Body language: How Yoga Serves When Lost in Translation

When transitioning from your comfort zone to unfamiliar territory and you find yourself lost in translation, yoga can serve as a common language.

Moving halfway around the world can take courage, especially if the transition is to a country where you don’t speak the language. Surrounding signs of jumbled letters and background conversations of babbled nonsense simply compound the unfamiliarity of a new environment. Being lost in translation can lead to head-spinning stress, or so I’ve found since recently relocating to Austria. Amidst this confusing novelty, I’ve learned to seek refuge in my yoga practice.

Lost in translation in Vienna, Austria.

The Language of The Body

Through yoga, body language is universal. Scoping out serenity in studios of Vienna has provided a healthy dose of stability to contrast with the new alien planet that I inhabit. Although jumbled German language fills the mouths of strangers’ faces within the studio walls, our bodies take on the same shapes that I’ve practiced at home. As soon as I hit my mat, I’m flooded with comfort as my words shut down and body starts talking. When we roll through the same sun salutations that I’ve practiced countless times before, my physical being brims with relief. As we pause to hold a warrior pose, my lips turn upward as I gaze at the surrounding crisp and precise lines of anatomy that I’ve seen countless times before. And as we release into savasana, our final resting pose, my mind can finally let go of the stress of my atypical state.

I've packed my yoga practice with me to my new home in Austria.

While I settle into a new studio home abroad, the nonsensical words around me slowly start to gain meaning. I begin to associate them with the body language around me. Language acquisition is a frustratingly slow process, but yoga helps to bridge the gap. For the moment, I am content to take away little more than essentials from my German yoga practice: “Einatman… ausatmen”. Translated: “Inhale…exhale”. If I can say nothing else, at the very least I can breathe through the confusion of my foreign life. No matter how desperately lost in translation I may be, I will forever be familiar with the universal body language of yoga.

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