Kvelling and Kvetching

It started before yesterday’s Tuesday night class.  There was a piece of fuzz next to one of the students mats–a schmutz.  We then decided that the yoga outfit, especially the old raggedy one, was a schmata. Tonight, I was in an uncharacteristically silly mood.  With birds falling out of the sky, fish washing up on the shore, and the Republicans taking back “control” of the house, I could weep or I could find the laughter in small things.  Tonight, with a practice theme of the Anusara’s “first principle” — opening to grace — I spontaneously and giddily came to the latter.

I mentioned the idea of yiddish for yogis, and the class took off.  We were all women tonight, so it was “yoga for yentas.”  The word one utters when going into the first forward bend of the practice, is of course, oy, which can be lengthened to oy vey is mir. When we are truly opening to grace, we are kvelling; when we are noticing our aches and pains and forgetting to move towards the good, we are then kvetching.

Just FYI, I learned after doing a cautious internet search before posting this blog entry, that it turns out that the phrase “Yiddish Yoga” has been trademarked.  I am pretty certain we can still have fun talking about using yiddish vocabulary words in yoga class without violating any laws, though it has been over 20 years since I took class in copyright and trademark law.  So feel free to think of your favorite yiddish word and how it should be used in yoga class.  You never know how it will enhance your practice, for whom it will bring a smile or a laugh, and what other thoughts might arise.  I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a yiddish equivalent for satcitananda, any more than there is an English equivalent for weltanschauung or schadenfreude, or a French word for sandwich, but at least one student wants to give it a try.



  1. Jessica Chaiken

    Thanks to whoever manages http://www.bubbygram.com, here are a few not-quite-matches:

    Farkrimpteh – a deep twist, twisting deeply
    “That last pose had me so farkrimpteh I could see my own tuchis (backside)!”

    Farshvitzt – Bikram 😉

    Koyach – inner strength – muscular energy

    Lichticheh – lit up – shine out

    Mishpucheh – extended family – kula

    Poulkie – thigh
    “Shins in, poulkies out!”

    gay gezinteh hait – go in health – as close as I’m going to get to namaste

  2. Jessica Chaiken

    Ah, here you go:

    Alaichem sholom – go in peace – Namaste

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