The following article was published on www.oregonsportsnews.com on 25 July 2013.
Yoga is my quiet time. Rather than laying comatose in bed with a package of Oreos and the complete series of 30 Rock on Netflix, I attend yoga class to decompress. My practice is a time for me to feel good about myself, my abilities, and to push my physical body just past the limit I usually think possible.
So when a song comes on during class that reminds me of an ex-boyfriend, I may need to stifle the urge to punch the teacher in the face.
I moved back to the United States nearly five months ago. I constantly find it hard to believe that I’ve been back this long and I’m still struggling to accept the differences between a culture I grew to love in Asia, and this culture I grew up with and returned to. It’s also been a constant battle to find a steady yoga practice within the United States. Perhaps it’s just part of re-adapting to American culture, but I’m really not used to everyone talking so much during yoga.
I’ve become faced with the seemingly obvious, but sudden realization about yoga classes in this country: they’re all about language. I come from a yoga background and personal practice in which I avoid speaking during class or listening to any words but right, left, hand, and foot at all costs. If it doesn’t involve a body part I should move, I don’t really want to hear about it.
As both an English teacher and a devoted yoga practitioner, I find it easy to get caught up in language. My meditative asana time isn’t really set aside for me to hear your personal opinions about my ego or how I should let go of judgment, dear yoga teacher; it’s finally a time during my day when I don’t have to lend a friendly listening ear, so please, just shut up.
When I lived in South Korea, I found a teacher who I grew devoted to. I attended her classes every weekday. She didn’t speak much English. I loved her.
Korean Yoga Teacher: “It is cold today.”
Me: Yes, yes it is.
American teachers are different, however. Since moving back to the United States, I’ve had a hard time finding anyone similar.
American Yoga Teacher: “I was watching squirrels play this morning. Be like the squirrel! Play! Smile!”
Me: It’s hot as Hell in here and I’m sweating my face off, dude. Don’t tell me to play like a squirrel.
I loved my classmates and experiencing their different styles of teaching throughout my Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand, but not once did anyone talk about squirrels. Forrest Gump and double rainbow references? Plenty. Memories of ex-boyfriends via sad acoustic music? Thankfully not.
I know there are good yoga teachers in America, and I’m currently on a quest to find them. Beer-asana and Pink Floyd Yoga may work for some people, but they don’t get my chakras vibrating. So I’d like to know, what’s your experience with yoga classes in America? Have you found a teacher who you can devote your time and sanity to?