How do you say “downward facing dog” in Chinese?

1 Apr

I have done yoga off and on for maybe five years now.  Prior to the beginning of March I was definitely in the “off” mode for nearly a year.  I had tried classes in my health club and done them for a while but both the facilities and the fact that they tended to be middle-aged women gossiping in Shanghainese while protesting that class was too difficult didn’t help either.  I was focusing on working out with my trainer and doing more cardio/weights instead of the stretching and fluidity that yoga nurtures.   In February though, as part of the constant change in Shanghai, my health club announced that it was closing for three months for renovations.  Great.

The knowledge that I needed some alternative finally spurred me to walk into the yoga studio that I see nearly every day when I walk to work.  Called Y+. it is one of those places that when you enter you automatically feel that you not cool enough and that other people are much more advanced.  By this point though, I wasn’t intimidated – I know that a 5 foot 2 Chinese girl will likely be more flexible than me – and that is ok.  I did a trial class at the end of February and as of March 1st have a 33 class membership.  I’ve already used up 7 classes and am trying to figure out the teachers there, the atmosphere, what type of yoga I want to focus on and push myself.  I can already feel that my hamstrings are less tight and I also think mentally I am more balanced.

When I do yoga I can’t focus on anything else – for those 90 minutes it doesn’t matter what else is going on or how busy I am.  I surrender to my breath, to the poses, feeling myself lengthen or struggle or relax as I move through.  It is the antithesis of living in Shanghai and thus, it provides balance.

I actually don’t know how to say “downward facing dog” in Chinese.  Some of my teachers are Chinese, some are foreign.  Even when the class is in Chinese – “Down Dog!” tends to be barked, the single phrase standing out in the rest of the mandarin jargon.  I’ve taken enough classes that I typically can focus through, but at the beginning it meant that I did a lot of observing the teacher and would be 5-6 beats behind the rest as I convert the Chinese into the correct posture.  Sometimes instead they will use the formal Indian term instead.  No matter – the meaning is clear – “heels down, arms straight, breathe…”

Breathing is good.  Do you do yoga and have you ever done it in another language?


3 Responses to “How do you say “downward facing dog” in Chinese?”

  1. valerie April 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I am in the “off” mode right now. For about 6 months, I had been attending a place in Elmhurst which was a bike ride away from our apartment. However, the class was too “hippy” for me. Instead of 90 minutes of flow, it was a lot of meditation and getting mentally in the moment. I look to yoga more for the physical challenge than the mental challenge, and decided that I couldn’t continue with this place in Elmhurst since it didn’t fit my style. So the last time I went to a class was in December. And funny that you posted this, I was laying in bed this morning thinking about what is the nearest suburb with a yoga studio I could try — hopefully I’ll find one that fits!

    • gkm2011 April 2, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      I think spring is the ideal time to make this type of change. Good luck on finding a new studio! There are lots of options in Chicago. 🙂


  1. Cabin fever « 中国 Jumble - November 8, 2012

    […] of fun things – meetings with friends, more yoga classes (I finally learned how to say “Downward Facing Dog” the other day! 下犬式), concerts, Notre Dame events, trying out my new oven.  But the […]

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