Yoga poses in sync

I just realised that what I spell as ‘synch’ most of the rest of the world writes as ‘sync’. Hubby things I’m being pretentious in my spelling, but honestly this is how I hear the word. “In Greek it would be spelt with a chi not a kappa,” I plaintively assert! He knows this is true, but he still thinks I’m being deliberately hyper-correct.

gomukhasana.jpgIn class the other day I heard ‘gomukh’ and delighted in the lovely correct sounding of the Sanskrit. Not my usual teacher, so a different mix of Sanskrit and English names for poses, her own idiosyncratic abbreviations. I smiled through the discomfort of the pose, thinking of my regular teacher’s preference for ‘gomo’, which makes me laugh every time I hear it. I’m always amused by his verbal quirks. His classes are fast and energetic. He makes space for some subtle cuing and generous thoughts by cutting other things short. ‘Ardha’ for Ardha Candrāsana — literally half the name of the pose!

We talked after class, as I quizzed her about her cuing in this Gomukhāsana — to externally rotate the upper arm and then just supinate the forearm. Huh, just when I’d got the hang of the Iyengar instruction to full-on internally rotate and from the Iyengar teacher I also received a rather robust assist on my dodgy right shoulder just to drive the point home! So we had a few minutes of fun between classes quickly exploring the different actions and both bemoaning shoulder injuries. I was amused to hear that in her eyes I have enviably broad shoulders in AMS!! Though I’d not have thought so given the number of times my teacher tries – and fails – to encourage my shoulder to places it doesn’t want to go!

And she kindly gave me her class plan, since I was interested to study the sequence, as I’m still figuring out how all this stuff comes together in a strong flowing class, how to bridge the gap between safe and simple sequencing for my students and the unthinking flowing I tend towards (on good days) in my own private practice. There’s a good middle ground that I’ve yet to explore, transitioning from embodiment to instruction.

And there in her written notes I saw ‘gomuk’ not the beautiful ‘gomukh’ that my ears had heard! 🙂

And with my own students I have been tying myself in knots trying to call poses by their English names, when in my own practise I try to think in Sanskrit. Now they tell me they’d like to learn properly — or they thought they did until we got to Prasārita Pādottānāsana!

In the notebook where I am exploring poses and possible teaching cues I’m also noting the correct Sanskrit and Devanagari. Full poses names are hard to fit in in class, and English tongues are lazy with Sanskrit names. tadasana written.jpgI realise in Sanskrit class and in my yoga study I’m really inaccurate in my spelling/pronunciation. So I’ve just discovered Taḍāsana with ḍ not d, and the ṣṭh in Utthita Hasta Pādānguṣṭhāsana. Now I have even more sympathy with my teacher calling it UHP!

In time I will figure out a balance between economy of expression in class and correctness, but for now I want to learn the rules before I decide to wilfully break them. I think I have to earn my verbal laziness first!

10 thoughts on “Yoga poses in sync

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  1. I am having fun integrating gleanings from my Sanskrit lessons into my classes! I think of it as “value-added” for my students… but maybe that’s just my enthusiastic optimism speaking… (Especially since my level of Sanskrit is pre-kindergarten!) (Incorrect pronunciation has begun to bug me though, especially the ubiquitous “shakra” instead of “chakra” and the very English pronunciation of “hatha”… no “th” blend exists in Sanskrit, I like to pontificate – …hmmm… I’d better watch that the “ahamkara” doesn’t get totally out of control!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think your love of sanskrit will take you far in yoga. Always enjoy what you have to offer about your studies.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, what is going on with the British Wheel of Yoga asserting standards for UK teachers? Is that a threat to everyone or a good thing? Will it pass or are they just talking about it? I keep hearing about it through other blogs and FB. Thanks in advance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d better hit the books again — we’ve taken a break from classes recently for various reasons and I’m already forgetting so much!

      BWY – I’m not sure. I’m too new to the yoga field to have much of a sense of it. I suspect it might be a storm in a teacup, but I don’t know…


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