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Top 10 Yoga Cue Translations: Flutter My What?

in In Class, YD News, YogaHaha

Ever been stuck in a class utterly perplexed by the lexicon of yogaspeak? Us too! Thankfully #yogadork Thais has compiled a cheat sheet for all your mind-bending yoga cue needs. Translation, please!

by Thais Guimaraes, edited by YD

I took a yoga class recently at an unfamiliar studio as part of my yoga teacher training. Being the practicing yogini that I am, I settled myself down on my mat and tried to keep an open mind. To say that I needed a dictionary to understand the teacher’s cues would be an understatement. I needed a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia. A short tour inside her yogi brain wouldn’t have hurt either! So in order to save you some awkward pauses, and to help yoga teachers avoid confused looks, I decided to share my top 10 translations with you!

1. Blossom your fingers No, your fingers did not turn into flowers in the few seconds you haven’t been looking. This probably just means engage or spread your fingers. Done.
2. Find your breath No worries, your breath was never lost – just use your nose and suck in air like you’ve been doing all your life
3. Puff your kidneys If your teacher tells you this, you have my permission to give her a perplexed stare until she/he realizes this cue is just plain dangerous. Seriously, if you have puffed kidneys, visit a doctor.
4. Spiral your thigh bones out like a rainbow I don’t know about you, but this comes off rather kinky. Anusara cue or not, if your teacher is staring straight at you and starts to speak like a leprechaun while saying this…run far, far away.
5. Open your heart space The gist here is to broaden your chest, slide your shoulder blades down, expand your rib cage via your breath, relax your neck muscles, pull in your core… THIS is your heart “space.”
6. Feel the river of energy flow through your core Huh? Last time I checked I didn’t notice a river flowing through me. I wonder if there’s a forest too?  Maybe some fishes? Hold on let me go check. In short, feel the burn.
7. Allow the back of your heart to curve Don’t freak out here, I can’t curve my heart either – curve your thoracic spine (behind your heart) and you’ll be good.
8. Flutter your butt cheeks Pardon? I may be wrong but I believe (HOPE) this means engage your mula bandha. I don’t know about you, but I don’t flutter my butt cheeks for just anyone.
9. Hug your midline Engage your core towards the center of your body and don’t forget to breathe! Or go on, hug yourself, it’s your prerogative.
10. Shine the heart forward as if it’s springing out of your chest Egads, if my heart sprung out of my chest I would be too busy dying to worry about shining forward. If you see shining and/or springing hearts, I recommend calling 911. Spread your collar bones, chest forward. Safety first.

Well there you have it! I hope you yogis and yoginis are better equipped to handle obscure cues now.  When in doubt just breathe and look around the room to see what everyone else is doing. Odds are, they are just as confused as you so at least you won’t be alone!

Thais is a 20s something yogadork with a passion for living life to the fullest. You can catch her taking naps in the park with her black lab, Caviar, reading ten books at a time, or tweeting away about some quote or another. Check out her corner of the blogging world here.



44 comments… add one
  • This gave me a snort. The first time I heard “fluff up your kidneys,” I could barely contain myself.

  • Angela

    A few of my favorites (and yes, these were all really instructions given in a class):
    Remove the fluff from your sitsbones
    Make space in your kidneys
    Make your collarbones bright
    Hug the muscle onto your bones
    Draw up through the legs as if your are putting on a pair of panyhose
    Let your spine pour out like water

  • Still love the “flutter your butt cheeks” line… I might use that when I teach again 😉

    • Sam

      Crystal: or we could always say, after an unexpected fart, “oops, I just fluttered my butt cheeks!”

      • Shanda Packard

        Does fluttering your butt cheeks open your root chakra?

  • My all time favourite: “Imagine your buttocks are the pinnacles of the Himalayas… now reach up to pierce the clouds.”

  • how I love my yoga in India….. 😉 no BS.

  • Joanne

    How about “melt your heart”? For months I thought it meant we should feel more compassionate instead of what the teacher meant, the physical act of bringing the shoulder blades onto the back and moving the middle part of the chest forward.

    • P

      oh that’s what melt your heart means? Thanks for clearing that up!

  • Ha ha ha ha ha haha – this made me so happy this morning!

    I love the references to “safety first”, T – girl, you are so cute. I’ll keep my eye out for “shining and/or springing hearts” next class. Sounds like a freaky horror film!

    You da bomb diggity, girl.

    And YogaDork, you rock too for letting Ms. T “shine her heart” here on your blog!

  • David

    How about “let your anus blossom”

    • tony

      Heard that at a workshop last Saturday and had a tough time controling my laughter.

  • Died laughing at # 8. Guilty as charged of using # 9 as a cue. D’oh!

  • bea

    My favorite was “imagine there are 2 windows where you buttocks meet your thighs, now open those windows.” I almost burst out laughing.

  • Had a teacher during my YTT whose catchphrase was “blossom those buttocks.” And I do believe one teacher of yore instructed us to imagine a lotus blossoming internally from our perineum. I never knew our nether regions were so floral. Maybe my farts really do smell like roses!

  • Kate

    Hilarious. While I think some of these cues are actually legitimate, if the teacher doesn’t explain what the eff she or he means by it then it is pretty useless!

  • Emilia

    “Let your butt hang like ripe mangos from a mango tree.” i.e., don’t tense up your butt- let it be nice and loose. 🙂

  • Sadhana

    Re: #5 — How do you “pull in your core”?

  • P.

    LOL I LOVE these!!! Keep them coming please!

  • L.

    awesome, thanks. I have to leave my anatomical and biological knowledge at the door when I go to yoga class because some teachers do the weirdest stuff. fortunately I found great instructors who skip flowery language and instead explain a pose anatomically correct.(well, plus the hug your core and feel the flow/feel the medians)

  • Demi

    Yoga Gone Wild! Insanity sells while sanity suffers in silence!

  • How funny! Though I have heard some of these and have been able to decipher it is helpful for the teacher to explain for those who are new to yoga! Puff your kidneys… that one still makes me giggle. 🙂

  • Keren

    That is just too hysterical and I so needed a good laugh this morning! Thanks 🙂

  • BeaNs

    I always said that if I ever became a certified yoga teacher I would call my practice “No Snake Oil Yoga.”

    This kind of language isn’t helpful to students and it really doesn’t make you seem deeper and more “yogic.” It makes you seem like a flake. It makes you seem like a flake who doesn’t have much of a grasp of anatomy, except maybe when you are using your hands to illustrate fluttering your butt cheeks.

    • BeaNs: I literally spat at my monitor laughing about this. So sad I’m posting this response so long after you left it. This was the funniest image I’ve read in a while and not something I ever need to see in a sweaty class

  • Yogini

    Don’t think Patanjali ever mentioned that we should “flutter our buttcheeks” in the yoga sutras. But this video that was posted by Elephant Journal shows a girl who knows just how to do that!!

  • Kristina D

    1) In our sitting position with eyes closed: “roll your eyes backwards and look at the front of your brain.”

    Whoa. I found myself cross eyed and giggling. Wonderful class though.

  • Frank

    Because of course poetry is so much better than directions that don’t require google translate. (facepalm) Then again, I’m pretty sure my primary teacher would look at you sideways if you used cues like this and he’s been practicing for 30 years or more.

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