Skip to main content

Flow: Language

Language – It’s all about what you say and how you say it.

For the purposes of this section, “language” will refer to the cues, words of encouragement offered during class, and conversations with students before and after class.

In Broga, familiar, comfortable, friendly, but professional, language is a critical element of what we offer our students – especially and particularly guys who are entering a Broga studio/class for the first time. Remember, we never want to talk over a students’ heads. Language should always be accessible, relevant, and safe as we guide them in the door and through the practice. If we keep it relatively simple and just focus on the breath, the actual asanas will be enough. A deep understanding of how to use the breath during the practice and a real commitment to showing up and being consistent will be enough to allow the juices of yoga to come to the surface and for the student to begin understanding the practice organically.

For example, we wouldn’t say “open your heart like a blossoming flower.” We might guide students to a point where they feel as if their “heart is opening like a blossoming flower,” but let them put their own words to it. We prefer to allow the students to have their own moment without the instructor narrating, to allow self-discovery as much as possible. As you’ll see below, there are a number of cues and words of encouragement that we do use in teaching Broga, but we want it to be relevant, accessible, powerful, and poignant. We generally steer clear of phrases or expressions that could be considered flowery, “groovy”, mystical, or spiritual. We don’t reference Gods or Goddesses or Chakras. If you are a teacher who likes to use this type of language, it might take you a little time to adjust.

And to be clear, we don’t have anything against the language we’ve used as an example or anything like it. It’s just that it isn’t a good fit for a Broga class or the Broga students. Because of the reasons described in the first chapter, many Broga students are apprehensive when they take their first class. They are generally there for what they hope will be a new type of “workout.” While we all secretly know that yoga will definitely offer them something far more profound than an hour at the gym, we don’t say it out loud. We let them discover it for themselves.

Any and all language should have a feeling of enthusiasm, inspiration, encouragement, freedom, familiarity, authenticity, and be just different enough to allow them the feeling of doing something special. Keep it relevant to their daily lives!

Examples of words and phrases that are great in a Broga class:

  • “Strength”
  • “Balance”
  • “Balanced strength”
  • “Whole body strength”
  • “Balance and flexibility”
  • “Relaxed strength”
  • “Good”
  • “Nice!”
  • “Perfect” “Looks good, Joe!”
  • “Effort and ease”
  • “You got this!”
  • “Do one more, because you are here and YOU can!”
  • “Do this to failure, plus 2-3 more, because you can and this is where
  • transformation and change occurs in the body.”
  • “Making and creating change with every breath”
  • “Right now, this very moment, positive change is occurring.”
  • “Organic movement”
  • “Quality of your mind”
  • “Free your overworked busy mind”
  • “Move with precision, professionalism and mastery”
  • “Pay perfect attention”
  • “Make it look easy”
  • “Moving meditation”
  • “This is your evening meditation”
  • “Dedication, discipline and practice!”
  • “Your personal edge, not what you’ve seen in the mags”
  • “This is your time away from everything else!”
  • “Be in it, in the pose, in the moment etc…”
  • “Relax every muscle and cell of your body”
  • “Relax the muscles around the eyes, forehead and jaw”
  • “Relax your face”
  • “Relax your brain”
  • “Relax into yourself, your entire being”
  • “This is all you, you got this!”
  • “Embrace the shaking and trembling, muscles are firing and working.”
  • “Emphasize the exhale to release stress and tension, relaxing the nervous system” “The big sigh of relief type of exhale is like saying to the nervous system ‘it’s all
  • good bro’”
  • “This body is your home… clean house, get rid of what’s not being used any
  • longer.”
  • “Clean house and get rid of what might be causing you stress, tension
  • and ‘dis- ease.’”
  • “Do what feels appropriate to ‘”your body’”
  • “Do not muscle through these poses holding your breath and tightening up all
  • over your body… you will just create more tension and imbalances in the body.”
  • “This is not easy, it is challenging and difficult. But that’s ok. It’s supposed to be.”
  • “Stay with it, be patient and know that it is a yoga “practice”, not yoga “perfection”
  • “Trust the practice of yoga.”
  • “Practice, practice, practice and all will come.” -Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Language that we don’t use in Broga

We generally stay away from using any language in Broga class that sounds like a value judgement. For example, rather than saying, “if this is too difficult, you can do this…”, we’d simply say, “another option is to do this… choose the one that feels better for you today.”

A lot of the guys in the Broga community have been to classes where the instructor absentmindly said, “Ok ladies, now do this…” That’s generally one to avoid in Broga classes.

Cueing guidance

  • Authentic voice – not creepy yoga voice
  • Simple, direct, anatomical – not overtly spiritual (eg floor/mat/ground – not mother earth, chest not heart chakra)
  • Encouraging, empowering – not patronizing (eg you got this, great job, perfect for you right now – not come on, pansy)
  • directional – not goal-oriented (and potentially setting up for failure) (eg reach towards the floor – not touch your toes)
  • Allowing modifications without feeling failure (eg another option is with the knees down – not if you can’t do it like this put your knees down)
  • Efficiency of cues – brevity is key to effective communication
  • Tone follows intensity of class
  • Use students’ first names whenever possible
  • Inviting, approachable not intimidating
  • Familiar to unfamiliar
  • Encourage self-exploration and -awareness