Yoga is all about control: controlling your breath, your movement, and your senses. But my path to gaining control over my body also required me to give up control over my language, and give in to learning French.
Because I’m a masochist (apparently), I decided to throw myself into a entirely French-language beginner’s yoga class at Le Studio de Yoga Wanderlust in the Mile End of Montreal, without having done anything even remotely resembling a cobra pose. I floundered hopelessly (or so I thought), but the friendly staff at Wanderlust encouraged me to stick with it. Beginner’s yoga, they said (in French), was the perfect place to learn to listen to not only your body, but the French language as well. And so began my foray into yoga… and perhaps even bilingualism.
By the end of my second class, I had picked up a few key yoga phrases, despite initially being convinced that un talon was a finger (it’s not) and les épaules were elbows (they’re not). I cannot count the number of times I have been lulled into a deep meditation, listening to (but not understanding) the calm and soothing voice of my Francophone instructor, when I suddenly open my eyes to realize I’m laying on the ground while the rest of the class is standing up in posture de la montagne. Needless to say, my lack of French led to some pretty unique, non-yoga poses. But I got the hang of the proper forms after a while, peeking slyly out of the corner of my eye to see if asseyez-vous really did mean “to sit down.” And “chien tête en… quoi?” eventually morphed into “chien tête en bas.”
At the end of each class it came as a great relief to collapse onto my tapis de yoga and have several minutes of peaceful mediation in the darkened studio. This part of the class encourages respiration longue et profonde to reflect on your practice. These precious moments of silence, so few and far between in our modern world, have become increasingly meaningful in my daily yoga retreat. It is a time to simply be still – to stop worrying about how badly I bungled my morning coffee order en français. With one final collective chant of “ohm,” the universal sound that needs no translation, I am free to stay and meditate or quietly leave and resume my day with a redefined sense of priorities.
Throwing myself into a beginner’s yoga class was a daunting challenge on its own. Putting the entire experience in a foreign language, I was understandably hesitant about how my yoga journey would turn out. Thanks to the gracious and encouraging instructors at Le Studio de Yoga Wanderlust, I can proudly call myself Montreal’s newest yoga enthusiast. After two months of daily practice, I can happily differentiate between my poignets and my genoux, even when listening with my yeux closed.
So go ahead and jump into things. As long as you remember to inspirez… expirez, you’ll be just fine.
Le Studio de Yoga Wanderlust
7 Avenue Laurier Est
Montréal, QC H2T 1E4