Ever been stuck in a class utterly perplexed by the lexicon of yogaspeak? Me too! Thankfully I have compiled a cheat sheet for all your mind-bending yoga cue needs. Translation, please!
I took a yoga class recently at an unfamiliar studio as part of my yoga teacher training. Being the practicing yogini that I am, I settled myself down on my mat and tried to keep an open mind. To say that I needed a dictionary to understand the teacher’s cues would be an understatement. I needed a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia. A short tour inside her yogi brain wouldn’t have hurt either! So in order to save you some awkward pauses, and to help yoga teachers avoid confused looks, I decided to share my top 10 translations with you!
YOGA CUE: TRANSLATION
1. Blossom your fingers: No, your fingers did not turn into flowers in the few seconds you haven’t been looking. This probably just means engage or spread your fingers. Done.
2. Find your breath: No worries, your breath was never lost – just use your nose and suck in air like you’ve been doing all your life!
3. Puff your kidneys: If your teacher tells you this, you have my permission to give her a perplexed stare until she/he realizes this cue is just plain dangerous. Seriously, if you have puffed kidneys, visit a doctor.
4. Spiral your thigh bones out like a rainbow: I don’t know about you, but this comes off rather kinky. Anusara cue or not, if your teacher is staring straight at you and starts to speak like a leprechaun while saying this…run far, far away.
5. Open your heart space: The gist here is to broaden your chest, slide your shoulder blades down, expand your rib cage via your breath, relax your neck muscles, pull in your core… THIS is your heart “space.”
6. Feel the river of energy flow through your core: Huh? Last time I checked I didn’t notice a river flowing through me. I wonder if there’s a forest too? Maybe some fishes? Hold on let me go check. In short, feel the burn.
7. Allow the back of your heart to curve: Don’t freak out here, I can’t curve my heart either – curve your thoracic spine (behind your heart) and you’ll be good.
8. Flutter your butt cheeks: Pardon? I may be wrong but I believe (HOPE) this means engage your mula bandha. I don’t know about you, but I don’t flutter my butt cheeks for just anyone. Hug your midline. Engage your core towards the center of your body and don’t forget to breathe! Or go on, hug yourself, it’s your prerogative.
9. Shine the heart forward as if it’s springing out of your chest: Egads, if my heart sprung out of my chest I would be too busy dying to worry about shining forward. If you see shining and/or springing hearts, I recommend calling 911. Spread your collar bones, chest forward. Safety first.
Well there you have it! I hope you yogis and yoginis are better equipped to handle obscure cues now. When in doubt just breathe and look around the room to see what everyone else is doing. Odds are, they are just as confused as you so at least you won’t be alone!
A few of my favorites worth honorable mention (and yes, these were all really instructions given in a class):
Remove the fluff from your sitz bones
Make space in your kidneys
Make your collarbones bright
Hug the muscles to your bones
Draw up through the legs as if your are putting on a pair of pantyhose
Let your spine pour out like water
Imagine there are 2 windows where you buttocks meet your thighs, now open those windows
I had a teacher during my YTT whose catchphrase was “blossom those buttocks.” And I do believe one teacher of yore instructed us to imagine a lotus blossoming internally from our perineum. I never knew our nether regions were so floral. Maybe my farts really do smell like roses!