"We have an enormous connection to the living world that is reflected in our language."
Jean Berko Gleason
Yoga is a meta-language. It communicates deeply to our many layers, guiding us to experience ourselves and others in dimension. We understand more about how we absorb and harvest interpretation and meaning of language via the process of exploring yoga practices in class settings.
Through the lens of EmbodiYoga work, a conceptualization of yoga "languages" or lenses emerged from my inquiry of seeking to understand yoga as a living, dimensional experience. How could I communicate to students via an understanding of the multi-language options of yoga? Could the lenses be organized into a "tool kit" of voices to use when needed? A language collage of inter-related voices, to have a range of connective wording options for all students.
This is a living, ever changing expression of my own thoughts. As I practice and train, this morphs and shifts. I have found it useful for teaching 200hr students how to move between language focuses and ways to broaden and build teaching options.
Yoga's love of language is an expression of:
Physical/Structural: This voice, or focus, describes yoga form, poses, and how to create them.
Anatomy focus often refers to the core, limbs, and safe placement pathways.
Breath awareness as it supports yoga as a physical activity is encouraged; yoga's contributions to flexibility and strength in movement are emphasized.
Functional: Functional Yoga Language communicates the "study of asana" , informed by an anatomical focus of a linear, medical model of muscles and bones in "alignment". Using modifications to "correct" or optimize movement. This lens of yoga language reflects the influence of physical therapy and other personal training modalities in communicating yoga wisdom to students. Functional Yoga is often the pathway teacher trainings and workshops offer to deepen a students understanding of the body, especially in the past 20 years. Yin Yoga, Vinyasa, and other alignment based practices have roots in this language approach to yoga guidance. Breath practices are weaved more deeply into functional yoga studies; alignment is often based upon the breath being steady and at ease even in difficult postures.
Therapeutic: Functional and therapeutic yoga language lenses have some similarities.Therapeutic yoga language seeks to integrate yoga as a holistic wellness practice. Functional yoga language often informs the therapeutic lens with guidance for physical applications; yoga therapy builds upon the functional, offering a dimensional intervention of consciousness change or a self-care pathway. Yoga Therapy is often applied as a physical therapy-like application to correct movement patterns; recently, Yoga Therapy garnered credibility via it's evidence-based efficacy in alleviating anxiety, depression, trauma, and other emotional wellness applications. Restorative Yoga, Urban Zen, Trauma Sensitive, and many others are forms of Therapeutic Yoga.
Experiential: Experiential Yoga language conveys bodyexperience as the focus of the practice. Movement, or somatics, breath, and anatomy as lenses for experiencing relationship as form, and form as intentional relationship with the body. "A yoga pose is an intentional relationship with gravity" would be an experiential understanding of yoga. Anatomical study moves from linear parts to a living, moving meta-system of consciousness. Many somatic studies inform the experiential lens such as Feldenkrais work, dance and movement studies, and many others. "Body Awareness", also known as interoception, is a practice of exploration in the experiential yoga language lens. Yoga from an awareness of the experience of the body as guide. Free-Form Yoga is experiential in nature.
Embodied: Yoga language reveals another dimension within an embodied yoga focus. Anatomy is integrated, describing consciousness of meta and singular body systems rather than fragmenting consciousness into isolated parts. The anatomy is also informed by embryological and cellular perspectives. Embodied yoga language forms a consciousness of relationship, deep listening, and deep watching. You are the yoga rather than doing yoga. "Form as being", body energy in context and dimension, senses as awareness; deep listening as an inquiry of samyama: dhrana (concentration); dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (aborption, or bliss).
EmbodiYoga Language: Body Mind Centering mets Yoga
Yield and push; reach and pull
How can finding the connections of your head to hands, and feet to tail, bring ease and lightness to your movement or asanas? Bonnie beautifully demonstrates these connections and shows how they can significantly change the quality of movement, especially in Downward-facing Dog pose.
Repattern the movements that inform the asana, intentionally experience the practice, embody the consciousness that arises from within the options that present themselves.
Options in cueing: Integration, not fragmentation
Vah-shee-stah-sahn-nah, plank pose, is one I have been fascinated with lately. EmbodiYoga principles of yield and push, a co-creation with the organ system body's buoyancy and the skeletal body's pathways of support play a beautiful duet of gravity and levity. Also, it is an opportunity to allow the side bodies to shine! You can experience the pose from the deeply muscular container, so it feels strong and "bloodful"; if you add a pelvic floor lift and an abdominal toning (muladhara and uddiyana bandhas), the contents lightly flight expand from with in to support your graceful being in this pose of flight and abiding.
EmbodiYoga cueing integrates rather than fragments; read this article, overlaying the above perspective upon the functional yoga wording beautifully written here. This will give you a sense of the options EmbodiYoga gifts the yoga experience.