Expat yoga

If you’re a foreigner living in Korea, with a short knowledge of the Korean language, and wondering if it’s possible to take yoga classes; it is!  I’m proof.  Embarrassingly enough, I’ve been here for 3 years and still haven’t grasped the language as I should have by now.  Most of my Korean vocabulary relates to asking for food.

So, seriously, the only word I understood in class at first was “Namaste.”

But I’ve found that after a few classes, you understand the routine.  And the Korean words being spoken aren’t comprehended as words, but rather, sounds.  You may not know the words the instructor is saying but you come to remember the sound of the word and remember what it means to do.  I still have no idea what the actual words being said are.  All I know is that when I hear something like “mal shee go”, I should inhale.  “nay shee myeon”, I should exhale.  “hiim!”, straight and strong.  “ah pay”, forward.  etc. etc.

I’m still a far cry from understanding everything and there have been many times when the whole class is looking left with arms down and I’m looking right with my arms up.  It’s a little embarrassing.

I was intimidated for a long time to take an exercise class in Korean, but it is possible.  I’ve learned by watching others, listening to sounds as cues, and doing my own research online about form and poses.  And when your instructor realizes you can’t understand Korean, they’re extremely understanding and as helpful as they can be.  And besides, when you’re doing something completely wrong, you can always use the lame excuse of “oh, I didn’t understand.”

Oh and the one thing I found different about yoga in Korea is that you don’t need to bring a mat.  The mats are provided for you in the studio.  While this may be a little gross for some people, it is very convenient.  I suppose you can bring your own mat if you wanted to, but I imagine others would wonder, “why?”  I’ve thought about purchasing and bringing my own mat but I decided against it because I don’t want others to think like I need my own mat.  That theirs isn’t good enough or something.  Koreans tend to operate more as groups, whereas Americans tend to think more independently; but I’m in Korea so I decided to just follow their thang.

They also give you towels.  So all you need to bring is your body and a water bottle.

** In case you’re in Korea and you want to try Hot Yoga, I’ve been going to 다본 핫요가 (The Bon Hot Yoga).  They have 4 locations.  Sadang, Daehwa, Anyang, and Hugok.

One comment on “Expat yoga

  1. Hi! I realize this is kind of off-topic but I needed to ask.
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