Back in the yester years of university life (wow I sound old), I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. Given that it’s a country in South America, I had the opportunity to immerse myself into the culture and grow my foriegn language skills immensely. I took classes in Spanish, did homework in Spanish, wrote papers in Spanish, lived with a host fam who spoke to me exclusively in Spanish, and even….did yoga in Spanish.
Sometime during the first few weeks in Santiago, I managed to find my way to a nearby yoga studio called Yoga a Luka (or “Yoga for a Dollar” in Chilean slang). Totally perfect for my study-abroad student budget, I got to going about twice a week. Sorry not sorry for the tangent that is about to ensue but likeeeeee those classes were ahhhmazing and I aspire to be everything that my Chilean yoga instructor is.
Now yoga in Chile is quite different than any yoga I’ve experienced in the US. First, there is no central heating in Chile. So when it’s winter–it’s as cold as it is inside as it is outside. Thus, when class begins you are wearing all your layers–socks, sweatshirts, even hats. Gradually, as the estufa (spaceheater) in the corner heats up and your body starts to move, you warm up, take off your socks and your sweaters, and begin to flow in the anticipated vinyasa sequence.
Second, the class is in Spanish. So now when the teacher is instructing you to pull your ear towards the ground while wrapping your left finger tips towards your right knee and rotating your heart open towards the sky, another level of confusion is added because I can’t tell left and right on a good day let alone on a bad day in Spanish. But I guess that’s all part of the experience–culture-wise and yoga-wise. Yoga is all about pulling yourself out of your routine to follow your breath, be in tune with your movement, and practice being present. So yeah, if you’re doing a challenging arm balance, engaging your core to remain steady, feeling the burn in your arms and the blood rushing to your head–all while translating posture cues–yeaaaah you have no choice but to be present in that moment because lawd knows its pretty difficult to be making to-do lists, or worry about traffic or whatever mind games you like to play because at that moment you’re at your edge and it’s all you can do to remember to breathe. It’s a beautiful experience that is.
For those who ever take a trip to Santiago, Chile I give the highest recommendation to Yoga a Luka in Las Condes. However, for those in Houston who want to practice being present I recommend the Community Warm 60 en Español at Yoga One . It just started in May! And occurs Thursdays from 8:30-9:30pm at Yoga One Heights.
I’m always looking for opportunities to maintain my Spanish, so ventured to Yoga One in the Heights for their community yoga class. The Spanish yoga classes just began this month and are Thursdays from 8:30-9:30pm. The class costs $5. The class was the YogaOne Hot 60 sequence done in a lower temperature (90-94 degrees as opposed to 102-105 degrees). It was a very beginner friendly class. When I went, the first side of a pose was taught in Spanish and the second side is taught in English. Since it’s the hot yoga sequence, the flow is pretty familiar and even if I didn’t speak Spanish I would be able to pick it up pretty quickly. What I love best about the class is that the Spanish forces you to get out of your habits and comfort zone and notice how you move. I loved it and can’t wait to go back. Namaste.