When I decided to get a Working Holiday Visa for Japan, I started to send emails to yoga studios across this far away land, on the off chance that they would be interested in having me teach there.
At that time, a year before the date of my departure, I wasn’t even a yoga teacher yet (my training hadn't started yet) and I barely started learning Japanese. For these reasons, I was pretty convinced that I wouldn’t hear anything back from my requests.
A few weeks later, to my surprise, I got an answer from a yoga studio based in Kyoto. They were very interested in having me teach there, with the only condition that I’d be capable to teach classes in basic japanese. That made sense; how foolish was I to think that I could teach in english only? I accepted the challenge and doubled down on my efforts to learn japanese, with a focus on its application to teaching yoga.
I first started to watch japanese-taught yoga videos on Youtube, as well as looking up vocabulary online. Slowly, I pieced together a little PDF, which helped me to build a standard yoga sequence in japanese. I often recorded myself repeating the sequence out loud. Google Translate was a fantastic tool in that process; with the help of Audacity, I recorded the Google voice reading the sequence I typed in japanese, so I was listening to it whenever I could to memorize the words. Basically, I learned all the cues by heart, so I would be able to apply them in different situations and be able to say them fast enough.
When I arrived to Japan and started to teach there, I was able, after a few months, to improvise and teach different sequences for each new class. It was also helpful to go to other teachers’ classes in order to get familiar with the vocabulary they were using, so I could start using it too and tweak a bit my cues.
When teaching in another language, I think it’s important to keep it simple at first. The yoga sequence you’ll find at the end of the PDF (and in the audio) isn’t fancy and will sound repetitive, but it’s a good way to get started. The PDF contains tones of vocabulary that will help you to create your own sentences. Ganbate!
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