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Words are delicious.

Category: Yoga

Writersbootcampza #2 – Five of my favourite words

Gezellig

(Adjective, Dutch)

I lived in Rotterdam, Holland for one year, working as a live-in au pair. This word is my teleportation device – back in time, across the world.

It’s an experience I struggle to explain.

You’re in a small restaurant. It’s a late winter’s afternoon. It’s -7 degrees outside but you’re comfortable. It’s warm and inquisitive rays of sun offer a gentle glow. You have five of your best humans around you. The conversation is so authentic it makes you feel like you’ve never been alone and never will be.

You get up from the table to take a phone call. Before you rejoin, you stop. You choose a moment of witness. Perspective. You see what you were a part of, what’s about to consume you again. And it’s difficult to tell whether you love your friends or whether you are, in fact, in love with everyone one of them.

Gezelligheid.

Ennui

I once went on a really bad date. Well, I’ve been on a few. But only one is relevant right now.
The next day I was talking to a friend about it online. Explaining how I know I should be attracted to this Adonis of a man and that we have a lot in common and he’s so shy it’d be more comfy hanging out with Gollum.

He was asking for details of the evening and how I felt about how things went.

I was about to launch into a tirade of typing, using all the adjectives (bad form), saying everything.
Then, in a moment of expansion, I realised my position on the experience could be comprehensively summed up with one word: Ennui.

So that’s all I typed. My friend’s questions abated. All of them having been answered with five letters.

Yasas!

In the winter of 2013 I had the greatest holiday of my life with dear friends in Ithaca an island to the west of Greece.

Yasas. It’s colloquial. It’s ‘hi, howzit, hello’.

It’s also fun to say as a South African because of our unaware penchant for liberally sprinkling ‘jussus’ into our daily banter. Like it’s a condiment for bland language.

The word makes me happy. It reminds me of flopping from the too-hot, too-bright outside into a consequentially too-dark tiny shop at the top of a hill. A post-swim break en route home. “Yasas!” says everyone in varying degrees of breathlessness. “Yasas!” the Greeks smile.

It’s time for ice-cream.

Aum

Aum is supposed to be the frequency that the universe vibrates at. When you say/chant it correctly (most don’t) it’s a worthwhile experience.

Breathe deep into your belly. Now make the sound “aw’ from that same part of your belly for a few seconds.

Then move up your body and get a “ooh” sound vibing from your chest and up into your throat. Finally, move onto a “mmm” sound from your mouth with your lips closed. Your lips should tickle and, (don’t freak out) so should your third eye.

How peaceful.

Solipsistic

Russell Brand is the reason I know this word. I enjoy his intellect (and his face). He uses it often in his books, comedy and interviews.

Solipsism is a philosophy that the self – one’s own mind – is all that can be known to exist.
It’s a lonely idea. Narcissistic too.

That’s why I like the word so much. It’s contrary to what it captures. It’s not its definition. It’s pleasurable to say. All those serpentine s-sounds and the hiccupping ‘ip’, ‘is’, and ‘ic’.

You can roll it around in your mouth like a cherry Fizz Pop. The word being the saccharine mantle, the definition the effervescing sherbet.

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Jozi Yogis

A Johannesburg yoga class isn’t like any other yoga class. There is a very specific combination of people that come together on a weekly basis. They’re all doing the same thing, but for very different reasons.

Let me break it down for you:

The Sandton poplap – she read in Cosmo that yoga was cool and that Madonna does it. The outfits she wears are worth more than the yoga school itself and she struggles to smile and look like she is having peaceful fun because of all the bovine juice in her face. No wrinkles, but no happiness either. She tries her best to do the locust and cobra poses but she will never rest flat enough on her stomach to succeed at them for fear that a boob may burst.

The 20-something fake-blonde (not to be confused with the above) – she just broke up with her jock boyfriend and has become a ‘seeker’ (but only until the next douchebag asks her out). She’s a perfect ten and is always the best-looking person in the class. Her hair is neat, she’s tanned with manicured nails and oiled limbs. She’s frowned upon because nobody in the class has reached the necessary level of spirituality to be able to ignore her and focus on their own practice. Not her fault.

The rugby oke – he’s just lost. That’s all I have to say. [Surely you can’t expect to be able to do full twists when you have thighs that touch (a lot) when you’re just standing comfortably?]

The 90-year-old Jewish lady (who farts) – she lives just around the corner so it is pure convenience that gets her onto the mat. She breathes loudly, talks to herself throughout the class and has more gas than someone on the cabbage soup diet (which she unashamedly releases every second posture). She is about as flexible as a piece of slate and should she ever realise that yoga stems from Hinduism she will never return.

The pseudo-spiritual fat woman – This redheaded spectacle greets everybody with a bow and a ‘namaste’ (not that she knows what it means). She floats (read: waddles) around in her colourful gowns, arms and ankles over bejeweled with cheap beads and costume jewelry. She is always carrying the latest offering from Eckhart Tolle (spine uncracked, she doesn’t actually read it). She does the first five poses and then flops onto her mat, exhausted (or dead). Her practice will never progress.

The super-serious stick-thin devotee – he meditates while waiting for the class to start. You’re convinced he’s up at 5am every morning doing sun salutations next to his bed (of nails). He’s kinda hot so you wish he wasn’t quite so spiritual. He seems inaccessible which adds to his appeal. His practice needs some work but isn’t bad and everybody just wants to feed him a square meal. And then, in a dark corner of The Bohemian one Friday night you spot him, drink in one hand, ciggie in the other, and you have a smooch – all ideas of him being a possible ‘enlightened soul’ quickly disparaged.

And then there’s me – I don’t know what my category is. I love yoga. But I go through phases where I’m really dedicated and then other times where I prefer to stuff cheesecake in my face and watch 500 Days of Summer alone, in a dark room, for the 67th time. I hate to say it, but there is a little bit of all the above in me (except for rugby dude). Sometimes I read Cosmo. Sometimes I’m the pretty one. Sometimes I get really into things and like sitting quietly before class. I’m just praying that I don’t turn into the colourful, robust lady and change my name to Verity. Here’s hoping.