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The Yoga of Learning a Language

As someone who comes from a predominantly English-speaking country, I suppose I’m lucky. I can basically travel anywhere in the world and someone there understands my language.

I remember being embarrassed as a child when I would go shopping with my grandmother, (or Baka, as we call her) who doesn’t speak much English. She was born in Croatia and immigrated to Australia sometime in her 30’s.

The age I am now.

I would get frustrated and sheepish when I saw other people treating her differently because she didn’t speak the language. Treating her like she was stupid.

I would sometimes agree with them.

Because I didn’t realise how hard it was. She had, by the time I was in the picture at least, been living in Australia for over 20 years. Come on, Baka!

But now I totally get it.

Learning a new language with absolutely no background in having to learn a language is hard.

So hard.

I feel stupid almost every day.

Taking lessons, and I do, drains every ounce of energy out of me. I can feel myself getting cranky and stubborn, and my face starts to squish up like I’ve smelt something bad, and I go home and sink into a deep, low place. It literally makes me feel depressed.

Yoga has always helped me cope with depression in the past, and it has absolutely been necessary for me to maintain a steady practice during my lessons, adding even more time in meditation. These tools I’ve given myself have helped me move from feeling dumb, to still feeling dumb, but knowing that it can only get better from here.

What my practice has taught me, is that if I stop, that’s as far as I’m going to get.

Whereas if I keep going, and keep messing up, and getting so many things wrong, but having some guidance on how to correct them, eventually, I’ll make some progress.

And maybe it won’t be epic strides of sentence-long progression, maybe I’ll just learn three new words a day, but they will be three words that I didn’t know yesterday.

If I give up, those are the only three words I’ll ever know.

There was once a time when standing on my head was completely never going to happen. Ever. I kept practicing. And then it did happen.

Not giving up meant I found progress and I hit my goal.

Doing the work, every day, even just for a bit, just three words. I have to put in the work and the rest will come.

Yeah, it’ll be hard. It’s going to suck and I’m going to keep feeling stupid.

But then one day maybe I’ll put a sentence together. It won’t be perfect but they will basically know what I mean. Progress. Headstand.

Just have to put in the work.

Practice, and all is coming.

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