Five years ago that word stirred up very specific feelings within me. Excitement. This enthusiasm was connected to the expectation of a new episode of “Lost.” I was very much swept up into the “Lost” universe, eagerly awaiting each new episode, biding my time by listening to not one, but three podcasts dedicated to the show. In the show, there was an odd group on the island known as the Dharma Institute. When the main characters found old videos from the Institute, the instructor would always end his sessions with a straight forward “Namaste.”
Now, the word has taken on a different association for me. A couple of years ago I was a kick box maniac. Now, when I say kick boxing you may think of intense fighting with boxing gloves and high kicks. But this is 24 Hour Fitness kick boxing we’re talking about, so instead it was dances with punches. I loved it though and looked forward to my class every week. That was until I hurt my hip and my doctor told me that high impact workouts were not for me. Instead, he pointed me towards yoga and pilates. Ugh. I was so disappointed. I loved how cathartic kick boxing was and for a person who wasn’t athletic, it felt freeing to be able to make it through a class, and even want more on certain weeks.
I don’t know when I changed my mind, but it was probably the day after a yoga class when I felt muscles hurt in places I didn’t even know muscles existed. It wasn’t just that though. I came to enjoy the increased flexibility, strength and balance as well. After a long day, it was relaxing to slow down and be present in my body in ways in which I normally was not.
As much as I’ve come to love yoga, there are weird things about it. I mean, it’s awkward hearing everyone breathing around you or when someone let’s a fart rip (which, I’m just waiting for the day when it will happen to me). Or at the end of class, the music will dissolve into the sound of babies laughing. Weird! However, the strangest part of yoga has been my instructor’s voice. It didn’t stand out to me until recently, when I heard her talk to the instructor from the previous class and her voice was completely different. She sounded like a normal person, but while teaching yoga, she has a silky smooth, calm voice. I call it yoga voice. Yoga voice says things like “thank you for letting me guide you on your yoga practice today,” or “let your neck explore the space of the room.” Of course, yoga voice always ends class with a low bow and a “Namaste.”
While I chuckle internally each week at yoga, as well as with my friends at work, I know I have fallen prey similarly. When I lived in England I didn’t pick up an English accent as much as I picked up their intonations. It happened so gradually that I barely noticed it. When I went back to visit friends in the UK it quickly returned. “Are you going to the ga-rage?” “Ooo, that’s lush.” I lived in England in the midst of the war in Iraq and I often caught a lot of flak, being from the States. I think the shift in my voice was my subconscious way of assimilating. I didn’t quite sound British, but neither did I sound like I was from the U.S. In a unique way, voice can be a way in which we hide or project a particular identity. Actors do it all the time, but I wonder how often we use our voice to say something about ourselves. If I talk loud and forcefully, I want other to think I am powerful and worth being listened to. If my voice is whisper soft, I may want others to ignore or overlook my words.
For work lately I’ve been reading about the importance of story. I’ll take notes as I’m reading, but often ideas burn bright as I read, so I’ll write those thoughts down as well. One of my thoughts this week was how we are always communicating a story with our lives. How we live our daily lives speak greatly to the story we think we are in. In the moment, I was thinking of this on a larger scale – with the jobs we have, the places we live, the clothes we buy, the people we associate with, etc. But I’m hit now with the reality that even something as seemingly inconsequential as the tone of our voice, can speak greatly to how we want to be received, to the type of character we see ourselves as.
I guess I can get over yoga voice, but the laughing baby is still weird.