Did you know that when you started practicing yoga, you also started learning a new language? Sanskrit, that is. Think about it: Savasana, Ahimsa, Ayurveda, Paschimottanasana… Should we go any further?
Well, that was a joke. You’re not really learning Sanskrit, you’re just remembering the Sanskrit names of the yoga poses and principles of the philosophy. However, yoga is still helping you learn a language. Any language. The practice goes far beyond stretching your body, it stretches your mind too.
Do you want some science with that? Sure. A study from 2010 concluded that consciousness turns learners into more thinking, perceiving, acting, and interactive persons. Instead of being passive receivers of knowledge, they learn from a cognitive and social perspective. Language awareness is a big trend in the world of academia. It’s a holistic approach to language learning, based on conscious perception and sensitivity. Yoga helps you get there.
How exactly does yoga help you become a better second language learner? We’ll list 6 ways it does that.
1. It Helps You Develop Good Habits
Sooner or later on your yoga journey, you’ll come across the principle of abhyasa. It teaches you that for success in yoga, you have to make continuous efforts throughout a longer period of time. It pushes you towards a consistent yoga practice that turns into a habit.
Regularity is a key to success in language learning, too. When you practice it in accordance with the principle of abhyasa, you become a more dedicated learner. Needless to say, that also makes you a more successful one.
2. It Teaches You to Appreciate the Journey
When you focus on getting into a new asana, you’re aware you will probably not make it from attempt one. You realize that it takes practice. It takes trial and error. You have to observe how your body and mind behave in that position. You have to prepare them for it. The final goal, the pose, is not what you’re focused on. You’re focused on the journey and the things it teaches you.
This is a good quality that supports the language learning process. You’re not focused on a final goal like “I’ll be fluent in this language.” You’re paying attention to each step that leads you to fluency. That keeps you motivated and conscious.
3. You Become Aware of the Work of Each Muscle
A new language comes with new sounds. That’s one of the biggest problems for language learners. That’s why Russians make English sound rough, and that’s why native English speakers can’t nail French pronunciation.
To pronounce those sounds, you have to get your face muscles into the right position.
Throughout your yoga practice, you learn how to focus on each muscle. You understand its role in a particular position. You learn how to activate and relax it when necessary. You can easily translate this kind of attention to your face muscles.
4. You Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
When you first started yoga, you probably compared yourself to other practitioners. You even compared yourself to the teacher and assistant, wondering when you’d be able to do everything they did with their bodies. But you learned not to do that, right?
You learned that comparisons had no place in a successful yoga practice. You are you. You have a specific body structure with a unique mind that accompanies it. You learned how to focus on your own progress. Now, you’re only comparing yourself to yourself.
That’s a healthy habit to have in language learners. Comparisons with others are demotivating. No matter how much you progress, there’s always someone who’s doing better than you. Yoga teaches you to focus on your own language learning journey.
5. You Realize the Real Work Happens Outside the Classroom
Yoga is not only asanas and relaxation, is it? You don’t stop implementing its principles as soon as the class is over. They become part of your life.
How do you translate this behavior into language learning? You surrender to the challenge, 24/7. When you’re watching a movie, you start translating words into the language you’re learning. You get interested in watching movies and listening to music in that language.
At one point or another, you’ll even start thinking in the foreign language. At that moment, you know you’ve made it.
6. You Understand the Importance of Finding a Good Teacher
Finding the perfect yoga teacher is not easy. Sometimes, however, it looks like they find you. When you “click” with a teacher, you know it’s the right thing. It’s like they are speaking to your soul.
If you’re not inspired by a teacher or you don’t trust them, you’ll limp heavily throughout your yoga journey. You know you have to look for someone else.
The same thing happens when you’re learning a foreign language. If the teacher is not the perfect fit for you, you won’t be looking forward to the classes. You have to search for another teacher, who will know how to approach your individual learning needs.
Once again, we learn the same lesson: yoga is a lifestyle. It changes your habits. It changes your approach to challenges. If you decide to start learning a foreign language, you’ll notice how yoga principles make you more successful.
You expect the first attempts to be humiliating, just like your first try to do a handstand was. However, you surrender to the journey. You focus on every single step and you know that as long as you keep practicing, the results will come.
Did you know you start learning a new language during a yoga retreat? There are several options where you’ll get to speak Spanish on a yoga holiday!