Yoga As/Is Language

The encounter of language provokes insight on its nature and function and how its structures and creativity underlie expression, art, and systems. Language is a means for communication based on consentual and mutually understandable symbols/signs of communication between individuals. One may even ask whether language exists without interlocutors within the individual experience of expression, as in art or dance forms. Taking into account the function of language as the means produce or elicit meaning, the transfer of this principle into a study of the body with respect to yoga, is completely possible. What would yoga be without the Body? Within the esoteric studies, yoga as a practice is first anchored in matter (that is body, mind, and sensorial awareness). The foundation is gradually and safely set within the practitioner, and beyond that, once certain practices are mastered, the potential for expansion and growth are limitless. Mastering the Basics within the practice, the flow and alignment within the practice, strengthening weaker areas and energetic locks (muscle groups and bandhas), and most of all learning to regulate the Breath—these guidelines are essential and necessary to building a solid and safe yoga practice.

Building Blocks

As an educator and researcher with several years of experience teaching languages, I have found within language learning, the same principles apply with respect to gaining the adequate repertoire of vocabulary, structure, aspects, flow of the language in order to produce meaning and communication. The analogy of the Yoga Body and Language implements these aspects or principles of hermeneutic understanding, the process of learning a language—whether it is a structural system or a series of poses, or actions and awareness leading to a peak pose, most directly within the use of Sanskrit to designate the poses and other terms. In language one connects separate elements to form a coherent utterance much as in yoga one builds upon actions within a pose beginning with the feet and/or hands. The body as a text registering the voice or language of the instructor is also worth noting. As one can see, language emerges on various levels within the teaching and practice of yoga. It is important to emphasize the transfer of language’s function into the body itself, with movements and actions creating a language which resonates within the actual energy and action of a pose.

Warmup /Linguistic Ceiling/Cool Down

In a communicative language classroom, contemporary pedagogy emphasizes the structure of a class which contains and facilitates the target language. This structure is composed of an initial Warm-Up period reviewing material covered, followed by the Linguistic Ceiling, then a Cool Down or period of probing information already covered (games are also optional). It is worth noting this structure matches up with the structure of an exercise routine and a yoga class. In this case, the Linguistic Ceiling where students are challenged with new information corresponds to a peak pose within a yoga class. The study of yoga also requires a teacher to also be conscious and attentive to the foundation which is set at the beginning of the class or yoga program, which emphasizes the fundamentals, and safety and building knowledge of the breath. The fundamental or mastering of the Basics cannot never be over-emphasized since this careful and essential consideration provides the practitioner to find alignment and functional movement, as well as understanding of poses.