I moved to Mexico City yesterday to learn how to teach Yoga en Español. I have already been paid to teach yoga in Spanish, but found that it was one of the most challenging activities I have ever done and decided to move to Mexico for a month to really immerse myself in the language of Spanish yoga. My goal is to learn so that I can come back to San Francisco and share therapeutic yoga with lower income communities who only speak Spanish. Here begins my documentation of this experiment!
I have been scouting out the local yoga studios in CDMX on Google Maps. Most of the websites are very slow and don't really present the information for class schedules in an intuitive manner. Its very difficult to find the necessary information. I found a chain of studios called Green Yoga. I went to the studio in a neighborhood near where I am staying called Condesa.
For the last several years I have had to practice mostly therapeutic and restorative yoga due to medical issues and probably the aging process. Before this I had a strong vinyasa practice and I would sweat during every class. I realized that I could no longer maintain this practice and still feel comfortable in my body so I stopped taking Vinyasa classes. In Mexico City and probably around the rest of the world, its hard to find good quality therapeutic yoga classes so I decided to take a beginner Hatha Yoga class. Most people don't really know what Yoga Therapy is yet, so they think I am talking about Restorative yoga when I ask if they have any therapeutic classes.
The class was taught by an instructor named Paty Abed who is originally from Spain. I learned Spanish in Colombia where the Spanish is clear. Its very difficult for me to understand the accent and vocabulary of people from Spain, Argentina, and Chile. This gave the class a level of difficulty I haven't experienced in a long time. It was also not really a beginner class as the teacher had us go into pretty extreme ranges of motion and my body just can't do that these days.
For a long time, I approached a yoga class as I would a teenager in a school classroom. I would try to be a good boy and do everything the teacher says even if it was pretty painful and difficult. After taking this class I realized that I can't do this anymore. I need to make every yoga session personal and adjust it to my body even if the teacher asks me to follow along exactly. Many yoga teachers try to embody the teacher role and emulate the grade school teacher in a classroom. Even if they say its alright to follow your own body, their attitude and energy say something completely different. The unspoken feeling is: comply with what I say. I know this because when I first started teaching I gave off the same energy and attitude. A lot of yogis eventually run into chronic pain due to this attitude. This is a holdover from the factory model of education and I really hope the yoga room evolves past this soon.
The most interesting thing about taking this class was that even though I didn't understand about 20% of what the teacher was saying, I could follow along pretty well even if I decided to close my eyes. If I didn't understand something I could open my eyes and just look around the room. I learned that the word for "downward dog" in Spanish is "perro para abajo" and "upward dog" is "perro para arriba". I learned that "all fours" or "quadriped position" is "quatro puntos". I also learned that when you want to say put your foot down you can use the word "planta su pied". Its so cool I'm actually learning all the vocab!
I also have some more overarching thoughts about what its like for a man to be led in yoga by mostly female teachers. Sometimes I think that a lot of yoga teachers teach what they like in their bodies, but not necessarily what the bodies in front of them need. This is all the more prevalent in fitness yoga classes.
Overall I would recommend Paty's class to someone who has a very healthy body and a strong yoga practice. She was excellent at cueing the breath. I would not recommend her class to someone who has issues with their body or doesn't yet know how to modify a practice so that it works for their body.
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