because I would be getting language lessons and yoga lessons all-in-one.
And did I go that evening?
I think you know the answer.
I worried I wouldn’t understand. I worried that I am too stiff because I haven’t been doing yoga for ages. I worried about spending the 150 kr (around $20) for the class. I worried about protecting my free time from all the intense concentration it takes to try to communicate in Swedish, listen to the conversations around me, navigate in a world that continues to be confusing…
One hundred and one excuses.
Then the gym near my office started offering 40 minute yoga classes one day a week. An offer I couldn’t refuse. I forced myself to go.
It was terrific.
The teacher’s name was Liv and I found her very easy to understand. (This should be the subject of another post…the fact that some people’s Swedish is so much easier for me to understand than other people’s, and it’s something other than regional accents.)
It helped tremendously that I had already taken many yoga classes in the U.S. I mean, you couldn’t tell by how stiff I was, but at least I recognized the translations of the names of the poses. The fact that my hair kept falling in front of my eyes did hinder things a bit. It made it harder to watch Liv and peek at the other students to make sure I was doing the right thing at the right time.
Some of the poses had slightly (or sometimes wholly) different names than the American versions. I took great delight in “child’s pose” being called “hare” by Liz. I never thought about it but you do kinda look like a rabbit when you’re doing it. (Mind you, there are great personal variations so it is very possible that another Swedish yoga instructor might call child’s pose “barn” which is “child” in Swedish,)
Yoga Terms in Swedish
Should you ever find yourself in a Swedish yoga class, here are some important words, words Liv used over and over:
Andas = breathe
Lugn = gentle, quiet, ease
Magen = stomach
Rygg = back, spine
Blunda = close your eyes
Kroppsmedvetenhet = self-awareness
Höftarna = hips
djup andetag = deep breaths
A Few Poses
haren = childs’ pose
hunden = downward dog
Sanskrit With a Swedish Accent
Yoga teachers often mention various Sanskrit words while giving yoga instruction. I have always heard these words with an American accent and so it was fun to hear the same words said with a Swedish inflection. The frequently used words “Asana” and “Shivasna” had a wholly different spin to it with a Swedish accent.
I have returned to the weekly class near my office for four weeks now. It’s quite enjoyable and even regrettably short (most classes are at least an hour but the space is only available for 40 minutes apparently.)
After the third class I struck up a conversation with the teacher and discovered that, irony of ironies, she teaches the very class in my town that I had found an excuse not to attend every Tuesday and Sunday!
Just goes to show you…screw up your courage and just go for it. It will probably turn out to be much better than you think.