November 8th, 2012

The Universal Language Of Yoga

By Manduka Ambassador Chip Fieberg

Teaching AcroYoga and Slackline Yoga at the 2012 Korea Yoga Conference in Seoul, Korea was an unforgettable experience that was both educational and thrilling. Since our workshops consisted primarily of Korean students, some of whom did not speak any English, the first thing we had to get used to was working with a translator.

Luckily, we had some practice with how this works during the two weeks prior while assisting Ana Forrest's Advanced Teacher Training at Seoul's Forrest Yoga Studio. We learned that to achieve optimum translations, phrases need to be succinct and free of excessive adjectives. This showed us how little information needs to be actually spoken to convey effective instructions. We also found we had more time to think about our next cues, a luxury only afforded by waiting for a translator finish speaking.

Korean students are extremely polite, enthusiastic, and attentive proving how enriching it can be teaching in a new culture. Despite language barriers we did not have to repeat instructions. People payed very close attention and absorbed concepts easily. We enjoyed their love for taking video and photos during the workshops and at the end of every session, we had a line up of students eager to get their picture taken with us.

The Korean yogis surprised us with which skills they picked up the fastest. We are generally able to advance our material much quicker in AcroYoga classes, than with Slackline Yoga. This was the opposite for the Korean students. Because their culture isn't used to touching each other as much as westerners, there was a lot of giggling and goofing around in the AcroYoga workshops. Once we adapted our lesson plan accordingly, we broke down social barriers and the students had a lot of fun. In the Slackline Yoga workshops, the students advanced very fast and by the end we had most of them doing Warrior poses on the slackline- very impressive indeed!

Teaching on the opposite side of the planet was truly a cherished experience and enriched our lives in a meaningful way. While visiting a country as a tourist can be very enjoyable, immersing yourself in the culture and making close connections with the people who live there through teaching is a profound experience. We are very grateful for our time spent with all our new students and friends, and hope to return very soon.

The Universal Language of Yoga

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