Confession……despite 2 years of high-school Spanish, a few college courses in the language, and living in California-I do not speak Espanol.
Usually it does not affect my life (which explains my laziness in becoming fluent) but it became VERY apparent as I traveled to Tulum, Mexico.
Luckily, my travel companero, Darcy, is very fluent which got us where we needed to go, saved us pesos and avoid the rookie mistake of referring to someone’s balls ( juevos) when we were really saying to Thursday (Jueves).
As the week went on, I realized that I could remember more than I thought if I slowed down and PAID ATTENTION to what the other person was saying. Not only to the words, but to really look them in the eye and follow body language. And, this attention carried over to my English-speaking conversations as well.
The result? I had very intense, long discussions with some amazing people- from a famous documentary cinematographer to an amazing architect to a couple of cool Austrian guys where we would speak in a gorgeous mix of German, Spanish, English and sign language. Each conversation lead me to be more focused, take a breath and lean in to understand what someone was telling me. Each conversation was peppered with touch and gestures so I felt fully engaged-mind and body-to what was being said.
And, as all things do, it carried over to my yoga practice.
Several times, just as the sun was starting to set, I held impromptu yoga classes facing the ocean. My friend and I would lay out our beach towels and spent about an hour flowing through a practice. And, one day, a really sweet man came and joined us. He silently stepped in and-because I wasn’t sure if he spoke English let alone Sanskrit-I realized I’d have to rely on hand gestures, adjustments and my breath to set the pace of the practice.
Only afterwards (and in subsequent sunset classes) did I realize that Sergio was fluent and a self taught yogi who had a stronger understanding of the Yoga Sutras and Patanjali than most teachers I’ve ever met and that he was moved enough by my teaching to seek me out and do more.
While our conversations were deep and thoughtful, it was nice to realize we could sit in a quiet space and connect without using words at all. We took Sergio to watch the sunset in our secret Tower and ended up hanging out with him all night.
While the ease of speaking in my native language felt nice in some circumstances (negotiating taxi fare, locating el bano) there was a certain magic in slowing down, paying close attention and being in the moment.
All life is yoga-no matter where you may go……