Do You Speak Yoga?

“Do you have that yoga teacher voice?” A coworker once asked me. He proceeded to demonstrate in a flighty sing-songy voice, “Liiiike thiiiiis… and thennnnn….”

The sight of a tall and muscular guy (built like a football player) waving his hands through the air with a high pitch voice made me laugh as I shook my head profusely, “No, no, I don’t have *that* yoga teacher voice.”

I knew exactly what he was talking about, and at one point in time, I, too, thought that in order to be a yoga teacher, I would have to exhale words through my throat and speak very slow and softly. To my relief, I’ve learned that “finding my own voice” is process of literally finding my own *speaking* voice, the one that’s authentically me, a voice that doesn’t change when I stop teaching or step off the mat.

One of my favorite Vinyasa teachers is Seane Corn, whose voice is distinct and truly hers. As I browse through her YouTube clips with some comments about her voice, such as “What is she angry about?”, I keep thinking about how much we, as yogis and yoginis, have contributed to the misconception that a teacher must speak in a certain way, as one commenter said, “i actually like the “breathy fake voice” some yoginis use. helps me relax better”

Beyond our voice, there are also the words we use, words like “the connection between nourishment and the attainment of enlightenment”. I came across this article Yoga-Speak for Dummies, and laughed out loud reading it. (Laurent Cahn, if you are reading this, thank you for your sense of humor!)

In yoga and other spiritual practices, there is no shortage of flowery visual images meant to help us, and some of them admittedly can get outright esoteric and cheesy. As long as they are helpful and meaningful to us, they are ours to embrace. But, if we merely repeat words that we have heard, or use a voice that we perceive to be “yogic”, we might have a longer way to go to find our true voice.