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Newbie’s Information to Japanese Yoga Classes

A number of years in the past after I lived in Japan, a yoga studio opened up close to my work. I used to be fairly wired on the time and beginning to get pressure complications, and I assumed this may be a good way to assist scale back my stress. I had finished yoga a couple of years prior, so I wasn’t a complete newbie, and my Japanese was at a excessive sufficient stage that I felt fairly assured I might deal with a yoga class in Japanese. How laborious might or not it’s?

So I signed up — after assuring the very useful but barely involved employees that I might deal with an all-Japanese language yoga class, no worries! — and began going twice per week. And I used to be proper, it actually wasn’t too laborious to know what was occurring and what I wanted to do… however it additionally wasn’t the instantly enjoyable expertise I had signed up for, a minimum of at first.

All collectively, the sequence supplies a wonderful basis for Japanese language yoga classes, and consists of info I want I had recognized after I first began.

On this article, I am going to share my experiences taking newbie and intermediate yoga courses in Japan so that you will have a greater concept of what to anticipate in a Japanese yoga class earlier than you even unroll your mat. First I am going to undergo among the issues that I discovered difficult as a Japanese language learner, then advocate some Japanese yoga assets obtainable on-line and introduce among the vocabulary generally utilized in lesson titles and descriptions. Whether or not you are taking in-person courses or do some on-line, I hope that this text helps you are feeling extra ready to present yoga classes in Japanese a strive.

That is additionally the primary a part of a sequence Be taught by Doing! Vocab to Jumpstart Your Japanese Yoga Journey, which goals to be a information for doing yoga courses in Japanese. The opposite articles on this sequence shall be extra vocabulary-focused and can discover the varieties of phrases and phrases you may count on to listen to in a Japanese yoga class. All collectively, the sequence supplies a wonderful basis for Japanese language yoga classes, and consists of info I want I had recognized after I first began. So maintain a watch out for the remainder of the sequence — they’re popping out over the course of subsequent few weeks!

Conditions: This text assumes you already know hiragana and katakana. If you want to brush up, take a look at our Final Hiragana Information and Final Katakana Information.

Challenges of Taking Yoga Courses in Japanese

a couple people doing yoga

There have been a couple of challenges I hadn’t considered after I determined that taking yoga courses in Japanese was undoubtedly going to assist me calm down and on no account trigger me any extra stress or anxiousness. Ultimately, none of those challenges had been unsurmountable, however figuring out about them forward of time would have undoubtedly helped me keep away from fairly a little bit of angst in my first few courses.

1. I Do not Even Know the Title of that Bone in English

First, whereas I knew the Japanese phrases for many of the components of the physique, I had not realized that I didn’t know the names for bones or joints, and it grew to become obvious in a short time that yoga lecturers use phrases like scapula, pelvis, tail bone, and hip joint relatively loads. And naturally the very nature of yoga necessitates shifting stated physique components, and it seems that there are far more methods to say twist and switch and bend and curve and curl than I had ever seen in any textbook.

Generally, even when I did not know among the phrases she used, I might perceive what I wanted to do by additionally watching the trainer display the pose. Nonetheless, in some unspecified time in the future in each class I’d find yourself in poses with my ear mashed on the mat dealing with away from the trainer, so undoubtedly it is useful to know among the extra specialised vocab that comes up in yoga courses.

2. Cannot Look Up, or Write Down Throughout Courses

Subsequent — and naturally, this may have been apparent if I had simply thought in regards to the nature of yoga and yoga courses forward of time — I used to be a bit of stymied by not having the ability to instantly search for phrases in a dictionary and write them down. It seems that when you’re in downward canine and making an attempt to tilt your 骨盤こつばん (pelvis) good, it’s extremely laborious to additionally bear in mind the phrase こつばん for one more hour till you may write it down… so you may hopefully bear in mind it for the subsequent class.

I used to be a bit of stymied by not having the ability to instantly search for phrases in a dictionary and write them down.

