For this assignment I chose the yoga class discourse because I find it very interesting and unique. I have only recently started practicing yoga, and it was a very unusual and unfamiliar setting for me at first. However, as time was passing and I was closely observing fellow yogis, I started understanding this discourse.
Yoga is a very complex practice with a great deal of distinctive terms. Each yoga pose has a name and some poses even have additional variations. For instance, the Warrior Pose has a few versions such as “The Warrior One” and “The Warrior Two”. What makes it seem even more complicated for a newcomer is that there is no dictionary or a handbook with all the terms and poses’ names provided for those who join the class for the first time. Everything is learned through experience and observation. So during the first class I felt completely lost and thought I would never remember even a half of the poses we went through. However, to my own surprise, my body learned and memorized the main poses faster than my mind could have expected. All the names of yoga poses have meaning and are often associated with nature. For example, the Tree Pose does make human’s body look like a tree with branches reaching towards the sun. These names reflect the fact that one of yoga’s purposes is to connect a human to the nature. Another example of peculiar vocabulary is the use of an ancient traditional Hindu phrase “Namaste” along with bowing forward at the end of each class. This might seem weird to an outsider but all yogis know that this is a sign of respect from the instructor to every student.
Yoga is known for promoting peace, love for oneself as well as for everyone and everything around. In the yoga discourse people are expected to be very friendly, easygoing, accepting, and loving. The mood in this discourse is set by different elements such as dimmed lightning in the studio, relaxing music, fresh smell of essential oils, clean wooden floors and large floor to ceiling mirrors. All these elements help to mentally get prepared for practicing yoga, for looking inwards and dedicating the 60-minute class to oneself.
Unlike many other types of physical activity, yoga is practiced barefoot. The specific studio I go to is very clean and neat so I felt no discomfort being without shoes there from the day I first came in. Most yoga classes I attend are practiced in a heated studio that helps to stretch muscle fibers and avoid injuries, so it is best to wear tight fitting exercise clothes that absorb sweat. Absolute majority of female yogis wear leggings and sport bras, some also wear tank-tops or shirts. Male yogis usually wear shorts and no top. Practicing yoga requires special mat and almost everyone uses a towel or two to wipe off sweat and to lay it down on the mat to avoid slipping. A water bottle is also very important to have handy during the class due to a lot of sweating caused by the heat.
One of the main things that caught my attention in the yoga discourse was the value placed on respect: respect and friendliness towards everyone in regards to everything. Ones you arrive at the studio, you are greeted and checked in by the instructor and advised regarding which studio to head to and what additional gear to get ready (yoga block, weights, etc.). If the class starts and you are late, you cannot come in because the doors are locked. I see this as the sign of great respect to all those who arrived on time and do not want to be interrupted by latecomers. Instructors offer hands-on adjustments, and in the beginning of each class as all yogis are facing downwards while in a Child Pose, the instructor asks anyone who would prefer not to be touched during this class to raise their hand up in the air. Two signs of respect here are: 1) this is done in such way that no one besides the instructor sees who raised their hand; 2) even though most people appreciate hands-on adjustments and help from instructors, those who would rather practice in peace are also respected.
The yoga setting is fairly informal. Many instructors even use a powerful phrase to emphasize the absence of hierarchy: “A teacher and student in me honors and values a teacher and student in each and every one of you”. This is not just a fancy phrase thrown every now and then, it is how yoga discourse truly is. No one is too advanced or not advanced enough. Of course, some yogis have more experience and more flexibility, stability, and concentration, but the beauty of yoga is that everyone can work on his/her own progress without being pushed or limited by others. It is a community known for its inclusion, appreciation, and ultimate respect for individuality. Communication occurs verbally outside of class and nonverbally during it. During the practice we communicate with breaths, poses, and mindfulness with one another.
I am excited to grow even more literate in the immersive yoga discourse with every class I take.
19 April 2017
|No shoes in the studio
|No cell phone in the studio
|Each yoga class ends with the instructor saying “namaste”||Instructors provide hands-on adjustments during the class||Once the class starts, the door is locked||Every class all participants set a single intention for the class|
|· Yoga is practiced barefoot;
· Yogis value cleanliness;
· You come to class open and ready to share and absorb, and shoes could be perceived as an obstacle to that.
|· There should be no distractions;
· This shows respect for the practice of yoga and respect to fellow yogis;
· Yogis are encouraged to stay focused on their body and mind in the present moment away from daily routines such as constant technology use.
|· Comes from a respectful form of greeting in Hindu custom;
· Often used both for salutation and valediction;
· This gesture is an acknowledgement of one soul to another. “Nama” means bow; “as” means I; and “te” means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “I bow to you”. This gesture is a deep form of respect and a wonderful way to seal yoga practice.
|· Each yoga class should lead to improvements in one’s practice;
· Instructors go through extensive and detailed training in order to properly assist class participants;
· Some postures are too complex to figure out by yourself, so instructors are there to help.
|· The class starts with communal breaths, so everyone should be ready on time;
· Respect fellow yogis
· Yoga class has a special sequence and it’s vital to complete it from the very beginning to the very end.
|· Sense of a community;
· Focus on a single goal to keep your mind from too much wandering;
· A chance to dedicate one’s practice to something or someone special.