The Things We Say


During my training, we were taught to become aware of our language. We were encouraged to be direct, avoid surrounding the guidance in cushions of ‘want’ or ‘need’ – like saying, “I want you to rotate your upper thighs back” or stating things in the future, “And then we’re going to push up into cobra.” It is simpler to hear “Rotate your thigh muscles,” “Push up into cobra.”

As you teach you become aware of new ways to describe a moment, new angles, new metaphors. And sometimes, you try one that doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve definitely tried some pose descriptions that seem natural to me, but have my students craning their necks to look up at me wondering what the heck I’m talking about. A shaft of light from where? Rotate my what, now?

I haven’t been in front of a class for a little while now, but I read a blog today that reminded me of teaching, of being a person, of loving the whole concept behind being a human being in front of other human beings in yoga. And, it made me laugh.

I’m starting to find my own language in teaching… the phrases that come naturally. The pauses. The intentions. But there’s one thing I get a little hung up on: What to call the tushie/bum/buttocks/rumpside/tu-tu during class. I’ve been experimenting with different words and when I’m already talking about various muscles I, of course, say “gluteus”. But that’s that’s just so… ew. Can’t like it. So last night as I was teaching bow pose, I heard the word “butt cheeks” slip out of my mouth. And some students started giggling. And then I started giggling. It was bad. (Laughing in bow pose is really challenging!)

[via Penelope Illustration]

As a teacher, and a student, I think a little laughing in yoga is a good thing. And I love being able to see my teacher as a real person, not just a lithe body and demonstrative voice.

My dad often makes jokes during long pose-holds to help people let go. And I’ve always thought a little levity was welcome. Though, full-on giggle fits have been rare

What do you think about a prana-induced giggle attack? Is levity a distraction?

The illustration in this post is also by Penelope Dullaghan, and if you like it, you should visit her shop.

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One thought on “The Things We Say

  1. This made me giggle! I do not yet teach, although I am in teacher training and sometimes practice to my friends. I can totally see myself saying something like buttcheeks, and I think prana-induced giggle attacks are awesome. One of the directors of my teacher training regularly induces giggle attacks, and it just makes the whole place fill with light!

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