After which there are slippery phrases like せすじ. I heard this one phrase on a regular basis and thought it referred to backbone, however was fairly positive that せぼね meant backbone. So I assumed I used to be most likely flawed, however after I lastly remembered to search for this mysterious phrase that most likely did not imply backbone, I could not bear in mind precisely what I had heard. Wasn’t it せっすじ or せっつじ…? Or possibly it was せすじ or せつじ? And even せすじん? After many failed makes an attempt, I ultimately found out it was せすじ, and sure, it additionally refers back to the backbone.

3. Phrases That Sound Precisely The Identical However Imply Tremendous Completely different Issues

Third, I forgot that Japanese is legendary for homonyms. It took me a relatively very long time to determine that the phrase I used to be listening to in school, じょうたい, was virtually by no means the じょうたい I used to be conversant in — 状態, which means state of affairs. As an alternative, the trainer was almost all the time referring to 上体, or higher physique.

I additionally bought myself all in a tangle with inhaling and exhaling. Logically, I knew that the phrases いき いて meant to exhale, however 吐いて sounds much like はいって, and despite the fact that 息を入って shouldn’t be a phrase or near being right in any approach, my mind switched the phrase that really means “exhale” with a phrase it made up that, in an alternate universe, might need meant “enter breath” (= inhale??). And I in some way without end after confused myself and was continually inhaling on the flawed breath and stressing myself out about it.

4. Even in Your Personal Language, Yoga Is Not That Simple!

Lastly, I forgot that even yoga courses in English might be irritating — I undoubtedly like wanting like I do know what I am doing, and regardless of what number of occasions a yoga teacher says that you just should not examine your self to what another person is doing… I all the time do this! And so, whereas I actually can not help anybody else not fear about what their downward canine seems like compared with their neighbor, or not be troubled that their prime is driving up bizarre, or not be involved they can not clear their thoughts in corpse pose — I can undoubtedly aid you bypass my months of frenzied anxiousness from making an attempt to maintain half-remembered phrases in my head whereas additionally contorting my physique into triangles and pigeon poses by this sequence of articles.

Given all these challenges, I like to recommend you start your yoga journey by beginning with on-line yoga movies. There’s loads of high-quality content material obtainable, and provided that we’re nonetheless in the course of a world pandemic, making an attempt YouTube movies or on-line courses within the consolation of your individual house is a good way to ease your self into the apply. And naturally, on-line movies permit everybody, together with individuals who aren’t in Japan, to study Japanese whereas doing yoga. Even in the event you’re occupied with taking in-person courses, making an attempt a couple of on-line movies could be a great way to get a way of what to anticipate.

a person watching yoga lesson videos online

When making an attempt yoga on-line, I counsel you begin with some shorter movies geared toward newbies, even in the event you’re an skilled yogi, so you may get used to the language and circulation of a yoga class in Japanese. Additionally, instructors in newbie courses usually take further time to clarify poses, so in the event you miss a phrase or do not perceive one thing, you may have time to catch up.

Instructors in newbie courses usually take further time to clarify poses, so in the event you miss a phrase or do not perceive one thing, you may have time to catch up.

I additionally advocate making an attempt movies by a couple of completely different folks so you’ll find somebody who is simple so that you can perceive. Past the vocabulary or grammar they use, every teacher can have a special cadence, quantity, and pace of speaking. It may be tough to seek out an teacher or video sequence that you just like and may perceive simply, however strive to not get discouraged. Over time, you could discover that your comprehension will get higher; one in all my favourite instructors spoke actually quick, however the extra of her courses I went to and the extra I heard her communicate, the higher I used to be capable of perceive.

One different level to notice: in individual and on-line, instructors usually begin courses with a brief intro, usually about what the main target of the lesson shall be, or what impact the poses can have. These can usually be essentially the most tough components to know, since there is not a lot context but and the vocabulary might be fairly technical. I counsel simply listening for what you may perceive, and use the time to begin getting settled.

Particularly in the event you’re simply beginning out, search for movies the place the instructors do not do voice-overs, however give directions whereas demonstrating the poses as your listening comprehension could enhance in the event you can see the trainer’s lips shifting. To examine, leap forward previous the trainer’s introduction to the video, because the voice-over could solely begin once they start the lesson.

