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  • Writer's pictureNora Studholme

Yoga in 2 Languages

I go to the yoga class for two reasons: one, because it’s two blocks from our apartment. Close enough to get myself motivated even on a Sunday morning. And two, because I ass because I asked my boss how she made friends in new places (she’s lived for years at a time in Italy, Spain, Serbia), and she said without hesitation, “Yoga.”

When I walk in the studio, I understand why this was her answer. There are about 12 women in the class of ambiguous age, somewhere between late 20s and mid 50s. The teacher speaks English to some, Italian to others. I can’t place her accent, but it tells me that she speaks other languages also, Eastern European, maybe. There’s a peaceful equality about all of this. No one is here because they speak a language, are from a place, have kids or don’t. We’re all just here to be here. And by the way the women quietly greet each other with soft squeezes to the upper arm (in unconventionally quiet voices for Italy, the cool, settled space of the studio soothing the usual enthusiasm) I can tell that people have made a practice of coming here.

Friendship is also a practice, I find myself thinking. But realize I’ll need a whole other reflection to figure that one out.

An old but favorite yoga photo, starring Doug.


The thing I want to say about this first yoga class in Italy is that it’s not only a great place to find friends — it’s also a great way to learn Italian. The teacher (somehow) teaches in both Italian and English. Sometimes she repeats the phrase, once in Italian then in English, or the other way around. Other times she’d choose one language and just leave it there, as if confident we’d figure it out. Still other times she’d do half the phrase in English half in Italian. And we all flowed together with those flowing words.



Interestingly, I found that I reacted to both languages the same way. I have done enough yoga that the language of the body is familiar to me. It saved me from having to translate every phrase, but I did pick up a few new words and phrases. Here are a few:


  • Inspire, Expire, Respire

  • Di Nuovo (again)

  • Ginocchio (knee)

  • Testa (head)

  • Braccio (arm) / Bracci (arms) — to be honest I heard this as “Branches” which I really liked visualizing

  • Force (maybe)

  • Insieme (together)

  • Cane qui guarde (this is what I heard for downward dog, I dont know if it’s right… but if so it means “dog who looks” which I liked very much)

  • Allunge (lengthen)


The class ends and I feel that same feeling I get every time I go to yoga class, an overwhelming sense of rightness, like it’s just what I’m meant to be doing, like I’ve been doing it forever. How lovely to find a kind of home in a place that is still so full of newness.

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