I Tried It Popular Travel

Practicing Yoga In Norwegian (When You Don’t Speak That!)

One of the things I always try to do on vacation is find a yoga studio. It can be challenging, especially when you’re in a foreign country. Courses are often in different styles, and can even be in different languages. Luckily, Sanskrit doesn’t change and Trikonasana sounds the same no matter what language. I ran into this last weekend. My travel had brought me to Norway for a conference and decided I wanted to take a yoga course.

As it turns out, Oslo has a pretty fantastic yoga scene. There are lots of awesome studios boasting classes in Norwegian and English. I found two classes at Leela Yoga and Joy Yoga. Admittedly I was a little intimidated. Norwegian is nothing like English. Part of me hoped that Vinyasa was the same everywhere, so why not also in yoga?

Thankfully, I was proven right.

Yoga in Norwegian was awesome! Seriously, these two classes were probably the two top classes I’ve taken in a couple months. The teachers were amazing. Even though I couldn’t understand the language, I felt completely comfortable following along. Each studio was different, but I’ve never felt so at home so quickly.

Vinyasa is (mostly) the same everywhere. Sun Salutations are pretty similar. And standing versus balancing sequences – eh, you do it once, you’ve done it all.

You begin to listen to inflections.

I pride myself on being able to center myself in classes even if I don’t like the teacher. That isn’t always the case though… And I found that because I couldn’t understand what the person was saying, it didn’t matter. I’m comfortable enough in my own practice that just the way the teacher talked was enough for me to figure out how to move.

Norwegian is a beautiful language.

There’s no questioning that language is important and that learning them is even more so. But it’s amazing how when you’re in a class of fantastic yogis moving as one, the language ceases to matter. Just listening to how beautiful of a language Norwegian is was such a joyful and pleasurable experience and I found it really enhanced my yoga practice.

Perhaps if I had the chance to take more classes in another language, I would. It’s slightly disconcerting, but it’s an entirely different type of practice. One caveat: this is probably something that yogis with a confident self-practice might enjoy more than beginners. I say this only for safety of learning how to get into poses.

What do you think yogis? Have you taken classes in a language you don’t understand? 

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  1. Chuck Vadun

    Chuck Vadun

    October 18, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Gabriella, love this!

    I guess the only time I’ve taken a yoga class in a different language was my first one … Utkatasana, Chaturanga, Virabhadrasana … I didn’t know any of those words 😉 Luckily for me, it’s much easier to pick up a few Sanskrit terms than learn an entire new language like Norwegian 🙂

    All of us featured authors should go to Iceland and have Pala G. teach us in her native language …

    Chuck 🙂

    1. Gabriella Gricius

      Gabriella Gricius

      October 19, 2017 at 2:51 am

      Hi Chuck,
      Agreed! Who says no to traveling to Iceland and trying out a class 😛

      1. Pála Margrét

        Pála Margrét

        October 20, 2017 at 9:07 am

        Gabriella, we´re just gonna do a Bad yogi retreat in Iceland! Everyone can teach in their native languages, haha, I´ll offer Icelandic!

        1. Gabriella Gricius

          Gabriella Gricius

          October 20, 2017 at 9:14 am

          That is the ideal scenario hehe

  2. Kaitlin Moran

    Kaitlin Moran

    October 19, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    This is awesome! I’m going to Quebec City in a few weeks and hoping to check out a class in French. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Avatar

      Elisabeth Vigneault

      October 28, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Kaitlin, you’re gonna love Quebec City, it’s such a nice place! Teachers often use Sanskrit terms for the asanas, but will (obviously!) use French in between. Enjoy! 😊

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