Additionally search for movies the place the sound high quality may be very excessive, with little background noise. You might be able to activate Japanese captions for movies on YouTube, however these could have errors as a result of they’re usually auto-generated. I discover the captions distracting relatively than useful; I have a tendency to make use of them provided that I missed a brand new phrase and actually need to return and work out what it’s!

Listed below are a couple of of my favourite Japanese-language yoga assets which are obtainable on-line.


B-life has over 500 yoga and health movies, so there are many choices to select from. The movies are hosted by Mariko, and the catalog consists of simpler classes particularly marked for newbies in addition to classes that concentrate on stretching out explicit physique components, decreasing stress, waking your physique up for the day and calming down earlier than mattress. Many classes are ten to fifteen minutes lengthy, however there are many movies which are forty to sixty minutes lengthy as properly.

The B-life web site additionally has part with free, curated video lists referred to as Calendar Program. Like a syllabus of yoga classes, the downloadable applications specify one or two YouTube movies for every day of a fourteen- to thirty-day course. There are greater than ten beginner- or intermediate-level applications to select from.

Mariko has a powerful voice with clear enunciation, and she or he speaks at a fairly regular tempo. Nonetheless, she does use voice-over for a few of her movies, particularly these filmed exterior, so skip forward previous her introduction to double-check in the event you’re making an attempt to keep away from voice-overs.

Japanese YOGA

Natsumi’s Japanese YOGA channel, Japanese YOGA has over 450 movies, so there’s all kinds to select from right here as properly. A lot of her movies are targeted on particular points, and she or he has playlists organized by 症状しょうじょう (symptom), 部位ぶい (physique half), or 目的もくてき (goal) addressed. She additionally has a number of 朝ヨガ and 夜ヨガ movies that aren’t essentially targeted on a specific situation. A lot of her classes are lower than fifteen minutes lengthy, however there are some longer movies as properly.

Natsumi’s voice is a bit of smooth, however very clear. I actually love the non-public high quality of her movies, and you’ll inform she loves what she does! She would possibly communicate a bit of quick in the event you’re simply beginning out, however particularly in newbie movies she provides a number of directions for the best way to do the poses accurately, so it is fairly simple to catch on.

Natsumi is the host on the overwhelming majority of her channel’s movies, although just lately she has been posting movies with completely different visitor instructors, too. To get a way of their talking kinds, you may take a look at the instructors’ video introductions posted on the Japanese YOGA web site.

Wellness To Go by Arisu

Wellness To Go by Arisu has over 400 movies. Like Natsumi’s Japanese YOGA channel, Arisu has curated playlists that can assist you select movies. Particularly, she has a playlist particularly for newbies, in addition to playlists categorized by the size of the video, from lower than ten minutes to greater than thirty. She additionally has a playlist of movies targeted on meditation and respiration methods.

Arisa has a transparent voice and a very dynamic approach of talking. Regardless that she will be able to communicate a bit of quick at occasions, her enunciation is fairly punchy. A lot of her movies are filmed exterior, however it appears she solely makes use of voice-over sometimes. Her canine typically makes an look, which is all the time a bonus!

Cute Birds

Cute Birds solely has about sixty-five movies to date, however Yukari solely started posting this 12 months, and there is nonetheless a very good selection. She has movies particularly for newbies, and lots of targeted on releasing pressure in several components of the physique. The vast majority of the movies are ten to fifteen minutes lengthy.

Yukari has a transparent, regular voice, and appears to talk a bit of louder and slower on common. If you’re a newbie in yoga or Japanese, I’d counsel making an attempt her movies first. Nearly all of her movies are filmed exterior in Okinawa — usually on the seashore! — however this does not have an effect on the sound high quality, and if she makes use of voice-over, she does it very not often.

Like I discussed earlier, I do counsel you do some on-line yoga first to get conversant in Japanese yoga courses, however when you have the chance sooner or later, I undoubtedly advocate making an attempt in-person courses as properly! Regardless that you may’t pause and repeat what instructors say in group classes like you may with on-line movies, many occasions after I was in an teacher’s class for the primary time, they might come over earlier than class began and examine with me to be sure that I used to be going to have the ability to perceive Japanese. You may also ask the trainer earlier than class begins to talk barely extra slowly and clearly in the event you assume that may assist. Particularly in newbie courses, even native audio system of Japanese might need bother determining the best way to do a pose, so it may be useful to others as properly.

Selecting the Excellent Yoga Lesson

Now to seek out the right video so you may truly get began doing yoga in Japanese! Even in the event you simply have a look at movies listed on the channels I advisable above, you may discover an amazing variety of choices, so on this part I’ve included vocabulary that you should utilize that can assist you discover movies which are best for you. Some movies embrace English translations together with the Japanese, however figuring out among the phrases generally utilized in video titles and descriptions will make it simpler to look and navigate on-line, and also will assist when taking a look at what courses are provided at yoga studios.

thumbnails of Japanese yoga videos

Titles for on-line classes could embrace a stage and sort of yoga, and sometimes embrace details about the main target of the lesson. Use the checklist under for reference so you’ll find a yoga class that is applicable in your potential and curiosity (and so you do not by accident take an after-childbirth yoga class if you have not simply given start!).

Ranges and Widespread Sorts of Yoga

This checklist consists of key phrases that describe ranges and names of widespread yoga sorts or kinds. You might discover these in yoga studios’ schedules extra usually than in on-line yoga movies.

初級 しょきゅう newbie stage
中級 ちゅうきゅう intermediate stage
上級 じょうきゅう superior stage
パワーヨガ ぱわーよが energy yoga
陰ヨガ  いんよが yin yoga
ハタヨガ  はたよが  hatha yoga
ヴィンヤサ ゔぃんやさ  vinyasa yoga 
ピラティス ぴらてぃす pilates

One other approach on-line movies could point out beginner-level classes is with the Japanese image for newbie: 🔰. Identified colloquially because the 初心者マーク (newbie’s mark), new drivers in Japan should show this sticker on their vehicles for the primary 12 months they’ve their license, however the image has been extensively adopted to imply beginner-level in a number of different contexts, too.

Skills and Qualities to Enhance

These are phrases for talents and qualities that many yogis hope to enhance. They usually get paired up with phrases like 改善かいぜん (enchancment), アップ (actually “up,” which means “increase up”) and たかめる (to extend, improve).

新陳代謝 しんちんたいしゃ metabolism
免疫力 めんえきりょく immunity
集中力 しゅうちゅうりょく focus
柔軟性 じゅうなんせい flexibility
体幹 たいかん steadiness

Physique Components, Programs, and Positions

Listed below are some key phrases associated to physique components, programs, or positions that you’re going to usually see in titles of yoga classes. These usually get paired up with phrases like ほぐす (to melt), 強化きょうか (strengthening), リラックス (calm down), ストレッチ (stretch), and 改善 (enchancment). 促進そくしん (promotion) can also be used with リンパ (lymph) or 血流けつりゅう (blood circulation) to imply “selling blood/lymph circulation” on this context.

全身 ぜんしん full physique
上半身 じょうはんしん higher physique
下半身 かはんしん decrease physique
心身 しんしん thoughts and physique
リンパ りんぱ lymph
血行 / 血流 けっこう / けつりゅう blood circulation
姿勢 しせい posture
開脚 かいきゃく the splits
コア こあ core

Dropping Weight

Desirous to drop pounds or get slim is likely one of the commonest motivations for Japanese yogis. Of all key phrases associated to weight reduction, ダイエット might be used mostly. It is a katakana phrase that is primarily based on the English phrase “food regimen,” however be aware that in contrast to in English, ダイエット refers to all kinds of actions associated to weight reduction and physique firming, together with train, not only one’s literal “food regimen.” So you may doubtless spot the phrase in yoga lesson titles (and different health/exercise courses), however it does not essentially imply it is about meals and vitamin!

ダイエット だいえっと food regimen, shedding weight
引き締め ひきしめ firming
くびれ   slender waist
美脚 びきゃく stunning legs, toned legs
美尻 びじり stunning butt, toned butt
脂肪燃焼 しぼうねんしょう burning fats 
減量 げんりょう weight reduction
デトックス でとっくす detox

Illnesses and Points

Sure bodily issues are widespread key phrases utilized in titles for yoga classes. These are sometimes used with phrases like 回復かいふく (restoration), 解消かいしょう (elimination), or なくす (to take away).

肩こり かたこり stiff shoulders
腰痛 ようつう again ache
疲れ / 疲労  つかれ / ひろう exhausion
冷え ひえ chilliness, coldness (due to unhealthy blood circulation, and many others.)
浮腫 むくみ swelling, getting puffy
歪み ゆがみ distortion, being warped

Psychological Well being

Yoga shouldn’t be solely about bodily well being, but in addition psychological well being! Listed below are a couple of key phrases which are associated to psychological well being.

ストレス すとれす stress
瞑想 めいそう meditation
自律神経 じりつしんけい autonomic nervous system 

Morning and Night time

Many yoga movies are focused that can assist you get up or go to sleep. Listed below are some vocabulary phrases associated to doing yoga within the morning and evening.

あさ morning
目覚め めざめ waking up
スッキリ すっきり refreshing
よる evening
寝落ち ねおち falling asleep (whereas doing one thing)
安眠 あんみん good sleep
ぐっすり   (sleep) soundly


Here’s a miscellaneous checklist of vocabulary that did not match into different classes, however are nonetheless helpful! Observe that there are a couple of phrases that finish with 〜 かつ, which is an abbreviation of 〜 活動かつどう (actions for …). Individuals have just lately began utilizing this abbreviation as a solution to discuss completely different actions for self-improvement. So mixed with ちょう (gut/abdomen) as in 腸活, it means “actions for higher intestine well being.” With the kanji おん (heat) as in 温活, it means “actions for warming up the physique.”

アロマ あろま aroma
腸活 ちょうかつ actions for higher intestine well being
温活 おんかつ actions for warming up physique
マタニティ またにてぃ maternity
産後 さんご postpartum / after childbirth

One Step at a Time: Methods for Studying

My aim on this article and sequence is to not provide you with required phrase lists, however to supply a information to doing yoga in Japanese. Use this sequence such as you would use a journey guidebook — earlier than you embark in your journey, you’ll examine what to anticipate, take note of sections you assume may be helpful later, and possibly make notes about a couple of belongings you need to attempt to bear in mind earlier than you begin. Similar to utilizing a guidebook to determine what to do on a visit, use the vocab on this first article that can assist you choose which on-line movies or courses to strive first.

I beloved that I used to be studying Japanese not by learning Japanese, however by doing one thing fully completely different in Japanese.

While you determine which lesson to begin with, you may simply dive proper in and see what it is like! Or, in the event you’re feeling a bit of nervous, you may overview your notes earlier than you get began. Both approach, it’s going to most likely be a bit of tough, however just like the tradition shock you get once you go to a brand new nation, you may begin to study new phrases and get used to the circulation of issues as you strive extra classes. The vocabulary lists within the second and third articles shall be right here to make use of as references and can aid you discover your footing extra shortly.

If you happen to really feel snug with a backpacker-style method — utilizing context, choosing up phrases organically, and looking out up phrases solely when vital — go for it! Let your instinct information you; use the vocab lists in the event you’re in a pinch.

In case your motto is “all the time be ready” and you favor an itemized itinerary-style method — studying some vocab forward of time, noting new phrases once you encounter them, reviewing in between classes — then this information would be the good pal! Throughout classes, maintain an ear out for brand spanking new phrases, however don’t be concerned if you cannot bear in mind them precisely once you’re completed. Use the vocab lists to jog your reminiscence and add these phrases to your examine checklist. If you cannot bear in mind any, merely select new phrases you assume could be useful and maintain training.

I initially began taking yoga courses in Japan as a result of I assumed it will assist me calm down and never really feel so confused. And whereas my Japanese yoga journey began off a bit of bumpier than I anticipated, as soon as I picked up among the vocabulary and bought a dangle of the circulation of courses, it was a very fabulous expertise. I beloved that I used to be studying Japanese not by learning Japanese, however by doing one thing fully completely different in Japanese. And after some time, I used to be not solely much less confused, however gained extra confidence in my Japanese abilities.

I hope that now you are feeling able to get began by yourself Japanese yoga journey! Good luck, and I hope you are wanting ahead to the subsequent two coming articles within the sequence. がんばってね!



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